Old-Timers' Day one of reflection in Bronx
Yanks' history, memory of Steinbrenner, Sheppard celebrated
NEW YORK -- The 64th Yankees Old-Timers' Day brought generations of players together to honor the team's rich history.
From Whitey Ford to Reggie Jackson to David Cone, Yankees greats from every decade came together to play two innings at Yankee Stadium before Saturday's game against the Rays and share some of their memories with the media and fans.
Highlights of Charlie Hayes catching the last out of the 1996 World Series, Chris Chambliss' home run that put the Yankees in the Fall Classic in '76 and Bucky Dent's division-securing homer against the Red Sox in '78 were shown on the video screen while the former players took batting practice on the field.
And the latest chapter of the Yankees' past was widely discussed -- the passing of longtime owner George Steinbrenner and public address announcer Bob Sheppard.
"Obviously there's two big Yankees that are missing," current manager and former catcher Joe Girardi said.
Of the approximately 40 old timers on hand, seven members of the 1950 World Series championship team were in attendance to honor the 60th anniversary of the team.
Though Steinbrenner didn't buy the Yankees until 1973, events like Old-Timers' Day helped link the older generations of Yankees greats to The Boss.
Jerry Coleman, who played for the Yankees from 1949-57 and is winding down a long career as a broadcaster, recalled a time when he needed to get to the airport after attending an Old-Timers' game so he could get back to San Diego in time for a Padres broadcast. The traffic outside the stadium was heavy, and there wasn't a cab in sight.
As Coleman was beginning to get frustrated, a limousine pulled up to the curb ready to take him to the airport. Steinbrenner sent it for him.
"It was really beautiful. Every time we came here, he couldn't do enough," Coleman said. "He raised the bar in baseball all over the United States, not just in New York."
Steinbrenner continued the organization's history of success and tradition, restoring the franchise to its place atop the baseball world.
Though Jackson often feuded with The Boss publicly during his time in the Bronx, he was extremely emotional in remembering Steinbrenner and the opportunity he was given to be part of the Yankee mystique.
"Because of him, I'm able to follow along in the great ways of Yogi [Berra] and Whitey and [Babe] Ruth and [Lou] Gehrig and [Joe] DiMaggio -- the great players who came before me," Jackson said.
A video tribute to Sheppard kicked off the pregame tributes, and each of the old timers were introduced as they lined up on the third- and first-base lines.
Current players watched from the dugout as Goose Gossage and Ron Guidry among others took the mound against the likes of Jesse Barfield and Cecil Fielder.
"There's also excitement today because it's Old-Timers' Day," Girardi said. "Seeing some of your old teammates, for some of us. For some guys, maybe seeing Whitey Ford for the first time. Seeing some of the Hall of Famers that are walking through. Some of the guys get excited for Old-Timers' Day."
And some of the old timers certainly do, too.
"Nobody does Old-Timers' the way the Yankees do Old-Timers', and it's not even close," Chambliss said. "No organization honors their former players like the Yankees."
Kyle Maistri is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.