Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: The Final Moments of Yankees’ Legends

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog).

Even before Andy Pettitte announced his retirement, there was a feeling of transition surrounding the Yankees. Maybe it was ushered in by Derek Jeter’s contentious contract negotiations or the decision to make Jorge Posada a permanent DH, but regardless, the Yankees’ blogosphere has been filled with sentimental retrospectives centered on the Core Four.

Before the current roster of legends, guys like Don Mattingly, Thurman Munson, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth were the icons for previous generations. However, as detailed in an earlier post, fans don’t always get the chance to say a proper goodbye. In most cases, a player’s final at bat or pitch passes by without any notice because the gravity of the moment is not yet understood.

Listed below are the final at bats/batters faced by the “best” players who have worn the pinstripes. With the exception of Ruth and Mike Mussina (and perhaps DiMaggio), there really was little reason to expect that the corresponding outcome would be the final snapshot in each player’s Yankee (or baseball) career. So, if there’s one lesson to be learned, it’s that fans should appreciate their favorite players while they can because many will be gone without warning.

Final AB of Yankees’ Top-20 Position Players, Ranked by WAR

    Last AB with Yankees
Player WAR Date Team Pitcher Result
Babe Ruth^ 149.6 9/30/1934 Senators Tommy Thomas Flyball to CF
Mickey Mantle 120.2 9/28/1968 Red Sox Jim Lonborg Pop fly to SS
Lou Gehrig 118.4 4/30/1939 Senators Pete Appleton Line out to CF
Joe DiMaggio 83.6 10/10/51+ Giants Larry Jansen Double to RF
Yogi Berra^ 62.1 10/5/1963+ Dodgers Don Drysdale Line out to RF
Bill Dickey 54.4 9/8/1946 Senators Sid Hudson Single
Willie Randolph^ 49.8 9/30/1988 Tigers W.Hernandez Flyball to RF
Bernie Williams 47.3 10/6/2006+ Tigers Kenny Rogers K swinging
Tony Lazzeri^ 46.6 10/10/1937+ Giant Don Brennan Pop fly to SS
Earle Combs* 44.7 8/25/1935 ChiSox J. Whitehead Walk
Roy White 44.5 9/27/1979 Indians Sid Monge Sac Fly to LF
Thurman Munson 43.4 8/1/1979 ChiSox Ken Kravec K
Charlie Keller* 42.4 9/13/1952 ChiSox Marv Grissom K looking
Phil Rizzuto* 41.8 8/2/1956 Indians Herb Score Strikeout
Graig Nettles^ 40.6 10/2/1983 Orioles Tippy Martinez Flyball to RF
Gil McDougald* 40 10/10/60+ Pirates Roy Face FC 6-4
Don Mattingly 39.8 10/8/1995+ Mariners Randy Johnson K looking
Tommy Henrich 37.6 10/1/1950 Red Sox Harry Taylor DP: 4-6-3
Joe Gordon^ 36.3 9/18/1946 ChiSox Earl Caldwell Unknown out
Rickey Henderson^ 30.1 6/20/1989 ChiSox John Davis RBI single CF

^Last at bat of career with another team.
+Postseason game
*Appeared as a pinch runner or defensive replacement after final at bat.
Source: Baseball-reference.com 

Final Batter Faced by Yankees’ Top-10 Pitchers, Ranked by WAR

    Last BF with Yankees
Player WAR Date Team Batter Result
Whitey Ford 55.3 5/21/1967 Tigers Jim Northrup Groundout: 1u
Red Ruffing^ 49.7 6/29/1946 Athletics unknown unknown
Ron Guidry 44.4 9/27/1988 Orioles Rene Gonzales Groundout: 6-3
Lefty Gomez^ 43.2 8/14/1942 Athletics Dick Siebert unknown out
Andy Pettitte 42.7 10/18/2010+ Rangers Bengie Molina Groundout: 6-3
Mel Stottlemyre 37.9 8/4/1974 Red Sox Juan Beniquez Flyball to CF
Bob Shawkey 37.6 9/29/1927 Athletics Goose Goslin unknown out
Waite Hoyt^ 31 5/27/1930 Senators unknown unknown
Mike Mussina 30.3 9/28/2008 Red Sox Dustin Pedroia DP: 4-6-3
Herb Pennock^ 29.2 9/23/1933 Red Sox unknown unknown

^Last batter faced in career as a member of another team.
+Postseason game
Source: Baseball-reference.com