#1- Babe Ruth, RF

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Year Inducted: 1936 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 215/226)

Score: 65705

In 1947, much as they did to honor Lou Gehrig, the Yankees held a tribute day to honor one of their greats.  Thirteen years after he had worn a Yankee uniform, the Bronx Bombers were honoring Babe Ruth one more time before his inevitable end due to throat cancer.  Thousands of people packed Yankee Stadium, with millions more listening via radio and speakers lining the streets of New York, as former opponents, managers, teammates and friends saluted a man who reinvented the game of baseball and was truly the game’s greatest player.  The sight of this once great man, this giant who always was larger than the game itself as now a frail, suffering man pulled at everyone’s heartstrings.  Ruth would give a small speech as his voice was practically gone that, while not on Gehrig’s level in terms of grandness, was still as emotional and impactful as ever as Ruth, one final time, walked off the field as the greatest player who ever lived.

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#6- Lou Gehrig, 1B

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Year Inducted: 1939 (BBWAA, special election)

Score: 57274

It was a day never before seen on a baseball field.  Between the games of a double header against the Washington Senators, the Yankees decided to honor one of their living greats while they still could.  The quiet link between the Babe Ruth years and the Joe DiMaggio years could no longer play baseball due to an incurable disease.  Lauded with fan appreciation and gifts befitting a king, the quiet leader of the club stepped forward to address the public, and issued what many believe to be baseball’s equivalent of the Gettysburg Address.  A man who knew he would face his end painfully and abruptly, took full courage and said in front of a sold out Yankee Stadium that he thought he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth because he got to play baseball.  That was Lou Gehrig in a nutshell, quiet yet dignified and whether he would admit it or not, often times larger than the game itself.

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#25- Mickey Mantle, CF

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Year Inducted: 1974 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 322/365)

Score: 37107

There are some players that come up to the big leagues with all the hype in the world, and are expected to be great players.  Sometimes they are expected to become the best ever.  Joe DiMaggio was mostly like that, as were Ken Griffey and most recently Bryce Harper.  That can put an amazing amount of pressure on a kid, especially if he happens to play in New York.  In 1951, Joe D’s final season, the Yanks brought up the player they thought was going to replace him in center field to learn on the job from one of the greats.  They heaped a ton of pressure on this kid, and gave him the number 6 (following Ruth [3], Gehrig [4] and DiMaggio [5]).  After a rough start that season, they sent him back down to the minors.  When called back up later that year, he was sporting the number 7, and Mickey Mantle was off and running to be one of the greatest players of all-time.

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#27- Yogi Berra, Catcher

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Year Inducted: 1972 (BBWAA, ballot #2, 339/396)

Score: 36169

For most teams that carry a catcher for a long period of time, the transition from one catcher to the next can be a major passing of the torch.  When Mike Matheny was the catcher for the Cardinals, he helped train his eventual replacement in Spring Training, and guided him throughout most of the season at the Major League level.  The Cardinals were so pleased at how well Yadier Molina did, they let Matheny (a very good defender behind the plate and someone the entire pitching staff admired) walk in free agency after the 2004 season.  It was very akin to what the Yankees did in the 1940’s.  Bill Dickey retired in 1946, and spent some time that season and the following years training his successor to be a good catcher.  The end result was making Yogi Berra one of the greatest catchers of all-time.

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#28- Joe DiMaggio, CF

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Year Inducted: 1955 (BBWAA, ballot #4, 223/251)

Score: 36155

The Yankees have elevated several players to a status well beyond their numbers.  Players like Phil Rizzuto and Herb Pennock became Hall of Famers primarily due to the Pinstripes, but players like Whitey Ford and Bill Dickey are rightly recognized as legitimate legends.  There are two players, however, that are absolutely great players but their place in history can sometimes get overblown by fans and media.  One is, of course, Derek Jeter.  Jeter was a fantastic player, but not the greatest shortstop ever, and certainly not deserving of four Gold Gloves.  The other was a center fielder who, upon his retirement, had to always be referred to as the Greatest Living Player.  That was of course, Mr. Coffee himself, Joe DiMaggio.

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#54- Bill Dickey, Catcher

 

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Year Inducted: 1954 (BBWAA, ballot #9, 202/252)

Score: 30329

Yogi Berra became the full-time catcher for the Yankees at the height of their dominance, and would go on to be a part of a record 10 World Championship seasons.  Berra, of course, would for a time be considered the best catcher of all-time.  And yet, even he would admit that, while he was an excellent hitter, he had to learn how to be a strong defender from someone.  Berra’s predecessor, whom he completely overshadowed in a matter of weeks of taking up the reigns from him, was one of the best catchers of all-time in his own right.  That, of course, was the legendary Bill Dickey.

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#72- Whitey Ford, SP3

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Year Inducted: 1974 (BBWAA, ballot #2, 284/365)

Score: 28380

The Yankees easily have the most Hall of Famers.  Players like Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth would have been Hall of Famers regardless of their teams, however.  But, there have been a lot of players already covered here that wouldn’t have made the Hall of Fame had they not been on the Yankees during some of their glory years.  Mostly, it’s been their pitchers.  Pitchers like Red Ruffing, Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt weren’t really among the greatest pitchers in history.  In fact, only four pitchers for the Yanks can really be argued as to truly deserving of the induction.  Jack Chesbro was a star of the early years, Goose Gossage was one of the greatest closers ever, and Lefty Gomez was a great pitcher in the 1930’s.  But, who was the greatest pitcher to ever toe the rubber for the Yanks?  Without a doubt, it must be Whitey Ford.

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