MLB's 17 Greatest In-Season Memorials of All-Time
Though it’s unfortunate that many memorable moments in baseball have occurred in the wake of a death, the game has done a fine job in properly honoring those players.
While some examples are more recent than others, the tributes capture the essence of the ballplayer or entity being honored.
Major League Baseball takes pride in seeing players sent off in honorable fashion.
Here are 17 of the greatest in-season memorials of all-time.
Note: With so many tributes, it’s easy to miss one. Please include any other memorable ones in the comments sections and provides any relevant video links. Thanks.
17. Mickey Mantle Honored on Final Day of Yankee Stadium
On September 21, 2008, the last ever regular season game was played at the old Yankee Stadium.
Many former New York Yankee greats were on hand to send off the stadium, but one person held significant meaning.
Mickey Mantle’s son, David Mantle, ran out to center field in place of his father.
This was a great tribute to the “Mick” and also to his family.
16. Cubs Wear Harry Caray's Face on Uniform
Harry Caray was the face of the Chicago Cubs for so many years.
Sadly, he passed away too soon at the age of 77 after collapsing due to circulation problems in 1998.
To honor their long time broadcaster, the Cubs wore a patch of Caray’s smiling face on their sleeve during that season.
This was a great tribute to a great man.
15. Jack Buck Memorial Service
After his death from cancer in 2002, legendary Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck was honored with a pre-game ceremony at Busch Stadium.
Joe Buck and scores of fans paid their respects to Buck, whose coffin was publicly displayed behind home plate.
This was a nice way for the fans to say thank you to Jack and Buck family.
14. Bob Feller Honored Opening Day
Though he passed away this offseason, Bob Feller is the type of player and person that can never receive enough of tribute—that’s how great he was.
The current Cleveland Indians players were all introduced wearing Feller’s No.19 in the pre-game ceremonies on Opening Day.
For the duration of the season, the Indians have worn a patch the depicts Feller’s memorable high leg kick.
The Indians also gave Feller a video tribute.
13. Thurman Munson Ceremony
Yankees catcher Thurman Munson tragically died in a plane crash on August 3, 1979.
This occurred on a Yankee off-day, and the next night was filled with emotion.
51,000 fans gave the 32 year old Munson a ten-minute standing ovation that left everyone in tears.
Though circumstances surrounding his death were unfortunate, the Yankees did a fine job in remembering him. He was even given a monument in the famed Monument Park.
12. Ernie Harwell Honored by Tigers
Ernie Harwell was the voice of the Detroit Tigers organization.
He passed away in May 2010 after a year-long battle with cancer.
Though there was no public memorial service, the Tigers honored him with a memorable pre-game ceremony.
Each fan received a Harwell memento to commemorate his great career.
11. Mariners Honor Dave Niehaus
Long-time Seattle Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus passed away this offseason, and he too was honored on earlier this year.
Niehaus’ famous line, “My Oh My!,” was etched out behind second base for this game.
Also, a section of the stadium was renamed “Dave Niehaus Way South.”
These were just small tributes to honor the unmeasurable legacy of Niehaus.
10. Darryl Kile Tribute
What a tragedy Darryl Kile’s untimely death was in 2002.
He was found dead in his hotel room after the Cardinals grew weary that he hadn’t yet arrived to the ballpark just two hours before a game in Chicago against the Cubs.
The game was cancelled, but the next day’s game—Kile’s scheduled start—was played in memory of Kile.
Many teams properly honored Kile before their games that day, even the ones he never pitched for.
9. Ted Williams Tribute
Ted Williams is known as arguably the greatest hitter of all-time.
Therefore, when he passed away in 2002, all of baseball mourned the loss of the Hall of Fame slugger.
In a touching tribute, the Red Sox grounds grew mowed Williams’ No. 9 into the spot where he played in left field.
It’s important to note that Williams’ career was cut short since he served his country in the military. As a result, military personnel participated in the pre-game ceremony to remember Ted for all aspects of his life.
8. Twins Wear 1961 Jerseys to Honor Harmon Killebrew
Baseball lost one of its greats earlier this year with the passing of Harmon Killebrew from esophageal cancer.
The Minnesota Twins prepared a video tribute for him before the game as well as donned 1961 throwback jerseys to honor their slugger.
It was a sad day to see him go, but the Twins did a great job in paying tribute to one of the most beloved figures in franchise history.
7. George Steinbrenner Giant Banner Presentation
The entire sports world mourned the loss of “The Boss” George Steinbrenner.
To properly honor him, the Yankees erected a huge banner in the right field stands with his image on it.
In addition to this banner, Steinbrenner was honored with a monument in Monument Park. His was substantially bigger than all the others, which is expected since he was a larger than life figure.
6. Derek Jeter Honors Bob Sheppard
Right before George Steinbrenner died, Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard passed away at the age of 99.
Sheppard had one of the most recognizable voices in all of sports, since he was also the public address announcer for the New York Giants.
Yankees shortstop and captain Derek Jeter honored Sheppard by not coming up to any announcement in his first at-bat since Sheppard’s death.
Jeter walked up to Sheppard’s voice in his following at-bats to keep the voice alive.
Teams on the road even obliged, showing the great respect everyone had for Sheppard.
5. Giants Salute Brian Stow
In one of the worst stories in baseball histories, Los Angeles Dodgers fans brutally beat San Francisco Giants fan Brian Stow on Opening Day this season.
He was in critical condition for three months, but just recently his status was elevated to serious and doctors are encouraged by his progress.
The Giants honored Stow before a game this season and, more importantly, gave a presentation on fan violence.
Fans need to remember that it’s just a game, and innocent victims should not suffer due to other fans’ immaturity.
4. Last Game at Shea Stadium
Though the Mets lost the final game of the 2008 season thus eliminating their hope of a playoff berth, the final ceremony commemorating Shea Stadium was a perfect send off to a New York landmark.
Mets legends lined up a long the first and third base lines and individually touched home plate and then waved to the crowd.
The two most prominent players in franchise history—Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza—closed the doors of the stadium as they walked through an opening in the center field wall towards the Mets new home, Citi Field.
Big Shea will forever live on in Mets fans memories.
3. Phillies Celebrate Division Crown with Harry Kalas
Harry Kalas suddenly collapsed in the broadcast booth in April 2009.
Though the Phillies prepared a memorable tribute ceremony for their long-time broadcaster, it was an event later in the season that was even more memorable.
When the Phillies clinched the NL East title, the players ran out as a team to celebrate with the banner of Kalas on the outfield wall.
They all touched the banner and poured champagne on it.
This was a very poignant moment, especially for Phillies fans.
2. Angels Celebrate with Nick Adenhart
After a marvelous MLB debut, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Nick Adenhart’s life was tragically cut short by a drunk driver.
This death weighed heavily on many baseball people for the entire season.
When the Angels clinched the AL West crown, they immediately ran out to the banner of Adenhart on the outfield wall—similar to the Phillies and Kalas.
As fans chanted “Adenhart,” the Angels players posed for a picture with their fallen teammate, showing that Nick had been with them every step of the way.
The players also doused Adenhart’s jersey with celebratory beer.
1. Baseball Returns After 9/11/2001
The events of September 11, 2001 shook the entire nation to its core.
For ten days, baseball was an afterthought as the nation focused on healing its wounds.
On September 21, Shea Stadium hosted the first game in New York after the terrorist attacks.
In a memorable pre-game ceremony, the Mets honored the thousands of NYPD, FDNY and countless other service workers aiding in the rescue mission.
The Mets were playing their arch-rivals—the Atlanta Braves—and were in the middle of a close pennant race.
However, the Braves met the Mets on the infield before the game and exchanged hugs, showing that unity was more important than baseball at that moment.
Through America’s pastime, the nation took its first steps towards recovery.