Imagine having to fill out a line-up card for an all-time Yankees team … Mantle or DiMaggio in center? Jeter or Rizzuto at short? Whitey, Lefty or Red on the mound? And who’s going to manage this group? There are Hall of Famers or potential Hall of Famers at every position, so let the debate begin. Here’s one swing at it (three deep at each position):
C: Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Thurman Munson
Dickey was an 11-time All-Star and Munson was the heart and soul of the championship Yanks of the ’70s, but Yogi is Yogi—three A.L. MVP awards, 10 World Series titles, and maybe the franchise’s best clutch hitter ever.
1B: Lou Gehrig, Don Mattingly, Bill Skowron
Great nicknames here—Donnie Baseball and Moose—but nothing beats the Iron Horse, or his .340 batting average, 493 homers, and 1,995 RBIs.
2B: Tony Lazzeri, Joe Gordon, Willie Randolph
More of an intangibles position for the Yanks, Lazzeri was the silent killer on Murderers’ Row and made the Hall of Fame in 1991.
3B: Graig Nettles, Alex Rodriguez, Red Rolfe
Rolfe was the unusual 3B who batted lead-off, and A-Rod is the best slugger the Yanks have ever had at the hot corner, but neither can wear Nettles’s glove when it comes to fielding the position.
SS: Derek Jeter, Phil Rizzuto, Frank Crosetti
The Crow was the best Yankee shortstop until the Scooter arrived. Jeter, however, has set the standard with his leadership, day-in and day-out production, and an uncanny ability to rise to the occasion.
LF: Dave Winfield, Ricky Henderson, Charlie Keller
Keller was an All-Star five times, and Henderson would have been the pick if you’re looking for a leadoff hitter. But Winfield hit for average and power, and no one covered Death Valley quite like him.
CF: Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Bernie Williams
This was the toughest one, but the Mick gets the nod for his power numbers and World Series records; strong argument could be made otherwise. Williams isn’t getting off the bench with these two ahead of him.
RF: Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Paul O’Neill
The Babe needs no introduction. But don’t sell Maris and O’Neill short as both were team players, clutch hitters, and excellent fielders.
The designated hitter didn’t exist when most of these guys played, but Ruth would be the choice. That would allow Mantle to slide into right and DiMaggio into center. Reggie Jackson and Jason Giambi could spell the Babe at DH.
RHP: Red Ruffing
New York’s ace for the entire decade of the ’30s, Ruffing was 7-2 with a 2.63 ERA in the World Series; Waite Hoyt, Hoyt posted a combined record of 45-14 in 1927 and 1928, and won all three of his World Series starts those two campaigns; Jack Chesbro, Happy Jack won 41 games in 1904 and had a 1.82 ERA in an astounding 454 innings.
LHP: Lefty Gomez
Gomez had a .649 career winning percentage, and was 6-0 with a 2.86 ERA in World Series action; Whitey Ford, The Chairman of the Board won the 1961 Cy Young and had 10 World Series victories.
RRP: Marino Rivera, Rich Gossage
The Goose was the most intimidating reliever in baseball history, and Rivera is simply the best reliever the game has ever seen.
LRP: Sparky Lyle, Joe Page
The original “Fireman,” Page was the workhorse of the New York bullpen from 1944 to 1950. Lyle pitched seven seasons in the Bronx, took home the Cy Young in 1977, and never had an ERA above 3.47.
Manager: Casey Stengel
Joe McCarthy had a slightly higher winning percentage but Stengel’s record was unmatched: 10 pennants and 7 world championships in 12 seasons.
Coaches: Joe McCarthy, Miller Huggins, Joe Torre, Billy Martin