At the All-Star break, the New York Yankees are having about as mediocre of a season as possible - 47 wins, 47 losses. Over the decades, however, they have won far more World Series than any other team. Those of us who live within driving distance of Yankee Stadium have perhaps been a bit spoiled by this seemingly never-ending excellence. Sometimes a great trade or free-agent acquisition worked wonderfully in the Yankees favor - Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson, and Alex Rodriguez come to mind. In one of the media capitals of the world, performing at a high level of excellence over a decade or two can be a daunting task, with constant media scrutiny, tabloid headlines, and finicky fans. Nonetheless, there also has been a steady stream of talent over the years that has been homegrown and loyal. Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra (played a few games for the Mets at the end of his career), Mickey Mantle, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter all played their entire careers in pinstripes with the Yankees. I remember seeing another career Yankee, Bernie Williams, hit a home run in a minor league game years ago when visiting my brother at SUNY-Albany.
Why have the Yankees done so well over the years? You could ask 100 different people and get 100 different theories. Here's mine - the Yankees have had big stars such as Ruth, Maris, Jackson, and A-Rod, but it is perhaps the quiet leaders who roll up their sleeves day in and day out who have earned the greatest respect from their teammates. Gehrig's resilience until disease took its toll enabled him to set a record for consecutive games played, earning him the nickname "The Iron Horse". When I was growing up, Mantle's career was winding down, but I remember taking a piece of black tape and putting it on a T-shirt so that I could have a uniform like my favorite Yankee. Living in northern New Jersey, I have had the pleasure of visiting Yogi's wonderful museum on the campus of Montclair State University, as well as seeing a few games in The Bronx. I think that one of the intangible factors that comes into play with the Yankees is an unrelenting focus on teamwork, perhaps best shown by the lack of player names on their uniforms. It is teamwork first and individual acclaim second, even if many of these players are in the Hall of Fame or on their way to Cooperstown.
Blog Author - Ken Felsher
With over 25 years of writing, editing, and research experience. I enjoy sharing with my readers my love of working with content on a variety of subjects.
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