Some would say that is easy. It should be Mickey Mantle. Had The Mick stayed healthy he would have destroyed the all-time home record. He would have been not only the greatest Yankee of all-time, but also the greatest player in the history of the Major Leagues.
But he didn’t. So does Derek Jeter, the Yankees all-time hit leader, deserve the spot.? Jeter should be a first ballot Hall of Famer. He and Mariano Rivera have been the faces of the franchise since the 1990’s. If Jeter goes out with a great year there will be big time support for him to be the final selection.
But if popularity is the criteria, how could Yogi Berra be passed up? And you can’t argue with his success. Berra played in fourteen World Series, winning ten of them. Both of these are records. If you want to measure it by championships, Yogi is the man.
But, then again, Whitey Ford was the “Chairman of the Board,” a title that he received for his poise under pressure. Had manager Casey Stengel not held Ford back at times to allow him to face other team’s aces, Ford’s lifetime statistics may have been even better. As it stands, he has the highest winning percentage of pitchers with 300 decisions in modern baseball history at .690.
So if Ford is arguably the best starting pitcher in Yankees history, shouldn’t Mariano Rivera be considered since he is the greatest closer in MLB history? Try to tell some of the batters who faced Mo that he doesn’t deserve the final spot.
Of course, there are so many other great players who have been left out here. To me, Mickey Mantle is the one who should be included with Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio. But if Jeter has a sparkling finish, the sentiment may rest with him since many modern fans weren’t around for the Mantle mystique.
In any case, one thing is for sure. No other team could put up a Mount Rushmore that could match the New York Yankees, no matter who the final player is.