New York Yankees: 5 Memorable Comeback Stories in Pinstripes History
When an individual abruptly leaves your life, the space they occupied can’t be filled overnight. Over an extended period of time, the void eventually becomes smaller and less significant.
But when that person returns just as suddenly as they left, the state of jubilation and sheer happiness inside you is overwhelming.
Throughout the years, the Yankees and their fans have been able to translate those same collective emotions into their pinstriped vernacular. In fact, on several occasions, figures from Yankee past have all of a sudden returned to cement themselves in the present.
Billy Martin's Return(s)
In reality, there were a plethora of “comebacks” for Billy Martin as a Yankee, but his return for the 1980 season was the most public.
After the audacious manager uttered the now-famous line, “They deserve each other. One's a born liar and the other's convicted,” in regards to outfielder Reggie Jackson and owner George Steinbrenner, Martin “resigned” as manager in 1978. No one actually believed that he willingly left the position, as most assumed there was a more than friendly push into unemployment by Steinbrenner.
Regardless of what led to the exit, the drama was patched up rather quickly. Just weeks later on Old Timer’s Day, public address announcer Bob Sheppard announced to the crowd that Martin would be coaching the team beginning in 1980. As the crowd roared, Martin ran on to the field to essentially confirm the rapid change of heart from the Boss.
However, the honeymoon was short lived.
While he actually replaced manager Bob Lemon with Martin earlier than expected in 1979, Steinbrenner fired Martin after the season and gave the job to Dick Howser.
Roger Clemens Is a New York Yankee!
In reality, his return itself was probably more memorable than the production that preceded it. All baseball fans remember the Julius Caesar-esque method of Roger Clemens announcing his comeback to the Yankees.
From George Steinbrenner’s personal box suite, Clemens addressed the loyal Yankee subjects with a short, but profound, message during the seventh inning of an early May game in 2007.
“Thank y'all. Well they came and got me out of Texas," announced Clemens. “And uhh, I can tell you its a privilege to be back. I'll be talkin' to y'all soon."
And just in case you missed the newsflash, Suzyn Waldman ever-so-slightly reverberated the message through the radio airwaves.
When all was said and done, "The Rocket" return was a Lone Star-sized flop. At the age of 44, even abbreviated seasons couldn’t help Clemens, as 2007 would eventually be his final year in the majors.
But, goodness gracious that over-hyped announcement was certainly made for the bright lights of the Big Apple.
Andy Pettitte Joins the Present
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Most Yankees fans figured that when Andy Pettitte came up on the wrong end of a Game 3 loss in the 2010 ALCS, they had seen the last of him. However, the competitive itch brought him back.
This past March, the 39-year-old left-hander announced that he was indeed returning to the Bombers. At the time, it appeared his return would be an added luxury to an already crowded starting pitching staff.
However, due to injury and inefficiency, his unexpected presence could be possibly become an important glue in a broken rotation.
The jury is still out on his second time around, but Yankee fans are hoping the dependable hurler they once remember.
Welcome Back, Yogi
After 15 years, Yogi Berra decided to let bygones be bygones. On May 17, 1999, he put his differences aside with owner George Steinbrenner and “Yogi Berra Day” was born—even though pitcher David Cone might have stolen the show.
Before the 1985 season, “The Boss” assured the Hall of Fame catcher that he would not be fired from his managerial role. However, in a Vince McMahon-like change of heart, Steinbrenner terminated Berra’s services after the 16th game of the year. In even poorer taste, the owner had Yankee front office guru Clyde King deliver the news to Berra.
Eventually, Berra vowed to never return to Yankee Stadium because of Steinbrenner’s trickery and embarrassing double-cross. Could anyone actually blame him for his personal stand?
However, after almost 15 years, the two reconciled with a little help from Yankee color commentator Suzyn Waldman. And during that “Yogi Berra Day,” the former catcher and manager walked back out on the field where he made so many memories.
And after all the drama and theatre, pitcher David Cone stole the show the ceremonial day, when he threw the 14th perfect game in MLB history versus the Montreal Expos.
The B...Boss Is Back
At the time, his return was a "welcome home" that most Yankee fans weren’t too crazy about.
For years, owner George Steinbrenner had traded away young talent, fired undeserving employees and meddled in day-to-day operations that he wasn’t qualified to oversee.
So when “The Boss” doled out $40K to a shady sleuth to dig up dirt on outfielder Dave Winfield, the Yankee fanbase was ecstatic to see the hammer fall down on the out-of-control owner.
What led to Steinbrenner’s shady dealings was the public lawsuit filed by the high-priced outfielder. In his stipulated contract, the Yankees agreed to his foundation, which they neglected to do.
So, when Commissioner Fay Vincent caught wind of the backdoor shenanigans, he promptly banned Steinbrenner from any day-to-day management. Suddenly, the Boss was permanently silenced.
Eventually in 1993, he was reinstated, but a new and improved man overtook the reins. He backed off the dictator role and allowed the “baseball people,” including general manger Gene Michael, to do their job. He allowed young talent, like Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, to grow and eventually blossom in pinstripes.
Over the next 17 years (and several championships), the Boss was looked at more as a cuddly grandfather than the previous maniacal scatterbrain.
Sanity reigned and the Yankees haven’t looked back.