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50 Years of Yankees Baseball

60YankeesX23This coming Sunday evening April 4 my beloved, reigning World Champion Yankees (I like the way that sounds) will be the opening at Fenway Park against the “less than beloved” Red Sox on ESPN. This is the 50th year for me watching, rooting for, and appreciating the New York Yankees, the most famous franchise in professional sports.

I went to my first game in 1960 at the age 7 with my dad. The game was against Detroit and we sat in the upper deck of the original Yankee Stadium, columns and all. Like all young children, I was awestruck by the size the stadium, the green grass, the stadium signage, and the whole atmosphere of a professional sport. I am thankful that I grew up in the New York area and had the opportunity to become a Yankees fan. The Yankees given me much joy during the past 50 years with nine World Championships (1961, 1962, 1977, 1978, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, and most recently 2009), and seven other AL pennants (1960, 1963, 1964, 1976, 1981, 2001, 2003). Therefore I’ve seen my team in 16 World Series in the past 50 years, roughly once every three years on average. Not enough, but a lot more than Cubs fans have seen during that time.

Later in the 1960 season, my dad gave me a real signed Yankees baseball from the 1960 team (No stamped signatures). I still have it in a plastic case in my office. Interestingly on my ball, Whitey Ford signed as Ed, Moose Skowron signed as Bill, but Yogi Berra did not sign as Larry (yes, Larry is his real name). The only player missing from my ball who played a significant role that year was reliever Luis Arroyo, who appeared in 29 games and saved 7. There were three Hall of Famers on the team, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Yogi Berra (who has 10 World Series rings), as well as the 1960 MVP, Roger Maris, who would hit 61 homers in 1961, which was (and legitimately still is) the single season home run record—sorry Bonds, Sosa, McGuire.

But back in 1960 I also learned the pain of having your team fall short of its goal as the Yankees lost the World Series in 7 games to the Pirates. Bill Mazeroski’s famous 9th inning home run won deciding game 7  (By the way, the Yankees outscored the Pirates that World Series 56 to 27. They were so dominant in their 3 victories that Bobby Richardson was named the Series MVP, the only player from a losing team to be named MVP).

So as the Yankees begin the 2010 season with another great team and hopes of a repeat Championship, I can reflect on 50 years of Yankee baseball and the joy it has brought me and millions of fans, and hopefully more joy to come. There’s only one team in professional sports that measures success in one way, and one way only—a Championship. Love them or hate them, you have to respect any organization whose goals are being the best year in and year out. #28 in 2010.

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