We decided that it would be worth taking a stroll down memory lane, and pick out some of the greatest moments in Yankees history. One thing is for sure – you are going to think we missed a few. That is one of the problems with going through such an exercise with such a wildly successful team – there are too many great moments. So this is our view of the 12 greatest moments in Yankees history. We will present 12-7 to you here, and our next segment will have the top six.
12. David Cone, 1996 World Series, Game 3, 6th Inning
11. The 1927 Home Run Race
When we hear home run race, we think of 1961 or 1998. The first real race to set the single-season home run record actually took place in 1927, and the combatants were the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Ruth held the record at 59. Less than a decade removed from the dead ball era, that number was gargantuan, and these two were aiming for the 60’s. These two Yankees were going at it into September. On the morning of September 4, Ruth had 44 and Gehrig had 43 homers. Sixty was in sight, and these two were neck and neck. Inexplicably, Gehrig ran out of gas and would only hit 4 more through the end of the season. Ruth went on a tear, hitting 16 in his last 26 games, 3 of those games being multi-homer games for him. These two would anchor Murderer’s Row, and go on to win three World Series’ in the next 6 years.
10. Don Larsen’s Perfect Game
On October 8, 1956, the Yankees were locked in a 2-2 tie for the World Series against their archrivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers had beaten them the year before in seven games, and this was a must-win. Don Larsen went out and threw the only perfect game in World Series history. From a historical perspective, having a record like that just adds luster to an already brilliant history. It also clearly had an impact on the Dodgers, who prior to that game averaged six runs per game. They would only score one more run for the rest of that Series.
9. The 1961 Home Run Race
Anytime it appears that someone might break a record, especially regarding home runs, some kind of frenzy kicks in and that’s all people talk about. That was certainly the case in 1961, when the M&M boys – Mickey Mantle and the reigning AL MVP Roger Maris – went on a chase to break Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record. The movie 61* documents it well, yet it is still hard to believe all the drama that surrounded that year. Between the debate over the validity of the new record because of length of the season, and the loss in perspective when some Yankee fans turned on Maris, it is hard to believe that Maris was able to maintain focus and break the record on the last game of the regular season. Ruth’s record stood for 34 years and Maris stood for 37, solidifying in a symbolic way the Yankees’ hitting dominance through the decades.
8. Bucky Dent’s Homer
The 1978 season was a storybook season, filled with heroics and epic battles that took them from deep valleys to high mountaintops. The climax clearly took place on a sunny Monday afternoon in Fenway, on the tie-breaking 163rd game. This was against the hated Boston Red Sox, with whom a bench-clearing brawl or two were not out of the question. When the game started, I was still in school, and I got home in time to see the Yankees trailing by two. I was able to watch one of the most glorious home runs of that Yankees generation – a 3-run home run over the Green Monster by Bucky Dent that put the Yankees on top and catapulted them to their 22nd World Series Championship.
7. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-Game Hitting Streak
If you ask me what one modern record of baseball will never be broken, I would have to say Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak. Since the 1920’s, only two people have ever even reached 40 – Joe DiMaggio and Pete Rose. Today, if you reach 30, it makes big news, and you are only just over the halfway mark to the record. It is a testament to how good of a hitter Joltin’ Joe really was. Between May 15 and July 16, DiMaggio kept hitting them and they couldn’t keep him off the bases. As the story goes, he had several hard hit balls on July 17, but none of them got him a hit. He did reach base on a walk, which allowed him to extend his on-base streak to 73 games. If he had gotten a hit on July 17, it would have been a 73-game hitting streak. A 73-game hitting streak??? Unreal!
There you have it - the first half of the list. Stay tuned for the top 6 - it's going to be amazing!
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row
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