The 1990s New York Yankees’ Dynasty was one of the most fun times to be alive for a Yankees’ fan. We were powered by future Hall of Famers and some of the game’s all-time greats. Everyone knows “The Core Four” and they surely remember, as my esteemed editor calls them, the “Fringe Three” of Paulie, Tino, and Bernie. Our highly-touted pitching was well known across the land with All-Stars Roger Clemens, David Wells, Jimmy Key, and David Cone at he helms. But what about the little guys?
With all the star power the Yankees’ 90s Dynasty had, they had some very unheralded stars. They had guys that would play sparingly, but seemed to play big every time they were called upon. As Jeter’s last season rolls on, we are constantly reminded of the Yankees’ greats he played alongside. The current Yankees’ Dynasty began in the strike-shortened 1994 season twenty years ago. It’s time our un-superstars get some love, too.
THE MOST UNHERALDED STARS OF THE 90s YANKEES DYNATSY
Ramiro Mendoza, Pitcher. When the Yankees needed a start, Mendoza started. When the Yankees needed a guy to throw three innings of middle relief, Mendoza was ready to go. When Mariano had a rare night off and they needed a save, Mendoza could grab it. Mendoza was there from 1996 to 2002 and was a big part of their success with 46 wins and 12 saves over that stretch.
Chili Davis, Outfield/DH. In the 1999 season, when our big bats suddenly went silent, the 39-year-old veteran stood strong and had a late career resurrection. He blasted 19 home runs and paced the offense until the Yankees’ big names found their groove. He went out with a bang, and although he went hitless in that series, he retired with back-to-back rings.
Tim Raines, Outfield. Raines played sparingly in the outfield when he came to the Yankees in 1996 at 36 years of age, a shell of his former all-star self. However, he still knew how to hit and fly on the base paths, earning his first ring of his illustrious career in ’96. Although he didn’t play in the ’98 World Series, at age 38, he stepped up and played 109 games that year batting .290 with .395 OBP in one of the greatest team seasons in baseball history.
Luis Sojo, Super Utility. It was amazing. Sojo could sit on the bench for two weeks and the second they needed him, he was ready to go as if he had been starting all year. He was on all four World Series squads. Sojo scored some big runs and hit some big doubles in the 2000 World Series, driving in the two runs that sealed the deal in the deciding game. When he wasn’t playing, he was the first one on the top of the steps with a huge smile to congratulate you on a home run.
Jim Leyritz, Catcher/ 1B/ 3B/ DH. I’ll tell you who remembers Leyritz, and that is Atlanta Braves’ fans. His home run (or Andy Pettitte’s gem) were the turning point of the Yankees’ Dynasty. After his big blast helped win the Yanks win the ’96 Series, he left town for awhile, but still helped the Yankees. He returned to the Bronx for the 1998 World Series, this time as a member of the Padres. He went 0-for-10. He returned to the Yanks in ’99 and hit another huge post season blast against the Braves.
Scott Brosius, 3B. In 1998, the Yankees got the failed third base prospect from Oakland who showed some pop in his bat, but couldn’t hit big league pitching consistently. Brosius showed how the magic of Yankees’ pinstripes could change any player. He had a career year in 1998, batting .300 with 19 home runs and 98 RBI. He would continue into the post season, winning the 1998 World Series MVP, batting .471 with two home runs and six RBI. Brosius would tally a career .314 average with four home runs and 13 RBI over his four Word Series in the Bronx. He may never get his number retired or a plaque in Monument Park, but every Yankees’ fan will remember where they were when he hit his game-changing bomb against the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series.