The Most Notable Yankee Replacements of All Time
Recently, New York Yankee fans have been “down in the dumps” so to speak about Greg Bird having a shoulder injury and will be missing the 2016 season. Greg Bird was a big hit (sorry for the pun), for Yankee fans in 2015. He showed that the farm system is “working” and the new era of pinstripers are coming in fast and are here to stay. Now, let's be rational. Whether you like it or not, Greg Bird was NOT going to start at 1st base on 1 East 161st Street, barring any injuries. Brian Cashman said earlier in the offseason that “Greg Bird is great, but Mark Teixeira is better” and he is 100% right. Bird could have provided an additional depth for A-Rod and Tex, but Cashman did make it clear he would start at Triple-A. Once the news broke that Bird would be missing 2016, everyone immediately said “Sign Pedro Alvarez! Sign Justin Morneau!”. Sure, decent ideas. So, it got me thinking about “Replacement Yankees.” Going from one player/feature to another with some fans not being happy at first, but then jumping on board with the new.
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Pipp to Gehrig: Ah, the most expensive aspirin taken in history! Wally Pipp was no “favorite Yankee” but we all know what happened when Gehrig replaced Wally. Gehrig went on to be one of the greatest players the game has ever seen.
Dickey to Berra: Bill Dickey was a Yankee favorite. Bill Dickey is enshrined in Cooperstown and was part of the Yankees glory years from the 1920’s to the 1940’s. Dickey is also given credit for establishing Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra as a great catcher. Fans didn’t have much problem in the end with a short, Italian, St. Louis kid taking his spot.
DiMaggio to Mantle: If you ever have watched the movie 61*, it details the problems facing Mantle as he was replacing the great Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio. Not a very easy task, to say the least. Both Yankees are virtually loved by Yankee fans and baseball.
Mattingly to Martinez/Jeter: It really is ashame that Donnie Baseball had a very good Yankee career but not a glorious postseason career because, well, he only played playoff baseball once. Also, we can’t forget that Mattingly had major injuries during his career. 1995 was a special season for the Yankees as the most notable Yankee youth movement was on the rise. If it wasn’t for those damn Mariners, who knows what could have been. Mattingly was replaced by Tino Martinez at first base. And woah, fans did NOT like the Bamtino right away. He struggled to be the hitter he was, but before you knew it, he was a fan favorite with rings on his fingers and a plaque in Monument Park. Jeter also replaced Mattingly as the face and captain of New York baseball. Sorry, Mike Piazza and David Wright, Queens takes a back seat to the Bronx. Jeter handled those two platforms very well and arguably is the most beloved Yankee of all time.
Rivera to the New Bullpen: “How will the Yankees ever replace Mo?” was a common question asked after 2013. Well, the Yankees have done pretty well. Robertson did it, Betances and Miller have done it and Chapman will have the chance to do it. Not too bad.
Old Yankee Stadium to New Yankee Stadium: This is a tough one. How do you even compare the two? With all the history Old Yankee Stadium has, it’s almost unmatched by any other establishment for sports. Although, winning the World Series in 2009, having multiple milestone and retirement ceremonies by Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera and storybook endings to games, New Yankee Stadium in its short history has produced a legacy of its own.
As you can see, Yankee fans have been blessed with a luxury of “replacements”. Most of our “replacements” have been better than a lot of teams “star” players. Next time, try not to freak out about an injury, a trade, a signing or a position switch. Who knows? We could add to this list in the future. (How about Jeter to Gregorious?) If you have any other replacement stories you’d like to share, leave them in the comments!
Article By: Tom Cronin
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