Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Top 10 Yankee Pitchers

Prior to the 2011 season, I did the Top 10 Yankees by position. There's not a lot of update required as to stats, but I have tweaked these entries a little bit, expanding some entries and adding some honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

Jack Chesbro, 1903-09. The 1st ace of the team that was officially renamed the Yankees in 1913, he went 128-93 for the New York Highlanders, 198-132 overall. In 1904, he won 41 games, the most of any pitcher in any single season since the pitching distance was extended to 60 feet, 6 inches in 1893. He's in the Hall of Fame.

Russ Ford, 1909-13. No relation to Whitey, he didn't become a big-league regular until he was 27. But in 1910 and '11, he won 48 games. The Yankees lost him to the Federal League in 1914, and didn't take him back when the Feds collapsed 2 years later. His career record was 99-71, 73-56 as a Yankee.

Carl Mays, 1919-23. He already had a reputation as a nasty guy and a bad teammate before the afternoon of August 16, 1920, when he hit Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman in the head with a pitch, from which Chapman died, so people wanted to believe he hit Chapman on purpose. He spent the last 50 years of his life denying it, pointing out that the ball came off Chapman's head right back to him, leading him to think Chapman had actually hit it, so he threw to 1st base. Mays was a jerk, but he wasn't a headhunter. We're not talking about Pedro Martinez here.

He was one of many players that Red Sox owner Harry Frazee let go to the Yankees in the 1920s, including with Babe Ruth. In just 4 1/2 seasons with the Yankees, he went 80-39, including 26 wins in 1920 and 27 in 1921, for the Yankees' 1st Pennant. He was also on the staff of the 1922 Pennant and the 1st World Series win in 1923. Had there been a Cy Young Award then, he would probably have won it in 1920, definitely in 1921. But he wore out his welcome, and was sold to the Cincinnati Reds in 1924, and went 20-9 with them -- the Yankees could have used him that year, as they finished 2nd to the Washington Senators.

Overall, he went 207-126 for his career. He batted .268 lifetime -- a decent average, a great one for a pitcher, in any era. If not for his date with ill destiny, he might have been elected to the Hall of Fame. But it will likely forever be held against him, because the Hall's caretakers don't want to have fathers explain to sons that this Hall-of-Famer killed somebody, even accidentally. (Never mind the dirty play and/or bigotry of some already in the Hall.)

Wilcy Moore, 1927-29, returned 1932-33. Not baseball's 1st great relief pitcher -- Fred "Firpo" Marberry of the Washington Senators beat him to that title by a few years -- but the 1st great Yankee reliever. He didn't make his major league debut until just before turning 30. But as a 30-year-old rookie in 1927, he went 19-7, led the American League with a 2.28 ERA, and had 13 saves, then a major league record.

He wasn't nearly as sensational in 1928 and '29, and was traded away. He was reacquired in 1932, and helped the Yankees win the World Series for the 3rd time (with him, the 5th time overall), before playing out the string in 1933. His career total of 49 saves sounds like a single season for a great closer today, but things were different back then.

Spurgeon "Spud" Chandler, 1937-47. He didn't make his major league debut until he was nearly 30 years old, but he had a very good half a career. He didn't even make his professional debut until he was 24, but in 1932, between Classes B and A, went 12-1.

He became a mainstay for the Yankees' farm club, the original Newark Bears, before finally getting called up to the big club. He went 14-5 for the 1938 World Champions, then battled injuries, but from 1941 to '43 he went 46-13, including 20-4 with a major league-leading 1.64 ERA in 1943, winning the World Series and the AL Most Valuable Player award.

He went off to war for 2 years, then went 20-8 for a not-so-good Yankee team in '46, and in '47 had a 2.46 ERA which would have led the AL had he pitched enough innings to qualify. But age and injury caught up with him.

His career record was 109-43, for a sizzling winning percentage of .717, making him the all-time leader among pitchers with at least 100 major-league decisions. His Number 21 has not been retired, and if it ever is, it will be for Paul O'Neill.

Eddie Lopat, 1948-55. One of the "Big 3" of the late Forties and early Fifties, along with Allie Reynolds (see below) and...

Vic Raschi, 1946-53. Steady Eddie and the Springfield Rifle backed up the Superchief to form as good a 1-2-3 punch as any baseball team has ever had. They didn't have the longevity of the 1990s-2000s Atlanta Braves of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, but they won more in that less time. And they far outclass the early 2000s Oakland Athletics "Big 3" of Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson.

Between the 3 of them, they went 364-169 for the Yankees. The Yankees always managed to find the 4th starter necessary to fill out a Pennant-winning rotation: Tommy Byrne in 1949 and '50, Tom Morgan in '51, Cincinnati Reds veteran Ewell Blackwell in '52, and a returning from the Army Whitey Ford in '53.

Lopat wore Number 30, Raschi Number 17. Neither has been retired.

Mel Stottlemyre, 1964-74. Talk about bad luck: He was the right kind of pitcher, for the right team, but he arrived at the wrong time, at the end of the Mantle-Berra-Ford Dynasty; and, due to a rotator cuff injury that could probably have been properly repaired with today's medicine, left at the wrong time, just before the Jackson-Munson-Guidry Dynasty could begin.

But he's the best pitching coach of recent times (rest in peace, Johnny Sain, Mel's predecessor as such), having put together the staffs of both the 1980s Mets and the 1990s Yankees. For his pitching and his coaching, he was honored last year with a Plaque in Monument Park. Like Lopat, he wore Number 30 as a player. He wore Number 34 as a coach, because Willie Randolph was also on the staff and was already wearing 30 when Mel returned to The Bronx.

Albert "Sparky" Lyle, 1972-78. Along with Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter and -- to Sparky's dismay -- Goose Gossage, redefined the role of the relief pitcher in the Scintillating Seventies. In 1977, he became the 1st AL pitcher to win the Cy Young. He wore Number 28, which has not been retired.

Don't give him a cake on his birthday. Unlike late 1950s Yankee prospect turned early 1960s Met joke Marv Throneberry, the problem is not that he would drop it.

Jim "Catfish" Hunter, 1975-79. A Hall-of-Famer, and a Yankee for 5 years, but he was only really available for 2 and parts of 2 others: 1975, '76, the first half of '77 and the second half of '78. I love the guy, but, in all honesty, I couldn't put him on this list. He wore Number 29, which has never been retired.

Dave Righetti, 1981-90. "Rags" came to the Yankees in the 1978-79 offseason, in the trade that sent Sparky to the Texas Rangers. He was named AL Rookie of the Year in 1981, helping the Yankees win the Pennant. He pitched a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox on the 4th of July 1983.

He was converted into a reliever, and set a record of 46 saves in 1986. (It's still a record for AL lefthanders.) He saved 252 games (a career record for lefties later broken by John Franco), 224 as a Yankee. He never became the great pitcher everyone hoped, though. He wore Number 19, which has never been retired. Bob Turley, the 1st Yankee to win the Cy, in 1958, also wore 19.

The San Jose native grew up as a San Francisco Giants fan, and has been their pitching coach since 2000. He has now helped them win 3 World Series, after neither he nor the Giants (in San Francisco, anyway) had ever won one before.

Jimmy Key, 1993-96. Here's another guy who's probably kept out of the Top 10 due to not being in Pinstripes long enough. But, along with Paul O'Neill and Wade Boggs, he was one of 3 big 1992-93 acquisitions that signaled that the rebuilding was not only underway, it was succeeding. He started and won Game 6 of the 1996 World Series that finished the job of bringing the Yankees back -- though it was his last game for the team.

He went 186-117 for his career, 48-23 for the Yankees. He's not in the Hall, but maybe he should be. He wore Number 22, which has not been retired.

David Cone, 1995-2000. He wouldn't make either the Mets' or the Yanks' all-time starting rotation, but put the two of them together and you have one of the great New York pitchers of all time. He went 81-51 for the Mets, 64-40 for the Yankees, and 194-126 overall.

Every year he was with the Yankees, they made the Playoffs. He helped win the 1996, 1998, 1999 and, despite an awful season, 2000 World Series. After several close calls (including some before he was a Yankee), he finally pitched a no-hitter on July 18, 1999, and it was a perfect game.

He's now a Yankee broadcaster, and should be in the Hall of Fame. (He is now eligible.) At the very least, he should be in Monument Park. His Number 36 has not been retired.

David Wells, 1997-98 and 2002-03. His tenures were brief. His performances were memorable. He wasn't perfect (except on May 17, 1998), but he was a winner. He went 18-4 in 1998, and saved the Yankees' bacon in the AL Championship Series against Cleveland, and also won Game 1 of the World Series against his hometown San Diego Padres. He went 68-28 as a Yankee, 239-157 overall. He's also eligible for the Hall, but not in. He wore Number 33, which has not been retired for anyone.

Orlando Hernandez, 1998-2002 (with a brief comeback in 2004). El Duque wasn't with us long, but he'll be long remembered. Because he had to defect from Cuba -- the joke was that he worked for the 2 most demanding bosses in the Western Hemisphere, Fidel Castro and George Steinbrenner -- he didn't appear in a major league game until he was 32 (although he said he was 28).

He went 90-65 for his career, 61-40 as a Yankee, and was an integral part of the 1998, 1999 and 2000 title teams. His story (as unreliable as it sometimes was revealed to be), his windup, his fun-loving nature and his dependability (he won his 1st 8 postseason decisions) made him a very popular Yankee.

Mike Mussina, 2001-08. He helped the Yanks win 2 Pennants, made several other postseason appearances possible, and won 20 games at age 40. He went 123-72 for the Yankees, 270-153 overall.

A classy guy, but his dates of arriving and leaving do kind of make him the Don Mattingly of pitchers. Still, put his work for the Baltimore Orioles and the Yankees together, and he should be elected to the Hall of Fame. He is now eligible.

CC Sabathia, 2009-present. His 1st 4 years in Pinstripes were superb (74-29), but his last 3 showed the effects of overwork and his drinking (23-27). Hopefully, 2016 will be a bounce-back season for the Big Fella. Overall, he's 97-56 for the Yankees, 214-129 for his career.

I will not give an Honorable Mention to Roger Clemens (1999-2003, 2007), even though his statistical performance deserves it. The pitcher does; the man does not.

10. Herb Pennock, 1923-33. The Boston Red Sox had him before that, and after that. Too bad for them. He was another of the players that Frazee let go to the Yankees in the 1920s. He won 241 games, 162 for the Yankees, only 62 for the Sox. He helped the Yankees win their 1st 4 World Series (1923, '27, '28 and '32). Had there been a Cy Young Award in his time, he might have won it in 1923, '24, '26 and '27.

The Philadelphia-area native, known as "The Knight of Kennett Square," started his career with the Philadelphia Athletics, and ended his life as general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Sadly, in that role, he was a major and enthusiastic part of the Phillies' hideous attitude on race relations.

Nevertheless, his pitching made him a deserving member of the Hall of Fame. The Yankees have never put him in Monument Park, nor retired a number for him. He played in the era before numbers were worn, then, when it was a new phenomenon; and, like most players at the time, he didn't have a regular number, wearing 11, 12 and 16 at various times.

9. Rich "Goose" Gossage, 1978-83. His bulk, his fearsome stare (later augmented with a nasty "biker mustache"), his blinding speed and his willingness to pitch inside made him the 1st truly intimidating modern reliever.

The native of Colorado Springs honed his craft (I love that expression) with the Chicago White Sox, then spent 1 year with the Pittsburgh Pirates, giving Yankee Fans a taste of what was to come by pitching in that retina-burning Pirate black-and-gold uniform at the old Yankee Stadium in the 1977 All-Star Game.

In 1978, he got off to a rough start in Pinstripes, but straightened out to become the 1st pitcher ever to throw the final out of a Division Title clincher (the AL East Playoff against the Red Sox, a.k.a. the Boston Tie Party), a Pennant clincher (Game 4 of the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals) and a World Series clincher (Game 6 against the Los Angeles Dodgers).

Unfortunately, bad trades and injuries -- including the plane-crash death of Thurman Munson in 1979 -- made 1978 his only ring season, although he was sensational in helping the Yankees win the 1981 Pennant. He moved on to help the San Diego Padres win a Pennant in 1984. He's finally in the Hall of Fame and Monument Park, although the Yankees have not yet retired his Number 54.

8. Waite Hoyt, 1921-30. The Brooklyn native was the 1st native New Yorker to be a Hall-of-Fame quality Yankee -- unless you count another Brooklynite, Willie Keeler, who was already at that level before he became an original 1903 New York Highlander.

Hoyt was another player that Frazee sent to the Pinstripes, like the Babe. Hoyt knew how important the Babe was, particularly to ballplayers' salaries: "Every kid, when he goes to bed at night, should say, 'God bless Mommy, God bless Daddy, and God bless Babe Ruth.'"

He won 237 games, 157 as a Yankee. He was a member of the Yankees' 1st 6 Pennant winners (1921, '22, '23, '26, '27 and '28) and 1st 3 World Champions (1923, '27 and '28). Had there been a Cy Young Award in his time, he, rather than Pennock, almost certainly would have won it in 1927 and '28. He appeared in the 1931 World Series for the Athletics, and was still a pretty good pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the mid-1930s. He finished his career with his hometown Dodgers. He later became a beloved broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds.

Hall of Fame. He is not in the Yankees' Monument Park, but the Reds elected him to their team Hall of Fame. He was another player who was with the Yankees at the time numbers were first used in 1929, and wore both 11 and 12, neither of which is retired for him.

7. Allie Reynolds, 1947-54. Known as the Superchief, for his Native American heritage and a fastball that reminded a sportswriter of the fast "Super Chief" train of the Santa Fe Railroad, it was his blessing to arrive in The Bronx just as the Yankees were embarking on a great new era.

But it was his curse to arrive 30 years too soon to become one of the great relief pitchers ever. He had the talent, and he had the mentality: He could have out-Goosed Rich Gossage. He was tough, and he was mean. He once went to 3 balls and no strikes on a batter, and hit him with the 4th pitch, telling the media after the game, "If I'm gonna put him on, I might as well hurt him."

But he was good enough to justify the faith of manager Casey Stengel, who wasn't afraid to pitch him every 4th day and often bring him in for relief duty in between. He went131-60 as a Yankee, 182-107 overall. He's not in the Hall of Fame, but if Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance could be elected together, then the Yankees' "Big 3" of this period -- Reynolds, Eddie Lopat and Vic Raschi -- deserve consideration for the same.

In 8 seasons with the Yanks, he was a member of 6 Pennant winners, winning the World Series every time. In Game 1 of the '49 Series, he outdueled Don Newcombe and rode a Tommy Henrich walkoff homer to win, 1-0. In 1951, he pitched 2 no-hitters, the only Yankee to do so in a career, let alone in a single season. He could have won the Cy Young Award in 1949, and would have won it in 1952.

A back injury forced him to retire, and his energy investments in his native Oklahoma meant he didn't need the Yankees' money. He was the 1st great Sooner for the Yanks, before Mickey Mantle and Bobby Murcer. And while his Number 22 has not been retired, he does have a Plaque in Monument Park. (Lopat and Reynolds do not.)

6. Andy Pettitte, 1995-2013. (Well, 1995-2003, 2007-10 and 2012-13.) "Average Andy"? No way. The native of the Houston suburbs went 219-127 as a Yankee, 256-153 overall, for a career winning percentage of .626. Twice, he won 21 games in a season despite pitching in the Five-Man Rotation Era. He won more games as a Yankee lefty than any pitcher except for the one at Number 1 on this list. He was an All-Star at age 24 and at age 38, which shows remarkable consistency. So does having an ERA+ of 156 at 25 and 148 at 40. He struck out more batters in a career than any Yankee pitcher: 2,020, 2,448 counting his time with his hometown Houston Astros. (Clemens and Phil Niekro notched their 3,000th with the Yankees, but not all with the Yankees.)

He won 7 games in Division Series play (6 for the Yankees), 7 in the League Championship Series, and 5 in the World Series, including the 1998 and 2009 World Series clinchers (at 26 and 37), for a total of 19 postseason wins, the all-time record (18 of those for the Yankees, 1 during his Astro sojourn).

He'll be eligible for the Hall of Fame in January 2019. His Number 46 has been retired, and his Plaque is in Monument Park.

5. Vernon "Lefty" Gomez, 1930-42. He came from the Yankees' unofficial "farm system" relationship with the Pacific Coast League's San Francisco Seals, and went 189-102, although his last solid season was at age 32.

In 1934, he went 26-5, and those 26 wins have not been matched by any Yankee pitcher since. (Don Newcombe's 27 in 1956 mark the only time any New York-based pitcher has matched or surpassed it since. Whitey Ford didn't do it, nor did Ron Guidry, nor did Tom Seaver, nor did Dwight Gooden.) He probably would have won the Cy Young Award in 1932, '34 and '37. He holds the record for most career World Series games won without losing any, 6-0.

Hall of Fame, Monument Park. He wore Number 11 for most of his Yankee career, although the number is not retired, not for him or for anyone else.

4. Ron Guidry, 1975-88. The Lafayette, Louisiana native preferred "Gator" as a nickname to "Louisiana Lightning" and "the Ragin' Cajun." (To be fair, the latter is the name of the teams at his alma mater, now named the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.) But the way he pitched, a better thing to call him would be "Sir."

He holds the Yankee record for most strikeouts in a season (248 in 1978) and a game (18 against the California Angels on June 17 of that season). He went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA that season, including 3 2-hit shutouts in September, one of those being in the 3rd game of the 4-game Fenway Park sweep known as the Boston Massacre.

The 25th win was, of course, in the Playoff against the Sox. He also won Game 4 of the ALCS (the Pennant-clincher) and, though exhausted and far from his best (and with serious help from Graig Nettles putting on a fielding clinic at 3rd base), Game 3 of the World Series. Naturally, he won the Cy Young Award; that Jim Rice of the 2nd-place Red Sox got the MVP that season is a travesty: If ever a pitcher was "the most valuable player in his league," it was Ron Guidry in 1978. Not since Lefty Grove went 31-4 for the 1931 Philadelphia Athletics has a pitcher had a more dominant season. (And the A's lost that World Series.)

Guidry had one flaw: He had the worst pickoff move I have ever seen. I remain convinced that he wrecked his arm with all those pickoff moves. He had his last good season at age 34 (22 wins in 1985, a total no New York pitcher -- Yankee or Met -- has reached since), and was done at 37.

But his career record is a sparkling 170-91, with a 119 ERA+ and a 1.184 WHIP. He was 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA in postseason play, including 3-1 with a sizzling 1.69 in the World Series, helping the Yankees win it all in '77 and '78 and the Pennant in '81. He will probably never make the Hall of Fame, not even through the Veterans' Committee, but the Yankees have retired his Number 49 and awarded him a Plaque in Monument Park.

3. Charles "Red" Ruffing, 1930-46. Red Sox fans can't blame Frazee for this one, since he sold the team in 1923 and died in 1929. It was subsequent Sox ownership that traded Ruffing to the Yankees in 1930, for Cedric Durst and, probably more important in that first full year of the Great Depression, $50,000 cash. It seemed like a good deal for the Sox at the time, as Ruffing went just 39-96 for some terrible teams... although his ERA+ was a not-particularly-bad 92.

As a Yankee, Ruffing went 231-124, with a 120 ERA+. He was a member of 8 Pennant winners (1932, '36, '37, '38, '39, '40, '41 and '42) and 7 World Championships (winning the World Series in all but the last of those). Had there been a Cy Young Award in his day, he could have won it in '38 and '39, and possibly also in '32 and '36.

He remains the winningest righthanded pitcher in Yankee history -- in fact, of all the righthanders in New York baseball history, only Christy Mathewson has won more. (373 -- Tom Seaver won 311, but "only" 198 as a Met.)

Hall of Fame. He mostly wore Number 15 for the Yankees, but that number has been retired for someone else. He was honored with a Plaque in Monument Park in 2004, well after his death.

2. Mariano Rivera, 1995-2013. I seriously considered putting Mo in at Number 1, especially since I've seen his entire career, whereas the other serious candidate for Number 1 is someone I only saw on old films. I just couldn't do it. Not even for the Panamanian Strongman. The Silent Assassin. The Sandman. The man who, like 1930s-40s Yankee outfielder Tommy Henrich, could have been nicknamed Ol' Reliable.

The all-time leader in ERA+, 205 -- meaning his career ERA, 2.21, is 105 percent better than that of the average pitcher between 1995 and 2013. WHIP 1.000 -- that's right, he averages exactly one hit and walk combined per inning, and that's the lowest for any reliever ever, the lowest for any pitcher in the post-1920 Lively Ball Era, and 2nd all-time behind only Addie Joss with 0.968.

The all-time leader in saves, with 652 -- to give you an idea, even after 2 generations of relief pitching being important, there are only 4 other pitchers who even have 400 (Billy Wanger 422, John Franco 424 is tops among lefties, former all-time leader Lee Smith 478, and former all-time leader and still National League leader Trevor Hoffman has 601). The closest active pitcher is Francisco Rodriguez, and he's got 386 at age 33. Mariano has 42 more saves in postseason play. No total of win-saves -- the number of saves a relief pitcher has of wins of a particular starting pitcher -- is higher than that of Pettitte and Rivera: Together, they total 77 in the regular season, and 11 more in the postseason.

Lowest ERA in postseason history, 0.70 -- this against the Edgar Martinez/Alex Rodriguez/Ichiro Suzuki Mariners, the Juan Gonzalez/Ivan Rodriguez Rangers, the Rafael Palmeiro Orioles, the Chipper & Andruw Jones Braves, the Manny Ramirez/Jim Thome Indians, the Tony Gwynn Padres, the Nomar Garciaparra Red Sox, the Jason Giambi A's, the Luis Gonzalez Diamondbacks (okay, that didn't work out so well), the Troy Glaus/Garrett Anderson Angels, the Joe Mauer/Justin Morneau Twins, the Manny/David Ortiz/whatever other steroid freaks they had Red Sox, the Ivan Rodriguez/Miguel Cabrera Marlins, the Cabrera/Magglio Ordonez Tigers, the Victor Martinez/Grady Sizemore Indians, the Vladimir Guerrero/Kendrys Morales Angels, and the Josh Hamilton/Michael Young Rangers.  Against that, he averages an earned run every 13 innings.  That's counting Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, and Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 ALCS.

He is the most important player for the Yankees from 1995 onward -- even more than Derek Jeter. Without Mo, the Yankees might not have won any Pennants since 1981; with him, they have won 7 so far (1996, '98, '99, 2000, '01, '03 and '09) while winning 5 World Series (1996, '98, '99, 2000 and '09).

His Number 42 has been retired, although he hasn't yet been give his Monument Park Plaque. Like Pettitte, he will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in January 2019. And, on top of everything else, he's a Hall of Fame human being as well.

1. Edward "Whitey" Ford, 1950-67. They called him "The Chairman of the Board" and "The Money Pitcher," and a man would have to be those things to rank ahead of the great Mariano Rivera.

Born in Manhattan, raised in Queens, he has the best career ERA of any starting pitcher in the post-1920 Lively Ball Era, 2.75. (Best among active pitchers is Clayton Kershaw with 2.43, but with at least 10 seasons, it's Adam Wainwright with 2.98.) Whitey also has the best winning percentage of any pitcher with at least 300 decisions, 236-106 for .690. (Kershaw leads active pitchers with .671.)

Whitey's 236 wins also make him the winningest pitcher in Yankee history, in spite of Casey Stengel's tendency to not only throw him against the tough teams of the era, but also to hold him back a day, or move him up to throw him on short rest, against said teams. As good as the Yankees were, Whitey raised their winning percentage.

The Cy Young Award was not established until 1956, right after Cy Young died, and it did not get awarded in each league until 1967, Whitey's last season.  He won the both-leagues award in 1961 (25-4), and if it had been in place when Whitey started, he would have won it in the AL in 1955, '56 and '63.

He missed 2 seasons due to serving in the Korean War, but still won 11 Pennants (1950, '53, '55, '56, '57, '58, '60, '61, '62, '63 and '64) and 6 World Series (1950, '53, '56, '58, '61 and '62). He holds a slew of World Series records including 10 wins (against 8 losses, also a record). His 33 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings are still a World Series record, although no longer a postseason record.

Hall of Fame, Number 16 retired, Monument Park. But the greatest tribute Whitey could have received came from my Grandma. A Dodger-turned-Met fan, she hated the Yankees of the Forties and Fifties. Hated Joe DiMaggio. Hated Mickey Mantle. Hated Yogi Berra. Hated Billy Martin -- and hated him even more as a manager, because he was a "hothead." (Her word, and quite accurate.) Really, really hated Casey Stengel. But there were 2 Yankees she loved: Phil Rizzuto and Whitey Ford. She loved them because they were little guys but tough, and always seemed to come through when the spotlight was brightest. The fact that, like her, they came from Queens might have had something to do with it.

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