Yankees Notebook: Old-Timers’ Day brings out five Hall of Famers
The Yankees held their 67th annual Old-Timers’ Day before Sunday’s game and the list of attendees featured the usual assortment of Hall of Famers such as Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage and Rickey Henderson as well as all-time legends Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra.
It also featured several players from the most-recent dynasty run of four championships in five seasons (1996-2000) as Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, manager Joe Girardi and David Cone were introduced. Among first-time attendees were Orlando Hernandez, backup catcher Todd Greene, John Flaherty and Scott Kamieniecki.
“I love it. It’s one of my favorite days,” Girardi said. “You see guys start to roll in. I’ve seen Goose, Lou Piniella, Yogi. It’s special what these guys have meant to the Yankees organization and being able to play alongside some of them, it’s great.”
Hernandez and Greene provided some of the more notable moments in the three-inning game. Hernandez played shortstop while Greene made a nice running catch against Pat Kelly, who is currently the Dodgers’ director of Pacific Rim scouting.
“I haven’t thrown a baseball in anger in over a year, so for me, it’s exciting putting the uniform on,” Flaherty said. “The experience of growing up in New York, coming back, playing for the Yankees and now being on the field for Old-Timers’ Day, it’s pretty surreal.”
Henderson also provided a highlight in the game with a two-run single that provided the Bombers with a 2-1 win over the Clippers.
“It never gets old,” Bucky Dent said. “I’m getting old, but this doesn’t.”
While some of the louder ovations went for players from the Joe Torre era, Berra received the loudest. Berra, 88, came out on a golf cart from the center field fence along with Ford, 84, and a video tribute was played in Berra’s honor.
Sunday marked the second game Berra has attended this season. Berra attended a game in May.
Almonte highlights weekend of firsts
Not many Yankee fans knew about Zoilo Almonte before this weekend, but the team was aware of what his bat could do.
Besides the three-run double by Vernon Wells as a pinch hitter on Saturday, Almonte provided the weekend’s other main highlight for the Yankee lineup.
He had three hits, including his first career home run Friday in a 6-2 win. On Saturday, he drove in three runs with a two-run single and a bases-loaded walk.
“[A] bases-loaded walk is not always easy for a young kid to do,” Girardi said. “We were having trouble scoring runs yesterday; we had some opportunities we weren’t able to cash in early — his discipline there was very good.”
Almonte went 7-for-11 with four RBIs and 12 total bases in the four-game set against the Rays. He has a .583 average and a .643 on-base percentage.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.