Why Yankees Should Start Their Own Hall of Fame
ALSO: UMPS CARE HITS HOME RUNS FOR WORTHY CAUSES
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Did you know…
Angels owner Arte Moreno, who quashed a Shohei Ohtani trade before the Aug. 2 deadline, has put his team up for sale after owning it since 2003 . . .
Atlanta DH Marcel Ozuna, already benched for his anemic batting average (.214) and poor defense, compounded the felony by suffering his second arrest in two seasons — this time for DUI at 4:30 a.m. — and trying to weasel out of it by showing the police officer the MLB card identifying himself as an active player . . .
Looking at the seventh, eighth and ninth spots of the lineup, the Braves lead the Majors in home runs (66), runs (203) and RBIs (196) from those batting order positions . . .
Glad to be finished with the Mets, who beat them 14 times in 19 games, the Phillies have embarked on a string of 22 straight games against losing teams — and expect to have defending NL MVP Bryce Harper, out since June 25 with a broken left thumb, return to his DH role Monday . . .
Say what? The Phils went 0-9 against the Mets in games started by aces Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola this season . . .
Good timing for a player in his walk year, Philly second baseman Jean Segura, 32, is hitting .340 with an .873 OPS since returning from the injured list Aug. 4 and playing solid defense too. He’s the longest-tenured active player who has never reached postseason play.
It's Time to Start a Yankees Hall of Fame
By Ethan Semendinger
[The author is the son of regular HTP contributor Paul Semendinger, who yielded his space for this month’s column.]
The Yankees have now retired 22 individual numbers and it has gotten to be too much. I have a solution to this growing problem that would allow the Yankees to recognize their great (and very good) players while, at the same time, not taking so many uniform numbers out of circulation.
It is time for a Yankees Hall of Fame.
The Current Yankees Museum
If you have ever explored the (New) Yankee Stadium, or been on a tour, I'm sure that there are a couple of places that were required stops. One of those places is Monument Park. The other was the Yankees Museum. And, while I have my qualms about the placement of the new Monument Park (and how it closes during the game), we're going to talk about the Yankees Museum.
The museum is in a nice-sized room with a variety of different permanent displays, highlighted by a few different permanent features: the statues of Don Larsen and Yogi Berra, the baseball autograph "wall,” the 7 original Commissioner's Trophies (there was no official trophy before 1967), the 26 World Series rings and pocket watch and, most importantly, Thurman Munson's locker.
It's a nice museum. There are displays of uniforms and bats and gloves and baseball cards from players across all eras of Yankees history. There are a number of displays to talk about the history of how the Yankees became the Yankees. They explain how the Yankees transcended the sport many times in its history, how it became an important iconography of popular culture, and how they were winners. The Yankees have a history of extreme importance to the sport and they have something that they should be proud of.
My idea would scrap the idea of it as a museum in its entirety. Save the memorabilia — especially Thurman's locker — but make it a Hall of Fame.
If we're thinking about space in the stadium to put something new, this is the obvious place to go and rebrand. (And, while we're at it, take away the branding/sponsorship by Bank of America. Some things should be bigger than turning a quick profit.)
A Hall of Fame
It is an honor to be memorialized by your team. It is the highest honor for your team to never issue your number again. However, when it seems that every year the Yankees are honoring another player with another number taken away from issue, that honor becomes less and less special. Truthfully, it becomes overplayed. It gets old. It feels more like a cash grab to get fans to the stadium than a true honor.
However, one thing that never gets old is getting honored to be a member of a Hall of Fame...if it is done the right way. There is an understanding about the difference between becoming a Hall of Famer and a number-retired player.
Being in a Hall of Fame is special. Being a Hall of Famer is humbling. Getting your number retired makes you a legend. Getting your number retired puts you on a pedestal that very very few others will ever reach.
I think it is more than fair to say that Paul O'Neill is not at the same level as a player like Babe Ruth, or Lou Gehrig, or Joe DiMaggio, or Mickey Mantle. That doesn't mean that he isn't/wasn't deserving of being remembered as a great Yankee. But, it is very clear that there is a divide.
Luckily, a Hall of Fame doesn't require that same level (in my mind) of distinction necessary. To be a Hall of Famer for a team, a player could earn their role by having a big moment, they may have had a short but fantastic career, or they may have been a mainstay in the organization for a long time.
A Hall of Fame is how your honor great players, managers, coaches, executives, owners, and more.
But, how would the Yankees pull this off?
How to Create a Yankees Hall of Fame
The Yankees have a team and a history on every side of the organization with great people who should be remembered. Honestly, right now is the perfect time to make something like that happen.
They could start with an inaugural class of the five greatest Yankees players of all time: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Whitey Ford. Or make it seven players and include Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
From then on, the Yankees could have a ballot at the end of every year where people affiliated with the organization (Yankees media members, YES Network analysts, baseball historians, former players, and ESPECIALLY the fans) would have a ballot — not dissimilar to that of the Baseball Hall of Fame and the BBWAA ballot, where players who meet a percentage of the vote would get inducted.
For the fan vote, the fans vote could count for a 10 per cent stake in the overall results. So, if there were 90 various members voting, the fans would add in another 10 votes — scaled to the final results — to the tally. That would be a HUGE hit amongst the fanbase (a fanbase that is on extreme edge right now with the current state of the franchise) and invigorate them towards great discussions about the Yankees of now and then.
Think of players who have been left out who were team legends, players currently forgotten by the franchise:
Roy White. Graig Nettles. Tommy Henrich. Spud Chandler. Hideki Matsui. Earle Combs. Red Ruffing. Hank Bauer. There are so many to name...
After a few years of inducting the obvious great Yankees (or to avoid this, having all the retired numbered players an auto entry into the NYY Hall), it would bring back some great memories of those forgotten players who were great but overshadowed or just forgotten by the Yankees for whatever reason.
The Yankees love to sell us on their legacy. Every commercial shows videos of famous home runs hit by Bucky Dent, or Aaron Boone, or Scott Brosius. These are not the names of legends, but these are guys who are remembered. But there are others, so many others, who are being forgotten.
These players were also great Yankees. These guys would be great Yankees Hall of Famers.
The perfect time to do this is now.
Ethan Semendinger writes for the great Yankees site Start Spreading the News. Ethan is a graduate of Lafayette College with a BS in Neuroscience and is pursuing a career in the medical technology field.
Umpires Quietly Help Kids and Others Who Need Special Care
By Dan Schlossberg
When I co-authored Al Clark’s autobiography, Called Out But Safe, the veteran arbiter convinced me that all games involved three teams: the home team, the visitors, and the umpires.
The Men in Blue may hold a thankless job, and often an anonymous one, but no game — big or small — could be played without them.
That’s why I was thrilled, personally and professionally, to learn that umpires are now stepping up to the plate to help children and adults with special needs.
I made that discovery during SABR 50, the golden anniversary conference of the Society for American Baseball Research in Baltimore earlier this month.
It just so happened that Umps Care had a table near mine in the Exhibitors Room, where writers, editors, publishers, and product promoters gathered to greet the 500 or so rabid baseball enthusiasts who paid good money to congregate at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor, an expensive waterfront property within walking distance of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Talking to a pair of pleasant and enthusiastic women named Jennifer, plus another named Amy Rainwater, I learned that Umps Care started in 2006 and has made many silent but significant contributions to the community since.
The group not only raises funds and provides baseball experienced for at-risk youth and children with serious illnesses but also offers scholarships to kids adopted later in life, helps develop teens into community leaders, and even helps train the next generation of umpires — helping to counteract a current umpire shortage.
Umps Care has joined with team mascots to arrange in-person hospital visits and distribute thousands of Build-a-Bears — more than 18,600 to be precise.
It has also worked with military families and youth-based organizations to bring kids to ballparks, provide them with goody bags filled with all things baseball, and even bring them onto the field for pictures. Oh yes: they get souvenir baseballs too.
So far, Umps Care has provided some 8,000 major-league experiences and raised $300,000 in college scholarship funds.
The organization has also reached out to former umpires who have fallen upon hard times, offering much-needed financial assistance the same way BAT (Baseball Assistance Team) does for former players.
Its most recent effort, started in 2021, is its Leadership Program, a six-week course that teaches teens social and emotional learning skills in the classroom and also provides umpire instruction on the field. Graduates are then matched with local entities who might be offer them employment — often their first full-time jobs.
For further information, including donations, contact executive director Jennifer Skolochenko-Platt, Umps Care Charities, 4185 Carvel Lane, Edgewater, MD 21037 (Tel. 410-353-9674, Jenn@UmpsCare.com, www.UmpsCare.com).
"It didn't send us the right message from the upstairs people trying to say, like, 'We're doing this and we're trying to put you guys in the best position and we're trying to win right now with you guys. It seemed more of a, 'We're trying to develop for the future.'"
— Brewers pitcher Eric Lauer after the team traded Josh Hader to San Diego
Atlanta first baseman Matt Olson says NL Rookie of the Year favorite Michael Harris II is “probably the best young player I’ve ever seen play” . . .
Even though the Braves still owe him some $40 million on his guaranteed contract, Marcell Ozuna is likely to be the odd man out when Ozzie Albies returns to the active roster by Labor Day . . .
Who could have predicted that Yankees retread Domingo German would beat Mets ace Max Scherzer in the opener of the Yankee Stadium Subway Series? . . .
Future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, determined to finish with a flourish, is making a serious bid to reach 700 homers before he retires . . .
Pittsburgh, no longer a pushover, has some bright young talent in 6’7” shortstop Oneil Cruz and pitcher Roansy Contreras.
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HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [firstname.lastname@example.org] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [email@example.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [firstname.lastname@example.org] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.