Before we begin, we at Yanks Go Yard hope that you’ve had an enjoyable Christmas holiday with your friends and family, and we want to send each of you our very best as we head towards the end of 2013. We also wish to thank you for your continued support of our work throughout the year and we aim to make 2014 our most productive year yet! Thank you and happy holidays!
On this date in 1958, baseball’s all-time and Yankees’ franchise leader in career stolen bases, Rickey Henderson was born in Chicago, Illinois. In parts of five seasons in the Bronx, Henderson tallied 326 stolen bases, leading the American League in thefts three times, while leading the league in runs scored three times as well. As the greatest leadoff man of all-time, he was the table setter for the likes of Willie Randolph, Don Mattingly, and Dave Winfield. Henderson was brought to New York at the urging of his former manager, Billy Martin, who was by that time back in the Bronx for another stint as field boss. Henderson would wear out his welcome with the Yankees by early 1989, desiring a hefty pay raise. The team sent him back to Oakland for several players, none of whom made much of an impact for the Bombers.
In another strange twist of fate, the man who called Rickey Henderson the “greatest offensive force the game has ever known” met an untimely death of this day back in 1989. Longtime Yankees’ icon Billy Martin, who had gone as far as assembling a coaching staff for a sixth go-around as manager of the Yankees, died in an auto accident as the passenger in his own pickup truck just outside his property in Binghamton, New York. Martin had won the World Series as manager of the Bombers in 1977. He will always be more known for his run-ins with George Steinbrenner and Reggie Jackson than for his brilliance on the field. A prodigy of Casey Stengel, Martin once made a World Series saving catch as the Yankees’ second baseman in the ’52 series.
While not Yankees’ news, on this day in 2001, former Yankees outfielder, designated hitter, and Most Valuable Player of the 2009 World Series for the Yankees, Hideki “Godzilla” Matsui became the highest paid player in Japanese Baseball League history. He signed a 1-year deal with the Yomiuri Giants for $4.7 million dollars. The record salary surpassed that of fellow countryman and current Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who was paid $2 million dollars during his final season in Japan.
Be sure to continue following throughout the week, as we bring you moments in Yankees history during the Christmas week!