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 presented 12-7 to you in our last segment, and here is the top six.
6. Derek Jeter’s Last Game at Yankee Stadium
How can we not include this in our top 12? Is there anyone else in recent memory who had more flair for the dramatic than Derek Jeter did? He has been the iconic rally starter, the one guy you want at the plate when the game was on the line. He is sixth on the all-time list and leads the franchise in total hits with 3465. He has been in the middle of practically every major comeback the Yankees ever needed. Okay, I might be exaggerating a little. Nevertheless, it was only fitting that his last at-bat at Yankees Stadium with the game tied in the bottom of the ninth and a man on second. Seriously, did you think he WOULDN’T get a hit? It was an epic moment to cap off an epic career.
5. Chris Chambliss’ Walkoff Home Run, 1976 A.L. Championship
It was the first time the Yankees had made the playoffs in a dozen years. It was a back-and-forth battle for the entire 5-game series with the Royals. Just when the Yankees seemed to be on the brink of winning, George Brett hit a 3-run home run to tie it in the eighth. Chris Chambliss was on fire for the series, coming to the plate in the bottom of the ninth batting a solid .500. If it was me, I would have pitched around a .500 hitter. Instead, he got a fastball just over belt-high, and the rest is history.
4. The Thurman Munson Memorial Game
If you were a Yankee fan in 1979, there are two dates you will never forget. August 2 was the day we lost our Captain, Thurman Munson, to a tragic plane accident. The other was August 6, the day the Yankees buried the Captain, and went out and won one of the most dramatic games that I can remember. My memory of the game was that the announcers kept going back to stories about Munson. By the 6th inning, the Yankees were down 4-0 against the eventual American League Champion Baltimore Orioles, who had a tremendous team. In the bottom of the 7th, Bobby Murcer hit a 3-run home run on a line drive over the right field wall to bring the Yankees within one. Then, in heroic fashion, Murcer came up again in the bottom of the ninth to hit a walk off base hit and win the game. We didn’t win any championships that year, but this was a game that was deeply emotional for the Yankees and for the fans.
3. The 2001 World Series Walk-off Wins
A walk-off hit is always great. A walk-off hit in the World Series is epic. A walk-off hit in the World Series on consecutive nights is historic. The 2001 Yankees may not have been the greatest team in franchise history, but they were scrappy and they knew how to claw for a win. After dropping the first two in Arizona, they won the third game 2-1 in a hard-fought battle. Game 4 had the Diamondbacks up 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth with two outs when Tino Martinez hit a home run to tie it. In the bottom of the 10th, Mr. November – Derek Jeter – hit a homer over the right field wall to send the Stadium into hysteria and the Series into a 2-2 tie. The very next night, with the Yankees down 2-0 with 2 outs in the ninth, Scott Brosius hit a shot over the left field wall that sent the game into extras. In the 12th inning, with Chuck Knoblauch on second, Alfonso Soriano hit a base hit to right field to bring in the winning run.
2. The Night Louisiana Lightning Struck
Ron Guidry was having a tremendous season, and at that point in the season, he was 10-0. Looking for his 11th consecutive win, they were playing the California Angels. I remember this game quite well, as it was on a weekend and my dad let me stay up late to watch it with him. The Yankees jumped out to an early lead, but it was not the score that mattered. Batter after batter, Guidry was striking them out at a record pace. Every strikeout put up a new graphic with the strikeout count. When he passed the franchise record (it was 13 prior to the game), then the march began toward the MLB record. It was 19 at the time, and three pitchers had reached that pinnacle (Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, and Tom Seaver). He almost reached it, and even though there was a small sense of disappointment, we still follow the tradition established that night - standing up and cheering whenever one of our guys gets two strikes on a batter.
1. The Purchase of Babe Ruth’s Contract
Babe Ruth was the greatest hitter who ever lived, and who can argue that his joining the Yankees was probably the biggest contributor to the Yankees’ legacy. Following the 1919 season, the Red Sox owner ran into some financial pressure, and sold Ruth’s contract to the Yankees for $100,000. Aside from the Curse of the Bambino, this set off a chain of events that would establish the Yankees legacy of winning for decades later. Ruth’s manager in Boston was a man named Ed Barrow, who was quite bitter at losing Ruth. A year later, he joined the Yankees as the general manager, rejoining the phenom that he helped convert from pitcher to hitter. He quickly bought out contracts of strong players, brought them to the Yankees, and started the streak of World Series wins in the 1920’s. Barrow also brought over a man named Paul Krichell, who served as a coach and talent scout under him. Many consider Paul Krichell to be the greatest baseball scout who ever lived. His discoveries include Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Phil Rizzuto, and Whitey Ford. When you think about the Yankees’ dominance from the 20’s through the early 60’s, a large part of it came from this.
So there you have it. I am sure there are some moments or accomplishments that you think should have been on the list. I will not argue with you – the Yankees make it tough to narrow down this kind of list. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane!
If you just stumbled onto us and didn't see part 1 yet, be sure to read: THE TOP 12 MOMENTS IN YANKEES HISTORY: PART 1.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row
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