Hail to the Chief…
No, there will not be a dedication to Roger Clemens on this blog…
Before I begin the tribute for the special Yankees player who wore #22, I do want to give special mention to the current Yankees #22, Xavier Nady.
Chris Faytok/The Star Ledger
As you may have heard, the X Man had a MRI on his right elbow and the results were “not good”. He’ll head to the disabled list for an extended period of time and there is speculation that he could be lost of for the season. If that happens, it is possible that Nady has worn the pinstripes for the final time since he is a free agent at the end of the year. So, I would like to express sadness at the news of the injury and to thank Nady for his significant contributions to the Yankees over the past year. Whatever happens, I wish him the very best. Hopefully, he’ll take his place in right field at the new Yankee Stadium at some point in the future, but if it is not meant to be, then I hope he’ll return as a visitor, receiving a standing ovation.
My #22 tribute is to former Yankees pitcher Allie Reynolds or “Superchief” as he was known…
Reynolds grew up in Oklahoma and was a quarter Creek Indian, hence the nickname. He made his major league debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1942. In 1946, he was traded to the Yankees in a deal for All-Star second baseman Joe Gordon. Legend has it that the Indians wanted Gordon so badly they were willing to give up any pitcher except Bob Feller. Yankee executive Larry MacPhail consulted with Joe DiMaggio, and Joltin’ Joe said “Take Reynolds. I’m a fastball hitter, but he can buzz his hard one by me any time he has a mind to.”
His arrival in the Bronx coincided with the beginning of the Dynasty years. In 1948, Reynolds headlined a starting rotation that included Vic Raschi and Eddie Lopat and that team won the first of five consecutive World Series championships.
In 1951, he became the first American League pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a single season. In the second no-hitter which was against the Boston Red Sox (as Julia says, ‘Eeek!’), Reynolds had to get Ted Williams for the final out twice when Yogi Berra dropped an easy foul pop. He also won the Hickok Belt as the top professional athlete that year.
He had a career record of 182 wins, 107 losses, and 49 saves (Yankees manager Casey Stengel once called him “two ways great” because of his ability to start and relieve). He won 20 games once, going 20-8, with a 2.06 ERA, in 1952.
Reynolds was brilliant in the post-season. He appeared in 15 World Series games for the Yankees, with a record of 7-2, four saves and ERA of 2.79. In six World Series relief appearances, Reynolds recorded a win or a save each time, including the clinching games in 1950, 1952, and 1953.
Reynolds’ career ended after the 1954 season due to a back injury that was suffered when the Yankees team bus crashed into an overpass in Philadelphia.
He died in 1994 due to complications from lymphoma and diabetes.
His number has never been retired and he is not in the Hall of Fame, although his accomplishments would certainly seem to justify it.
The aforementioned injury to Xavier Nady opens the door for Nick Swisher to assume a full-time position in right field. It certainly solves the problem manager Joe Girardi had with finding a spot in the lineup for Swisher. GM Brian Cashman is looking like a genius for not trading either Nady or Swisher during the off-season, and so far, Swisher has been an offensive success for the Yankees. Who knows where this will lead over the course of a long summer, but I certainly feel much better about Swisher in right than I do Cody Ransom at third.
For the record, Ramiro Pena made his second start at third base in Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. However, Ransom entered the game when Hideki Matsui pinch hit for Pena. Word is that Ransom will be starting at third base on Thursday…unfortunately.
Nevertheless, back to the Nady situation, it is unlikely that the Yanks will recall Austin Jackson since Girardi prefers that he continues to get every day starts in center field at Scranton rather than riding the bench in the Bronx. More than likely, Juan Miranda or Kevin Russo will be recalled when Nady is placed on the DL Thursday.
Pitcher Chien-Ming Wang altered his pitching routine between starts by facing batters while pitching from the mound at Tropicana Field rather than performing a bullpen session. Of course, he only faced one major league hitter considering that the two batters were Melky Cabrera and Cody Ransom.
The Yankees win! The Yankees win! The Yankees WIN!
Well, in the grand scheme of things, the Tampa Bay Rays won the first battle, but the Yankees won the war in their first series of the season. The Yankees were destroyed by the Rays, 15-5, on Monday. They came back to win yesterday, 7-2, behind the great pitching performance by A.J. Burnett (who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning). Today was the rubber-match, and the Yankees came through…
Robinson Cano was one of the hitting stars, with a fourth inning homer that tied the game. Johnny Damon hit a game-tying double in the 8th inning that scored Derek Jeter, and then in the 9th, Jeter hit what turned out to be the game-winning run-scoring double. Mariano Rivera, in a sea of number 42 jerseys (in recognition of Jackie Robinson), easily retired three Rays batters to end the game.
So, a series that started so poorly, ended on a strong note.
Now, the Yankees head for the Bronx to make their long-anticipated regular season debut at the new Yankee Stadium. CC, the lights of Broadway are upon you…
Leroy Neiman / The Lights of Broadway