Before the Yankees play their home opener today against the Baltimore Orioles, the team will reunite the storied “Core Four” of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte for the ceremonial first pitch. Pettitte and Rivera, both of whom retired from baseball following the 2013 season, will throw to Jeter (who is retiring at season’s end) and Posada.
These four Yankees legends were key parts of five championship-winning Yankees’ teams as well as seven pennant winners.
Jorge Posada made his big league debut in September 1995, but his career didn’t really take off until Joe Girardi got hurt early in the 1998 season and Posada was his replacement.
He would go on to be a 5-time All-Star and Silver Slugger recipient as well as finish in the top ten in American League MVP voting twice. Posada’s best season came in 2003 when he hit.281/.405/.518 with 30 home runs and 101 RBI. He was truly one of baseball’s top catchers until he retired following the 2011 season.
One of the top pitchers that Posada ever caught was Andy Pettitte, who was also called up to the Yankees in 1995 and went on to become one of the top pitchers in Yankees’ history and the winningest pitcher in postseason history (19 victories). With 256 career wins and a 3.85 lifetime ERA, Pettitte has been a steady force at the top of the Yankees rotation since he debuted.
He is the only member of the “Core Four” to have played for a team other than the Yankees as he signed on with the Houston Astros for three years following the 2003 season before returning to the Yankees after the 2006 season.
Pettitte spent the next four seasons with the Yankees and was a big part of their 2009 championship run, winning all three clinching games that postseason.
After the 2010 season, Pettitte announced his retirement from baseball, but after taking the 2011 season off, he returned to the Yankees in the spring of 2012. Though he missed significant time that year following being hit in the leg by a line-drive early in the season, he went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 12 starts.
Following another good year in 2013 (11-11 with a 3.74 ERA), Pettitte announced his retirement and doesn’t seem likely to return.
Mariano Rivera holds the major league record for saves with 652 for his career and is widely considered the top closer in the history of baseball. He holds a career ERA of 2.21 and has closed out four Yankees championship seasons (the one exclusion being ’96 when John Wetteland was the Yankees’ closer).
In the postseason, Rivera is one of the all-time greats, as he has saved 42 games in October as well as posting a mind-blowing ERA of 0.70.
Rivera, who’s career began in 1995 as a starter, retired after the 2013 season.
Derek Jeter has been the the Yankees’ starting shortstop since 1996 and has set a Yankees record with 3320 career hits. He is widely considered one of the greatest shortstops in baseball history.
He will be retiring following the 2014 season, which makes this home opener in the Bronx all the more important, as this will be the last for a true Yankees’ legend.
Getting the “Core Four” back together is a fitting way to pay homage to a truly magical period in Yankees’ history.