Yanks in the tank: Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain feel the heat.
The Yankees are on the verge of an epic collapse, the worst regular season meltdown in the storied 110-year history of the franchise.
At the end of play on July 18, the Yankees found themselves 10 games in front of the Orioles and 10 1/2 in front of the Rays in the AL East. They were cranking up the presses to print playoff tickets. Instead, they seem to be cracking under the pressure.
Since that high-water mark, the Bronx Bombers have played more like the Bronx Bumblers, squandering nearly all of that 10-game advantage. Their homer-happy lineup has failed to hit in the clutch, and the pitching staff has coughed up leads on a regular basis. To put in kindly, they’ve been playing a listless brand of ball for two months.
The Yankees have never blown a double digit lead and failed to finish in first place. According to STATS LLC, their biggest cushion in a season in which they failed to finish first was six games in 1933. That year the Yankees led the Washington Senators by six games on June 6, but eventually slipped to second while Washington won the AL flag. Incidentally, that was Washington’s last playoff appearance.
Since divisional play began in 1969, New York has advanced to the postseason each of the last 15 times it has been in first place on September 1. In fact, only five times in their history have the Yankees been in first place anytime in the month of September and failed to make the playoffs.
The Highlanders, as they were known back then, found themselves in first place after beating the Boston Americans (now the Red Sox) 3-2 on October 7. The next day, Boston swept a doubleheader from the Highlanders to capture the lead with two games left in the season. After an off-day Sunday (Sunday baseball was not permitted in New York at that time) Jack Chesbro’s wild pitch gave the American’s a 3-2 win and the American League pennant. Chesbro won 41 games for the Highlanders that year, still a major league record, but will forever be remembered for that fateful wild pitch.
The Yanks were tied with Cleveland with 12 games to play, but lost to the White Sox next day while Cleveland beat Washington. The Indians went on to their first World Championship, beating the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1920 World Series
Tied for first as late in mid-September with eight games remaining, the Yankees lost to Detroit the next day. Washington won its first and only title, beating the New York Giants in seven games in a dramatic World Series.
With seven games left in the season, the Yankees found themselves in a three-way tie with Cleveland and Boston. The Indians eventually beat the Red Sox in the American League’s first playoff, and then knocked off the Boston Braves for their second — and last — World Championship.
Playing their home games at Shea Stadium while Yankee Stadium was being refurbished, the Yankees were in first place with eight games remaining. However the red-hot Baltimore Orioles overtook the Yankees to win the AL East.
In 2010, the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays battled down the stretch for the AL East crown. The two clubs were tied going into the final day of the season. That day the Yanks lost to Boston 8-4 while Tampa beat Kansas City 3-2 in 12 innings. However both teams were already assured playoff spots. So even though they failed to win the division, the Yankees still earned the wild card.
Look on the bright side Yankee fans. Nothing could be worse than 2004, when the arch-rival Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Yankees in the ALCS — the only time in baseball history that’s ever happened . Yep, Boston snapped the Curse of the Bambino and their 86-year championship drought, while the Yankees were left to ponder their fate.
Derek Jeter is the greatest shortstop we’ve ever seen.
Sure, Honus Wagner is the greatest shortstop in baseball history. But who alive saw old Hans play. After all, Wagner last played 95 years ago, when Woodrow Wilson was President, World War I was being waged and Babe Ruth was still pitching.
Wagner won eight National League batting titles, all with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and swiped 722 bases before retiring. In 1917. His career numbers are awesome.
But moving on to shortstops who actually played after the Teapot Dome scandal, the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age, Jeter is the best.
With apologies to Joe Cronin, Luke Appling, Arky Vaughn, Ozzie Smith, Pee Wee and the Scooter, Jeter beats out Cal Ripken for the title of best shortstop we’ve ever seen.
Let’s compare Jeter and Ripken:
Batting – Jeter has a .313 lifetime batting average, well ahead of Ripken’s .276. Advantage Jeter
Power — Ripken 431 hit career home runs, nearly 200 more than Jeter’s 246. Advantage Ripken
Run Production — Ripken’s 1,695 RBIs beat out Jeter’s 1,216. Advantage Ripken
Speed — No contest. Jeter has 344 stolen bases, Ripken 36. And Jeter has scored 1,799 runs, well ahead of Ripken’s 1,647. Advantage Jeter
Awards — Both Ripken and Jeter won Rookie of the Year honors. However Ripken was voted AL MVP in both 1983 and 1991. Advantage Ripken
Fielding — Jeter won five Gold Gloves at shortstop, Ripken two, and his .972 lifetime fielding average bests Ripken’s .969. Advantage Jeter
Championships — Jeter was a member of five Yankee World Series winners. Ripken won one World Series with the Orioles. Advantage Jeter
Durability – Jeter has been amazingly durable through his career. But Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s record and played in 2,632 consecutive games. He’s the Iron Man. Advantage Ripken
Hits — The tiebreaker. Ripken is 13th on the all-time list with 3,184 hits. Jeter trails him by less than 20, and stands to challenge some of the all-time leaders. Moreover, Jeter is already the all-time hit leader as a shortstop. Wagner is fifth all-time with 3,415 hits, but played a lot in the outfield and at first base and third base. And Ripken was a third baseman in his final six season. Advantage Jeter
So that’s it. Of these nine key categories, Jeter wins five and Ripken four. That makes Jeter the best shortstop of the modern era.
With his next hit, Derek Jeter will pass Al Kaline for 26th place on the all-time hit list.
DJ will be passing plenty more signposts in the 3,000 hit club over the course of this season and the ensuring years. Wade Boggs is next on the list with 3,010.
In fact, if DJ stays healthy and plays out his current contract with the Yankees (two years left after this season with a player option for a third year), there’s a good chance he’ll wind up with 3,500 hits.
That’s rarefied air. Only five players — Pete Rose (4,256), Ty Cobb (4,189), Hank Aaron (3,771), Stan Musial (3,630), and Tris Speaker (3,514) — have more.
Do the math. With 3,007 hits and 90 games remaining, Jeter should compile the 50 plus hits it would need to pass Craig Biggio, currently 20th on the hit list with 3,060, by the end of the year.
And if Jeter averages 150 hits a season for the next three years, that would put him past 3,500.
Jeter has averaged nearly 195 hits for his 15 full seasons in the majors. He’s slowing down, but 150 hits a year is a reasonable assumption.
Heck, just two years ago Jeter had 212 hits, the second highest total of his career.
He’s had 200 hits in a season seven times, one of only nine players to accomplish that feat. (Rose and Ichiro Suzuki share the record with 10 apiece.)
Even last year, admittedly an off season by Jeterian standards, he still managed 179 hits.
While most ballplayers don’t have a single signature moment, Derek Jeter has a career full of them.
The Yankee captain even has a signature play — the Jeter jump throw from deep shortstop — which he’s performed dozens and dozens of times throughout his 17-year career.
Here are 10 signature moments that define Derek Jeter.
1. 1996 — The shortstop comes through in the clutch in his rookie season. His two-out, bases loaded single up the middle delivers the winning run in the 10th inning of a 12-11 Yankee victory over the Red Sox.
2. 1996 — In the game that made Jeffrey Maier famous, Jeter’s eighth-inning home run ties to the score and the Yankees go on to beat the Orioles, 5-4, in Game One of the ALCS.
3. 2000 — Jeter leads off Game 4 of the Subway Series with a first-pitch home run to spark a 3-2 win, then hits another homer in Game 5 to earn the World Series MVP.
4. 2001 — The Flip: From out of nowhere. Jeter catches an errant throw and flips to ball to catcher Jorge Posada to nip Jeremy Giambi at home and preserve a 1-0 Yankee win at Oakland that turned the ALDS.
5. 2001 — With the score tied in the 10th inning, Jeter hits a walk-off home run in Game 4 of the World Series to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-3, and earn a new nickname — Mr. November.
6. 2004 — Jeter catches a pop fly against Boston and dives into the Yankee Stadium stands. He comes out bruised and bloody, but the Yankees come out a winner in 13 innings.
7. 2005 — With the Red Sox coming off their first World Championship in 86 years, Jeter hits a walk-off home run to beat Boston and closer Keith Foulke, 4-3. in the second game of the season.
8. 2005 — Jeter hits the first — and thus far only — grand slam of his career against the Chicago Cubs in the Bronx, sparking the Yankees to an 8-1 victory.
9. 2009 — Captain Jeter passes Captain Gehrig with a third-inning single to right and becomes the all-time hit leader for the Yankees with 2,722 hits.
10. 2010 — Jeter joins the exclusive 3,000 hit club with a home run, and caps a 5-for-5 day with a game-winning single in the eighth as the Yankees beat Tampa Bay, 5-4.
Derek Jeter is just the second player in history to make his 3,000th hit a home run. Lucky man caught the ball in the left field seats at Yankee Stadium, reminds me of another catch at another time….but that’s another story.
3,000 hits is a lot of hits. Do the math, it’s 200 hits a year for 15 years.
Wanna know more about the Captain Jeter and the 3,000 hit club (let’s call in 3KC)? Here’s 10 facts that should astound you:
1. Jeter is the first New York Yankee to reach 3,000 hits, and the first player in history to get his 3,000th hit at Yankee Stadium, old or new.
2. Jeter becomes the first player to go 5-for-5 in the game in which he got his 3.000th hit. Craig Biggio, the last man to join the 3KC before Jeter, went 5-for-6 in 2007.
3. The only other player to reach 3,000 hits with a home run was Wade Boggs, Jeter’s teammate on the 1996 championship team. Boggs hit the milestone homer for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999.
4. Jeter is the first shortstop to reach 3K since Honus Wagner of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1914.
5. Jeter is the 28th player to join the 3KC, and the 10th to have played with the same team. The others are Stan Musial, Al Kaline, Roberto Clemente, Carl Yastrzemski, George Brett, Cal Ripken, Robin Yount, Tony Gwynn and Craig Biggio.
6. Other members of the 3KC who played for the Yankees are Paul Waner, Dave Winfield, Wade Boggs and Rickey Henderson.
7. Captain Jeter is the fourth youngest player to reach the 3KC, behind Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Robin Yount.
8. Jeter got to 3,000 hits eight days quicker than Pete Rose, the all-time hit leader with 4,256.
9. Having passed Roberto Clemente at 3,000 hits, Jeter is currently 27th on the all-time list. If he remains relatively healthy the rest of the year, he should pass seven players ahead of him — Al Kaline (3,007), Wade Boggs (3,010), Rafael Palmeiro (3,020), Lou Brock (3,023), Rod Carew (3,053), Rickey Henderson (3,055) and Craig Biggio (there’s that man again, 3,060). That would place him 20th on the all-time list, with two years (and a player option for a third) left on his current contract.
10. Jeter got the first hit of his career against Tim Belcher of the Seattle Mariners on May 30, 1995. Who knew then he was on his way to Cooperstown.
As Derek Jeter climbs the all-time hit list, there is only one man that stands between the Yankee captain and the magic 3,000 hit plateau — Sam Rice.
With 2,987 hits, Rice has the most of any player not to reach 3,000. He was 44 years old when he played his last game, nearly 77 years ago.
Here is the curious tale of Edgar Charles “Sam” Rice, the man who finished 13 hits shy of 3,000.
When he retired, Rice ranked seventh the all-time hit list — behind only eventual Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Cap Anson, Honus Wagner, Eddie Collins and Nap Lajoie. Rice spent nearly his entire career with the Washington Senators, before playing for the Cleveland Indians in 1934, his final year. That year he hit .293 and amassed 98 hits in 97 games.
He never returned.
Years later, Rice said, “The truth of the matter is I did not even know how many hits I had. A couple of years after I quit, [Senators owner] Clark Griffith told me about it, and asked me if I’d care to have a comeback with the Senators and pick up those 13 hits. But I was out of shape, and didn’t want to go through all that would have been necessary to make the effort.
“Nowadays, with radio and television announcers spouting records every time a player comes to bat, I would have known about my hits and probably would have stayed to make 3,000 of them.”
19 Years in Washington
Rice started his career as a relief pitcher, but moved to the outfield and made his debut at age 28 with Washington in 1915. He played 19 seasons for the Senators, and helped lead them to a World Championship in 1924 and American League pennants in 1925 and 1933.
Rice was regularly among the American League leaders in runs scored, hits, stolen bases and batting average. A left-hand hitter, he rarely stuck out, once completing a 616-at-bat season with nine strikeouts.
A contact man, Rice was not a home run threat (he hit just 34 in his career). But he had a .322 career batting average and stole 351 bases, including a AL best 63 in 1920. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1963, and lived to attend his induction at Cooperstown.
A tragedy early in Rice’s career had an enormous impact on him, and surely slowed his rise to the majors. In 1912, as he played with a minor-league baseball team in Galesburg, Illinois, Rice’s wife, two children, mother, father, siblings, and a farmhand were all killed in a tornado that swept through Morocco, Indiana, on the Indiana-Illinois border.
Soon after, Rice joined the US Navy. He was a seaman aboard the USS New Hampshire when the ship saw combat at Vera Cruz, Mexico on April 15, 1914. A year later, he was in the big leagues with the Senators.
Catch for the Ages
The most storied moment in Rice’s career occurred in Game Three of the 1925 World Series. With the Senators leading 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth, the Pirates Earl Smith hit a long drive to right-center at Pittsburgh’s old Forbes Field.
Rice ran down the ball and appeared to catch it at the fence, potentially robbing Smith of a home run that would have tied the game. After the catch, Rice toppled over the top of the fence and into the stands, disappearing out of sight. When Rice reappeared, he had the ball in his glove and the umpire called the batter out.
For many years, people questioned whether Rice actually caught the ball and whether he kept possession of the ball the entire time. Rice himself would not tell, only answering: “The umpire called him out,” when asked.
The controversy became so great that Rice wrote a letter to be opened upon his death. After Rice died in 1974, the letter was opened and it contained Rice’s account of what happened. At the end of the letter, he wrote: “At no time did I lose possession of the ball.”
The Senators won the game, but the Pirates went on to win the World Series in seven game.
Earlier this week, Derek Jeter passed a couple of ball players — Rogers Hornsby and Jake Beckley — to move into 33rd place on major league baseball’s all-time hit list.
You remember Rogers Hornsby, the greatest right-hand hitter in baseball history,. Guy hit 358 lifetime and .424 in 1924, still the record for a single season.
And Beckley. Well who the heck is Jake Beckley? Old Eagle Eye. Never heard of him.
So for the greater benefit of society, we present 10 things you probably never knew about Jake Beckley.
1. Jake Beckley was born two years after the end of the Civil War in Hannibal, Missouri, the town that Mark Twain made famous.
2. He began his baseball career in 1888 with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys of the National League. The Alleghenys later became the Pirates.
3. In the spring of 1890, Beckley interrupted his NL career when he, along with eight of his teammates and manager Ned Hanlon, jumped to the Pittsburgh Burghers of the new Players League.
4. When the new PL offered him a higher salary, he made the move and explained, “I’m only in this game for the money anyway.”
5 Jake married in 1891 but his wife Molly died after only seven months. He didn’t remarry until his playing career ended.
6. When he retired after 1907 he was baseball’s all-time leader in triples. He is still fourth all-time, behind only fellow Hall of Famers Sam Crawford, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner.
7. Beckley batted .300 or better in 13 of his 20 seasons. He hit .308 lifetime, and had 2,930 career hits.
8. Beckley’s reputation suffered because he never played on a pennant winner, and only one team he played for (the 1893 Pirates) finished as high as second place.
9. He held the career record for games played at first base until 1994, when Eddie Murray passed him. He still leads all first basemen in putouts and total chances.
10. Jake Beckley operated a grain business in Kansas City after his baseball career ended. He died at age 50 in 1918 of heart disease.
Never got to meet George Steinbrenner, never got to shake his hand. But like so many other Yankee fans, I wish I had the opportunity to thank The Boss before he passed on. Thank him for making baseball important once more in New York, and for making the Yankees a winner again.
George Steinbrenner saved the New York Yankees. When a group of businessmen led by Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees on January 3, 1973, for a net price of $8.7 million, the once-proud franchise was floundering. Attendance was down, Yankee Stadium was falling apart, and the team hadn’t won a World Series since 1962.
The Yankees were a bottom feeder in the American League East in those days, a baseball laughingstock. Think Horace Clarke and Dooley Womack.
At first George said he would be a silent owner, that in his words he would not “be active in the day-to-day operations of the club at all.” That lasted for a New York minute. Before long, Steinbrenner promised he would bring the Yankees back to prominence.
Steinbrenner brought in a number of heralded players at the dawn of free agency, most notably Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson. He refurbished Yankee Stadium. And within four years, the Yankees were back on top, winning the World Series in 1977 and repeating in 1978.
Moose Skowron, a Yankee first baseman in the 50s and early 60s, perhaps summed it up best: “This man wants to win, and I respect him for that. Who the hell wants to be a loser.”
Some owners were hobbyists, but for George Steinbrenner ownership was serious baseball business.
Sometimes too serious. George wanted to win, but for a time in the 80s and early 90s his competitive instincts got the best of him. The Yankees endured an 18-year championship drought following the 1978 World Series, and failed to make a single playoff appearance between 1981 and 1995.
Then came 1996 and a surprising World Series triumph over the Atlanta Braves, followed by three straight World Championships from 1998-2000. That 1998 team with manager Joe Torre, Derek Jeter and the rest of the Core Four won 125 games and ranks amongst the greatest in baseball history.
And of course last year the Yankees opened their beautiful new Stadium — the Home Office — and capped the season with their 27th Championship, most of any North American pro sports franchise.
In retrospect, it’s almost like two George Steinbrenners owned the Yankees, two different personalities. The first was the tyrannical despot who ranted and raved, belittled Dave Winfield and other members of the organization, phoned the Yankee dugout and hired and fired Billy Martin five times.
George seemed to mellow in his later years as he built the Yankee brand. A softer side of George emerged, a kinder, gentler George, a benevolent George who not only treated his players and managers with respect, but also honored the military and police officers and helped charities, schools and individuals in need.
And in the end, the Yankees won 11 pennants and seven World Championships in the Steinbrenner regime, and had the best record in baseball during that 37-year span.
“I care about New York dearly,” George told Sports Illustrated several years ago. “I like every cab driver, every guy that stops the car and honks, every truck driver. I feed on that.”
The Boss bought the Yankees for $8.7 million in 1973 — the team is now worth more than a $1.6 billion according to a recent report in Forbes magazine. Not a bad investment, by George.
Sadly, George Steinbrenner was not selected for the Hall of Fame before his passing. Perhaps the Hall can do him right now, and open its doors for George Steinbrenner.
Related Blog: Former Yankee Owner Jacob Ruppert Belongs in The Hall
Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte – Band of Brothers.
Any discussion of the New York Yankees and their 27th World Championship starts with the Core Four.
The Core Four — Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera — earned their fifth ring when the Yankees beat the Phillies in the 2009 World Series.
They were there for the great run from 1996 through 2000, three championships in a row and four in five years.
But they were also there for the disappointing World Series losses to the Diamondbacks in 2001 and Marlins in 2003, and the epic collapse against the Red Sox in 2004. And the Core Four struggled through early-round playoff setbacks in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and last year when the Yankees failed to make it to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.
Posada, right. the switch-hitting catcher, missed most of the 2008 season after shoulder surgery….and he was sorely missed by the Yankees, both on the field and in the clubhouse. But he bounced back and hit the first home run in the new Yankee Stadium on Opening Day,
Posada wound up hitting .285 in his comeback year, with 22 home runs and 81 RBIs. And he got some huge hits throughout the playoffs, including the game-winning home run in the clincher against Minnesota in the ALDS, and a two-out, two-run single in the ninth inning of the pivotal fourth game against the Phillies in the World Series.
There was some question whether Andy Pettitte would even pitch for the Yankees this year. The angular left-hander pondered retirement, but in the end signed a one-year deal and reported to spring training in Tampa.
Pettitte, below, had a solid 14-8 regular season, marking the fifth straight season he has won at least 14 games and 12th overall. But it’s in October (and November) that Pettitte’s star shines brightest, and his 18 victories are a major league post-season record.
Pettitte was 4-0 this year in the playoffs this year, and won the clinching game in all three series for the Yankees.
In the spring of 1996, a baby-faced, 21-year-old kid was named the regular Yankee shortstop by new manager Joe Torre. That young shortstop was Derek Jeter, who went on to win Rookie of the Year and helped lead the Yankees to a comeback World Series victory over the Atlanta Braves, ending an 18-year Yankee championship drought.
Jeter has enjoyed an amazing career in pinstripes with a .317 average and 2,747 hits through the end of the year. He was named Yankee captain in 2003, and in September of this year he broke one of the Yankees most cherished team records — the all-time hit record — held for 70 years by another great Yankee captain, Lou Gehrig.
Jeter had his usual stellar post-season, capped by 11 hits and a .407 average in the World Series. His overall playoff numbers include a record 99 runs scored and 175 hits, along with 20 home runs and a .313 average. He’s batted over .300 in five of the season World Series in which he’s played.
Fittingly last on the Core Four list is the closer, Mariano Rivera, shown below with Jeter, the greatest reliever in baseball history. Rivera’s stats are the stuff of legends — 526 saves, second all-time, with a lifetime 2.25 ERA.
As good as those numbers are, Rivera’s post-season numbers are even better — an 8-1 record, 0.74 ERA, just two home runs allowed, and a record 39 saves. Against the Phillies, Rivera allowed no runs and just three hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Rivera has been on the mound for the final out in each of the Yankees last four World Series wins — in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009. Overall, in the World Series he has 11 saves and an 0.99 ERA.
There were other Yankees through the years who contributed to multiple World Series wins, players such as Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez and David Cone.
But only the Core Four has been there for more than four.
“They understand the moment; they know how to handle the moment,” said Yankee manager Joe Girardi of the Core Four, his former teammates. “They’ve been through it and can share their experiences. …. They know that they’re not going to be fazed by the situation because they’ve been through it. We like having that.”
“They may have four (titles), they want five. They get their fifth, they want six,” utility man Jerry Hairston told USA Today. “When you have Yogi Berra in the clubhouse flashing his 10 rings, it keeps everybody else here hungry.”
Berra, not coincidentally, was part of the triumvirate of Yankees legends — along with Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford— who were the last teammates before the Core Four to win five World Series together, in 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961 and 1962.
Ken Griffey, Jr. slides home with the winning run as the Seattle Mariners beat the New York Yankees in the deciding Game Five of the 1995 ALDS.
The other night the MLB Network ran a replay of the fifth and deciding game of that fantastic 1995 American League divisional series between the Yankees and the Mariners. You remember, the one where the series was decided by Ken Griffey, Jr’s mad dash home on Edgar Martinez two-run double in the bottom of the 11th inning. Where the two teams combined for a record 22 home runs, 11 by each club.
Amazing how many players from that game have played a part in the destinies of the two teams in the 14 years since the Mariners won that 6-5 thriller. Consider this:
Randy Johnson, the big left-hander, won two games in the series, including the clinching Game 5 in relief. Later Johnson won three games against the Yankees for the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series, ending New York’s three-time championship run. And finally the Big Unit pitched two years for the Yankees in 2005 and 2006, winning 17 games each season but failing miserably in the playoffs both years. Yankee fans would later joked that Johnson killed the when he faced them, and he killed them again when he pitched in pinstripes.
Ken Griffey, Jr.: Had a terrific series with five homers and a .391 average, and of course he scored the series-clinching run. Griffey later went on to play for the Cincinnati Reds, but never experienced the glory of those halcyon days in Seattle. He came back to the Mariners in 2009 to wind down his career. Despite more than 630 career home runs, Griffey has never been to a World Series.
Tino Martinez: Hit .409 against the Yankees in the 1995 ALDS, then was traded to New York in the off-season along with Jeff Nelson and Jim Mecir for Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock. Tino was the first baseman on four Yankee championship teams.
Jay Buhner: Traded to the Yankees for Ken Phelps and incidentals in the middle of the 1988 season, Buhner went on to a stellar career in Seattle, He hit .458 in the 1995 ALDS.
Alex Rodriguez: As a pinch-runner in Game 5, A-Rod scored the tying run. After signing as a free agent with Texas, Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees before the 2004 season. Although he has yet to play in a World Series, Rodriguez has won three American League MVP awards, including 2005 and 2007 with the Yanks.
Lou Piniella: Manager of the Mariners in 1995, Piniella was an outfielder with the champion 1977 and 1978 Yankee teams. He later managed the Yankees, won a World Series with the Reds, and managed the M’s, Devil Rays and now the Cubs.
New York Yankees
The Core Four
Four Yankees involved in the 1995 ALDS are still with the Yankees, 14 years and four World Champions later. Andy Pettitte started and took a no-decision in the Yankees 15-inning win in Game Two, and was in the bullpen warming up in Game 5 as Jack McDowell surrendered a one-run lead in the 11th inning. Jorge Posada was a backup catcher, but did score a run against the M’s. Mariano Rivera started his spectacular run of post-season success with 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief and eight strikeouts, including a pivotal stint in the eighth and ninth innings of Game 5. And although a youthful 21-year-old shortstop named Derek Jeter, right, did not see any action against the Mariners, the familiar No. 2 was roaming the bench urging his teammates on, a captain in waiting.
Don Mattingly: Speaking of captains, Don Mattingly, in his only playoff appearance and his final season, batted .417 with a home run and six RBIs, including a go-ahead, two-run double in Game 5. In what turned out to be his final at bat, Mattingly took a called third strike against Randy Johnson in the 10th inning.
Bernie Williams: Another member of those four Yankee champions. hit two home runs and batted .429 in the series against the Mariners. It was Bernie, playing left field, who fielded Edgar Martinez’ hit in the left-field corner in Game Five but threw home too late to nab Griffey.
The catcher when Griffey slid across the plate and electrified the city of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest was star-crossed Jim Leyritz, who Game 2 of the 1995 ALDS for the Yankees with a dramatic 15th-inning home run in the rain at Yankee Stadium. Leyritz, no stranger to post-season heroics, later helped the Yankees to championships in 1996 and 1999. His dramatic three-run homer that tied the score in the eighth inning is considered the turning point in the Yankees win over the Atlanta Braves in 1996. He was later involved in a drunk driving accident in South Florida in which a woman was killed.
Randy Velarde, utility infielder who hit the go-ahead hit single in the top of the 11th inning in Game 5, signed on as a free agent with the California Angels after the 1995 season. He eventually returned to the Yankees, and helped lead them to a five-game win against Seattle in the 2001 ALCS. Ironically, Velarde recorded one of just 15 unassisted triple plays in major league history, playing second base for the Oakland A;s against the Yankees in 2000.