Since I talked about Sparky Lyle yesterday, it jolted my memory a bit and reminded me of another unsung Yankee from the day. Mickey Rivers. What a character he was. Rumors of him playing the ponies always seemed to dominate the fish wraps, but he was a dynamite lead-off hitter with great speed and made the plays in center field. Here's this from the Baseball Historian:
Rivers was a hard line drive hitting lead-off man and during his career he grounded into only 44 double plays, as a fact - that's only one in every 128 at bats (the third best total in all of baseball history). Traded to the New York Yankees in December of 1975, he was their sparkplug for three straight pennant winning years, 1976-1978.
Mickey had two great seasons for the Yanks and one sub-par one in '78, but he still earned himself a ring that year.
He would slowly stroll up to the plate-take his time-and made things happen when it counted. Mickey never had a great OBP, (.327 in '76-.350 in'77) which again shows me how over-rated the Bill James method of baseball can be, but Mickey played the game the Billy Martin way, the winning way. You could never categorize Rivers on his numbers, only on his performance and he seemed to constantly be in the middle of things.
For the three years I saw him play, I never realized how funny he was either. Here's some quotes:
"Me and George and Billy are two of a kind."
"No wonder you're all mixed up. You got a white man's first name, a Spanish man's second name and a black man's third name."
-Mickey made this comment to Reginald Martinez Jackson in July of 1977