Yankees: Diluting the annual Old Timers Day celebration

Whitey Ford Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Whitey Ford Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees have released the names of everyone who will be attending the annual Old Timers Day celebration. Are my eyes deceiving me, or are several names noticeably absent from the list of those attending?

The Yankees will once again call on their ironic baseball history on June 25 when they’ll roll out a torrent of high-profile players for the annual Old Timers Day celebration at Yankee Stadium.

The list of attendees released by the YES Network includes five Hall of Famers, headed by Whitey Ford and Reggie Jackson. Jorge Posada gets marquee status this year, his first as an Old Timer. He’ll be joined by Tim Raines, who will join those honored at Cooperstown a month later.

Some will run from the dugout, hat off relishing in the cheers they’ve missed so dearly. Others will walk out, and at least one will be driven in on a golf cart as the last man standing from the great Yankees teams of the 1950’s and early Sixties.

It’s always a day of celebration as a reminder of the past with a touch of excitement about the upside of the future, something that rings especially true this season. And we can expect that players like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, and the whole gang of Baby Bombers will be on the top step of the dugout as each player is introduced, with an eye on the future and the dreams that are yet to come for them.

Here’s the kicker, though

More from Yanks Go Yard

What I don’t get, though, is how the Yankees can have a day like this with three-fifths of the Core Five missing. Are we to imagine that Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Derek Jeter are all “too busy” to attend, despite the fact that the date has been on the Yankees schedule for months? Nor is it likely that any of these players would snub the Yankees and their fans if they had an invite.

Or, is it that they were never invited to attend at all? It’s probably the latter, and there must be some unwritten rule like the one MLB has for Hall of Fame consideration, which says you must be retired from the game for X amount of years before you get an invite.

If that’s the case, the organization needs to change that rule like yesterday. While it’s not a knockout punch that’s being delivered by the team’s PR Department, it is one of those bothersome jabs that deprive fans of seeing all of the recent greats gathered together and breathing the same air, even if for only a few minutes, again.

Still a chance to make it right

The Yankees are one of the few team in baseball who can get away with putting on this annual show of braggartry and excellence. Most teams won’t even attempt to try it.

And before the team even tries it, we don’t need the lure of “surprise guests” promised at the last minute to add to the excitement. Old Timers Day is one that etched sharply in Yankees tradition, and it doesn’t need to be supercharged with theatrics.

The Yankees need to rethink this. Williams, Posada, Rivera, Jeter, and Pettitte all need to be there. Your move, Mr. Steinbrenner.