Monument Park and Yankees History – Introduction To A New Extensive Series
Monument Park and Yankees History (Introduction)
By James Vleitstra
(Editor’s Note – James Vlietstra has researched and collected facts, some little-known, about the Yankees, their history, and individual players. James then composed an extensive series of posts where he first outlines Yankees history, shares interesting lists of players broken down by a variety of indicators, and takes a look at the most worthy candidates for inclusion in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park. We will be sharing this series with you at 4:00 p.m. each day.
Literature has War and Peace and Moby-Dick among other epic tomes. At SSTN, we have this series. In the end, you might agree that this ranks with the aforementioned classics.)
The New York Yankees were established in 1903 as The Highlanders. During their 118 year history, they have become the most successful franchise in North American sports. Their 27 World Series Championships are 16 more than the second place St Louis Cardinals.\
The Yankees have had 21 seasons of 100 or more victories since their last 100 loss season, which occurred in 1912 ( coincidentally the last year they used the Highlander nickname). In the same time span, there has been 75 total 100-win seasons by the other 29 MLB teams combined. That means that 28% of all of baseball’s 100-win seasons since 1912 have been collected by the Yankees.
Because of their unparalleled success, the Yankees have had more accolades bestowed upon their franchise than any other. There have been 1,709 players to suit up for the Yankees. Among these are some of the greatest names in the history of the sport. No franchise has been the home of this many of the sport’s greatest players. It is almost impossible to just list the greatest of the Yankees who fit this criteria without missing some names who belong, but no good history of baseball would be complete without including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera. And that, is, of course, just touching the surface.
Collectively the Yankees have had 15 players hit for the cycle, 20 MVP award winners and 5 Cy Young award winners. Nine Yankees have won the Rookie Of The Year award. Yankees have led the league in homers 30 times and the Yankees have won 10 batting titles. There have been 11 no hitters, including 3 perfect games , in the amazing history of the New York Yankees.
Of the 233 former MLB players that have been elected into the Hall Of Fame, 52 have played for the Yankees. Another 9 have entered as an executive, owner, or manager. Additionally, 12 Ford C. Frick Award winners have spent at least one season as a Yankees broadcaster. That’s a grand total of 73 Hall-of-Famers. The hallowed halls in Cooperstown would be vastly less populated without the Yankees.
Yankees history is baseball history.
Yankees Stadium features an area called Monument Park that recognizes some of the greatest players and events that have occurred there. According to YankeesNumbers.com, there have been 43 different inductees into Monument Park. This includes 28 former players, four managers, three owners, one broadcaster, one public announcer, plus Jackie Robinson, a September 11 Memorial, and commemorations for visits by Nelson Mandela and three Popes from the Vatican.
The Yankees do a better job of honoring their history than any other ball club. The original Old Timers Day took place on July 4th, 1939. On that day, they invited back the 1927 Murderers Row team to honor a dying Lou Gehrig. They have continued this annual tradition right up to the present. Throughout the years, legends such as Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra were mainstays that highlighted the event. However, in 2018, there were only two HOF players present: Mr. October, Reggie Jackson and the recently deceased Chairman Of The Board, Whitey Ford.
There are currently sixteen living HOF members that were Yankees. Mariano Rivera made his OTD debut in 2019 and I expect him to make the annual visit. It’s time to reach out to some of the other living legends and welcome them back.
Of the 32 uniformed personnel that are honored in Monument Park, only 13 of them are currently living. Nine of them continue to at least make occasional visits back to the Stadium. There are also nine living former World Series MVPs.
Some people believe that the Yankees have gone overboard with their retirement of former players numbers. That may be the case and that can be argued at a different time and place. The Yankees don’t have to retire numbers to honor their players. They have Monument Park as the perfect location for this honor. I don’t see a problem with honoring players in the Yankees Museum for accomplishments they achieved while part of the Yankees family. There are plenty of players that deserve to be recognized out there.
I am going to review the credentials of several former Yankees and see which ones are candidates to be celebrated in Monument Park. I am a proponent of celebrating the living while they are alive so those 75 years of age or older would be inducted immediately.
This series looks at all those who I consider worthy candidates.
I look forward to sharing all of this with you over the days ahead.