Results tagged ‘ Yogi Berra ’

Piniella, Torre pay respects at Hall of Fame

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Former Yankees managers Lou Piniella and Joe Torre were among the baseball people who came to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Induction Weekend. I kidded them that they must be rehearsing for when their time comes for induction. In another two years, both will likely be on the Veterans Committee’s ballot from the Expansion Era for their careers as managers.

Lou was here for both of Sunday’s inductees, Barry Larkin and the late Ron Santo. Larkin was the shortstop on Piniella’s Reds team that won the 1990 World Series in a sweep of the Athletics. During his time as manager of the Cubs, Piniella also became a friend of Santo, the former third baseman who later was a fixture at Wrigley Field as a broadcaster.

Santo died last year, and his widow, Vicki, gave a moving acceptance speech. How she got through it without breaking down was amazing to me. She painted a brilliant picture of the man who was as identified with the Cubs as former teammates Ernie Banks and Billy Williams, who were on hand for the ceremony. They were among the 45 Hall of Famers who attended the ceremony, including Yankees favorites Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Dave Winfield, Phil Niekro and Rickey Henderson.

Larkin told a story about how Piniella addressed the Reds in 1990 before the start of spring training and explained to them that he did not like losing and that he did not intend for this team to lose. Cincinnati won its first nine games that season and went wire to wire to win the National League West, the division the Reds were in before the NL Central was created with realignment in 1994. They defeated the Pirates in the NL Championship Series before sweeping the A’s in the World Series, so Lou kept his promise about not losing.

Larkin was that baseball rarity that played his entire career for his hometown team. I could think of only three other Hall of Famers who did that, and all were Yankees – Lou Gehrig, Phil Rizzuto and Whitey Ford. Gehrig grew up on the West Side of Manhattan, the Scooter in Brooklyn and Ford in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria, and each spent his entire playing career in the Bronx.

I remember when Paul O’Neill was traded to the Yankees from the Reds in 1993, and a lot of people said that he would have trouble playing in New York. O’Neill, who was also on that ’90 Reds team and like Larkin had grown up in Cincinnati, told me once that he never had any doubts that he would do well in New York. He was not unfamiliar with the city because his sister, Molly, then the food critic for the New York Times, lived there for many years.

“There was a lot more pressure on me playing for the Reds because it was my hometown,” Paulie said. “I never felt that kind of pressure in New York. The fans in New York welcomed me and got behind me early on. I enjoyed the New York experience a lot more than Cincinnati.”

Torre came up for Saturday’s program at Doubleday Field for former teammate Tim McCarver, who was honored with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting alongside Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun as the J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner for baseball writing. Joe and Timmy were teammates with the Cardinals and have remained good friends over the years.

Among the people McCarver credited for his playing career, which covered four decades from 1959 through 1980, was Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey, a career Yankee. McCarver said that in those pre-draft years of the 1950s that he almost signed with the Yankees because he was so impressed by Dickey but wound up signing with the Cardinals.

“Bill Dickey gave me the greatest piece of advice I ever received for a catcher,” McCarver said. “He told me, ‘Be a pitcher’s friend.’ And I am happy to say that a couple of Hall of Famers who are up on this stage with me have been lifelong friends, Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton.”

Yogi makes trip to Hall after all

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Yogi Berra is here after all.

Yogi was not on the original list of returning Hall of Famers for this year’s Induction Weekend at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He was not expected to attend due to some recent health concerns.

But there he was in the lobby of the Otesaga Hotel Thursday night with his wife, Carmen, and son, Larry.

“He called me the other day and asked what I was doing this weekend,” Larry told me. “I said I had nothing planned. ‘Good,’ he said. ‘You can drive me to the Hall of Fame.’ He and Mom just love this weekend. They couldn’t stay away.”

Yogi and Carmen are treated like royalty, as well they should be. One by one, Hall of Famers from Bert Blyleven to Billy Williams to Al Kaline to Eddie Murray to Ozzie Smith to Robin Yount to George Brett to Tony Perez came over to talk to the Berras. Yogi was getting around pretty well on his cane.

“Hey, this weekend is about fun,” Yogi said, “and I could use some fun.”

Whitey Ford and his wife, Joan, were also walking around the lobby. Whitey seemed surprised when I told him Yogi was here.

“Oh,” Whitey said, “I was hoping he wouldn’t come until Monday.”

Only a joke, of course. The Yankees’ most popular batterymates remain the closest of friends.

The Sunday induction ceremony is for former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin, who was elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, and the late Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, who was elected by the Golden Era Committee. Also to be honored Saturday will be Tim McCarver with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting and Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball writing. Legendary Cardinals managers Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog and Tony La Russa will also be part of the Saturday program.

Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson and I greeted Larkin and his family as they pulled up in front of the hotel.

“This is just the beginning,” Jeff told Barry.

“I know,” Larkin said, “I can’t wait.”

Among the people Larkin sent invitations to for Induction Weekend was Derek Jeter, but the Yankees’ captain is with the team for a weekend series in Oakland, Calif.

“I knew he couldn’t come, but I wanted him to know I was thinking of him,” Larkin said. “He is one of the guys you think of when it comes to shortstops. He’ll be here someday, too.”

Old Timers remind fans of good times

Old Timers’ Day never gets old, if you know what I mean. The Yankees were the first team to celebrate their history with an annual reunion that began in 1947 to honor Babe Ruth, and they are the last team to bring back stories players from their past every year on a scheduled date.

The Yankees’ great tradition lends itself perfectly to such an exercise. It seems as if everyone invited back had a part in producing one of the 27 World Series championships, some of them more than others but no one more so than Yogi Berra.

The practice of Old Timers’ Days with other clubs gained popularity in the 1960s, but by the 1990s nearly every team, including such other tradition-rich franchises as the Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals stopped doing them regularly. The Red Sox did a nice job of inviting back many of the players from their past to celebrate Fenway Park’s centennial back in April, but that was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. For the Yankees, it is an annual get together that is the result of the hard work of vice president for marketing Debbie Tymon and her staff.

Yogi was clearly the focus Sunday as the introductions wound down to those so close to him in his long connection with the team, such as old pal Whitey Ford; former American League president Bobby Brown, who roomed with Yogi during their years together as players in the late 1940s and early ‘50s, and Don Larsen, whom Berra navigated through a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, the only no-hitter in Series history.

Every Yankees era was represented: the 1950s with Berra, Ford, Brown, Larsen, Jerry Coleman and Bob Turley; the 1960s with Hector Lopez, Luis Arroyo, Bobby Richardson, Ralph Terry, Joe Pepitone, Al Downing, Jake Gibbs and Mel Stottlemyre; the 1970s with Reggie Jackson, Bucky Dent, Brian Doyle, Mickey Rivers, Ron Guidry, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Roy White and Ron Blomberg; the 1980s with Tommy John, Goose Gossage and Rickey Henderson; the 1990s with Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, David Cone, Cecil Fielder, Charlie Hayes, Darryl Strawberry, Jesse Barfield, Pat Kelly, Bernie Williams and Joe Torre.

It was the first invitation for Stump Merrill, who has served in numerous capacities for the organization the past 38 years, including manager in the lean times of 1990 and ’91. It was Stump who helped convert a Puerto Rican second baseman named Jorge Posada into an All-Star catcher.

“I can’t kick about waiting 38 years,” Stump said, laughing. “Last year, they invited Geno for the first time in 49 years!”

Long-time trainer Gene Monahan, who retired after the 2011 season, was also back at Yankee Stadium Sunday for the one day every year that could be renamed Good Times Day.

Sunday marks 66th Old Timers’ Day at Stadium

Nearly 50 former players, managers and coaches of the Yankees plus the widows of five of the most prominent team alumni will be on hand at the 66th annual Old-Timers’ Day Sunday, July 1, at Yankee Stadium.

Ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m. with the traditional Old-Timers’ game to follow, both of which will be aired exclusively on the YES Network. The Yankees will then play the White Sox at 2:05 p.m., also on YES. General public gates will open to ticket-holding guests at 10 a.m. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 11 a.m. for the festivities.

The Old Timers are headlined by several members of past Yankees’ World Series championship clubs, including Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson and Reggie Jackson. Former Yankees and current YES Network broadcasters David Cone, Paul O’Neill and Lou Piniella will also be part of the program.

Also invited back are former Yankees managers Joe Torre and Stump Merrill. For Merrill, who currently serves as a Special Assistant to the General Manager, it will mark his first Old-Timers’ Day appearance. Gene Monahan, who retired at the end of the 2011 season after serving as a trainer in the Yankees organization for 49 years, will also make his Old-Timers’ Day debut.

Joining the Hall of Famers and former Yankees on the baselines will be the widows of five legendary Yankees—Arlene Howard, widow of Elston Howard; Helen Hunter, widow of Jim “Catfish” Hunter; Jill Martin, widow of Billy Martin; Diana Munson, widow of Thurman Munson and Kay Murcer, widow of Bobby Murcer.

Here is the full list of those scheduled to attend:

Luis Arroyo, Jesse Barfield, Yogi Berra, Ron Blomberg, Dr. Bobby Brown, Homer Bush, Jerry Coleman, David Cone, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, Cecil Fielder, Whitey Ford, Oscar Gamble, Jake Gibbs, Joe Girardi, Goose Gossage, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Sterling Hitchcock, Arlene Howard, Helen Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Tommy John, Pat Kelly, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Jill Martin, Tino Martinez, Lee Mazzilli, Stump Merrill, Gene Monahan, Diana Munson, Kay Murcer, Matt Nokes, Paul O’Neill, Joe Pepitone, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Bobby Richardson, Mickey Rivers, Aaron Small, Mel Stottlemyre, Darryl Strawberry, Tanyon Sturtze, Ralph Terry, Joe Torre, Bob Turley, Roy White, Bernie Williams.

Injured starters should stay on turn

A couple of scary incidents during the Subway Series involving Yankees starting pitchers have proved not long-lasting. Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte were both hit by batted balls over the weekend against the Mets, but it appears that they will be able to stay on turn in the rotation.

Kuroda was struck in the left ankle Friday night by a line drive by David Murphy with the ball ricocheting to third baseman Alex Rodriguez for the last out of the seventh inning. That was also the final out for Kuroda, who limped off the mound and was seen leaving the clubhouse several hours later on crutches. He was able to go through his normal between-starts throwing regimen, however, and is expected to start Wednesday night at Atlanta.

Pettitte pulled a pitching no-no Sunday by reaching with his bare hand for a chopper toward the mound by Scott Hairston in the sixth inning. It was a stylish maneuver by Pettitte because the ball was actually behind him. It was also painful. Pettitte sustained a bruise that left him with a purple mark below the left index finger but no broken bones. He told reporters at Turner Field that he sees no reason why he shouldn’t make his next assignment Saturday at Washington, D.C.

Russell Martin’s game winning home run Sunday marked the Yankees’ second walk-off victory this season and their first game-ending homer since Sept. 8, 2010, against the Orioles, by Nick Swisher. The span of 641 days was the longest amount of time between walk-off homers for the Yankees since a span of 650 games between Sept. 18, 1991 (Roberto Kelly against the Brewers) and June 29, 1993 (Wade Boggs against the Tigers).

It was Martin’s fourth home run in the past six games, as many as he had over his first 44 games. Russell was the first Yankees catcher with a walk-off home run since Jorge Posada May 16, 2006, against the Rangers. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Martin became the second Yankees catcher since 1950 to homer twice in a game with one a walk-off. The other was Yogi Berra Sept. 16, 1955 against the Red Sox.

Happy 66th to No. 44

If you run into Reggie Jackson today, wish him a Happy Birthday. Mr. October turned 66. His uniform No. 44 was retired by the Yankees in 1993, the year he was elected to the Hall of Fame. The No. 9 he wore in Oakland has also been retired.

Reggie is only one of four people who have had two different numbers retired. The others are Carlton Fisk (27 by the Red Sox and 72 by the White Sox), Nolan Ryan (34 by the Astros and the Rangers and 30 by the Angels) and Sparky Anderson (10 by the Reds and 11 by the Tigers).

Others who have had the same number retired by two teams are Hank Aaron (44 by the Braves and the Brewers), Rod Carew (29 by the Twins and the Angels), Rollie Fingers (34 by the Athletics and the Brewers), Greg Maddux (31 by the Cubs and the Braves), Frank Robinson (20 by the Reds and the Orioles) and Casey Stengel (37 by the Yankees and the Mets).

Three teams have retired the same number for two players – the Cubs’ 31 for Maddux and Fergie Jenkins, the Yankees’ No. 8 for Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra and the Expos’ (now the Nationals’) No. 10 for Rusty Staub and Andre Dawson.

Fans serenade Yogi on 87th birthday

Yogi Berra had his personal driver, Ron Guidry, navigate him around the dirt path surrounding the field at Yankee Stadium in a golf cart before Saturday’s game, and in each section fans stood and applauded the Hall of Fame catcher in helping him celebrate his 87th birthday.

Yogi was in good spirits and appeared to enjoy the attention. In a brief ceremony behind the plate, Yankees general partner Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal and captain Derek Jeter presented Yogi with a birthday cake that had the number 87 embossed over a pinstriped baseball in the center as public address announcer Paul Olden led the fans in a rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

Yogi and Guidry retreated to a Stadium suite where they watched the Yankees’ game against the Mariners. They are the subject of a current book entitled “Driving Mr. Yogi,” written by New York Times sports columnist Harvey Araton, who was in the press box Saturday, about the relationship they have developed over the years traveling together to and from Yankees spring training camp in Tampa, Fla.

Come celebrate Yogi’s birthday

The Yankees will celebrate Yogi Berra’s 87th birthday in a pre-game ceremony before Saturday’s 4:05 p.m. game against the Mariners at Yankee Stadium. Fans planning to attend are urged to arrive by 3:40 p.m. to help sing “Happy Birthday” to the Hall of Fame catcher. All fans in attendance will receive a commemorative Yogi Berra baseball card, presented by Yankees-Steiner.

Bill “Moose” Skowron, 81

Bill “Moose” Skowron, an integral part of the Yankees’ dynasty of the 1950s and ‘60s, died Friday of congestive heart failure and lung cancer at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Ill. He was 81.

Skowron, a power-hitting first baseman, played in eight World Series and was on eight All-Star squads in a 14-season career, nine with the Yankees on teams that won seven pennants and four World Series. He won an eighth pennant and fifth World Series with the Dodgers in 1963 at the expense of the Yankees.

Skowron is survived by his wife, Lorraine (known as Cookie), daughter Lynnette, sons Greg and Steve, granddaughter Addyson and grandsons Jordan, Grant and Blake. A moment of silence was observed at Yankee Stadium before Friday night’s Yankees-Tigers game.

Skowron was one of those right-handed sluggers whose power was compromised by the famous Death Valley of left-center field at the original Yankee Stadium that peaked at 467 feet. Only 60 of his 211 career home runs were hit at the Stadium, and many of those were to right field.

“Moose was my roommate for a while, and we were friends for so long,” said former pitcher Bob Turley, the Cy Young Award winner in 1958. “He was a good guy, and people loved him. Moose could really hit the baseball – especially home runs to right field – and he was a good first baseman. I was glad Moose was on my team because he always wanted to win.”

“Moose will always be remembered as being one of the key members of the Yankees’ dynasties in the ‘50s and early ‘60s,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “He was a winner in every sense of the word, and someone the Yankees family cared deeply for. Baseball lost one of its finest ambassadors, and on behalf of the entire organization, I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, Cookie, and his entire family.”

Although he also played for the Dodgers, Senators, White Sox and Angels, Skowron considered himself a lifelong Yankee and was a regular returnee on Old Timers’ Days. The Chicago native worked in the White Sox’ community relations department the past 14 seasons and was at U.S. Cellular Field whenever the Yankees were in town.

“I got to know Moose really well,” Derek Jeter said. “Moose was one of the guys you always looked forward to seeing. Whether it was here, Old Timers Day, in Chicago, he used to always come out when we played in Chicago. I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the years. He always had positive things to say. He would always come over and comment on how you are playing or how things will turn around. He was just always positive.”

“I am saddened by the loss of Moose Skowron, a great baseball man who was an integral part of the wonderful Yankee teams of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “As a Milwaukee Braves fan, I will always remember his two-out, three-run homer in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the 1958 World Series. Moose, a Chicago native who was an All-Star for the White Sox in 1965, continued to contribute to our game as a member of the front office of his hometown team since 1999. He was a wonderful storyteller and an important link to a great era in baseball history. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to Moose’s wife Cookie, their children, their grandchildren and his many fans.”

“We all have lost a dear, dear friend today,” White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said. “While Moose may have become a star in New York with the Yankees, he was a Chicagoan through and through. I certainly will miss his priceless stories about Casey Stengel, Roger Maris, Hank Bauer and of course, his good friend, Mickey Mantle. My guess is that right now Mickey, Roger, Hank and Moose are enjoying a good laugh together.”

William Joseph Skowron was the son of a Chicago sanitation worker. Although a former football player who won a scholarship to Purdue, Skowron’s nickname was not based on his powerful, 5-foot-11, 195-pound frame. While in grade school, his grandfather gave him a very short haircut, and his classmates thought it made him resemble the Italian dictator, Benito Mussilini, or “Moose” for short.

Skowron also played baseball at Purdue where his coach was Hank Stram, who later went on to fame as the head coach of the NFL Kansas City Chiefs. Moose chucked football for baseball in 1951 when the Yankees offered him a $25,000 contract. He could hit but was not as adept with a glove. A poor outfielder, Skowron was converted to first base, a position he shared in a platoon with left-handed Joe Collins when he reached the majors in 1954.

The home run Commissioner Selig mentioned was one of three Skowron hit in World Series Games 7. The others were in 1956, a grand slam, against the Dodgers, and in 1960 against the Pirates. A .282 career hitter with 888 runs batted in, Moose hit .293 with 4 doubles, 1 triple, 8 home runs and 29 RBI in 39 games and 133 at-bats in World Series play. In All-Star play, he had 6-for-14 (.429) with a double.

He was one of six Yankees players who hit more than 20 home runs for the 1961 team that had a then-record 240, topped by Maris’ 61 and Mantle’s 54. Moose, the third “M,” had 28. Yogi Berra, Elston Howard and Johnny Blanchard also topped the 20-homer plateau. But Moose’s best overall season was probably the previous year, 1960, when he hit .309 with 26 home runs and career-high totals in doubles (34) and RBI (91).

“There weren’t many better guys than Moose,” Yogi said. “He was a dear friend and a great team man. A darn good ballplayer, too. ‘I’m going to miss him.”

To clear space at first base for Joe Pepitone, the Yankees traded Skowron to the Dodgers after the 1962 season for pitcher Stan Williams. Moose came back to haunt the Yankees as he hit .385 with a homer and three RBI in the Dodgers’ sweep of the Yanks in the 1963 World Series.

“Moose was a Yankee all the way,” said former pitcher Ralph Terry, the 1962 World Series Most Valuable Player. “He was a true professional who always worked hard and took the game as serious business. I am proud to have been able to call him a good friend. I remember during spring training when I was 18, he took me for my first pizza.”

Terry won Game 7 of the ’62 World Series, 1-0, over the Giants. No, Moose did not hit a home run in that game, but he did score the only run. He was in the middle of the action a lot in those days.

Captain and A-Rod keep climbing Yankees ladder

Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez keep moving up the Yankees’ career lists. The left side of the club’s infield had standout efforts along with starting pitcher CC Sabathia as the Yankees took their winning ways in Boston all the way down to Texas in knocking off the red-hot Rangers, 7-4.

A-Rod’s first hit off a left-handed pitcher this year was a big one, a three-run homer in the fifth inning off the Rangers’ Derek Holland that gave the Yankees a five-run lead. It must have been particularly satisfying for Alex considering that he is regularly booed at Rangers Ballpark In Arlington since he pushed for the trade that brought him to the Yankees in 2004. Monday night was no different. With a sellout crowd of 48,234 on hand to celebrate the retirement of another Rodriguez, Ivan a/k/a Pudge, there were plenty of Texas-sized voices to ring A-Rod’s ears. What better way to answer taunts than hit a towering home run?

It was Rodriguez’s 632nd career home run and his 287th with the Yankees, the latter number tying him with Bernie Williams for sixth place on the franchise list. A-Rod has a way to go to catch up with the guy who is fifth on that list – Hall of Famer Yogi Berra at 358.

Jeter’s run-scoring double in the sixth, one of his four hits in the game, raised his career RBI total to 1,210, which brings him even with Hall of Famer Bill Dickey for seventh on the club ladder. Bernie is sixth at 1,257 RBI. The 4-for-5 game shot DJ’s batting average to .411. The Captain’s success against a lefthander – all four hits were off Holland – comes as no surprise. He is batting .630 against lefties this year (that’s right – 17-for-27) and raked southpaws at a .349 clip last year.

Rodriguez, on the other hand, had been all but invisible against lefties this year, going 0-for-17 before digging in against Holland, who walked him twice before giving up that bomb off a 0-1 fastball.

Holland has been something of a punching bag against the Yankees while at the same time being one of the American League’s best left-handed starters. He was 16-5 last season for the Rangers, who reached the World Series for the second consecutive season. Against the Yankees, however, Holland has had no success.

His career mark against them fell to 0-5 with a 9.26 ERA. The Yankees have hit .340 against Holland, who has allowed 48 hits (10 of them home runs) in 34 innings with more walks (21) than strikeouts (20). He fell behind in the first inning by giving up a two-out, two-run single to left-handed batting Curtis Granderson. Nick Swisher picked up his 21st RBI in the fifth with a sacrifice fly.

The Rangers, who lost for only the fourth time in 17 games, pecked away at Sabathia (2-0) in the late innings, but the big guy hung tough, especially in the eighth when he set down 3-4-5 hitters Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli, who have combined to drive in 43 runs already this season, on weak grounders. Mariano Rivera followed with a perfect ninth for his fourth save.


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