Results tagged ‘ Jorge Posada ’

Sanchez earns AL Player of the Week honors

Rookie catcher Gary Sanchez may have plenty of awards come his way during a promising career. The first one arrived Monday when he was named American League Player of the Week for Aug. 15-21.

Sanchez had a slash line of .524/.600/1.190 (11-for-21) with four runs, two doubles, four home runs, six RBI, four walks and a stolen bases in 25 plate appearances. During that span, he led the AL in batting, on-base percentage, slugging and on-base plus slugging (OPS) and ranked among the league leaders in total bases (tied for second with 25), hits (tied for third) and home runs (tied for third). Sanchez had multiple hits in four straight games (Aug. 15-19) and extra-base hits in four straight games (Aug. 16-20).

It marked the first time a Yankees player won the award this season. Their previous AL Player of the Week Award winner was Brett Gardner from June 22-28 last year. Sanchez is only the second catcher in Yankees history to win the award. Thurman Munson was a two-time winner for the weeks ending May 4, 1975 and July 25, 1976. Surprisingly, Jorge Posada never won the award. Sanchez is the first Yankees rookie to win since Robinson Cano for the week ending Sept. 19, 2005 and the first catcher since the Angels’ Chris Iannetta for the week ending Sept. 15, 2013.

In 10 games behind the plate this season, Sanchez has thrown out four of six attempted base stealers and picked off one runner.

Former Yankees’ impressions of Alex Rodriguez

Views of Alex Rodriguez from those who were around him with the Yankees:

Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre, now Major League Baseball’s chief baseball officer: “Alex was a hard worker, a genuine fan of the game and possessed great ability. In our time together, I always knew that the game mattered to him. Baseball teaches all of us at some point, and I think he should be proud of the way he carried himself these last two years. I wish Alex and his family all the best in the future.”

Derek Jeter: “I’ve spent 22 years playing against, playing with and watching Alex from afar, and there are two things that stand out to me the most: the conversations we had when we were young — hoping for the opportunity to play at the Major League level and then somehow finding a way to stick around — and the championship we won together in 2009. That was a season everyone on that team can cherish. What people don’t realize is how much time, effort and work that Alex put in on a daily basis. He lives and breathes baseball. I know it will be difficult for him to not be on the field, but I’m sure he will continue to give back to the game. Congrats, Alex.”

Andy Pettitte: “I had a chance to see Alex as a young player in the league, and I knew immediately he was going to be special. It was always fun competing against Alex, but I really enjoyed having the opportunity to play side-by-side with him in New York. He was a big reason we were able to win the 2009 World Series. I wish Alex and his family nothing but the best moving forward.”

Jorge Posada: “Alex was not only one of the best players in the world, he was also one of the smartest players on the field. It was such a great combination. Please go have fun and enjoy your family — you are an awesome dad. I’m very proud of you.”

Mariano Rivera: “It was a privilege to play with Alex. Through his preparation and work ethic, you saw how much he cared about this game and about helping this team win. I love him — as a friend and as a teammate. He was all you could ask for in both.”

Robinson Cano, now with the Mariners: “He’s one of the best players who ever played. He’s a guy who worked hard. I’ve never seen a guy who worked harder than him. There are three things that I can say. He loves baseball, he’s a guy who works hard and a guy who loved to win. He was a great teammate. For me, he was one of the best teammates I’ve had and a guy who helped me when I first came up and I appreciate all of the things he has done for me.”

Barbato top rookie in Yankees camp

Pitcher Johnny Barbato was the recipient of the 2016 James P. Dawson Award, given annually to the outstanding rookie in the Yankees’ spring training camp.

Barbato, 23, had a record of 0-1 with two saves and a 1.74 ERA in 10 relief appearances covering 10 1/3 innings in Grapefruit League play. The righthander allowed seven hits and one walk with 12 strikeouts. Over five minor league seasons, Barbato has an 18-15 record with 36 saves, a 3.55 ERA and 326 strikeouts in 179 career appearances (20 starts) totaling 317 innings. The Miami, Fla., native was acquired from the Padres in a Dec. 29, 2014 trade for pitcher Shawn Kelley. Barbato was originally a sixth-round selection by the Padres in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

The award was established in honor of James P. Dawson (1896-1953), who began a 45-year career with The New York Times as a copy boy in 1908. Eight years later, he became boxing editor and covered boxing and baseball until his death during spring training in 1953.

Two winners of the honor, Tony Kubek in 1957 and Tom Tresh in 1962, went on to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award. The Dawson Award first was presented to Norm Siebern by manager Casey Stengel in St. Petersburg, Fla., at the conclusion of spring training in 1956. Other prominent Dawson Award winners over the years include Roy White (1966), Willie Randolph (1976), Don Mattingly (1983), Al Leiter (1988), Jorge Posada (1997), Alfonso Soriano (2001), Hideki Matsui (2003), Brett Gardner (2009) and Masahiro Tanaka (2015).

Yankees beat writers vote on the winner. In conjunction with the award, Barbato will receive a watch from Betteridge Jewelers.

‘Maria’ to toss out 1st pitch Sept. 8

As part of the Yankees’ continued celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, 15-time Emmy Award-winner Sonia Manzano will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the 7:05 p.m. game between the Yankees and the Orioles Tuesday, Sept. 8.

In addition, the club has also published the fourth annual installment of Yankees Magazine en Español, the Spanish-language edition of the club’s official game-day program. For the first time, Yankees Magazine en Español features two distinct covers, spotlighting the first two Puerto Rico–born members of Monument Park, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams.

Manzano, a first-generation American of Latino descent, was raised in the South Bronx and is best known for her portrayal of Maria on the critically acclaimed children’s program Sesame Street. First offered the part in the early 1970s, she went on to star in the role for 44 years and also win 15 Emmys as a writer for the show. Manzano is also an accomplished Broadway actress, speaker, and author. She had two books published books this year – Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx and Miracle on 133rd Street. An influential role model, she has touched the lives of millions for over four decades.

“For 44 years, Sonia Manzano has portrayed one of the most iconic Latina characters in television history – Maria on Sesame Street,” Yankees executive director of Latino Affairs Manuel Garcia said. “Raised in the South Bronx, her award-winning accomplishments throughout her career have made her a true inspiration to many in our community. We are very excited to have her participate in our annual Hispanic Heritage Month celebration and I know her appearance in Yankee Stadium will trigger many childhood memories for our wonderful fans.”

Yankees Magazine has served as the team’s game-day program since its inception in 1980 and has strived to exceed the expectations normally associated with a team-based periodical. The fourth Spanish-language issue of Yankees Magazine en Español continues the publication’s dedication to serve its loyal readers in new and engaging ways. The magazine can be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com/publications and http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com/publicaciones or by phone at (800) GO-YANKS [800-469-2657].

In an on-field ceremony prior to their game against the White Sox Thursday, Sept. 24, the Yankees will recognize the Carlos Beltran Scholarship Program at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. In conjunction with the Carlos Beltran Foundation, the program granted scholarships, based on merit and financial need, to four deserving Hostos students which has allowed each student to continue to attain their respective educational goals.

Additional on-field ceremonies this month include the Hispanic Committee’s 50th Anniversary, the eighth annual Hispanic Heritage Month Community Achievement Awards, a team from the Rolando Paulino Baseball Little League and five students from the League of Puerto Rican Women who each received scholarships from the Yankees Foundation.

Fans may learn more about these and other events by visiting the team’s official Spanish-language website, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com and clicking on the special Hispanic Heritage Month section. While there, fans may also participate in an online sweepstakes for the opportunity to win tickets to the final regular season home game Thursday, Oct. 1, against the Red Sox. Up-to-date information on all of the team’s Hispanic initiatives can also be found on the following Yankees Spanish-language social media outlets:

Twitter & Instagram: @Yankees_beisbol and @LosYankeesPR
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/yankeesbeisbol

Too bad Pettitte was not warming up

What the Yankees needed on Andy Pettitte Day Sunday at Yankee Stadium was, well, Andy Pettitte.

Another nostalgic ceremony to retire Pettitte’s No. 46 and install a plaque in Monument Park honoring his pitching career with the Yankees was barely over when CC Sabathia gave up a two-run home run to Indians first baseman Carlos Santana in the first inning in what turned out an ominous day for the big lefthander.

There was no one warming up in the bullpen in the third inning when Sabathia had to come out of the game because of an injury to his surgical right knee. Yankees manager Joe Girardi had to rely on a couple of Scranton shuttle guys, Nick Rumbelow and Branden Pinder, to get through the middle innings.

A chant of “Andy Pettitte” from the bleachers sprung up several times from fans with fond memories of his grim determination on the mound over an 18-season major league career, all but three of them with the Yankees, that included an additional 276 1/3 innings of postseason work that produced a 19-11 record and four World Series championships.

“I just don’t remember ever going out there and feeling like I’m going to step on this mound and absolutely dominate this team because I am so good,” Pettitte told the crowd earlier. “I know some of the great players have felt like that. Every game at the big-league level, mentally, I had to be into it every pitch. It seemed like if I let my focus down for one inning, it was going to be a three-run inning. I needed every ounce of focus and energy to be successful.”

Andy Pettitte

Andy Pettitte

The Yankees had coaxed Pettitte out of retirement once before, in 2012. Too bad they could not do it again Sunday.

The only work for Pettitte Sunday was getting through a well-constructed speech in which he thanked his family, former teammates, the Steinbrenner family and even us writers, whom he said treated him fairly over the years.

Joining him on the field for the pregame ceremony were fellow Core Four partners Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Saturday’s honoree Jorge Posada as well as other former teammates Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, David Cone, Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez and Hideki Matsui; former trainer Gene Monahan; former executive Gene Michael; Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and former manager Joe Torre; managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and vice president Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal.

“We experienced some amazing wins, some heartbreaking losses,” Pettitte added. “Through it all, this place has become home to me and my family.”

Sabathia was supposed to be Pettitte’s successor as the senior voice on the pitching staff, but he has been slowed down by a knee that has been operated on twice and which was drained twice over the past two months. Sabathia admitted to Girardi that he felt discomfort while warming up but did not say anything until he was interrogated by his manager on the mound.

“It has been a watch for us all year long as we knew it would be,” Girardi said. “For him to say something on the mound it had to be pretty sore.”

Sabathia, who was to undergo an MRI exam late Sunday, has not been himself most of the season. He is 4-9 with a 5.27 ERA, and his record could be worse if the Yankees had not come back from trailing in games to get him off the hook eight times, including Sunday when they tied the score in the seventh inning on a two-run double by Carlos Beltran.

A comeback victory was not forthcoming, however, as Francisco Lindor finished off his second straight three-hit game with a solo home run off Dellin Betances in the eighth inning that held up for a 4-3 victory for the Indians, who were 5-2 against the Yankees this year.

It was almost as painful a game for the Stadium crowd of 46,945 to watch as it was for Sabathia. This was an absolute walkathon with Yankees pitchers combining for 10 walks (four by Sabathia) and the Indians for six. Despite all those free base runners the Yankees allowed, the score stayed close because the Tribe was 1-for-10 (.100) with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base, which would have been more if the Yanks had not turned four double plays.

Sabathia’s injury, which general manager Brian Cashman said would likely put him on the 15-day disabled list, botches plans the Yankees had of going to a six-man rotation with the return from the DL of Michael Pineda, who is scheduled to start Wednesday at the Stadium against the Astros.

The idea was to give an additional day of rest to all the starters, but that will have to go on hold for now. The Yankees could return Adam Warren to the rotation, but as well as he has pitched in relief they are reluctant to do that. The more likely choice for a sixth starter would be Bryan Mitchell, who was on the seven-day concussion list after being struck in the face by a batted ball Aug. 17. Cashman said Mitchell may pitch a simulated game this week.

All these pitching woes and the possibility the Yankees could drop out of first place put a damper on the special day for Pettitte, who might have been a big help had he been able to don a unifiorm.

Andy Pettitte’s Monument Park plaque

ANDREW EUGENE PETTITTE
NEW YORK YANKEES 1995-2003, 2007-2010, 2012-2013

A FIVE-TIME WORLD CHAMPION AND THREE-TIME ALL-STAR, PETTITTE WAS A MODEL OF CONSISTENCY IN THE YANKEES ROTATION FOR 15 SEASONS, GOING 219-127 (.633) AND TYING THE FRANCHISE RECORD OF 438 STARTS.

KNOWN FOR HAVING ONE OF BASEBALL’S BEST PICKOFF MOVES, PETTITTE WILL BE MOST REMEMBERED FOR HIS EXTENSIVE OCTOBER RÉSUMÉ, AS HE WENT 18-10 WITH A 3.76 ERA IN 40 POSTSEASON STARTS WITH THE CLUB. IN 2009, HE BECAME THE FIRST PITCHER TO START AND WIN
THE CLINCHING GAME IN EACH OF THREE SERIES IN A SINGLE POSTSEASON.

THE LEFTHANDER RETIRED WITH THE THIRD HIGHEST WIN TOTAL IN FRANCHISE HISTORY, AND HE IS THE CLUB’S ALL-TIME STRIKEOUT LEADER, WITH 2,020. TWICE A 20-GAME WINNER, PETTITTE FINISHED HIS CAREER AS THE FIRST PLAYER TO PITCH MORE THAN 15 SEASONS IN THE MAJORS WITHOUT EVER HAVING A LOSING RECORD.

DEDICATED BY THE NEW YORK YANKEES
AUGUST 23, 2015

Posada would have loved catching Severino

The Yankees looked both into their past and their future Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

Nostalgia was served with the pregame tribute to Jorge Posada, the newest member of Monument Park with a plaque honoring his 17-season career with the Yankees and the retirement of uniform No. 20. Andy Pettitte and No. 46 will get similar treatment Sunday.

After Posada’s high throw to his son Jorge Jr. for the ceremonial first pitch, a glance into the future came next with Luis Severino, who has been so impressive in his four starts thus far that he is becoming a vital part of the Yankees’ present as well. While the righthander, 21, put up good numbers in his previous three starts, it was not until Saturday that he finally got a number in his victory column.

The Yankees had totaled only two runs in support of Severino in those first three starts but rectified that with a three-run first inning off Danny Salazar that wiped out a 1-0 deficit and sent the Yanks toward a 6-2 victory.

Severino pitched six innings for the third consecutive start and despite having no command of his slider gutted his way through the outing. He allowed only three hits and withstood four walks to limit the Indians to one run on a first-inning homer by Francisco Lindor, who had three hits and scored twice.

The Yankees’ first-inning magic staked Severino to a lead for the first time in his brief major-league career. The Yanks jumped on Salazar right away. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single and Brett Gardner followed with a home run off the top of the wall in right field. One out later, Brian McCann clocked his 22nd home run.

The first inning has been a barometer for the Yankees’ offense this season. They have scored 102 runs in the first inning, the most runs by any club in any inning this year and their most first-inning runs since 2012 when they had 118.

The Yankees have scored in the first inning of 47 of their 122 games (38.5 percent) and have a 36-11 (.766) record in those games. They have scored multiple first-inning runs in 26 of 122 games (21.3 percent), including at least three runs 12 times. The Yankees are 27-1 in home games when they score the first run.

Of McCann’s 22 home runs, seven have come in the first inning. He has also hit 33 of his 45 home runs over the past two years for the Yankees at the Stadium. Mac started as the designated hitter for the first time since Sept. 20 last year.

It was somewhat fitting that he and John Ryan Murphy, who was behind the plate, had major roles in a game on a day one of the Yankees’ best catchers was honored. McCann was 2-for-4. Murf was 1-for-3 with an RBI on a sacrifice fly.

Severino has allowed three or fewer runs while pitching at least five innings in each of his first four big league starts to join Masahiro Tanaka (first eight starts in 2014) and Vidal Nuno (first four starts from 2013-14) as the only Yankees to do so over the past 10 seasons.

Adam Warren pitched a perfect seventh inning with two strikeouts and has not allowed a run in his past nine appearances covering 10 2/3 innings in which he has allowed four hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts. In 19 relief outings this season, Warren has a 1.75 ERA in 25 2/3 innings.

Dellin Betances allowed a run in the eighth, which ended a streak of 18 scoreless appearances dating to July 8 and covering 20 1/3 innings in which he totaled 30 strikeouts.

Posada joins legends in Monument Park

During Saturday’s ceremony at Yankee Stadium for former All-Star catcher Jorge Posada, whose uniform No. 20 was retired and who received a plaque in Monument Park, I got a text from my son Corey, who was watching on television from his home on Long Island.

“Watching this makes me feel very old!”

Corey is only 33. If he thought he felt old, how about me? I met Posada at his first spring training camp with the Yankees 20 years ago. There is a photo in the office of my Queens apartment of me presenting the James P. Dawson Award to Posada as the outstanding rookie in training camp for 1997 before a spring training game at Tampa, the year before there was a major league franchise in that area.

And now there was Posada, still trim but his wavy black hair turning grey, standing behind a podium surrounded by former teammates, Yankees dignitaries and his family drinking in praise from a sellout crowd in the Bronx talking about a career that does not seem all that long ago.

One of the feelings that these celebrations at the Stadium convey is the passage of time. Posada was an integral part of a period in Yankees history that was indeed glorious and to people of Corey’s generation a dominant part of their personal scrapbook, the way previous generations venerated the careers of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Bobby Murcer, Thurman Munson, Ron Guidry and Don Mattingly.

“I can’t believe I’m standing up here right now,” Posada told the crowd. “And I can tell you, I’ve never been nervous on a baseball field. Being here seems surreal. I can honestly tell you, this is one of the happiest days of my life.”

His partners in the Core Four — Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, who will be honored Sunday — were in attendance as well as former teammates Bernie Williams, David Cone, Hideki Matsui and Paul O’Neill; former manager Joe Torre; former trainer Gene Monahan; former player, coach, manager and executive Gene Michael and general partner Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal.

Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams (NY Daily News photo).

Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams (NY Daily News photo).

Posada was truly moved at being considered part of the legacy of great Yankees catchers that began with Bill Dickey and continued through Berra, Elston Howard and Munson, whose widow, Diane, was also on the field. Posada kept a baseball card of Munson in his locker throughout his playing career.

“I never saw myself as part of that group,” Posada said. “Just a lot of respect for the guys. It’s just being there with them now is such a great honor. I’m never going to forget this day.”

Berra, hobbled by painful knees, was unable to attend but sent Posada a personal message that was displayed and narrated on the video board in center field.

“You were a really good ball player for a long time,” Berra wrote. “I’m proud of you, kid.”

Posada could not help but appreciate the irony that he had resisted at first the Yankees’ suggestion that he convert to catcher from second base, his natural position, while in the minor leagues in 1991. He recalled a conversation he had with Mark Newman, then the Yankees’ director of player personnel.

“He said, you have a great arm. You’re going to be very strong because your legs are very strong. You haven’t been catching, so you’re going to be very durable. Your knees are not [worn out]. They haven’t caught.’ And he said, ‘It’s the fastest way to get to the big leagues.’ When he said that, that was it. That was it for me. I wanted to get to the big leagues. That’s all I wanted.”

Posada went on to play 17 seasons behind the plate, all for the Yankees, and batted .273 with 275 home runs and 1,065 RBI. He was a five-time All-Star, won five Silver Slugger Awards and wore four World Series rings. Only twice did the Yankees fail to reach postseason play in Posada’s time. He played in 125 postseason games, including 29 in the World Series.

Posada evoked DiMaggio when he said, “Today, I must say I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee.”

He was all Georgie when he said, “Ever since I can remember, all I wanted to ever do was play baseball. Honestly, I didn’t have a Plan B.”

That was a break for all of us, no matter how old it made us feel Saturday.

Jorge Posada’s Plaque

JORGE RAFAEL DE POSADA VILLETA
NEW YORK YANKEES
1995 – 2011

A MEMBER OF FIVE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS AND A FIVE-TIME SILVER SLUGGER AWARD- WINNER, POSADA WAS A HOMEGROWN YANKEE, PLAYING ALL 17 OF HIS MAJOR LEAGUE SEASONS IN PINSTRIPES.

CONTINUING THE LEGACY OF GREAT YANKEES CATCHERS, HE APPEARED IN 1,829 CAREER GAMES, COMPILING A .273 BATTING AVERAGE, WITH 275 CAREER HOME RUNS, 1,065 RBI, AND A .374 ON-BASE PERCENTAGE.

THE FIVE-TIME ALL-STAR SET CAREER HIGHS WITH 30 HOME RUNS AND 101 RBI IN 2003, FINISHING THIRD IN AL MVP VOTING AND MATCHING YOGI BERRA’S SINGLE-SEASON RECORD FOR MOST HOME RUNS BY A YANKEES CATCHER.

IN 2007, POSADA HAD A HISTORIC SEASON, BATTING .338, WITH 20 HOME RUNS, 90 RBI, 42 DOUBLES, AND A .426 ON-BASE PERCENTAGE.

DEDICATED BY THE NEW YORK YANKEES
AUGUST 22, 2015

Posada, Pettitte to be honored during homestand

The Yankees were back at Yankee Stadium Monday night for the start of a long homestand. The 10-game stretch will feature a three-game series against the Twins (Monday and Tuesday nights and Wednesday afternoon, a four-game set against the Indians Thursday and Friday nights and Saturday and Sunday afternoons and a three-game series against the Astros next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

As part of separate pregame ceremonies prior to the scheduled 1:05 p.m. games against the Indians on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, the Yankees will honor Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte by unveiling Monument Park plaques recognizing their careers. Additionally, Posada’s uniform No. 20 and Pettitte’s uniform No. 46 will be retired by the organization. Former teammates, coaches and other guests will take part in the festivities. Gates will open two hours prior to first pitch at 11 a.m. on both days, and fans are encouraged to arrive early and be in their seats by 12 noon.

Posada spent each of his 17 major league seasons with the Yankees from 1995-2011. He batted .273 with 900 runs, 379 doubles, 275 home runs and 1,065 RBI in 1,829 games and 6,092 at-bats. As a player on five World Series championship teams (1996, ‘98, ‘99, 2000, ‘09), Posada finished his career among baseball’s all-time postseason leaders in games (second, 125), doubles (third, 23) and hits (fourth, 103). His 119 postseason contests as a catcher are the most all time. A five-time American League All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner (each in 2000-03, ’07), Posada twice finished in the top 10 in AL Most Valuable Player balloting — third in 2003 and sixth in 2007.

Pettitte pitched in 15 seasons with the club (1995-2003, ’07-10 and ’12-13). He had a 219-127 record with a 3.94 ERA and 2,020 strikeouts in 447 games (438 starts) and 2,796 1/3 innings. The lefthander is the franchise leader in strikeouts, is tied with Whitey Ford for most starts and trails only Ford (236 victories, 3,171 innings) and Red Ruffing (231 victories, 3,168 innings) in winning decisions and innings pitched for the Yankees. The three-time AL All-Star (1996, 2001 and ’10) is the only pitcher drafted by the Yankees to win 200 games in the majors. As a Yankees pitcher, Pettitte was 18-10 with a 3.76 ERA (251.1IP, 105ER) in 40 career postseason starts and 251 1/3 innings and is the organization’s all-time playoff leader in victories, starts, innings pitched and strikeouts (167).

The seventh annual HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) will run from Monday through Friday. The initiative is a unique week-long community program that brings to light five remarkable stories intended to inspire individuals into action in their own communities. Since its inception in 2009, the Yankees have recognized more than 30 different 501(c)3 organizations as part of HOPE Week.

Each day over the five-day stretch, the Yankees will reach out to an individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support, surprising honorees with a day celebrating their accomplishments. Outreach will often take place away from the Stadium, which will allow the Yankees to connect personally with individuals in settings that highlight their greatest successes.

Ticket specials will run on Monday, Aug. 17 (Military Personnel Game); Tuesday, Aug. 18 (Military Personnel Game); Wednesday, Aug. 19 (MasterCard Half-Price/Senior Citizen/Student/Youth/Military Personnel Game); Thursday, Aug. 20 (Military Personnel Game); Monday, Aug. 24 (Military Personnel Game); Tuesday, Aug. 25 (Military Personnel Game), and Wednesday, Aug. 26 (MasterCard Half-Price/Senior Citizen/Student/Youth/Military Personnel Game).

For a complete list of ticket specials, including game dates, seating locations, and terms and conditions, fans should visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketspecials. Please note that all ticket specials are subject to availability.

The homestand will also feature the following promotional items and dates:

Monday, August 17 – Yankees vs. Twins, 7:05 p.m.
* Frank Sinatra Music Download Card Night, presented by Universal Music, to the first 18,000 in attendance, 21 and older.

Wednesday, August 19 – Yankees vs. Twins, 1:05 p.m.
* Yankees Coloring Book Day, presented by Party City, to the first 18,000 in attendance, 14 and younger.

Thursday, August 20 – Yankees vs. Indians, 7:05 p.m.
* Yankees Microfiber Cloth Night, presented by The Parking Spot, to the first 18,000 in attendance.

Friday, August 21 – Yankees vs. Indians, 7:05 p.m.
* Yankees Water Bottle Night, presented by Budweiser, to the first 18,000 in attendance, 21 and older.

Saturday, August 22 – Yankees vs. Indians, 1:05 p.m.
* Jorge Posada Collector Card Day, presented by Yankees-Steiner Collectibles, to all in attendance.

Sunday, August 23 – Yankees vs. Indians, 1:05 p.m.
* Andy Pettitte Collector Card Day, presented by Yankees-Steiner Collectibles, to all in attendance.

Monday, August 24 – Yankees vs. Astros, 7:05 p.m.
* Jacoby Ellsbury Bobblehead Night, presented by AT&T, to the first 18,000 in attendance.

Tuesday, August 25 – Yankees vs. Astros, 7:05 p.m.
* Yankees Cap Night, presented by Cooper Tire, to the first 18,000 in attendance.

Wednesday, August 26 – Yankees vs. Astros, 1:05 p.m.
* Mark Teixeira Poster Day, presented by Catch 24 Advertising, to the first 18,000 in attendance, 14 and younger.

Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office, via Ticketmaster phone at (877) 469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at (800) 943-4327 and at all Ticket Offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Tickets may also be purchased on Yankees Ticket Exchange at http://www.yankees.com/yte, the only official online resale marketplace for Yankees fans to purchase and resell tickets to Yankees games. Fans with questions may call (212) YANKEES [926-5337] or email tickets@yankees.com.

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

Beltran thrives in playoff atmosphere

No matter what happens Sunday, the Yankees are guaranteed to depart Toronto in first place in the American League East. They assured themselves of that by following Friday night’s exhilarating come-from-behind victory with a thoroughly commanding triumph Saturday that let the Blue Jays know they are in for a fight.

Masahiro Tanaka, in what was probably the most important start of his brief career in North America, gave the Yankees precisely what they needed Saturday with a route-going performance, his first complete game of the season and fourth of his career. The Yankees beat Toronto at its own game with home runs by Carlos Beltran (No. 12) and Mark Teixeira (No. 31) doing in Marco Estrada, who had shut them out for 6 1/3 innings last Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

This series has been a turnaround set for the Yankees, who have out-homered the Jays, 3-0, and beat two of the pitchers who shut them down last weekend.

Another sellout crowd at Rogers Centre of 46,630 had little to cheer about as the Yankees increased their lead in the division to 1 1/2 games (three in the loss column). The large crowds have conveyed a playoff atmosphere, which may be why Beltran has played so huge a role in the first two games.

After all, Beltran is among the greatest postseason players in major league history. In 51 postseason games and 180 at-bats, Beltran has batted .333 with 45 runs, 13 doubles, one triple, 16 home runs, 40 runs batted and 11 stolen bases. His OPS (on-base average plus slugging percentage) in postseason play is an incredible 1.128.

It began back in 2004 when a late-season trade sent him from Kansas City to Houston where he hit eight home runs in 12 games combined in the National Leage Division Series and NL Championship Series.

Mets fans glumly recall that Beltran took a 3-2 breaking ball from then rookie Adam Wainwright for the final out of the 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals, who went on to win their first World Series in 24 years in a five-game victory over the Tigers. What Mets fans tend to forget is that Beltran batted .296 with three homers and four RBI against St. Louis.

Playing for the Cardinals in 29 postseason games over the 2012 and ’13 seasons, Beltran hit .306 with nine doubles, one triple, five home runs and 21 RBI. He finally got to the World Series in 2013 and hit .294 with three RBI, but the Cards lost in six games to the Red Sox.

If the Yankees can get to postseason play this year, they can thank Beltran for what he has done the past two games. His three-run, pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning Friday night off Aaron Sanchez was a game-winner, and Beltran got the Yankees off on a positive note Saturday with a first-inning solo homer off Estrada.

Beltran’s homer Friday night was the Yankees’ first go-ahead, pinch-hit homer when trailing in the eighth inning or later since Jorge Posada hit a pinch-hit three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth Sept. 9, 2009 against the Rays at Yankee Stadium. The previous Yankees player to hit a go-ahead pinch-hit homer on the road in the eighth inning or later was Don Mattingly July 24, 1994 at Anaheim, a three-run shot that erased a 4-2 deficit.

Beltran, who also doubled Saturday, extended his hitting streak to 10 games during which he has batted .375 in 32 at-bats. During Beltran’s 16-game on-base streak (since July 26), he is batting .346 with 10 runs, six doubles, five home runs, nine RBI and eight walks in 60 plate appearances.

It was still a 1-0 game in the fifth when it appeared the game was getting out of hand for Tanaka. He loaded the bases on two walks sandwiched around an opposite-field single by 9-hole hitter Ben Revere with the power portion of the Jays’ batting order coming up.

The crowd got excited when Josh Donaldson lifted a high fly to left field but had to settle for a game-tying sacrifice fly. Tanaka bore down to strike out Jose Bautista on a nasty splitter and retire the equally dangerous Edwin Encarnacion on a soft infield fly.

Tanaka’s effort was rewarded the next inning when Teixeira, getting a day off the field as the designated hitter, lauched a home run to right field. Rookie Greg Bird played first base and got his first major-league hit, a single to left in the eighth, after Teixeira got his second RBI on a single that scored Chris Young, pinch running for Beltran, who had doubled with one out. John Ryan Murphy doubled and scored on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury in the ninth.

Tanaka was masterful the rest of the way as he set down 15 of Toronto’s last 16 batters to give a weary bullpen a needed blow.

Here’s a number you’ll never forget, Bernie

In terms of profile and temperament, Bernie Williams and New York would not seem a comfortable fit. The city that never sleeps was the incubator that gave the culture such over-the-top performers from Cagney to Streisand to DeNiro, not to mention such flamboyant out-of-town athletes who conquered the Big Apple’s hard core, from Dempsey to Mantle to Namath.

But Bernie Williams? Bob Sheppard, the late majestic voice of Yankee Stadium, noted that even the syllables of Williams’ name failed to conjure up images of greatness. Except for his Puerto Rican heritage, which he shared with many Bronx residents, Williams did not appear to have much in common with the population of the borough that the Yankees call home which traditionally has revered players who thrive on being the center of attention.

Towards the end of the 2005 season when his tenure with the Yankees was drawing to a close, fans at the Stadium finally stood up and took notice at Williams on a regular basis with standing ovations before and after each of his plate appearances. Bernie Williams was at center stage at last. The outpouring of affection was a belated tribute by Yankees fans for all Williams meant to the franchise in one of the most significant periods of its glorious history.

And the penultimate experience occurs Sunday night when a packed Stadium will shower Williams with an abundance of affection as the Yankees will honor him with a plaque in Monument Park and officially retire his uniform No. 51. No player has worn that number since Williams’ last season 10 years ago, even the two who had worn it with distinction in Seattle, Randy Johnson and Ichiro Suzuki. After coming to the Yankees in trades from the Mariners, Johnson wore No. 41 and Suzuki No. 31.

Bernie Williams'  No. 51 joins Monument Park retirement list.

Bernie Williams’ No. 51 joins Monument Park retirement list.

While other teammates drew greater cheers and headlines over the years, Williams was the calming center of a team that went from spit to shinola in the 1990’s to complete a resounding history of baseball in the Bronx. The quiet, contemplative, switch-hitting center fielder batted cleanup in lineups that produced four World Series championships, including three in a row, over the last five years of the 20th century and the first year of the 21st.

Of all the players who took part in the Yankees’ extraordinary run during that period, Williams was the only one who was there when it all began, when the club started to make strides toward decency in 1992 and improved to such an extent that by the middle of the decade was on the verge of yet another dynastic era.

Yes, that Bernie Williams, whose way with a guitar rivaled that of his handling of bat and glove. Williams’ love of the guitar was so strong that he was just as much in awe of meeting Les Paul and Paul McCartney as he was shaking hands with Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra. Yet it is in the latter’s company that Williams will always hold a special place in Yankees lore.

It is a past as eventful as any in franchise history. Williams’ rankings on the Yankees’ career lists include third in doubles (449), singles (1,545) and intentional walks (97); fourth in at-bats (7,869); fifth in plate appearances (9,053), hits (2,336), bases on balls (1,069), times on base (3,444) and sacrifice flies( 64); sixth in games (2,076), total bases (3,756), extra-base hits (791) and runs (1,366) and seventh in home runs (287) and runs batted in (1,257). He is one of only 10 players who played 16 or more seasons only with the Yankees. The others are Lou Gehrig, Bill Dickey, Frankie Crosetti, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter.

Not bad for an unassuming man who was often the cruel butt of jokes by veteran teammates when he came into the majors in 1991. “Bambi” was the nickname Mel Hall, Steve Sax, Jesse Barfield and others hung on Williams, a suggestion that his non-confrontational demeanor and love for classical guitar music somehow made him unfit for the rigors of professional sports.

As it turned out, Williams not only turned the other cheek but also left the gigglers in the dust. He carved out for himself a career that is superior to all his old tormentors and one that just might make him a serious candidate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame some day.

Williams batted .297 over those 16 seasons, with a .381 on-base average and .477 slugging percentage. He won a batting title, four Gold Gloves for fielding, a Silver Slugger for hitting and was named to five All-Star teams.

Even more impressive are Williams’ post-season numbers. He ranks second in most major offensive categories – games (121), at-bats (465), runs (83), hits (128), total bases (223), singles (77) and total bases (202). In each case, Williams is second to long-time teammate Derek Jeter. Williams is also the runner-up in post-season home runs (22) to Manny Ramirez and walks (77) to Chipper Jones.

Williams is the only player in post-season history to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in one game, and he did it twice, in the 1995 American League Division Series against the Mariners and in the 1996 AL Division Series against the Rangers. Also in ‘96, he was the Most Valuable Player of the AL Championship Series victory over the Orioles.

The World Series victory over the Braves that followed remained a key moment in Williams’ career. Years later, he noted, “The World Series gives you confidence. Whenever a team goes through adversity, every player who has been to the World Series knows that this is the beauty of the game, how great it is. We don’t just play for the money or the records. There’s a reason to be the best. We realized it [in ‘96], not just because we won it, but the way we won it. We were down by two games, and we went down to Atlanta and swept the Braves. That taught us a lot about the game, what it means.”

Williams was distraught in the 1997 post-season when he was 2-for-17 in the ALDS loss to the Indians, a setback that seemed to galvanize the Yankees as they came back to win three straight World Series. They were memorable seasons for Williams, who won his batting title in 1998 with a .339 average to go with 26 home runs and 97 RBI and had an even better year in ‘99, batting .342 with 25 home runs and 115 RBI. His best overall season was in 2000, batting .307 with 30 home runs and 121 RBI.

Not even Yankees scout Fred Ferreira, with the recommendation of Roberto Rivera, who signed Williams to a contract Sept. 13, 1985, his 17th birthday, could have foreseen such a career, particularly in the heady atmosphere of center field at the Stadium that had been patrolled by Earle Combs, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Bobby Murcer and Mickey Rivers.

Bernabe Figueroa Williams was born in San Juan in 1968 and grew up in Vega Alta, P.R., where he played high school ball with future two-time AL MVP Juan Gonzalez. Williams’ parents also instilled in him a love for music, which proved a sustaining force at times when his baseball career became over-challenging.

One of the oddities of Williams’ time with the Yankees was that he was frequently the only player in the batting order who did not have a special song played for him when he came to bat, a practice that became prominent at ballparks in the ‘90s. Williams’ interest in music was so intense that he considered listening to a “theme song” before a plate appearance a distraction.

During Williams’ rise through the minors, the Yankees weren’t quite sure how to use him. Despite being fleet afoot, Williams lacked the larcenous behavior to be an effective base stealer, which made him less than an attractive leadoff hitter despite an excellent on-base percentage. His legs helped him run down any fly ball, but his throwing arm was never particularly strong or accurate

But in the early ‘90s, the Yankees were in no position to be over picky about prospects. When injuries cut into the playing time of outfielders Roberto Kelly and Danny Tartabull, Williams was summoned to the majors and the slow apprenticeship began. Brought along slowly by managers Stump Merrill and Buck Showalter, Williams came into his own in 1993 and took control of center field at Yankee Stadium, the most sacred patch of ground in the majors, for the next 10 years.

His breakthrough year was 1995 when Williams batted .307 with 18 home runs and 82 RBI and followed that by hitting .429 with two home runs and five RBI in 21 at-bats in the grueling, five-game ALDS loss to the Mariners, an exciting series that helped “sell” the new concept of an expanded round of playoffs.

Joe Torre arrived the next season, and while some of Williams’ eccentricities had the new manager shaking his head on occasion was won over by his almost childlike enthusiasm.

“I don’t think there is anything about Bernie that could surprise me – take that as a plus or a minus,” Torre told MLB.com last year. “That’s just his personality, just him, basically. He’s very different in that he is not your typical baseball player. That’s probably why he was a little more sensitive than other players.”

But with that sensitivity also came with Williams a sense of loyalty. Despite being wooed by the Red Sox and the Diamondbacks when he was eligible for free agency after the 1998 season, Williams contacted Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and the sides worked out a seven-year contract for $87 million that kept Bernie in pinstripes.

Williams had been hopeful he could have played for the Yankees in 2007, but there was no longer a role for him. So the soft-spoken center fielder, now 46, enjoys a satisfying retirement and continues to write music. His 2003 CD, “The Journey Within,” drew praise from the likes of McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon.

“Don’t let your job define who you are,” Williams once said. “Your relationships will define who you are. No matter what you do in life, you are going to be in a position to make an impact on somebody’s life. In my experience with the Yankees, these are a few of the thing that I have learned. You’ve got to have a plan of action, you have to stay focused on the things you can control, and don’t get discouraged or distracted by the things you cannot control.”

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