Yogi Berra is the most obvious name among those with a plaque who could receive a monument after his passing. His resume is impeccable and while many people today see him as a cuddly old man, we must recognize just how great he was amongst all players, especially catchers, all time. Bill James’ Win Shares pegs Yogi as the #1 catcher of all time, and the 52nd best non-pitching player of all time. Of All Time.
- 18x All-Star selection (1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1959, 1960, 1960, 1961, 1961, 1962)
- 13x World Series champion (1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1969, 1977, 1978)
- 3x AL MVP (1951, 1954, 1955)
Ten World Series rings as a player, plus three as a coach. Not to mention him being a wonderful ambassador for the game…
I think we’ll see a Yogi Berra monument not long after his passing. Heck, his plaque (to the right) calls him “A Legendary Yankee”!
This brings me back to Mike’s question about Steinbrenner: Does his ownership legacy make him monument-worthy?
Both Larry and I wrote a bit about the yin/yang of George M. Steinbrenner upon his passing. How he could flip from magnanimous to gregarious to ruthless in a moment’s notice. He would be cruel to employees but generous beyond words to local charities. He managed to get suspended from baseball twice: derisively cheered by his hometown fans as they learned about the second suspension. Yet those same fans lifted the ill, aging Boss during his lap at the 2008 All Star Game. He was good. He was evil. He made the Yankees relevant again by his tenacious “win at all costs” approach. But that approach forced others to step their games up, too. And he paid for that approach in the form of revenue sharing and luxury tax payments. He owned the team as we all would like to be able to: throwing every resource into winning. He created the YES Network, the new business model replicated by many other teams and that created the next cash stream to fund the Empire.
Baseball history is littered with players and other personalities who have sketchy pasts. The Hall of Fame is not reserved for only the purest souls. It’s home to the best baseball men and women (unless you’ve signed a piece of paper acknowledging you’ve gambled on the game while in uniform and agreeing to a lifetime ban). I think eventually Steinbrenner will take his place in Cooperstown for his overall contributions to the game.
Does this mean, however, that The Boss should get a monument. We know he will, but should he? I’ve been thinking about this one for quite some time and I’ve come down on the “yes, he should” side, again due to his enormous contributions to the game, despite his wrongdoings. The Mick wasn’t a saint, either, though for different reasons. The Boss’ monument, if I were consulted, would take a piece of real estate far away from the other five, away from the 9/11 tribute. Have it stand by itself, like George did, different from the players, yet connected. The Yankees legacy would not be complete or as successful without The Boss and neither would Monument Park.
Of course, that leads us to which players, past or present, could also be memorialized posthumously with a monument. I already mentioned that Yogi would be a worthwhile addition to the Monuments. And besides Yogi, there really are only two logical additions: Jeter and Mariano.
There’s no doubt that eventually Jeter will have a monument dedicated to him. The Face of the Franchise for what will be about 20 years, owner of at least five World Series rings. First there will be a plaque and unless the team changes its policy towards the awarding of a monument, the monument will come some 50-60 years from now, upon his passing.
And that leaves the Mariano Rivera monument debate. Mo will be recognized as perhaps the greatest closer in baseball history, his post-season stats proof of his dominance when the games counted the most:
|14 Seasons (29 Series)||0.74||88||70||39||133.1||82||13||11||2||21||4||107||501||0.773||5.5||0.1||5.10|
So what’s your thoughts? The Boss? Yogi? Jeter? Mo?