The Yankees Index: Every Number Tells a Story

The Yankees Index: Every Number Tells a Story

by Mark Simon


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The Yankees Index: Every Number Tells a Story by Mark Simon

Yankees fans have witnessed improbable feats, extraordinary achievements, and unmatched performances during the team's 100-plus seasons. The Yankees Index details the numbers every Yankees fan—from the rookie attending his first game at Yankee Stadium to the veteran who recalls Ron Guidry's days on the mound—should know. Author Mark Simon tells the stories behind the most memorable moments and achievements in Yankees history in this full-color book full of insightful and fun infographics and history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781629371764
Publisher: Triumph Books
Publication date: 06/01/2016
Series: Numbers Don't Lie Series
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Mark Simon is a writer and researcher for ESPN, helping to oversee the ESPN Stats & Information blog and social media presence. Prior to joining ESPN in 2002, Simon was a sportswriter for the Trenton Times. He lives in Plymouth, Connecticut.

Read an Excerpt

The Yankees Index

Every Number Tells a Story

By Mark Simon

Triumph Books LLC

Copyright © 2016 Mark Simon
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63319-525-7


Dominance: 27 World Series Titles

When Joe Girardi was introduced as Yankees manager in November 2007, he was presented with a uniform that would serve as a reminder of the ultimate goal.

The number on the back was 27, which represented what number the team's next World Series title would be.

The Yankees have since won a World Series, and Girardi subsequently changed the number on his back to 28. But for now, it's that total of 27 championships that represents the greatness of the Yankees' historic past.

"They have more than twice as many as any other team," said ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian, noting that the Cardinals rank second with 11.

It is a number to celebrate. It's the most championships by any team in any of the four major sports. The next-most by a New York team is eight by the NFL's Giants.

There is a singular expectation when you become a member of the Yankees. The 10,000-plus regular season wins matter. But they pale in comparison to the 27 titles.

Your goal is to win the World Series. You'll hear the owner say it, the general manager say it, the manager say it, and the players say it.

That's a lot of pressure. There's also the extra pressure that comes with playing in the biggest media market in the world.

"Playing here is at the complete other end of the spectrum than anywhere else," then-Yankee Dave Winfield said in 1987. "In New York, it's life or death. Everything is magnified."

Some players thrive in that sort of atmosphere and those who do become legends. The greatness of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, and Derek Jeter shined in the most important moments under the New York spotlight. They're now icons in the team's history.

How did the Yankees get to the point in which greatness was such a casual expectation? From 1903 to 1919 they were more often pretender than contender. They came close to winning the AL title on a couple of occasions but were not the dynasty that dominated much of the 20th century.

That changed with the purchase of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox, though the Yankees did not win a pennant until 1921 and a championship until his fourth season, 1923, the team's first in Yankee Stadium.

Coincidentally, the Yankees winning that Series stopped another potential dynasty, the New York Giants, in its tracks.

There was an October magic that seemed to follow the Yankees. This franchise seemed capable of all sorts of greatness in the Fall Classic. They were a team of destiny, a team that has won more than twice as many World Series as it lost. And they've had so many memorable postseason moments.

Three-homer games? Check.

A perfect game? Check.

Amazing ninth-inning comebacks? Check.

The Yankees' home ballpark also provided a comfortable advantage. The team had something it could build around, left-handed hitters who could take aim at the short porch in right field. Ruth was the first great slugger. Many others followed.

The Yankees established themselves as consistent championship material in the late 1920s, but it wasn't until the next decade that they became a dynasty. The Yankees won four World Series in a row from 1936 to 1939 and six titles in eight seasons in all. They would better that over the 18-year period from 1947 to 1964, when they appeared in 15 World Series, winning 10, including five straight from 1949 to 1953.

This was when the Yankees–Brooklyn Dodgers rivalry was at its peak. The Yankees beat the Dodgers in 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953 before the Dodgers finally vexed their nemesis, winning the title in 1955. The Yankees came back to win it all by beating the Dodgers the following season.

The Yankees lost their way from 1965 to 1975, not even making a postseason in that time.

New owner George Steinbrenner did his part to change that, bringing in best-of-the-best talent in Catfish Hunter and Jackson, which resulted in the Yankees winning back-to-back titles over the Dodgers in 1977 and 1978. Steinbrenner, for better or worse, also brought with him a version of "winning or bust" that was loud and harsh.

The Yankees again suffered a prolonged title-winning slump, partly due to unwise spending in the 1980s and early 1990s but returned to prominence by winning four titles in a five-year span, including three straight from 1998 to 2000.

It's a lot harder to win the World Series than it used to be, with the combination of revenue sharing and three full rounds of postseason play leveling the playing field a little bit. Since that last dynastic run, the Yankees have won only one title, the 27th in 2009.

The Yankees fan has learned to be a more understanding and more patient fan and to be accepting of other accomplishments.

"While winning every year is a fine goal, I've enjoyed plenty of teams and years that haven't resulted in winning the last game of the year," said Jason Rosenberg, who runs the Yankees fan blog It's About the Money, Stupid. "I am disappointed when we don't win, but I don't expect to win every year."

But that doesn't change the goal, for the owner, the general manager, the manager, or the players. There's an appreciation for winning in New York that goes beyond other places.

"What I miss when I'm away is the pride in baseball," former Yankees manager Billy Martin once said. "Especially the pride of being on a team that wins."

And there's no bigger winner than the New York Yankees.


Colonel Jacob Ruppert Buys Babe Ruth for $125,000

When Miller Huggins took over as manager of the Yankees in 1918, the team was lacking in a number of areas. That's why one of his first moves was to try to trade his entire infield for St. Louis Browns star George Sisler.

Huggins didn't land Sisler, but that didn't stop Huggins and Yankees management from pursuing other players. In the off-season following the 1919 season, the Yankees were given the opportunity to purchase a one-of-a-kind player. It became the most notable deal in baseball history.

The player was Babe Ruth, the game's greatest hitter and arguably one of its best pitchers, whose three victories helped the Boston Red Sox win World Series titles in 1916 and 1918.

Ruth hit a major-league record 29 home runs in 1919, the last year of baseball's Dead Ball Era, as he moved into a role in which he played the outfield much more than he pitched.

Ruth's power was far beyond that of his fellow players. Only three other American Leaguers even reached 10 home runs that season. He was referred to as a "Colossus of the bat" a name that would eventually be refined to "Sultan of Swat."

But Ruth had some concerns heading into the 1920 season. Though he had two years left on his contract, he wanted a big raise and a deal more befitting of his talents, at around $20,000 per year. He threatened to hold out if his contract wasn't redone.

Reporters began to take sides. Sportswriter Ty Hettinger said that Ruth should be disciplined for refusing to fulfill his contract. That same day, famous sportswriter Damon Runyon pointed out that Ruth would be a bargain if he was making $100,000.

Red Sox owner Harry Frazee was stuck. He was a theater operator and needed money, both to finance his plays and to pay off debt on Fenway Park. He couldn't afford a fight with a ballplayer who wanted a big-money deal.

Frazee knew that his friend, Yankees owner and president Jacob Ruppert, had the money to make the biggest transaction in baseball history, as the two had conducted a number of deals for players the last few seasons and Ruppert had previously pursued Ruth over the summer.

In a deal that now would be best described as "Steinbrennerian," Ruppert bought Ruth from the Red Sox for $125,000 and a $300,000 loan that secured a mortgage on Fenway Park.

The idea that any such deal between the Yankees and Red Sox would take place now is unthinkable. But back then, circumstances for both sides were such that it was reasonable. The rivalry was in its earliest stages back then.

Initial reports were that Ruth was resistant to the deal. But Ruppert dispatched Huggins to Ruth's home in California and within a day, Ruth was on board.

"New York fandom may rest assured the big fellow is determined to set such a home run record in 1920 as has never before been dreamed of," Ruppert told reporters.

Ruth lived up to that by hitting 54 home runs in 1920, 25 more than the record. The Yankees didn't win the World Series, but they won 95 games that season and established credibility when the sport needed it.

There was no resting for Ruppert. In his biography on the Society for Baseball Research Bioproject website, author Dan Levitt notes "Ruppert, always the perfectionist, wanted not only to win, but to win big."

Ruppert returned to the Red Sox not only for other player purchases, but to pilfer away front-office personnel. He signed away Red Sox manager Ed Barrow, to fill the role of what we now know as a general manager.

Together, the two built a baseball dynasty. Ruppert and his partner, T.L. Huston, also built a new ballpark. The team moved into a new home in 1923, one that became a baseball mecca. The Yankees won six pennants and three World Series in the 1920s and won five World Series titles in the 1930s, though Ruppert was not around to see the last of those.

He died in 1939 at age 71.

"Colonel Ruppert's passing robs his organization of a keen intellect with outstanding business judgment and acumen and baseball of an outstanding and colorful personality," said Yankees executive Larry MacPhail.

Though Barrow was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953, Ruppert was not enshrined for another 60 years.

When the Hall of Fame convened a special pre-integration panel to vote on candidates in December 2012, a number of that panel's members were surprised to see Ruppert on their ballot. Former Yankees GM Bob Watson admitted to thinking that Ruppert was already an honoree.

The committee voted Ruppert into the Hall. He was inducted in 2013.


Babe Ruth's 60 HR in 1927

Nine games into the 1927 season, Babe Ruth was hitting .233 with one home run.

"Ruth Falters During Early Season," read one newspaper headline.

Such was the narrative for baseball's best slugger for a couple of weeks, which seems ridiculous in hindsight. But it wasn't unusual.

"Babe Ruth had more photos taken of him than anyone on the planet and more words written about him than anyone on the planet," said MLB's official historian, John Thorn.

Said baseball writer Cecilia Tan: "He was a cultural phenomenon that went beyond sports or even American popular culture in general."

When Ruth was playing well, the words were kind. When he wasn't, the treatment was rough.

Ruth had set such a high standard in previous seasons (he set the major league record for home runs with 54 in 1920 and 59 in 1921) that if he dared go into a funk, the media was all over him.

Entering May 11, Ruth was hitting .314 with seven home runs and 14 RBIs in 24 games (along with 25 walks). But one syndicated article referred to him as "the big disappointment of the Yankees" and speculated that Ruth's off-season moviemaking was to blame.

"It is a well-known fact that the powerful Klieg lights used in the process of making motion pictures are not regarded as eye tonic for a home run hitter," read the column. "Perhaps the glare of the winter work has temporarily hurt Ruth's vision."

Ruth, who liked to box, put that talk down with a few baseball-style haymakers.

He hit .373 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs in a 20-game stretch to close May. That shut the reporters up and put him in line for a historic feat.

Through June, July, and August, Ruth had company in his homer hitting. His teammate, first baseman Lou Gehrig, matched Ruth blow for blow.

The home run chase became the story of the season, as the Yankees pulled away in the pennant race. At the end of August, Ruth led 43 to 41.

What makes Ruth's 1927 season really amazing is how he closed it. Entering September, he needed 16 home runs to tie and 17 home runs to break his previous home run mark.

Ruth's high for home runs in a calendar month to that point was 14 in July 1924, when he played in 37 games. The 1927 Yankees had only 28 games remaining.

Ruth had one thing going for him. The Yankees were set to finish their road schedule on September 7. They closed the season with 21 straight home games, advantageous because the short porch in right field was an inviting target for a left-handed power hitter.

A September 6 doubleheader at Fenway Park marked the turning point. Gehrig homered early in the first game against the Red Sox to go ahead of Ruth, 45–44.

But Ruth matched Gehrig with a titanic blast, one described as the longest homer hit at Fenway. He added two more to retake the lead 47–45.

After Ruth hit two more home runs the next day, giving him a record-tying five in three games, it was clear that he had a chance at something special.

Ruth went three games without homering, but made up for that by homering in three straight after that. When he hit his 50 against the St. Louis Browns, celebrating fans showered the field with straw hats with such intensity that the game had to be stopped.

Ruth's home run chase was interrupted by something unexpected. A disabled man charged Ruth with assault, saying that Ruth hit him during a confrontation on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. Ruth claimed he was in New Jersey at the time of the alleged incident (the case was dismissed a few days later).

Ruth followed with two home runs the day after his initial court hearing as the Yankees clinched the pennant with a doubleheader sweep of the Indians.

In today's game, priority would be given to resting players in preparation for the postseason, but there were no thoughts of that pertaining to Ruth. Maybe he needed a rest, but he didn't take one. He hit only one home run in a six-game stretch, giving him 53th with nine games remaining in the season.

But if you thought hitting seven home runs in nine games was impossible, you didn't know Ruth. He hit his 54 in Game 2 of a doubleheader against the White Sox.

He hit 55 and 56 in his next two games against the Tigers. The latter was a game-winner, and in an odd scene, a young fan came out of the stands to finish the home run trot with Ruth, who ran around the bases, bat in hand.

"The youngster was like the tail of a flying comet, holding onto the bat for dear life and being dragged into the dugout by the Babe, who raced to escape the rush," read the description in the New York Times.


Excerpted from The Yankees Index by Mark Simon. Copyright © 2016 Mark Simon. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Foreword by Buster Olney,
Dominance: 27 World Series Titles,
Colonel Jacob Ruppert Buys Babe Ruth for $125,000,
Babe Ruth's 60 HR in 1927,
Lou Gehrig Plays in 2,130 Consecutive Games,
1927 Yankees: .714 Winning Percentage,
1939 Yankees Hit 13 HR in Doubleheader,
Joe DiMaggio's 56-Game Hitting Streak,
DiMaggio, Keller, Henrich Form the First 30-HR Outfield,
Mickey Mantle's 1956 Triple Crown: .353, 52, 130,
Roger Maris Hits 61 Home Runs in 1961,
Derek Jeter's Perfect 3,000th Hit,
1996 Yankees Win 4 Straight vs. Braves in World Series,
1998 Yankees Win 125 Games (Most of Any Team),
Mariano Rivera: 42 Saves in Postseason,
The 66-Pitcher Bridge to Mariano,
David Robertson Retires 25 Straight Hitters in Bases-Loaded Situations,
Whitey Ford's 33 Straight Scoreless Innings in the World Series,
Reggie Jackson's 3 HR on 3 Pitches in Game 6 of 1977 World Series,
Ron Guidry's 25 Wins in 1978,
1978 Yankees Overcome 14-Game Deficit to Win AL East,
Graig Nettles Makes 4 Great Plays in a World Series Game,
Sparky Lyle's 57 Saves of 6-Plus Outs,
Rich Gossage's 100 MPH Fastball,
Dave Righetti Sets MLB Record with 46 Saves in 1986,
Don Mattingly Hits .343 to Win Batting Title,
Rickey Henderson's 1985 Season Was Worth 9.9 WAR,
Yankees Sign Dave Winfield to 10-Year Contract,
George Steinbrenner Turns a $10 Million Investment into Billions,
Yogi Berra Won 12 World Series as a Yankees Player and Coach,
Don Larsen Throws a 97-Pitch Perfect Game in the World Series,
2 Perfect Games in 14 Months,
Mike Mussina's 8-2/3 Perfect Innings,
Orlando Hernandez Wins His First 8 Postseason Decisions,
Roger Clemens Gets Win No. 300 with Yankees,
Aaron Small's 10–0 Miracle,
Joe Torre Manages Yankees to 4 Titles in 5 Years,
Mel Stottlemyre Wins 9 Games to Help 1964 Yankees Win Pennant,
Willie Randolph: 1,000 Walks, 1,000 Double Plays,
Billy Martin Is Hired and Fired 5 Times,
Casey Stengel Wins 5 World Series Titles in First 5 Years as Yankees Manager,
Joe McCarthy's 1,460 Wins in 16 Seasons,
Miller Huggins Suspends Babe Ruth and Fines Him $5,000,
Tony Lazzeri Drives in 11 Runs in a Game,
Robinson Cano: AL-Record 5 Straight Seasons of 25 HR by a Second Baseman,
2 Unlikely Heroes Help Yankees Win 2000 World Series,
2 Game-Tying HR with 2 Outs in Ninth in 2 Nights in 2001 World Series,
2 Pennant-Winning Walk-Off HR,
Bernie Williams Leads MLB with 80 Postseason RBIs,
Andy Pettitte Wins 18 Postseason Games for Yankees,
Jorge Posada Becomes 3rd Yankees Catcher with 1,000 RBIs,
1 Yankee has Won Both AL Rookie of the Year and MVP,
Elston Howard Hits .348,
Bill Dickey Catches 100 Games in MLB-Record 13 Straight Seasons,
Pitcher Red Ruffing Hits 31 Home Runs,
Lefty Gomez Goes 6–0 in the World Series,
Yankee Stadium(s): Home to More Than 7,500 Games,
Section 39 and Section 203: The Home of the Bleacher Creatures,
Mel Allen Could Sum It All Up in 3 Words,
Phil Rizzuto Leads the Major Leagues in Sacrifices 4 Straight Seasons,
John Sterling: 0 Missed Games,
Bobby Murcer Homers in 4 Straight At-Bats,
11 Seasons Without a Postseason Appearance Before Roy White Finally Made It,
Paul O'Neill's 10-Pitch At-Bat in Game 1 of the 2000 World Series,
Hideki Matsui Has 6 RBIs in Game 6 of the 2009 World Series,
Hank Bauer's Record-Setting 17-Game World Series Hitting Streak,
Dr. Bobby Brown Hits .439 in the World Series,
1947 Yankees Win 19 Straight Games,
Lee Guetterman Throws 30-2/3 Consecutive Scoreless Innings to Start 1989,
Jack Chesbro Wins 41 Games in 1904,
Slow Joe Doyle Opens His Career with 2 Shutouts,
Alex Rodriguez's 4 Clutch Hits in the 2009 Postseason,

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