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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

A Quick Look at Last Place in Yankees History

by Paul Semendinger

August 9, 2023

***

Dating back to the Yankees' earliest days, the following are the times the Yankees have been in last place in August or September in any season:


1908 - Finished in last place (8 teams) with a record of 53-103-1. Two managers led the team, Clark Griffith, and Kid Elberfeld. There was a new manager in place for the 1909 season.


1912 - Finished in last place (8 teams) with a record of 50-102-1. Manager Harry Wolverton did not return for the 1913 season.


1913 - Finished in 7th place (8 teams) with a record of 57-94-2. Manager Frank Chance was brought back for the 1914 season, but he was replaced with 20 games to go that year.


1966 - Finished in last place (10 teams) with a record of 70-89-1. Manager Johnny Keane was replaced 20 games into that season.


1967 - Finished in 9th place (10 teams) with a record of 72-90-1. Manager Ralph Houk returned for the 1968 season (and remained manager through the 1973 season.)


1990 - Finished in last place (7 teams) with a record of 67-95. Two managers led the team. Bucky Dent was replaced after 49 games by Stump Merrill who returned to manage in 1991. Merrill would be replaced as manager after the 1991 season.


2023 - How the season finishes is yet to be determined...


***

This quick history demonstrates that:

  • It is very rare for the Yankees to be in last place in August (or later) in any season.

  • Of the managers who brought the team to a last place finish, only one, Ralph Houk, continued managing for any significant length of time after that last place finish.

***

The pre-1920 Yankees (the pre-Babe Ruth Yankees) had never finished in first place. Once Babe Ruth arrived, the Yankees became the sport's greatest team.


Since Babe Ruth, and up to this year, the Yankees had only been in last place this late in a season three times. Two of those years, 1966 and 1967, were after the bottom fell out and the Yankees were adrift with an ownership group (CBS) that did not seem to focus much, if at all, on the team. The CBS years were among the worst in the team's history.


The other worse period in Yankees' history were the late 1980s into the early 1990s when the team was also in shambles. In that time George Steinbrenner was suspended from the game. It wasn't a fun time to be a Yankees' fan.

***

The 2023 Yankees have now joined this small and unproud group of teams who were among the worst in this franchise's very successful history.




14 Comments


Cary Greene
Cary Greene
Aug 09, 2023

What many fail to account for is that Steinbrenner would never have built a dynasty if he wasn't suspended, because it was not he, but Stick Michael, who really built the last Yankees dynasty. It would never have been possible to make good baseball decisions with Steinbrenner at the helm.


Yes, the Boss brought in some free agents and what not, but Stick created a sustainable concept, as the Core four (or five if we want to include Bernie) proved. The Yankees were strong up the middle. Then they imported some key starters and some production so that was George's contribution here and there. He spent, in an era where competitive balance was a total joke.


Regarding Hal, he's just…

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Aug 10, 2023
Replying to

I never said "trades don't matter"; my point is that trades were the province of the GM. Sure, George signed off on them, but he wasn't the instigator. Likewise, it's a different kettle of fish when you are re-signing or extending someone. Yes, George had to ok it, but it was presented to him by the GM as a good strategy. Clemens was, as I recall, the only major FA signing that George orchestrated during that era (I don't count reclamation projects like Strawberry as "major"), unlike in the 70s and 80s where there were the Catfish/Reggie/Goose/Rawley Eastwick, etc., signings. That's my point. Steingrabber gets credit for Not Bleeping It Up for the late '90s/early '00s teams, but the overwh…

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Aug 09, 2023

Steinbrenner's suspension was the ONLY time it was fun to be a Yankee fan at that time. Do you not remember the huge cheer from the fans when the ban was announced in the middle of a game. At last, there was hope again, and the Yankees were in first place in 1994 before the strike.

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Aug 09, 2023
Replying to

I don't disagree with that, but what also cannot be denied was that once he came back, he was focused on making the deals that would bring the Yankees back to glory.


From 1965 through today, the only times the Yankees have won the World Series were when George was in control. That's just a fact.


It's also becoming clear that the more Hal tries to act not like his dad, the further away from the World Series the Yankees get.

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