Baseball fans can debate who’s the best hitter, the best pitcher, the best shortstop, the greatest team….and on, and on. But on this there’s no debate — Mariano Rivera, who has announced that this will be his final season, is the greatest closer in the history of baseball.
Rivera is baseball’s all-time saves leader with 608, with 42 more in the post-season. Do the math, that’s four full seasons of getting the last out in a Yankees win.
Arguably the most indispensable Yankee over the past 17 years….heck perhaps the most valuable player in baseball during that time. Rivera is a Hall of Fame lock.
Ever so humble, Rivera told ESPN’s Andrew Marchand: “I don’t feel myself, the greatest of all time. I’m a team player. I would love to be remembered as a player who was always there for others.”
Only one player in baseball, wears #42 — Mariano Rivera. That number was retired in 1997 in honor of the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s “color barrier.”
Speaking of River, Jackie’s 90-year old widow Rachel Robinson told Ian O’Connor of ESPN: “He carried himself with dignity and grace, that made carrying the number a tribute to Jack.”
A great player and a great man. The great Rivera. There will never be another like him.
Here are 10 cool facts about Mariano Rivera:
1. Since he became the Yankee closer in 1997 (taking over for the departed John Wetteland), Rivera has been remarkably consistent. He had at least 28 saves for 15 straight seasons before injuring his knee and missing nearly all of 2012.
2. Rivera actually started 10 games in 1995, his rookie year. before the Yankees realized he was born to be a reliever. That year he had a 5-3 record to go with a 5.51 ERA.
3. Since then, Rivera’s ERA has been above 3.00 just once (3.15 in 2007). His career low came in 2005, when he recorded a 1.38 ERA. Overall, he’s 76-58 with a 2.21 ERA.
4. Mo has led the American League in saves three times — 45 (1999), 50 (2001) and a career-high and Yankee best 53 in 2004.
5. Mariano Rivera has never won a Cy Young Award. He did finish second once, third three times, and fifth once in Cy Young balloting. He finished as high as ninth in AL MVP voting in 2004 and 2005.
6. “I save games, they save lives. That’s what real heroes are all about.” — Mariano Rivera, who gave his 2001 Rolaids “Relief Man” award to FDNY.
7. When Jackie Robinson’s #42 was retired in 1997, players who were wearing #42 at that time were allowed to keep it until they retired. Fittingly, Rivera is the only one left. He’s worn it alone since 2003.
8. Mo once claimed his most memorable moment came in 2003, when he pitched three scoreless innings against the Red Sox before Aaron Boone homered to win Game 7 of the ALCS.
9. Rivera’s post-season numbers are off the charts. In addition to his 42 saves, Mariano has an 8-1 record and a microscopic 0.70 ERA in playoff competition, covering 141 innings.
10. Rivera has given up just two post-season home runs in 96 games, neither to a left-hand hitter. Sandy Alomar, Jr, of the Indians (1997) and Jay Payton of the Mets (2000) are the only two players to claim a post-season home run against Rivera.
If Kentucky wins the NCAAs, you can count on a Yankee parade down Broadway this fall.
The last six times Kentucky has won the NCAA men’s basketball title, the Yankees have gone on to win the World Series.
The Wildcats have won seven titles overall, second only to UCLA’s 11 and by far the most of any team in this year’s Final Four. Kansas has taken three, Louisville two and Ohio State one.
Kentucky won its first championship in 1948, the year the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Braves to win their last World Series.
Kentucky repeated in 1949, beating Oklahoma State in the final, under the tutelage of immortal coach Adolph Rupp, the “Baron of the Bluegrass.”
Rupp, fourth all-time with 876 victories, would go on to win in 1951 (against Kansas State) and 1958 (against Seattle) for a total of four championships.
Meanwhile the Yankees were winning five World Series in a row between 1949 and 1953 under another legendary leader, Casey Stengel. In 1958, the Yankees rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Milwaukee Braves.
It took Kentucky 20 years to return to the mountaintop, when coach Joe B. Hall’s Wildcats defeated Duke for the 1978 national championship. That fall, the Yankees rallied to knock off the Red Sox on Bucky Dent’s home run, then repeated against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Rick Pitino, now the head coach at Louisville (which meets Kentucky in a Final Four intra-state rivalry on Saturday), coached the Wildcats to the NCAA title in 1996. Two years later, coach Tubby Smith guided Kentucky to its last championship, against Utah.
Meanwhile, Joe Torre piloted the Yankees to World Series wins in 1996 (vs. the Braves) and 1998 (vs. the Padres).
Of the other Final Four finalists, Kansas won its first championship in 1952, followed by a Yankee win over the Dodgers. Ohio State’s only title occurred in 1960, the year the Yankees lost the Series to Bill Mazeroski and the Pirates. And although the Yankees didn’t win the World Series following Louisville’s 1986 title run, the Mets did.
Kentucky is heavily favored to cut down the nets Monday night. And if they do, the Yankees can start planning a parade down Broadway
A.J. Burnett leaving the mound after another shelling – a familiar sight these days.
If Billy Martin was in charge, he’d have been marched to the wood shed long ago. Joe Torre’s Job-like patience would have worn thin. Heck, Casey Stengel might be rendered speechless.
That’s A.J. Burnett. a challenge for any manager. They all claim A.J .has great stuff. But pitching, like real estate, is all about location. And when Burnett winds up and delivers, who know where the pitch is going – certainly not A.J.
Forget the No. 2 starter money ($82.5M over five years) he’s being paid, A.J.should be the odd man out, the sixth man in a five-man rotation. .
When the beleaguered Burnett takes the mound, fans cringe, opponents exult and Yankee manager Joe Girardi generally has to go to Plan B by the third inning.
The Yanks should have realized what they were getting on Dec. 12, 2008, when they signed Burnett to a big, fat contract. A .500 pitcher.
Remarkably, since Burnett joined the Yankees rotation he’s three games under .500 — this for a team that’s been at or near the top of the standings for three years running. After finished 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA and winning a World Series game against the Phillies in 2009, AJ has been dismal.
Last year he was 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA in what may have been the worst season for a starter in Yankee history. And so far this year he’s got a higher ERA at .531 to go with a 9-11 record..
Burnett finished August with an 11.91 ERA in five starts — even worse than the 11.35 ERA he posted last June during a similar five-start meltdown.
Even Yankee GM Brian Cashman, who has been a staunch A.J. defender (in part due to his big outlay for the pitcher), has seen enough.
After Friday’s loss to the Orioles, when Burnett allowed nine earned runs and eight extra base hits, mixed in three wild pitches and made an error — in just five innings — Cashman voiced his displeasure.
“He was very bad,” said Cashman of AJ’s performance. “It is what it is,” he added. “He’s obviously pitching terribly right now.”
So Joe Girardi, what do you do with this guy? “With all these doubleheaders we’ve got to play games,” said the Yankee manager. “We need six men.”
Hardly a vote of confidence for the unwatchable Burnett — who doesn’t inspire any faith in Yankee universe these days.
When Randy Johnson won his 300th game two years ago, staggering towards the finish line of a brilliant career, there was strong talk that the Big Unit might be baseball’s last 300-game winner, given the limitations and constraints (read that pitch counts) of the modern game. Not so fast.
CC Sabathia already has 167 wins, and he won’t turn 31 until July 21. This is his 11th major league season, and through the first 10 the Yankee southpaw has averaged just under 16 wins a season.
Sabathia is 167-92 for a .645 winning percentage. He’s led the American League in wins the past two years with 19 and 21 victories respectively.
CC already has 10 wins this year, as many as anyone in the majors. He’s durable, having pitched at least 230 innings in every season since 2007. Never been seriously injured, hardly ever misses a turn, been on the DL just once in his career, that for a strained oblique early in the 2006 season with the Indians. No arm troubles. The very definition of a staff ace, a horse.
Do the math. If Sabathia keeps on his current pace and pitches eight more seasons, he’d reach 300 wins somewhere around the age of 39.
Recent 300-Game Winners
That would be younger than three of the four pitchers who won their 300th game since 2000 — Roger Clemens (40) in 2003 with the Yankees, Tom Glavine (41) with the Mets in 2007, and Johnson (45) with the Giants.
Only Greg Maddux, who won his 300th at the age of 38 with the Cubs, would be younger. Maddux went on to win 355 games, eighth on the all-time list and one more than Clemens.
Before that, Nolan Ryan in 1990 was the last pitcher to reach 300 wins, at age 43, with the Rangers.
Only four active pitchers have more wins than Sabathia — Tim Wakefield (197), Roy Halladay (179), Tim Hudson (171) and Livan Hernandez (171). Halladay is the youngest of this group at age 34, Wakefield the oldest at 44.
Only 24 pitchers have won 300 games, and of that group only six — Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton, Eddie Plank, Glavine, Johnson and Lefty Grove — are left-handers.
CC Sabathia has a long ways to go, but he has a legitimate shot at becoming the 25th pitcher in baseball history to reach 300 wins.
A few days aqo, I was clearing out a few things in my aunt’s basement when I stumbled upon a New York State license plate. Not just any New York license plate, a NY WORLD’S FAIR 64 plate with orange letters on a black background.
1964. The year the World’s Fair came to New York. Conjures up memories of class trips and family visits. Exhibits like General Motors, Johnson’s Wax and the State of Illinois. And Michelangelo’s Pieta. The Unisphere, shown below.
I became a teen-ager that year, entered eighth grade and discovered girls, not necessarily in that order. In 1964, the nation was dealing with the pain of JFK’s assassination. LBJ was President. The Civil Rights Act was signed.
In 1964, a gallon of gas cost 25 cents, and postage stamps were a nickel. My Fair Lady was the best picture and The Munsters premiered on CBS-TV.
The Beatles came on the scene in 1964. A huge earthquake rocked Alaska. Barry Bonds and Jose Canseco were born in 1964; so were Sandra Bullock, Nicholas Cage and Lenny Kravitz.
End of A Dynasty
In sports, the great Yankee dynasty was coming to an end….although few saw it coming. The Yankees would win their fifth straight American League before losing to St. Louis and a gritty Bob Gibson in the seventh game of the World Series in October, 1964. All that after Mickey Mantle’s walk-off homer in Game Three gave the Yankees a 2-1 win…and a lead in the series.
The Mets, meanwhile, had a new home, Shea Stadium, right next to the World’s Fair in Flushing. Phillies’ outfielder Johnny Callison hit a three-run home run to lift the National League to an All-Star win at Shea. And in September, the Phillies would blow the pennant, blowing a 6 1/2 game lead with 12 games remaining.
The Giants, tumbled to a 2-10-2 record in 1964, this after winning five conference titles — and no championships — in the previous six years. The Cleveland Browns demolished the Giants, 52-20, on a rainy Saturday at Yankee Stadium in the final game of the regular season and went on to beat the Baltimore Colts, 27-0, for the NFL championship.
The Jets didn’t fare much better at 5-8-1. Another New York team, the Buffalo Bills, would defeat San Diego 20-7 for the AFL title.
And while the Knickerbockers (last) and Rangers (next to last) were languishing, the Boston Celtics were in the midst of an eight-year championship run. And the Toronto Maple Leafs were winning their third straight Stanley Cup.
UCLA won its first NCAA title in 1964; the Bruins beat Duke in the final. And Bear Bryant’s Alabama Crimson Tide were national champions in football.
1964 was an Olympic year, and Billy Mills made his mark in the Summer Games in Tokyo when he became the only American ever to win the 10,000 meters. Bob Hayes won the 100-meter race, and Joe Frazier won gold in the heavyweight boxing division.
Wally Pipp is baseball’s answer to Rodney Dangerfield. And nearly 100 years past his prime, he’s still getting no respect.
The mention of Wally Pipp conjures visions of laziness and fake headaches and calling in sick.
As in, that guy “Pipped” out, he’s not coming to work. Or he’s pulling a “Wally”, translated loosely to mean he’s a coach potato, slacking off again. A sloth
Pipp is the guy that lost his job to Lou Gehrig, who just happens to the greatest first baseman in baseball history. But Pipp was hardly a slouch on the field. And he was rarely off the field, missing just a handful of games over the previous four seasons before Gehrig took his job in 1925.
In fact, Wally Pipp anchored Yankee pennant winners in 1921 and 1922, and the championship 1923 team, the Yanks first. And he was coming off a career year in 1924 when he hit .295 with nine home runs, 114 RBIs and an American League leading 19 triples.
At the close of play on June 2, 1925, the Yankees found themselves in seventh place in the eight-team American League, 13 1/2 games behind the first place Philadelphia Athletics.
Gehrig Takes Over
As the story goes, that day Pipp told Yankee manager Miller Huggins that he had a headache, and Huggins replaced him with Gehrig in the Yankee lineup. Lou Gehrig, who had pinch hit for Yankee shortstop Pee Wee Wanninger the previous day to start his famous consecutive games streak, didn’t sit down for nearly 15 years, 2,130 games later.
Pipp’s recollection of that day is somewhat hazy. Decades later, in a 1953 interview, he recounted that he did have a headache — because he had been beaned in batting practice.
“Charlie (Caldwell) (better known in later years as Princeton’s football coach) whistled one in and, somehow or other, I just couldn’t duck,” Pipp recalled. “The ball hit me right here on the temple. They carted me right off to the hospital. I was in that hospital for two solid weeks. By the time I returned to the Yankees, Gehrig was hitting the ball like crazy and Huggins would have been a complete dope to give me my job back.”
That’s not exactly how it went down. In fact, Pipp was a pinch-hitter the very next day, June 3, after his supposed beaning. Although Pipp never started another game at first base for the Yankees, Gehrig didn’t exactly tear the league apart in 1925, and Huggins had pinch hit for a few times because the Yankees’ manager was disappointed in Gehrig’s performance against left-handers.
Pipp’s beaning took place exactly a month later — on July 2. According to various accounts he suffered a fractured skull or a concussion — certainly more than a headache. He played sparingly the rest of the season, and was shipped to Cincinnati at the end of the season.
The Yankees originally picked up Pipp on waivers from Detroit in 1915. For nearly 10 years Wall Pipp was a fixture in the Yankee lineup. When Pipp sprained an ankle in 1923, Gehrig, pictured at left, was called up for a few games. Columbia Lou hit .423 with a his first homer and nine RBIs in limited duty. In 1924 he hit .500 in 12 at bats and knocked in five runs. In 1925, Gehrig hit 20 homers, drove in 68 runs and batted .295, a harbinger of much bigger and better things to come.
Pipp had a solid career, and was one of the best first baseman of his era. He led the American League in home runs with 12 in 1916 and nine in 1917. He hit .281 for this career, with 90 HRs, 997 RBIs and 1941 hits.
Hardly a dead beat. Wally Pipp may have lost his job — but he lost it to the guy who ultimately became the greatest first baseman in baseball history.
There’s no shame in that.
Three is a magic number in baseball. Three strikes and you’re out. Three outs in an inning. Babe Ruth wore #3.
When Alex Rodriguez, above, hit three home runs iagainst Kansas City on August 14, it marked the 30th time a Yankee player hit three homers in a single game.
Lou Gehrig achieved the feat four times, and hit four in one game, the only Yankee to perform that feat. Joe DiMaggio did it three times.
So did the Babe, although only one of his three occurred during the regular season. Ruth hit the final three home runs of his storied career in 1935 for the Boston Braves in a game at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field, and retired soon afterwards.
A-Rod joins Tony Lazzeri, and Bobby Murcer as the only other Yankees to hit three in a game two times. Rodriguez had three HRs and 10 RBIs against Bartolo Colon and the Angels in 2005.
In all 20 Yankees have accomplished the feat, including eight Hall of Famers — Ruth, Lazzeri, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Johnny Mize, Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson.
Ruth’s World Series Heroics
Ruth was the first Yankee to hit three in a game, against the Cardinals at old Sportsman Park in St. Louis in 1926 in the World Series, right. The Babe must have loved St. Louis, repeating the feat in 1928 to power the Yankees to a four-game sweep.
Ruth had his only regular season “hat trick” with the Yankees on May 22, 1930, in Philadelphia’s Shibe Park in the first game of a doubleheader which the Yankees lost, 15-7. Gehrig repeated the feat the following day in the first game of a another doubleheader in Philadelphia, a 20-13 victory over the A’s. Oh yes, Ruth and Lazerri also homered in that game.
Reggie Jackson is the only other major leaguer ever to hit three home runs in a World Series game. In just three swings in Game Six of the 1977 World Series against the Dodgers, Jax lifted the Yanks to to their first championship. in 15 years.
Gehrig is the only Yankee to hit four home runs in a single game, on June 4, 1932, against the Athletics in Philadelphia. He was the first player in the modern era to hit four in a single game. He belted the circuit clouts in his first four at bats in a 20-13 win against the A’s. Gehrig missed a fifth home runs by inches, when his drive was caught in the furthest reaches of deep centerfield.
In that same game, Lazzeri became the only player in major league baseball to finish a natural cycle with a grand slam.
Other Interesting Yankee Trey Factoids
On May 21 and 22, 1930, Ruth and Gehrig hit three home runs in successive games.
Mantle, Tommy Tresh and Tony Clark hit homers from both sides of the plate in their 3 HR games
Bobby Murcer hit four consecutive home runs — three in the second game — in a 1970 doubleheader against the Indians at Yankee Stadium.
Reggie Jackson, left, hit a home run in his final at bat in Game Five and three in a row during Game Six of the 1977 World Series. (My friend Matty was at the game at Yankee Stadium, and missed all three Reggie homers. But that’s a story for another blog.)
Johnny Blanchard in 1961 and Mickey Mantle in 1962 are the only other Yankees to hit four home runs in a row.
Lazzeri hit two grand slams and a third home run and drove in an American League record 11 runs in 1936 in a 25-2 rout of the Athletics at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. Poosh em up Tony was also the first Yankee to hit three home runs in a single game in the regular season, in 1927.
On three separate occasions, the Yankees have lost a game in which a player hit three home runs — Ruth in 1930, Mize in 1950 and Mike Stanley in 1995.
DiMaggio’s first three home run game in 1937 resulted in an 11-inning, 8-8 tie with the St. Louis Browns in Sportsman’s Park.
Mize holds the MLB record for most times hitting three home runs in a game — six. Five came with the Cardinals and Giants in the National League. He was the first player to hit three home runs in a game twice in one season in 1938 and did it again in 1940.
Mize had his final three home run game with the Yankees in 1950, just five days after DiMaggio performed the feat for the third time.
The Yankees as a team have hit three home runs in a game twice in different seven seasons — 1927, 1930, 1932, 1950, 1977, 1995, and this year.
Earlier this year, Mark Teixeira became the first Yankee to hit three home runs in a game at Fenway Park since Gehrig in 1927.
Yankees Who Have Hit Three Home Runs in One Game
1926 — Babe Ruth (World Series)
1927 — Tony Lazzeri
1927 — Lou Gehrig
1928 — Babe Ruth (World Series)
1929 — Lou Gehrig
1030 — Babe Ruth
1930 — Lou Gehrig
1932 — Lou Gehrig (4 HRs)
1932 — Ben Chapman
1936 — Tony Lazzeri
1937 — Joe DiMaggio
1939 — Bill Dickey
1940 — Charlie Keller
1948 — Joe DiMaggio
1950 — Joe DiMaggio
1950 — Johnny Mize
1955 — Mickey Mantle
1965 — Tom Tresh
1970 — Bobby Murcer
1973 — Bobby Murcer
1977 — Cliff Johnson
1977 — Reggie Jackson (World Series)
1995 — Mike Stanley
1996 — Darryl Strawberry
1995 — Paul O’Neill
1997 — Tino Martinez
2004 — Tony Clark
2005 — Alex Rodriguez
2010 — Mark Teixeira
2010 — Alex Rodriguez
Boston slugger Ted Williams homers during his final season, 1960.
Yeah, it happened 50 years ago this week, yet somehow I remember June 5, 1960, like it was yesterday. A beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon in the Bronx, glove in hand, ticket in my pocket. Nine years old. Going to Yankee Stadium for a doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox.
This wasn’t my first major league game, but this kid was hungry for a win after seeing the Yankees lose to the White Sox in 1958 and Tigers in 1959.
The Yankees were a .500 club entering play on June 5, 20-20 and fourth in the American League, coming off a subpar 1959 season where they finished a distant third. The Red Sox were mired in the cellar. Young Ralph Terry got the start for the Yanks in the first game that day, while the Red Sox countered with lefty Tom Brewer.
The Yankees jumped off to a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a long home run by Mickey Mantle, The Yanks added three more runs in the fifth when Hector Lopez and Yogi Berra singled and Roger Maris, right, lined a home run into the right field seats. And when Tony Kubek’s single up the middle in the sixth plated Bobby Richardson, the Yankees had a 5-0 lead.
Williams Homers into The Bullpen
With two outs in the seventh and Terry seemingly cruising, the Red Sox suddenly rallied on hits by Bobby Thomson (yes, that Bobby Thomson who hit the shot heard round the world nearly nine years earlier just across the Harlem River at the Polo Grounds), Marty Keough and Pete Runnels to cut the lead to 5-2.
Up to the plate stepped Ted Williams. Now all through the game my father and relatives kept telling me to watch No. 9 in the Boston uniform. And in the seventh Williams hit a long drive into the Yankee bullpen in right to make it a 5-4 ballgame. It was the 495th home run of Williams’ historic career (he would finish with 521).
Yankee manager Casey Stengel then ambled to the mound and replaced Terry with diminutive left-hander Bobby Shantz. After an uneventful eighth, Boston loaded the bases with one-out in the ninth before Shantz got Vic Wertz to bounce into a double play to end the game.
The Yankees scored four runs in the first inning of the nightcap and cruised to an 8-3 victory, but we were long gone back home by then.
Yankees Win The Pennant
In 1960, the Yankees won the final 15 games of the season to edge out the Orioles and White Sox and win the first of five straight American League pennants, the final leg of a remarkable dynasty.
However, the Pittsburgh Pirates would upset the Yankees in the seventh game of the World Series that October, on a ninth-inning home run by Bill Mazeroski. The pitcher who surrendered that home run — Ralph Terry.
Mickey Mantle, left, would hit 40 home runs that year to win his fourth and final AL home run title. Maris, with 39 homers and a league-leading 112 RBIs. would win the American League MVP in his first year in pinstripes.
The Red Sox would wind up seventh in the American, ahead of the last-place Kansas City Athletics. Ted Williams, in his final year, would hit 29 homers — including one in his last at bat — and hit .316.
But the home run Teddy Ballgame hit on a sunny Sunday in June at Yankee Stadium was the one I will always remember. I saw Maris, Mantle and Williams homer in the same game. And I saw the Yankees win for the first time in my life.
Teddy Ballgame, Ted Williams, hit his first major league homer on April 23, 1939.
On this day in 1903, the New York Highlanders — now known as the Yankees – won their first major-league game, a 7-2 decision over the Washington Senators behind starting pitcher Harry Howell (no, not the former Rangers defenseman, knucklehead).
Exactly 59 years later, April 23, 1962, the Mets won their first game, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-1 behind Jay Hook, below, to end a nine-game losing streak. The Mets would go on to lose a record 120 games that season.
Ted Williams in 1939 and Hank Aaron in 1954 each hit first major league home run on this date. Pete Rose got his first major league hit, a triple, 47 years ago today.
Cardinal third baseman Fernando Tatis enjoyed the greatest single inning in baseball history by hitting two grand slams in one inning — both against the Dodgers Chan Ho Park — on April 23, 1999. Park somehow survived and is still pitching today.
Hoyt Wilhelm isn’t pitching any more, but on this date in 1952 New York Giants knuckleballer homered in his first major league bat. He never hit another one — it was his only home run in 1,070 games.
On April 23, 1946, Ed Head of the Brooklyn Dodgers pitched a no-hitter against the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field. Head won, 5-0. At least Head came out ahead..
On this date in 1964, Houston’s Ken Johnson became the first pitcher ever to lose a nine-inning no-hitter,
Warren Spahn, the winningest left-hand pitcher in baseball history with 363 victories, was born on April 23. Another Hall of Famer, Sunny Jim Bottomley, was also born on April 23, as was ex-Brooklyn Dodger Dolph Camilli, and former Braves defensive standout and current White Sox Andruw Jones. Duke Carmel and Sean Henn are the only Yankees born on April 23.
These players … and others ….share a birthday with William Shakespeare, shown above, former President James Buchanan, Shirley Temple, Lee Majors, Roy Orbison …and the SportsLifer.
The Yankees today pulled off their first triple play in nearly 42 years, or 6,632 regular season games ago. Alex Rodriguez fielded a grounder, stepped on third, fired to Robinson Cox at second, then on to Nick Johnson for the TP.
On June 3, 1968, a Monday night game at a mostly empty Yankee Stadium with the bases full in the ninth, Minnesota catcher Johnny Roseboro hit a line drive back to Yankee pitcher Dooley Womack. Womack threw to Yankee third baseman Bobby Cox, below, for the second out, and Cox fired to Mickey Mantle, playing first base in the final year of his storied career, to complete the triple play.
The Twins went on to win the game 4-3 behind a cozy 7,238 fans who witnessed a slice of baseball history.
Mantle, of course, is one of the all-time greats, a Yankee legend and Hall of Famer. Cox had a forgettable major league career, but will someday go into the Hall for his managerial work with the Atlanta Braves.
And Womack will go down forever as Dooley Meatball for the ninth-inning home runs he surrendered earlier in that 1968 season to Bill Freehan and Jim Northrup to ruin what looked to be a Yankee doubleheader sweep against the Detroit Tigers.
Oh yes, the rest of the Yankee infield that night was shortstop Tommy Tresh and second baseman Horace Clarke. Remember 1968, high school, the Beatles, assassinations, protests…. and Horace Clarke.