Yankees: Ranking their five best all-time utility players

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#3 Gil McDougald

Gil McDougald played on Yankees teams that won five World Championships. He was on the field when Don Larsen threw his perfect game in the 1956 World Series, and he was the American League’s rookie of the year in 1951, playing third base and second base and hitting .306.

Playing on teams that featured Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Billy Martin, and Whitey Ford, McDougald seldom made the back pages of New York newspapers. But his impact on the team never went unnoticed by his teammates.

Sadly, McDougald’s career will always be marked by one moment in time. It’s described here by New York Times:

"On the night of May 7, 1957, at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, McDougald drilled a line drive off a pitch from the Indians’ brilliant young left-hander Herb Score that struck Score in the face. Only in his third season but seemingly destined for the Hall of Fame, Score remained on the ground for several moments. He was carried off the field, having sustained a severe injury to his right eye and a broken nose."

Later, McDougald would say, “If Herb loses the sight in his eye, I’m going to quit the game.” Score never did lose an eye but he also never fully recovered from the injury.

As your typical utility player, he played second, short, and third, often mixing them into the same game. A reliable but not flashy defensive player, he made all the plays he should make.

A five-time All-Star, he finished as high as fifth in the MVP voting in 1957. In that same year, he was first in the league in sacrifice hits with 19, an achievement that’s rare in the game as it’s played today.

After his playing days, McDougald ran a building maintenance company in New Jersey, and he coached baseball at Fordham University from 1970 to 1976.