Derek Jeter: Is Mr. 3,000 the Greatest New York Yankees Hitter In Bronx History?
Where does Derek “I date starlets only” Jeter rank on the list of best N.Y. Yankees hitters in history? You, my dear readers, will soon find out.
This baseball conglomerate founded in 1903 and once owned by CBS—the all-seeing eye—has given baseball fans plenty of sluggers, but Jeter is the first hitter to reach 3,000 hits in franchise history.
He accomplished the feat by going five-for-five in the Bronx last Saturday afternoon.
I’ve chronicled a list of some of the best hitters ever to play for the Yankees—Jankees as I’m known to lovingly call them. Tee hee. Don’t think it’s funny? Yes, no. Read on, regardless.
Jeter’s 3,000th hit was a big fly that left the yard over the left-field wall. Now, all that’s left is for you to get fly and flip the switch to start this fly slide show.
10. Bernie Williams: He Plucked Fly Balls and Guitar Strings During His Career
Perhaps more than any other Yankee, Williams could hold a tune. His career average was a shade under .300, but he was a consummate switch-hitting threat in the postseason. Witness his ALCS MVP honor (1996).
I’m honored to have him in this countdown. I’m likewise honored to include No. 9 on this list.
9. Thurman Munson: What Could Have Been
The 1976 AL MVP, Munson’s life ended too soon due to a horrific private plane accident on Aug., 2, 1979.
He was the 1970 AL Rookie of the Year and a beloved captain from 1976-79. According to nj.com, in the 1976-78 World Series,’ Munson batted .529, .320 and .320.
The next Yankee on this, my knighted list, was also a New York superstar. I’m sure you’ll agree.
8. Lou Gehrig: So Good, Some People Call a Disease After His Name
The 1934 Triple Crown winner had an agreeable hitting game and retired in 1939 with over 2,700 hits. In making deals for hits, his bat often agreed with the threaded sphere.
His career ended way before it possibly should have, due to his sudden and tragic condition known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Known as “The Iron Horse,” he played in 2,130 games in a row during baseball’s segregation era and was great friends with No. 6 on this list.
7. The Babe: Nothing Personal Against Mr. George Herman Ruth, Jr.
I know this is almost tantamount to blasphemy—especially among the Bronx Bombers’ enthusiasts—but so what? I do what I do and do it with attitude and the truth.
The fact is Ruth, unfortunately, played in the Jim Crow era of baseball. It’s not his fault, but, hey, I doubt if he’d have posted the gaudy numbers he produced had he played in the post-Jackie Robinson eras.
Don’t believe the Ruthian hype—the type that is so pervasive in international society these days. It’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it. Sue me, but keep reading. Next slide, please…
6. Don Mattingly: “Donnie Baseball” They Called Him
Before the great Steve Balboni was summarily traded to the Kansas City Royals to make room on the depth chart, Mattingly replaced him at first base in the Bronx.
Steve and the Royals were a good team in the 1980s. In fact, they won a World Series in 1985, while the Yankees were going through a drought. It’s hard to fathom, now, considering the lifelessness of the K.C., Missouri Royals.
A New York lifer, Mattingly played for the Yankees until 1995 when he retired, and he amassed a career batting average of over .300.
5. Yogi Berra: St. Louis Native and Offensive Catcher Supreme
Yogi is a South Sider from the Gateway City in the Show Me State, and he loathed George Steinbrenner—both factors in my decision to knight him my No. 4 Yankee hitter in history.
A close childhood friend in St. Louis with the great Joe Garagiola, Berra earned it. He was a three-time AL MVP and was voted to the MLB All-Century Team as a backup to the great Johnny Bench.
4. Reggie Jackson: Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!
Reginald Martinez Jackson—“Mr. October” is what they called him—was so good they named a candy bar after him.
He was barred from right field during one game by manger Billy Martin—who was known to frequent bars. Rest in peace, Mr. Martin, and all the other departed Yankees on this list.
Reggie didn’t play in either the Jim Crow, or the steroid era, but he doesn’t make the list of career Yankees. Damn. That’s the only factor keeping him out of my knighted Yankee top two.
Check the footage from his three home run game—on three swings in the 1977 World Series. Crowned with an Afro and all, Jackson had the coolest home run trot…ever. He deserves to be much higher on this list. I’m sure you’ll agree.
3. Derek Jeter: “Mr. November,” “Captain Jankee,” Whatever You Call Him
To think a good, although disagreeable, friend of mine, who happens to be a Jankee fan, wanted Jeter either riding the bench, or not on the team this season makes me laugh. Before too long, though, Jeter could be knighted my best hitter to play in the Bronx.
Even though his stick produced the most hits for the franchise, for now, I’ll tuck him away at No. 3.
D.J.’s No. 2 jersey will be retired after he finishes playing, I’m guessing. He’s ahead of No. 2 on this list, though, when it comes to sticking to America’s iconic starlets. Take a wild guess who No. 2 is.
2. Joe DiMaggio: Career All-Star Joseph “Joltin’ Joe” “The Yankee Clipper”
He was robbed by World War II and his comparatively short 13-year career. Still, he finished with over 2,000 hits.
He made the All-Star Game every year in his career. I believe he’s the only player to ever do so. DiMaggio basically had his spot reserved in the Midsummer Classic.
Shy and reserved, but married to one of the most stunning starlets in American history (Marilyn Monroe), his 56-game hitting streak could possibly last until Shiloh comes.
I’ll be nice and not call him the “Jankee Clipper.”
1. Mickey Mantle: A Magnificent Masher of Professional Baseballs
The only Yankee to win the Triple Crown (1956), he did it before some of my readers was even a thought in their father’s minds.
He was also a switch-hitting country gentleman at the plate. This fact counts for a lot in Lake’s view.
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