“From Under the Grapefruit Tree,” an HBO documentary on the life, triumphs and personal struggles of CC Sabathia, was released earlier this week. It gave fans a much closer look at how much Sabathia’s battle with alcoholism affected his family life and eventually his playing career. The hour-long documentary was an honest and authentic look at Sabathia’s life, and was a great way to weather the long and dark offseason.
Of course, “From Under the Grapefruit Tree” also increased the appetite for more stories about the players and Yankees that we love. With such a rich history, there are countless names that would make for entertaining viewing. Some obviously wouldn’t be possible anymore, at least not to the intimate level like Sabathia’s documentary, where he is alive to tell his unfiltered story, but let’s ignore those circumstances for the sake of hypothesizing which former or active Yankees would make for the best stories. If in-depth documentaries on Yankee players became more of a series, these are the ones we’d like to see:
Let’s start with an obvious one. Ruth was truly larger than life when he reached his peak with the Yankees, and being able to get a closer look at what it was like to handle that stardom would make for a compelling watch. Plus, there are so many Ruth stories/legends that we’d love to see revealed, including his “called shot” in the 1932 World Series. Also, some closer looks at Ruth’s feuds with Miller Huggins would be entertaining to learn more about from first-hand accounts. But a documentary on one of the most famous figures in sports history would be a must-watch.
Mantle’s life has been documented through numerous books, but a documentary like the one on Sabathia would likely be...revealing to say the least. Mantle was beloved by an entire generation of Yankee and baseball fans, but imagine a camera crew following him around for a season? That would almost certainly show some self-destructive tendencies off the field, and perhaps make his accomplishments on the field even more baffling. But a look at how Mantle struggled with his own demons, much like Sabathia, would be in high demand among baseball fans.
Jackson would be a great choice, as I would trust him to put plenty of emotion and flair into his interviews when talking about his Yankee career. Imagine an uncensored, first-hand look at what it was like to play during the days of the Bronx Zoo, and to get more on the complicated relationships between Jackson and Thurman Munson, as well as Jackson and Billy Martin. I would be fascinated to get more on Jackson’s prime Yankee years, and how those teams managed to keep winning despite seemingly tearing each other apart from within.
Hideki Matsui/Masahiro Tanaka
Whether it was Matsui in 2003 or Tanaka in 2014, it was always great to see just how much the two had their stories chronicled by reporters from Japan, and the media mob that followed the two around as they began their MLB careers. Having a documentary crew follow the two stars around during their first years, while learning what it was like to adjust to a new country and new competition while managing to still have so much success would have been great. Plus, they both just seem like awesome people who would be a delight to listen to telling their stories.
We’ll conclude with one of the more complicated players in Yankee history. Rodriguez is one of the best hitters to ever play the game, period, but we know how much of his career has been tainted by his own humanity. From the steroid suspensions to his deteriorated relationship with Derek Jeter, all of it would be fascinating to examine on a deeper level, as well as his post-retirement life, which saw a complete 180 in terms of how he was viewed by the baseball world. That image has once again began to slip, it’s that roller coaster ride that would be arguably the most interesting Yankee story to tell in documentary format.