By Jon Lane
The inevitable comparisons are in full force. One victory from a World Series the Yankees drop a winnable Game 5 and are back home with two chances to grab that elusive ‘W’ with both hands and hold tight.
In the event you lived on Mars five years ago and are back on Earth: The Yankees blew a 3-0 ALCS lead to the Boston Red Sox in 2004, starting when they were three Mariano Rivera outs from a four-game sweep and the right to play the St. Louis Cardinals in the Fall Classic.
Watching Game 5 of Yankees-Angels, my colleague and friend Jerome Preisler couldn’t help but compare Phil Hughes to Tom Gordon, the latter one symbol of that epic collapse. I covered the 2004 ALCS from start to finish and sure there are similarities. Like these Angels, those Red Sox never quit. They had heart, soul, pop, clutch hitting and pitching, and some good luck. I remember specifically Game 5. The Yankees took a 4-2 sixth-inning lead on Derek Jeter’s three-run double off Pedro Martinez and had the bases loaded with two out. Hideki Matsui laced a liner to right field. If it drops, the game is broken open and we’re not talking about the 2004 ALCS.
Alas, Trot Nixon made a sliding catch to end the inning. Looking back at the series, Joe Torre called that the turning point, the first time when he told himself, “Uh oh.” David Ortiz homered off Gordon to begin the bottom of the eighth and Jason Varitek’s sacrifice fly off Rivera tied the game at four. Fate, by the way, also smiled on the Red Sox in the ninth when Tony Clark doubled off Keith Foulke, If the ball doesn’t bounce over Fenway Park’s short right-field fence, Ruben Sierra scores from first. Instead, Clark and Sierra had to stay on second and third. Miguel Cairo popped out and David Ortiz finally won the game in the 14th.
The moral of the history lesson: 2009 is a different time with a different team. These Yankees had it within them to pull out 15 walk-off wins and two in the postseason. Andy Pettitte and not Jon Lieber (to be fair, Lieber pitched very effectively in the ’04 postseason) is starting Game 6 Saturday night. And if there’s a Game 7, the season will be on CC Sabathia’s back, not our old friend Kevin Brown.
Furthermore, there are glaring differences between Joe Girardi’s lineup to what Torre had to send out for Games 6 and 7 five years ago:
2004 – Kenny Lofton/Sierra
2009 – Matsui
2004 – Cairo
2009 – Robinson Cano
2004 – Tony Clark (John Olerud’s bruised instep kept him from starting Games 5-7)
2009 – Mark Teixeira
Cano instead of Cairo; Teixeira instead of Clark (who struck out to end Game 6 as the winning run at the plate). Here’s hoping you’re reassured. Now all this lineup has to do is score runs off two very good pitchers, Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver.
By Jon Lane
If the Yankees can defeat the Angels one more time, they will have the ultimate challenge ahead of them. The Philadelphia Phillies pounded and blasted Joe Torre’s Dodgers into submission Wednesday night to become the first team to reach consecutive World Series since Torre’s Yankees in 2000-01 and the first to capture back-to-back pennants since the Atlanta Braves in 1995-96. The last team to repeat as World Champions were also Torre’s Yankees when they won three straight from 1998-2000. The Phillies have a shot at becoming the first National League team to repeat since the Cincinnati Reds in 1975-76.
The Phils smacked four homers off Dodgers pitching, two from Jayson Werth. Bottom line, this team can bash and Yankees pitching will have to raise it to the highest of levels to get past Werth, Ryan Howard and that lineup.
But first things first. The Yankees have to win one more game; it takes four games to win the pennant, the Yankees have won three. A.J. Burnett gets the ball tonight (pregame on YES at 6:30, first pitch on FOX at 7:57 p.m. and YES will have an hour-long postgame show immediately after the last pitch) and the right-hander looked relaxed and confident during Wednesday’s media session. He has a firm grasp on what he has to do, and the Yankees are cognizant about the need to step on the Angels’ throats and make them tap out. Too many teams have rallied from down 3-1. One blew a 3-0 LCS lead. Guess which one?
Benjamin Kabak from River Ave. Blues wrote something I’ve been thinking about since yesterday: Joe Girardi refused to confirm it, but you know Jose Molina is catching Burnett tonight. In Burnett’s prior two postseason starts Girardi has left Jorge Posada on the bench while going with Hideki Matsui as the designated hitter.
That needs to change. To echo Kabak’s take, Posada is batting .308 with a .471 on-base percentage and .615 slugging percentage, compared to Matsui’s .286/.412/.357. The former not only looks more comfortable at the plate – his eighth-inning homer tied Game 3 before the Angels won it in the 11th – he owns better numbers against Halos starter John Lackey. Posada is 12-for-29 (.414) with three walks, a homer, and three RBIs against the big Texan, compared to Matsui’s .286 average, though he does have seven RBIs versus the Angels right-hander.
How Girardi will handle pinch-hitting/pinch-running duties with regards to Posada and the risk of losing the DH, we’ll find out if the game is close and late. The Yankees don’t want it to get that far. It won’t be easy, but they’ll have to get to Lackey early and cash in on the opportunities they missed against him in Game 1. Batting Posada behind A-Rod gives them their best shot.
By Jon Lane
ton of money – $423 million to be exact – were spent on people after
the Yankees’ 13-year postseason streak ended last season. The result
was 103 wins, first place in the AL East and home field advantage
throughout the playoffs.
Now begins the quest for the real
payoff: World Championship No. 27. It’s quiet here at Yankee Stadium
right now. The Twins are taking BP and the stands are empty given the 6
p.m. start and the majority of fans about to file out of work. But
Derek Jeter and Reggie Jackson are in the house, Mother Nature spared
us precipitation (but not wind) and this place will rock moments before
CC Sabathia throws the first pitch.
Sabathia is earning $161
million of the $423 million. He delivered, winning 19 games and
emerging as a top AL Cy Young Award contender. Starting tonight,
however, it’s his job to start becoming a champion, to carry the
Yankees on his broad back en route to a championship, to halt a 4-13
postseason skid under Joe Torre from 2004-2007. Casting a large shadow
is Sabathia’s postseason track record, 2-3 with a 7.92 ERA in five
career starts, the last five runs allowed in 3 2/3 innings in Game 2 of
last year’s Division Series.
“I think maybe just trying to go
out and do too much,” Sabathia said on Tuesdsay. “Trying to go out and
throw shutouts and throw no-hitters and things like that instead of
going out and doing the same things I’ve done during the regular season
which is throwing strikes early in the count.”
Tonight marks a
new beginning not only for Sabathia, but for Alex Rodriguez (you know
his recent postseason past). Keep it here to see what develops.
P.A. announcer Paul Olden is introducing the Twins’ non-starters. Carl
Pavano was greeted to loud boos – and this place is about half full.
Mere minutes from first pitch. CC Sabathia got a nice applause. Also
with the team and in uniform, injured players Chien-Ming Wang and
6:11 p.m. Not a good beginning as Denard
Span laces a leadoff double to left-center. The Twins may be tired, but
that adrenaline can do wonders, especially with the way this team has
played for the past month.
6:18 p.m. Sabathia throws 22
pitches, but keeps the Twins off the board by retiring their No. 3 and
4 hitters and stranding Span at third. Biggest pitch of the inning: a
1-2 punchout of Joe Mauer, a .365 hitter, after Span advanced to third
on a passed ball.
6:31 p.m. Alex Rodriguez’s first at-bat
came with a runner on second and two out. He filed out to right and is
eight for his last 57 postseason at-bats (.140) since 2004.
2-0 Twins on Michael Cuddyer’s two-out RBI single, which preceded an
Orlando Cabrera single and Mauer double, with Mauer scoring on Jose
Posada’s second passed ball. Sabathia has allowed six hits, his pitch
count is at 64 and he’s been was up in the zone. It’s still early but
worry is already setting in, as are the voices of CC’s postseason past.
Brian Duensing, meanwhile, has been razor sharp, holding the Yankees hitless since Derek Jeter’s leadoff single.
Leave it to the captain to set the ship back on course. Jeter’s two-run
blast to left ties the game at two. The homer was Jeter’s 18th in the
postseason (10th in the DS), tying Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle for
third on the Yankees’ all-time list. If I were in the old Stadium, I’d
feel the building shake.
7:22 p.m. A-Rod’s second at-bat: Swinging strikeout. Now on an 8-for-58 (.138) skid.
7:30 p.m. Some nuggets from Tyler Kepner, the outstanding beat writer for the New York Times:
Posada is the first catcher in 10 years with two passed balls in a
division series game. (Varitek in 1999); A-Rod has stranded 40
consecutive runners in the postseason.
7:32 p.m. From the
Nobody Talks About It Because He’s Not A-Rod Department: Hideki Matsui
has six hits in his last 29 postseason at-bats (.207) since 2006.
Swishalicious! Nick Swisher’s two-out double scores a hustling Robinson
Cano from first to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. That’s Swish’s second
postseason RBI and third double in this his 11th game.
Breakthrough! A-Rod delivers with an RBI single that scores Jeter and
knocks Duensing out of the game. 8-for-58 slide over. Forty consecutive
stranded runners in the past. Feel the power of Kate Hudson!
8:11 p.m. That
Matsui stat is also in the past. Godzilla crushes one to Monument Park
off Francisco Liriano to make it 6-2 Yankees. It’s a shame about
Liriano. He was one of baseball’s rising young stars before Tommy John
8:16 p.m. Duensing’s line: 4 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 1 WP, 79 pitches/59 strikes.
Since Sabathia allowed two runs on four hits in the third, he’s retired
10 out of his next 11 batters. He’s at 95 pitches and will probably go
another inning. This is what aces do. Even when not at their best, they
find a way to get the job done.
8:47 p.m. Sabathia
departs to a thunderous ovation after retiring Denard Span on a fly
ball to right and throwing 113 pitches in 6 2/3 innings. Phil Huuughes finishes the frame with a strikeout of the pesky Orlando Cabrera following a 10-pitch at-bat.
9:06 p.m. A-Rod tonight: Two hits, 2 RBIs. To quote my colleague
Chris Shearn, “He stinks.” For one night, seriously, A-Rod has the
majority of haterizers off his back.
9:21 p.m. Enter Joba Chamberlain to a rousing ovation with runners on the corners, two out in the top of the eighth and a 7-2 lead. He needed two pitches to retire Delmon Young and end the inning. I’m not going there.
By Jon Lane
I spent yesterday afternoon at Citi Field working on a feature running tomorrow here on YESNetwork.com about how, from a certain point of view, the Los Angeles Dodgers have become Yankees West. You have, of course, Joe Torre as manager and a coaching staff that includes Yankees alumni Don Mattingly (hitting coach), Larry Bowa (third base coach), Mariano Duncan (first base coach) and Mike Borzello (bullpen catcher, also Torre’s godson). Also in Dodgertown are former Yankees players Jeff Weaver (active pitcher), Doug Mientkiewicz (on the 60-day DL with a dislocated shoulder) and 2000 World Series Game 1 hero Jose Vizcaino (special assistant).
By the time Torre took over as Yankees manager in 1996, the rebuilding plan constructed by Gene Michael and Bob Watson had bore fruit. The Yankees contended late in the ’93 season, were in first place before the strike of ’94 and earned their first postseason berth in 14 years the following year.
Four seasons ago, the Dodgers finished 71-91, fourth in the NL West, plummeting from a 93-win season the year before, and have been rebuilt into a contender through homegrown players (Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Jonathan Broxton, James Loney, Russell Martin), stealing Andre Ethier from the A’s (for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez) and dealing for some fruitcake with long dreadlocks who carried the Dodgers back to the postseason, yet also one whose reputation as being one of the game’s greatest pure hitters is tarnished. Torre’s first Yankees team had more experience, but like the young Dodgers also learned by losing in the playoffs. The 1995 Yankees dropped a heartbreaker to the Mariners in the Division Series, the Dodgers fell in five games to the eventual champion Phillies in the NLCS.
Still, there are a few parallels which you’ll read about tomorrow. And while loving life in L.A., a piece of Torre’s heart remains in New York. Speaking before yesterday’s game against the Mets, Torre addressed various topics with the media, starting with Hideki Matsui’s contract status. It was just like old times.
On Matsui playing in final year of contract and what lies ahead: “The one thing about the Yankees is that they have to make a lot of tough decisions when these high-profile people run out. (Johnny Damon’s pact is also in its final season.) It’s not always a popular decision they make, but they have to do what’s best for the organization. He’s been a special player and it’s not affecting his play, so he’s not worrying about it now.”
On Matsui’s early struggles (Matsui is batting .455 with three homers and 11 RBIs in July. His average has climbed 20 points since June 30.): “You’d never know it by being around him. He’s a pro. I respect him a great deal and I miss a lot of those guys, there’s no question.”
On the time Matsui took him out for sushi: “I told him if I’m going to try it, you’re taking me. I wish I really enjoyed the sushi part; my daughter does and my wife does. I ate everything they put in front of me and [Matsui] was kind enough to order a couple of bottles of champagne, which helped the medicine go down. It was an enjoyable evening.”
On whether he’ll visit the old Yankee Stadium before it’s torn down. He’s been asked by the Yankees if there’s anything he wants from the old place. He told them he made arrangements for a couple of seats, which will add to his collection from his other stops in Flushing (Shea Stadium), Atlanta (Fulton County Stadium) and St. Louis (Busch Stadium): “When I left there I knew it was going to be my last time. I took everything in. I had so many great memories there and really sadness. Everything that went on there was enough for me, it really was. It was a very special place when I used to go in there playing in the Mayor’s Trophy Game as a player and a manager. You always knew you were someplace special.”
Torre won’t be seeing the new Yankee anytime soon – the Dodgers are playing the Yankees next season, but at Dodger Stadium – that it unless special circumstances dictate otherwise:
“I wouldn’t mind seeing it in October,” Torre said. “To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing any ballpark in October. I remember people saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if this team and this team …’ I said, ‘Let’s just pull for the one side, that’s all.'”
Torre’s Safe at Home Foundation also raised $450,000 (before expenses) at its sixth annual golf classic on Monday.
By Jon Lane
Maybe the suspension of Manny Ramirez is the best thing for the Yankees in some twisted, convoluted way. As Peter Abraham notes, the news broke one day before Alex Rodriguez makes his season debut. A lot of the heat is off of A-Rod – for now – and this topic is expected to share space with life as a sub-.500 team in the Yankees clubhouse before tonight’s game.
Ramirez said in a statement that he saw a physician for a personal health issue who gave him a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was okay. Multiple reports have stated that it’s an agent “customarily used for performance enhancing” and neither a steroid nor human growth hormone. Too many players are pointing fingers and not accepting blame. If you’re given a prescription for an unknown drug, or visit your local GMC for some strange supplement, why on earth do you assume – especially in this day and age – that it’s perfectly okay? What’s so hard about seeing your team physician and taking it up with the office of Major League Baseball to receive a second and third opinion?
Manny being Manny just took itself to an entirely different level, writes Chris Shearn.
Baseball’s new drug policy can improve, but it’s good and it’s tough. Phillies reliever J.C. Romero was given the benefit of the doubt when MLB never said he tried to cheat, yet he was ruled guilty of “negligence” and issued Strike 1. Here’s hoping players are finally scared straight into taking more responsibility for what they put in their bodies. A little accountability helps too. A-Rod’s explanation may have been shady, but he manned up and said, “I did it” without any excuse.
As far as the Dodgers, 21-8, off to their best 29-game start since 1983 and owners of a new record for consecutive home wins to begin a season (13), it’ll be easy to write them off. Don’t even think about it, third base coach Larry Bowa told Colin Cowherd today on ESPN Radio. Bowa looks at this as a challenge to his young players tired of hearing the Dodgers are winning because of Manny. Joe Torre’s Dodgers feature rising stars Andre Either and Matt Kemp in the outfield, and James Loney at first base. Veteran Juan Pierre slides into Ramirez’s spot in left field. Chad Billingsley (5-0, 2.21 ERA) anchors a rotation with promise (Clayton Kershaw), veteran stability (Randy Wolf) and supported by a lockdown closer (Jonathan Broxton).
And don’t forget the Torre effect. He’s the right guy to handle this crisis. Anyone who’s followed the Yankees since 1996 knows how Torre cemented his reputation.
“It’s time for some of our young kids to grow up now,” Bowa said.
Two sources told ESPN’s T.J. Quinn and Mark Fainaru-Wada that the drug used by Ramirez is HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a women’s fertility drug typically used by steroid users to restart their body’s natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle. It is, reports the duo, similar to Clomid, the drug Bonds, Giambi and others used as clients of BALCO.Yahoo! Health explains that HCG is used to cause ovulation and to treat infertility in women, and to increase sperm count in men.
The operative words are “steroid cycle.”
“It’s not infrequently part of the mix of the poly-drug approach to doping,” Dr. Gary Wadler, chairman of the committee that determines the banned-substances list for the World Anti-Doping Agency, told The Associated Press. “It typically is used most when people are coming off a cycle to restore to normal biophysiological feedback mechanisms.”
At least until first pitch, most of the focus is off another terrible loss from the Yankees and how they did nothing against Andy Sonnanstine, off whom opponents were hitting .366 and owned a 1-3 record with a 6.75 ERA. Blame the bullpen all you want; Phil Coke made one bad pitch, and Edwar Ramirez and Jonathan Albaladejo did their jobs. Second-guess Joe Girardi about not sending Mariano Rivera out for the 10th inning. But this is a problem which becomes more insidious with every loss: The Yankees went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and are 4-for-32 (.125) during their four-game losing streak. This team has showed little fire and passion, along with the obvious knack of failing in the clutch, but you have to love the mettle A.J. Burnett showed after the game.
“When it clicks, it will be ridiculous,” Burnett said. “When it clicks, it will be fun to watch.”
REACTION TO RAMIREZ SUSPENSION
“I’m still surprised. It’s not like you assume everybody’s doing it so you’re still surprised when you hear about it.
“It doesn’t look good. It seems like it’s a never-ending thing. That’s what it seems like as of late. So you want to put it behind you and then you have something like this come up.”
“I don’t like to give too much reaction until more details are out there. It’s just disappointing that it happened.
“I can only speak for myself. There’s no resentment because I can sleep really good at night and at the end of my career I can look my kids in the eyes and say I [kept clean].
“IWe’ve done a lot. Ever since 2004, I’ve been at the union meetings talking about what we can do. It’s almost every year like we try to test more and have it more strict. That’s the only thing we can do.”
“I don’t have all the specifics and I don’t know if we’ll ever get all the specifics. But the commissioner has vowed to crack down. The rules are very stringent and we’re seen another guy suspended 50 games.”
“I’m just surprised somewhat but everything that comes out with baseball it seems like it’s mostly negative stories and unfortunately, Manny’s one of them, a former teammate of mine and it’s disappointing to hear.
“This game has been able to withstand the test of time and this game has been able to I believe thrive so far this year. This is another black cloud and hopefully we can weed all this stuff out of the game in the upcoming years. Unfortunately, some very good baseball players have to go down with it.
“I think Manny’s going to be the one that can answer that the best. That’s all I have to say about that, I don’t know. These guys want to be the best and to us they did look like the best and now they’re paying for it.”
By Jon Lane
Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez, suspended today for 50 games for violating baseball’s drug policy, issued this statement through the MLB Players’ Association:
“Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was okay to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I’ve taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.
“I want to apologize to Mr. McCourt, Mrs. McCourt, Mr. Torre, my teammates, the Dodger organization, and to the Dodger fans. LA is a special place to me and I know everybody is disappointed. So am I. I’m sorry about this whole situation.”
Much more on this developing story later. It’ll be interesting to find out if this medication was not a steroid whether that removes some of the sting. Nevertheless this is the second major drug revelation since February, when Selena Roberts broke the story of Alex Rodriguez taking steroids while playing for the Texas Rangers from 2001-03. Like A-Rod, Ramirez is a lighting rod known for his immense talent along with idiosyncrasies and mannerisms that make you shake your head. From Los Angeles, to New York, to Boston and all around the game, people will be talking about this.
By Jon Lane
Peter Abraham was first to report the passings of two respected members of the Yankees family: Johnny Blanchard and Arthur Richman.
Blanchard was a key component of that famed Yankees team of 1961 (also my father’s all-time favorite team). After Yogi Berra moved from behind the plate to left field the year before, Elston Howard took over the starting catcher’s job, which left Blanchard relegated to a bench player. But in just 243 at-bats, Blanchard hit .305 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs. In the Yankees’ World Series win over the Cincinnati Reds, he batted .400 with homers in Games 3 and 5, and played in five Fall Classics while setting a Major League record with 10 pinch-hit at-bats.
Blanchard was one of my dad’s favorites (Mickey Mantle topped his list). Each time Blanchard stepped to the plate my dad would look to right field, because that’s where he knew it was going.
Richman was the team’s senior advisor of media relations who spent more than 50 years in baseball and suggested to George Steinbrenner that he hire Joe Torre as manager. Beginning in 1997, my first year covering the Yankees for New York Sportscene and later Yankees Magazine, Richman was a tremendous influence in my career. He always greeted me with a smile and was quick to share advice. He was beloved by everyone he encountered in and out of Yankee Stadium and I personally will never forget him.
2:06 p.m. The Yankees released the following statement on Arthur Richman:
It is with deep sadness that the New York Yankees announce the passing of longtime baseball writer and executive Arthur Richman. He passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in New York City early this morning with his wife, Martha Richman, and friends by his side. He was 83 years old.
Mr. Richman’s baseball career spanned seven decades, including stops as an executive with the New York Mets and most recently the New York Yankees. He began his career in 1942 as a copy boy at the New York Daily Mirror and worked there for 21 years, authoring one of New York’s most popular columns, “The Armchair Manager.”
The Mirror folded in 1963, and Mr. Richman quickly took a position in the front office of the New York Mets, where he worked for 25 years. In 1989, Mr. Richman went to work for the Yankees, holding the positions of Senior Vice President and Senior Advisor in the club’s media relations department for nearly two decades.
“Arthur Richman made baseball and the New York Yankees an enormous part of his life, and I am grateful for his contributions both personally and professionally,” Yankees Principal Owner/Chairperson George M. Steinbrenner said. “He was a trusted friend and advisor to me, and someone the world of baseball will find impossible to replace. I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Martha and to the countless others who were fortunate enough to call him a friend.”
Services will be held on Thursday, March 26 at 11:45 a.m. at Riverside Memorial Chapel on 180 W. 76th Street in New York City. He is survived by his wife, Martha. Mr. Richman was predeceased by his brother Milton, an award winning sportswriter and editor for United Press International.
The family asks that any memorial gifts be sent in Arthur’s name to the “Catch 25 Foundation,” established by New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Donations will be dedicated specifically towards the area of the foundation that focuses on Alzheimer’s Disease research and support.
For more information on the foundation, visit JoeGirardi.com. Donations can be sent to Catch 25 Foundation, 220 West Huron, Suite 2001, Chicago, IL, 60654.
Mike Francesa pays tribute to Blanchard and Richman. Watch it here:
Former Yankees teammates and managers reflect on the passing of Johnny Blanchard
“This is a sad day. Johnny was a good friend and a great teammate. He was proud of being a Yankee and always fun to be around. We’ll miss him.”
Yogi Berra (teammate 1955, ’59-63, Manager 1964)
“He was a great guy. He loved people and did a lot for charity. I’ll never forget the year Yogi, Elston and Blanch all hit over 20 homers. He was a key member of that 1961 team and had two clutch homers for us against the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. I remember we were both signed by the same scout, Joe McDermott. I felt a lot of pride knowing that. He will be missed.”
Moose Skowron (teammate, 1955, ’59-62)
“He was a great teammate, friend and a true gentleman. He loved the game. Tony Kubek and I were just in New York and spent some time with Johnny. He was a great friend and I’ll miss him tremendously.”
Bobby Richardson (teammate, 1955, ’59-65)
“Johnny was a funny guy and a great storyteller. He was always happy. Everyone loved him and loved being around him. He was one heck of a hitter, too.”
Bob Turley (teammate 1955, ’59-62)
“Johnny was a true Yankee, there’s no doubt about that. Everyone liked him. He would do anything it took to help win a ballgame. He would catch, pinch-hit or go play the outfield if it meant the team had a better chance to win.”
Ralph Houk (Manager 1961-63)