BRONX, N.Y. — Assembling a historic New York Yankees roster is always all parts fun, challenging and a great way to start a debate. With Feb. being Black History month, I figured, why not try and put together an all African American Yankees lineup? It’s a tall order but I’ll give it a whirl.
Catcher – Elston Howard: The first African American player for Yanks in 1955. Ellie won four World Series titles with New York. The nine-time All-Star Howard was the first African American player in the American League to win MVP in 1963. Howard’s No. 32 is retired in Monument Park.
First baseman – Chris Chambliss: Spending parts of seven seasons in the Bronx, Chambliss won a pair of World Series with the Yanks. He blasted 79 home runs in the regular season. The 1976 All-Star is best remembered for his walk-off jolt in the ALCS of that year, sending the Yanks past the Kansas City Royals and back to the Fall Classic.
Second baseman – Willie Randolph: Playing 13-years in the Bronx, the former co-captain was a two-time World Series champ with the Yankees. Randolph was a five-time All-Star with New York. Willie tops the franchise list for runs scored, walks and stolen bases for second basemen. Randolph will be honored with a plaque in Monument Park in 2015.
Shortstop – Derek Jeter: To quote from the movie “The Other Guys,” “Derek Jeter is a biracial angel,” so he makes my list. Name an offensive category for Yankees shortstops and Jeter literally tops every single one. Jeter has five World Series titles on his ledger. The Hall of Famer is sixth on the all-time MLB list for hits, tabulating 3,465 on his career. The 14-time All-Star was also 1996 AL Rookie of the Year and won the All-Star Game MVP and World Series MVP in 2000.
Third baseman – Charlie Hayes: When I played Little League, for a few years I wore a clear face shield like Charlie Hayes did when he played for the Colorado Rockies, which as a kid I thought was kinda cool. Charlie was also a heck of a player in his two stints with the Yanks. Hayes played three years in New York and was a member of the 1996 World Series championship team, catching the final out in Game 6. During his time with the Yanks, Hayes hit 31 home runs and drove in 132.
Left fielder – Roy White: Quite possibly the most underrated Yankee ever. White was a member of two World Series-winning squads, during his 15-year run with the Yanks. White was also twice an All-Star with New York. White tops all Yanks left-fielders in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI and walks.
Center fielder – Rickey Henderson: One doesn’t normally associate him with center field but Henderson played 321 games at the position in the Bronx. Henderson played parts of five seasons for the Yankees. In that time frame, Henderson was a four-time All-Star, led the league in runs scored three times, stolen bases four times and one in walks. Rickey is second in club history with 326 steals. You can’t go wrong with the best leadoff hitter of all-time.
Right fielder – Dave Winfield: Winny. If he’d played in New York in any other decade, he’d probably have his number retired too. Winfield’s 205 home runs are the fifth most of any Yanks outfielder. During his nine-year tenure in the Bronx, Winfield was an eight-time All-Star, five-time gold glove award winner and a five-time recipient of the silver slugger award. Enshrined in the Hall of Fame, Winfield played his best ball in pinstripes.
Designated hitter – Reggie Jackson: Mr. October. Reginald Martinez Jackson didn’t play as long with the Yanks as most in Monument Park but he had a “Koufaxian” impact with his bat. From 1977 to 1981, Jackson slammed 141 home runs with New York. In all five of those seasons, Jackson was an AL All-Star and in 1980 he led the Junior Circuit with 41 bombs. Reggie was made for New York and he was a huge part of consecutive titles for the Yankees in 1977 and 1978. In 1977, Jackson won the World Series MVP, batting .450 with five home runs against the Los Angeles Dodgers. During Game 6, Jackson hit three home runs at Yankee Stadium. Jackson is a member of the Hall of Fame and his number 44 is retired in Monument Park.
Starting pitcher – CC Sabathia: Sabathia was the ace on the 2009 World Series championship team. Ever the workhorse, Sabathia led the AL in victories in 2009 and 2010, winning a combined 40 games. On his Yankee career, Sabathia recorded 134 wins and a .604 winning percentage, across 11 seasons. A three-time All-Star with the Yanks, Sabathia was also named 2009 ALCS MVP. Sabathia is fourth in club history with 1,700 strikeouts.