3. Ricky Ledee
Ricky Ledee came out of his shell during the 1998 World Series for the Yankees.
The 1998 Yankees are so great that often, we forget the particulars. Yeah, they won every day, and 25 men helped them do it. Scott Brosius raised his fists. They won the inevitable title. Right, right, right.
But without Ricky Ledee playing the ’09 Hideki Matsui role in the ’98 World Series, things might’ve gone very differently.
After a moribund regular season where his contributions didn’t match his prospect standing (he hit just .241 in 87 at-bats), Ledee exploded in October. After five hitless at-bats in the ALCS (and zero appearances in the previous round, the kid went 6-for-10 with 4 RBI against the Padres in 13 plate appearances. He broke a scoreless tie against Kevin Brown with a pounded double in Game 1 of the series, setting the tone from there.
The next year, he hit .273 and .250 in the DS and CS, clocking a grand slam against the Red Sox at Fenway in the first modern postseason matchup between the two teams.
Ledee’s swing had a powerful uncoil, and while he never quite emerged as a star for the Yankees, his two stellar postseasons proved he had a sense of the moment.
Don’t believe us? His solo shot and circus catch in the bright sun helped usher in David Cone’s perfect game in 1999. It’s tough to escape this kid in Yankees lore, and what more can you really ask for?