New York Yankees: 25 Biggest Clutch Hits in Franchise History

Bill FordCorrespondent IIIMarch 21, 2012

New York Yankees: 25 Biggest Clutch Hits in Franchise History

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    The New York Yankees have a long history of being one of the most elite teams, not just in baseball, but in all of professional sports.

    Over the years, there have been a fair share of heartbreaking moments in Yankees history, just like any other team.

    With all of the twists and turns, ups and downs, gut-wrenching and breathtaking moments; Yankee fans have experienced quite a roller-coaster ride over the years.

    The Yankees have had many exciting blowout wins, and they've had many come-from-behind wins, all due to strong, solid, clutch hitting.

    Every Yankee generation has had unforgettable moments when everyone held their breath while a man with a New York logo stepped up to the plate and delivered game-changing performances.

    Take a look at 25 of the biggest clutch hits in the history of the Yankees.

    Watching old videos of some of these moments, even from decades ago, still tingles my spine.

    They are all significant in their own way and are in no particular order.

25: Jorge Posada

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    The last week of the 2011 regular season, especially the final game of the season, was probably the most exciting and exhilarating in quite some time.

    In a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sept 21, Jorge Posada got a hit in the eighth inning leading the Yankees to a 4-2 win.

    That hit clinched the American League division for the Yankees.

    Posada had experienced a difficult season earlier in 2011, but that hit helped him to retire on top of his game with his 12th division title of his career.

24: Hideki Matsui

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    Hideki Matsui will always be known as "Godzilla" to all of the fans.

    Like many professional players who come over from Japan, he was subjected to a great deal of pressure to live up to his reputation as a powerful hitter.

    Never appearing to be stressed, he always has the ability to come through in a clutch moment.

    On April 8th, 2003, he played in his first game at Yankee Stadium with intense media and fan pressure.

    Matsui stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded in the fifth inning with one out.

    Waiting patiently into a full count, he smashed a grand slam giving the Yankees a 7-1 lead against the Twins.

    The baseball world was not disappointed.

    No pressure.

23: Scott Brosius

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    Scott Brosius was the hero and the MVP of the 1998 World Series.

    In Game 3 of the World Series, he had two clutch hits that led the Yankees to victory.

    The Padres were winning 3-0 in the seventh inning, and Brosius hit a solo home run.

    In the eighth inning, he got another chance at the plate with two runners on base and one out.

    San Diego's closer, Trevor Hoffman, threw a pitch that he regretted allowing Brosius to smash a three-run home run leading the Yankees to the win.

    Of course, the Yankees would go on to win the World Series in 1998, 1999 and 2000.

22: Tommy Henrich

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    Tommy Henrich was known as "The Clutch" and "Old Reliable" in his days as a Yankee.

    He spent his entire career playing for the Yankees from 1937-942 and 1946-1950.

    Henrich had many clutch hits throughout his professional baseball career, and he was often a hitting star.

    His most memorable clutch hit was in the first game of the 1949 World Series hitting the first walk-off home run in World Series history.

    After a phenomenal career putting up All-Star numbers consistently, he retired after the 1950 season after missing most of it due to injuries.

21: Reggie Jackson

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    Who hasn't heard of Mr. October?

    Reggie Jackson played for 21 years in Major League Baseball and played for the Yankees from 1977 to 1981.

    He helped the Yankees win two consecutive World Series in 1977 and 1978.

    In Game 6 in the 1977 World Series, Jackson hit three home runs in three consecutive at-bats, each of them on the first pitch of the at-bat.

    The Yankees won 8-4, which gave them their first World Series championship since their last one in 1962.

    Jackson was a 14-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion, earning his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.

20: Aaron Boone

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    Yankee fans will never forget Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox.

    Tim Wakefield was on the mound in the 11th inning at Yankee Stadium and threw Boone the perfect pitch that he needed.

    He smashed a walk-off home run giving the Yankees a 6-5 victory leading them into the 2003 World Series.

    Unfortunately, Boone violated his contract with the Yankees while playing a game of pick-up basketball and tore a knee ligament.

    The Yankees cut him from the roster and replaced him with Alex Rodriguez.

    Fans were sad to see him go, but the moment will live on forever.

19: Derek Jeter

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    The Yankees had Mr. October with Reggie Jackson.

    It was inevitable that there would eventually be a Mr. November, as well.

    Whether you call him Derek Jeter, "Mr. November" or "Captain Clutch"; everyone knows who you're talking about.

    Jeter has had numerous clutch hits throughout his career, but he will be remembered mostly for the 2001 World Series in Game 4.

    The game began on October 31 and continued into extra innings after midnight. The scoreboard read: "Attention Fans, Welcome to NOVEMBER BASEBALL."

    With the score tied at 3-3 in the tenth inning, he hit a walk-off home run.

    The scoreboard then read "Mr. November."

    New York had just experienced the devastation of the Sept. 11 attacks.  New York needed that clutch hit to win, and Jeter delivered.

18: Tino Martinez

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    Derek Jeter wasn't the only hero in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series.

    In the ninth inning, Tino Martinez set the stage for Jeter.

    The Yankees were losing 3-1 when Martinez stepped up to the plate.

    He belted a two-out, two-run home run off of Diamondbacks closer Byung-Hyun Kim that tied the game and sent them into extra innings.

17: Jorge Posada

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    Jorge Posada makes this list again with a huge game with multiple clutch hits.

    In a game on May 16, 2006, the Yankees were trailing the Rangers 9-0 after the first two innings.

    In the third inning, Posada hit an RBI single, and he hit a sacrifice fly ball in the fifth inning making the score 10-4.

    Later in the seventh inning, Posada hit another sacrifice fly ball which tied the game at 12.

    In the ninth inning, he smashed a two-run home run leading the Yankees to a 14-12 win over the Rangers.

    Posada had a giant game with five RBIs.

16: Nick Swisher

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    Nick Swisher's energy and personality always pumps up his teammates and the fans. He brings fun and excitement to the game.

    Like many Yankees, he has had numerous clutch hits during his time in pinstripes.

    The Yankees struggled, going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, and they stranded 10 runners in eight innings.

    In a game against Detroit on May 2, 2011, Robinson Cano was out with a bruised hand, so Swisher was batting fifth.

    The Yankees and the Tigers were tied 3-3 heading into the ninth inning, and Swisher hit a one-out RBI single right up the middle off of Jose Valverde.

    New York scored another run on an error and won 5-3.

15: Hank Bauer

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    Hank Bauer spent 12 years playing for the Yankees and was known as a strong competitor.

    He was a solid player, but had a tendency to decline in the postseason.

    In Game 6 of the 1951 World Series against the Giants, he stepped up to the plate in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and two outs.

    The game was tied at one, and he smacked a triple into left field clearing the bases scoring three runs, and the Yankees took the Series.

14: Jim Leyritz

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    Jim Leyritz had his share of glory in a Yankees uniform.

    He had quite a few moments in Yankee history that fans will never forget, but some moments are bigger than others.

    In the 1996 World Series, Leyritz stepped up to the plate in Game 4 in the eighth inning. New York was losing by three runs and had two men on base with one out.

    Atlanta Braves closer Mark Wohlers never saw what was coming when Leyritz smashed a home run and tied the game.

    The Yankees went on to win after his huge, clutch home run.

13: Chris Chambliss

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    Admitting that I'm getting older is difficult, but I'm old enough to remember this moment in time.

    Scary.

    The Yankees were in the ALCS against the Royals and were tied at six. New York had just blown a three-run lead giving up a three-run home run to George Brett.

    In the bottom of the ninth inning, Chambliss swung at the first pitch and knocked a home run off of Mark Littell that sent the Yankees to the World Series.

    Fans stormed the field and mobbed Chambliss, who was unable to actually step on home plate until he was later escorted back to do so.

    The highlight film is played often, and it always brings me right back to that moment watching it on television with my dad.

12: Robinson Cano

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    Future Hall of Famer Robinson Cano has been on fire over the last couple of seasons.

    That's right, I said future Hall of Famer. His bronzed head will be in there someday.

    Pinning down one clutch hit is difficult because he's had quite a few, just like many other Yankee players.

    Most recently, he came through with a monster performance against the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the 2011 ALDS.

    He knocked in six RBI and continues to progress to becoming one of the best second basemen in MLB.

11: Bernie Williams

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    On his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot, Bernie Williams fell quite short of the required votes to be inducted.

    Most people don't think that he achieved high enough numbers to get in, and sadly, that's probably true.

    Do not underestimate his accomplishments, however.

    In his 16 years as a Yankee, he accomplished and achieved much more than most people realize.  He is one of those unfortunate players who has been severely underrated because he played along with superstar players who put up superstar numbers.

    Slow and steady wins the race.

    In the 1996 World Series, the Yankees were down two games to none against the Braves.

    Williams stepped up to bat in the eighth inning and hit a two-run home run leading the Yankees to a win.

    The Yankees won the World Series in six games and would not have without his contribution.

10: Chuck Knoblauch

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    In Game 1 of the 2000 World Series against the New York Mets, the Yankees were down 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning.

    Chuck Knoblauch stepped up to bat with the bases loaded.

    He smashed a sacrifice fly ball that was deep enough for Paul O'Neill to tag up from third base and score the tying run.

    Known for many come-from-behind wins, the Yankees went on to win the game in 12 innings.

9: Phil Rizzuto

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    Thinking back to my childhood, I miss the old days of watching the Yankees play on channel 11 in the Bronx and listening to Phil Rizzuto yell, "Holy Cow!"

    Those were the good ol' days.

    When people think of a clutch hit, they usually don't think of a clutch bunt. Rizzuto had what was probably the most famous clutch bunt in the history of the Yankees.

    The Yankees were playing the Indians in 1951. The score was tied at one in the bottom of the ninth inning, and Joe DiMaggio was on third base.

    As pitcher Bob Lemon began his windup, DiMaggio began to run toward home for a squeeze play. Lemon, sensing the squeeze play, threw the ball high to try to avoid a bunt by Rizzuto, but Rizzuto was able to bunt anyway.

    DiMaggio scored and the Yankees won the game.

8: Curtis Granderson

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    Curtis Granderson had a monster 2011 season at bat due to changes in his batting mechanics.

    His time with the Yankees has been filled with numerous clutch performances, and he is only going to get better.

    On May 24, 2011, the Yankees were down 4-3 against Toronto. There were two outs and a man on third base when Granderson stepped up to the plate.

    He smacked an RBI single between first and second and tied the game. He continued to deliver by stealing second base and was singled home by Mark Teixeira.

7: Yogi Berra

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    Yogi Berra was a lot of fun to watch. Even at my age, I'm not old enough to have watched him play the game, but I remember him as a manager.

    He seemed to love to argue and fight with the umpires. Some friends and I went to a game when we were very young, and he went out onto the field before the game even began and started an argument with the second base umpire.

    He yelled and screamed at the umpire, waving his hands in the air and kicking the dirt.

    No one ever knew what the argument was about, but the fans loved every second of it as it pumped up the crowd.

    As a player, he had 14 World Series appearances to his name. In the 1956 World Series, he caught Don Larsen's perfect game.

    In Game 7, he hit two two-run home runs that helped the Yankees to win the World Series.

6: Roger Maris

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    Roger Maris had to deal with a lot of fallout during his chase for 61 home runs.

    Many people were against him as he got closer to the mark, especially sportswriters. It seemed as though no one wanted him to break Babe Ruth's record.

    Rogers Hornsby said, "It would be a disappointment if Ruth's home run record were bested by a .270 hitter."

    The stress of the pursuit of the record led to his hair falling out in clumps, but he managed to achieve the record in spite of all of the stress.

    Maris hit his 61st home run at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961, against Tracy Stallard of the Boston Red Sox.

    A crowd of 23,154 fans watched as he belted that home run.

    He never received the respect that he deserved at the time, but finally did in later years, especially during the home run record race in 1998 with Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

5: Ernie Johnson

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    Ernie Johnson was a shortstop with the Yankees from 1923 to 1925.

    In 1923, he batted .447, although in a limited role. In the World Series that year against the New York Giants, he scored the series-deciding run as a pinch runner in Game 6.

    On July 29, 1925, against the St. Louis Browns, the score was tied 7-7 in the 12th inning with one out.

    He hit the game-winning home run off of Dave Danforth.

4: Wally Pipp

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    Wally Pipp has the unfortunate distinction of being known as the player who lost his job to Lou Gehrig.

    That was a strange turn of events for him since he was the one who scouted Gehrig and got him signed to the Yankees.

    Pipp was the first Yankee to win a home run title and had three seasons with a .300+ batting average.

    On April 24, 1922, the Yankees were playing the Philadelphia A's and were tied 4-4 in the 11th inning with one out and one runner on base.

    He smacked a home run giving the Yankees a 6-4 win.

    He still holds a Yankee team record of 226 sacrifices.

3: Frank Baker

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    John Franklin "Home Run" Baker played for the Yankees from 1916-1919, and 1921-1922.

    He led the American League in home runs in four consecutive seasons.

    While with the Philadelphia A's in 1911, he hit a game-tying home run in Game 3 of the World Series off of Christy Mathewson.

    In 1917 in a game against the Washington Senators, they were tied 4-4 in the 13th inning with one out. He hit a home run leading the Yankees to a 5-4 victory.

    Baker did it again against the same team in 1919. The Yankees were down 2-1 in the ninth inning with one out and one man on base when he hit a game-winning home run.

2: Babe Ruth

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    Choosing one clutch hit for the Babe is nearly impossible. His career was filled with hit after hit.

    Babe Ruth had so many clutch hits and home runs throughout his career that it almost feels like some sort of violation to simply choose one.

    Everyone has heard about his called shot many times, so I'll go with a different game.

    On July 3, 1923, the Yankees were playing the Washington Senators. The game was long and dragged on and on into the 15th inning.

    The score remained tied at one.

    Babe Ruth stepped up to the plate with one out and no one on base. Performing as only he could do, he smashed a game-ending home run giving the Yankees a 2-1 win.

1: Lou Gehrig

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    When I started to write this article, I wrote in the introduction that these clutch hits in Yankees history were in no particular order.

    That was true until now.

    I have always respected and admired Lou Gehrig for a multitude of reasons, and I wish that I had been alive to watch him play in person.

    Like Babe Ruth, there are just too many accomplishments to list them all. Writing just one pains me because Gehrig deserves the honor, and he deserves the No. 1 spot on this list.

    He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word; he was kind, he was polite and he loved his mom.

    Of all of the countless moments that I could write about Gehrig, I decided to write about Sept. 8, 1937. He was in the very early stages of the disease ALS, although he didn't know it yet.

    In this game against the Boston Red Sox, they were tied 6-6 in the ninth inning with two outs and two runners on base.

    Gehrig crushed a three-run home run giving the Yankees a 9-6 victory.

    Sadly, Lou Gehrig died at the age of 37 on June 2, 1941, when he succumbed to the devastation of ALS. He died in his home several blocks from where I grew up in the Bronx.

    He was the greatest Yankee, in my opinion.