Ron Guidry and Mickey Rivers were among the former New York Yankees to remember late owner George Steinbrenner and longtime public address announcer Bob Sheppard during the team’s Old Timers Day celebration.
The Yankees yesterday showed a video tribute to Steinbrenner and had a moment of silence at Yankee Stadium for both men prior to their first game since Major League Baseball’s All-Star break.
The team had video tributes to Sheppard before and during today’s 10-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, which was preceded by the annual Old Timers Game, a two-inning exhibition that showcases former Yankee players such as Guidry, Rivers, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Whitey Ford and Bucky Dent.
“You’re happy to be here, but deep down you know there’s something missing,” Guidry, who played all 14 of his seasons with the Yankees, said in a televised interview. “Two people who were so instrumental in the Yankee tradition are not here, so they’re going to be missed. Not having them here is a letdown because they enjoyed today just as much as we did.”
Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra missed the 64th Old Timers Day festivities because of injuries sustained in a fall last night near his house in Montclair, New Jersey. Berra, 85, is recovering at his home after suffering bruises, his family said in a statement.
Berra was to be honored today along with other members of the Yankees’ 1950 championship team.
Rivers, who played centerfield for the Yankees’ World Series-winning teams in 1977 and 1978, fondly recalled Steinbrenner after ending the Old Timers Day game with a two-run double to the right-centerfield wall.
“It was a great day for us to show that blessing to a man that really helped me and most of these guys in our careers,” Rivers, 61, told the YES network. “I got plenty of help from the man. He showed me how to stand up in life and be strong.”
The Yankees won seven of their record 27 World Series titles during Steinbrenner’s 37-year tenure as owner.
Sheppard died on July 11 at the age of 99 and Steinbrenner passed away two days later in Tampa, Florida. He was 80.
“When you think of the Yankees, his personality and demand for excellence comes through,” Jackson, 64, who won two titles with the Yankees and is now a special adviser for the organization, said at a news conference. “The last few years, our executive staff has tried to take on the drive and desire for success that George instilled in the pinstripes.”
The defending World Series-champion Yankees will wear a uniform patch commemorating Steinbrenner over the heart and another honoring Sheppard on the left sleeve of their jerseys for the rest of the season.
The Yankees lost today as starting pitcher A.J. Burnett left in the third inning with a hand injury. Burnett allowed four runs over two-plus innings and left trailing 4-2.
Tampa Bay’s Reid Brignac hit home runs off both Burnett and reliever Dustin Moseley, and finished with five runs batted in. Carlos Pena went 4-for-5 with a home run for the Rays.
Jorge Posada and Mark Teixeira hit homers for the Yankees, who yesterday beat the Rays 5-4 as Nick Swisher singled in the winning run in the bottom the ninth inning.
The Yankees will host the finale of the three-game series tomorrow. With a 57-33 record, New York leads the second-place Rays by two games atop the American League Eastern Division.