Tagged: Mark Koenig

A Memorable Day and Night at Yankee Stadium…

Happy Mother’s Day!  With no offense to Derek Jeter, that’s still the primary special occasion today.  So I hope it’s a wonderful Mother’s Day for all mothers in the Yankees Universe.  This is your day!  None of us would be here getting ready to celebrate Derek Jeter Night if not for you.

Congrats to Derek Jeter as he gets ready to leave a permanent reminder of his notable Yankee achievements in Monument Park.  Unless someone eventually takes number “0”, it’s the final single-digit number to be retired.  

As the number 2 begins to make its way to the Monument Park Wall, it’s hard not to remember when it was worn by the late Bobby Murcer.  Murcer wore the number when he was reacquired from the Chicago Cubs in 1979 until his release in 1983.  Bobby was a great Yankee.  I don’t really remember much of his first tour with the Yankees, but growing up in the Midwest, Murcer was constantly on TV with the Cubs.  I knew his history with the Yankees and he was a welcome addition to the 1979 Yankees which would soon be marred by one of the team’s greatest tragedies (the death of catcher Thurman Munson).  As a close friend of Munson, Murcer’s actions and words in the days following the tragic plane crash in Akron, Ohio were huge.  It was easy to see how much Murcer loved Munson and the Yankees.  We were later privileged to have Murcer as a Yankees broadcaster until his passing.

Of course, #2 recognition also has to be given to Mark Koenig who was the first Yankee to wear the number in 1929 courtesy of his spot in the lineup.  Koenig, the team’s shortstop, was part of the famed 1927 Murderer’s Row, when he batted second in front of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel and Tony Lazzeri.

Yankees third baseman Red Rolfe wore the number from 1931 until his retirement after the 1942 season.  

The only person to wear #2 for more years than Jeter was Frankie Crosetti.  Also a shortstop, Crosetti spent his entire 17-year playing career as a member of the Yankees.  He started wearing #2 in the final years of his playing career in 1945 and continued throughout his 20-year coaching career with the team which ended in 1968.

While Number 2 is being retired for Jeter, the number will forever carry the significant contributions of those who wore the number before the kid from Kalamazoo.  

The first game of today’s double-header begins at 2:05 pm Eastern.  The Derek Jeter Night pre-game ceremony scheduled between games will start no earlier than 6:30 pm ET.  The second game of the doubleheader will begin following the pregame ceremony but no earlier than 7:30 pm ET.  Many former teammates will be in attendance including David Cone, Tino Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Paul O’Neill, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Gerald Williams, and Bernie Williams.  Former Yankee greats Reggie Jackson and Willie Randolph will also be there, along with Dick Groch, an area scout who signed Jeter, former Yankees head athletic trainer Gene Monahan, and Jean “Soot” Zimmer, widow of former Yankees coach Don Zimmer.  

Derek Jeter, this is your day…your night.  Enjoy!

The New York Post’s Steve Serby had a Q&A with Aaron Hicks this morning.  When asked what is the biggest criticism he’s heard that bothers him the most, he responded:  “I don’t want to be considered…I want to be a starter.  I don’t want to be a fourth outfielder.  That’s kind of something that I don’t like.  I’m better than a fourth outfielder.”  I agree 100%.  Sadly it is time for GM Brian Cashman to create the room in the outfield for Hicks to start.  Without question, I would love for the Yankees to move Jacoby Ellsbury, but that’s not happening.  So, it is back to Brett Gardner as the most marketable outfield asset for a trade.  Gardner’s recent homer binge hopefully raised his perceived value.  

Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals agreed to a one-year $21.65 million contract for the 2018 season.  It includes a $1 million incentive if he win’s the MVP Award. The contract buys out Harper’s final year of arbitration eligibility and he maintains eligibility to become a free agent following the 2018 season.  He’s making $13.625 million this year.  To celebrate his new contract, he hit a walk-off two-run homer to beat the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.  I am anxious to see what he does when he signs that 10-year $400 million deal with the Yankees in a couple of years.  Hal, it’s just money…

It’s not really Yankees news but Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Chris Iannetta took a fastball to the face in Friday’s action.  The pitch fractured some teeth and Iannetta’s nose, but the catcher is doing okay and hoping to avoid a DL stint.  The pitch was thrown by former Yankees prospect Johnny Barbato, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this year.  All the best to Iannetta with his recovery.  It could have been much worse and I am thankful it was not.  

Credit:  Mark J Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Have a great Mother’s Day and Derek Jeter Night!  Let’s take two! 

The Original Yankees #2…

Missing The Mark…

It’s always fascinating to learn more about those who have worn the famed Yankee pinstripes.  The great ones are often mentioned; Ruth, Gehrig (my personal favorite all-time player), DiMaggio, Mantle, etc.  But not much is said of the lesser known players who have carved their niche in Yankee history.

I saw one blog yesterday that cried out Mark Teixeira is already the greatest all-time “Mark” in Yankees history.  My only issue with this statement is that Teixeira has yet to take an “official” at bat for the Yankees, and he certainly has done nothing…yet…to bring the elusive 27th World Championship closer to the Bronx.  But the topic did make me think of Mark Koenig.  I am not saying that Koenig was a great player (he wasn’t), but he has a place in Yankee history that should not be forgotten.

Roger Godin

Koenig was the original number 2 for the Yankees, and played shortstop on the storied 1927 Murderers’ Row team.  A Yankee from 1925 to 1930, he was the double play combination with second baseman Tony Lazzeri.

Granted, Koenig did not have great career numbers and he didn’t stick in the major leagues for very many years.  But he did bat .500 in the 1927 World Series, and had a .319 batting average in 1928. 

In an interview before he died, Koenig described himself best.  “I was ordinary.  Very ordinary,” he said.  “I had small hands and made too many errors.  The only thing that I had was a powerful arm.  I don’t think I could have stayed on any other club.  The Yankees could have carried a midget at shortstop.  That’s how good a club it was.” 

Koenig had a league-leading 52 errors in 1926, with 4 more in the 1926 World Series which helped open the door for the St. Louis Cardinals to win the deciding Game 7 and their first world championship.

Koenig, who died in 1993 at age 88, was asked why he was the last survivor of the 1927 team.  “I don’t understand it,” he said in a 1990 SI interview.  “Maybe they got on base more and wore themselves out.”

Mark Teixeira will be the “MVM” (Most Valuable Mark) but we should definitely not forgot the Mark’s that have preceded him through the history of the franchise…

The New “Burner”…

Brett Gardner is definitely positioning himself as the Yankees’ starting centerfielder for Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on April 16th.  I know it is still very early in camp, but Gardner has gotten off to a great start.

Brett Gardner

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Pete Abraham of The LoHud Yankees Blog asked Jorge Posada about the irritation a player like Gardner causes a catcher.  “Oh, we hate it,” Posada said.  “It changes everything about the defense.”

Nick Swisher put it more bluntly when he said that Gardner was the ‘fastest white dude’ that he’s ever seen.

If I were Melky Cabrera, I would have skipped the WBC to make sure that my presence was felt in Yankees camp.  I do not want to belittle what Cabrera can do for the WBC’s Dominican Republic team, but the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” does seem to apply.  Maybe he has a tremendous few weeks with the WBC, and comes back to camp in late March to take the centerfield job.  But at this point, I think Gardner brings a new dimension to the Yankees offense (so long as he can continue to get on base) and he is the leading contender for the job in my eyes…

The Closure of The Rocky Mountain News

The closure of Denver’s oldest newspaper has adversely impacted one of baseball’s greatest writers, Tracy Ringolsby.  I have respected and trusted Tracy’s opinions for many years and he has long been one of my favorites. 

I became a fan while he was covering the Texas Rangers for The Dallas Morning News in the late 1980’s.  He has been with The Rocky Mountain News for 17 years.

The good news is that Tracy will continue to write for Foxsports.com, and he’ll expand his role at Baseball America.

Tracy has written a very good final column for the News about Manny Ramirez and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Happy trails to you too, Tracy!  We’re looking forward to the next phase of your great career!

New Vikings Quarterback

In my blog yesterday, I indicated that I did not know what to think of the Minnesota Vikings’ acquisition of QB Sage Rosenfels from the Houston Texans.  The indifference seems to be shared by the local press in Minneapolis-St. Paul as the Star Tribune’s headline reads “Sage Investment?  We’ll See”, while the Pioneer Press opted for the more neutral “It’s Sage Rosenfels vs. Tavaris Jackson for Vikings QB” approach.

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Nevertheless, I am willing to give a fellow native Iowan a chance.  Just so it doesn’t bring back memories of Bob Lee at quarterback, he’ll be alright…

 

Maybe it was because I was such a huge fan of Fran Tarkenton, but one of my most painful memories as a Vikings fan (aside from all those Super Bowl losses and the 1998 playoff loss to the Falcons) was during the short time Lee was the starting QB.  In 1978, I wrote the team a letter resigning as a fan because of my dislike for Lee, and it took a few years for the passion about the Vikings to return…