March 2010

March 12 – Happy Birthday Darryl Strawberry

The “Straw Man” was an immensely talented power hitter who became a valuable contributor to the 1998 Yankee team, which I consider one of the greatest squads in Major League Baseball history. He also struggled throughout his career to control a well-documented substance abuse problem.

He was an important part of the 1996 Yankee World Championship team, hitting 11 home runs in 63 games and driving in 36 as a part-time DH and outfielder during the regular season. He then belted three home runs and averaged .417 against Baltimore in that year’s ALCS, perhaps Darryl’s finest moment in pinstripes. He made another solid contribution to New York’s great 1998 squad, playing in 101 games and hitting 24 home runs. But then Darryl’s demons and a bout with cancer ended his career.

Darryl will be most remembered as one of the all-time great Mets. He hit 252 home runs during his eight years at Shea and drove in 733. He was a classic slugger with a trademark swing who could have made the Hall of Fame but instead, ended up in jail when his playing days were over. I saw Darryl do a Center Stage show with Michael Kay a year ago and he sounds as if he has his life in order. I certainly hope so and I also wish him a happy 49th birthday.

Darryl was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1983. This 1994 NL Rookie of the Year was also a slugging outfielder who joined the Yankees late in his career and who also celebrates his birthday on May 12th as does this one-time Yankee center-fielder, this one-time Yankee first-baseman and this former NL All Star outfielder too.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1995 NYY 32 99 87 15 24 4 1 3 13 0 10 22 .276 .364 .448 .812
1996 NYY 63 237 202 35 53 13 0 11 36 6 31 55 .262 .359 .490 .849
1997 NYY 11 32 29 1 3 1 0 0 2 0 3 9 .103 .188 .138 .325
1998 NYY 101 345 295 44 73 11 2 24 57 8 46 90 .247 .354 .542 .896
1999 NYY 24 66 49 10 16 5 0 3 6 2 17 16 .327 .500 .612 1.112
17 Yrs 1583 6326 5418 898 1401 256 38 335 1000 221 816 1352 .259 .357 .505 .862
NYM (8 yrs) 1109 4549 3903 662 1025 187 30 252 733 191 580 960 .263 .359 .520 .878
NYY (5 yrs) 231 779 662 105 169 34 3 41 114 16 107 192 .255 .362 .502 .864
LAD (3 yrs) 214 885 761 118 185 32 4 38 136 14 110 178 .243 .340 .445 .786
SFG (1 yr) 29 113 92 13 22 3 1 4 17 0 19 22 .239 .363 .424 .787
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/7/2014.

March 9 – Happy Birthday Aaron Boone

When I think about Boone two things immediately come to mind. The first of course is the home half of the 11th inning of the seventh and final game of the 2003 ALCS, Red Sox versus Yankees in the Bronx. Score is tied, 5-5 with Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on the mound as Aaron Boone steps into the batters’ box to lead off the inning for New York. His brother Brett is doing the game for Fox in the booth. I absolutely knew that Boone was going to hit a home run off of Wakefield and when he did, against the hated Red Sox and I got to see it on my television set, it just does not get any better than that for die hard Yankee fans like me.

The next thing that comes to mind when I think about Boone is the famous line from the movie, The Godfather II, “This is the business we chose.” Boone’s whole life, his whole heritage had been baseball. His grandfather, father and brother were all Major Leaguers. He had just hit one of the most famous home runs in the history of the most famous sports franchise on earth. He was the starting third baseman for the  AL Champion Yankees. He was at the peak of his playing career when he made the decision to play some pick-up basketball during the off-season and ripped apart his knee. In what seemed like a blink of an eye, the Yankee front office went out and got A-Rod and dropped Boone like a lead weight.

Talk about going from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat in record time, Boone’s odyssey was unbelievable. But the guy took it with grace and professionalism every step of the way. I will always be a fan of Aaron Boone. Always!

This former AL MVP, this sidearming southpaw  and this six-time AL stolen base champion all share Boone’s March 9 birthday.