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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Yankees take tough loss in real game, but Old-Timers’ Day was fun

Former New York Yankees player Mickey Rivers runs

Former New York Yankees player Mickey Rivers runs onto the field on Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, June 25, 2017. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Yankees played two games in the Bronx on Sunday: their annual Old-Timers’ Day game and then the regular one against the Texas Rangers.

Try to guess which highlight is from which game:

1. The Yankees’ starting pitcher dived for and missed an infield single but was OK after rolling over his pitching shoulder;

2. The Yankees’ starting pitcher allowed six runs before getting the third out of the second inning;

3. The Yankees’ second baseman was tracking a pop fly into short rightfield but fell down and saw it fall in for a hit:

4. The Yankees’ first baseman dropped a line drive, and while recovering it, forgot about a runner at second base, allowing the runner to take third;

5. The Yankees’ rightfielder felt tightness in his calf muscle and had to leave the game after one at-bat;

6. The Yankees’ centerfielder had to leave the game after four innings with right oblique tightness;

7. The Yankees’ centerfielder ran down a drive into left-center and nonchalantly caught the ball at his right hip;

8. A Yankees baserunner was thrown out at third to end the seventh inning with the team down a run.

Here are the answers:

1. 72-year-old Sparky Lyle. He stayed in the game and even threw one pitch from behind his back;

2. Michael Pineda, the losing pitcher in the Yankees’ 7-6 defeat;

3. 62-year-old Willie Randolph, who later successfully tracked down a similar pop in short right;

4. Tyler Austin, who in two unimpressive games has made fans long for the days of Chris Carter;

5. 54-year-old Paul O’Neill. Reggie Jackson joked that The Warrior “got hurt during the introductions”;

6. Aaron Hicks, who appears to be DL-bound;

7. 68-year-old Mickey Rivers, who’s clearly still got it even though nowadays he’s Mick the (Much Less Than) Quick.

8. More on that in a minute.

Mishaps and lighthearted moments are to be expected during the “old” portion of Old-Timers’ Day. It was all in good fun, and the early-arriving portion of the sellout crowd of 46,625 got to cheer the returning former Yankees, most notably first-time Old-Timer Jorge Posada, 88-year-old “Chairman of the Board” Whitey Ford and 87-year-old Don Larsen, who got a sustained standing ovation as he used a walker to take his spot on the field.

The Yankees were honoring the 40th anniversary of their 1977 World Series title team and also had a brief ceremony honoring new Hall of Famer Tim Raines. But as usual for this generation of fans, it was the players from the Joe Torre Era of the late ’90s and early 2000s who drew the loudest cheers. Along with Posada and O’Neill, there were Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez and David Cone, among others.

Posada was the only member of the Core Four to attend; apparently Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter are not ready to be called Old-Timers just yet.

Asked which of the others he thought would be the first to come to a future Old-Timers’ Day, Posada said: “I know it’s not going to be Jeter.”

The early part of the regular game was tough for the current Yankees. Pineda gave up three runs in the first inning, two coming on a home run by Adrian Beltre, and a three-run home run to Shin-Soo Choo in the second.

Pineda also allowed the first major-league hit of Drew Robinson’s career, a solo homer in the fourth that made the score 7-0.

Then the Yankees put together an old-timey rally. They scored four in the fifth behind potential future Old-Timers’ Day invitees Aaron Judge (RBI single) and Gary Sanchez (three-run homer).

Ronald Torreyes hit a solo homer in the seventh and Didi Gregorius — after just missing a go-ahead homer with a drive down the rightfield line that barely went foul — singled in a run to make it 7-6. But on that hit, Sanchez committed the unforgivable mistake of getting thrown out at third for the third out of the inning.

“Definitely, I would say that’s a mistake on my part,” Sanchez said through a translator.

That’s true on Old-Timers’ Day. Or any other day.

New York Sports