With Mariano Rivera retiring at seasons end, it begs the question of where he ranks among all-time Yankees ranks. There’s no debate he’s the greatest closer in the history of the sport, but doesn’t mean he’s also the greatest Yankee of all-time. Here’s how I picture the greatest players on sports winningest team:
10. Reggie Jackson
He’s got the nickname Mr. October for a reason. Jackson put on one of the greatest performances in World Series history by hitting home runs on 4 consecutive swings. He hit one in his last at bat in game 5, followed by 3 in series clinching game 6. Reggie played an integral part in New York winning their first title since 1962.
9. Bill Dickey
In my opinion, the most underrated Yankee of all-time is Bill Dickey. He was the first great Yankees catcher and won 7 championships during his time. Dickey is one of two catchers all-time to hit over .300 in 10 consecutive seasons. He also tutored Yogi Berra to be his successor after he retired.
8. Mariano Rivera
Rivera could be the classiest player to ever put on a baseball uniform ever. He’s probably the only player who is exactly the same after blowing a game, and after winning a World Series. Rivera’s 0.71 ERA is the best in post-season history, is joined by Sandy Koufax as the only players to pitch over 50 post-season innings and have an ERA under 1. Oh yeah, he’s also the all-time regular season, and post-season saves leader.
7. Whitey Ford
The “Chairman of the Board” is the greatest starting pitcher in the history of the Yankees. He has the most wins in team history with 236, and had the highest winning percentage (.690) of any pitcher in the 20th century (236-106). Ford pitched 33 consecutive scoreless innings in the World Series, a record, and his 10 wins and 94 strikeouts in the fall classic are also records. Ford won 6 championships while with New York.
6. Yogi Berra
Lawrence Peter Berra (Yogi) is the only player in MLB history who has a ring for every one of his fingers. He won 10 championships with the Yankees and holds the record for appearing in 14 World Series’. Over his 17 year career, the Yankees missed going to the World Series just 3 times. Berra is one of 3 catchers to win 3 MVPs, and one of 2 catchers to drive in over 80 runs in 11 straight seasons. He also has the best quotes ever…period.
5. Derek Jeter
Although he’s my favorite Yankee of all-time, Derek Jeter ranks 5th on my list. After the Yankees went 18 years with no championships, Jeter became the face of the franchise leading New York to 5 titles in his 17 years so far with the Yankees. His 200 post-season hits, 302 total bases, 32 doubles, 5 triples, 111 runs scored, and 158 games played are all his post-season records.
4. Joe DiMaggio
In my opinion, the owner of the 2nd most unbreakable record in baseball. Only CY Young’s 511 wins rank higher than DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. “The Yankee Clipper” was apart of 9 World Series championship teams including 4 straight from 1936-1939, and 3 straight from 1949-1951. He has the best home-run to strike-out ratio in history. DiMaggio hit 361 career home runs, and struck out just 369 times, meaning he was just as likely to hit a home run as he was to strike out. Almost unheard of. Before he died in 1999, he was recognized as “the greatest living ball-player”.
3. Lou Gehrig
A very soft-spoken man who let his play do the talking,”The Iron Horse” ranks 3rd on my list. Lou Gehrig holds the record of 184 RBIs in one season and also held the record of most consecutive games played (2,130) from 1939 until 1995 when Cal Ripken broke it and the most grand-slams (23), until Alex Rodriguez tied the mark in 2012. Over an 11-year stretch, Gehrig averaged 153 RBIs per season, insane. He won 6 titles during his time with the Yankees before his career was cut short at age 35 due to his fatal disease. Gehrig’s farewell speech in Yankee stadium is arguably one of the greatest and courageous speeches ever given.
2. Mickey Mantle
There have been many great Yankees, but no one owned the city like The Mick. Mantle won 7 titles with the Yankees from 1951-1968 and played in 12. His 536 career home runs are the most ever by a switch hitter, and he holds an additional 12 switch hitting records. Mantle won the 1956 triple crown with a .353 average, 52 home runs, and 130 RBIs.
1. Babe Ruth
How could the man who put an 86-year curse on the Red Sox not be number 1 on my list of greatest Yankees? Ruth is the most dominant player in any sport ever. In 1920, Ruth hit 54 home runs, more than any other American League team’s combined total. One player having more home runs than a team will never happen again. Ruth led the league in home runs a record 12 times, and when he retired, hit over twice as many home runs as anyone else. In my opinion, Ruth literally built the Yankees. The Giants were the team before Ruth got there, and as soon as he came, the Giants kicked the Yankees out of the Polo Grounds leading to Yankee Stadium. He led the Yankees to their first World Series appearance in 1921, and their first title in 1923.
Although they didn’t make my list, here are players I considered who just missed the cut: Jorge Posada, Paul O’Neil, Red Ruffing, Ron Guidry, Thurman Munson, and Phil Rizzuto
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