5 most 'fun' New York Yankees players of all time

New York Yankees v Milwaukee Brewers
New York Yankees v Milwaukee Brewers / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

So far this season, the New York Yankees have been an extremely fun team to watch take the field. Unlike 2023’s unit, the current squad has shown some real personality that can create the kind of chemistry that comes in handy when things get rough.

Between Alex Verdugo’s proclamation that the Yankees are “dawgs” and Juan Soto’s signature shuffle rubbing off on his cohorts, the Bombers have a certain swagger about them. This begs the question, what other players brought this energy? And where do they rank in the team's all-time list?

Here are the top-five most “fun” Yankees in franchise history.

5 most fun Yankees players in franchise history

Honorable Mention: Reggie Jackson

Mr. October is an icon. From the moment he arrived in the Bronx, Reggie Jackson provided a swagger that very few players before or since have ever matched. His infamous insistence that he was the “straw that stirred the drink” provided a quote for the ages.

While his confidence was perceived as cockiness by those like catcher Thurman Munson and manager Billy Martin, it’s undeniable that the Hall of Famer’s game was partially fueled by his unrelenting confidence. While he may not have initially been the best addition as far as chemistry was concerned, he’s fondly remembered for his Postseason heroics and undeniable charisma.

No. 5: CC Sabathia

The 2009 Yankees had a distinct personality that was separate from that of the dynasty years. In his first season as a Yankee, CC Sabathia showed he was a player who was willing to be himself both on and off the field.

On the mound, Sabathia pitched with emotion and the kind of passion that excited fans. Perhaps more importantly, he was a solid clubhouse presence who helped connect the old guard with other new additions like Mark Teixeira.

Towards the end of his career, Sabathia clearly did not possess the same stuff. He was no longer the ace, but was still respected in the clubhouse.

“I think I passed the torch a long time ago," Sabathia told MLB.com in 2017. "I'm fine with being the older guy and kind of the anchor of the rotation. I've had my time at the top of the rotation and dealt with that pressure, but that time has passed for me now, so I'm happy to pass it on to Sevy, or Tanaka, or whoever else wants that.”

There’s been a lot written about Sabathia’s ability to unify teammates, and past endeavors like his “R2-C2” Podcast further illustrate his jovial nature.

No. 4: Yogi Berra

It would be extremely easy to overlook Yogi Berra in this department. His era’s teams were wildly successful on the field and boasted great players such as Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. Those dynastic Yankees weren't exactly known for pranks. They were too busy winning constantly.

But Berra was a different story. The squat catcher is not only one of the most accomplished Yankees in history, but he’s also one of the most interesting players to ever wear the pinstripes. His “Yogi-isms” may sometimes overshadow his status as a premier player, but his unique expressions should place him in this particular conversation.

Managerial harmonica incident aside, Berra is remembered as a kind soul who was a key part of some of the franchise's most glorious years.

No. 3: A.J. Burnett

Was A.J. Burnett a perfect pitcher? No. Did he always have a calming or “fun” attitude? Definitely not. Regardless, the Little Rock native deserves a place on this list for one particular postgame tradition.

Signed along with Teixeira and Sabathia prior to the 2009 season, Burnett invented the “walk-off pie” tradition. The Yankees had 17 total total walk-off wins in 2009, and a number of different players got a heap of shaving cream smeared on them afterwards.

Such antics were unheard of at the time for the typically buttoned-up Bombers. Fans enjoyed the festivities, and while Burnett may not have a perfect tenure in the Bronx, his creation became a fun part of the ‘09 Yankees’ story.

No. 2: Alex Verdugo

It may be too early for this take, but Alex Verdugo has clearly brought swagger to the Yankees’ clubhouse this season.

“I came here and have felt welcomed. I felt like I could be myself,” Verdugo told the Athletic. “Just me being myself, I feel like the guys have liked it a lot and have gravitated towards me and helped me out and showed me love. They get me here. They understand me…”

Some may argue that Soto is more responsible for New York’s shift in demeanor, and they would be right from an on-field perspective. But, when looking at factors off the field, it’s very hard not to give Verdugo his flowers.

Whether it’s celebrating with teammates after a big home run or referring to the team as “dawgs,” the Arizona native has been an impactful presence. He recently wore a durag in support of Marcus Stroman, an interesting development given some fans wondered how the two new additions would “fit” from a personality standpoint.

“I never had anyone wear a durag in support of me,” Stroman told The Athletic. “That meant the world to me. He’s someone who’s not afraid to be himself out there. He’s not scared to support his brothers, even if it might go against a societal norm.”

In some ways, this encapsulates why Verdugo deserves to be on this list. He’s been unapologetically himself, and has empowered other players to do the same. In doing so, the 27-year old has helped cultivate a fun environment that could lead to championship chemistry.

No. 1: Nick Swisher

CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett were more important on-field field performers during the ‘09 World Series run, but they could never match Nick Swisher’s unbridled enthusiasm and relentless optimism. Love him or hate him, the former first-round pick brought energy to the ballpark every day.

As mentioned, that season’s team was a melting pot that included players of varying ages. Swisher’s youthful mentality brought needed levity, and he quickly connected with the “Bleacher Creatures” in right field.

His Yankees’ legacy is still a complicated one, given his poor Postseason performances and polarizing “frat bro” persona. But he has remained around the organization and is never shy about returning to the Bronx or speaking about how much he enjoyed his time as a Yankee.