Tuesday, September 9, 2014


As the season winds down, many of my colleagues here at BYB have written their tributes to Derek Jeter.  Our captain is hanging up his cleats and our great staff will share their memories and thoughts much more eloquently than I could ever hope to do.

(In Photo: Mel Stottlemyre)
I’ve been a Yankees fan all of my life.  My earliest memories are of players like Celerino Sanchez, Jim Mason, Ron Blomberg (who I had the honor of interviewing a couple of seasons ago), Mike Kekich, Mel Stottlemyre (the player), Doc Medich and many others of the CBS ownership era. 

Yeah, those were pretty bad teams.

My favorite Yankees squads – with all due respect to the “Core four + Bernie” – were the 1977-1978 teams that won back-to-back championships.  Guys like Chris Chambliss, Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry, Mickey Rivers, Roy White, Bucky Dent, Brian Doyle, and Graig Nettles will always be among my favorites.

In fact, my favorite player was on those teams.  Thurman Munson will always define to me what the ultimate ballplayer should be.  His grit, intellect, ability, and heart were the epitome of what defines greatness on the field.  I admired his work ethic and his ability to do his job day-in and day-out without needing validation from the media (sorry Reggie and Rickey).

While Munson will forever be in the top spot of Yankees I’ve seen play, as I look back through players I most admired ( Mattingly, Bernie, Mo, Jorge, etc) only one other stands out (to me) in combining all those great characteristics that Thurman had: Derek Jeter.

Derek has been a little flashier off the field, but on it he encompasses all that Munson was.  Certainly his work ethic has always been second to none, and as far as intellect; I’ve never seen a smarter, “headier” player.  Other than the difference in the position he plays, Jeter is Munson-reincarnate to me.   Both were the ultimate professionals that led their teams to world championships, and both did so while keeping their private lives (for the most part) away from the field.

Where Munson’s teams had Reggie Jackson’s constant need for attention, Jeter’s had Alex Rodriguez not trying very hard to avoid off-field drama.  Yet both, somehow, managed to avoid the hurricanes their teammates attracted.  

In my pantheon of Yankees greats – that I’ve seen play – Munson and Jeter stand alone.  While they come from different eras- and played different positions-they are to me the two greatest players of my lifetime.

Both came to play with the same passion for the game on a daily basis and both had the ability to raise the talent of those that played alongside them.

I look forward to the next time I walk through Monument Park and can see the numbers of both of them in their rightful spots alongside the immortals.


--Steve Skinner, BYB Senior Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1

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