Results tagged ‘ Ted Williams ’
Once you saw Carl Yastrzemski on the field at Fenway Park before Sunday’s season finale that marked Derek Jeter’s last major-league game you know this was a big deal. Yaz is one of the most reclusive former athletes in the world. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 and has gone back for a ceremony only twice, in 2000 and 2009 for the inductions of former teammates Carlton Fisk and Jim Rice, respectively.
So there was Yaz on the Fenway infield with other Boston stars of the past – Rice, Luis Tiant, Rico Petrocelli, Fred Lynn, Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek – all decked out in Red Sox jerseys to pay homage to a star of the Yankees. The Red Sox did it up big for the Yanks’ captain. Along with Varitek, DJ’s counterpart with the Red Sox, former captains of Boston’s other pro sports teams – Bobby Orr (Bruins), Troy Brown (Patriots) and Paul Pierce (Celtics) – were on hand for the pregame ceremony as well.
The Red Sox had taken a tongue-in-cheek approach to Mariano Rivera’s farewell last year, and it laid a huge egg. They made up for that this year with a grand sendoff for Jeter. David Ortiz and Red Sox shortstop Zander Bogaerts presented Jeter with a sign made up of Fenway scoreboard lettering reading, “Re2spect,” and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who became friendly with Jeter when they were teammates on the USA team in the World Baseball Classic several years ago, handed the retiring icon second base with No. 2 in pinstripes across the front. The Red Sox organization also gave Jeter a $22,222.22 donation to the Captain’s Turn2 Foundation, equaling the largest check he received from an opposing team, that of the Mets. Major League Baseball had also given Jeter a check for that amount, but not surprisingly the Yankees came up with the largest donation of all — $222,222.22.
There had been some speculation that Jeter might pull a Ted Williams and not play in the three-game series following his triumphant final game at Yankee Stadium Thursday night when he had the game-winning hit. Teddy Ballgame homered in his final Fenway at-bat in 1960 and decided not even to go to New York for the last series considering the Yankees had already clinched the American League pennant. Well, the Yankees were out of contention this week, too, something Jeter was not accustomed to, but out of respect for the game and the supporters of the Yankees’ biggest rivals he made the trip to Boston.
There were no such things as farewell tours years ago. Players would receive a standing ovation and then just go home. In fact, Jeter’s last game came on the 46th anniversary of Mickey Mantle’s last big-league appearance, also at Fenway Park. The Mick started at first base but never took the field. He batted in the first inning, popped out to shortstop, and was replaced at his position by Andy Kosco. Unlike Jeter, however, Mantle did not announce his retirement in that season of 1968 but rather the following March before the start of spring training in 1969.
Jeter had made a pact with manager Joe Girardi that he would make two plate appearances as the designated hitter, the same as he did Saturday. Jeter did not play Friday night because he was exhausted from all the tension and excitement of his Stadium exit game as well as his last as a shortstop. DJ lined out to short in the first inning. Batting with Ichiro Suzuki on third base after hitting a two-run triple in the third, Jeter hit chopper off the plate and beat it out for a single that drove in a run, his 50th RBI of the season, and settled his career hit total at 3,465, sixth on the all-time list.
At that point, Jeter came out of the game for a pinch runner, of all people, Brian McCann, one of the slowest runners in the majors (he even lost a pregame footrace to Mark Teixeira). Unlike last Thursday night when his emotions nearly got the best of him, Jeter was calm and flashed often his signature smile. While he left the game, he did not leave the dugout and cheered on his mates through a 9-5 victory.
The Red Sox had one more cool surprise for Jeter. They arranged for Bernie Williams, former Yankees center fielder and current road musician, to play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on his guitar for his old teammate during the seventh-inning stretch, a poignant moment that echoed the end of an era for the Yankees. Perhaps that is why the Red Sox celebrated the day.
Jeter, not always comfortable with the out-of-town attention this year and under some criticism lately for what seemed at times an over-merchandizing of his farewell tour, was grateful to the Red Sox for this parting glass.
What I will take mostly from this game was Jeter’s hit itself. He ran hard to first base as he did from Day One in a Yankees uniform, forcing an infielder to hurry and eventually be unable to make the play. Most Yankees fans would have surely loved to see Jeet rip one over the Green Monster to finish off his career, but the dash to first base exemplified what Jeter was all about the past 20 years. You run everything out. It is the only way he played every day.
Derek Jeter’s election as the American League’s starting shortstop in next week’s All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis marks the ninth time in his career that he has been voted in the fan balloting to start the game. He received 3,928,422 votes, which raised his career total to 47,433,242, second only to Ken Griffey Jr., the all-time leader with 50,045,065 total votes.
This year will mark the 14th All-Star appearance for Jeter as he passed former teammate Mariano Rivera and Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio into third place on the franchise list behind two other Hall of Famers, Mickey Mantle (20) and Yogi Berra (18).
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jeter is the only active player to be named to the All-Star Game with his current team at least 14 times. The record for All-Star Games by a player for only one team is 24 by Hall of Famer Stan Musial with the Cardinals. Hank Aaron was on 25 All-Star Game rosters — 24 with the Braves and one with the Brewers. Willie Mays played in 23 All-Star Games with the Giants and one with the Mets. The AL record is 19 games by Ted Williams with the Red Sox and Cal Ripken Jr. with the Orioles.
The other two Yankees on the AL squad are newcomers to the process, pitchers Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances. This will be the first time the Yankees have had two rookies attending the All-Star Game.
These are all good choices, but I think more consideration should have been given to David Robertson and Brett Gardner. Rivera used to be an automatic choice. D-Rob isn’t at Mo’s level yet, but he has easily been one of the best closers in the league and leads AL pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings. Gardner got lost in the abundance of outfielders, but he has been the Yankees’ steadiest offensive player and remains the league’s top defensive left fielder.
Gardner got hits in his first two at-bats Monday night at Cleveland and has reached base safely in 22 straight games with a plate appearance since June 13. It is the longest such streak for the Yankees since Robinson Cano reached base safely in 26 straight games in 2012 from June 20 to July 20. It also matches Gardner’s longest such streak from 2009. He has hit safely in 18 of those 22 games.
Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki with three singles apiece Sunday at Minnesota became the third pair of teammates each in their 40s in major-league history to get at least three hits in the same game, joining the 1928 Philadelphia Athletics’ Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker and the 2006 San Francisco Giants’ Barry Bonds and Moises Alou. Elias also pointed out that notes Saturda, Jeter and Suzuki became the first pair of 40-year-old teammates with a stolen base in the same game since Bonds and Omar Vizquel for the Giants in 2007.
Prior to Monday night’s game at Progressive Field, the Indians organization paid tribute to the team’s late TV/radio personality Mike Hegan, who died last Christmas Day of a heart condition at the age of 71. Hegan was originally signed by the Yankees in 1961 and played for them in two separate stints. He was the son of former Indians All-Star catcher Jim Hegan, who later was a bullpen coach with the Yankees.
Mike Hegan spent 12 seasons in the majors and had some distinctions. With the expansion Seattle Pilots in 1969, he hit the first home run for that franchise and made the AL All-Star team. The Pilots lasted only one season in Seattle and moved in 1970 to Milwaukee and became the Brewers.
Hegan was a member of the Oakland A’s team that won the first of three straight World Series in 1972 before returning to the Yankees. Mike was the last player to bat in the original Yankee Stadium Sept. 30, 1973 in a loss to the Tigers. By the time the Yankees opened the renovated Stadium, Hegan was back in Milwaukee. I was working in Detroit in the 1970s and was at Tiger Stadium covering the Sept. 3, 1976 game when Hegan hit for the cycle.
After his playing days, Hegan went into the broadcast booth with the Brewers for 12 seasons before returning to his hometown Cleveland and working Indians games for 23 seasons. A heart ailment forced him into retirement after the 2012 season.
For a while there Wednesday, it appeared that Masahiro Tanaka might have pitched a tainted no-hitter. The Cubs’ only hit through the first six innings off the Japanese righthander came in the second inning on a bunt single by Junior Lake, which originally had been called an out but was a single after a replay review.
Except for Lake himself, the happiest guy in the yard about the hit may have been Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who did not have to wrestle with himself later in the game about keeping Tanaka in an early-season game with a mounting pitch count working on a no-hitter. Managers do not like to put stress on pitchers this early in the schedule, but pulling a pitcher during a no-hitter is something they know fans dislike.
It all became academic when Anthony Rizzo dumped a bunt single down the third base line leading off the seventh inning against an over-shift. I for one was glad to see some hitter take what the defense is giving him in this year when over-shifting in the infield has become so prevalent.
It drove me crazy in the Yankees’ sixth inning when Brian McCann led off and made no attempt to hit the ball to the left side where one player was stationed. I know, I know, hitters do not want to mess up their swing by going the other way, but in a low-scoring game why not go for the easy hit and get a really started?
The over-shift was first employed in the late 1940s by Indians shortstop-manager Lou Boudreau against Ted Williams. The Splinter stubbornly refused to change his swing and always tried to hit through the shift, but he was Teddy Ballgame, a career .344 hitter and six-time American League batting champion. These guys that won’t attempt to cross up the defense are good hitters, but they are not Ted Williams. How many outs are hitters going to make on ground balls to right field before they wake up?
I have been harping on this since Jason Giambi was with the Yankees and have kept it up watching Mark Teixeira make outs into the shift. A Chicago writer told me that Rizzo has bunted for hits against the shift three times already this year. Good for him, not that it do him much good Wednesday because the Cubs did not get anyone else on base that inning. Another challenge by Cubs manager Rick Renteria on an out at first base was not reversed.
Tanaka certainly had no-hit stuff. Two bunt singles were all the Cubs could muster against Tanaka, who walked one batter and struck out 10 in his eight innings to improve his record to 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA.
“He had outstanding command of his splitter and slider and threw some curves to get ahead in the count,” Girardi said. “He was tremendous.”
The Cubs got only three runners as far as second base and none beyond. Shawn Kelley pitched the ninth and earned his fourth save.
The only run the Yankees would need came in the first inning on Carlos Beltran’s fourth home run. The Yankees added a run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Dean Anna and another in the fifth in an unusual way.
With Brett Gardner at third base and one out, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a dribbler in front of the plate. Cubs catcher John Baker collided with Ellsbury while fielding the ball and was called for interference as he threw the ball to first base while Gardner crossed the plate.
Plate umpire Jim Reynolds originally sent Gardner back to third base and instructed Ellsbury to stay on first base before Girardi came out of the dugout to point out a seldom-seen rule. In such cases, the manager has the option to take the completed play. That meant Ellsbury was out at first base and Gardner scored.
Girardi remembered a game in 1990 when he was catching for the Cubs and the Pirates’ Bobby Bonilla hit a three-run home run. Girardi was called for interfering with Bonilla’s swing but was told the home run counted because the Pittsburgh manager had the option to accept the play.
“Had there been no outs, I might have let the call stand,” Girardi said, “but with one out, I thought it would be better to take the run.”
It certainly was not needed by Tanaka, whose 28 strikeouts are the most for any Yankees pitcher in his first three career starts, surpassing by three the total Al Leiter had in 1987. Leiter was in the YES television booth for Wednesday’s game. Tanaka also became the first Yankees starter to pitch at least eight innings while striking out at least 10 batters and allowing two or fewer hits since Randy Johnson July 26, 2005 at the Stadium against the Red Sox (8 innings, 2 hits, 11 strikeouts).
As much as Yankees fans would love to see Mariano Rivera pitch again in 2014, they have to come to grips with the fact that 2013 is Mo’s final season in the major leagues. He made the announcement back in spring training, and one thing you can be sure of is that Rivera is a man of his word.
So why were all these questions about possibly changing his mind asked of Rivera Tuesday night after he reached the 40-save plateau for the ninth time, matching Trevor Hoffman for the major-league record?
A report on ESPNNewYork.com quoted Yankees manager Joe Girardi as saying he would talk to Rivera about whether he might change his mind about next season. Actually, it was an innocent remark by Girardi, who later explained that he wanted Mo to make sure he was comfortable with walking away from the game.
Stories like these get legs, however, and they walked right up to Rivera, who wanted no part of it. He made it clear that he will retire. He has been on a farewell tour all over the continent and been given parting gifts that included several checks to his foundation. He does not want to give back all that truck.
I found it all kind of amusing. After all, Girardi’s contract runs out at the end of this season. I am sure the Yankees will bring him back, but isn’t it kind of presumptuous of a manager to ask a player to think about the possibility of coming back in 2014 when that manager does not know for certain that he will be back in 2014?
I have been paying close attention to Mo since he was pitching in the minor leagues and like most of you have thoroughly enjoyed observing his brilliance over the years. I hate to see it end, but all good things do. Rivera is going out with a flourish. I cannot think of a player who has had a better season in his last one since Ted Williams hung them up in 1960, which is more than half a century ago.
Enjoy it while it lasts. It will not last forever.
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez combined on a couple of milestones in the first inning of Saturday night’s Subway Series game as the Yankees jumped out to a 1-0 lead against the Mets.
Jeter ended a 0-for-17 slump with a leadoff single to center off Mets righthander Dillon Gee, who had trouble with the rubber on the mound and balked Jeter to second. After Curtis Granderson lined out to first baseman Ike Davis, Rodriguez hit a ground single through the middle to score Jeter.
It was A-Rod’s 1,917th run batted in of his career, which tied him with Hall of Famer Eddie Murray for seventh place on the all-time list since RBI became an official statistic in 1920. Rodriguez is only seven RBI behind another Hall of Famer, Jimmie Foxx, in sixth place.
The run for Jeter was career No. 1,800, which placed him above Hall of Famer Ted Williams into 17th place on the all-time list. Next up is No. 16 Carl Yastrzemski, yet another Hall of Famer, with 1,816.
Once a player gets to those levels on these lists, nearly everyone they pass is a Hall of Famer. Except for Pete Rose, that is.
Friday marked the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, so it was appropriate that the Yankees were the visitors as they were a century go in the last season in which they were known as the Highlanders. The Yankees’ public relations staff with the assistance of the Elias Sports Bureau put together the following list of memorable games at Fenway in the American League’s most heated rivalry. Which is your favorite? It is pretty tough to top that 1978 playoff game. On the downside, those losses in Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 AL Championship Series were the Yanks’ worst moments.
January 3, 1920: The Yankees purchase the contract of Babe Ruth from the Red Sox for $125,000 and a $350,000 loan against the mortgage on Fenway Park.
September 28, 1923: The Yankees get 30 hits in a 24-4 victory. The hit total remains the most in a nine-inning game in Yankees franchise history. The run total marks the second highest by the club in a road game and the Yanks’ most at Fenway.
September 8, 1925: Babe Ruth hits his 300th career home run, off Buster Ross in a 7-4 Yankees victory.
June 23, 1927: In an 11-4 Yankees victory, Lou Gehrig becomes the first player in franchise history to hit three home runs in one game against the Red Sox. The feat was matched by Mark Teixeira May 8, 2010 at Fenway.
September 5, 1927: The Yankees lose, 12-11, in 18 innings in the second longest road game in franchise history (in terms of innings played). It was the first game of a doubleheader. The Yanks score two runs in the top of the ninth to send it to extra innings. Both teams score three runs in the 17th. Red Sox starter Red Ruffing pitches 15 innings.
September 24, 1929: On Babe Ruth Day, the Yankees win, 5-3. Ruth has 2-for-3 with a double.
July 3, 1932: The Yankees defeat the Red Sox, 13-2, in the first Sunday game at Fenway. Due to the park’s proximity to a church, the Red Sox had played Sunday games at nearby Braves Field until the law was changed.
June 6, 1934: Myril Hoag becomes the first Yankees player to go 6-for-6 in a 15-3 victory in the opener of a doubleheader. The feat was matched by Johnny Damon June 7, 2008 against the Royals.
September 22, 1935: The Yankees sweep a doubleheader from the Red Sox, 6-4 and 9-0, in front of 47,267 fans – the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game at Fenway Park.
April 20, 1939: The Yankees beat the Red Sox, 2-0, on Opening Day. Red Ruffing throws a complete game shutout, allowing seven hits and one walk with five strikeouts. Bill Dickey hits a solo home run. An ailing Lou Gehrig goes 0-for-4 in his final Fenway appearance. Ted Williams has 1-for-4 in his major league debut in the only game to feature both players.
July 9, 1946: In the All-Star Game, Yankees right fielder Charlie Keller hits a two-run home run in the first inning of the American League’s 12-0 victory.
April 18, 1950: On Opening Day, the Yankees overcome a 9-0 deficit to win, 15-10. They score 11 runs (without any home runs) over the final two innings.
April 14, 1955: Elston Howard becomes the first black player in Yankees history, making his major-league debut in an 8-4 loss. Ellie has an RBI single in his only plate appearance.
September 21, 1956: In a 13-7 Yankees loss, Mickey Mantle hits what is considered the longest known homer to straightaway center field in Fenway Park history. The second-inning blow off Frank Sullivan carries approximately 480 feet before striking one foot below the top brick barrier located behind Section 36.
July 21, 1961: The Yankees score five runs in the top of the ninth for an 11-8 victory. Johnny Blanchard’s pinch-hit grand slam off Mike Fornieles seals the game.
September 11, 1966: Johnny Miller makes his major league debut, homering in his first plate appearance in the second inning off Lee Stange. Bobby Richardson’s two-run homer in the 10th gives the Yankees the 4-2 victory.
April 6, 1973: The Yankees’ Ron Blomberg becomes the major league’s first designated hitter, batting in the top of the first inning. He walks with the bases loaded off Luis Tiant and finishes the day 1-for-3 with 1RBI in a 15-5 loss.
October 2, 1978: The Yankees defeat the Red Sox, 5-4, in only the second one-game playoff in AL history. Trailing by 14 games in mid-July, Bucky Dent caps the Yankees’ comeback with a three-run, seventh-inning home run.
June 19, 2000: The Yankees defeat the Red Sox, 22-1. Five different Yankees homer in the game, including Jorge Posada, who also scored four runs. The Yankees score 16 runs over the final two innings, including seven in the ninth off Tim Wakefield.
September 2, 2001: Mike Mussina comes within one out of a perfect game before Carl Everett singles with two outs in the ninth.
October 16-18, 2004: The Yankees win Game 3 of the AL Championship Series, 19-8, to go up three games to none. Boston wins the next two nights at Fenway Park with consecutive extra-inning, walk-off victories and goes on to become the first baseball team to overcome a 0-3 deficit in a best-of-7 series.
August 18, 2006: The Yankees and Red Sox play their signature marathon game with the Yanks winning, 14-11, in 4 hours, 45 minutes in the second game of a doubleheader. It marks the longest nine-inning game in baseball history in terms of time.
April 22, 2007: In a 7-6 loss, Yankees starter Chase Wright yields four consecutive home runs in the third inning (to Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek). The lefthander becomes only the second pitcher in major league history to allow four consecutive home runs in an inning, joining Paul Foytak, who did so July 1, 1963 for the Angels against the Indians.
September 28, 2009: On the final day of the season – and what turns out to be his final career outing – the Yankees’ Mike Mussina becomes a 20-game winner for the only time in his 18-season career, in a 6-2 victory in the first game of a doubleheader.
Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio will be among four Hall of Famers to be honored at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and be immortalized on 45-cent, First Class Forever stamps. The first-day-of-issue Major League Baseball All-Star stamps dedication ceremony will be Friday, July 20, at the Cooperstown, N.Y., museum as part of the opening day festivities for the four-day Hall of Fame Weekend celebration. The stamps will become available nationwide that day.
Appearing on the MLB All-Stars sheet of 20 stamps in addition to DiMaggio will be Larry Doby of the Indians, Willie Stargell of the Pirates and Ted Williams of the Red Sox. All four Hall of Famers are deceased.
“Some of America’s favorite pastimes come together with these stamps,” U.S. Postal Service Stamp services manager Stephen Kearney said. “Writing letters, collecting stamps, and, of course, playing and watching baseball are all important elements of our nation’s culture and history. We are honored to be able to commemorate four of baseball’s most important players. Fans of these Hall of Famers and their teams will enjoy rooting for them once again by using and collecting these cool stamps.”
The stamps were designed by artist-illustrator Kadir Nelson of Los Angeles and are based on historic photographs. Phil Jordan of Falls Church, Va., served as art director.
Guess who was back in the Yankees lineup Saturday? Jorge Posada, who lost his designated hitter job last Sunday night at Boston, was the DH batting eighth against the Rays. Eric Chavez, who had replaced Posada as the Yankees’ DH against right-handed pitching, was in the lineup as well but at third base.
The crowd at Yankee Stadium displayed its approval by showering Posada with applause when he came to bat for the first time in the second inning. Chavez had just fouled out to the catcher with the bases loaded for the first out of the inning. Posada had the crowd on its feel once more when he hit a single into right field that scored two runs.
Chants of “Hip, hip, Jor-ge!” reverberated around the Stadium. They were sounded again in the fourth inning when Posada singled to left-center. There just may still be a place on this team for the popular former catcher.
Despite hitting 32 home runs this season, Curtis Granderson keeps telling people that he is not a home run hitter. That cuts no ice with Rays manager Joe Maddon, who employed the Boudreau Shift against Granderson in the third inning by having three infielders stationed on the right side of second base (the shift is so named because it was first used by Indians shortstop/manager Lou Boudreau in the late 1940s to combat Red Sox slugger Ted Williams).
Mark Teixeira when batting left-handed is accustomed to seeing the shift against him, but this might have been a first for Granderson, whose speed makes the maneuver questionable because he could easily drop down a bunt to the left side for a hit. Of course, that’s part of the design of the shift, to tempt a power hitter to try to bunt for a single rather than swing for the fences. This did not work with Williams, who kept pulling the ball and finished his Hall of Fame career with a .344 batting average and 521 home runs.
Granderson did not lay one down, either, but swung away and struck out. In the fifth, the Rays used the shift again against Granderson, who pulled a Ted Williams by hitting a home run to right field. That was No. 33 for Curtis, who tied the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista for the major-league lead. Curtis, when a team uses the Boudreau Shift against you, it means you’re a home run hitter!
A special exhibit displaying artifacts from the six living Hispanic players in the National Baseball Hall of Fame was unveiled Thursday night at the New York Yankees Museum Presented by Bank of America inside Yankee Stadium.
Former National League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Orlando Cepeda, one of the “Latino Living Legends,” as the exhibit is titled, was a special guest at the opening ceremony, along with Gabriel “Tito” Avila, the founder and president of the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame.
“I say thank you to the Yankees,” Cepeda said. “I am proud to be a part of this exhibit with these great players.”
Also featured in the exhibit that was designed by curator Brian Richards and will be on display for the remainder of the season are Cepeda’s fellow Puerto Rican, Roberto Alomar, who was inducted into the Hall Sunday; his former Giants teammate, Juan Marichal (Dominican Republic); Luis Aparicio (Venezuela); Rod Carew (Panama) and Tony Perez (Cuba).
Cepeda, who was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1999, donated a signed San Francisco Giants jersey and helmet and a replica of his 1967 MVP Award. There are also signature jerseys and caps by the other five players.
“It is a true honor to have the ‘Latino Living Legends’ exhibit at Yankee Stadium and for it to be associated with such a prestigious organization”, said Avila, a Bronx native who now lives in San Francisco. “We would like to thank the New York Yankees and Eventus for their efforts in helping us pay tribute to these great players in bringing this exhibit to the fans. This is another step forward towards our goal of having a permanent home for the museum to commemorate Hispanic baseball history.”
Eventus is recognized throughout the industry for developing successful consumer-brand relationships and experiences.
“The New York Yankees are honored to host this exhibit in our iconic Yankee Stadium,” said Manuel Garcia, the Yankees Director of Latino Affairs. “Taking pride in the history of our national pastime is important to us, and being able to highlight the contributions of these Latino Hall of Famers in our Museum is very exciting. The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame and Eventus have done a fantastic job with this important exhibit, and we know our fans will truly enjoy it.”
One of the coolest aspects of the exhibit is a time line of Hispanics’ contribution to baseball over the years featuring Martin Dihigo, Minnie Minoso, Roberto Clemente and Ted Williams, among others. Ted Williams? How many fans know that his mother was of Mexican descent?
A lot of people seemed surprised to see Nick Swisher at the top of the lineup Wednesday night against the Rangers, even Swisher.
“I have hit everywhere else in the lineup,” he said before the game. “I might as well bat first.”
As I pointed out in Tuesday’s blog, Swisher seemed a good option in the leadoff spot against a left-handed starter because of his .356 batting average and .438 on-base percentage from the left side. Obviously, manager Joe Girardi felt the same way. Brett Gardner will continue to lead off against righthanders while Derek Jeter is on the disabled list.
Swisher may not realize it, but if he had been around the Yankees in the 1950s he would have been a leadoff candidate for Casey Stengel. The Ol’ Professor liked to use players with extra-base power at the top of the order. His favorites during those years were Hank Bauer, Bob Cerv, Gene Woodling and Tony Kubek.
In fact, when Roger Maris came to the Yankees in 1960 in a trade from the Kansas City A’s that also involved Bauer, Stengel batted Maris leadoff in the first few games. When Maris started hitting balls over fences on a regular basis, Casey eventually moved him into the 3-hole where he went on to the first of two consecutive Most Valuable Player seasons.
Swisher did not lead off the game with a hit, but he reached base his next two times up with a double and a walk.
Jeter’s replacement at shortstop, Eduardo Nunez, homered in the fourth inning. It was Nunez’s second homer of the season. He now has as many long balls in 62 at-bats as Jeter had in 262.
The Captain will not accompany the Yankees on their trip to Chicago and Cincinnati for inter-league series against the Cubs and Reds. Jeter will go to Tampa for rehabilitation on his right calf strain. His stint on the DL means Jeter won’t be able to add to his inter-league record for hits of 362. DJ is not in danger of being passed. He is 52 hits ahead of the second place guy, who just happens to be teammate Alex Rodriguez.
A-Rod showed off some fine baserunning in the fifth inning as the Yankees took a 5-4 lead. On first base after a one-out walk, Rodriguez avoided being tagged by second baseman Ian Kinsler on Robinson Cano’s groundout and was able to get to second base. That made it possible for him to score on a single to left by Andruw Jones. Josh Hamilton made a strong throw to the plate, but A-Rod beat it with a good slide.
The run was the 1,799th of Rodriguez’s career. It tied him with Hall of Famer Ted Williams for 16th place on the all-time list.