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New York Yankees: Ranking 50 Biggest Fan Favorites in Franchise History

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2017

New York Yankees: Ranking 50 Biggest Fan Favorites in Franchise History

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    Everybody has their guy.

    You know who I'm talking about—he's not necessarily a superstar, a starter, or even very good.

    But he's your guy and when he steps to the plate, you stop what you are doing and watch.

    With a history as long and storied as the Yankees have, over 2,000 players have donned the pinstripes at one point or another.

    That certainly gives us a large group to choose from, and when I started working on this, it was supposed to be a top 25 list.

    But that proved to be impossible.

    No matter what I did, there was simply no possible way to only do 25—too many deserving candidates would be left out.

    Mind you, I did work on this: checking with Yankee fans, some of my fellow Bleacher Report columnists, even our esteemed editor.

    Everyone was in agreement—the number needed to be 50.

    So here we are. Without further ado, the 50 biggest fan favorites in Yankee history.

50. Steve Balboni

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Five seasons (1981-1983, 1989-1990)

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Nicknamed "Bye Bye" for the home runs his powerful swing generated, Steve Balboni was not long for the Yankees, seeing as how a young upstart named Don Mattingly was ready to take the reins as the starting 1B.

    Balboni looked more like your plumber than a professional athlete, something that resonated with fans. He truly seemed to be a "regular guy."

    "Bye Bye" on the Yankees:

    "I grew up in Massachusetts and was a Red Sox fan of course...but when I signed with the Yankees and put that uniform on, I really fell in love with the team, the history and the tradition."—Steve Balboni

49. Homer Bush

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Three seasons (1997-1998, 2004), winning one World Series championship

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Primarily a backup second baseman and pinch hitter/runner, Homer Bush would only play in 64 games during his time with the Yankees.

    But Bush made the most of it, hitting .348 with 21 runs scored, eight RBIs and seven stolen bases.

    Fans loved the energy that Bush gave off the bench and pulled for him to succeed in the limited playing time that he received.

    What the Fans are Saying:

    "Did Homer Bush belong on a 1998 Yankees team that is spoken about in the same breath as the 1927 and 1961 teams? Probably not, and he probably knew that as well. But he fit in seamlessly...after watching Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena the past few seasons, I've found myself wishing the Yankees had another Homer Bush to play instead."—Rick Weiner

48. Mariano Duncan

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Two seasons (1996-1997), winning one World Series championship

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Eight words: "We play today, we win today... das it!"

    His teammates bought into it hook, line and sinker, adopting the saying as their mantra and going as far as to have shirts printed with the phrase on it, shirts that many of them wore under their uniforms during the 1996 playoffs.

    What the Fans are Saying:

    "Mariano Duncan coined the phrase that pushed the Yankees through the 96' playoffs and to their first World Series championship in a long time...das it!"Mike Will, Long Beach, NY.


47. Bill "Moose" Skowron

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Nine seasons (1954-1962), winning four World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Up 5-0 over the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series, Bill Skowron would hit a grand slam in the top of the seventh inning, giving the Yankees a commanding 9-0 lead and ensuring that the Dodgers would not mount a comeback in their final nine outs. It would be Skowron's only hit of the series.

    Often overshadowed by his more notable teammates Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Roger Maris, Skowron was one of six Yankees to hit over 20 home runs in 1961.

    Moose Speaks:

    "“I am first and foremost a Yankee.”Bill "Moose" Skowron

46. Jim Abbott

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Two seasons (1993-1994)

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Born without a right hand, it was hard not to root for Jim Abbott since everyone loves an underdog, and Abbott played the role his entire career.

    On September 4, 1993, Abbott would throw a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians, walking five and striking out three.

    On His No-no:

    "The no-hitter was the highlight of my career. The specialness of it, I didn't know how lasting it would be when it happened. Everywhere I go, people talk about that game, how exciting it was. That makes me very proud. I'm awfully happy that a ball didn't bloop in somewhere."—Jim Abbott

45. Al Leiter

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Four seasons (1987-1989, 2005), and five seasons as a broadcaster

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    A local boy who made it, Leiter grew up a Yankees fan in Toms River, New Jersey.

    While the Yankees would give up on him due to constant blister problems in 1989, Leiter would go on to have a solid career as a starter, primarily with the New York Mets.

    Al Says:

    "I thank the Yankees for giving me a chance to end it where it all started...It's all good. I'll be ready."—Al Leiter

44. Ron Blomberg

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Seven seasons (1969, 1971-1976)

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    The first overall pick in the 1967 draft, Ron Blomberg never lived up to the lofty expectations that the team and fans had for him, yet he left his indelible mark on the game.

    On April 6, 1973, Blomberg stepped up to the plate against the Boston Red Sox and starter Luis Tiant as the first designated hitter in baseball history. With the bases loaded, Tiant walked him.

    While injuries derailed his career and kept him out of the field, Blomberg put up respectable numbers as a Yankee, hitting .302 with 47 home runs and 202 RBI in 400 games as a Bronx Bomber.

    Blomberg on Yankees fans:

    "People come up to me and thank me for one thing or another, but I want to thank y'all. I want to express my thanks to you for all the great times I had. I had four knee and two shoulder injuries. Still, I gave 120 percent. I lived in Riverdale, and when I was injured, people came up to me and waved to me and hugged me. It's great to be here and to be able to talk to you and express my thanks."—Ron Blomberg

43. Bobby Richardson

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    12 seasons (1955-1966), winning three World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    A superb defensive second baseman, Bobby Richardson was a five-time All-Star, eight-time Gold Glove award winner and someone who raised their game in the postseason. A .266 hitter in the regular season, Richardson became a .305 hitter in the postseason.

    He is the only player in baseball history to win the World Series MVP award as a member of the losing team, as he did in 1960 where he hit .367 with two doubles, two triples, a home run, 12 RBI and eight runs scored in the seven game series.

    Bobby would win the 1962 World Series for the Yankees with his glove. Yankees starter Ralph Terry was holding onto a 1-0 lead over the San Francisco Giants. With Matty Alou on third and Willie Mays on first with two out in the bottom of the ninth, Willie McCovey stepped to the plate and hit a screaming line drive at Richardson who barely moved to make the play and win the series for the Yankees.

     Casey on Bobby:

    "Look at him (Bobby Richardson). He doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, he doesn't chew, he doesn't stay out late and he still can't hit .250."Casey Stengel

42. Nick Swisher

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Three seasons (2009-2011)

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Swisher is an affable, fun-loving guy. Fans want to hang out with him, have a beer with him—and he genuinely seems to love being a Yankee.

    Swish has improved his play in RF each season with the Yankees, though his postseason struggles have been well documented.

    Swisher on Being a Yankee:

    "I think everyone in the Yankees' organization knows how excited I am. They know how lucky I feel to be here."—Nick Swisher

41. Hank Bauer

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    12 seasons (1948-1959), winning seven World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Hank Bauer had one of the strongest, most accurate throwing arms in the game as the Yankees rightfielder for more then a decade and got by on hustle and determination.

    A solid hitter who had some pop in his bat, Bauer would win the 1951 World Series with both his bat and his glove.

    With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning and the game tied at two in Game 6, Bauer came to the plate with the bases loaded.

    Bauer would send New York Giants' starter Dave Koslo's offering deep to LF, clearing the bases and ending up with a three-run triple.

    In the bottom of the ninth, with the Yankees holding onto a 4-3 lead and a runner on second, Bauer would have to run full speed and make a diving catch of Sal Yvars' line drive to RF to end the series and give the Yankees the win.

    What the Fans are Saying:

    "Around the Yankees, .180 hitters usually catch the first milk train back to the farm. Not Bauer; he was around for eleven years, nine pennants and seven world championships. He was no DiMaggio, no Ruth, no Gehrig, no Mantle. He never hit more than 26 homers in a single season, never made more than $34,500 a year, never led the league in anything—except hustle. And that made him a Yankee great."—Unattributed quote in Sports Illustrated, September 11, 1964

40. Luis Sojo

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Seven seasons (1996-2001, 2003) winning four World Series titles and eight seasons as a coach/minor league manager

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    A utility player and contact hitter for the Yankees, Luis Sojo won the 2000 World Series against the New York Mets.

    Facing off against another Yankees fan favorite, Al Leiter, Sojo hit a two-run single in the top of the ninth inning with two outs, breaking a 2-2 tie and ultimately winning the Subway Series for the Yankees.

    Sojo After Having Hip Replacement Surgery:

    "All those years playing in New York messed me up..."Luis Sojo 


39. Kevin Maas

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Five seasons (1990-1993, 1995)

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Kevin Maas may have played five seasons with the Yankees, but he is the perfect example of a "one-hit wonder" in baseball.

    Maas would make his major league debut on June 29, 1990. It would take him only 72 at bats to hit 10 home runs, the fastest any player has reached the mark. He became the first player to 20 or more home runs after July 1, a mark that was only matched recently by Garrett Jones of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009.

    A left-handed batter, Maas hit the majority of his home runs into the short porch in RF at Yankee Stadium. For a short time a group of female fans, calling themselves the "Maas Tops" would sit in the RF stands, lifting their shirts whenever Maas hit a home run to RF and not lowering them until he crossed home plate. This practice only lasted a few games.

    How many other Yankees do you know of that have elicited partial nudity from their fans?

    On Being Called a "One-hit Wonder":

    "Well, if 65 home runs (in 406 games) is a one-hit wonder, I guess I am, But I hit 65 home runs in the major leagues without any steroids. It wasn't an unsuccessful career."Kevin Maas

38. Orlando Hernandez

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Six seasons (1998-2004), winning three World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Orlando Hernandez raised his game when it mattered most: The postseason.

    In 14 postseason starts for the Yankees, "El Duque" went 9-2 with a 2.32 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 97 innings with 88 strikeouts.

    He would be named MVP of the 1999 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox after going 1-0 in two starts with a 1.80 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP and 13 strikeouts in 15 innings.

    El Duque on Beating the Red Sox in the 1999 ALCS:

    "This is a beautiful moment."—Orlando Hernandez 


37. Joe Pepitone

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Eight seasons (1962-1969), spent much of the '80s as a coach and front office employee

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    A free spirit who was incredibly vain, Joe Pepitone took advantage of all New York had to offer, and as a three-time All-Star by the time he was 25, he became known for loving the nightlife maybe a little too much.

    On the field, Pepitone won three Gold Glove awards at 1B and while his batting averages were low, he provided power to the lineup, hitting 10 or more home runs in seven of his eight seasons in pinstripes.

    Mickey Tells It Like It Is:

    (To Pepitone): "I wish I could buy you for what you're really worth, then sell you for what you think you're worth."—Mickey Mantle 

36. Rickey Henderson

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Five seasons (1985-1989)

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    The most prolific leadoff hitter and baserunner in the history of the game, Rickey Henderson joined Dave Winfield and Don Mattingly on a number of mediocre Yankees teams in the mid-to-late '80s.

    A four-time All-Star with the Yankees, Henderson led the league in stolen bases three times during his tenure in the Bronx.

    Rickey was also a little "off"—one story goes that after receiving a six figure bonus check from the Yankees, Henderson never cashed it. After an audit revealed the check had not been cashed, the Yankees told a low-level front office employee named Brian Cashman to find out from Rickey if there was a problem. Henderson's reply was that he was "waiting for the money market rates to go up."

    Rickey on Being Traded to the Yankees:


    "I don't care about them...it's Rickey time."—Henderson after being traded to the Yankees on what he thought about Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle

35. Sam Militello

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Two seasons (1992-1993)

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    While his promising career was cut short by injury, Sam Militello gave hope to a Yankees fan base that there were some solid pitchers making their way through the minor league system.

    His first career start would come against the Boston Red Sox on August 9, 1992. Militello would be unfazed, throwing seven shutout innings of one hit ball, walking three and striking out five.

    What the Fans are Saying:

    "Phil Rizzuto had me convinced that Sam Militello was the next coming of Whitey Ford. Of course, Scooter may have been bragging because of the Italian connection, but man, did Scooter gush about Militello."—Pete K., Ohio.

34. Oscar Gamble

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Seven seasons (1976, 1979-1984)

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Aside from the hair—he may have had the best afro in New York during his time in the Bronx—Oscar Gamble was a left-handed hitter with a powerful swing that was geared for the short porch in RF of Yankee Stadium.

    He was the Yankees' best player during the 1981 ALDS against the Milwaukee Brewers, hitting .556 with a 1.933 OPS, two home runs, three RBIs and two runs scored in the four game series.

    Always good for a quote, Gamble was a favorite of the media as well.

    Oscar on New Players Joining the Yankees During the Heyday of the "Bronx Zoo":

    "They come here and they don't believe it be like it is, but it do."Oscar Gamble 



33. Lou Pinella

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    11 seasons as a player (1974-1984) winning two World Series championships, two years as a coach, three years as a manager (1986-1988), one year as a broadcaster, part of one year as general manager

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Primarily a corner outfielder and DH, Lou Pinella was a contact hitter who flashed some pop on occasion.

    He had a high baseball IQ, evidenced by his play in the 1978 play-in game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

    With the Yankees leading 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth and a man on, Boston's Jerry Remy scorched a line drive down the right field line. Pinella lost sight of the ball but pretended to be ready to make the catch, making base runner Rick Burleson stop in his tracks to see if Pinella would make the catch. At the last possible second, Pinella stuck his glove out to grab the bouncing ball, keeping Burleson from advancing to third base on the single.

    Lou on the Passing of George Steinbrenner:

    “George was like a father figure to me. He treated me well, he treated me fair and he gave me a wonderful opportunity to play and manage the game we all love."—Lou Pinella

32. Shane Spencer

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Five seasons (1998-2002), winning three World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    September of 1998 cemented his legacy in Yankees history. Shane Spencer would have 67 at bats in the month of September, hitting 10 home runs (including three grand slams).

    The Captain on Spencer:

    "The guy's (Shane Spencer) ridiculous. No one hits home runs like that. I'm telling you, man, it's ridiculous."Derek Jeter

31. Darryl Stawberry

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Five seasons (1995-1999), winning three World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Known more for his eight seasons as the starting RF for the New York Mets and an assortment of problems off the field, Darryl Strawberry was a part-time player by the time he joined the Yankees.

    Already an adopted son of New York, it didn't take long for fans to quickly take to Darryl. He hit .417 with three home runs and five RBIs in the 1996 ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles, helping to propel the Yankees back to the World Series for the first time since 1981.

    Darryl Speaks the Truth:

    “I have a lot of regrets about what I've done. If I had to do it over again, I never would have left the Mets. I'm very thankful for all that Mr. (George) Steinbrenner did for me when I was with the Yankees, but I wish I had stayed in New York with the Mets.”—Darryl Strawberry

30. Dave Righetti

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    11 seasons (1979, 1981-1990).

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    As a starting pitcher, Dave Righetti won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1981 and threw a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox on July 4, 1983.

    Even more effective as a closer, Righetti would set the record for most saves in a season with 46 in 1986, a mark that would only stand for four years before being broken by Bobby Thigpen of the Chicago White Sox in 1990 with 57 saves.

    Rags on Playing for Billy Martin:

    Well, he was a winner. I enjoyed playing for him, especially those early years. You knew he was going to be aggressive. He gave me the ball and let me pitch. He had confidence in me and when a manager of that stature feels confidence in you, you feel it more yourself."—Dave Righetti

29. Andy Stankiewicz

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Two seasons (1992-1993)

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Andy Stankiewicz was a non-descript utility infielder who spent one season, 1992, as the Yankees' starting shortstop.

    "Stanky" would become a fan favorite because of his heart and hustle on every play, including walks when he would run down to first base as if he was trying to beat a throw to the bag.

    Standing 5'9" and weighing 160 pounds, he reminded people more of themselves than of the prototypical professional athlete.

    What the Fans are Saying:

    "Stanky played the game the right way, even when he wasn't the best player on the field, which he never was."—Tommy Barton, Long Beach, NY.

28. Aaron Boone

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    One season (2003)

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    2003 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox.

    Bottom of the 11th inning, Tim Wakefield on the mound, game tied at 5.

    Aaron Boone drives the first pitch he sees from Wakefield deep into the stands for a series-winning home run, once again crushing the hopes of the Red Sox nation.

    What the Fans Are Saying:

    "It's Aaron Freaking Boone Baby!"—Yankees Fans

    "It's Aaron F'n Boone..."—Red Sox Fans

     

27. Mickey Rivers

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Four seasons (1976-1979), winning two World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Arguably the fastest player to ever play for the Yankees, "Mick the Quick" came to bat in the top of the ninth inning in Game 5 of the 1977 ALCS against the Kansas City Royals with the Yankees down 3-2. Rivers would single to RF, driving in Paul Blair from third which tied the game by moving Roy White to third and setting up Willie Randolph's sacrifice fly to CF that scored White with what would be the eventual series winning run.

    Mickey loved to bet on horses and was not very good at it. On multiple occasions, the Yankees CF would either not hustle or refuse to play at all due to his mounting debts—something George Steinbrenner would rectify by sending a plain envelope with cash down to the clubhouse to cover Rivers.

    Like Yogi Berra, Mickey was never shy about speaking his mind, even when his thoughts didn't quite make sense.

    Mickey on the Yankees:

    "Me and George and Billy are two of a kind."Mickey Rivers

26. Rich Gossage

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Seven seasons (1978-1983, 1989), winning one World Series championship

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    While his 150 saves rank third on the Yankees career list behind Dave Righetti and Mariano Rivera, Rich "Goose" Gossage was a dominating force during his time as a Yankee.

    In his two World Series appearances with the Yankees, he would not allow an earned run over 11 innings of work, walking three and striking out nine.

    Goose on Goose:

    "I was brought into situations God couldn't get out of, and I got out of them."Rich Gossage

25. Don Larsen

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Five seasons (1955-1959), winning two World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    October 8, 1956.

    Don Larsen would take the mound in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers with the series tied at two.

    In Game 2, Larsen only lasted 1.2 innings after a Joe Collins error in the first inning led to four unearned runs crossing the plate in a 13-8 Dodgers victory.

    While people expected a longer performance from Larsen, nobody saw it coming.

    Larsen would pitch the only perfect game in World Series history, striking out seven Dodgers along the way, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the series and ultimately being named World Series MVP.

    Larsen on Perfection:

    "When it was over, I was so happy, I felt like crying. I wanted to win this one for Casey (Stengel). After what I did in Brooklyn, he could have forgotten about me and who would blame him? But he gave me another chance and I'm grateful.".Don Larsen after the perfect game.

24. Mike Pagliarulo

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Six seasons (1984-1989)

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    A former first round draft pick out of the University of Miami, "Pags" was a powerful hitter who played questionable defense and was known for his "hit-or-miss" at bats—either he hit the ball into the bleachers or he missed the ball and struck out. There was not much in between.

    In his six seasons wearing pinstripes, Pagliarulo hit .229 with 105 HR and 335 RBI. His best season was arguably in 1987, when he hit .234 with 32 HR and 87 RBIs.

    Pags on His Time with the Yankees:

    "I played with the greatest players. I learned so much, I wouldn't change a thing. I became a better player, more appreciative of the game itself because of the players I played with in New York. I played with Don Baylor, Ron Guidry, Phil Niekro, Dave Winfield, all great players. My coaches, from Yogi Berra to Lou Piniella to Billy Martin, they weren't afraid to get in my face and tell me what I needed to do. That's what's going on now, they have good people in the organization. They have good, hard-working coaches, hard-working players committed to winning. It's not all about how much money they make. They want to win."Mike Pagliarulo

23. Willie Randolph

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    13 seasons as a player (1976-1988), winning two World Series championships, coached the Yankees for 11 seasons winning four more World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    One of the best 2B the team has ever had, Willie Randolph was the picture of consistency during his Yankees tenure, earning a reputation as an excellent bunter and defensive player.

    A class act, Willie hit in between Rickey Henderson and Don Mattingly for five years at the top of the Yankees lineup in the mid-'80s.

    Willie at the Last Old Timer's Day at the Old Yankee Stadium:

    "This is still one of the most special places...I grew up here, I learned my chops here, I learned to be a winner, a champion here. I get to sit here the whole day and go through the memories I experienced. These are my boys. This is a family and I'm happy to be part of it today."—Willie Randolph

22. Scott Brosius

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Four seasons (1998-2001), winning three World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Game 3 of the 1998 World Series saw Scott Brosius hit two home runs, including a three-run shot off San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman in the bottom of the eighth inning that would ultimately win the game for the Yankees.

    Three years later, Brosius would hit a game-tying two-run homer off Arizona Diamondbacks closer Byung-Hyun Kim with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2001 World Series. The Yankees would win the game 3-2 in 12 innings.

    How Brosius Survived New York:

    "When I arrived [in a trade for Kenny Rogers], I made a commitment to myself that I would never check out the Yankees' coverage in the newspapers -- and I didn't. In four years there, I never read a Yankee article. That was liberating. I held no grudges against writers, and I never obsessed over how I was perceived. I wanted to be anonymous."—Scott Brosius 


21. David Wells

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Four seasons (1997-1998, 2002-2003) winning one World Series championship

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    David Wells was a gigantic personality who wanted to be Babe Ruth—so much so that he bought a 1934 game-used Babe Ruth hat for $35,000 and wore it during a start against the Cleveland Indians on June 28, 1997, though Joe Torre made Wells remove it before the second inning and the Yankees went on to lose the game.

    Wells was seemingly always game for a party and threw a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins in 1998 while, he claims, he was hung over. Not quite as impressive as Dock Ellis throwing a no-hitter on acid, but still impressive.

    Wells would be a rock for the Yankees in the 1998 playoffs, going 4-0 with a 2.94 ERA and 0.95 WHIP over 30 innings, striking out 31 along the way.

    Wells on Wells:

    "To pitch a perfect game wearing pinstripes at Yankee Stadium, it's unbelievable. Growing up a Yankee fan, to come out here and make history, it really is a dream come true."—David Wells

20. Graig Nettles

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    11 seasons (1973-1983), winning two World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    A five-time All-Star with a powerful swing, Graig Nettles manned 3B with aplomb for the Yankees for over a decade, winning two Gold Gloves in the process.

    Nettles' performance in the 1981 ALCS was impressive and earned him MVP honors: Nettles would hit .500 with two doubles, one home run and nine RBIs in the three game series against the Oakland Athletics.

    Known as a practical joker in the clubhouse, his teammates named him "Puff" for his uncanny ability to disappear almost immediately after the hilarity ensued.

    Graig's Wisdom:

    "We've got a problem here. Luis Tiant wants to use the bathroom and it says no foreign objects in the toilet."Graig Nettles

19. Bucky Dent

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Six seasons (1977-1982) winning two World Series championships and parts of two years (1988-1989) as manager

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    1978. Between his go-ahead three-run homer against the Boston Red Sox in a winner-takes-all game to break the tie atop the AL East and earn the right to advance to the ALCS and his subsequent MVP performance in the World Series where he hit .414 with seven RBI, one month of his life cemented Bucky Dent in the hearts of Yankees fans forever.

    The Media Says It Best:

    "One swing made Bucky Dent a New York legend and a Boston pariah."Hal Habib

18. Ron Guidry

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    14 seasons (1975-1988) and two years as pitching coach (2006-2007), winning two World Series championships

    Why the fans love him:

    From 1977 through 1985, "Louisiana Lighting" Ron Guidry was one of the best pitchers in baseball.

    He capped off his legendary 1978 season that saw him go 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA by performing even better in the postseason: 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA.

    Guidry on the Yankees:

    "If you stay around here long enough, you either go zany or become a monk and monks aren't having too much fun these days."Ron Guidry 


17. Tino Martinez

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Seven seasons (1996-2001, 2005), winning four World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Two memorable World Series home runs highlighted what was a solid Yankees career.

    With the bases loaded, two out and the game tied at five, Tino came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 1 in the 1998 World Series against the San Diego Padres. He would deposit the sixth pitch of the at bat deep into the seats in RF, giving the Yankees a 9-5 lead in a game they would win 9-6.

    In Game 4 of the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Yankees trailed 3-1 in the game and 2-1 in the series. In the bottom of the ninth and with two outs, Tino would drive the first pitch he saw into the RF-CF stands, tying the game at three. The Yankees would eventually win the game in the twelfth inning.


    What the Fans are Saying:

    "I love and loved alot of them but my favorite is Tino Martinez. He was a great first baseman, a great hitter and such a nice guy that people didn't mind losing Don Mattingly so much. Still love him."—Regina Slevin, Wantagh, NY

16. Reggie Jackson

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Five seasons (1977-1981), winning two World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Dubbed "Mr. October" for a reason, Reggie's three consecutive home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series cemented his place in the hearts of Yankees fans forever.

    The 1977 World Series MVP, in 34 postseason games as a Yankee, Reggie hit .327 with 12 home runs, 29 RBI and 27 runs scored.

    His battles with Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner were legendary and none of the trio ever backed down. Later on, Jackson would make peace with Steinbrenner and remains a part of the Yankees organization to this day.

    Billy Martin on Reggie:

    "It's not that Reggie is a bad outfielder. He just has trouble judging the ball and picking it up."—Billy Martin

15. Whitey Ford

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    16 seasons (1950-1967), winning six World Series championships (missed 1951 and 1952 as he was serving his country in the Army during the Korean War), three seasons as a coach

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    The best left-handed pitcher in team history, "The Chairman of the Board" won the 1961 AL Cy Young award and World Series MVP.  He would go 25-4 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in the regular season, and 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 0.50 WHIP in 14 innings in the World Series.

    Whitey has the highest winning percentage (.690) of any pitcher with at least 300 career decisions and holds six World Series records, including most wins (10) and most Game 1 starts (8).

    Mickey on Whitey:

    "I don't care what the situation was, how high the stakes were - the bases could be loaded and the pennant riding on every pitch, it never bothered Whitey (Ford). He pitched his game. Cool. Craft. Nerves of steel."—Mickey Mantle 

14. Andy Pettitte

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    13 seasons (1995-2003, 2007-2010), winning five World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    While Mariano Rivera had been the Yankees' closer for nearly two decades, Andy Pettitte was the Yankees' stopper. Oftentimes, Pettitte would take the mound in the midst of a Yankees losing streak and deliver a performance that put an end to the streak.

    Pettitte never had a losing record in any season with the Yankees and was named the MVP of the 2001 ALCS after going 2-0 with a 2.69 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over 14.1 innings pitched, walking two while striking out eight.

    What the Fans are Saying:

    "Andy Pettitte was my favorite Yankee since I was 11. I cried the day he signed with the Astros, that’s how devastated I was when he left, and I was so happy the day the Yankees got him back in 2006."—Doug Rush, Bleacher Report Featured Columnist

13. Bobby Murcer

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    As a player, 13 seasons (1965-1966, 1969-1974, 1980-1983). Nearly 20 seasons as a broadcaster, assistant general manager and coach

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    While he never lived up to the hype that dubbed him "the next Mickey Mantle"—as if anyone could live up to that—Bobby Murcer was a five-time All-Star who was the best player on some mediocre Yankees teams in the late '60s and early '70s.

    Murcer gave one of the eulogies at Thurman Munson's funeral, and then insisted on playing in that night's game against the Baltimore Orioles. Down 4-0 in the seventh, Murcer hit a three-run homer to bring the Yankees within one, and then in the bottom of the ninth, hit a two-run single down the RF line giving the Yankees the 5-4 victory. Murcer would never use the bat again, giving it to Diana Munson, Thurman's widow.

    Bobby always conducted himself with class, dignity, and his southern charm drew people to him. Watching him call Yankee games for nearly 20 years, including the infamous "Pine Tar Game" in 1983 and David Cone's perfect game in 1999 was truly a pleasure for fans around the world.

    Bobby on His Fight with Cancer and His Relationship with Yankee fans:

    "I want to thank you very much for giving me the forum to do this because I wanted you to know that even though this looks bad, I'm doing great. I really am. I'm in a great place. God has given me peace and the overwhelming love has been insurmountable for me to even deal with. I can feel the fans. I can feel their thoughts and their prayers and I wanted to tell them how much I love them."Bobby Murcer

     

12. Bernie Williams

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    16 seasons (1991-2006), winning four World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    A five-time All-Star Bernie patrolled the middle of the Yankee outfield with precision, knowing exactly how and when to break on a ball. Even with a terrible throwing arm, Bernie won four Gold Glove awards in a row, from 1997 to 2000.

    In 1998, he became the first player in history to win a batting title, a Gold Glove, and a World Series championship in the same season.

    His name appears in the Top 10 of virtually every offensive category in the Yankees record books, as well as those of the postseason record books for Major League Baseball, where his 80 career RBIs still stand as the most ever.

    Let's Hear the Call One More Time:

    "Bern Baby Bern!"—John Sterling

11. Jorge Posada

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    17 seasons (1995-2011) winning five World Series titles

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Jorge Posada was one of the best offensive catchers of his generation. From 2000 through 2011, Posada had more hits (1427), home runs (240) and RBIs (920) than any other catcher in baseball.

    A borderline Hall of Famer, Posada was the first "homegrown" star catcher the Yankees had since the death of Thurman Munson in 1979. Like Munson, Posada would thrive in the role as a fiery team leader.

    Joe Girardi on Posada:

    “He (Posada) was always fiery, but when you're a young player … some players aren't sure they should follow you. Until you earn their trust, they're not going to. He's been here so long now and he's so well known, they understand and they follow him from day one. He's going to do his job, he's going to be prepared and he's a great leader.”Joe Girardi

     

10. (tie) Billy Martin

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes

    Seven seasons (1950-1957), winning four World Series championships and parts of eight seasons as manager (1975-1978, 1983, 1985, 1988), winning one World Series championship

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Billy Martin didn't take crap from anyone—and neither do New Yorkers.

    As a player, Billy Martin was a fierce competitor who developed a reputation as a clutch player, culminating with his championship-clinching RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 6 of the 1953 World Series—a series in which he would be named MVP.

    As a manager, Martin would manage the Yankees on five different occasions and had varying amounts of success, though he is most fondly remembered for his fiery tirades against all comers, including his own players.

    1985 gives us one example: While on a road trip to Baltimore, Martin would face off against one of his starting pitchers, Ed Whitson, at the Cross Keys Inn. Whitson would suffer a cracked rib and fat lip but came out on top, breaking his manager's right arm.

    Billy in His Own Words:

    "I may not have been the best Yankee to put on the pinstripes, but I am the proudest."—Billy Martin

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

10. (tie) Joe DiMaggio

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    13 seasons (1936-1951), winning nine World Series championships (and missing three seasons [1943-1945] while serving his country in World War II)

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Best known for his 56-game hitting streak in 1941 and his very public relationship with Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio was one of the smoothest fielding centerfielders the game has ever seen.

    A three-time AL MVP and 13-time All-Star, DiMaggio's already gaudy statistics and legacy may have been even more impressive had he not gone to serve in the US Air Force during World War II in what would have been the prime of his career from age 28 through 30.

    "Joltin' Joe" Speaks:

    "I'd like to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee."—Joe DiMaggio

9. Phil Rizzuto

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    13 seasons (1941-1956), winning seven World Series championships and 40 seasons as a broadcaster

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    No Yankee has touched more generations of fans then Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto.

    As a player, he was one of the smoothest fielding shortstops in the game and won the 1950 AL MVP award.

    As a broadcaster, he was one of the most energetic play-by-play announcers ever and his comical digressions and random musings only charmed those who were listening and watching, including his broadcast partners, most notably Mel Allen, Bill White and Bobby Murcer. His trademark "Holy Cow!" is legendary.

    His Teammates Loved Him:

    "My best pitch is anything the batter grounds, lines, or pops in the direction of (Phil) Rizzuto."Lefty Gomez

8. Paul O'Neill (tie)

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    Nine seasons (1993-2001), winning four World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    New Yorkers do not give out nicknames lightly, so when Paul O'Neill became known simply as "The Warrior," you knew he was something special.

    Between his clutch hitting, fiery attitude and willingness to sacrifice his body to make a play, O'Neill endeared himself to Yankees fans around the world in his nine years with the team.

    Never before has a Yankee received a tribute quite like what O'Neill received in the World Series...and I wonder if either Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera will receive as emotional a sendoff as O'Neill did.

    What the Fans are Saying:

    "Paul O'Neill made me fall in love with the Yankees."—Sharon Levine, Plainview, NY


8. Lou Gehrig (tie)

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    17 seasons (1923-1939), winning six World Series titles.

    Why the The Fans Love Him:

    One of the legendary players of all time, Lou Gehrig teamed with Babe Ruth to form the most formidable duo in the history of baseball.

    Gehrig holds 15 records in baseball history, including most RBIs in the AL for one season (185), most consecutive seasons of 100 runs scored or more (13) and most grand slams (23).

    The Speech:

    "Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and I have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure I'm lucky. Who wouldn't have considered it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrows? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky. When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat and vice versa, sends you a gift, that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeeper and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies, that's something. When you have a father and mother work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body, it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed, that's the finest I know. I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. And I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for."—Lou Gehrig, July 4, 1939

7. Babe Ruth

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    15 seasons (1920-1934) winning seven World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Two words—Babe. Ruth.

    The greatest baseball player who ever lived and the man who saved the Yankees franchise upon his arrival.

    What the Fans are Saying:

    "Some twenty years ago I stopped talking about the Babe (Ruth) for the simple reason that I realized that those who had never seen him didn't believe me."Tommy Holmes

6. Yogi Berra

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    18 seasons (1946-1963), winning 12 World Series championships, parts of three other seasons as manager (1964, 1984-1985) and seven seasons as a coach (1976-1982)

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    A legend—15 times an All-Star, 12 times a World Series champion with the Yankees and a three-time MVP award winner, Yogi Berra was a fixture on the Yankees for nearly 30 years.

    Yogi may be the most quotable Yankee of all-time, as his "Yogi-isms" have become nearly as legendary as the man himself.

    What the Fans Are Saying:

    "Yogi (Berra) had the fastest bat I ever saw. He could hit a ball late, that was already past him, and take it out of the park. The pitchers were afraid of him because he'd hit anything, so they didn't know what to throw. Yogi had them psyched out and he wasn't even trying to psych them out."Hector Lopez

5. Don Mattingly

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes

    14 seasons (1982-1995)

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Ask anyone who the best player on the Yankees in the '80s was, and the unanimous answer will be Don Mattingly.

    Not only is that statement 100 percent accurate, but it could be shocking to someone who never got to see him play firsthand, considering that two Hall of Famers—Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson, were his teammates for much of his career.

    Arguably the best defensive 1B in the game and one of the preeminent hitters of the '80s, Donnie Baseball was a quiet, dignified superstar who led by example.

    While his back would betray him and take away much of the power in his swing, Yankee fans never had a bad thing to say about him.

    To this day, fans do not believe that he has ever gotten the attention or accolades that he deserved, which include a spot in Cooperstown.

    If it was not for a man named Lou Gehrig, Mattingly would go down as the greatest 1B in the history of the Yankees.

    What the Fans are Saying:

    "He was always my idol growing up. I am a righty but would stand left-handed in the little league pictures just to be more like Donnie Baseball. I wore number 23 all throughout high school and 'The Hitman' is definitely responsible for all of my intense Yankee allegiances."Stephen Meyer, Bleacher Report writer/team leader extraordinaire

4. Mariano Rivera

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    17 seasons (1995-present), winning five World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    One of the undisputed leaders of the Yankees and the greatest relief pitcher who ever lived.

    Possibly the classiest professional athlete to ever put on a uniform.

    Divine Thoughts:

    "I think the good Lord is a Yankee."Mariano Rivera

3. Mickey Mantle

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    18 seasons (1951-1968), winning seven World Series championships.

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    The greatest switch-hitter to ever play the game and one of the best players to ever play the game, Mickey Mantle had the ability to hit for power and average. A 20-time All-Star, Mantle was named AL MVP three times and won the 1956 AL Triple Crown.

    Mantle had a penchant for hitting prodigious home runs, including one hit in Detroit's Tiger Stadium that is estimated to have traveled well over 600 feet.

    Mickey on the Yankees:

    "To play eighteen years in Yankee Stadium is the best thing that could ever happen to a ballplayer."Mickey Mantle

2. Derek Jeter

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    17 seasons (1995-present), winning five World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    Undisputed leader of the Yankees and the face of baseball.

    Derek Jeter is arguably the greatest shortstop of all time.

    Divine Thoughts:

    "God, I hope I wear this jersey forever."Derek Jeter



     

1. Thurman Munson

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    Time Spent in Pinstripes:

    11 seasons (1969-1979), winning two World Series championships

    Why the Fans Love Him:

    The heart and soul of the Yankees in the 1970s, Thurman Munson extended the Yankee tradition of having a perennial All-Star behind the plate for nearly 50 years, following the great careers of Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra and Elston Howard.

    Thurman was the first Yankee to be named captain since Lou Gehrig and the only Yankee to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP. His tragic death in 1979 knocked the wind out of the team and fans alike.

    A fierce competitor, Munson and Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk had a long-standing dislike of each other which only endeared Munson to Yankees fans even more. On August 1, 1973, the feud would come to a head. With the score tied at two and Munson on third in the top of the ninth inning, Yankees shortstop Gene Michael attempted to bunt him home. Munson broke for the plate on the pitch, but Michael missed the ball. 

    Michael attempted to block Fisk but was tossed to the ground just before Munson would smash into Fisk. Munson laid atop Fisk trying to allow teammate Felipe Alou, who was on first, to round the bases. A bench-clearing brawl ensued that would last 10 minutes and find Munson and Michael at the bottom of the pile with Fisk choking Michael with his left hand and punching Munson with his right.

    What the Fans Are Saying:

    "All-time fan-favorite? That's easy, it's Thurman Munson. Why? Because he was Thurman Munson."—Mike Friedland, Plantation, FL

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