The New York Yankees have always had one. And Brett Gardner is the newest to deserve the title of ¨Old Reliable.¨
¨I try and go about things the right way, Gardner said according to Quote Times,¨ work hard and play hard…Hopefully it rubs off on some of the younger guys.¨
The right way means leaping over the outfield wall to snatch would-be home runs. It means laying out to grab line drives that seem destined to get by him, and it means hustling, all the time, like every game is game seven of the world series.
The most highly publicized, if not the first, Yankees’ ¨Old Reliable¨ was Tommy Henrich. Henrich played for the Yankees from 1937-1942, and again from 1946 to 1950. The gap was due to his military service during World War II. In 1948, Henrich led the American League with 14 triples and in runs scored with 138. He also tied the American League record with four grand slams. He hit the first walk-off home run in World Series history in 1949.
Like Gardner, he never eased his foot off the gas pedal, and he played the game with intelligence and savvy. ¨Catching a fly ball is a pleasure, but knowing what to do with it is a business,¨ Henrich said according to iz Quotes.
Another prominent ¨Old Reliable¨ came to the Yankees in 1965. Roy White was the consummate professional. He was an all-star in 1969 and 1970. Like Gardner, he was tremendous with the glove. He led the American League in fielding percentage for left fielders for four consecutive years, from 1968 through 1971.
Already, Gardner´s batting average is in line with Henrich and White. Henrich had a lifetime average of .282, and White was at .271. Gardner is currently at .270 for his career. And with his injury challenges behind him, he seems set to improve on that in the coming years.
But there is something that Henrich and White have that Gardner does not. They have multiple championships to their credit. Henrich won five World Series titles, and White won two. Gardner has one. So that leaves some unfinished business for the Yankees’ newest ¨Old Reliable.¨ But that is also something he can take care of this season.