New York Yankees Bios
Monthly player profiles published in The Highlander
Compiled and edited by Michael Aubrecht, Copyright 2004

Mickey Mantle
"The Mick" was an exceptional athlete from the Midwest with a charming, press-friendly personality and movie-star good looks that made him a fan favorite both on and off the field. He fit into the Yankee persona perfectly and his contributions to the pinstripes were on par with the long line of Yankee legends that had come before him. Mickey represented what America is all about: A young kid from the heartland, going to the big city, living the American dream and becoming a sports legend. A courageous player, he achieved greatness despite an arrested case of osteomyelitis, numerous injuries and frequent surgery. The powerful Yankee switch-hitter belted 536 homers (many of the tape-measure variety), won the American League home run and slugging titles four times, collected 2,415 hits, and batted .300 or more 10 times. The three-time MVP was named to 20 All-Star teams. He holds numerous WS records, including most home runs (18). I think we can all agree what Bob Costas and Billy Crystal mean when they speak of him so reverently. Mickey Mantle IS baseball.

Thurman Munson
A baseball player, like any other person, is not immune to the tragedies of everyday life. On August 2, 1979, Thurman Munson’s twin-engine jet fell short of the runway during an attempted landing at the Akron-Canton airfield and tragically burst into flames. Munson was killed in the accident and two others were injured. The six-time All-Star was only 32 years old and had already established himself as one of the game’s premier catchers. In three consecutive World Series appearances in 1976, 1977, and 1978, Munson hit .529, .320 and .320 respectively. He started his career winning the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1970, batting .302, one of five seasons he hit over the .300 mark. In 1976, Munson led the Yankees into the World Series and earned Most Valuable Player honors in the AL.

Yogi Berra
He has won the affection and admiration from peer and public to a degree uncommon in American life. In fact, Yogi Berra may be the most beloved athlete of our time - his kindness, humility and good humor remain the stuff of legend. Yogi anchored the New York Yankees' dynasty from the late 1940s to early '60s, becoming a 15-time All-Star, winner of 10 world championships (most in baseball history) and three-time Most Valuable Player (no player has won more) along the way. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972 and is a member of Major League Baseball's All-Century Team. As a manager with both New York teams, he became the first man in over 40 years to win pennants in different leagues (Yankees in 1964, Mets in 1973).

Don Mattingly
One of the most popular players of the modern era, "Donnie Baseball's" Major League statistics say it all: Gold Glove - '85-'89, '91-'94, American League MVP - 1985, Batting Champion - 1984, Hits Leader - 1984, 1986, RBI Leader - 1985. All-Star team selections: 6 (1984 to 1989). Ranking on all-time Yankees lists: second in doubles (442), fifth in hits (2,153), seventh in average (.307), seventh in games played (1, 783), seventh in home runs (222), and eighth in RBI's (1,099). Team records held: doubles in a season (53 in 1986); hits in a season (238 in 1986); fielding percentage, first base (.998 in 1993 and 1994). AL records held: number of seasons leading league in fielding, first base (7); most at-bats by a left hander in a season (677 in 1986); most consecutive games with one or more extra-base hits in a season (10 in July, 1987). AL records shared: double plays by a first baseman (154 in 1985). Major-league records held: most home runs in seven consecutive games (9, July 8 to 17, 1987); most home runs in eight consecutive games (10, July 8 to 18, 1987); most grand-slam home runs in a season (6 in 1987); most at-bats without a stolen base in a season (677 in 1986); career fielding percentage by a position player, 1982-94 (.99599). Major-league records shared: most doubles in an inning (2 on April 11, 1987); most consecutive games with one or more home runs (8, July 8 to 18, 1987); most sacrifice flies in a game (3 on May 3, 1986); most putouts and chances accepted by a first baseman in a nine-inning game (22 on July 20, 1987).

Bill Dickey
As famed sportswriter Dan Daniel once said, "Bill Dickey isn't just a catcher, he's a ballclub." A key performer for the Yankees on eight American League pennant-winners and seven World Series champions, the expert handler of pitchers with the deadly accurate throwing-arm was also a clutch hitter, batting over .300 in 10 of his first 11 full seasons. Known for his durability, he set an American League record by catching 100 or more games 13 years in a row. He finished his 17-year career with a .313 batting average. Dickey also moonlighted in Hollywood and starred as himself in "Pride of the Yankees" with Gary Cooper and "The Stratton Story" with Jimmy Stewart.

Joe DiMaggio
Mr. DiMaggio is remembered as one of the game's most graceful athletes — a "picture player" both at bat and in center field. Many rate his 56-consecutive-game hitting streak in 1941 as the top baseball feat of all time. "The Yankee Clipper" used an unusually wide stance in winning two batting championships and three MVP awards. Eight years before his famed 56-game hitting streak, "Joe D" fashioned a 61-game hitting streak with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League In 13 seasons he amassed 361 homers, averaged 118 RBI annually and compiled a .325 lifetime batting mark. At Baseball's 1969 Centennial Celebration, he was named the game's greatest living player. Plus, let's be honest here, he was married to Marilyn Monroe!

Whitey Ford
Edward "Whitey" Ford was the "money pitcher" on the great Yankee teams of the 1950s and early 1960s, earning him the moniker "Chairman of the Board." The wily southpaw's lifetime record of 236-106 gives him the best winning percentage (.690) of any 20th century pitcher. He paced the American League in victories three times, and in ERA and shutouts twice. The 1961 Cy Young Award winner still holds many World Series records, including 10 wins and 94 strikeouts, once pitching 33 consecutive scoreless innings in the Fall Classic. Ford also has the most wins for the Yankees (236), most strike outs for the Yankees (1,956), most shutouts for the Yankees (45), and most pitching appearances (498). "The Chairman" has appeared on more World Series teams as a pitcher than any other (11 Yankee teams). He also started 22 W.S. games which is a record. He won 10 and lost 8 which is the most by any pitcher.

Phil Rizzuto
Phil Rizzuto overcame his diminutive size to anchor a Yankees dynasty, helping them win seven of nine World Series during his 13 seasons, not counting three years lost to World War II. "The Scooter" was a durable and deft shortstop, skilled bunter and enthusiastic base runner who compiled a .273 lifetime batting average. A five-time All-Star, Rizzuto was named the American League's MVP in 1950 when he excelled with a .324 average, 200 hits and .439 slugging percentage. Upon retirement, he spent 40 years as a popular NY broadcaster. Off the field, Rizzuto was the first mystery guest on the TV show "What's My Line" when the show premiered February 2, 1950.

Reggie Jackson
Reggie Jackson earned the nickname "Mr. October" for his World Series heroics with both the A's and Yankees. In 27 Fall Classic games, he amassed 10 home runs - including four in consecutive at-bats -24 RBI and a .357 batting average. As one of the game's premier power hitters, he blasted 563 career round-trippers, sixth on the all-time list. A terrific player in the clutch and an intimidating clean-up hitter, Jackson compiled a lifetime slugging percentage of .490 and earned American League MVP honors in 1973. Reggie Jackson was also the first player in major league history to amass 100 or more home runs for three different clubs: the A's, Yankees, and Angels.

Miller Huggins
It was during a 13-year big league career as a second baseman that Miller Huggins developed the leadership qualities that served him well in becoming one of the game's top managers. The 5-foot-6-inch Huggins, known as "The Mighty Mite," started out as a player-manager with the Cardinals before eventually heading to the Yankees. He led New York to six pennants and three World Series titles, and his 1927 "Murderers' Row" club is considered one of baseball's greatest teams. Prior to his managerial career, Huggins received a law degree from the University of Cincinnati, and later passed the Ohio bar exams.

Tony Lazzeri
Though "Poosh 'Em Up" Tony Lazzeri, the power-hitting second sacker for the Murderers' Row Yankees, may have been overshadowed by his teammates, those in the game respected his leadership skills. A key member of six pennant-winners, he was a .300 hitter five times and drove in over 100 runs seven times. Lazzeri, who still holds the American League single-game record with 11 RBIs (w/ two grand slams) on May 24, 1936, belted 60 home runs and drove in 222 runs in 1925 for Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League.

Dave Winfield
A true athlete who never spent a day in the minor leagues, Dave Winfield was drafted out of college by four teams in three pro sports: San Diego Padres (MLB), Atlanta Hawks (NBA), Utah Stars (ABA), and Minnesota Vikings (NFL). Choosing baseball, he played 22 seasons, earning 12 All-Star Game selections. Though the Yankees reached the post-season just once (1981) during his tenure with the club, Winfield's accomplishments on the field were outstanding. He became the first Yankee to drive in 100 or more runs in five consecutive seasons (1982-1986) since Joe DiMaggio. In seven full seasons with the Bronx Bombers, Winfield averaged over 27 home runs per season, twice topping the 30-home run mark, and narrowly lost the 1984 American League batting title to teammate Don Mattingly (.343 to .340). His stellar play in left field also earned him four straight Gold Gloves (1982-1985). Winfield is also one of only seven players in baseball history to reach both 3,000 hits and 400 home runs.

Frank Baker
A powerful slugger of the "dead ball era," as well as the first member of the New York Yankees elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Frank Baker manned the hot corner in Connie Mack's famous "$100,000 Infield." He led the American League in homers in 1911 and then hit two more in the World Series, earning him the nickname "Home Run." Baker later led the league in homers three more times, although he never hit more than 12 in an entire season, a result of playing in the dead ball era. Over his 13-year major league career, Frank Baker never played a single big league inning at any position other than third base.

Lefty Gómez
Tall and lanky, Vernon "Lefty" Gómez baffled the opposition with a blazing fastball and sweeping curve, while entertaining teammates with his wit and good humor. He was a 20-game winner four times during the 1930s and comprised half of the Yankees' devastating 1-2 punch, along with right-hander Red Ruffing, helping them to seven pennants. Gómez twice led the league in winning percentage and ERA, and three times in strikeouts. He set a World Series record by winning six games without a loss. Lefty was the winning pitcher for the American League in the first major league All-Star Game and also drove in the first run of that historic game on July 6, 1933.

Abner Doubleday
A REAL Yankee, General Doubleday was an 1842 graduate of West Point (graduating with A.P. Stewart, D.H. Hill, Earl Van Dorn and James Longstreet) and served in both the Mexican and Seminole wars. In 1861, he was stationed at the garrison in Charleston Harbor. It is said that it was Doubleday, an artillery officer, who aimed the first Fort Sumter guns in response to the Confederate bombardment that initiated the war. Later he served in the Shenandoah region as a brigadier of volunteers and was assigned to a brigade of Irwin McDowell's corps during the campaign of Second Manassas. He also commanded a division of the I Corps at Sharpsburg and Fredericksburg as well at Gettysburg where he assumed the command of I Corps after the fall of Gen. John F. Reynolds, helping to repel the infamous "Pickett's Charge." Strangely, his outstanding military service has been all but forgotten yet his controversial baseball legacy still lives on. Regardless of being (or not being) the actual "inventor" of the modern version, Doubleday did apparently organized several exhibitions between Union divisions and was an apparent student and fan of the game. Many of these contests were attended by thousands of spectators and often made front-page news equal to the war reports from the field. Serious baseball historians still reject the notion that Doubleday designed the first diamond and drew up the modern rules of the game, supposedly as a military cadet in 1839. Regardless, the City of Cooperstown, NY dedicated Doubleday Field in 1920 as the birthplace of the game.

Paul O'Neill
Forever a Yankee, Paul O'Neill is now a Pre and Post Game Studio Analyst for the YES Network. He played for 17 seasons and ended his big league playing career in 2001 after making six World Series appearances and earning five MLB Championship rings. Paul also played in five All-Star games and still remains one of the most beloved former Yankee players. He began his Major League baseball career in 1985 with the Cincinnati Reds. After eight seasons with the Reds, he joined the New York Yankees in 1993. Paul then went on to hold the American League batting title in 1994 with a .359 average. From July 23, 1995 until May 7, 1997, he played 235 games without making an error. In 1997, he led the American League in hitting with men on base with a .429 average. On August 25, 2001, Paul became the oldest major leaguer to steal twenty bases and hit twenty homeruns in the same season.

Hideki Matsui
As a kid, Matsui was always much bigger than his classmates and he quickly excelled at baseball (or yakyu as it's known in Japan.) Hideki went to high school in Kanazawa, which is where he first picked up the nickname "Godzilla." He once hit a ball in a batting practice that cracked the tiles on the roof of his principal's house, nearly 450 feet away. Matsui's Godzilla-like reputation became legendary during the National High School Championship when he was intentionally walked five times. Hideki was drafted by the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese Central League in 1992. Over the next ten years, he became one of Japan's greatest baseball players and most recognized celebrities. He later led the Giants to four Japanese Series titles, won three league MVP awards and three homerun crowns. Matsui also made nine straight All-Star appearances and played in 1,250 consecutive games. In 2003, he decided to leave Japan and play Major League Baseball in America for the New York Yankees. Matsui's fifth-inning grand slam in home-opener win vs. Minnesota on 4/8 made him the first Yankee in franchise history to hit a grand slam in his first game at Yankee Stadium. He is also the fifth Yankee whose first Major-League home run was a grand slam, joining Frank LaPorte (on 10/7/05), Frank Gilhooley (5/31/16), Gil McDougald (on 5/3/51) and Horace Clark (9/21/65).

Mariano Rivera
Also known as "The Sandman", the Yankees' top relief pitcher, is arguably the most effective closer in postseason baseball history, recording final outs in three Yankee world title seasons (1998, 1999 and 2000). Mariano earned World Series MVP honors in 1999 (just the third relief pitcher to win the award) and has a 6-1 mark with 25 saves and an ERA below 1.00 in postseason play. Rivera also owns the Major League record for most postseason saves (25) as well as most World Series saves (8) and he established the longest scoreless innings streak in postseason play (33.1IP). A deeply religious man, Rivera financed the construction of a church in his native Panama City and can often be seen reading the Bible in the Yankees' clubhouse. At a church service honoring him in Panama after the 1999 season, he announced that he would spend four more years in baseball and then retire to become an evangelical minister.




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