Congrats to the latest MLBlogs Leaders!…

In the great tradition started by the tremendous Yankees blogger, Jimmy Curran, I dedicate this blog to #12 (thanks to the latest Leaders List for Fan Blogs that Mark posted on Friday).  There are so many great bloggers on the list, and it is certainly an honor and privilege to be among such outstanding writers and fans.  Congratulations to everyone who made the list!  MLBlogs is the premier baseball blogging site because of all of you!

For number 12, I thought about who I should write about.  Unfortunately, the Yankees current #12 is not someone that I’ve been enamored with.  I have openly expressed a desire for the Yankees to pursue third base options other than Cody Ransom, so he’s out.  Then there’s Alfonso Soriano.  He was fun to watch as a Yankee, but he’s toiling at Wrigley Field these days.  So, I decided to write about the first Yankees #12 that I distinctly remember.


Jim Spencer, known for his excellent fielding skills, played for a few American League clubs in the early 1970’s (most notably the California Angels, although I probably remember him more as a member of the Chicago White Sox).

Spencer came to the Yankees in 1978, and played in 71 games for the World Championship club that staged one of the greatest comebacks ever against the Boston Red Sox.  It was a season that was highlighted by Bucky (bleeping) Dent’s home run in the one game play-off at Fenway Park.  .


Spencer was the batter who preceded Dent before his historic homer, but he popped out with two runners on base.  Can you imagine how much differently we would have remembered Spencer had he hit the home run instead of Dent?

In 1979, Spencer hit a career high of 23 home runs.   He ended his career with the Oakland A’s in 1982.

I can still remember the comments Jim Spencer made about Catfish Hunter during the pitcher’s funeral in 1999.  “When we won in ’78, the team headed to New York for a ticker tape parade — 27 blocks, 27 million people. I was in it, Jimmy was only interested in coming home to Hertford (NC). Deer hunting season opened the next day,” remembered Spencer. “He was the kind of player whose competitive drive spilled over to his teammates.”  Considering that Hunter was one of my personal favorites, I recall being very touched about Spencer’s words since everyone knew how much the outdoors meant to Catfish.

Sadly, just three years later, Spencer was taken from us too soon when he died from a heart attack.  He will always be remembered as part of the historic 1978 World Champions that included Hunter, Dent, Goose Gossage,  Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph, Mickey Rivers, Reggie Jackson, Lou Piniella, Cliff Johnson, Paul Blair, Roy White and others…

Posted on YouTube by yankschamps


It was a slow day for Yankees news on Friday.

CC Sabathia looked ready to roll in his spring training win over the Cincinnati Reds (retiring 16 consecutive batters at one point). 

Kathy Willens/AP 

It sounds as though Joe Girardi will be announcing the starting centerfielder later this weekend, with Brett Gardner the most likely selection.  It’s great that both Brett and Melky Cabrera had such good springs.  Just because one may be selected as the starter now does not mean that the other won’t be starting by June, or prevent Mike Cameron from arriving prior to the trade deadline.  But all things considered, I like the intangibles that Brett brings to the lineup.  His blazing speed is very exciting, and he makes things happen on the base paths.  But I also recognize that Austin Jackson will enter the mix next year, or perhaps even later this year.  So, nothing is set in stone in centerfield.

If the decision is between Alfredo Aceves and Brett Tomko, I’d go with Aceves…

I liked Derek Jeter’s comment about leading off instead of batting second:  “You hit 60 seconds earlier than you normally do.” 

It doesn’t sound like David Robertson will make the club.  I am hopeful that if he is sent down, he’ll continue to improve and make a speedy return to the Bronx.

As spring training nears an end, I am very pleased with the progress made by several areas of concern, most notably Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.  I am dreading the day Mo walks off the mound for the final time.

Al Bello/Getty Images 

There is continued concern over Joba’s loss of speed on his fastball.  After routinely hitting the gun at 98 MPH last season, he’s been more in the 88 to 92 MPH range and only hit 94 MPH a couple of times in his last start.  The Yankees and Joba don’t seem concerned, but there are definitely some mechanics that need to be worked out.  This could be a defining moment for pitching coach Dave Eiland.

I was pleased to hear that Aaron Boone’s open heart surgery went well on Thursday.  Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery!

It’s going to be a fun year in the American League East as even the Orioles and Blue Jays have solid talent on their teams.  Maybe not enough to contend, but they’ll have a say in the eventual Division winner.

Regardless of what happens, I have a feeling that this will be a very special year for all of us (baseball fans, not just Yankees fans).  It’s the dawn of a great season…

Have a great day!






  1. juliasrants

    First of all – that last picture was too cute! Ah…1978! I was at the game at Fenway Park that setup the playoff game. I can remember before the game even began, a huge cheer went up through the crowd when the Yankees score was posted out on the scoreboard. Of course, it took us all a few minutes to realize that the Yankees game had not started yet and that the scorekeeper was having some fun! Great dedication blog and thanks for some great memories today!


  2. Jane Heller

    Thanks for that great trip down memory lane, Scott. I’d forgotten all about Jim Spencer, so I really enjoyed reading about him. Very pleased with last night’s CC-Mo showing against the Reds, but I wonder about Joba. Hm. Hopefully, he just needs to build arm strength?

  3. shortporch

    I sure hope we win it all this year, we haven’t won since 2000! 9 years is too long for the Yankees to wait. Do you think we will trade Swisher for a decent, experienced third baseman? I said on my blog that Mora would fill in nicely.

  4. scofid

    JULIA – It still seems like 1978 wasn’t that long ago, but then I look in the mirror or see pictures of Graig Nettles or Jim Rice, and realize ‘yeah it was a long time ago’.
    MELISSA – Thanks! I always like the way DJ downplays attention brought on himself.
    CANUCK – As a mentioned on one of your blogs, 1978 was a great year because of you. The Yankees world championship was nice, but c’mon, the world wouldn’t be the same without you!
    JANE – For some reason, every time I see someone put on #12 for the Yankees, I think of Jim Spencer. I don’t know why. It’s not like he was a superstar. But he did fill his role very nicely, and he was a great team guy. Maybe I always appreciated those attributes.
    JONNNNNN – For you, the first person that I would have thought about was Dave Parker. I’ve never been so impressed with a throwing arm like his. He had a cannon, and it was incredible to watch him nail runners at home plate. 1979 was a tough year for me as a Yankees fan, but watching the ’79 Pirates win it all helped ease the pain. That was a very special Pirates team, and Parker was at the forefront.
    BOB – I haven’t lost yet! I am hopeful that there are no more Red Sox blogs in my future! I know…you disagree! LOL!
    SHELLEY – Thanks for the comments!
    SHORTPORCH – I don’t think the Yankees will trade Swisher (primarily due to his contract, combined with his versatility to back up first and the outfield positions). But I would like for the Yanks to pursue other options for 3B.
    MANOMAN – Thanks!


  5. jimmy27nyy

    Hi, Scott …

    Great dedication in honor of Jim Spencer !!! … I’ll always remember him as a great fielding first baseman with the perfect Yankee Stadium swing as a lefthanded pull-hitter with some power hitting into the short rightfield porch area !!! … The 1978 Yankees are one of my all-time favorite Yankee teams and are the true definition of a “team” who would go out there on the field and play hard; and, could win against any other team in the history of baseball !!! …….. It’s sad that Jim Spencer died way to young; but, we will always have special memories of his great defensive skills and of the great 1978 Yankees team !!!
    Regarding some other Yankee news …
    * I like Brett Gardner as the starting centerfielder. His speed will give the Yankees an added dimension in the lineup that will be very similar to Mickey Rivers back on the late 1970’s Yankee Championship teams. That’s why I would like to see Gardner lead-off — but, I guess he needs to prove himself first before batting lead-off !!!
    * Derek Jeter can really hit anywhere in the lineup, and I think he will have an outstanding year in 2009 with another .300+ batting average. Jeter’s leadership and intangibles will also be major reasons why the Yankees will win this year !!!
    * Finally, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Hideki Matsui all had a very productive spring training, and I think will be fine in 2009 … Also, the starting pitching looks awesome, and the rotation of: CC, Wang, A.J., Andy, and Joba should give us excellent pitching performances every time each starter takes the mound !!!
    Nice dedication post, Scott !!!
    And, thanks for featuring my name in your above post !!!
    “Go Yankees” !!!
    Take care, Scott !!!
    — Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

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