About the Off-Season: A Pause to Give Thanks
by Tim Kabel
November 24, 2022
*** As we reach Thanksgiving, I want to take a break from talking about the 2022 season and building the roster for 2023. I don't want to focus on the Yankees re-signing Aaron Judge today. Those are all very important topics, and we will return to them very soon. There is something else on my mind right now.
The other night, I watched a new documentary, Facing Nolan. It was about the career of Nolan Ryan. I remember watching Nolan Ryan when he was with the Angels, the Astros, and finally, the Rangers. I know that he's a Hall of Famer. However, I didn't realize what a great career he had. He holds 51 Major League records. He pitched for 27 years. He has close to 6,000 career strikeouts. He threw seven no-hitters. Watching this documentary made me think about how many great players and moments I have seen in baseball. They are not all Yankees’ moments. They are not all about Yankees’ players. As a baseball fan I have witnessed many amazing things and I want to take a moment to mention some of them.
I have seen 3 Major League players, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, and Albert Pujols each hit their 700th career home run.
Of the top 20 career home run leaders, I have seen 17 of them play.
I have seen Greg Maddox, Roger Clemens, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry, Tom Seaver, and Randy Johnson pitch. They are all 300 game winners. I don't know if there will ever be another one.
The Yankees have won the World Series seven times since I became a fan.
I have seen more than 20 players who accumulated 3,000 or more hits.
As a Yankees fan, I have seen Catfish Hunter, Thurman Munson, Ron Guidry, Reggie Jackson, Graig Nettles, Dave Winfield, Don Mattingly, Goose Gossage Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, and Aaron Judge.
I have seen 14 men whose numbers are retired by the Yankees in uniform.
I have seen six of the twelve no hitters thrown by Yankees pitchers.
This year, I saw Aaron Judge break the American League home run record in one of the most amazing seasons any player ever had.
I saw Bucky Dent’s home run in Fenway Park in October in 1978.
I saw just about every game in the careers of Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada, among others.
I enjoyed many games announced by Phil Rizzuto, Bill White and Bobby Murcer. I was watching when Phil Rizzuto introduced himself as Bill White.
I consider myself very fortunate to be a Yankees’ fan and a baseball fan. Baseball has provided me with many wonderful memories and experiences. I have been to games with my mother, my sister, my brothers, my children and my friends. I was at a playoff game against Seattle in 1995. I have seen many of the best pitchers, hitters and fielders in the history of the game.
The best part is, I am only 58 years old. I am very excited because I will get to see more tremendous players. I will get to see more World Series victories by the Yankees. Perhaps one day, I can say I saw the entire career of Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza. Maybe I can talk nostalgically about Jasson Dominguez's first game.
This is what makes baseball so wonderful. As fans, we get to see new and wonderful things and players all the time. There's an old expression that you never know what you're going to see at a baseball game. You may see something you've never seen before. You may go to a game and see a triple play. You may turn the game on TV and see a no-hitter. Who would have ever thought Jim Abbott would pitch a no-hitter for the New York Yankees. I have passed my love of baseball on to my children and I'm very proud of that.
Memories of the game stay alive when we have conversations, arguments or discussions with our friends or family members. I'm sure this is true with other sports but in my opinion, baseball is truly unique in the way it is woven into our collective national conscience and memory.
Having seen the documentary on Nolan Ryan, I remembered how great he truly was. I know his win-loss record wasn't the best ever. But he had the lowest batting average against him in the history of the game at .204. When he went to the Rangers at the end of his career, the Yankees also made him an offer. Imagine if he had come to New York. Obviously, he didn't and probably never would have but just think about that for a minute. That's another example of the wonderful hypotheses and discussions we can have about this amazing sport. There was something else very interesting in the documentary. They detailed that when Nolan Ryan was young, he went to games to watch Sandy Koufax pitch, and studied him closely. Roger Clemens did the same thing with Ryan. "Circle of life, Simba, circle of life."
Take a minute today to think about your greatest memories that involve baseball. Most of mine involve games that I either watched on TV or attended with my family members.