MLB Top 5: New York Yankees Outfielders

This is the fourth article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the New York Yankees. In this installment are the outfielders.

The Best Outfielders in New York Yankees History

Some of the greatest players in baseball history patrolled the outfield at Yankee Stadiums old and new as well as Hilltop Park. The stars on these lists played prominent roles in 27 Yankee championships, set several baseball records and have been enthralling fans for more than 120 years.

Left Fielders

Honorable Mentions – George Selkirk had the unenviable task of replacing Babe Ruth with the Yankees. He was given his number 3 and split time between left and right field during his nine seasons in pinstripes (1934-42). The Canadian-born outfielder got his first extended playing time after an injury to Earle Combs and made the All-Star team twice when he topped a .300 average and 100 RBIs in 1936 and ’39. Known as “Twinkeltoes” for his running style, Selkirk was one of five players to drive in at least 100 runs in 1936 and hit two home runs to lead the Yankees to a win over the Giants in the World Series. The following year, he came back from a broken collarbone and drove in six runs to help the Bombers win their second straight title.

The Yankees won two more titles with “Twinkletoes” moving from right to left field and then to the bench as other talented players came into the fold. Selkirk was a shooting instructor with the Navy during World War II and was released as a player when he returned. The 1939 fielding champion batted. 290 with 503 runs, 810 hits, 131 doubles, 108 home runs, 576 RBIs and 1,347 total bases in 846 games. He won five titles in six World Series appearances, totaling 11 runs, 18 hits and 10 RBIs in 21 postseason games. Selkirk managed in the minor leagues with the Yankees and Braves, and he held front office positions with the Athletics, Orioles and “new” Senators (later the Rangers). The Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer passed away in 1987 at age 79.

Like Ruth, Dave Winfield made his mark playing right field but also had three stellar seasons in left. He spent nine years overall in New York after making his name across the country in San Diego. Winfield’s first three years were on the left side, with him earning three All-Star selections, three silver sluggers and two gold gloves in that span. Following the strike-shortened season, he posted back-to-back 30-homer, 100-RBI campaigns and topped 300 total bases twice. During the 1981 playoffs, Winfield had four runs, 10 hits, three RBIs and two steals in 14 games to help the Yankees get to the World Series.

5. Brett Gardner – He spent time in both left and center field during his 14-year career spent entirely with the Yankees (2008-21). Known for his toughness, leadership and the ability to work a count against the opposing pitcher, Gardner hit into a triple play in his first game and scored the final run in the history of the original Yankee Stadium in 2008. He split time with Melky Cabrera in center field and came off the bench for most of the playoffs the following year, although he started the final two games of the World Series, when the Yankees beat the Phillies for their 27th championship. Gardner led the league (and set a career high) with 49 steals in 2011, missed most of the next season after undergoing right elbow surgery and topped the A.L. with 20 triples in 2013.

Gardner earned his only All-Star selection in 2015 and won his lone gold glove the following year, but arguably his best season was in 2017, when he had 21 home runs, 63 RBIs, 23 steals, 96 runs scored and a career-best 157 hits. He ranks third in franchise history in stolen bases (326), fifth in strikeouts (1,245) and tied for eighth in triples (73). The two-time Wilson Defensive Player Award winner also had 943 runs, 1,407 hits, 251 doubles, 139 homers, 462 RBIs and 2,284 total bases in 1,688 games. In addition to the title, he joined New York in making five ALCS appearances, totaling 26 runs, 39 hits, three home runs and 19 RBIs in 68 career postseason games. Gardner has not officially retired, but he has not played since the Yankees non-tendered him following the 2021 season.

4. George “Babe” Ruth – While many fans know “the Babe” as a right fielder, he started for three seasons in left (1921-22 and ’26), playing a total of 414 games at the position in those years and 868 overall. Ruth spent the first two of those seasons with the Polo Grounds as his home while a new stadium was being built. In 1921, he batted .378 with 204 hits, league-leading totals of 177 runs and 168 RBIs and 59 home runs, which set a record for a third straight year. Ruth was suspended (along with the top player on this list) for the first six weeks in 1922 for barnstorming after the World Series, which was in violation of a rule that forbade players on pennant-winning teams from participating in tours.

Ruth batted .315 with 35 home runs and 96 RBIs in 110 games and helped the Yankees reach the World Series for a second straight year (another loss to the Giants). After three years in right field, he returned to left for the 1926 season, batting .372 and leading the league with 139 runs, 47 homers and 153 RBIs. Ruth hit four home runs in the World Series, but New York fell to St. Louis in seven games in the World Series. The “Sultan of Swat” finished with a .360 average, 410 runs, 516 hits, 141 homers, 417 RBIs and 1,095 total bases in those three seasons. In the World Series those years, he had 10 runs, 13 hits, five home runs and 10 RBIs in 18 games.

3. Charlie Keller – After spending his first two seasons in right field, he and Selkirk switched spots, and he became one of the best hitters in a talented Yankees lineup during his 11-year run (1939-43, 45-49 and ’52). Keller was a five-time All-Star who hit 20 or more home runs, and both scored and drove in 100 runs in a season three times each. His best year was 1941, when he batted .398 and set career highs with 33 home runs and 122 runs batted in.

Following a nearly two-year stint in the Merchant Marines during World War II, Keller returned to his All-Star form, posting a .275-30-101 stat line in 1946. He was selected to the Midsummer Classic the following year but began experiencing lower back and leg pain. Doctors removed a slipped disk from Keller’s spine, but he was never the same. He had to modify his swing, lost most of his power and was relegated to a reserve and pinch-hitting role for the rest of his career. Keller was released by New York in 1949, spent two seasons in Detroit and returned to the Yankees in 1952, playing in two games and striking out in his only at-bat.

Keller finished his Yankee career with a .286 average, 712 runs, 1,053 hits, 163 doubles, 69 triples, 184 home runs, 723 RBIs and 1,906 total bases in 1,066 games. He was on six pennant winners and five championship teams but did not play in the final two World Series appearances following his injury. Keller batted .306 with 18 runs, 22 hits, five homers and 18 RBIs in 19 postseason games. He also was given a World Series share following his stint with the team in 1952. Keller spent his later years on his 300-acre farm and breeding champion harness racing horses before passing away due to colon cancer in 1990 at age 73.

2. Roy White – He was a versatile player and a quiet leader for at Yankee team that was in transition during the early part of his career. White batted in spots 2-5 in the order at different points and excelled as both a base stealer and a run producer. He was a two-time All-Star, led the league in walks and runs once each and set an American League record with 17 sacrifice flies in 1971.

White’s best season was the year before, when he batted .296 and set career highs with 109 runs, 180 hits, 22 home runs and 94 runs batted in. As his career wound down, the Yankees returned to prominence, winning three straight pennants from 1976-78. In the first of those seasons, White led the league with 104 runs scored, set a career high with 31 steals and posted a .286-14-65 stat line. He slumped a bit in the World Series as the Reds won the title. He played sparingly in the playoffs the following year, only getting two at-bats as the Yankees beat the Dodgers for their first championship in more than a decade.

White was involved in a platoon with Lou Piniella in 1978 but came through when it mattered most. He hit a clutch single to keep the Yankees alive in the seventh inning of the one-game playoff against the Red Sox, setting the stage for Bucky Dent’s go-ahead home run. White homered against the Royals in the deciding game of the ALCS and homered and drove in four runs to help the Yankees beat the Dodgers in the World Series for the second straight year.

The final year of White’s playing career on U. S. soil was 1979. He had a down year and, despite support from fans and teammates, the Yankees refused to negotiate a new contract. He played three seasons with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. There, he was a teammate of the country’s all-time home run leader Sadaharu Oh in his final season and won a league title the following year. White retired in 1982 and spent time as a hitting coach, minor league instructor, scout and assistant general manager for nearly two decades, mostly with the Yankees and briefly with the Athletics. He has also devoted plenty of time to his family and started a foundation that bears his name and helps children and young adults continue their education without financial complications.

1. Bob Meusel – He spent 10 of his 11 major league seasons in pinstripes (1920-29), forming arguably the most talented outfield in history with Ruth and Earle Combs. Despite being in the shadow of his more famous teammates, Meusel finished in the top five in home runs and RBIs in the 1920s, and his throwing arm was said to rival future stars such as Carl Furrillo, Roberto Clemente, Vladimir Guerrero and Ichiro Suzuki (he led the league in outfield assists twice). When the Yankees and Giants faced one another in three straight World Series from 1921-23, Bob squared off against his older brother, Emil “Irish” Meusel.

Bob Meusel batted .318 with 24 homers and career-high totals of 104 runs, 190 hits and 138 RBs, but was suspended along with Ruth after the World Series for participating in a barnstorming tour. After two straight losses to the Giants, the Yankees finally won their first title in 1923, with Meusel providing a game-winning two-run single in the deciding Game 6. While he deferred to Ruth and his preference to play out of the sun, he posted his best season in 1925, batting .290 and leading the league with 33 home runs and 134 RBIs.

The 1927 Yankees were known as “Murderer’s Row,” and Meusel joined Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Tony Lazzeri in the quartet of players who drove in at least 100 runs that season. He slumped in the World Series, but the Yankees swept the Pirates for their second championship. Meusel drove in 113 runs in the regular season the following year and three more in the Fall Classic to help New York beat St. Louis to win its second straight title.

“Long Bob” batted over .300 and smacked at least 150 hits seven times each and drove in 100 or more runs five times. He ranks seventh in franchise history in average (.311) and triples (87), and he totaled 764 runs, 1,565 hits, 338 doubles, 146 home runs, 1,009 RBIs, 134 stolen bases and 2,515 total bases in 1,294 games. Meusel was a member of six pennant-winning and three championship teams, totaling 14 runs, 29 hits and 17 RBIs in 34 postseason contests.

Meusel’s numbers declined in 1929 and was waived by the Yankees. He spent his final season with the Reds and played minor league ball in Minneapolis and Southern California over the next two years. Meusel returned to Yankee Stadium with the rest of the 1927 team for Lou Gehrig Day on July 4, 1939, had roles in several movies, including the 1942 classic Pride of the Yankees, and worked for years as security guard before his death in 1977 at age 81.

Center Fielders

Honorable Mentions – Ben Chapman spent the first seven seasons (1930-36) of a 15-year career with the Yankees, earning three All-Star selections while using his speed and production to stay at the top of the lineup. Chapman had at least 160 hits six times, batted at least .300 and scored 100 or more runs four times each, led the league in steals three straight years and driving in 100 runs twice. His best season was 1931, when he batted .315, led the league with 61 steals and set career bests with 120 runs, 189 hits, 17 home runs and 122 RBIs.

Chapman was tied for seventh in franchise history with 184 stolen bases, and he batted .305 with 626 runs, 1,079 hits, 209 doubles, 64 triples, 60 home runs and 589 RBIs in 910 games. He also was known as a solid fielder who played in the 1932 World Series, contributing five hits and six RBIs during the win over the Cubs. Following a trade to Washington in 1936, he became a journeyman, playing for six teams over the next decade before he retired in 1946, a stint that included several suspensions and two years out of the league. Chapman managed the Phillies for parts of four seasons and was known for in-game taunting of Jackie Robinson that led to warnings from the league. He coached in the minors for a few years and passed away due to a heart attack in 1993.

John “Mickey” Rivers started his career with the Angels, leading the league in triples twice and topping the A.L with 70 stolen bases in 1975. He was sent to the Yankees in a trade for Bobby Bonds and paid immediate dividends, earning what turned out to be the only All-Star selection of his career in his first season. Rivers batted .312 with 95 runs, 184 hits, eight home runs, 67 RBIs and 43 steals, finishing third in the MVP voting. In 1977, he improved to a .326 average and set career highs with 12 homers and 69 runs batted in. “Mick the Quick” played in three straight World Series with the Yankees and won two titles. He batted .308 and totaled 14 runs, 37 hits, four RBI and four steals in 29 postseason games. New York traded Rivers to Texas during the 1979 season. Rivers retired after the 1984 season and trained racehorses following his baseball career.

Rickey Henderson set stolen base records early in his career and came to New York in a trade with Oakland in December 1984. Henderson’s first season in pinstripes was his best. He finished third in the MVP voting and won a silver slugger after leading the league with 146 runs (also a career high) and 80 steals to go with a .314 average, a career-best 172 hits, 24 home runs and 72 runs batted in. Henderson led the league in stolen bases three times and runs twice during his five-year Yankee tenure (1985-89). Rickey’s power numbers continued to improve and, despite missing time in 1987 with a hamstring injury, he was a four-time All-Star with New York. In 1988, his final full season with the Yankees, he batted .305, scored 118 runs and set a team record with 93 steals.

Henderson was traded back to Oakland in June 1989, finishing his time as a Bomber ranked second in franchise history with 326 steals. He batted .288 with 513 runs, 663 hits, 78 home runs, 255 RBIs and 1,048 total bases in 596 games. Two years later, he set the career stolen base record against the Yankees. Henderson’s career spanned 25 seasons and included stints with nine teams (including four separate tenures with the Athletics). He is baseball’s all-time leader in stolen bases (1,406), runs (2,295) and times caught stealing (335), and his accolades include 10 All-Star selections, three silver sluggers, two championships (Oakland in 1989 and Toronto in 1993), the 1990 American League MVP Award, the 1989 ALCS MVP Award and a gold glove in 1981. The “Man of Steal” ended his career with the Dodgers in 2003 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.

5. Bobby Murcer – Like the top player on this list, he converted from shortstop to center field early in his Yankees career. After two brief callups, he spent all of the 1967-68 seasons in the Army’s radio corps in Arizona. He returned to New York and earned four All-Star selections over the next six seasons. His best year was 1972, when he earned his only gold glove and overcame an early slump to hit .292 and set career highs with 33 home runs, 96 RBIs, 102 runs and 314 total bases, with those last two stats leading the American League. Despite being an All-Star in 1974, he slumped and was traded after the season for Bobby Bonds.

Murcer had one more All-Star season in the Bay Area and spent time with the Cubs before he was traded back to the Yankees in 1979. While he spent most of his final five seasons coming off the bench, he had arguably his best game after one of baseball’s tragedies. Catcher and team captain Thurman Munson died in a plane crash in early August. Murcer, who was his housemate and one of his best friends, gave the eulogy four days later, then went out and drove in all five runs with a three-run home run and a game-winning two-run single to bring the Yankees back after being down 4-0.

Murcer retired after the 1983 season, ending his 13-year Yankees career (1965-66, 69-74 and 79-83) with a .278 average, 641 runs, 1,231 hits, 192 doubles, 175 home runs, 687 RBIs and 2,006 total bases in 1,256 games. He also went 1-for-11 in eight postseason games. Murcer was successful outside his baseball career, running an oil and gas company, opened a chain of jewelry stores, holding several coaching and front office positions with the Yankees and spent nearly two decades as a broadcaster for the team. He passed away from brain cancer in 2008.

4. Earle Combs – The storied and successful history of the Yankees make for some difficulty in ranking players at times. Nowhere is this more evident than in center field, where Combs, a Hall of Famer, occupies this low spot on the list. He was a quiet, unassuming leadoff hitter who was able to work the count and get on base for the big bats in the Yankee lineup. Combs abandoned being a schoolteacher to play baseball and made it to the Louisville Colonels minor league team, where he was managed by his future skipper in New York, Joe McCarthy. His best ability to hit triples, which he did 154 times in his career, which ranks second in franchise history. Combs led the league in the category three times, including 1927, when he set a team record with 23. That season was the best, both for Combs and the Yankees. He batted a career-best .356, scored 137 runs, drove in 64 and led the league with 231 hits, which also set a Yankee mark that would stand for nearly 60 years.

Known as the “Kentucky Colonel” for his polite personality, Combs combined an ability to get on base with solid defense and become one of the most respected players of his era. However, he faced several injuries. Combs missed most of the 1924 season with a broken ankle and spent two months in the hospital after fracturing his skull and suffering shoulder and knee injuries after crashing into a wall chasing a fly ball in 1934. He chose to retire after breaking his collarbone the following year.

In addition to the triples, Combs ranked tied for third in franchise history in average (.325), seventh in runs (1,186) and tenth in hits (1,866). He also had 309 doubles, 58 home runs, 633 RBIs and 2,657 total bases in 1,455 games over 12 seasons (1924-35). Combs was a member of four pennant-winners and three championship teams, batting .350 with 17 runs, 21 hits and nine RBIs in 16 playoff games. Following his retirement, he coached with several teams, most notably with the Yankees, was the chairman of the Board of Regents for his alma mater, Eastern Kentucky University, and lived on a 400-acre farm. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1970 and passed away in 1976 at age 77.

3. Bernie Williams – Born as Bernabe in Puerto Rico, Williams was a star track athlete who began focusing full-time on baseball in high school. He became a switch-hitter while in the Yankees’ minor league system and made his major league debut in 1991. Williams overcame slow starts, both during seasons and in his career as a whole, and amassed nine campaigns with 150 or more hits, eight with 100 or more runs scored and at least a .300 average, and five with 100 or more RBI. He earned five straight All-Star selections, four gold gloves and a silver slugger in 2002.

Williams had six runs, nine hits, two homers and six RBIs to win the ALCS MVP Award in 1996. Although he was an integral part of four title teams, he had several knee and hamstring injuries throughout his career and disappeared in the World Series, batting just .208 in 32 games over six championship appearances. Williams faced several threats of trades by New York’s mercurial owner, George Steinbrenner, but stuck around and won a batting title with a .339 mark in 1998. He had his best season the following year, setting career highs with a .342 average and 116 runs to go with 202 hits, 25 home runs and 115 runs batted in.

Williams saw his number decline over his final four seasons, ended a 16-year career (1991-2006), spent entirely with the Yankees, in 2006. He ranks third on the franchise list in doubles (449), fifth in hits (2,336) and walks (1,059), sixth in games (2,076), runs (1,366) and total bases 3,756) and seventh in home runs (287) and RBIs (1,257) to go with a .297 average. The 2000 fielding champion appeared in 121 career playoff games, batting .275 with 83 runs, 128 hits, 29 doubles, 22 home runs and 80 RBIs, which was a record at the time. Williams played in two World Baseball Classics and became an acclaimed guitarist following his baseball career.

2. Joe DiMaggio – The son of Sicilian immigrants, Joe joined his brothers Dom and Vince in the major leagues in 1936, batting .323, the first of 11 times he went over the .300 mark. The following year, DiMaggio batted .346, led the league with 151 runs, 46 home runs and 418 RBIs and set career highs with 215 hits and 167 runs batted in to finish as the MVP runner-up. In 1939, he won the award, posting a league-leading and career-best .381 average (second in franchise history) to go with 30 homers and 126 RBIs.

“Joltin’ Joe” won his second straight batting title with a .352 mark the following year and set a record many people think is unbreakable, hitting in 56 straight games in 1941 (which ended with two diving grabs by Indians third baseman Ken Keltner). That year, he batted .357 with 122 runs, 193 hits, 30 home runs and a league-best 125 RBIs, beating out Ted Williams and his .406 average for his second MVP Award. Following another stellar season (although an “off year” by his standards), DiMaggio enlisted in the Army Air Force, where he spent most of his three-year stint playing baseball in Hawaii.

The “Yankee Clipper” saw his average fall below .300 for the first time upon his return from the military but returned to form in 1947, winning his third MVP Award despite Williams posting a Triple Crown (DiMaggio had a better relationship with the baseball writers, who were responsible for voting for the award). He led the league with 39 homers and 155 RBIs the following year but finished second in his quest for back-to-back MVPs. Although DiMaggio continued to perform at a high level and lead his team to the pinnacle of the sport, he was affected by a bone spur in his foot over the final three years of his career.

DiMaggio announced his retirement after the 1951 season, earning an All-Star selection in each of his 13 seasons (1926-42 and 46-51) and winning three MVP Awards and two batting titles. He ranks third in franchise history in triples (131) and RBIs (1,537, including nine seasons with 100 or more), tied for third in average (.325), fourth in home runs (361, including seven times with 30 or more) and slugging percentage (.579), fifth in runs (1,390, with eight seasons of 100 or more) and total bases (3,948), and sixth in hits (2,214) and doubles (389) in 1,736 games.

In DiMaggio’s tenure, the Yankees won nine titles in 10 trips to the World Series, with “Joltin’ Joe” totaling 27 runs, 54 hits, eight homers and 30 RBIs in 51 games. He was also stellar defensively, winning two fielding titles and leading the league in putouts four times and assists and double plays three times each. DiMaggio had a calm demeanor on the field, but he faced the pressure of being the face of the game for nearly a decade, especially among Italian-American fans. He was the subject of songs and literary writings, and he even had a nine-month marriage to America’s sweetheart, Marilyn Monroe. DiMaggio was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (in his THIRD year) in 1955, served as a coach and vice president for the Athletics in the late 1960s and was known for his “Mr. Coffee” commercials in the following decade. He died in 1999 due to complications from lung cancer at age 84.

1. Mickey Mantle – He overcame a gruesome leg injury as a youth (thanks to the use of a new drug called penicillin) to join the Yankees and ride the bench as an 18-year-old in 1950. He moved from shortstop to the outfield and got into 96 games the following year, playing alongside DiMaggio in right field on a pennant-winning team. Unfortunately, his team won the title without the rookie when he tore ligaments in his knee after catching his spikes on a drainpipe in the outfield grass. Mantle’s father collapsed while helping him to the hospital, and he was diagnosed with cancer from years of working in lead and zinc mines. The condition claimed his life early the following year.

Mantle used one of the things his father taught him, how to switch hit, to excel during an 18-year career spent entirely with the Yankees (1951-68). He finished third in the MVP voting in 1952, led the league with 37 home runs three years later before taking home his first MVP Award in 1956. That season, Mantle won the Triple Crown, leading the league with a .353 average, 52 homers and 130 RBIs (along with 132 runs and 376 total bases). He then hit three home runs during the World Series victory over the Dodgers.

Despite a drop in power numbers, the “Commerce Comet” won his second straight MVP Award after batting a career-best .365 and totaling a league leading 121 runs. In addition to his batting title, he led the league in runs scored, walks and strikeouts five teams apiece, home runs four times, total bases three times and triples and RBIs once each. However, it was a season in which he didn’t lead the league that he garnered the most attention. In 1961, Mantle and newcomer Roger Maris were each taking a run at Babe Ruth‘s single-season home run record. Mantle was the favorite, but muscle soreness stifled his quest, and he ended the season with a .317-54-128 stat line while Maris passed the Babe.

Mantle returned from a stint in the hospital to post a .321 average, 30 home runs and 89 RBIs the following year, winning his third MVP Award despite missing 39 games. In 1963, he broke a bone in his foot crashing into a fence chasing a fly ball which caused him to miss considerable time. Mantle returned and hit 35 homers in the regular season and three more in a losing effort against the Cardinals, giving him a record 18 World Series home runs. However, the rest of his career was beset by injuries and alcohol-related issues. Mantle played first base in his final two seasons, hitting his 500th home run in 1967 and jumping into third place on the all-time list with a blast off Detroit’s 31-game winner Denny McLain late in the following year.

“The Commerce Comet” finished his career ranked second in franchise history in games (2,401), home runs (536), walks (1,733) and strikeouts (1,710), third in on-base percentage (.421), fourth in runs (1,676), hits (2,415), RBIs (1,509) and total bases (4,511), fifth in slugging percentage (.557), ninth in doubles (344), tenth in stolen bases (153) and tied for tenth in triples (72) to go with a .298 average. In addition to his Fall Classic home run record, Mantle led the Yankees to the World Series 12 times and won seven titles. He totaled 42 runs, 59 hits and 40 RBIs (including 11 in a loss to the Pirates in 1960) in 65 postseason games.

Mantle was a 20-time All-Star, earning recognition in each of the four seasons in which Major League Baseball held two games. He also won two fielding titles, a gold glove in 1962 and the Hutch Award for competitive spirit three years later. Mantle was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974, benefited from the memorabilia boom of the 1980s and, after several failed business ventures, opened a successful restaurant in New York City. However, his drinking caught up to him, despite getting clean at the Betty Ford clinic in Los Angeles. Mantle found out he had liver cancer, and despite a successful transplant, the disease had spread throughout his body, and he died in 1995 at age 63.

Right Fielders

Honorable Mentions – George Selkirk spent his entire nine-year career with the Yankees, including four as the primary right fielder (1935-37 and ’41). “Twinkletoes” appeared in 413 games in those seasons, batting .308 and totaling 425 hits, 53 home runs and 294 RBIs. The 1936 All-Star was a part of three title teams during his time in right field and led the league in putouts in 1935.

Roger Maris started his career with the Indians and Athletics before getting traded to the Yankees after the 1959 season as part of a seven-player deal that also included World Series perfect game pitcher Don Larsen. Like many left-handed power hitters, Maris found the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium to be inviting. He smacked 36 home runs and drove in a league-leading 112 runs in his first season in New York to win the MVP Award and won a second straight with a then-record 61 home runs (second in franchise history) to go with league-best totals of 132 runs and 141 RBIs in 1961. However, the pressure of chasing baseball’s most revered record, especially the hounding of both him and Mickey Mantle by the New York press, caused Maris to become short-tempered when he was accosted by reporters and reclusive otherwise. Although Commissioner Ford Frick said that any record that came after the 154-game mark in the newly expanded season would not be seen as a record at the time, the total is now universally accepted and stood as a record for nearly 40 years.

Maris earned his third straight double All-Star selection in 1962, blasting 33 homers and driving in 100 runs. In seven seasons with the Yankees (1960-66), he batted .265 with 520 runs, 797 hits, 203 home runs, 547 RBIs and 1,550 total bases in 850 games. He also was a member of two World Series championship teams in five attempts, amassing 18 runs, 20 hits, five home runs and 10 RBIs in 28 games. Maris was traded to St. Louis in 1967 and spent his final two seasons with the Cardinals, helping his new team win pennants both years despite being beset by injuries. He retired and ran an Anheuser-Busch distributorship with his brother in Florida while also making appearances for the Yankees and Cardinals. Maris was diagnosed with lymphoma and passed away in 1985 at age 51.

Paul O’Neill started his career in Cincinnati, was on the team when manager Pete Rose accepted his lifetime ban for gambling and was an integral part of the 1990 Reds championship team. He was traded to the Yankees following the 1992 season, and his intensity and competitiveness made him a hit with the New York fans. O’Neill earned his first of four All-Star selections in 1994 and led the league with a .359 average for the first-place Yankees before the players’ strike canceled the season. In nine seasons in New York (1993-2001), he batted .300 or better, hit at least 20 home runs and topped 150 hits six times apiece and drove in 100 or more runs on four occasions.

“The Warrior” batted .303 with 720 runs, 1,426 hits, 304 doubles, 185 homers, 858 RBIs and 2,313 total bases in 1,254 games. However, he was at his best in the postseason as a member of a team that won four titles in five chances in a six-year stretch. O’Neill totaled 36 runs, 76 hits, 14 doubles, 10 home runs and 34 RBIs in 76 postseason games. He also excelled in the short part of the Yankee Stadium outfield, winning three fielding titles. O’Neill, who is the only player to be on the field for three perfect games, retired after the Yankees’ loss to the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series and has been a color commentator for the YES Network ever since.

Tommy Henrich was known for his reliability, timely hitting and defense during an 11-year career spent entirely with the Yankees (1937-42 and 46-50), although he was signed after his contract with the Indians was voided. He hit a career-best 31 home runs in 1941 and earned his first All-Star selection the following year before missing the next three seasons as a specialist in the Coast Guard during World War II. Henrich continued his solid play upon his return, earning four more All-Star selections and leading the league in triples twice. His best season was 1948, when he hit 25 home runs and set career highs with a .308 average, 181 hits, 100 RBIs, 14 triples and 138 runs scored, leading the league in the last two categories.

“Old Reliable” was hampered by knee and back injuries and retired after the 1950 season. He batted .282 with 901 runs, 1,297 hits, 269 doubles, 73 triples (tied for eighth in franchise history), 183 home runs, 795 RBIs and 2,261 total bases in 1,284 games. The three-time fielding champion won six championships with the Yankees, totaling 13 runs, 22 hits, four homers and eight RBIs over 21 games in the four Fall Classics in which he appeared. Henrich’s heads-up play kept the Yankees in the 1941 series, reaching first on what would have been a game-ending strikeout. New York beat Brooklyn that day and then the next to win the title. He had a variety of coaching and broadcasting roles over the next decade and also ran breweries and distributorships. Henrich was the oldest living Yankee for a time, passing away at age 96 in 2009.

5. Aaron Judge – There may not be another physically intimidating site for a pitcher than to see the 6-foor-7, 280-pounder in the batter’s box. Judge hit a home run in his first major league at-bat and went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award in 2017 after hitting a league-leading 52 home runs, a then-record for first-year players. He also led the American League with 128 runs, 127 walks (also a rookie record) and 208 strikeouts (second-most in team history) and drove in 114 runs to earn an All-Star selection, win a silver slugger and finish second in the MVP voting. “All Rise” hit three homers and drove in seven runs in a loss to the Astros in the ALCS.

Judge hit 27 home runs in each of the next two seasons but missed time due to a broken bone in his wrist and an oblique strain. He homered in five straight games to start the COVID-shortened 2020 season but missed time with a right calf strain. Judge returned to form with 39 home runs and 98 RBIs the following year and took his game to a new level in 2022, setting career highs in nearly every offensive category. He won the MVP Award after batting .311 with 177 hits and league-leading totals of 133 runs, 391 total bases, 111 walks, a .425 on-base percentage, a .686 slugging percentage, 131 RBIs and 62 home runs, which set both team and American League records. Judge set the mark in the second game of a doubleheader on October 4 against Rangers’ righty Jesus Tinoco.

The Yankees signed Judge to a then-record nine-year, $360 million contract before the 2023 season and named him team captain. He responded with his fifth All-Star selection and 37 home runs despite missing time with a hip strain and a sprained toe. Judge finished with a pair of three-homer games and 257 for his career (tenth in team history), reaching 250 in 810 games, the fastest to the mark in baseball history. He sits third in franchise history with a .586 slugging percentage and also has a .282 average, 614 runs, 846 hits, 137 doubles, 572 RBIs and 1,762 total bases in 835 games. In addition to the MVP and All-Stars, his accolades include three silver sluggers, the MLB Futures Game (2015), All-Star Home Run Derby champion (2017), Wilson Defensive Player (2019), Aaron Award (2022) and Roberto Clemente Award (2023), which he won thanks to his ALL RISE youth citizenship foundation. Judge also appeared in 44 playoff games, totaling 29 runs, 36 hits, 13 home runs and 25 runs batted in.

4. Hank Bauer – He faced more than his share of hardship in his younger years, with his father losing his leg in a factory accident and his brother Herman getting killed in action in France during World War II. Despite his brother’s fate, Bauer enlisted in the Marines, earning two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts after fighting though enemy fire and 24 separate bouts of malaria in combat in the South Pacific, especially at the Battle of Okinawa. He had shrapnel in his back for the rest of his life, but enjoyed a 14-year career, 12 coming with the Yankees (1948-59).

Bauer platooned for his first few years but blossomed when he received regular playing time, earning three straight All-Star selections. While he wasn’t considered a power hitter, he was good making contact and got hits in key situations throughout his career. Arguably his best season came in 1952, when he posted a .293-17-74 stat line with 86 runs and a career-high 162 hits and made his first All-Star team. Bauer also led the league with nine triples in 1965.

Although Bauer was a part of two significant postseason runs (with the Yankees winning a record five straight titles from 1949-53 and going to four straight World Series, winning twice in the late 1950s), New York fell out of contention in 1959 and Bauer was sent to lowly Kansas City in the deal that brought Maris to the Big Apple. Bauer was clubhouse leader with the Athletics but his best playing days were behind him, and he was installed as the team’s manager before the season ended.

Bauer batted .277 with 792 runs, 1,326 hits, 211 doubles, 158 home runs, 654 RBIs and 2.123 total bases in 1,406 games with the Yankees. He also appeared in 53 World Series contests, totaling 21 runs, 46 hits, seven homers (including a record-tying four in a win over the Milwaukee Braves in 1958) and 24 RBIs. The two-time fielding champion had two seasons with the Athletics, followed by five in Baltimore, which included a championship in 1966. When the Orioles hired Earl Weaver, he went back to the Athletics, by now playing in Oakland and lasted less than a year before he was fired by fickle owner Charles Finley, despite the team having a winning record. Bauer worked as a minor league manager in the Mets’ organization, was a scout for the Yankees and ran a liquor store after his playing days. He passed away due to lung cancer in 2007 at age 84.

3. Dave Winfield – A physically imposing player at 6-foot-6, he passed up chances to play football (a 17th-round pick of the Vikings) and basketball (fifth round by the NBA’s Hawks and sixth round by the ABA’s Utah Stars) to play baseball for the Padres, which drafted him fourth overall in 1973. He jumped right to San Diego without playing a single game in the minor leagues, hitting three home runs in 56 appearances. “Winny” went on to earn four All-Star appearances and two gold gloves in eight seasons with the Padres when the franchise was beset by inconsistency and manager turnover.

The Yankees signed Winfield to a 10-year, $23.3 million contract (baseball’s richest at the time), but there were issues from the beginning. The outfielder’s agent had negotiated a cost-of-living clause in the contract (which jumped the total from $16 million to its listed value) and owner George Steinbrenner was not happy when he found out. The issue was eventually resolved, but there were other issues: A slump during the 1981 World Series loss to the Dodgers; killing a seagull during a game in Toronto in 1983; Winfield saying teammates and officials were racist and rooting for Don Mattingly to win the batting title over him the following year (which he did); Steinbrenner calling out his slugger in the press and stiffing him on payments to his foundation despite repeated court orders and trying to force managers to bench or trade Winfield.

However, the most egregious incident came in 1986, when Steinbrenner began dealing with Howard Spira, a degenerate gambler, who accused Winfield of betting on baseball. A major league investigation cleared the outfielder but did uncover a $40,000 payment from Steinbrenner to Spira, resulting in the owner being banned from day-to-day operation of the club for 2½ years (reduced from the original life sentence). Spira tried to extort more money from Steinbrenner and was eventually sentenced to 30 months in prison. After missing the entire 1989 season following back surgery, Winfield was traded to the Angels in May 1990, ending a tumultuous nine years with the Yankees (1981-88 and ’90).

Winfield earned eight All-Star selections, five gold gloves and five silver sluggers, and he posted six 20-homer, 100-RBI seasons during his time in New York. He batted .290 with 722 runs, 1,300 hits, 235 doubles, 205 home runs, 818 RBIs and 2,221 total bases in 1,172 games. Winfield appeared in 14 games during the 1981 postseason, totaling four runs, 10 hits and three RBIs. Following his stint with the Yankees, he spent time with four other teams. He was a champion and won the Babe Ruth Award with the Blue Jays in 1992 and spent two years with his hometown Twins before finishing his career with the Indians in 1995. Following his playing career, Winfield mended his relationship with Steinbrenner, served for several service-related organizations, made television appearances, both as a broadcaster and in a guest role, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.

2. Reggie Jackson –The slugger from the Philadelphia suburbs got his start with the Athletics after being selected with the second overall pick in 1966 when the team was in Kansas City. Jackson and the team both found success after the move to Oakland, with the outfielder earning six All-Star selections, hitting 30 or more home runs (or “dingers,” as he called them) four times and winning the MVP Award in 1973. Meanwhile, the Athletics won three titles, with Jackson being named World Series MVP after driving in six runs and hitting a “dinger” in Game 7 against the Mets.

Following nine seasons with the Finley-owned franchise, Jackson was traded in 1976 and was miserable during his one year with the Orioles. He tested free agency and signed with the Yankees the following years, but all was not well. Many players, as well as manager Billy Martin, believed the team could win without Jackson, but Steinbrenner signed the slugger anyway. Despite manager and outfielder nearly coming to blows during a nationally televised game, New York won its second straight division title in 1977. Jackson slumped during the ALCS, but caught fire during the World Series, hitting a record five home runs, including three in the series-clinching Game 6, which earned him the nickname “Mr. October,” as well as his second World Series MVP Award.

The colorful Jackson, who called himself “the straw that stirs the drink,” hit four more home runs in the following year’s playoffs and the Yankees beat the Dodgers once again. However, catcher Thurman Munson‘s tragic passing, the firing of Martin and the continued issues in the clubhouse left the team outside the playoffs. Jackson finished second in the MVP race in 1980 after hitting .300 with 111 RBIs and a league-leading 41 home runs, but a trip to the postseason the following year in a strike-shortened season ended with a loss to the Dodgers in the Fall Classic.

In five seasons with the Yankees, Jackson batted .281 with 380 runs, 661 hits, 144 “dingers,” 461 RBIs and 1,236 total bases in 653 games. The five-time All-Star added 28 runs, 39 hits, 12 homers and 29 RBIs in 34 postseason games while also winning the Babe Ruth Award in 1977. Jackson spent five years with the Angels before finishing his career where it started, with the Athletics in 1987. His totals include 563 home runs, 1,702 runs batted in and an all-time record 2,597 strikeouts. Following his 21-year playing career, Jackson was a coach and broadcaster in Oakland, was a special advisor with the Yankees, made appearances in several television series and had a candy bar named after him. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.

1. George “Babe” Ruth – Like Jackson, Ruth was a colorful character who had his own candy bar. He overcame a tough upbringing, which saw him sent away to the St. Mary’s Industrial School in Baltimore by his parents for being “incorrigible” as a youth. Young George took up baseball and pitched with local amateur teams before he was signed to the minor league Orioles and then sold to the Red Sox in 1914. Ruth starred as a pitcher, winning 89 games in six seasons with Boston, and either played in the outfield or was a pinch-hitter when he wasn’t on the mound. He won all three of his World Series starts and the Red Sox won three titles in four years during his tenure. Babe led the league with 11 home runs in 1918 and single-handedly broke the league out of the Deadball Era and away from the “Black Sox Scandal,” setting a record with 29 homers while also leading the league with 103 runs scored and 113 RBIs in 1919.

However, Ruth quickly wore out his welcome in Boston, holding out for more money, refusing to follow curfew and fighting owner Harry Frazee‘s desire to have him play in the field every day he was not on the mound. The Babe also had a temper, which was evident in a June 1917 game against the Senators. After disagreeing with the walk to the opening batter, Ruth was thrown out of the game, argued with the umpire and then punched him in the head. Ernie Shore came into the game; the runner was thrown out trying to steal and Shore retired the next 26 batters for what was considered a perfect game until 1991 when it was downgraded to baseball’s first combined no-hitter. In early 1920, Ruth was traded for $100,000 and the fans of both teams questioned the mood. The slugger would soon dispel all the doubts.

Ruth was the perfect athlete to be the poster child for the “Roaring ’20s,” an era of progression, pleasure and excess. He was also generous with his time when it came to children (even dedicating home run performances to them) and was a favorite star for women, thanks to the lifting of the law that banned Sunday games in New York. The slugger batted .376 and led the league with 158 runs scored, 150 walks, 135 RBIs and a .532 on-base percentage. Ruth’s .847 slugging percentage was a record that stood for more than 80 years (until broken by Barry Bonds in 2001) and his 54 home runs broke his own record. The total was ridiculous at the time as it outclassed 14 of the other 15 TEAMS in the league. In 1921, Ruth batted .378 with 204 hits, led the league with 168 RBIs, a .512 on-base percentage and an .846 slugging percentage, and set records with 177 runs and 59 home runs, breaking his own record for a third straight year and setting the all-time homer mark.

Following a loss to the Giants in the 1921 World Series, Ruth went on a barnstorming tour and was suspended for six weeks. He finished with 35 homers the following year and led the Yankees to another pennant, but they fell once again to their cross-town rivals. In 1923, the Yankees moved into their namesake stadium, which was dubbed, “The House That Ruth Built.” The slugger responded with a career-high .393 average and league-leading totals of 151 runs, 41 homers and 130 runs batted in to win the MVP Award. Ruth hit three home runs and scored eight times against the Giants to help the Yankees win their first World Series.

“The Bambino” was the leading offensive force in one of the greatest baseball dynasties of any era. During his 15 seasons with the Yankees (1920-34), Ruth led the league in walks and slugging percentage 11 times each, home runs ten times, on-base percentage nine times, runs eight times, total bases five times and RBIs on four occasions. He hit at least 30 homers and batted .300 or better 13 times each, drove in more than 100 runs 12 times, scored 100 or more runs 11 times and had at least 200 hits three times. “The Sultan of Swat” won his only batting title with a .378 average in 1924 and broke his own home run record for a fourth time three years later. During the 1927 season, he batted .356, scored 158 runs, drove in 165 and bashed 60 homers, a mark that stood for 34 years until it was broken by another Yankee right fielder.

Ruth and the “Murderer’s Row” Yankees won 110 games that season, then swept the Pirates in the World Series. The slugger drove in seven runs and atoned for his previous year’s mistake when he ended the series by being thrown out attempting to steal in Game 7. Ruth hit three more homers in the 1928 series against the Cardinals, and his legend grew. He made more money than U. S. President Herbert Hoover, because, in his words, he “had a better year.” However, arguably his greatest moment came in the 1932 World Series against the Cubs, when he hit two home runs, including his “called shot” in the fifth inning. While there are conflicting stories, the prevailing theory is that Ruth took two strikes, pointed to the center field bleachers and smacked the next pitch to that spot. New York won the game and swept Chicago, giving the Babe his seventh and final title.

“The Sultan of Swat” saw his considerable stats decline in his age 39 season in 1934 but hit his 700th career home run against the Tigers in July. He finished his run in New York holding almost all of the team’s hitting records, and he is still the franchise leader in average (.349), runs (1,959), home runs (659), walks (1,852), on-base percentage (.484), slugging percentage (.711) and total bases (5,131). Ruth ranks second in RBIs (1,978), third in hits (2,518), fifth in games (2,084) and doubles (424) and sixth in triples (106). He holds single-season team marks in slugging (.847 in 1920), runs (177) and total bases (457, both in 1921) and average (.393), on-base percentage (.545) and walks (170, all in 1923). The Babe appeared in 36 postseason games with the Yankees, totaling 37 runs, 41 hits, 15 home runs and 30 RBIs while winning four titles in seven trips to the World Series. He also was selected to the first two All-Star Games in his final two years in New York.

Ruth played just 28 games with the Boston Braves in his final season in 1935 but had one final great moment left. In a game against the Pirates in late May, he hit the last three home runs of his career, giving him the magical total of 714 home runs, a mark that stood for nearly four decades. He retired, had a brief stint as a coach with the Brooklyn Dodgers, but spent most of his brief retirement making public appearances. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1946 and the disease quickly spread to his lungs, liver and kidneys. Despite his boisterous personality, the “Bellyache Heard ‘Round the World,” holding out for more money on a yearly basis, fighting with umpires and fellow players, a feud with fellow star Lou Gehrig and flaws that included overindulgences on food, drink and women, the now-frail Ruth was celebrated one last time in June 1948 for the 25th anniversary of Yankee Stadium. He died two months later, and crowds packed “The House That Ruth Built” to view his body, which was displayed at home plate before he was laid to rest at age 53. When he retired, Ruth held 56 batting records. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the museum’s inaugural five-man class in 1936.

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New York Yankees Catchers and Managers
New York Yankees First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
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A look back at the New York Mets

New York Mets Catchers and Managers
New York Mets First and Third Basemen
New York Mets Second Basemen and Shortstops
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Minnesota Twins Catchers and Managers
Minnesota Twins First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Minnesota Twins Second Basemen and Shortstops
Minnesota Twins Outfielders
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A look back at the Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers Catchers and Managers
Milwaukee Brewers First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
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A look back at the Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins Catchers and Managers
Miami Marlins First and Third Basemen
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A look back at the Los Angeles Dodgers

A look back at the Los Angeles Angels

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Los Angeles Angels First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
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A look back at the Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals Catchers and Managers
Kansas City Royals First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Kansas City Royals Second Basemen and Shortstops
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Kansas City Royals Pitchers

A look back at the Houston Astros

Houston Astros Catchers and Managers
Houston Astros First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Houston Astros Second Basemen and Shortstops
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Houston Astros Pitchers

A look back at the Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers Catchers and Managers
Detroit Tigers First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
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A look back at the Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies Catchers and Managers
Colorado Rockies First and Third Basemen
Colorado Rockies Second Basemen and Shortstops
Colorado Rockies Outfielders
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A look back at the Cleveland Guardians

Cleveland Guardians Catchers and Managers
Cleveland Guardians First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Cleveland Guardians Second Basemen and Shortstops
Cleveland Guardians Outfielders
Cleveland Guardians Pitchers

A look back at the Cincinnati Reds

A look back at the Chicago White Sox

Chicago Cubs Catchers and Managers
Chicago Cubs First and Third Basemen
Chicago Cubs Second Basemen and Shortstops
Chicago Cubs Outfielders
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A look back at the Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Catchers and Managers
Boston Red Sox First and Third Basemen
Boston Red Sox Second Basemen and Shortstops
Boston Red Sox Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Boston Red Sox Pitchers

A look back at the Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles Catchers and Managers
Baltimore Orioles First and Third Basemen
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Baltimore Orioles Outfielders and Designated Hitters
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A look back at the Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves Catchers and Managers
Atlanta Braves First and Third Basemen
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Atlanta Braves Outfielders
Atlanta Braves Pitchers

A look back at the Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks Catchers and Managers
Arizona Diamondbacks First and Third Basemen
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