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The story of Ricky Ledee’s Yankees career

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From big hits in the World Series to an interesting Twitter account, Ricky Ledee is one of the more fun figures from the late-90’s dynasty teams.

Ricky Ledee #17...

Speaking on a strictly personal level, when thinking of Ricky Ledee, I often think of him in the same vein as a Shane Spencer, or Homer Bush. Obviously, one of those three (Spencer) did something far more remarkable than the other two. Yet as a young fan, all three of them fit the mold as memorable randoms on the late-90’s teams. However, Ledee impacted the dynasty Yankees in a couple different ways, some that went beyond his 192 games in pinstripes.

A 16th-round draft pick in 1990, Ledee would have been 16-years old when he made his professional debut. He spent parts of eight seasons in the minors, hitting pretty well at almost every level. By the time 1998 came around, he was a top-100 prospect in baseball, at least according to Baseball America. The year prior to that, the Padres wanted him as one of the key pieces in the Hideki Irabu trade, but the Yankees managed to hang on to Ledee and also acquire Irabu.

He was in the midst of a 19-home run season in Triple-A when the Yankees called him up in 1998. He hit just one in the majors, but appeared in 42 games from June on. His regular season in New York wasn’t incredible, as he postsed a 79 wRC+. As the Yankees got further into the postseason, though, Ledee started to turn it on.

After not playing in the ALDS, Ledee appeared in just three games in the ALCS. He came off the bench in both games one and two, and then went 0-for-4 as the Yankees clinched the series in game six.

Despite the 0-fer against Cleveland, Ledee got the nod in left for Game One of the World Series against the Padres. That move paid off pretty much immediately, as his second inning double scored the first runs of the series.

He got another hit later on, and then was also one of the runners to get on base ahead of Chuck Knoblauch, who hit a game-tying home run. That home run set up Tino Martinez’s grand slam later in the inning, and the Yankees never looked back in the series after that.

Ledee reached base all four times at bat in Game One, and then started Game Two with a single, a double, and a walk. He reached base in his first seven World Series plate appearances before lining out in the seventh inning. His double scored a run that increased the lead from 6-0 to 7-0.

In Game Three, Ledee came off the bench as a pinch-hitter right after Scott Brosius’ home run to give the Yankees the lead. He got two hits in Game Four, but his most important work in that game was his sac fly to give the Yankees an insurance run in the eighth.

Brosius won MVP, but Ledee could very easily have been under consideration. He hit .600/.615/.900 in the sweep, starting in three of the four games. His win probability added was the third-best of any Yankee hitter.

Following the stellar play in the ‘98 World Series, Ledee was the starting left fielder on Opening Day the following year. The 1999 season would end up being his best in pinstripes, as he put up an .822 OPS.

He had a semi-notable playoff moment again, as he hit a grand slam in game four of the ALCS against the Red Sox.

Were it not for the grand slam, the Red Sox would have at least brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Following his second ring in ‘99, Ledee was again the starting left fielder on Opening Day in 2000. He got off to an okay but not outstanding start that year. In the end of June, he was one of the players sent to Cleveland in the David Justice trade.

Justice, of course, went on to have a big season for the Yankees in 2000, winning ALCS MVP, and helping them to a third-straight title. In a way, Ledee’s 90 OPS+ was turned into Justice’s 145. Who knows what happens to the Yankees that year without that deal?

Ledee spent the rest of his career mostly as a journeyman. His best post-Yankee years came with the Phillies from 2002-04. In all, he played 10 major league seasons, ending in 2007, and finishing with a career WAR of 1.5.

He seemingly fell off the map after his career, as you might expect for a random name from the late-90’s/early-00’s. Then a Twitter account appeared in 2013. It’s unclear if the actual, real life Ricky Ledee is in charge of this Twitter, as it’s not verified or anything. (Buster Olney seemingly thinks it’s him.) However, for the last five years, @ricky_ledee has provided some of the best, possibly unintentional comedy you’ll find on the internet.

Here he is congratulating Alex Rodriguez on his 3000th hit.

He is a big fan of gazpacho, but no, he will not give you his recipe.

As for whether it absolutely is him, we may never know.

If it is him, it’s one of the best things on the internet.

Sources

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/l/ledeeri01.shtml

https://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1407&position=OF

https://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2010/12/28/1899869/compiled-list-of-baseball-americas-top-100-lists-from-1990-to-2010

https://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/1998_WS.shtml