Let’s get this out of the way, I love Old-Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium. It’s my favorite day of the regular season. Seeing so many former Yankees in one place is a lot of fun and I’m glad I’ve been able to attend every Old-Timers’ Day for the past 13 years.
For me the best part of the day is the introductions. My brother and I play a game in which we try to guess who Michael Kay and John Sterling are talking about before their name is put up on the screen. I’ll admit I had a bit of an advantage because I saw the list of who was attending so I knew who a lot of the first timers were going to be. After a while he said, “How do you know this stuff??” I didn’t fess up.
My brother is very knowledgable about Yankees trivia and even though he was born in 1978, he knows a lot about the players from that era. He also knows a lot about trades from the 1980s and 1990s and will usually talk about them with the people around us who can’t believe he knows as much as he does. Sometimes even I’m amazed.
And as much as I love seeing guys like Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and the other players from the 1940s and 1950s, I also love seeing guys like Matt Nokes and Pat Kelly who played when I was a teenager. It’s a treat for me to see guys like that because it was during those lean years that I became the rabid Yankee fan I am today. Though on the other hand it is a tad depressing seeing so many guys I grew up watching become Old Timer’s. Actually, who am I kidding? With guys like Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams playing, guys I watched in my 20′s are now Old Timers!
The Old-Timers’ game itself is fun to watch especially when guys like Lee Mazzilli and Bucky Dent are the ones hitting the ball and making great defensive plays. And when guys like Tanyon Sturtze are pitching a 1-2-3 innings. At one point, Sturtze was even playing right field.
I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t a home run hit this year. Tino Martinez hit one last Old-Timers’ Day which was pretty hilarious since my brother called it before it happened. I figured maybe Williams, O’Neill or even Tino would pull off that feat that year. Oh well, there’s always next year.
In the end, the Clippers led by Pat Kelly and Mickey Rivers, beat the Bombers 6-2.
Here are some superlatives for the Old Timers:
- Best Hair: As long as he shows up, this award will always go to Joe Pepitone
- Most Adorable: Yogi Berra, come on now. Of course, he’d win this award.
- The Good To See Ya Award goes to Matt Nokes. He looked like he was having a lot of fun.
- MVP of the Old-Timers’ Game: Tie between Pat Kelly who I believe got a hit every time he was up and Lee Mazzilli who made a few great plays at third, including combining with Nokes to pick off Kelly at third base.
Having been a lifelong Yankee fan, I have been lucky to witness a lot of really great events in person but one of my favorite days of the season is definitely Old Timers Day. Getting to see so many players back in the Stadium is really fun and when you realize just how much talent has been assembled, it’s pretty astounding – Yogi Berra alone has ten World Series rings. That’s better than most franchises.
There were a lot of the regulars who have been at Old Timer’s Day in recent years – Bill “Moose” Skowron, Dr. Bobby Brown, Oscar Gamble, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford but we had some newcomers make their first appearance. Namely, Bernie Williams, Joe Torre and Lou Piniella.
It was great to see Bernie and Loooooooooou. And even though I’m still a tad angry at Joe Torre for writing his book, it was still nice to see him yesterday.
Now, I’m going to admit something I’ve never admitted before, I usually tear up as soon as they start announcing the Old Timers’ names and when they finally get to Yogi – because he’s usually introduced last – the tears will start falling from my eyes.
Yesterday was a little more special because the Yankees chose to honor longtime head trainer Gene Monahan who is retiring at the end of the season after 49 years with the organization. They had him throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Old Timer’s game and then surprised him with a ceremony of his own.
The Yankees showed a tribute video on the big screen chronicling his career with the Yankees – complete with statements from players and coaches and ownership. (And yes, I cried.) Then they presented him with gifts. It was like an impromptu “Gene Monahan Day.” He looked both excited and terrified at the same time. Monahan doesn’t seem like the type of man who feels comfortable when attention is thrust upon him.
The Old Timer’s game itself was actually pretty exciting. There were some well struck balls that made it to the warning track and the one that made it out of the park was a home run to right by Tino Martinez that drove in Bernie Williams – Williams hit a double to the warning track off David Wells. Oh, and Tino’s home run was off of David Cone. Wait, is it 2001 again? That home run ended up being the difference in the game and the Bombers beat the Clippers 2-0.
Things that made me laugh during the game
- Jeff Nelson throwing as if he were called into a game in the 2000 World Series
- Jesse Barfield hit a ball to left field that rolled all the way to the wall and only made it to first – he’s had knee problems in the past so we”ll forgive him for that
- David Wells throwing behind Mickey Rivers
- Tino’s home run – because my brother called it
- David Cone’s reaction to Tino’s home run
- Goose Gossage also pitching as if it were an actual game – you could hear the ball popping into the catcher’s mitt
- The crowd booing Suzyn Waldman – one guy in my section in particular seemed really upset that she would be doing the play by play for the Old Timer’s game
- The PA guy playing “Disco Inferno” after Bernie’s double
Some final thoughts about yesterday:Â I was very happy to see Mel Stottlemyre and that he looks healthy. Same goes for Moose Skowron who has been battling lung cancer and it was good to see him as well. It’s always nice to see Jerry Coleman make the trip from San Diego to take part in the festivities. And does it ever get old clapping and cheering for Yogi Berra? I’ll answer that for you. No, it doesn’t.
My hands may be sore from clapping, my voice may be raw from cheering but I feel so honored that I get to witness a little bit of Yankee history every single year at Old Timer’s Day and I wish that every Yankee fan could get to experience it, at least one time in their lives.
The Yankees released the following quotes from various players (current and former), coaches and executives on Andy Pettitte’s retirement:
DEREK JETER: Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a pleasure to play with Andy for all these years, and the Yankees have been fortunate to have him representing the organization both on and off the field.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“More importantly itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been an honor to get to know him as a person, and I consider him family. I wish for nothing but happiness for him and his family, as I know how important they are to him.Ã¢â‚¬Â
MARIANO RIVERA: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Andy was a great teammate and a wonderful guy. He was a fighter and all about winning, and he was respected by every person in the clubhouse.Ã¢â‚¬Â
JORGE POSADA: Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m really sad that Andy is going to retire. He was so much more than a teammate to me Ã¢â‚¬â€ he was one of my closest friends. I admire everything that he has accomplished as a Yankee, but Andy was someone who always put the team first. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to miss him deeply.Ã¢â‚¬Â
TINO MARTINEZ: Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is one of the greatest pitchers in Yankees history. Whitey Ford might have more wins as a left hander, but through the seasons we won all those World Series, he was the anchor of our staff every year. Without him we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t win all four World Series.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Since IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been retired, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m always asked, Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Who would you have pitch a World Series Game 7?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ And I always say, Ã¢â‚¬ËœAndy Pettitte.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ When people ask why, I tell them it was because he was so prepared for every start. When the time comes for a big game, you want a guy whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to give you seven strong innings. And thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what he did time and time again.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Andy was one of my favorite teammates in my entire career, and he is a great person off the field. In the clubhouse, he cared about the team winning, and he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t interested in his individual stats. No matter how he was feeling he went out there every five days and gave us a chance to win.Ã¢â‚¬Â
HAL STEINBRENNER: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Andy played with a competitive spirit that brought out the best in the teams he played for, and he exemplified this franchiseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s commitment and will to win. He was an anchor for the tremendous success our team has achieved since the mid-1990s. A person and player the caliber of Andy Pettitte does not come around often, and he has earned the right to be considered among the greats that have worn the Pinstripes.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We thank Andy, his wife, Laura, and their family for their many contributions to this organization. We hope the Pettitte family remains a part of the Yankees family for years to come, and we wish them nothing but the best moving forward.Ã¢â‚¬Â
JOE TORRE: “Andy took the ball every five days, and if he had it his way, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d get it more often than that. WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really unusual about him is that a lot of times pitchers are more consumed with themselves. Andy was probably the consummate team player, especially for a pitcher. He was so concerned not only about the day he pitched but he always had his arm around a young guy in between starts.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a huge favorite of mine because heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s such a stand up guy, and he hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t changed from day one. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great teammate, and I think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why he won so many games. The guys that play behind him understand how intense he is, and it becomes contagious.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think the impact he had on the teams we had in the mid-to-late 1990Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s was enormous even though he was never the guy in the spotlight. He liked the fact that he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the No. 1 guy even though I trusted him like a No. 1 guy. But he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have an ego that dictated he needed all that attention.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He did a great job of channeling his energy into competing, and he was about as consistent a performer as anybody in terms of getting your moneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s worth. He glued our staff together. When youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re performing with the same people year-in and year-out, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always nice to have that security blanket. He was certainly that guy on the pitching staff.
RON GUIDRY: Ã¢â‚¬Å“When I saw him early in his career, back in the early Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ90s, I could tell he was going to be good. But at that stage of his career it was hard for me to be sure how good he would become. When he broke in with the Major League club, he was already on a quality team, but with that influx of young talentÃ¢â‚¬â€Jeter, Posada, Mariano and AndyÃ¢â‚¬â€those teams became great.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As the years came and went, my wife, Bonnie, and I had the opportunity to get to know him, and he became one of our favorites. Even though he lives in Texas, he has Louisiana in his blood, and I always kid him about that.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I always told him that when his time was done in this game, his name would be right up there with the greatest left-handed pitchers to put on a Yankees uniform. I feel like he was the greatest left-handed pitcher I ever saw pitch at Yankee Stadium. I never had the chance to see Whitey (Ford) pitch, so the first person I think of is Andy.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“To me, the way he carried himself was head and shoulders above the great majority of other players. You knew he was going to represent the team with a certain type of class. If he made a mistake, he owned up to it. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the mark of a true pro. Athletes admire other athletes who have that quality.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wish Andy and his family nothing but the best as they move forward in their life.Ã¢â‚¬Â
WHITEY FORD: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I liked the guy from the first moment I met him, and after watching him a few times, I really thought he could be a great pitcher.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He did right by his fellow players, the fans and the press. He is a wonderful guy and was a great pitcher.Ã¢â‚¬Â
YOGI BERRA: “Andy has been a wonderful pitcher, one of the tops the Yankees ever had. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always a guy you always depend on and we’re gonna miss him.”
We will be posting reactions to tomorrow’s press conference both on the blog and on our Twitter @G9Yanks