There are few days on the schedule that are guaranteed not to disappoint. A marquee pitching match-up can end up in a slugfest. A series with a rival can result in unexciting games. The big hitting star could be injured or sitting out a game. Then there is Old Timers’ Day, which always lives up to the hype. Some of the greatest players ever to lace up a pair of cleats have worn pinstripes, and they all come back for this special day every summer.
The names that will be rattled off this year will include Hall of Famers like Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Rickey Henderson and Rich “Goose” Gossage. There will be all-time great Yankees such as Ron Guidry, Don Larsen, and Willie Randolph. There will be several members of the last dynasty including David Cone, Paul O’Neill, David Wells, Orlando Hernandez, and Tino Martinez. There will be first timers such as Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui among a host of others. There will be some notable absences too of course, recently retired Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte will not be attending. Roger Clemens will also not be at the Stadium this year, but for entirely different reasons.
This season, the Yankees will also honor Hall of Famer Goose Gossage with a plaque in Monument Park. Goose was the original flame-throwing reliever who helped lead the Yankees to the World Series in 1978 and 1981. A fierce competitor, and intimidating mound presence, Goose was a pioneer of the current closer role in the 1970s and 1980s that helped establish the current bullpen formula still used today.
The game itself is often irrelevant to the simple act of seeing all the talent gathered in one place and the memories each player gave to Yankee fans over the years. But it does provide memorable moments on occasion, such as Tino’s home run off David Cone. The coming years will see the return of the Core Four to this early summer event, but each year is special to remember those Yankees of yore while enjoying the current crop of Bombers. Besides Derek Jeter, other current Yankees such as CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Brett Gardner, and Jacoby Ellsbury may be the ones highlighted on the Old Timers’ Day Game roster in a decade or so, as our children tell their children about watching them, the same way we tell our children what it was like to see the Core Four in action. Baseball is once again passed down to the next generation, and nowhere is that more evident that on Old Timers’ Day.