Yankee Mount Rushmore

mountrushmore_375_081909.jpgAn interesting question arose the other night in the studio before Yankees Batting Practice Today presented by Audi began. Who would be on your Yankee Mount Rushmore? Which four Yankee legends would you carve into rock for eternity?

The most popular and obvious choices amongst the crew and myself were: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle. Four Yankee legends and really a no-brainer. Think of the players you are leaving off though. Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Don Larsen. The list could just keep going and going like that stupid battery bunny.

It got me thinking and I am curious to know who would make your Yankee Mount Rushmore – or Mount Mystique and Aura? Leave a comment with your four choices. Also don’t forget to check out an all-new Off the Wall podcast with me and the Godfather of YESNetwork.com, Joe Auriemma.

13 Comments

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Derek Jeter.

Great question. I suspect it would be easier to come up with an all-time starting line up. I would approach this question as a generational matter because of the embarassment of wealth the Yankees have had throughout the years when it comes to talent and impact. I also would like to get away from straight statistics and invoke the “mystique and aura” that certain players seem to have generated. With that said, here we go.

Derek Jeter – the face of the current Yankees greatness and likely the preeminent player, in terms of media personnel and fans regarding all things baseball. He inherited that mantle (no pun intended) from a personal favorite of mine, Cal Ripken. When all is said and done, he will be the first, and likely lone, Yankee to have 3,000 hits as a Yankee. He will have at least four rings (hopefully more than that!). He has silver sluggers and gold gloves. He should have at least one MVP. He has dominated the playoffs and shown himself to be as clutch as they come in the greatest of ways and on the biggest of stages both defensively and offensively. The face first dive into the stands, the relay to Posada to tag out Jeremy Giambi and the most inspiring home run in an ultimately losing cause (Mr. November!) are simply a few examples of the way he rises to the occasion. He will have as many Yankees records as anyone when he retires. Finally, he will have done all of his work during a time, it is widely believed, that a significant number, if not majority, of players used performance enhancing drugs.

Lou Gehrig – the Iron Horse is, more so than Babe Ruth, responsible for the greatness that the Yankees have become. He is the foundation on which the first Yankees dynasty was built and was the substance to the sizzle of Ruth. I actually will disqualify Ruth for this exercise because he was a Red Sox transfer, not a Yankee born and raised. Outside of the staggering offensive numbers he put up, Gehrig will be remembered for two things: 1) the Speech and the Consecutive Games Streak. Until Cal Ripken came along (did I mention he’s a personal favorite of mine), Gehrig represented everything that was right about not only baseball, but American sports. He went about his business, did his job in a professional manner, despite being forever paired with one of the only real superstars, and outsized personalities, in the sporting world and exhibited a grace and dignity that not only did no one suspect, but also outshone anything anyone had done to show that athletes were human, up to that time. Simply put, he was the best.

Billy Martin – this choice is a bit unusual, granted, but it isn’t so far out as one might think. If anyone ever loved being a Yankee, it was Billy Martin. As a player, he was a tough as nails, fight for and earn everything you got type of player and was on the great mid-century teams that cemented the legacy of the Yankees. He never put up great numbers, admittedly. However, what puts him over the top for me is what he did for the Yankees at the beginning of the last quarter of the 20th century. With Martin at the helm, the Yankees became relevant again. Fiery, emotional, smart as hell and willing to fight anyone (Reggie Jackson was twice his size and half his age), Billy lit the fire that placed the Yankees back in their rightful place in the universe, champions of the baseball world. Yes, he was hired and fired more than a day laborer but he was the perfect representation of the fighting spirit that makes the Yankees such an enduring example of greatness.

Joe Dimaggio – the memories I have of Joe DiMaggio are of his advertisements for Mr. Coffee. The Yankee Clipper is likely the greatest athlete to ever play for the Yankees, with a possible exception for Mariano Rivera. DiMaggio is the perfect book end to Jeter in that both seem to be cut from the same cloth: each is known for a perfectly manicured image of self-control and exceptional professionalism and each is accused of benefiting from the talent surrounding them. DiMaggio spanned the eras of both Gehrig/Ruth and Mickey Mantle. Three years of his prime were stolen because of the second World War yet he put up number that now appear mindboggling. He is the author of the Streak, which is likely to never be eclipsed. Known as the most graceful of players, DiMaggio made it all look easy. I wonder what product Jeter will be advertising long after his playing days that my son will remember him for?

hktanthony – Your comments were eloquent. And I also considered managers. But Martin over Torre or Stengel? Sure, Billy brought fire to the Yankees, but when you get right down to it, it was the BOSS that brought the Yanks back from mediocrity. And while Gehrig was a class act, it was the BABE that gave the Yankees their swagger. We all seem to agree on Jeter. Finally, you got to go with the man with 10 rings, Yogi Berra. He can also represent all the great pichers of his era, including Larsen and Ford.

Honorable mentions: Mo Rivera, Thurman, Reggie, Donnie, The Mick, The Chairman and Louisiana Lightning

So to recap, my list is
BABE RUTH in GW’s spot (in uniform)
DEREK JETER in Jefferson’s spot (in uniform)
GEORGE STEINBRENNER in TR’s spot (in a suit)
YOGI BERRA in Lincoln’s spot (catcher’s mask over his head)

Can’t you picture it?

Wow, this is a great question and some very thoughtful answers by my fellow posters.

In my opinion…

1) Babe Ruth… Really, this is an obvious choice and the first one. His life time B.A. of 342 and total of 714 homers alone gives him that. Not to mention he accomplished this in a time where he’d routinely hit more homers than entire TEAMS in the American League. He’s trancended baseball and will still be talked about a thousand years from now so long as the sport is still played. Oh, did I mention his lifetime 2.28 ERA and 94-46 pitching record? If all he did was pitch he’d still be a hall of famer and legend of the game.
2) As Ruth would be our George Washington, Yogi Berra would be our Teddy Roosevelt. This rough and tumble catcher (as most catchers are) captured TEN world series rings… yeah, two full fists full of rings. And he played in 14 total. (and then managed his way to three more rings!). 3 AL MVP awards, 15 time All-Star, and widely considered to be among the greatest catchers of all time. And that’s not mentioning his effect on American Culture, who hasn’t heard or recited a “Yogism” or two? As any real baseball fan knows, Catcher is the hardest position to play by far. Including him in our “mount mystique & aura” is a must for this reason; as he was our best.
3)Joe Dimaggio is our Thomas Jefferson. A statesman; dignified, noble and a true hero of our nation given his military service (already nicely expounded on in other posts). He was the “Yankee Clipper” and holds the only impossible-possible record to break with his 56 game hitting streak. Possible to break because anyone playing today would have the opportunity to do so (as opposed to Cy Young’s win records or something like that), but impossible because it is such a far-out and amazing accomplishment. 9 Rings for Joe D… a winner and all-time great Yankee.
4) Last and certainly not least, our Abraham Lincoln: Derek Jeter. An honest man of peace who balances the whirlwind and high expectation of the modern day Yankee clubhouse. Will be the only Yankee to reach 3,000 hits and if he manages to match Pete Rose’s career length, I believe he’d become the all time leader as well. Rookie of the year, Silver Sluggers, Gold gloves, playoff MVP (in every round I think, including the World series), All Star MVP… he’s done it all practially, while winning 4 rings (with more to come we hope!). He got rooked a couple of years ago when losing the MVP award to Justin Morneau, but that’s not his fault. You have the feeling if the Yankees fielded an All-time team, he’d be their captain by virture of his professionalism and demeanor. A paragon of virture in baseball’s questionable modern era, he is a first ballot hall of famer the second he retires.
My apologies to the Mick, Iron Horse, Whitey, Mo, Louisiana Lightning, Donnie Baseball, Scooter, Torre, Stengal, Martin and the litany of other Yankee greats who made this team the greatest in ALL of sports.

Wow… this might be one of the toughest questions to answer. My friends and I constantly discuss the All-Time Yankee teams, but to only select 4 from the history of the Yankees is a tough, tough one to answer.

1) Babe Ruth
2) Lou Gehrig
3) Mickey Mantle
4) Derek Jeter

I really, really, REALLY, hate to leave off Dimaggio, but as my username states, I am a fan of “The Mick”. Oh, I would create one more monument looking over all of them… and that monument would be Casey Stengel.

Babe, Gehrig, Dimaggio &The Mick

[The most popular and obvious choices amongst the crew and myself were: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle. Four Yankee legends and really a no-brainer. Think of the players you are leaving off though. Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Don Larsen. The list could just keep going and going like that stupid battery bunny.]

Your comment says it all right there. It has to be! Lets look at Mt. Rushmore. Scores of great Americans have been left off. Ben Franklin could equate to Jeter. Yes todays generation is going to argue he belongs on there and if there were five heads instead of four I would probably agree. However, there is no way any one of those FOUR you mention can be left off. No matter how creative you would like to get with managers or owners or anyone else. The Yankees Mt. Rushmore would look like this in no order of importance. From left to right Gehrig, Ruth, Mantle, DiMaggio. To me it’s a good question with a simple answer. Mase

babe, gehrig,mick and jeter

The four Yankees on my Mount Rushmore are
The Babe goes without saying
Gehrig his stats speak for themselves
Jeter greatest shortstop in baseball history
Rivera greatest closer in baseball history

The four Yankees on my Mount Rushmore are
The Babe goes without saying
Gehrig his stats speak for themselves
Jeter greatest shortstop in baseball history
Rivera greatest closer in baseball history

Not even a debate for me. Ruth Gehrig, Dimmaggio, Mantle of course.

I’m a bit mystified that you mention Larsen as a Yankee legend. He was a mediocre pitcher who had one glorious moment in the sun and then went back to mediocrity. He has a career losing record.

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I though the same thing, Don Larsen had a great game in his carreer and that was it. On the other hand how can we even have a Mount Rushmore with Yankee Legens is just impossible not enough room for the Yankee Greats.

I guess I can build it this way. Golden ERA of baseball Yankees will be W/O question the “Babe”, “The Iron Horse”, “The Yankee Clipper”, and “The Mick”.
Silver Era of Baseball I would go with: “Mr October”, “Thurman Munson”, “Lou Pinnella”, “Don Mattingly”. And finally the modern baseball I would go with “Derek Jeter, El Capitan”; “Mariano Rivera, MO”; “Alex Rodriguez, A-rod”; and “The Warrior, Paul O’neil”. Now you can disagree with me but that’s how I have my yankee greats.

i have read the arguments everyone has made for their personal yankee mount rushmore and loved everyone’s justifications for their selections. i especially loved the exclusion of babe in favor of the iron horse based on him coming from the sox.

without picking different mount rushmore’s for the different era’s, i opted to pick yankee from each era that most defined what the team has been all about…teamwork! unfortunately, this bumps incredible players such as the babe, dimaggio, yogi, munson, murcer, whitey and many, many others, but…

lou gehrig – his numbers are outstanding, imagine what they would be had he not been diagnosed with ALS! even just two or three more seasons may have been enough to put his numbers out of reach.

mickey mantle – he was beloved by an entire generation and immortalized himself forever as a legend with his mammoth homeruns. perhaps the greatest player to ever take the field had he taken better care of himself and played in the modern era with better medical care. the fact that he was an admittedly flawed hero only makes him more endearing.

don mattingly – when i was growing up, there wasn’t much to cheer for except donnie baseball. he was the face of yankees baseball for more than a decade, yet never received the validation of being a world champion.

derek jeter – my son was four during the 2001 world series where mr. november became his favorite player forever courtesy of that historic homerun. as a parent, i couldn’t ask for a better role model. everyone knows his career accomplishments by hear so i won’t go into those details, but that most impresses me is the way he carries himself both on and off the field. hard work, hustle, and heart…those are the keys to success, which have made derek jeter not only the face of the yankees, but of major league baseball

now… i picked them based on my personal favorites, take away gehrig and mattingly and add in paul o’neill and bobby murcer.

heather
oklahoma city

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