Monday, April 23, 2012


When I was really following the game of baseball and the New York Yankees, it was around 1980 and by 1982 there was a guy I heard about coming up through the farm system named Donald Arthur Mattingly. This guy, who clearly didn’t look much bigger than many Yankee players, had this porn stash going, he wore eye black that dripped down his face, his uniform used to be filthy and after he ditched #46 for his memorable #23 and drove balls into the stands like nothing I’d ever seen, I was hooked. Don Mattingly was the guy that every kid wanted to be and if you didn’t you we’re missing out. You know my fascination with Ron Guidry and clearly I was him most of my childhood, but if I wasn’t pitching, I was begging to play first base and rarely did I ever do it, but when I did, I was Donnie Baseball. I was never a great first baseman at that age, by 1985 I was in 8th grade and really starting to develop into my own, but no where near outstanding. It didn’t matter, as a Mattingly impersonator, you needed to dive around a lot, get grimy and stand at the plate just like he did. We all did it, it was almost comical.

There were plenty of incredible first baseman in Yankees history. Some were OK, yet some were outstanding and some you didn’t even realize were first baseman in their careers. Like Mickey Mantle in his last few seasons of his career, 1967 and 1968 for instance. Alittle known fact…stick with me kids, I’ll teach you something. I remember when Tino Martinez filled the shows nicely after Mattingly left at the end of 1995 and he was part of a few great Yankee championships.  Many fell in love with Tino. Is he your favorite? Some say yes and some say no. (In Photo: Bob Watson)
Back when I was much younger, I was fascinated with Bob Watson’s stretch at first, one of the best stretches I’ve ever seen. How about Steve Balboni… or John Mayberry? How about Joe Pepitone and of course Lou Gehrig and Mark Teixeira... Tex being one of the best defensive first basemen the Yankees have ever had.

The role of first baseman is a big deal and was to me as a kid, it was a defining role because you never know what’s about to happen when the balls coming your way, bad throws, scoops…how about trick plays. I remember seeing Dave Bergman of the Tigers once hide the ball in his glove and when the guy on first went for his lead, he tagged him out. 

It was amazing.(Coincidentally, Bergman started out with the Yankees.) That kind of stuff is fun to me.

So here’s your chance, I’ve provided 15 Yankees first basemen in our poll on the right side of BYB. Vote for your favorite and at the end we'll analyze the results. You can’t have a wrong answer, it’s a personal opinion and if your guys not on the list, write him in the comments section…Let’s have some fun for crying out loud!

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