Yankees: Remembering Charlie Hayes, the right man for the job
When the Yankees won four out of five World Series at the turn of the Century, the names of the players on those teams rolled off everyone’s fingertips. And then on second or third thought, we always came up with this guy.
The Yankees thought so much of Charlie Hayes they traded for him twice. As the proverbial player to be named later, Hayes first stay with the team came on February 19, 1992, when the Philadelphia Phillies sent him to the Yankees to complete an earlier deal made on January 8, 1992.
Hayes batted an inglorious .257 with 18 home runs and 66 RBI for an inglorious Yankees team in the 1992 season. The Yankees exposed him in the expansion draft the following off season and Hayes was selected as the third pick of the Colorado Rockies where he spent the next two seasons before moving on to the Phillies and Pittsburgh by the end of the 1995 season.
By this time, the Yankees were a transformed team propelled by the genius of Gene Michael in signing the Core Five and poised to once again make some serious noise, along with some serious money thrown in by Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner following a long and painful demise.
But Michael still needed a third baseman to fill out his team, though. And it didn’t take him long to find an old friend in the now, journeyman ballplayer, Charlie Hayes. Baseball Reference records the trade to bring back Hayes just in time for the 1996 World Series.
"August 30, 1996: Charlie Hayes is traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates to the New York Yankees for a player to be named later. The New York Yankees sent Chris Corn (minors) (August 31, 1996) to the Pittsburgh Pirates to complete the trade."
Fulfilling his duties as a role player under the brightly shining light of teammates like Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte just to name a few, Hayes blended in perfectly with a team that would go on to win four of the next five World Series they played in, a period that would become known simply as “The Run”.
Following the pattern of his career, Hayes did not excel and did not join his teammates regularly on the back page of local New York media. Instead, though, he appeared in twenty games for his new team batting .284 with an inconspicuous OBP of .294.
But remember, he fulfilled everything the Yankees needed from him at the time, in much the same way Ronald Torreyes is doing for his team this season.
Hayes did come close to Yankees immortality, though, when a pop fly was raised his way and with arms flailing like this one is MINE, he caught the final out of the 1996 Series, the first Championship since 1978.
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And for that, Hayes, whether he was simply the right man in the right place, or not, is always greeted warmly by the crowd assembled at Yankee Stadium for the annual Old Timer’s festivities.
In concert with his career in baseball, Hayes followed his stint with the Yankees by journeying to San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Houston before leaving the game in 2001.
Hayes, today, is a man who largely rests on his laurels, such as they may be.
In 2013, he sat down with the YES Network, explaining:
"“I walk around and people still talk about that catch; you’d think it would go away, but it hasn’t happened yet,” Hayes said during his Old-Timers’ Day visit to Yankee Stadium. “I’m honored to be part of that. Just being part of the Yankee tradition is unbelievable, and this is proof.”"
Not everyone in this game of baseball is Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw. And the game is made up of some 600 players who have fought and scraped to reach this level.
Charlie Hayes played fourteen years in the big leagues, collecting a total of $15 million. Hopefully, he’s saved most of it and can fill out his retirement years with comfort and the ease of knowing that he played the game in “The Show.”
And, oh yes, he did make “The Catch” too.
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