Posts Tagged ‘Graig Nettles’

Brian Cashman recently told Mike Lupica on ESPN Radio that “the captaincy should be retired with number two.”

No more captains for the Yankees? Please. I love Derek Jeter as much as the next guy, but enough is enough. Yes, that’s right…I said it. Derek Jeter is a mortal being…just like Lou Gehrig and Thurman Munson before him. There’s nothing that make Derek any more special or deserving than those two, so I don’t see why the New York Yankees shouldn’t have another captain.

Keith Olbermann has called Cashman’s comments  as the “dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

After Lou Gehrig passed away from ALS (now known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), Yankees manager Joe McCarthy stated that the club would never have another Yankees captain. Years went by and the organization didn’t have a captain. In 1976 that changed, as George Steinbrenner appointed Thurman Munson to be captain. Just three years later (1979), Thurman died in a tragic plane crash, leaving the Yankees captainless. Nettles, Randolph, Guidry, and Mattingly followed him. What I’m trying to say here is…nobody is bigger than the interlocking NY on their chest.

George Steinbrenner once said:

“I have always been very, very careful about giving such a responsibility (Captain of the New York Yankees) to one of my players, but I can not think of a single player that I have ever had who is more deserving of this honor than Derek Jeter. He is a young man of great character and has shown great leadership qualities. He believes, as I do, what General (Douglas) MacArthur said, that ‘there is no substitute for victory.’ To him, and to me, it’s second only to breathing.”

I don’t believe they need to appoint a new captain right away, but when the right person comes along I don’t see anything wrong with giving that rank to a deserving player. I think you can safely bet that the Yankees will find somebody to be named captain in future years. And if you like to bet like me, you should check out: www.SportsBettingInfo.comLife goes on, and so do the Yankees.


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Walking down memory lane: The Yankees and Red Sox meet tonight in sport’s most heated rivalry. Sometimes, things get a little overheated…

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ESPN New York released their “50 Greatest Yankees” list the other day. I can’t really argue too much with their list, although I probably would have swapped Thurman Munson (#12) and Bill Dickey (#10). Yes, I know Dickey is in the Hall of Fame and Munson isn’t. But it was Munson’s leadership, as much as anything else that returned the Yankees to their winning ways in the ’70s. And who knows what kind of numbers he would have put up if not for the plane crash?

Anyway, here’s their list. I’ve added in the dates they played for the Yanks, along with their position. An asterisk denotes a playing career interrupted by a military commitment; # denotes a Hall-of-Famer. Current players are in red type. Feel free to let us know how you feel about the list!

50. Mike Mussina (RHP, 2001-2008)

49. Bob Meusel (LF, 1920-1930)

48. Albert “Sparky” Lyle (LHP, 1972-1978)

47. Gil McDougald (IF, 1951-1960)

46. Jim “Catfish” Hunter (RHP, 1974-1978)#

45. David Cone (RHP, 1995-2000)

44. Roy White (LF, 1965-1979)

43. Hank Bauer (RF, 1948-1959)

42. Jack Chesbro (RHP, 1903-1909)#

41. Eddie Lopat (RHP, 1948-1955)

40. Rickey Henderson (1985-1989)#

39. Vic Raschi (RHP, 1946-1953)

38. Joe Gordon (2B, 1938-1946)*#

37. Tommy Henrich (RF, 1937-1950)*

36. Charlie “King Kong” Keller (LF, 1939-1949)*

35. Bobby Murcer (CF, 1969-1974, 1979-1983)

34. Spurgeon “Spud” Chandler (RHP, 1937-1947)

33. Willie Randolph (2B, 1976-1988)

32. Waite Hoyt (RHP, 1921-1929)#

31. Mel Stottlemyre (RHP, 1964-1974)

30. Paul O’Neill (RF, 1993-2001)

29. Graig Nettles (3B, 1973-1983)

28. Dave Winfield (OF, 1981-1990)#

27. Herb Pennock (LHP, 1923-1933)#

26. Allie “Superchief” Reynolds (RHP, 1947-1954)

25. Rich “Goose” Gossage (RHP, 1978-1983, 1989)#

24. Elston Howard (C, 1955-1967)

23. Earle Combs (CF, 1924-1935)#

22. Roger Maris (RF, 1960-1966)

21. Jorge Posada (C, 1995-present)

20. Phil Rizzuto (SS, 1941-1956)*#

19. Bernie Williams (CF, 1991-2006)

18. “Poosh ‘Em Up” Tony Lazzeri (2B, 1926-1937)#

17. Ron “Gator” Guidry (LHP, 1975-1988)

16. Andy Pettitte (LHP, 1995-2003, 2007-2010)

15. Reggie Jackson (RF, 1977-1981)#

14. Vernon “Lefty” Gomez (LHP, 1930-1942)#

13. Alex Rodriguez (3B, 2004-present)

12. Thurman Muson (C, 1969-1979)

11. Don Mattingly (1B, 1982-1995)

10. Bill Dickey (C, 1928-1946)#

9. Charles “Red” Ruffing (RHP, 1930-1942)#

8. Edward “Whitey” Ford (LHP, 1953-1967)*#

7. Derek Jeter (SS, 1995-present)

6. Lawrence “Yogi” Berra (C, 1946-1963)#

5. Mariano Rivera (RHP, 1995-present)

4. Mickey Mantle (CF, 1950-1968)#

3. “Joltin” Joe DiMaggio (CF, 1936-1951)*#

2. Lou “Iron Horse” Gehrig (1B, 1923-1939)#

1. George “Babe” Ruth (RF, 1920-1934)#

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I realize that many of the readers of this blog weren’t alive on August 2, 1979. Many of you were much too young understand why a city wept on a hot August afternoon some 31 years ago. For those of us who were around and old enough to comprehend the tragedy of the day, it was seared into our memories like few other events. Quite frankly, other than 9/11, I can’t think of another event in my lifetime that at once defined New York to the rest of the country and caused the nation to cry with us. As Yankee fans, it is a day that should cause all of us to stop and reflect on things that are much bigger than baseball.

It is the day that Thurman Munson crashed his plane on a small airstrip in Akron, Ohio.

Munson’s legend has, with time, grown to immortal status. There is the empty locker, the plaque in Monument Park, the retired number 15 on the outfield wall. All of these are fine tributes to the man. But none of them can explain why Thurman is still such a beloved figure in Yankees lore. This is a team that has produced some of the game’s greatest players, after all. Why is it that Yankees fans continue to place him on a higher pedestal than Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle or even Babe Ruth? I think the answer to that, can be summed up in one game that occurred several years before that tragic crash.

It was a typical New York summer night in May 1976. Hot and humid, with the all the tension of the time (remember, this is the era when Gerald Ford told New York to “drop dead”). The South Bronx was well-known as “Fort Apache” and the atmosphere was rife with the expectation that at any time, a major riot would erupt. The only thing that could possibly raise the figurative temperature would be a visit from the hated (and defending AL champion) Red Sox. And so, of course, the Red Sox arrived that day to play a game that would go down in history.

The Sox were already reeling by that point in the season, while the Yanks were riding a six game win streak. But nobody could have foreseen what was about to happen when Lou Piniella barreled over Carlton Fisk at home. Piniella, upset that Fisk had tried to spike him, got up and slugged Fisk. The riot everyone in New York had been waiting for had erupted, but it was on the Yankee Stadium field, not on River Avenue. By the time the melee died down, Mickey Rivers had effectively ended Bill “Spaceman” Lee’s career and the “Bronx Zoo” era of Yankees baseball had been born. So, you ask, what does this have to do with Thurman?

Everything, as it turned out. Although the Yankees wound up losing the game, 8-2, Thurman demonstrated the type of class and fire required to be a Yankee captain. It was Munson who came to Graig Nettles defense when Lee charged him from the Red Sox dugout, after the initial fight had ended (Rivers showed up just in time to body slam Lee – as he was readying a roundhouse for the back of Munson’s head). Munson, appointed the first Yankee captain since the late Lou Gehrig by George Steinbrenner that Spring Training, was the one who restored order on that sultry summer evening. When all hell broke loose it was Munson who somehow managed to get his fellow teammates back into the dugout. And it was Munson who hung up his catching gear and went out to play right field (starting right fielder Otto Velez had been tossed), putting aside his personal rivalry with Fisk. There was no doubt after the game who the Yankees field and clubhouse leader was after the game. He wore number 15 and although the Superman cape was missing, everyone who watched that game swore there were red-and-blue tights under his torn Pinstripes. The following evening, Munson led the Yankees to a critical victory over the same Red Sox, a come from behind 6-5 win in 12 innings. He went two for six, driving in the first two Yankee runs with a booming double to Death Valley.

Thurman Munson is a Yankees legend, but he is much more than that. So if you see me shedding a few tears today, you’ll know why. When his plane skidded off the runway in 1979, the heart and soul of one of the great Yankee dynasties was what really went up in flames.

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With the first game being thisclose, I thought it might be fun to look back and see who has played the most Opening Day (first game of the season, not first home game) games per position — Relief pitchers need not apply. The available information only goes back until 1952, unfortunately. Next to each name below is the exact number of opening day games started for the Yankees.

Starting Pitcher: Whitey Ford/Ron Guidry/Mel Stottlemyre (7)

Catcher: Jorge Posada (10)

First Base: Don Mattingly (10)

Second Base: Willie Randolph (10)

Shortstop: Derek Jeter (13)

Third Base: Graig Nettles (11)

Left Field: Roy White (9)

Center Field: Mickey Mantle (13)

Right Field: Paul O’Neill/Hank Bauer (7)

Designated Hitter: Don Baylor/Ruben Sierra (3)

You can view each lineup since 1952 here.

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Lou GehrigRecently, the New York Daily News published their list of the All-World Series Yankees team. Looking over it, there is not much much debate at who should be on it, with the exception of one or two spots (Brosius vs Nettles, Larsen vs. Pettitte). Are you happy with this list? To see the full article click here.

Manager – Casey Stengel

C – Yogi Berra
1B – Lou Gehrig
2B – Billy Martin
SS – Derek Jeter
3B – Graig Nettles
OF – Mickey Mantle
OF – Babe Ruth
OF – Joe DiMaggio
DH – Reggie Jackson

SP – Whitey Ford
SP – Red Ruffing
SP – Allie Reynolds
SP – Walte Hoyt
SP – Don Larsen
CP – Mariano Rivera

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     Graig Nettles is backing Torre here, even though he has only read excerpts from the book. He believes that it “doesn’t seem to be anything scandalous.” He doesn’t think Torre has done anything wrong, and that he has every right to write a book. Nettles co-authored “Balls” with Peter Golenbock back in 1984. Steinbrenner heard about it, and he thought it would take a negative hit on the team. He wound up on the San Diego Padres the following season. This is interesting because this is coming from a guy who had a book released while he was still playing. I wonder what this book means for Torre. How much will it change his life in the coming years…?

“I think he has every right to write the book, and I know Joe well enough to know that he wouldn’t make any scandalous accusations of anybody. . . . I would bet a lot of money on the fact that Joe did it with some dignity.”

“All I’ve read is excerpts, so it’s really not fair to comment,” Nettles said in a phone interview. “But just from the excerpts, it doesn’t seem to be anything scandalous.

Nettles said he wrote a book “for the money and the fun of doing the book.”

“I know I didn’t tell any stories that I wasn’t supposed to tell. Joe, too. I haven’t read the book, but from what I’ve seen, he hasn’t told any stories or any hush-hush stories that shouldn’t be told.”

Torre has enough money, so is he just doing it for the fun of wiriting a book?


Abreu too good to last this long on free-agent market  /  HALO IS OFF ‘ST. JOE’

O’Connor: Only the beginning for Clueless Joe    /  Radio Days at Yanks’ Complex

Who Says Jeter Can’t Make A Great Grab?  /  Torre, the Yanks and the Hall of Fame 

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