Baseball today mourns the passing of Yogi Berra. Yogi was an American icon, a World War II veteran who was part of the D-Day invasion and a Hall of Fame catcher with the Yankees whose record of 10 World Championships will never be equaled. But above all that, Yogi was a great husband, a loving father, and a wonderful man, whose kindness, humility and sincerity touched all who knew him.
Yogi Berra played in the first baseball game I ever saw, in the summer of 1958 at Yankee Stadium. Yogi batted fifth and played right field and was 0-for-3 with a strikeout and a walk. And although the Yankees lost to the White Sox that day, I was hooked on baseball for life.
Yogi was a walking Bartlett’s who said everything from “It ain’t over till it’s over” to “It gets late early out there” to “Nobody goes there any more, it’s too crowded.”
On a personal note, I played competitive softball until I turned 60. In the later years I became a catcher, and proudly wore #8 in honor of Yogi.
Yogi’s passing hits home for me. My father was born in 1925, the same year as Yogi. My dad passed on his love of baseball to me. No doubt, he’ll be watching the Yankee game tonight.
We used to argue about who was the best catcher in Yankee history, Bill Dickey or Yogi Berra. My father, who saw Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig play, would say Dickey. Sorry pops, it was Yogi.
RIP Lawrence Peter Berra.
Over the years, New York athletes have worn some of the most famous numbers in all of sports. Icons like Babe Ruth (#3), Lou Gehrig (#4) and Joe DiMaggio (#5) sit atop a long and storied list of Yankees, who will have retired all single digit numbers as soon as they get around to Derek Jeter (#2). Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson wore #42, which has now been retired by major league baseball. Willie Mays wore #24 when he roamed center field for the New York Giants.
And there are so many more. Legends such as Lawrence Taylor (#56) with the New York Football Giants, Joe Namath (#12) with the Jets, Walt Frazier (#10) with the Knicks and Wayne Gretzky (#99) with the Rangers, just to name a few.
As you might expect, since there are more players per team and higher numbers in football, the Giants top our list of top New York athletes by number with 36. Every team is represented, even the Giants and Dodgers, who left New York for California in 1958. There are 21 Yankees, 16 Jets, 7 Mets, 6 Knicks, 5 Rangers, 3 Dodgers and Nets, 2 Devils and an Islander and baseball Giant on the list. If you’re counting with me that adds up to 101, with Casey Stengel (#37) getting the nod as both Yankee and Met manager.
Here are the top New York players by number from 0-99, with other candidates also listed. Competition was tough in some spots, most notably #10, where Walt Frazier edged out Pele, Eli Manning, Phil Rizzuto and Fran Tarkenton, and #42, where Mariano Rivera and Charlie Conerly failed to make the cut.
The New York numbers list:
0 – Orlando Woolridge (Nets)
1 – Pee Wee Reese (Dodgers)
Eddie Giacomin, Billy Martin, Earle Combs
2 – Derek Jeter (Yankees)
3 – Babe Ruth (Yankees)
Bill Terry, Harry Howell, Ken Daneyko
4 – Lou Gehrig (Yankees)
Mel Ott, Duke Snider, Tuffy Leemans, Scott Stevens
5 – Joe DiMaggio (Yankees)
Denis Potvin, David Wright
6 – Joe Torre (Yankees)
Tony Lazzeri, Carl Furillo
7 – Mickey Mantle (Yankees)
Mel Hein, Rod Gilbert, Ken O’Brien, Carmelo Anthony
8 – Yogi Berra (Yankees)
Bill Dickey, Walt Bellamy, Gary Carter
9 – Richie Guerin (Knicks)
Roger Maris, Graig Nettles, Andy Bathgate, Adam Graves, Clark Gillies, Hank Bauer, Charlie Keller
10 – Walt Frazier (Knicks)
Pele, Eli Manning, Phil Rizzuto, Fran Tarkenton, Brad van Pelt
11 – Mark Messier (Rangers)
Carl Hubbell, Lefty Gomez, Phil Simms
12 – Joe Namath (Jets)
13 – Don Maynard (Jets)
Alex Rodriguez, Mark Jackson, Odell Beckham, Dave Jennings
14 – Gil Hodges (Dodgers)
YA Tittle, Bill Skowron
15 – Thurman Munson (Yankees)
Red Ruffing, Earl Monroe, Dick Mcguire, Jeff Hostetler, John McLean
16 – Frank Gifford (Giants)
Whitey Ford, Dwight Gooden
17 – Keith Hernandez (Mets)
18 – Darryl Strawberry (Mets)
Don Larsen, Phil Jackson
19 – Willis Reed (Knicks)
Bryan Trottier, Dave Righetti, Jean Ratelle
20 –Allan Houston (Knicks)
Jorge Posada, Monte Irvin, Jimmy Patton, Joe Morris
21 – Paul O’Neill (Yankees)
22 – Mike Bossy (Islanders)
Dave DeBusschere, Allie Reynolds, Dick Lynch
23 – Don Mattingly (Yankees)
24 – Willie Mays (Giants)
Bill Bradley, Derrell Revis, Robinson Cano, Ottis Anderson
25 – Bill Mclchionni (Nets)
Dick Nolan, Jason Giambi, Joe Pepitone, Bill Cartwright, Mark Collins
26 – Patrik Elias (Devils)
Wade Boggs, Orlando Hernandez
27 – Rodney Hampton (Giants)
Scott Niedermayer, Alexi Kovalev
28 – Curtis Martin (Jets)
29 – Catfish Hunter (Yankees)
30 – Martin Brodeur (Devils)
Bernard King, Henrik Lundqvist, Dave Meggett, Eddie Lopat, John Davidson
31 – Dave Winfield (Yankees)
John Franco, Mike Piazza, Billy Smith
32 – Julius Erving (Nets)
Elston Howard, Sandy Koufax, Al Blozis
33 – Patrick Ewing (Knicks)
34 – Charles Oakley (Knicks)
John Vanbiesbrouck, Don Chandler
35—Mike Richter (Rangers)
36 – David Cone (Yankees)
37 – Casey Stengel (Yankees/Mets)
38 – Bob Tucker (Giants)
39 – Roy Campanella (Dodgers)
40 – Joe Morrison
Lindy McDaniel, Mark Pavelich
41 – Tom Seaver (Mets)
42 –Jackie Robinson (Dodgers)
Mariano Rivera, Charlie Conerly
43 – Spider Lockhart (Giants)
44 – Reggie Jackson (Yankees)
John Riggins, Ahmad Bradshaw
45 – Emlen Tunnell (Giants)
Tug McGraw, John Franco
46 – Andy Pettitte (Yankees)
47 – Luis Arroyo (Yankees)
48 – Jacob deGrom (Mets)
Andy Pafko, Kenny Hill, Bobby Humphrey
49 – Ron Guidry (Yankees)
50 – Ken Strong (Giants)
51 – Bernie Williams (Yankees)
52– Buck Williams (Nets)
Jon Schmitt, CC Sabathia
53 – Harry Carson (Giants)
54 – Goose Gossage (Yankees)
55—Hideki Matsui (Yankees)
56 –Lawrence Taylor (Giants)
57 – Johan Santana (Mets)
John Wetteland, Mo Lewis
58 – Carl Banks (Giants)
59 – Kyle Clifton (Giants)
60 – Larry Grantham (Jets)
D’Brickeshaw Ferguson, Brad Benson
61 – Rick Nash (Rangers)
62 – Al Atkinson (Jets)
Joba Chamberlain, Carl Hagelin
63 – Karl Nelson (Giants)
64 – Jim Burt (Giants)
65 – Joe Fields (Jets)
66 – Jack Stroud (Giants)
David Diehl, Randy Rasmussen
67 – Dave Herman (Jets)
Bill Ard, Kareem McKenzie
68 – Kevin Mawae (Jets)
Jaromir Jagr,Dellin Betances
69 – Rich Seubert (Giants)
70 – Sam Huff (Giants)
71 – Dave Tollefson (Giants)
72 – Ose Umenyiora (Giants)
73 – Joe Klecko (Jets)
74 – Nick Mangold (Jets)
75 – George Martin (Giants)
Jim Katcavage, Winston Hill
76 – Rosey Grier (Giants)
Jumbo Elliott, Chris Snee
77 – Phil Esposito (Rangers)
78 – Jerome Salley (Giants)
79 – Roosevelt Brown (Giants)
80 – Victor Cruz (Giants)
John Elliott, Wayne Chrebet, Jeremy Shockey
81 – Andy Robustelli (Giants)
Amani Toomer, Gerry Philbin
82 – Mario Manningham (Giants)
83 – George Sauer (Jets)
84 – Harland Svare (Giants)
85 – Del Shofner (Giants)
86 – Verlon Bigggs (Jets)
87 – Howard Cross (Giants)
Pete Lammons, Domenik Hixon
88 – Al Toon (Jets)
Pat Summerall, Eric Lindros
89 – Mark Bavaro (Giants)
90 – Jason Pierre-Paul (Giants)
91 – Justin Tuck (Giants)
92 – Michael Strahan (Giants)
93 – Marty Lyons (Jets)
94 – John Abraham (Jets)
95 – Frank Ferrera (Giants)
96 – Barry Cofield (Giants)
97 – Mathias Kiwanuka (Giants)
98 – Jesse Armstead (Giants)
99 – Wayne Gretzky (Rangers)
Mark Gastineau, Steve DeOssie
of Take a look, give a listen to the 20 greatest home runs in Yankee history. Many are on this list of 100 greatest home runs in baseball history.
Any list of greatest home runs would be incomplete without the immortal Babe Ruth.
Ancient footage played to the music of Queen’s “We are the Champions,” the Bambino makes his mark and challenges all comers to match it. “60. Count em 60,” roared the Babe. “Let’s see some other son of a bitch match that.”
The legendary called shot at Wrigley Field, with motion picture footage that shows Ruth pointing. But where?
3. 1932, Lou Gehrig, 4 HRs, single game
Close as we could come to video with Larrupin’ Lou is this photo. But you get the point, it was a long time ago. And four in one game — not even the great Ruth ever did that.
Great radio call, Joe D goes “high and far over the fence in deep left field” at Wrigley Field to bury the Cubs in another Yankee sweep.
Mantle, just 20 years old, goes deep on a 3-1 pitch off Joe Black in the sixth inning at Ebbets Field to give the Yankees the lead for good on their way to their fourth straight World Series. Mel Allen with the play-by-play in the sixth – “that ball is going, going…it is gone.” Watch how fast Mantle gets around the bases.
6. 1956, Yogi Berra, 2 HRs, Game 7, World Series
A signature moment for the Yankee catcher, who belted two early two- run homers against Don Newcombe to help the Yankees avenge their loss to Brooklyn the previous year in a 9-0 whitewash. Elston Howard also homered, and Bill Skowron hit a grand slam.
One of the great Phil Rizzuto calls (“Holy cow, he did it, 61 for Maris.”). At one point the camera catches Sal Durante, the fan who got $5,000 for coming up with the ball. Lots going on in this brief cut: fans booing Boston’s Tracy Stallard for going to a 2-0 count against Maris, a young fan running on the field to shake the Rajah’s hand, and Maris being pushed out for a curtain call by his teammates.
The Mick talks about the hardest ball he ever hit, which missed by less than a foot of clearing the right field facade of Yankee Stadium. No player has ever hit a fair ball out of the Stadium old or new — Mantle came the closest.
Watch the gimpy-legged Mantle struggle around the bases after lining his milestone round tripper into the right field seats at Yankee Stadium. Jerry Coleman with the call. Again, kids on the field.
Chambliss helps the Yankees win their first AL pennant in 12 years. Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell with the call. Talk about security in the Bronx — fans storm the field as Chambliss barely makes it around the bases.
Mr. October earns his stripes with an unforgettable performance that matches the heroics of one George Herman Ruth.
” Deep to left. Yastrzemski will not get it. It’s a home run. A three-run homer for Bucky Dent.” Bill White with the call on the blast that brought Yaz to his knees and silenced Fenway Park.
Donnie Baseball ties Dale Long’s record by homering in his eighth consecutive game.
Jeter, a rookie, shares the spotlight with 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier, who gives the Yankees a boost on this controversial eighth inning call that tied the score and made Bob Costas ask “And what happens here?”
Same game as Jeter’s home run, the winning blow by Williams came in the bottom of the 11th. You may have to turn up the volume to hear it — but John Sterling gives a landmark Yankees win call as Bernie goes boom.
With Atlanta on the verge of taking a 3-1 lead in the World Series, Leyritz launches a game-tying, three-run homer to left to tie the game in the eighth. Watch the reaction on the Yankee bench, especially Don Zimmer.
Less than two months after 9/11, two outs in the ninth, game on the line, Martinez homers to tie the score. Derek Jeter’s walk-off wins it in the 10th. And the next night…..
….it happened again. One night after Tino’s shocker, Brosius goes yard with two down in the ninth to tie the score. This time the Yankees win in 12. Joe Buck with the dual calls.
With the score tied in the last of the 11th, Boone hits the first pitch from knuckleballer Tim Wakefield into the left field seats to send the Yankees to the World Series. Look closely in the background. As Boone is rounding the bases, Mariano Rivera is hugging the mound.
This dramatic 14th inning walk-off in the rain gave birth to John Sterling’s Giambino.
YouTubeism baby. A millenial generation shot of A-Rod’s two-run blast that broke a scoreless tie with the Red Sox.
Albert Pujols, Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson are the only players in baseball history to hit three home runs in a World Series game.
No matter what he does the rest of this World Series and for the remainder of his career, Albert Pujols carved out his own special niche in baseball history with three home runs in the third game of the 2011 World Series.
The 31-year-old Pujols is a sure-fire, first ballot Hall of Famer once he retires, but unless he’s Babe Ruth (more on that in a moment) this World Series tour de force will be his signature moment.
More than a generation ago, on October 18, 1977, Reggie Jackson became Mr. October when homered three times on a cool night at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Jackson, like Pujols, homered off three different pitchers as he led the Yankees to their first World Championship in 15 years with an 8-4 win over the Dodgers.
That year, Jax set a record with five home runs in a single World Series, including four in his final four swings. Mr. October was named 1977 World Series MVP.
Fittingly, Babe Ruth is the only other player to hit three home runs in a World Series game. Ruth accomplished the feat twice, both times against the Cardinals.
Babe Does It Twice
But unlike Pujols or Jackson, Ruth had dozens of signature moments. His record-breaking 60th home run in 1927, his called shot in the 1932 World Series, and his three home run game with the Boston Braves in 1935 days before he retired are three that come to mind.
In Game Four of the 1926 World Series, Ruth hit three home runs at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis to lead the Yankees to a 10-5 victory. The Yanks won the next day and returned to New York with a 3-2 lead, but Hall of Fame right-hander Grover Cleveland “Old Pete” Alexander beat the Yankees 10-2 with a complete Game 6 effort.
In the decisive seventh game, Alexander came on in relief in the seventh inning to fan Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded. He walked Ruth, who had homered earlier in the game, with two outs in the ninth to put the tying run on base. But the Babe inexplicably tried to steal second base and was thrown out to end the Series with Bob Meusel on deck and Lou Gehrig in the hole.
Two years later, Ruth again hit three home runs in a World Series game against the Cardinals at Sportsman’s Park. The Yankees won the game 7-3 to sweep the Series. Ruth hit .625 in the 1928 World Series with those three homers and four RBIs and batted .625.
“Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain” was the battle cry of the 1948 Boston Braves.
Johnny Sain was born to a trivia answer. Last pitcher to face Babe Ruth, first pitcher to face Jackie Robinson, half of one of baseball’s most famous phrases, last man to coach a 30-game winner.
Here are 10 bits of trivia about Johnny Sain:
1. Sain began his career in 1942, and finished with a 4-7 record with the Boston Braves. He then entered the service, and did not resume pitching in the major leagues until 1946.
2. Sain threw the last pitch to Babe Ruth in an organized game. During World War II, Sain was a Navy aviator and pitched for a military team that included Ted Williams and other big leaguers. On July 28, 1943, his team played an exhibition game at Yankee Stadium against a group of major leaguers managed by Babe Ruth. Sain walked the Babe, who was then 48 years old.
3. Sain threw the first pitch in the major leagues to Jackie Robinson on April 15, 1947, at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Robinson grounded out to shortstop, but the Dodgers went on to beat Sain and the Braves, 5-3.
4.Johnny Sain was a four-time, 20-game winner, all with the Boston Braves. He won 20 games three straight times from 1946-48, and won 20 again in 1950.
5. “Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain” was the battle cry of the 1948 Braves. Boston Post sports editor Gerald V. Hern wrote a poem about the Braves dependence on two starters, Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain. The poem was inspired by the performance of Spahn and Sain during the Braves’ 1948 pennant drive. Boston swept a Labor Day doubleheader, with Spahn throwing a complete 14-inning win in the opener, and Sain pitching a shutout in the second game. Following two off days, it rained. Spahn won the next day, and Sain won the day after that. Three days later, Spahn won, then Sain won the next day. After one more off day, the two pitchers were brought back, and won another doubleheader, combining to go 8-0 over 12 days.
6. The Braves reached the World Series in 1948 for the first time in 34 years. In the opener at Braves Field, Sain pitched a four-hit, 1-0 shutout over Cleveland’s Bob Feller, who allowed only two hits but lost. Sain pitched another complete game but lost to the Indians 2-1 in Game Four. Cleveland won the Series in six games, the last time the Tribe won a World Series.
7. Sain was traded to the Yankees during the 1951 season for Lew Burdette and $50,000. Sain was a member of three World Championship squads in New York. Six years later, Burdette beat the Yankees three times in the 1957 World Series to pitch the Milwaukee Braves to victory and win the MVP.
8. Sain was traded from the Yankees to the Kansas City A’s, along with Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter, for pitcher Sonny Dixon and cash in 1955, and retired shortly after. He finished with a 139-116 career record.
9. That’s the pitching side of the Sain ledger. An outstanding contact hitter, Sain always helped himself with the bat. He had a .245 career average and struck out a mere 20 times in 774 lifetime at-bats.
10. Sain later became a pitching coach with the Yankees, Twins, Tigers, White Sox and Atlanta Braves before retiring in 1986. He coached baseball’s last 30-game winner, Denny McLain. The only time Whitey Ford, Jim Bouton, Mudcat Grant, Earl Wilson, Denny McLain, Wilbur Wood, Stan Bahnsen and Jim Kaat won 20 games, Johnny Sain was their pitching coach.
Nobody in baseball history — not Cobb, not Ruth, nor Williams or Bonds — ever put together a better five-year run than Rogers Hornsby.
Between 1921 and 1925, the St. Louis Cardinals second baseman won five consecutive batting titles — with averages of .397, .401, .384, .424 and .403. Overall the Rajah won seven batting crowns and hit .358 lifetime, highest for a right-hand batter in the history of the game.
During that five-year stretch, Hornsby also:
- Led the NL in HRs in 1922 and 1925, winning Triple Crowns both years.
- Hit .424 in 1924, the highest average ever recorded in a single season
- Led the NL in OBP, slugging and OPS five straight times
- Led the NL in hits, doubles, runs and RBIs three times, and triples once
In 1922, Hornsby led the league with 42 home runs, 152 RBIs, a .401 average and 450 total bases. Only Ruth with 457 in 1921, ever had more. Not too shabby.
After winning his second Triple Crown and the NL MVP in 1925 with 39 homers, 143 RBIs and a .403 average, the Rajah’s numbers slipped to a more pedestrian .317 the following season. However, as player-manager he led the Cardinals to their first World Championship with a seven-game triumph over the Yankees.
Six Straight Batting Titles
Hornsby also won the NL batting title in 1920, when he hit .370 and led the NL in hits, doubles, RBIs, OBP, slugging and OPS. Not even the great Ty Cobb can match Hornsby’s run of six straight batting titles, between 1920 and 1925.
Throughout baseball history, other players have had remarkable five-year runs. Beginning in 1911, Cobb won five straight batting titles — .420, .409, .390, .368 and .369 — but couldn’t match up to Hornsby in some of the other categories. Babe Ruth won four home run titles, three RBI crowns and a batting title in his first five seasons with the Yankees, beginning in 1920.
Ted Williams hit .401 in 1941 and won American League Triple Crowns in 1942 and 1947 (the only player besides Hornsby to win two), but lost three years to World War II service. And more recently Barry Bonds had a remarkable run between 2000 and 2004, capped by a record 73 home runs in 2001.
But none can match the Rajah’s brilliant five-year run.
Just before Christmas in 1926, Hornsby was traded to the New York Giants for Frankie Frisch and Jimmy Ring. Following the 1927 season, the Giants shipped Hornsby to the Boston Braves for Shanty Hogan and Jimmy Welsh.
Hornsby played just one year in Boston. Despite winning his seventh and final batting title in 1928, Hornsby then was traded to the Cubs for Bruce Cunningham, Percy Jones, Lou Legett, Freddie Maguire, Socks Seibold and $200,000.
That deal paid off handsomely for the Cubs, as Hornsby earned his second MVP in leading the Cubs to the 1929 World Series.
Hornsby went on to manage the Cubs, St. Louis Browns and Cincinnati Reds, and was a coach for the original 1962 New York Mets. He passed away in 1963.