My absolute favorite team of all time is the New York Yankees. I have been a Yankee fan since birth, when George Steinbrenner himself delivered me in the back of a Checker Cab outside of Shea Stadium in 1975. My first onesies were all pinstriped, I dressed as Mickey Mantle for Halloween every single year until I was 18, when, of course, my prom tux was accented with a star spangled top hat.
I was raised hearing all about how great the Yankees were, and I cannot tell you how good a person that has made me. I heard about all the great players, players like Roger Maris:
He will always be the all time single season Home Run Champion to me.
Of course, Mickey Mantle:
The Mick's even handed lifestyle should be the model for all children to follow.
The ever classy Joe DiMaggio:
He was so humble, I can only imagine his blushing embarrassment at always being introduced as "The World's Greatest Living Ballplayer."
The quiet and reserved Graig Nettles...
...who kept his head and played peacemaker when things got out of hand.
The ultimate teammate Thurman Munson:
I mean, this was a man who stayed with his team through thick and thin and never let them down.
And the selfless Lou Gehrig:
The Iron Horse played every game, no matter what, and that probably made him the best hitter of all time. And dig those Casey Stengel cards. There was a man with the gift of gab who won wherever he went.
Speaking of mangers, I am torn over which Yankees manager is my favorite. I mean, is it the very reserved Lou Piniella, who was the epitome of decorum on the field:
Is it the respectable Billy Martin, who always had his emotions under control and was so good, he was hired five different times to run the team?
Or is it Yogi Berra, who so gallantly stepped aside in times of trouble and was never the kind to hold a grudge?
I don't know, I think they are all tied for first.
Needless to say, growing up in the 1980's, my favorite player of all time is Don Mattingly.
I maintain my gigantic Mattingly collection in a series
of hermetically sealed Tupperware bins, waiting for the day he is
elected to the Hall of Fame and his cards quintuple in value. It is a travesty that such a great player never got to play in the World Series.
The mid to late 90's brought about a renaissance in Yankee Nation. I mean, at one point we had gone a whole 15 years without being in a World Series and a staggering 18 without winning one. Lemme tell ya, growing up a Yankees fan was oh so torturous and painful. Luckily, 1996 changed all that with the emergence of my second favorite Yankee, Derek Jeter:
I can't tell if he is more handsome, or a greater clutch player. Maybe both? If I had caught his 3,000 hit, I would have just handed it over no questions asked, too.
My other favorite "Core Four" player is Mariano Rivera:
Mariano is the best pitcher of all time and anyone who tells you different just doesn't understand baseball.
They were joined on that great 90's team by the always loyal David Cone:
The quirky and always reliable El Duque:
And my favorite pitcher of all time, Roger Clemens:
I cannot wait until 2013 when the Rocket is elected to the Hall of Fame unanimously and enters the hall wearing the mighty interlocked 'NY'
I spend most of my time building Yankees-themed sets, like the beautiful Upper Deck Yankees Classics:
And I am certain one day I will finish the 6743-card Yankee Stadium Legacy set, only the greatest set ever...
...for the greatest team ever! We can all dream, can't we? I'd be a fool not to.