If ever there were to be a baseball version of Mount Rushmore, it would look an awful lot like Monument Park in Yankee Stadium. Choosing the all-time Top 10 Yankees is both easy and impossible. Their key Mount Rushmore figures come to mind in an instant, but the problem is, how do you limit the list to 10? Newsday's Mark Herrmann tries.
10. ALEX RODRIGUEZ
Third base, 2004-current
People might think he has not been a Yankee long enough to make this list, but he already has seven 100-RBI seasons in Pinstripes, which is three more than Mantle had. He has won two MVP awards and two American League home run titles since he has been in New York. The first since Ruth to hit his 600th career home run as a Yankee. His 18 RBIs in the 2009 postseason are a franchise record, and A-Rod would have to be considered the top third baseman in Yankees history.
9. BILL DICKEY
The only one in American League history to have caught at least 100 games in 13 consecutive seasons, the Hall of Famer was productive as well as durable. Dickey also hit better than .300 in 11 seasons for a .313 career average. He had more than 20 home runs and 100 RBIs in four consecutive seasons and was the Yankees catcher for seven world championships.
8. DEREK JETER
Captain of the Yankees, the face of the franchise during five championships, starting with his Rookie of the Year season in 1996. Jeter is the Yankees’ all-time leader in hits and has the most hits from the shortstop position in the history of baseball. He is three short of the franchise record for stolen bases. A World Series MVP, an 11-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner, he is best regarded for the intangibles that aren’t measured by statistics or awards.?
7. MARIANO RIVERA
As much as any Yankee in history, Rivera is considered the greatest ever at his position. He has turned the role of closer into an art form with an American League-record 559 career saves. More telling are his 39 postseason saves and 11 World Series saves, both major-league records. His career ERA of 2.23 is second (behind Eddie Cicotte’s 2.20) among pitchers with 1,000 innings or more since it became an official statistic in 1912. Will be best remembered for his five World Series rings.
6. WHITEY FORD
An annual rite of autumn was watching ?The Chairman of the Board? pitch in the World Series. He pitched Game 1 of the Fall Classic eight times, more than anyone else. The Yankees might have had one more title had he been allowed to pitch Game 1 in 1960. Set a host of World Series records, including 33.2 consecutive scoreless innings (breaking Babe Ruth?s mark). Holds Yankees records for starts, innings, wins, strikeouts and shutouts.
5. YOGI BERRA
Catcher, outfield 1946-65
About the only thing Berra fell short of as a Yankee was a monument rather than a plaque, and he didn?t miss by much. He won 10 World Series and 14 pennants, was a three-time MVP and an All-Star for 15 consecutive years. His 306 home runs as a catcher are a Yankees record. He also managed the Yankees to the 1964 World Series and was a coach on the 1977 and 1978 championship teams. His plaque calls him ?A Legendary Yankee.?
4. MICKEY MANTLE
Through the years, there was more emphasis on how good Mantle could have been had he not been injured at the end of his rookie season and had he taken better care of himself. Still, a recent book looked at his career through the prism of modern statistical analysis and it showed that he was more dominant than people thought when he was a 20-time All-Star, Triple Crown winner and three-time MVP who hit a record 18 World Series home runs.
3. LOU GEHRIG
First base, 1923-39
Known best for playing every day, for 2,130 games, and remembered most for the way he handled not being able to play any more: ?I consider myself?the luckiest man?on the face of the earth.? Speech remains an American icon, and the focus of a movie starring Gary Cooper. Fact is, Gehrig was a terrific player as well, with a lifetime .340 batting average and 493 home runs. He hit .361 with 10 homers in seven World Series.
2. JOE DIMAGGIO
His 56-game hitting streak in 1941 remains the gold standard, and his seamless, graceful play earned him the designation as baseball?s greatest living player during Major League Baseball?s 1969 centennial. Known as ?The Yankee Clipper,? ?Joltin? Joe? and ?Joe D,? DiMaggio had as many nicknames as MVP awards. The Hall of Famer led the Yankees to nine world championships in his 13 seasons.
1. BABE RUTH
Right field, 1920-34
If he wasn?t the greatest player of all time ? and the argument here is that he was, given his pitching records before he became a legend as a slugger ? he is the most influential. He hit 60 home runs in 1927, when no other American League team had that many. He essentially created baseball as a mainstream American pastime, basically building the Yankees and Yankee Stadium along the way.