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
My first World Series memory: Yankees-Braves, Game 4, 1957, Milwaukee.
I’m a Yankee fan, from a long line of Yankee fans. My father is a Yankee fan. My family, friends, you got it. Yankee fans. Very happy Yankee fans right now.
My father saw Monte Pearson no-hit the Indians in 1938. Some 60 years later, my son, nephew, brother-in-law and I saw David Wells pitch a perfect game against the Twins.
My Dad saw some of the Yankees-Dodgers Subway Series matches of the 1950s. My son and I saw the great Yankee teams of the 1990s win three straight World Series.
I was too young to remember the climatic Yankee-Dodgers battles, when the teams met six times in a 10-year period between 1947 and 1956. Baseball memories for me began in 1957. One of the families in our neighborhood had just purchased a color TV (a real novelty in the 1950s) and I watched part of Game Four of the Yankees-Braves World Series in living color.
Excitement at Home
Later that day, back home, my father jumped off the coach and nearly hit his head on the ceiling when Elston Howard hit a two-out, three-run homer in the ninth to tie a game the Yankees eventually lost in extra innings.
The Yankees were practically a permanent fixture in the World Series throughout my years at St. Bernard’s grammar school. I still recall rushing home from school jin time to see Bill Mazeroski’s ninth-inning home run , right, give the Pirates a 10-9 win over the Yanks in Game Seven of the 1960 World Series. I cried that day and still cringe when thinking of Maz nearly 50 years later.
In grammar school, the nuns would occasionally let us listen to the World Series on our transistor radios. That sometimes caused problems, like when Sister Mary Consolata told us to turn off the radios as Mickey Mantle came up in a key situation against Bob Gibson and the Cardinals in 1964.
I was a sportswriter and columnist for the Fitchburg-Leominster Sentinel & Enterprise, an industrial area in north central Massachusetts, when the Yankees returned to glory, beating the Dodgers in both 1977 and 1978.
Living in Florida
When the Yankees returned to the World Series in 1981, I was living in Fort Lauderdale, at that time the spring training home of the Bombers. Working the sports desk at the Sun-Sentinel, I watched the Yankees fritter away a 2-0 lead and lose to the Dodgers in six games.
Fast forward 15 years to 1996, Joe Torre’s first year at the helm and the Yankees first World Championship in 18 years. The Yankees went on to four titles in five years and three in a row, from 1998 through 2000. I saw the Yankees beat the Padres in Game Two of the 1998 Series, and then win the clincher in 1999 against the Braves. I was in San Diego on a business trip when the Yankees closed out the Mets in the 2000 Subway Series.
Following disheartening losses to the Diamondbacks in 2001 and the Marlins in 2003, the Yankees are back where they belong — on top of the world.
And Yankee fans are loving it. In the words of Yankee general manager Brian Cashman: “You can call us anything you want, but you also have to call us world champions.”
Some of the best sports fans I know are my colleagues and former colleagues in IBM communications. Heck, we should do live chat or perhaps sports talk radio.
Anyway, figured you might be interested in this thread about the 2009 World Series, Yankee resources, salary caps, and much, much more. Enjoy.
INITIAL COMMENT: Evil reigns in baseball. Money apparently buys another title. When the hell is MLB going to wake up and institute a cap? Every other major sport does it… but baseball is content to let the Yankee$ buy their way into the post-season year after year.
SPORTSLIFER: Killjoy. Don’t rain on the Yankees parade.
COMMENT: This post-season deserves a ‘roid era asterisk.
COMMENT: Well, except last year. And money hasn’t bought them a title for 9 years. I hate ‘em, but I’m just sayin’. More ominous is the fact that since 1960 they have only won WS titles when there was a Democrat in the White House.
COMMENT: I love em. Go Yanks!!!
COMMENT: u guys need to get over it. Like the Bo Sox don’t spend $$$? U build a baseball team up the middle. That’s what the Yankees have done. Posada, Andy P, Jeter, Cano, Melky, Joba, and Mo are all home grown, plus others. The bitterness u taste makes our 27th even sweeter.
COMMENT :Joba? Really? You want to tell me that you won because of Joba and Melky? You haven’t come up with a decent homegrown player since the mid-90s — Posada, Jeter and Riviera all came up in what, 95/96? You won because you spent $423.5M on Sabathia, Burnett, Texiera; because you pay A-Rod $33M a year; because your payroll is $201M — $80M more than … the Red Sox, btw (14 of MLB’s 30 teams have a payroll less than $80M, btw); the second highest payroll was the Mets at $149M (another NY team, shocker!).
Delude yourself all you want, Marie Antoinette. You BOUGHT this win.
As for the Sox, it’s my opinion that they spend too much money as well. MLB needs to do what every other major sport has done: institute a salary cap and floor. Make every team play from a level playing field — everyone’s payroll is within a range from $60M to $100M. When the Yankee$ win a title by having to build from within and playing within the same confines as everyone else, I’ll credit them. Except of course that it would never happen, because the Yankee system is mediocre at best and they wouldn’t know how to win without buying everyone else’s good players.
COMMENT: All I know is that the Yankees have won for the 27 time and that makes me very happy. All the other teams are welcome to pay their players as much as they want. If their owners can’t come up with the money, that is not my problem.
COMMENT: I am not a big fan of the Yankees, but let’s be fair here. So, they buy their way to a championship. I only wish my Chicago Cubs could have a fraction of the smarts the Steinbrenner family has employed (along with the money) to build a powerhouse. I look at the Yankees as wise investors over the years. 27 championships. The Cubs? Wasted investments. Sorry, I once hated the Yankees, but no more. Why trash excellence? Cheers, my friend. : )
COMMENT: How come people want their sports to be socialist? lol
As a Yankee Fan, last night was perfect and good for baseball! As for one decent home grown player since the mid-90′s….name a better second baseman for the 2009 season than Mr. Cano (320/25HRs/85rbi’s). Enjoy the off season!
COMMENT: You want a better 2B? Two words for ya: Chase Utley. Two more words: ’nuff said.
COMMENT: Tell us how you really feel… Remember there are sensitive sports fans on Facebook. You may offend…
COMMENT: “Excellence?” Yawn. Same trap the arrogant NY fans fall into. The Marie Antoinette “not my problem if other teams don’t have money” answer is EXACTLY why the ENTIRE COUNTRY hates the Yankees. Just say what you really mean: we’re big, we’re rich, and who cares if the rest of the country doesn’t have our money? We’ll just enjoy being … conspicuously rich.’
The Cubs’ abject ineptitude should not be used to justify a flawed system exploited by a Tsar Nicholas-level out of touch team and fan base. Baseball is BROKEN when they Yankee$ can keep buying their way to the post-season. The final four teams in the playoffs this year were #1, #6, #7 and #9 in payroll… proving that success in baseball is achieved at the bank and not on the field. (And yes, the Red Sox were #4; I’ll say again that I think it’s wrong
It’s time for a salary cap and floor — make every team operate within the same parameters, spend basically the same amount of money (within maybe a $25M range), and make FA acquisitions much more strategic and not just a shopping spree at Versace. If the Yankee$ truly are “excellent,” then this system shouldn’t hurt them… if they’re so good at developing their own players, and they really pick FAs better than other teams, then they should still excel within a leveled playing field, no? And if the Cubs are that inept, wouldn’t that just bear out in the new system?
COMMENT: All things being equal, I believe the Yankees would field a superior team. The Cubs? My favorite team would probably keep choking. As for the arrogance part, I want to defend New Yorkers and the Yankees here and this is important because it comes from someone who is a Second City native. I think you confuse arrogance with confidence, confidence … that the Yankees will excel every year. It’s the same confidence Tiger Woods displays each and every tournament he is in. He has been branded as arrogant because he plays each tournament to win. I, too, used to think it was all about the money but the fact is money does not buy the performance on the field or the culture of winning that is evident in the Yankees’ lockerroom. As a parting comment, I heard one commentator remark this morning about the Steinbrenner family. It’s worth noting. Did they break any laws? Did they do anything illegal to build this powerhouse? If so, then they should be taken to task. The answer is they accomplished what many Americans dream about: they attained their goal to be the best. Cheers!!!
COMMENT: Beautifully stated. I wasn’t always a Yankee fan. I’m late to the party….but their class, professionalism and culture of excellence finally won me over. Money doesn’t buy class….and they have more class than money. Money also doesn’t buy team work – in fact, it usually buys the opposite. The Yankees are a first class organization.
COMMENT; Well spoken. Bottom line, the Yanks won because they were the best team not because they had the highest payroll. Unlike some other teams, they reinvest the money they do make into building a winning team. What’s wrong with that?
COMMENT: the last 29 years there have been 28 World Series played. 25 different teams have played in the World Series since 1980 with 19 different winners. That’s 83% of MLB teams making it to the Series and 63% winning one.
The NHL? 13 different winners of the Stanley Cup since 1980. NBA? 14 different Super Bowl champs since 1980 — against 19 for MLB.
If you think MLB has a problem consider the NBA where 50% of NBA teams have never won a title and the 2008 NBA ‘final four’ accounted for 61% of the titles in NBA history (that number went higher last season, of course)….
If you want to adjust to a more compressed timeline, fine. Since the NFL salary cap was instituted in 1994 11 different franchises have won the Super Bowl. In that same era (with one less World Series played) 11 different franchises have won the World Series. In that same era, only 8 franchises hoisted the Stanley Cup.
Salary caps merely keep salaries lower and don’t improve necessarily competitive balance. Salary caps are socialist just like strikeouts (thanks, Crash). How are the Yankees any different than the Lakers or your cherished Red Wings? A lot different, I suppose — they have to win over a more competitive league landscape than dominant peer franchises in other major sports
Does $ keep the Yankees more consistently competitive, of course. But that’s a different argument entirely.
COMMENT: wow, I’m impressed. How do you know all of these stats?! With the way you’re furiously typing them out I’m curious to see what cramps first, your fingers or your brain. Go Indians!
COMMENT: The Red Wings have to operate under a salary cap like the rest of the NHL. How are the Lakers different than the Yankees? Well, the Yankees don’t have a rapist in their lineup, for one. But the argument goes beyond just “who won.” What percentage of the franchises in the NFL have made the playoffs since 1994? By my count, EVERY SINGLE ONE (excepting the Texans, who only came into the league a few years back). How about the NHL? Every team’s made the playoffs in the 00s — even with as bad as Phoenix and Toronto have become, it wasn’t that long ago that they hit the playoffs. Granted, more of the NHL gets to the playoffs than in MLB, but my point remains.
MLB *does* have a competitive balance problem. From 2000-2009, there were 80 playoff spots available in MLB — 40 in each league. 34 of them — 42% — were claimed by just five teams out of the 30 (16%). In the AL, 21 of the 40 were claimed by just three teams (NY, Bos, Anaheim… not coincidentally, the teams that routinely spend the most). 5 of the 14 franchises have grabbed 31 of the 40 playoff slots. 75% of the playoff berths going to 36% of the teams? more than half the AL getting to the playoffs either once or not at all in a decade? That would be the definition of competitive imbalance, especially when compared to the NFL.
Are there aberrations like the Rays every now and then? Sure. But by and large, it’s a lock: you can buy the playoffs at the bank in MLB. You may not always buy a title — but you most certainly buy sustained success. MLB needs a cap & floor. Period.
COMMENT: Let’s not call the DOJ quite yet here – but it is tough to see three enormously coveted free agents come in at once – at recession-scoffing price tags (AND a new stadium) – and then, poof, it’s a championship year. But who cares about that, really, except people who already hate on the Yankees?
I’ve been to see a couple of Yankees home games – … and my experience has never included much in the way of a ‘culture of professionalism and excellence.’ That’s kind of funny, actually. I mean, what about the way they sent Torre packing? Anyway, some of my best friends (and some of the best baseball fans i know) are Yanks fans, but en masse, holy cow this fan base can be tough to take. My fellow Mets fans aren’t a whole lot better, but Yankees fans really do, as a whole, carry a rougher tone. So maybe it’s hard to stomach that it is THEY who get to enjoy such a constant flow of the highest valued players in the game.
It’s been a while since a NY ring though – and even with top talent, the Yankees have found ways to F it up in recent years. So you can’t JUST buy it. This year they stayed pretty healthy and managed a rolling-boulder of a hot streak through most of the season. They won it, so let em have it. Congrats to the fans – even the 85% or so that I personally cannot remotely stand.
SPORTSLIFER COMMENT: Maybe it’s me, but one thing I’ve never quite been able to understand is the anitpathy Met fans feel towards the Yankees. Heck, if a New York team was played my division rival, I’d root for New York every time….like in 1986, when this Yankee fan was pulling for the Mets to beat the Red Sox. In fact, I’d root for the Mets against anbody but the Yankees. Whatever happened to I Love New York?
Great thread BTW, I’m tempted to run these comments as a SportsLifer blog.
COMMENT: I’m not sure I understand it either. I know that I don’t want them to win. Maybe it is nature, or maybe it is nurture. Unsure. I will say that I spent a fair amount of time leading up to the series debating with friends and generally thinking about for which team I’d have to reluctantly root. Hmm – do i go with Darth Vader, or do I go … with Lex Luther? What surprised me is that it took about five seconds of watching Game One before I knew 100% that I was rooting for a Yankees loss. It definitely has something to do with the fans and the player acquisitions though. Not the payroll, per se, but more so the fact that they wind up getting the guys they want so often. The re-signing of A-Rod – after so many Yankees fans had decided they were done with him for good – was a good example of that. But I watched the whole series and spent a lot of time admiring individual Yankees players. And I think the team itself is fine. So, yeah, maybe it’s a fan thing. Or maybe I was just raised this way. In any case, I think I’d enjoy baseball less if I didn’t have the Yankees to bother me.
COMMENT: “class and professionalism?” Here’s my NY Yankee class and professionalism story – 2004 ALCS. Game 1. There’s a police officer standing in front of the railing in front of the section, watching the crowd and doing his job. The game hasn’t started yet. Remember, this is just three years after the WTC. Guy behind us, after drunkenly yelling “down in front” at the cop for five minutes, says in a stage whisper so loud that everyone in the section can hear it: “If you ask me, not enough cops died on 9/11.”
The ONLY two people in the section who turned to glare at the guy for this comment were Sox fans. All the Yankee fans laughed at it and went along with it. That’s Yankee fan class, Leigh Ann….
As for Yankee class in general… ever try to take your kid to a Yankee game? You can’t. The language and conduct by fans at Yankee games generally embarrasses truck drivers and sailors.
COMMENT: Everybody has many of ‘those fans’ stories. I could say the same for fans of every single team in every single sport. I try not to judge an entire group of people based on the tasteless actions of a few. What I saw from the players and managers of both the Yankees and the Phillies throughout the playoffs and World Series, I would say that both … are top notch organizations. I don’t know who pays how much for what, and I don’t care. I just care about a good game with good sportsmanship and teamwork…and that was on full display throughout.
Look at it this way. Things could be worse.
You could be a Cleveland Indians fan.
Two years ago the Indians were within one victory of a date with the Rockies in the World Series. They never got that win, blowing a 3-1 lead to the Red Sox in the ALCS.
Now the Tribe faithful get to watch a World Series where two former Indian Cy Young winners, the Yankees’ C.C. Sabathia and the Phillies’ Cliff Lee, are the aces of their respective staffs,.
When Sabathia matched up in Game One, it wasn’t the first time they faced off at Yankee Stadium. The two left-handers started in the first game at the new Stadium last April. Lee got the win and Sabathia wound up with a no decision as the Indians beat the Yankees 10-2.
And Lee prevailed again in the series opener, besting Sabathia and the Yankees in a complete game 6-1 victory.
All-White World Series
The 1950 World Series between the Yanks and the Phils has the dubious distinction of being the last World Series where every player for both teams was white.
When the Yankees added catcher Elston Howard for the 1955 season they became the 13th of 16 major league teams to integrate. The Phillies added John Kennedy in 1957, the last NL team to do so.
The Yankees victory in the ALCS snapped a two-game post-season drought against the Angels, who knocked the Yankees out of the divisional round in 2002 and 2005.
The only other team to beat the Yankees twice in a row in the post-season was John McGraw’s New York Giants, who won the World Series against the Yankees in both 1921 and 1922 when the two teams shared the Polo Grounds.
The last time the Yankees won a World Series in seven games was in 1962, when they prevailed over the San Francisco Giants. The Phillies have never played a seventh game in the World Series or any other playoff series.
The Phillies are the oldest continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in all of professional American sports, dating to 1883. The franchise was founded in Philadelphia in 1883, replacing the team from Worcester, Mass.
It took the Phillies 97 years to capture their first World Series. They “phinally” won their first title in 1980 when they beat the Royals in six games.
The Phils, of course, are defending champs, and for the first time in history they’ve won consecutive National League pennants.
Gotham vs. Philly
It’s too bad the Rangers aren’t skating against the Flyers this weekend. Then you’d have the total New York vs. Philadelphia sports showdown.
As it is, the Eagles are hosting the Giants Sunday. The Knicks play the 76ers in their home opener Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. And of course the Yankees and Phillies resume the World Series with three games in the City of Brotherly Love beginning Saturday.
We need a seven-game World Series. This year.
There’s nothing like a seventh game in the World Series. It’s a game in a season, and a season in a game. One game. Winner take all.
Throughout baseball history, there have been 35 seventh games since the first World Series in 1903.
The last seven-game series in 2002 saw the Angels beat the Giants for their only World Championship.
The previous year, as the nation recovered from the 9/11 attacks, the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in seven on a bloop, walk-off single by Luis Gonzalez off Marino Rivera in the bottom of the ninth, pictured left..
Since 1987, the only other seven-game series occurred in 1991 when the Twins beat the Braves, and 1997 when the Marlins beat the Indians, both in walk-off extra inning games.
Jack Morris pitched a shutout and Gene Larkin drove in the only run with a single in the 10th inning for the Twins win. Six years later, Edgar Renteria’s single in the 11th gave Florida a 3-2 win and the championship.
There have been a total of six walk-off wins in Game Seven overall. The Red Sox beat the Giants in 1912 when some Giant misplays and Larry Gardner’s sacrifice fly against Christy Mathewson enabled Boston to rally for a 3-2, 10-inning win.
Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators won their only World Series in 1924, also against the Giants, on a bad hop single by Earl McNeely in the 12th.
And in 1960, the Pirates edged the Yankees, 10-9, on a home run by Bill Mazeroski. That remains the only Game Seven in World Series history to end on a home run, pictured right.
The St. Louis Cardinals have won seven seventh games (1926, 1931, 1934, 1946, 1964, 1967 and 1982), a record. Not surprisingly, the Yankees have played in the most, winning five out of eleven.
The Cards twice beat both the Yankees (1926, 1964) and the Red Sox (1946, 1967) in Game Seven showdowns.
The Pirates have the best record at 5-0 (1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979) and the Giants are 0-4 (1912, 1924, 1962 and 2002).
Other Game Seven facts and figures that may interest only me:
- A total of 16 seventh games were staged between 1952 and 1979, nearly half of the all-time total of 35.
- Six seventh games occurred in the 60s; five apiece in the 50s and 70s.
- Between 1955 and 1958, the Yankees played four straight seventh games, exchanging wins with the Dodgers and then the Braves.
- All four of those World Series were won by the road teams, including the first and only championships for Brooklyn and Milwaukee, in 1955 and 1957.
- The Yankees avenged those losses in 1956 and 1958; they also beat the Dodgers in seven in 1947 and 1952.
- The last time the Cubs appeared in the World Series, 1945, they lost to the Tigers in Game Seven.
- There were no seventh games between 1912 and 1924, the biggest gap in baseball history.
- The Oakland A’s are the only team to win back-to-back Game Sevens, in 1972 against the Reds and 1973 vs. the Mets.
When the Red Sox gallant comeback against the Tampa Bay Rays finally fizzled in Game Seven, another potential dynasty bit the dust.
The Sox loss demonstrated once more just how difficult it is to build and maintain dynasty in baseball’s current three-series playoff format.
And it underlines the remarkable accomplishment of the Yankees, who won three World Series in a row and four out of five from 1996-2000.
If you define a dynasty as three championships in five years, only the Yankees qualify since the three-round playoff format was instituted in 1995. In fact, the Yankees are the only team to win back-to-back championships in that time frame.
And the Oakland A’s, who won three straight World Series starting in 1972, are the only team to earn the dynasty label since baseball first began a playoff format in 1969 with the league championship series.
The Yankees have the all-time record with five straight World Series championships between 1949-53. Overall, the Yanks won 14 pennants and nine World Series in a period that began in 1949 and ended in 1964.
The Bombers also won four in a row between 1936 and 1939. Both those runs occurred when the American and National League winners went directly to the World Series.
Other than the Yankees and the A’s, there have been three mini-dynasties in baseball history.
A’s 1910-11 and 1913
Red Sox 1915-16 and 1918
Cardinals 1942, 1944 and 1946
And what of this year’s World Series contestants? The Rays have never won a World Series, never even made the playoffs before this year.
And the Phillies have been around since 1883, and in all that time have just one World Championship to show for their efforts.
In 1980, the Phillies beat the Royals in six games, leading a young copy editor to come up with the headline “Phinally: It’s the Phillies” while working the slot for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
Red Sox (1915-16)
Blue Jays (1992-93)
As Yankee Stadium closes its doors, this is the final of a three-part retrospective on the moments that shaped Yankee Stadium, New York and the world of sports.
Top 10 post-season baseball moments at Yankee Stadium (chronological order)
1. Babe Ruth homers and the Yankees score the winning run on a wild pitch in the ninth inning to sweep the Pirates to clinch their first World Series at Yankee Stadium, 1927
Other Yankee home clinchers at the Stadium: 1938, 1947, 1950, 1951, 1953, 1977, 1996 and 1999.
2. Tommy Henrich hits a ninth inning, walk-off home run against Don Newcombe as the Yankees beat the Dodgers, 1-0, in Game 1 of the World Series, 1949
Other Yankee World Series walk-offs: Mickey Mantle in 1964, Chad Curtis in 1999, Derek Jeter in 2001.
3. Billy Martin singles home Hank Bauer with the winning run in the ninth inning as the Yankees beat Brooklyn in six games and win their fifth straight World Series, 1953
4. Don Larsen, left, throws the only no-hitter in post-season baseball history, a perfect game, as the Yankees defeat the Dodgers, 2-0, in Game 5 of the World Series, 1956
5. Chris Chambliss hits a walk-off home run in the ninth inning as the Yankees beat Kansas City, 7-6, to win the American League pennant and head to the World Series, 1976
Other Yankee playoff walk-offs: Bernie Williams in 1996 and 1999, Alfonso Soriano in 2001, Aaron Boone in 2003.
6. Reggie Jackson hits three home runs as the Yankees beat the Dodgers in six games to win the World Series for the first time in 15 years, 1977
7. Jim Leyrtiz hits a two-run homer in the 15th inning as the Yankees beat Seattle, 9-7, in Game 2 of the American League divisional series, 1995
8. Jeffrey Maier, right, a 12-year-old fan, interferes with Derek Jeter’s fly ball home run as the Yankees beat the Orioles in Game 1 of the ALCS, 1996.
9. Deja vu all over again: Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius hit game-tying, two-out, two-run homers on successive nights against Arizona in the World Series, 2001.
10. Aaron Boone completes a comeback with an 11th-inning home run as the Yankees beat the Red Sox, 6-5, in Game 7 of the ALCS, 2003
Don Mattingly hits his only post-season home run against Seattle, 1995
Roger Clemens throws splintered bat at Mets’ Mike Piazza, 2000
St. Louis pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander emerges from bullpen and shuts down the Yankees to give the Cardinals their first World Series, 1926.
Other opposing championships won at the Stadium: 1942 Cardinals, 1955 Dodgers, 1957 Braves, 1976 Reds, 1981 Dodgers, and 2003 Marlins
Brooklyn outfielder Al Glonfriddo robs Joe DiMaggio of a possible home run in Game 6 of the World Series. 1947
Southpaw Johnny Podres shuts out the Yankees, 2-0, to give Brooklyn its first and only championship, Game 7, 1955
Los Angeles left-hander Sandy Koufax, left, sets a World Series record by striking out 15 Yankees in Game 1, 1963
George Brett homers against Goose Gossage to give the Royals the 1980 American League pennant, 1980
The Red Sox become the first baseball team to overcome a 3-0 playoff deficit and beat Yankees to win the ALCS, 2004
The SportLlifer Yankee Stadium retrospective series:
My friend Matty and I have known one another since the ’60s. We’ve gone to some great sports events together, including the Super Bowl, World Series and the Olympics.
For the most part , we cheer for the same New York teams. We’ve seen a few wins, but more often than not, we’ve seen the ugly side of New York sports.
We came to call it simply The Jinx. When Matt and I go to games together, bad things happen to our teams.
Take for instance December 27, 1997. We went to the Garden for a matinee game, which the Knicks lost, 97-94, to the Toronto Raptors on a buzzer-beater by Doug Christie.
Meanwhile, at the same time, on the TV in the suite at MSG, the Giants are frittering away a 19-3 halftime lead and losing to the Minnesota Vikings, 23-22, in a playoff game at Giants Stadium.
That day clearly demonstrated the power of The Jinx.
The Jinx Top 10
- Super Bowl XXV, Tampa, Ravens crush Giants, 34-7, 2001
- Red Sox shut out Yankees 1-0, 6-0 at Shea Stadium, 1975
- Red Sox beat Yankees 2-1, 1-0, Fourth of July, 1973
- Knicks lose to Raptors on buzzer-beater at MSG while…
- Giants blow 19-3 lead, lose playoff game to Vikings, 1997
- Giants lose to Cowboys, 30-29, on missed extra point, 1985
- Mets lose playoff game to Houston, 3-1, Shea Stadium, 1986
- A’s blow out Yankees early, 13-5, Yankee Stadium, 1987
- Red Sox beat Yankees, 8-3, on 50th birthday party, 2001
- Iona Prep loses, 60-6, to St. Francis, 1966
The old Madison Square Garden on 8th Avenue between 49th and 50th streets, scene of many NBA doubleheaders in the 1950s and 60s.
The SportsLifer is a lucky man. Throughout his life, he’s been to World Series, Super Bowls, Stanley Cup playoffs and Final Fours. He’s seen the Olympics, Triple Crown horse racing, major golf tournaments, even a perfect game. And so much more. He’s been to Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, the old and the new Madison Square Garden, and the Polo Grounds.
Although making a career switch more than a quarter century ago and giving up my job as a sportswriter for the world of high-tech public relations, I’ve never lost my love for sports.
I’m often asked to list the best sports events I’ve ever seen. Beginning today the SportsLifer will chronicle the greatest 50 sporting events he’s ever attended. This week’s list starts the countdown, with a special category as a bonus.
Let the list begin:
50. Yankees sweep Royals 7-6 and 9-8 in 16 innings in wild doubleheader, Yankee Stadium, 1972
49. Giants rout Braves 23-8 behind Will Clark’s two home runs, Fulton County Stadium, 1988
48. A’s beat Yankees 2-0 in ALDS, Game 2, shortly after 9/11, start delayed to televise Bush press conference, 2001
47. Boston College beats Holy Cross 56-26 in final meeting at Fitton Field, Worcester, Mass., 1986
46. Providence beats Holy Cross at Memorial Auditorium, Worcester, en route to Final Four appearance, 1973
45. Knicks beat St. Louis Hawks in old Madison Square Garden, 76ers-Pistons also play, NBA doubleheader, 1966
44. Cubs beat Pirates 4-3 on Sammy Sosa home run to split Wrigley Field doubleheder with Pirates, 2002
43. Rangers crush Bruins 9-0, score 3 goals in 38 seconds, new Madison Square Garden, 1969
42. Barry Bonds steals 500th base, Giants beat Dodgers 3-2 in 11 innings, Pac Bell Park, San Francisco, 2003
41. Astros’ Mike Scott again shuts down Mets 3-1 in NLCS, Game 4, Shea Stadium, 1986
Sat in NBC booth for the Silent Bowl (no announcers), Jets beat Dolphins 24-17, Orange Bowl, 1980
A huge crowd stormed the Polo Grounds in Manhattan and witnessed baseball history in the Cubs-Giants playoff game on October 8, 1908.
So, what were you doing in 1908? Unless you’re a centenarian you weren’t doing anything, but the Chicago Cubs were on their way to their second straight World Series title in 1908. They haven’t won one since.
You remember 1908. Theodore Roosevelt is President. Mother’s Day is celebrated for the first time. The average cost of a home is $4,500; of a gallon of milk is 38 cents, a stamp is 4 cents. And the average salary for a major league baseball player is $2,500.
In sports, Penn and LSU share the college football championship; there is no BCS. The Montreal Wanderers win the Stanley Cup; James Braid takes the British Open; and Stone Street wins the Kentucky Derby. In the Olympics in London, Italian Dorando Pietri staggers at the end of the Marathon and is assisted across the finish line by officials. Johnny Hayes of the USA is later declared the winner.
In 1908, the Cubs edged out the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates to win a tight, controversial pennant race which hinged on the so-called Fred Merkle boner in late September. The Giants and the Cubs were tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning at New York’s Polo Grounds. With two outs, the rookie Merkle was on first base and Moose McCormick on third when Giants shortstop Al Bridwell singled to center.
Thinking the game was won, and with a crowd of happy fans swarming the infield, Merkle bypassed second base and made for the New York clubhouse. But Chicago second baseman Johnny Evers got the attention of the umpire who, after seeing Evers tag second base with a ball declared Merkle forced out at second, nullifying the winning run.
This ignited a storm of protests, counter-protests, and league hearings. Finally, National League president Harry Pulliam ruled that the game would be replayed after the season if it proved to have a bearing on the pennant race.
It did. New York and Chicago finished in a tie, which was broken when Chicago’s Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, left, defeated Christy Mathewson 4-2 in the make-up game. Matty won 37 games that year, but couldn’t win this one. The Cubs finished with a 99-55 record, one game up on the Giants and Pirates, both at 98-56.
In the American League, a four-team race came down to the wire, with Detroit (90-63) finally slipping past Cleveland (90-64) by .004 percentage points, the smallest margin of victory in AL or NL history. Chicago finished 1 1/2 games back and St. Louis faded late to end up 6 1/2 behind.
For the second straight year, the Cubs won the World Series over the Tigers, this time 4 games to 1. Cubs batters hit .293 off Tigers pitching, while Brown’s 0.00 ERA in 11 innings paced the Chicago staff to a 2.60 ERA. Ty Cobb, the AL batting champion, hit .368 with four RBI and a pair of stolen bases in a losing effort. Cobb, perhaps the greatest hitter in baseball history, never won a World Series.
The Cubs won National League pennants in 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938 and 1945, but lost the World Series each time. They haven’t been back since. And they haven’t won a World Series since 1908.