Yankees Mt Rushmore – The Washington Position
Adam – Don Mattingly will always hold a special place of reverence to me. I was born in the mid-70s so the real memories I have of Yankees games involved my father at home watching the games on WPIX or in the bleachers of the “House that Ruth Built” in the 1980s. At that time there was one real name that I gravitated to and that was Don Mattingly. Of course a nickname like “Donnie Baseball” did not hurt. For 14 years, Mattingly was the face of the boys from the Bronx and seemed destined for Cooperstown but a back injury forced him to settle for Monument Park. Not that Monument Park is something a player settles for.
He was top-five in AL MVP voting in 1984 and 1986 but it is his 1985 season that etched his place in Yankees lore. Mattingly won the AL MVP Award in 1985, batting .324 with 35 homers and 145 RBIs in a time when massive home run numbers were not the norm. He was also a nine-time Gold Glove award winner. It is too bad that Mattingly retired right before the Yankees World Series run in the late 1990s. His plaque in Monument Park says it all, “A humble man of grace and dignity, a captain who led by example. Proud of the pinstripes tradition and dedicated to the pursuit of excellence. A Yankee forever.” For me, Mattingly deserves a spot on the Yankees Mt Rushmore even if my youth skews things a little.
Rich –Mattingly was the Yankees of the 1980s. The last Yankees Captain before Derek Jeter was named. A back injury derailed his Hall of Fame career but Donnie Baseball holds a special place in the hearts of many Yankees fans from the 1980s. One of the best defensive first basemen in baseball history but he also was great with a bat as well, winning an MVP and multiple Silver Sluggers. The summers of my youth were filled with Yankees games and watching Mattingly scoop errant throws out of the dirt in Yankees Stadium or hitting a home run in a record eight straight games or hitting a record six grand slams in one season. He was also the “Homer at the Bat” episode of the Simpsons where they made fun of his “hair fight” with George Steinbrenner. To this day, Don Mattingly remains one of my most favorite players of all-time and deserved my final spot on the Yankees Mt. Rushmore of the last 50 years.
Yankees Mt Rushmore – Final Thoughts
Adam – I would not fault anyone who wanted to sit back and make a case for Bernie Williams, Will Randolph, or Ron Guidry. However, the dispute over a Yankees Mt Rushmore of the last 50 years only has one debatable spot with Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, and Thurman Munson secure in their locations. And there is no way to make an argument for any player who only gave a couple of years (no matter how good those years were). Mattingly, although personal sentiment probably was a part of it, is deserving of that final spot. There are many stars in the history of the Yankees and being forced to have a debate for greatest of an era is a great problem to have. On to the next 50 years and the next Yankees Mt Rushmore.
Rich –Rivera, Jeter, and Munson were the easy decisions for me in this list. Many players were in the discussion for the last spot that I awarded to Mattingly – Ron Guidry, Bernie Williams, and Willie Randolph, among others. The Yankees are the most storied team in MLB history and all the discussions regarding the greatest players we have had over the last few months show why and also why in order to be fair to the “newer” Yankees players, we had to limit this discussion to a certain time period to get other names besides Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Berra on the list. I love being a Yankees fan and cannot wait to see how 2018 and the coming seasons play out.
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