Results tagged ‘ Jorge Posada ’

O’Neill finds deserving spot in Monument Park

Paul and Nevalee O'Neill unveil Monument Park plaque (USA Today photo)

Paul and Nevalee O’Neill unveil Monument Park plaque (USA Today photo)

Chants of “Paul O-Neill” returned to Yankee Stadium Saturday as the popular right fielder dubbed “The Warrior” by the late George Steinbrenner was honored on the field before the game to mark the dedication of a plaque that will hang in Monument Park, the 29th in that special gallery.

I do not know how many people thought such a day was possible back in 1993 when O’Neill joined the Yankees. Several National League scouts I talked to that spring wondered if O’Neill had the temperament for New York or that he was too temperamental to succeed under the glare of the city and its omnipresent media.

Gene Michael, the general manager at the time, swapped two-time All-Star outfielder Roberto Kelly for O’Neill, who had a .259 career batting average at the time and was known for his clashes with former manager Lou Piniella in Cincinnati. Michael certainly got the last laugh, didn’t he?

O’Neill absolutely blossomed in New York. Coming under the influence of Don Mattingly and Wade Boggs, O’Neill became a more selective hitter and in his second season with the Yankees won the American League batting title with a .359 average. He would go on to bat .303 over his nine seasons in New York and was a central figure in the Yankees’ four World Series titles in 1996, ’98, ’99 and 2000.

During the pre-game ceremony, O’Neill mentioned his daughter, Allie, was born the day before spring training began in 1996, “and to this believes she is the reason for our first championship.”

O’Neill was in the middle of those glorious seasons. There was his running catch on an aching hamstring for the final out of Game 5 of the 1996 World Series; his playing the clinching Game 4 of the ’99 Series 18 hours after the death of his father, Charlie; his 10-pitch at bat in drawing a walk off Mets closer Alfonso Benitez to start the game-tying rally in Game 1 of the 2000 Series, etc.

And, of course, Game 5 of the 2001 World Series, his last game at the Stadium, which he recalled in his speech.

“Now to you fans, a remarkable thing Nov. 1, 2001, Game 5 of the World Series out in right field and 50,000 people singing my name,” he said. “I want to thank you for one of the special nights of my life. Thank you, fans of New York.”

O’Neill’s sons, Andy and Aaron, were also on the field with their mother, Nevalee, and his mother, Virginia. Also participating were Michael, former trainer Gene Monahan, Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre and former teammates David Cone, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.

Two other former teammates, captain Derek Jeter and manager Joe Girardi, also made presentations to O’Neill on behalf of the team and the organization. Jeter presented a framed version of the plaque and Girardi a career milestone diamond ring with No. 21 in the center.

“The best thing that happened to all of us was playing for the New York Yankees,” O’Neill said.

The plaque reads:

PAUL ANDREW O’NEILL
“THE WARRIOR”

NEW YORK YANKEES
1993 – 2001

AN INTENSE COMPETITOR AND TEAM LEADER, O’NEILL WAS BELOVED FOR HIS RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF PERFECTION.

IN NINE SEASONS WITH THE YANKEES, HE WON FOUR WORLD SERIES AND MADE FOUR ALL-STAR TEAMS, COMPILING A .303 BATTING AVERAGE WITH 185 HOME RUNS AND 858 RBI.

WAS ALSO KNOWN FOR HIS STRONG ARM AND RELIABLE GLOVE IN RIGHT FIELD.

WON 1994 AL BATTING CROWN WITH A .359 AVERAGE.

DEDICATED BY THE
NEW YORK YANKEES
AUGUST 9, 2014

Fans responded to O’Neill’s energy, his blatant disdain for making an out, the all-out, full-throttle effort he gave on a daily basis.

Brandon McCarthy, who pitched well but ended up the losing pitcher in the Indians’ 3-0 victory, paid homage to O’Neill after the game. McCarthy was struck in the left foot by a batted ball but remained in the game. Asked if he thought he might have to come out of the game, McCarthy said, “This is Paul O’Neill Day, not a game to leave early day.”

I remember talking to O’Neill back when people were questioning whether this Ohio Buckeye could handle the pressure of New York where his sister, Molly, was already well known as a food writer for the New York Times.

“What a lot of folks didn’t realize is that it was actually easier for me in New York that it was in Cincinnati,” O’Neill said. “It’s tough to play in your home town. Right from the start, I was accepted here by the fans. I hope I gave back to them as much as they gave to me.”

I would say he did.

Paul O'Neill, Gene Michael, Gene Monahan, Joe Torre, Tino Martinez, David Cone, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada

Paul O’Neill, Gene Michael, Gene Monahan, Joe Torre, Tino Martinez, David Cone, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada

Tino turned out to be a legend, too

image
The current issue of Yankees Magazine features an article I did on Tino Martinez, who was honored Saturday at Yankee Stadium with a plaque in Monument Park. Tino still couldn’t believe it until he finally got a look at the plaque itself.

​The inscription reads:

CONSTANTINO “TINO” MARTINEZ
NEW YORK YANKEES
1996 – 2001, 2005

KNOWN FOR HIS POWERFUL BAT AND SUPERLATIVE DEFENSE AT FIRST BASE, MARTINEZ WAS A FAN FAVORITE ON FOUR YANKEES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS. HIT TWO OF THE MOST MEMORABLE HOME RUNS IN YANKEES POSTSEASON HISTORY – A GRAND SLAM IN GAME 1 OF THE 1998 WORLD SERIES AND A GAME-TYING, NINTH-INNING HOMER IN GAME 4 OF THE 2001 FALL CLASSIC. AMASSED 192 HOME RUNS AND 739 RBI IN SEVEN SEASONS WITH THE CLUB.

DEDICATED BY THE
NEW YORK YANKEES
JUNE 21, 2014

I was thinking after I finished the interview with him for the piece that I must have talked with Tino hundreds of times and thought I knew everything there was to know about him. But what I was not aware of until that interview was that Martinez wanted to succeed Don Mattingly as the Yankees’ first baseman.

It is always a tough assignment for a player to come to a new team and try to replace a legend. There is an enormous amount of pressure in that situation. This is not to say Martinez did not feel that pressure because he certainly did. He could have avoided it. There were other clubs interested, the Cubs and the Padres specifically, who coveted Martinez if the Mariners indeed were going to trade him after the 1995 season.

The Yankees were, too, of course, and Martinez told his manager, Lou Piniella, that New York was where he wanted to be. That was the part of which I was not aware beforehand. Martinez actually pushed for the trade despite knowing that a huge spotlight would be foisted on him as the man to follow Donnie Baseball.

Tino explains in the article that he had the utmost respect for Mattyingly, but that he was retiring as a player and his team needed a new first baseman. Martinez said he felt it would have been different if Mattingly had become a free agent and signed with another team. The pressure then would have beeb worse. But Mattingly’s retirement left a void, and Martinez was anxious to try and fill it.

He did all the smart things, beginning with not wearing Mattingly’s old uniform No. 23, the same numeral Martinez wore in Seattle. I think Yankees fans appreciated that sign of respect right from the get-go.

Martinez pointed out in the article and reiterated Saturday that he got off to a slow start in ’96 and that fans did not warm up to him immediately. But once he took off, so did the fans, whom he thanked Saturday.

His former manager, Joe Torre, and teammates Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Paul O’Neill and David Cone plus former trainer Gene Monahan took part in the pregame ceremony in which Martinez continued to express surprise that he was so honored.

From now on, whenever he comes to Yankee Stadium Tino can stop by Monument Park and see that the plaque is more than a dream.

image

D-Rob injury takes some glow off home opener

All the positive vibes from the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the Orioles in Monday’s home opener were tainted somewhat by a singular does of bad news. David Robertson, who has been anointed this year as the success to Mariano Rivera as the Yankees’ closer, is headed for the disabled list because of a Grade 1 groin pull. But there was no truth to the rumor that the Yanks would not let Mo leave the building.

Rivera was on hand with “Core Four” partners Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada to help make Derek Jeter’s final home opener a cozy afternoon. Jeter missed the 2013 opener while recovering from ankle surgery, so he was really looking forward to this day. The Captain had his share of ups and downs, but the 4-2 final was all he cared about.

“I’ll take the win,” Jeter said.

The victory would have to come without Robertson’s input. When the ninth inning arrived, Yankees manager Joe Girardi turned to Shawn Kelley instead. He came through with a 1-2-3 inning to record his first career save in what was also his first ninth-inning save opportunity as a major leaguer.

Robertson apparently hurt his groin during Sunday’s game at Toronto when he picked up his second save of the season but did not say anything to the staff until he came to Yankee Stadium Monday and complained of soreness. An MRI test revealed the strain. Girardi said he would likely mix and match with the closer role, but Kelley the hardest thrower in the bullpen could be the first choice during the period D-Rob is down.

As he did all day, Jeter tried to put a positive spin on the news.

“It’s better to have it happen at the beginning of the season rather than at the middle or at the end,” he said. “I’m sure he’s disappointed, but from what I understand he’ll be fine.”

Jeter’s day was one of mixed results. He struck out twice and grounded into a double play, although a run did score on the twin killing. No RBI, but to DJ a run is a run. His only hit, a double to left leading off the fifth inning, contained its share of drama as well as the Captain jogged a bit going down the first-base line before he had to step it up and leg out a double on a close play at second base.

“I thought it was a home run at first and then that it might go foul because the wind was tricky,” Jeter said with a sly grin. “I knew then I had to pick up the pace. Hey, I was safe. It would have been really embarrassing if I was out. Some guys got on me until they hit some balls into that wind.”

Jeter was also amused that fans near the dugout cheered him right after he hit into that double play. “I guess they appreciated that I hustled,” he said, “and we got a run.”

It always comes back to that for Jeter; what his play means to the team. For the sellout crowd of 48,142 at Yankee Stadium, it was a treat to be able to cheer for the Captain once more as a new season at home got underway.

“It felt like my first home opener,” Jeter said.

Yogi would not miss DJ’s last home opener

Although he was not part of the Opening Day festivities, Yogi Berra was not going to let Derek Jeter’s final home opener go by without coming to Yankee Stadium to wish the captain good luck in his farewell season.

The Hall of Famer and three-time American League Most Valuable Player, who has thrown out many a ceremonial first pitch at the Stadium, is confined to a wheelchair these days, but the 87-year-old legend was in good spirits as he entered the hallway to the Yankees’ clubhouse just as Jeter was heading out to the field for batting practice.

“Hey, kid, you ready for one more big year?” Yogi asked Jeter.

“I hope so,” DJ said. “Thanks for coming. It means a lot to us. I’ve got to go stretch now. You want to come with me?”

Yogi’s pre-game stretching days are well behind him, but as Jeter pointed out his presence is greatly appreciated by Yankees players. Yogi lost his lifetime partner, Carmen, last month to a long illness, so it was good to see him out and about in the venue that continues to embrace him.

Berra was among several popular former Yankees on the scene for the first home game against the Orioles. Jeter and best pal Jorge Posada did the duty of catching the ceremonial first pitches tossed by the other half of the “Core Four,” Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte.

Even before the game, it was a home opener to remember.

‘Core Four’ will ring in Yankees’ home season

The “Core Four” will get the Yankees’ home schedule started Monday at the 112th home opener.

Yankee Stadium gates will open to fans for the 1:05 p.m. game against the Orioles beginning at 11 a.m. Festivities are slated to start at approximately 12:30 p.m. with the introduction of both teams on the baselines. The Yankees ask their fans to please budget ample time when planning their trip to the Stadium and urge their fans to use public transportation.

Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera will throw the Opening Day ceremonial first pitches to Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. Pettitte and Rivera, who each will also be honored with the “Pride of the Yankees Award” at the 35th Annual Homecoming Dinner at the New York Hilton Midtown following the game, will become the 13th and 14th former Yankees player to receive the Opening Day honor. Posada threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Yankees’ 2012 home opener.

Jeter, of course, will continue to work when the game begins as he continues his 20th and final season as a player. The Captain batted .250 with one RBI on the six-game trip through Houston and Toronto.

image
Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada
(bleedingyankeeblueblogspot)

Kelli O’Hara, a Tony Award nominee and co-star of the Broadway musical The Bridges of Madison County, will sing the national anthem. In addition, a giant American flag will be unfurled by 75 West Point Cadets.

During the seventh-inning stretch, James Moye of the Broadway hit Bullets Over Broadway will perform “God Bless America.”

Following Opening Day, the Yankees will continue their nine-game homestand with two more games against the Orioles, a four-game against the Red Sox (April 10-13) and a two-game, inter-league series against the Cubs (April 15-16). The homestand will feature special pregame ceremonies and giveaways, as well as unique events:

Thursday, April 10 – Yankees vs. Red Sox, 7:05 p.m.

Mark Rivera, longtime Billy Joel band mate and music director for Ringo Starr, will sing the national anthem.

Friday, April 11 – Yankees vs. Red Sox, 7:05 p.m.

Magnetic Schedule Night, presented by AT&T, to all guests in attendance.

Saturday, April 12 & Sunday, April 13 – Yankees vs. Red Sox (1:05 p.m. and 8:05 p.m., respectively)

Calendar Day/Night, presented by Subway, to all guests in attendance.

Monday, April 14 – Tuesday, April 15
The Yankees and Major League Baseball will co-host the third annual MLB Diversity Business Summit, an event that provides attendees with unique access to executives from MLB, all 30 MLB clubs, as well as those from MLB media entities.

Tuesday, April 15 – Yankees vs. Cubs, 7:05 p.m.

As part of the Jackie Robinson Day pregame ceremonies, Nelson Mandela will be honored with a plaque in Monument Park.

Wednesday, April 16 – Yankees vs. Cubs, 7:05 p.m.

Yankees Peeps Collectible Night (Yankee Stadium Exclusive), presented by Peeps Brands, to first 10,000 Guests 14 and younger.

For information on parking and public transportation options to the Stadium, please visit yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.

Politics does not belong in 9/11

For Bobby Valentine to politicize Sept.11, 2001 is amazingly in awful taste. The greatest single tragedy in the history of New York City should not be something that somehow got thrown into the Yankees-Mets rivalry.

Valentine’s comments on WFAN Radio Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, had absolutely no basis in fact. His suggestion that the Yankees were derelict in devoting time and funds to the recovery efforts in the aftermath of the destruction of the Twin Towers was astoundingly off-base.

I covered that story on a daily basis during that time when I was the national baseball columnist for the Hartford Courant and was well aware of what representatives of both clubs did to show their support of the recovery efforts. There is no question that Valentine, then the manager of the Mets, flung himself into those efforts.

The parking lot at Shea Stadium was set up as a supply station immediately after the attacks because the Mets were out of town. Valentine and many Mets players, including current Yankees broadcaster Al Leiter, spent hours of their own time loading and unloading supplies from and on to trucks. And it was Mets shortstop Rey Ordonez who came up with the idea of wearing hats bearing logos of the New York Police Department, Fire Department and Emergency Services.

I was also at Shea the night baseball was first played after the attacks and watched one of the most moving ceremonies before the Mets and the Braves took the field after embracing each other in the center of the diamond. Mike Piazza’s game-winning home run off Atlanta reliever Steve Karsay became one of the game’s most significant moments.

That said, the Yankees certainly did their part as well. I remember Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, Chuck Knoblauch, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, Jorge Posada and other players visiting firehouses and hospitals all over the city. The Yankees also had an emotional ceremony prior to the first game at Yankee Stadium after the attacks.

Somehow Valentine missed all that. Here is what he said on the radio Wednesday:

“Let it be said that during the time from 9/11 to 9/21, the Yankees were AWOL. You couldn’t find a Yankee on the streets of New York City. You couldn’t find a Yankee down at Ground Zero, talking to the guys who were working 24/7. Many of them didn’t live here, and so it wasn’t their fault. And many of them did not partake in all that, so there was some of that jealousy going around. Like, ‘Why are we so tired? Why are we wasted? Why have we been to the funerals and the firehouses, and the Yankees are getting all the credit for bringing baseball back?’ And I said, ‘This isn’t about credit, guys. This is about doing the right thing.’ ”

How hypocritical. As the Yankees proceeded past the end of the regular season into postseason play all the way to the World Series, they brought attention to New York’s recovery while the Mets’ season was over. We all remember the lump we had in our throats when President Bush threw that strike of a ceremonial first pitch at the Stadium. But it was not about the Yankees any more than it was about the Mets. It was about people of all stripes working together to bind the city’s and the nation’s wounds.

“Bobby Valentine should know better than to point fingers on a day like today,” Yankees president Randy Levine said. “[Sept. 11] is a day of reflection and prayer. The Yankees, as has been well documented, visited Ground Zero, the Armory, the Javits Center, St. Vincent’s Hospital and many other places during that time. We continue to honor the 9/11 victims and responders. On this day, he would have been better to have kept his thoughts to himself rather than seeking credit, which is very sad to me.”

Yankees add pitcher, drop Francisco

The cleaver finally came down on Ben Francisco, the least productive of Yankees hitters this season. Francisco, who was used at designated hitter and in the outfield, was designated for assignment Sunday as the Yankees needed to create roster space for pitcher David Huff, whom they claimed off waivers from the Indians. Francisco batted .114 with one home run and one RBI in 44 at-bats and never seemed to get untracked.

Huff gives the Yankees another lefthander to work out of the bullpen with Boone Logan and as a long reliever, which may be important these days with starters Hiroki Kuroda (bruised right calf) and David Phelps (bruised right forearm) on the mend. Huff has an unsightly 15.00 ERA in three appearances this season. Yankees fans may recall that Huff was beaned by a line drive to the box by Alex Rodriguez in a 2010 game at Yankee Stadium.

He told reporters before Sunday’s game at St. Petersburg, Fla., “The last time I talked to you guys was the day I almost had my head taken off. I’m just super excited to be here, and I’ve got to embrace it.”

The Yankees’ 4-3, 11-inning victory Saturday night in which they trailed, 3-1, with two outs in the ninth inning was the first time they won a game in which they had two outs and the potential tying run not yet at bat since a 9-8 walk-off victory June 5, 2008 over the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, won on a pinch-hit home run by Jason Giambi. It was also the Yankees’ second victory this season when trailing after eight innings. They had just one such triumph last year (1-58) in the next-to-last game of the season Oct. 2 against the Red Sox at the Stadium.

The return of Brennan Boesch from Triple A Scranton gives the Yankees their best pinch hitter back. They are hitting only .167 with two home runs and five RBI in 24 at-bats in the pinch. Boesch as a pinch hitter is 3-for-9 (.333) with one of the homers and four of the RBI. His most recent pinch hit was an RBI double as part of Saturday’s ninth-inning rally.

Of the Yankees’ 60 home runs, 20 have tied the game or given them a lead with six of those coming in the seventh inning or later. Lyle Overbay’s 11th-inning, go-ahead homer was the first extra-inning jack by a Yankees hitter to give them the lead in a road game since April 11, 2012 by Nick Swisher at Baltimore. Overbay became the second Yankee to do so at Tropicana Field, joining Jorge Posada Sept. 14, 2010, a 10th-inning solo shot off Dan Wheeler in an 8-7 victory.

Mo sets club durability record

Mariano Rivera’s first appearance of the 2013 season Thursday night set a club record for years with the Yankees. This marks Mo’s 19th season in pinstripes, which breaks the tie he had shared with Yogi Berra (1946-63), Mickey Mantle (1951-68) and Derek Jeter (1995-2012). Once Jeet comes off the disabled list, of course, he will go back into a tie with Rivera.

Next in line with 17 seasons with the Yankees are Lou Gehrig (1923-39), Bill Dickey (1928-43, ’46), Frankie Crosetti (1932-48) and Jorge Posada (1995-2011). With 16 seasons apiece are Whitey Ford (1950, ’53-67) and Bernie Williams (1991-2006).

Rivera’s save to preserve the 4-2 victory over the Red Sox for Andy Pettitte also made it 18 years in a row (1996-2013) in which Mo has saved at least one game, tying the major-league record with John Franco.

In the major-league opener Sunday night between the Astros and the Rangers, Houston center fielder Justin Maxwell hit two triples to become one of only six players in history to triple twice in a season opener. One of them was the Yankees’ Tommy Henrich in 1950, his final season. “Old Reliable,” as Henrich was known, had more triples (8) than doubles (6) or home runs (6) that year. Henrich hit 73 triples over his 11-season career (he lost three full seasons to military service during World War II) and led the league twice, with 14 in 1948 and 13 in 1947.

Ichiro outwits Wieters for Yanks’ first run

It is a good thing for the Yankees that Orioles catcher Matt Wieters never had Stump Merrill for a catching instructor. Merrill, who served in the Yankees’ organization for decades as a minor-league manager as well as the big club’s skipper in 1991 and ’92, was a former catcher who worked with backstops in spring training and the minors for many years. It was Stump who helped the transition from second base to catcher for a young guy named Jorge Posada.

I spent a lot of time talking baseball with Stump. One of his pet peeves was when catchers let base runners outfox them on tag plays at the plate. Stump used to say that it made no sense to chase a runner if the catcher missed the tag at first swipe and the runner missed the plate.

“Just sit on the plate and let the runner come to you,” Merrill said of his strategy. “If he wants to score, he has to try and get to the plate at some time.”

One of Merrill’s pupils over the years in the Yankees’ system was Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who is as smart about the game as there is in baseball. Buck’s catcher could have used that lesson Monday night in the first inning of Game 2 of the American League Division Series.

Fortunately for the Yankees, Wieters played into Ichiro Suzuki’s hands by lunging to tag the wiry outfielder, who used an assortment of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly moves to elude his pursuer and score the first run.

Suzuki appeared to be a dead duck as he tried to come home from first base on a double into the right field corner by Robinson Cano. Ichiro weaved his way around Wieters, then waited for the catcher to make a move toward him and reacted by swerving away from the catcher to slap a tag on the plate before he was tagged.

Anyone who has ever seen Suzuki’s stretching exercises realizes that he is half elastic. Trying to tag him in that spot was a waste of time. Had Wieters merely squatted on the plate, the game would have still been scoreless.

Yanks tie club mark with 4 homers in one inning

The Yankees got a break with the third of their four home runs in the second inning Monday night. There was no question about the legitimacy of the drives by Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, but the blow by Russell Martin. . .well.

Cano started the onslaught with his 31st homer, a shot into the net protecting Monument Park in center field. After a one-out single by Nick Swisher, Granderson launched a 1-2 pitch from Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz into the second deck in right field inside the foul pole for his 41st homer. Martin next hit an opposite-field fly ball that landed above the auxiliary scoreboard.

It required a review by the umpires before Martin’s 21st home run became official. I found it hard to believe that four sets of eyes didn’t seen what my set did, which was that the ball struck the outstretched arm of a fan leaning over the top of the scoreboard. Fortunately for the Yankees, the umps saw it the way they did.

It all proved inconsequential because the Yankees kept scoring – five more times for a total of nine runs, the most they have had in one inning since July 30 last year when they scored 12 in the first against the Orioles. A sacrifice fly by Alex Rodriguez, a two-run double by Cano and a two-run homer by Mark Teixeira (No. 24) in his first game back in three weeks from a left calf strain had them rolling to a 9-0 lead.

The four home runs tied the franchise record, accomplished twice before June 30, 1977 at Toronto and June 21, 2005 at Yankee Stadium against the Rays. Cliff Johnson hit three home runs in the ’77 game, an 11-5 Yankees victory, two in the eighth inning, along with Thurman Munson and Lou Piniella. In the ’05 game, a 20-11 Yankees victory, Gary Sheffield hit one of his two home runs in the eighth inning, along with A-Rod, Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.