Former Yankees: Five players you forgot were Yankees

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Former Yankees Mariano Rivera and Lee Smith during their Hall of Fame induction.(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

#4: OF Felipe Alou (1971-73)

In April of 1971, outfielder Felipe Alou was traded to the Yankees from the Athletics for left-handed pitcher Rob Gardner and right-handed hurler Rob Klimkowski. Alou had been one of baseball’s best batters in previous years. From 1966-68, Alou’s 585 hits were second-most in the major leagues. Only Pete Rose (591) had more.

Alou had prior experience playing against the Bronx Bombers. He hit .269 with a triple and an RBI in seven games against New York during the 1962 World Series while playing for the San Francisco Giants. The Yankees defeated the Giants in seven games to win the Fall Classic that year.

Alou hit .271 and posted a 103 OPS+ over parts of three seasons with the Yankees. Perhaps his highlight in a Yankee uniform came on July 20, 1973, in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the White Sox.  Alou and his brother Matty (who joined the Yankees in 1973), each collected three hits in a New York 12-2 victory. Ironically, future Hall of Famer (and future Yankee) Goose Gossage appeared in that game in relief for Chicago.

Alou finished his career with 17 seasons in the big leagues.  He recorded 2,101 hits and had 206 home runs. Alou also had a successful career as a major league manager, having won more than 1000 games in 14 seasons as skipper of the Expos and Giants.

#3: RHP Lee Smith (1993)

Not long before Mariano Rivera became a Yankee, there was another all-time saves leader to don the pinstripes. Lee Smith was traded to the Yankees in August of 1993 for RHP Rich Batchelor. At the time of the deal, Smith’s 398 saves were the most in major league history.

Smith pitched in eight games during his month-long tenure in the Bronx.  He didn’t allow a run in eight innings and struck out eleven batters. His highlight as a Yankee came on September 17 against the Red Sox.  With New York up 5-4 in the ninth, Smith retired all three Boston hitters he faced. This was Smith’s 400th career save. The last out was via a strikeout against former All-Star and MVP candidate Mike Greenwell.

Smith would finish his career with 478 saves and a 3.03 ERA in more than a thousand appearances.  He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.