Designed for those players who were undervalued cogs of the organisation, however brief(in some cases) their Yankee days were. If you feel there is someone who deserves a little more exposure, leave a reply with the person’s name and we’ll get right on it.
Aaron Small was never a pitcher that hitters feared. For sixteen years he floundered between AAA and MLB, seemingly too good for the minors but not good enough for the show. Armed with a 90mph fastball, a solid curve and an undeniable love for baseball, in 2005 he achieved an amazing feat that helped save the Yankee season.
Primarily a reliever(he started 3 games out of 146 previous to the Yankees), Small settled into the Yankee rotaion after impressing in his first few starts and stayed there until the end of the season with an astonishing final line of: 10-0, 3.20. Nobody could have expected anywhere near that kind of production from the right handed journeyman and consequent showings have suggested there is no feasible reason to explain his effectivness. All that we know is that for 11 games in the fall of 2005, Aaron Small basked in the glory of Yankee pride and permanantly etched his name into the history books and into the minds of the Bronx faithful.
When you talk about the superb team between 1996 and 1998 virtually nobody seems to mention the contribution made by one of the most inexplicable success stories, the massive Australian Graeme Lloyd. A far from spectacular career reliever who put up a 30-36 mark with a 4.04 career ERA, the lefty specialist made a significant contribution to the Yankees successes in his brief tenure in pinstripes, most notably in the 1996 Series.
His role in the fantastic road sweep during that series was absolutely essential in bridging the gap between the incredibly stingy starters, and the lights out performances of Rivera and Wetteland in Atlanta. Had Torre not had someone such as Lloyd to call on, who was literally unhittable against some of the Braves most clutch hitters of the time, then the Yankees may well have ended up facing the embarassment of a Series sweep. For his performance in these games alone he deserved to be fondly spoken of by Yankees fans everywhere. Although his successes in the remaining two years of his time with the Yankees until he was packaged in the deal for Clemens were not as noteworthy, I reckon he really deserves more than to be remembered as a footnote in such great success.
Joe Gordon played for the Yankees between 1938 and 1946 and won the AL MVP in 1942(.322/18/103). Far from being just an offensive player, Gordon played second base admirably(and acrobatically), often amongst the league leaders for his position in assists, double plays and fielding percentage. He was also known for his complete disregard for his own statistics and achievements.
Without ever having seen him play(we’re young here at Highlander Origins), i can only go on the opinions that his peers had of him. He is rarely spoken of among fans and sports reporters today but his overall contributions were not lost on teammates, scouts and coaches:
Joe McCarthy – “The greatest all-around ballplayer I ever saw, and I don’t bar any of them, is Joe Gordon.”
Bill Essick(scout) – “At his best when it meant the most and the going was toughest.”
After playing for the Yankees(finishing with exactly 1000 games and 1000 hits), Gordon continued his excellent career with the Indians while forging a friendship with the first black player in the AL, Larry Doby. Doby would later say that Gordon was his first real friend in white baseball – a lasting legacy for a man who was known as a great player and a consummate professional.