The easiest thing to do would have been to focus on Joe Girardi and the Yankees’ quest for a 28th Championship but while researching this past weekend for today’s post, I noticed something quite peculiar when looking up uniform #28.
1989 was an interesting year for the Yankees. Maybe interesting isn’t the right word. It was actually a pretty bad year for the team. They finished 5th out of seven teams in the American League East with a record of 74-87, they went through a managerial change in August of that year when George Steinbrenner fired skipper Dallas Green on August 19 and replaced him with Bucky Dent – Green went 56-65 and Dent went 18-22 and because of all of this turmoil, seven different players donned #28 the Yankees.
Some of those names are very familiar to everyone and others, not so much.
Dale Mohorcic played with the Yankees in 1988 and 1989 – he was traded to the Yankees on 8/30/88 for Cecilio Guante (Remember him?). Mohorcic, who got his start in the Majors with Texas, finished with a 4-3 record as a Yankees with a 4.37 ERA. His career ended after the 1990 season when he was released by the Montreal Expos in December of that year.
Jesse Barfield came over to the Yankees from Toronto in a trade in April for Al Leiter who also wore the number, so they traded teams and uniforms. Barfield stayed with the Yankees until he was granted free agency in November 1992. He finished his Yankee career with a .231/.339/.421/.760 line in four(ish) seasons.
Leiter went on to have a serviceable career playing with the Blue Jays, the Marlins, the Mets and made a return to the Yankees in his final year in 2005. And who can forget Leiter’s first game as a Yankee in 2005 when he held the Red Sox to one run on three hits in 6 1/3 innings in a start on July 17? He now can be seen on MLB Network as an analyst and on the YES Network where he works double duty as an announcer during Yankee games and hosts the kids show, Yankees on Deck.
Hal Morris played for the Yankees in 1988 and 1989 and wore five different uniform numbers – 38, 62, 21, 22 and 28. He only had 39 plate appearances with the Yankees and he went on to play with Cincinnati where he finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 1990. Morris played with the Reds for ten years and finished his career with a .304/.361/.433/.794 line.
Marcus Lawton (brother of Matt) had 14 at bats with the New York Yankees in 1989 and he wore #24 and #28 while he was in Pinstripes. He came over to the Yankees in a trade with the Mets on July 10, 1989. He was traded for Scott Nielsen. In those 14 at bats, Marcus had three hits, three strikeouts and scored a run.
Hensley Meulens made his Yankee debut three days before my 15th birthday on August 23, 1989. Bam Bam didn’t have a stellar career and most of his playing time came in the Yankees’ abysmal 1991 season which saw them finish 20 games below .500. He played in 96 games. Meulens spent the mid 90s playing Japan, returned to North America to play with Montreal in 1997 and played his final season with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998. He’s now the hitting coach for the World Champion San Francisco Giants.
And finally, we have Dave Eiland. Eiland played for the Yankees from 1988-1991 and returned to the team in 1995. He wore #52, #28, #58 and #47 while in Pinstripes. After his retirement, Eiland worked his way up through the ranks of the Yankees farm system as coach starting in 2000. By 2008 he made it to the big club as pitching coach. He helped guide his staff to the 2009 World Series but after a rough 2010 – he had personal issues that were never disclosed – he was fired in October of that year.