Homegrown: Still the Best Way to Win
In the world of baseball the New York Yankees are most frequently affiliated with two things: World Series Championships and big spending. As a result, people are often led to believe that those two things are related; that the Yankees just bought their way to their rings.
It is true, there have been no shortage of instances when the Yankee brass opened the checkbook to win big, most recently this offseason’s record deal for Gerrit Cole. The Bombers wouldn’t have won the 2009 title without adding Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia. It was the addition of Reggie Jackson that pulled the Yanks out of the doldrums of the 1970s.
However, if you look at the best players in Yankees history, they aren’t the ones bought, but the ones made down on the farm. There are 22 numbers in Monument Park. After removing Joe Torre and Casey Stengel, who are in as managers, 17 of the 20 players came up through the New York farm system, with only Babe Ruth, Roger Maris and Reggie Jackson being imports. On the remaining 17, 13 are Yankee lifers, meaning they played their entire career in pinstripes (14 if we don’t count Yogi Berra coming out of retirement to play four games as a Met).
It’s not just Monument Park though. Sure the 2009 title will forever be remembered as the one bought in the offseason, but the vast majority of the 27 World Championships came from down on the farm. Sure adding Babe Ruth is what everyone remembers, but it was adding him to Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri and Earl Combs, three Hall of Famers who came up through the Yankee system.
Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing are the reason the late ‘30s and early ‘40s were so good in the Bronx. All of them came up through the Yankee system.
Those teams of the ‘50s and ‘60s? Aside from Roger Maris almost exclusively home grown stars. Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Elston Howard, Billy Martin, Phil Rizzuto. All of them homegrown.
So assuming we don’t give all the credit to Babe Ruth, 20 of those 27 rings have a very distinct homegrown flavor. Though you’ll probably say, well once the ‘70s hit it became clear the Yankees needed to add talent to win. No way they win the two in 1977 and 1978 without Reggie Jackson, and there is of course the afore-mentioned 2009 title.
But I counter with 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000. Everyone knows the core four reasons those titles were won. Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada. All homegrown.
So at the end of the day, the path to titles still starts at home on the farm. Which is a good sign for the Yankees because the big names on the team today took that same road. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Gleyber Torres. Each one of them. Home. Grown.