Results tagged ‘ Monument Park ’

Yanks to honor Mandela with plaque

Nelson Mandela Plaque
Nelson Mandela Plaque (NY Yankees)

The Yankees will honor the late Nelson Mandela with a plaque in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park in ceremonies prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Cubs as part of the Jackie Robinson Day tribute in which all players will don uniform No. 42.

The plaque will celebrate the former South African leader and commemorate his June 21, 1990 visit and address at the Stadium. On that historic day, Yankee Stadium was opened to fans, who were treated to musical performances from Richie Havens, Tracy Chapman, Mighty Sparrow and Judy Collins.

Mandela arrived at the Stadium at the end of the concert, following a day of meeting and addressing New Yorkers in various locations around the city. He spoke to the assembled crowd, then donned a Yankees cap and Yankees jacket and said, “You know who I am. I am a Yankee.” At the time of his appearance, Mandela was just four months removed from having spent 27 years in prison.

Scheduled to be on hand for a late-afternoon press conference at the Stadium were Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, team president Randy Levine, entertainer-activist Harry Belafonte, Zondwa Mandela (grandson of Nelson Mandela), George Monyemangene (South Africa Consul General), Sharon Robinson (daughter of Jackie Robinson) and Rev. Al Sharpton. Commissioner Bud Selig was to have attended the news conference, but he returned to Milwaukee after the originally scheduled ceremony was postponed due to Tuesday night’s rainout.

The Yankees’ first African-American player was Elston Howard, who made his major-league debut 59 years ago this week. He had 1-for-1 with one run batted in April 14, 1955 in an 8-4 loss at Boston.

Orioles stun Yanks with 7-run 7th inning

At the beginning of the same week that the National Football League will begin its schedule, the Yankees fumbled their chance to blow past the Orioles in the wild-card race. They caught one break this weekend with fellow contenders Tampa Bay and Oakland playing each other in the Bay Area so they would gain ground on one of them daily and were on the brink of sweeping Baltimore and putting the O’s in the Yanks’ rear-view mirror.

That was before the Birds changed their luck by rolling seven in the seventh inning that ruined yet another strong starting effort by Andy Pettitte (3-0, 1.20 ERA in past five starts) and jostled the Yankees back into fourth place in the American League East and kept them at least 3 ½ games back in the wild-card hunt with another calendar date torn off.

The 3-0 lead that Pettitte took into the seventh appeared pretty safe with the Orioles offering little resistance until newly-acquired Michael Morse and Danny Valencia opened the inning with singles. Yanks manager Joe Girardi turned to a well-rested bullpen but found no relief.

Shawn Kelley and Boone Logan each faced two batters without retiring either. Kelley did the most damage by giving up an RBI single to Matt Wieters and a three-run, opposite-field home run to J.J. Hardy on a ball that hit the top of the wall just beyond the reach of Curtis Granderson in right field. Logan yielded a bunt single to Brian Roberts and a walk to Nick Markakis before Joba Chamberlain got clobbered one out later by Adam Jones with the second three-run homer of the inning, this one onto the netting above Monument Park that created the 7-3 final score.

It marked the first time in 33 home games this season that the Yankees lost when they had a lead of at least two runs.

“They have been so good for us all for so long, it was surprising to see,” Girardi said of the pen.

Despite the pitching changes, all of this seemed to happen in a mini-second. What would have been Pettitte’s 256th victory went flying out the window and offset the decision to have him start instead of Phil Hughes, who is scheduled to get the ball Monday in the Labor Day afternoon tilt against the White Sox, a last-place team but one that swept the Yankees Aug. 5-7 at Chicago.

In games like this, you look back at missed chances for the Yankees to put up more runs. They were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 base runners. Cano, who usually rakes against Baltimore (.340, 27 HR, 99 RBI) was 0-for-5 and struck out three times in a game against the O’s for the first time in his career.

Derek Jeter had a sacrifice fly but was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. The RBI was career No. 1,258, which pushed him past former teammate Bernie Williams into sixth place on the all-time franchise list. The Yanks’ 2-through-6 hitters in the Yankees’ lineup were a combined 1-for-19 (Alfonso Soriano’s RBI single in the third inning giving him 36 RBI in 34 games for the Yanks) with 10 strikeouts.

The Yankees were able to contain Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis in the series. The major-league home run leader had 1-for-10 with a walk, a hit by pitch, an RBI and 10 strikeouts. He was the only Orioles player who did not reach base Sunday as he made five outs.

It was Baltimore’s relief corps that held sway. After a shaky start by starter Wei-Yin Chen (three earned runs, four hits, five walks in four innings), four Orioles relievers teamed up to pitch five scoreless innings allowing three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. The Orioles lead the season series, 8-7, with four games remaining against the teams Sept. 9-12 at Camden Yards.

Cano wallops 200th career home run

So what is the best thing to do after a hitting streak ends? Start another one, of course.

Robinson Cano had an 11-game hitting streak stopped Saturday night at Boston. He came right back the next night at Fenway Park and went 3-for-5. Tuesday at Yankee Stadium in the first game of a split-admission doubleheader against the Blue Jays, Cano had 4-for-4 in helping to spark the Yankees to an 8-4 victory, their ninth in 10 games against Toronto this season.

Cano singled to right with two out in the first inning. His second hit proved more significant. Batting in the third inning with one out and two on and the Yankees trailing, 4-0, Cano jumped on a 1-0 fastball from righthander Esmil Rogers and drove it into the netting above Monument Park for a three-run home run that made it a one-run game.

The homer was the 200th of Cano’s career as he became the 16th Yankees player to reach that plateau. He needs two more home runs to tie Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey for 15th place on the franchise’s all-time list.

Cano also singled in the fifth and doubled home a run in the seventh. He has hit safely in 13 of his past 14 games, batting .453 with eight runs, five doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI in 53 at-bats.

“He got us back in the game with that home run,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

There was a time and not that long ago that a 4-0 deficit would have seemed insurmountable to the Yankees when their offense was struggling. Not anymore. It has certainly helped Cano to have Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson supporting him in the lineup.

“It’s a lot different,” Girardi said. “We’re hitting the ball out of the park more and getting hits in bunches.”

Cano’s homer was one of two big ones for the Yankees Tuesday. The other was by catcher Chris Stewart, a three-run shot in the sixth inning that put the Yankees ahead. It ended a drought of 173 at-bats without a home run for Stewart, who had previously homered May 15 against the Mariners at the Stadium.

The Yankees also got a strong game from Jayson Nix, who played shortstop in place of Eduardo Nunez out with an ankle injury. Nix handled six plays flawlessly in the field and also reached base three times with a hit and two walks and stole a base.

Crooked numbers back on Stadium scoreboard

Preparing for the All-Star Home Run Derby next week at Citi Field, American League captain Robinson Cano got the Yankees off the one-run-per-game wagon they had been on by whacking a three-run home run off Royals righthander Wade Davis in the third inning of Wednesday night’s 8-1 blowout of Kansas City.

The Yankees scored one run in the first inning on a wild pitch by Davis. They had scored one run in the first inning the night before against Kansas City and that was all they got. The Yanks also scored one run Monday night against the Royals and one run Sunday against the Orioles. Cano saw to it that the offense did not stop at one this time.

The All-Star second baseman’s 21st homer of the year was an impressive blow, a drive to center over the wall to the left of Monument Park. It scored ahead of him Luis Cruz, who led off the inning with a single, and Brett Gardner, who was hit by a pitch. Gardner had some night. He reached base four times on two walks and two hit by pitches. Gardner had a nasty bruise on his right shin from the second plunking and came out of the game. X-rays were negative.

Cano’s homer was his 1,558th career hit, which moved him past Thurman Munson into 18th place in the Yanks’ career list. “I feel honored because I know how much Thurman meant here,” Cano said.

It was almost as if the entire Yankees dugout let out a sigh of relief. For the first time in four days and over 33 innings, the Yankees had a crooked number on the scoreboard. Three innings later, Lyle Overbay did Cano one better by clubbing his fourth career grand slam to boost the Yanks’ lead to 8-0.

Cano had a hand in that rally, too, in fact he started it with an opposite-field single. Vernon Wells, pinch hitting for Travis Hafner (bruised left foot, x-rays negative), hit a ground single to left that moved Cano to third and Zoilo Almonte walked to fill the bases. Overbay unloaded on a full count against Davis, who was done for the night – real done (6 innings, 8 hits, 8 earned runs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts, 1 hit batter, 1 wild pitch, 2 home runs).

It was Overbay’s second home run of the series. He went deep Monday night as a pinch hitter for the Yankees’ only run. It was also the first baseman’s first bases-loaded home run since May 10, 2006 for the Blue Jays against the Athletics.

“We needed that really bad,” Cano said of the explosive offense that led to the most runs the Yankees have scored in a game at Yankee Stadium this year.

Cano made another bid for a home run in the seventh, but this time his drive to center to the right of Monument Park hit off the top of the fence and back onto the field. Lorenzo Cain, who had played an impressive center field in this series, made an amazing, one-bounce throw to third base to cut down Cano trying for a triple.

This abundance of offense seemed very safe in the right hand of Ivan Nova, who is working himself back into the rotation very nicely. The righthander extended his scoreless streak to 14 innings by holding the Royals scoreless the first seven. A two-out walk, a defensive-indifference advance and a double by Eric Hosmer spoiled Nova’s shutout bid in the eighth.

“I could have sent him out for the ninth, but he had done his job by then,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He had a good downhill fastball, a very good curveball and an occasional changeup. It should build his confidence.”

Since coming off the disabled list, Nova is 3-1 with a 2.29 ERA to lower his season ERA from 6.48 to 3.63. The righthander has a 2.95 ERA over his past three starts and is proving valuable in a rotation that has one 41-year-old (Andy Pettitte, Thursday’s starter in the series finale) and one 39-year-old (Hiroki Kuroda).

“Having extra starting pitchers is a good thing,” Girardi said.

Teammates rally around Pettitte

A figurine of Andy Pettitte was distributed among the Yankee Stadium crowd of 42,678 Saturday. On the mound, the real thing tried not to be a miniature resemblance of himself, which is a daily challenge at age 41 for any major league player. While the Yankees made a giveaway of Pettitte, he was careful not to do the same with the Orioles.

The popular lefthander produced a gritty if unspectacular outing. At his age, there is more grit than spectacle anyway. Victimized early by Triple Crown threat Chris Davis, who clubbed his 33rd home run in the first inning, and his own throwing error that led to a run in the second, Pettitte had to fight to keep his club within arm’s length of the Orioles. That he did, and his teammates rewarded him by charging back to take the lead in the sixth inning and put Pettitte in position for his first winning decision in five starts since June 8.

As has often been the case, a Pettitte victory was saved by Mariano Rivera, who worked a scoreless ninth for his 29th save of the season and career No. 637, 72 of which have come in W’s by Pettitte, the top starter-reliever combination since the save statistic became official in 1969.

“First of all, it was a great win for the team,” Pettitte said. “I’m thankful the guys could come back and get me the lead. I feel pretty good early, but I have been giving up a lot of runs early. I need to throw some zeroes up there.”

Davis’ home run looked like a long fly ball that would eventually die on the warning track, but it lofted in the humid air into the netting in front of Monument Park. Pettitte’s errant throw to first base the next inning was an error of aggression but an error nevertheless and preceded an RBI double by Alex Casilla.

“Andy dialed it in after the third inning,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He seemed to figure it out after that.”

Pettitte gave up leadoff doubles in the third and fourth innings. He avoided damage in the third but was cuffed for a run in the fourth on a two-out, RBI single by Taylor Teegarden. The Yanks fought back against righthander Chris Tillman and pulled ahead in the sixth to end his personal seven-game winning streak.

Once given the lead, Pettitte was determined not to give it up. The Orioles got a runner to second base with one out in the seventh, but Pettitte struck out dangerous Nick Markakis with an inside fastball on his 100th and last pitch of the game. Shawn Kelley came out of the pen to strike out Manny Machado as well. David Robertson and Rivera handled the rest. Yankees pitchers did not walk a batter for the 12th game this season, the most in the majors.

Remember how downtrodden the Yankees seemed at this time a week ago when they were swept by the Orioles at Camden Yards? Well, the Yankees haven’t lost since. Their winning streak has reached a season-best six games. Not only that; the Yanks moved ahead of the Orioles back into second place in the American League East.

Welcome to the BIG leagues, kid

Alex Rodriguez gave Brayan Villarreal a rude introduction to the major leagues with a crushing home run to left-center off a 3-1 pitch leading off the sixth inning Saturday. Villarreal, 23, a righthander from Venezuela who wears uniform No. 60, had the unenviable task of trying to get out A-Rod, the first major-league batter he ever faced.

Rodriguez’s first home run of the season and career No. 614 was a laser beam of a drive that landed just to the left of Monument Park. It was also A-Rod’s 1,833rd RBI, leaving him one shy of tying Dave Winfield for 15th place on the all-time list.

The first umpires’ review of a home run call in a Yankees game came in the fifth inning. Robinson Cano led off with a shot to left field that hit high off the wall and came back into play as Cano raced to second base for a double.

It did not appear as if the ball went over the wall, but there was a group of fans in the area, and the possibility existed that the ball might have hit off one of them and back on to the field. After viewing the replay, the umps decided – correctly – that the ball had hit the top of the wall and rebounded into play leaving Cano at second base. He eventually scored on Russell Martin’s first home run as a Yankee, a booming shot to left off Tigers lefthander Brad Thomas.

Chinese champions honored by Yankees

Players from the China Youth Baseball League (CYBL) who won the 28th Boys Nankyu World Championship Tournament in Tokyo in July were honored Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium as the people of China celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, the second-most significant holiday in China after the Chinese New Year holiday.
The visit is the latest effort by the Yankees to show their continued support for the growth of baseball in China. All arrangements for the visit have been made within the guidelines of the cooperation agreement between the Chinese Baseball Association (CBA) and the Yankees.
The championship-winning players are all members of the Beijing Xinxing Longren Baseball Club, which has given athletic and academic opportunities to children from severely disadvantaged rural and migrant-poor backgrounds, including many orphans. All the children attend nearby Dacheng School and receive room, board and training equipment.
“The date of the visit to Yankee Stadium is very significant as it is the holiday that tradition calls for the Chinese people to be with their parents,” said Kenneth Huang, Founder and Chairman of QSL Youth Sports Development Foundation, which is sponsoring the group’s visit. “These children, who do not have the opportunity to be with their parents, are able to live another dream – the dream of coming to the cathedral of baseball, Yankee Stadium, to see the team and the sport they love.”
The 2010 Nankyu Tournament, which featured 16 teams from 12 countries, was a milestone achievement for Chinese baseball, marking the first time in 11 years that a team from the CYBL had won an international championship. The rules of Nankyu are the same as the rules of baseball with one difference: the ball is made from rubberized material.
Beijing Xinxing Longren program director and coach Wei Li was joined by players Zichao Jiang (age 11), Zhenbei Bao (11), Kaiming Yin (11), Xiao Han (14), Renzeng Qiangba (9), and Jin Yang (11). Secretary General Wei Shen represented the CBA.

The group watched batting practice from the field, followed by tours of Monument Park and the New York Yankees Museum presented by Bank of America.


Steinbrenner family grateful

The family of George Steinbrenner was extremely pleased about the pre-game ceremony to honor the late Yankees owner Monday night at Yankee Stadium when a monument to his career was placed in Monument Park and issued a statement of gratitude.

“We are grateful to have been able to share this night with so many special people who brought fulfillment to our father’s life,” the statement read. “To see all of the distinguished Yankees alumni, friends and family gathered with us was a meaningful tribute to him.
“Our father always believed that this organization was an extension of his family, and he felt our fans were the heartbeat and soul of this baseball team. His unrelenting vision and passion for success was unmatched, and we are humbled that his likeness will forever greet the people he cared so deeply for in Monument Park. 
“We would like to thank everyone who came out to support our father and the Yankees tonight.  He was a proud owner, but he was also a great husband, father and grandfather to us.”


Granderson found power stroke

Watching Curtis Granderson at the plate much of this year made one wonder how it was that this guy hit 30 home runs last year, especially playing half his games at Detroit’s Comerica Park, hardly a power hitter’s haven.

When the Yankees acquired Granderson in an off-season trade from the Tigers, it was thought that he might be a regular 30-homer guy what with the friendlier dimensions at Yankee Stadium for left-handed batters.

At the midway point of the season, however, Granderson had seven home runs and was batting .240. The idea that he could approach 30 homers seemed out of the question. Now look at him. There are only two weeks left in the regular season, so Granderson won’t get to 30, but he just may get close.

The center fielder is up to 21 after his two-homer performance Monday night in the Yankees’ 8-6 victory over the Rays that kicked off the four-game series between the American League East contenders on the occasion of George Steinbrenner’s plaque being added to Monument Park.

Granderson thrust the Yankees into a 2-0 lead with a two-run shot in the second inning off Matt Garza. The second home run, a three-run blast off a 2-1 changeup from Grant Balfour in the sixth, was pivotal and majestic.

The Yankees had blown all of a 4-0 lead in a four-run Tampa Bay sixth when their pitchers struggled to satisfy plate umpire Tim McClelland’s strike zone. Of 42 pitches thrown that inning by three Yankees pitchers, 24 were balls. The Yankees walked three batters, including one with the bases loaded, and had another hitter, Carl Crawford, reach base on catcher’s interference. The hardest hit ball by the Rays was a grounder by Evan Longoria that was turned into a double play.

The Yankees came back in the bottom half and regained the lead on a singles by Brett Gardner, Francisco Cervelli and Derek Jeter. Granderson added on big time with his second dinger. The ball hit the foul pole next to the fourth deck. Mark Teixeira is the only player to hit a fair ball into the seats there, which is where Granderson’s would have landed if it had not struck the pole. This was a Ruthian clout for a guy generously listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds.

“People ask me a lot about home runs,” Granderson said later, “and I say, ‘Hey, I’m the fourth lightest guy on the team. ‘ “

For all his power in 2009, Granderson produced only a .249 batting average, which is also what it is right now. He hit over .300 in 2007 but hasn’t come close to that since. Yet this is the fourth straight year that he has hit at least 20 home runs.

Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long has worked with Granderson in the second half to calm down an overly busy approach and has gotten some results, mostly related to power.

As late as Aug. 11, Granderson was batting .239. He entered September with a .243 average and began the month with a 5-for-10 only to suffer a 0-for-14 stretch not long after that. Overall, however, the month has been a good one for Granderson. In 62 September at-bats, he is hitting .290 with four doubles, six home runs and 17 RBI. He has 14 home runs and 41 RBI in the second half.

“I feel with my swing more contact I can get to the ball quicker,” Granderson said. “I’m not pulling off the ball as much.”

“Every since Grandy made that minor adjustment, he has played really well,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “That second home run was huge for us.”

“He just got hot right now and has been hitting home runs the whole month,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He was able to keep that sucker fair.”

Joe, Donnie back at Stadium to honor the Boss

Right away Monday, I knew things would be different at Yankee Stadium. As I entered the lobby, I ran into a pair of old friends – Joe Torre and Don Mattingly.

Yes, this was going to be quite a night.

The former Yankees manager and captain were in the new Yankee Stadium for the first time to be part of the ceremony before Monday night’s Yankees-Rays game to honor the memory of the late Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner with the unveiling of a plaque in the middle of Monument Park.

“I wanted to come back here last year for the World Series, but I didn’t do a good enough job,” Torre said, alluding to his Dodgers team’s failure to get past the Phillies in the National League Championship Series.

Last Friday, Joe announced that he was stepping down as Dodgers manager next year and will be succeeded by his bench coach, Mattingly, who will finally fulfill his dream by managing on the major-league level. Donnie gave me a hug and I said, “I can’t call you ‘Cap’ anymore. I’ll have to start calling you ‘Skip’ now.”

There were a lot of years and memories of Yankees greatness in these two figures standing in the Gate 2 lobby where next to the elevators stands a statue of “The Boss.”

Shortly after, Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost came out of one of the elevators and greeted Torre and Mattingly and proceeded to start them on a tour of the two-year-old park. Let’s hope that this is the beginning of a renewed relationship between the team and its estranged icons.

Trost contacted Torre right after his press conference Friday and invited him and Mattingly to the ceremony. Monday was an open date on the Dodgers’ schedule

It must be noted that both men left the Yankees after the 2007 season not on the best of terms, Torre more so than Mattingly. Unable to get a contract extension that suited him, Torre left and went to the Dodgers. Mattingly had been a candidate for the Yankees manager’s job, but it went to Joe Girardi. Mattingly went to Los Angeles to be on Torre’s coaching staff.

“I always expected to come back,” Mattingly said. “I played my whole career here. I love the Yankees. I’m with another storied organization in L.A. now, but it was the Yankees who taught me the game, and I love coming back.”

As for Torre, Mattingly likened his return to the Stadium to when Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, who was also at the Stadium for the Steinbrenner ceremony, returned to the Bronx in 1999 after a lengthy feud with the owner.

“Like Yogi, Joe needed to get back,” Donnie said. “I remember those years when Yogi wasn’t around and thinking his coming back needed to happen. It’s the same with Joe.”

Torre and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman agreed that their relationship was strained after “The Yankees Years,” a book co-written by Torre and Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, characterized them as having opposing views towards the end of Torre’s 12-year run as Yankees manager.

They spoke Monday for the first time since parting ways three years ago.

“It was time to turn the page,” Cashman said. “I was the general manager for 10 of the 12 years Joe was here, and it was a magic carpet ride nearly all of that time. I was disappointed that the majority of our time together was not presented in the book. But we had a good talk, and we’ll move on from there.”

One thing Torre and Cashman were in agreement over was their respect for Steinbrenner. Cashman said those in the front office are still adjusting to running the Yankees without him.

“You have to understand that he did everything with the Yankees,” Cashman said. “No matter what area of business there was, he had the final say. And you always knew when he was in the Stadium. You could just feel his presence once you got two feet into the door. Some would say you could feel it in the parking lot.”

“George is responsible for the best years of my life professionally,” Torre said. “We had some disagreements, but it was a good relationship. You always knew how much George wanted to win, for this city and for this organization. The last time I spoke to him was his 80th birthday. I knew he would get a lot of attention that day, so I actually called him the day before. We spoke for about 10 minutes. He was in very good spirits. It’s a good feeling to get back to this. George belongs not only in Monument Park but also in the Hall of Fame.”

The pre-game ceremony was attended by Joan Steinbrenner, George’s widow, and her four children – sons Hank and Hal and daughters Jennifer and Jessica and their spouses. Other guests included Berra and fellow Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson as well as commissioner Bud Selig, Gene Michael, Roy White, Lee Mazzilli, David Wells and Tino Martinez.

Torre was accompanied by his wife, Ali. Yogi and the Steinbrenner family climbed on to a golf cart and began a procession down the right field line and along the warning track to Monument Park beyond the center field wall. Not surprisingly, the loudest cheers were for Torre and especially Mattingly.

“There has never been a greater group of fans than the fans at Yankee Stadium,” Torre said.

The plaque read:

George M. Steinbrenner III
July 4, 1930 – July 13, 2010
New York Yankees Principal Owner
“The Boss”
1973 – 2010

Purchased the New York Yankees on January 3, 1973.

A true visionary who changed the game of baseball forever,

he was considered the most influential owner in all of sports.

In his 37 years as Principal Owner, the Yankees posted a Major League-best .566 winning percentage,

while winning 11 American League pennants and seven World Series titles,

becoming the most recognizable sports brand in the world.

A devoted sportsman, he was Vice President of the United States Olympic Committee, a member of
the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors and a member of the NCAA Foundation Board of Trustees.

A great philanthropist whose charitable efforts were mostly performed without fanfare, he followed a
personal motto of the greatest form of charity is anonymity.

Dedicated by the New York Yankees

September 20, 2010


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.