If you make it past 40 and continue playing in Major League Baseball, the odds are that you’re a really good player. Sure there are some cases of late bloomers or guys just good enough that continue to play to that age, but most people don’t get that chance unless they have a long and illustrious history in the majors.
When it comes to the oldest players in Yankees’ history, that trend tends to hold. To honor some old guys, here is the lineup of the oldest player in franchise history by position.
Pitcher: Phil Niekro (46 years, 188 days)
Knuckleballers can seemingly pitch forever and “Knucksie” did. In his final start of the 1985 season, he threw a complete game shutout against the Blue Jays, allowing just four hits. This particular start was far more notable than it just being the oldest ever appearance by a Yankee pitcher. In getting the win that day, he reached 300 for his career, reaching the milestone in his 21st major league season. That day he also broke the record for the oldest pitcher to throw a shutout, although that’s since by topped by Jamie Moyer.
Remarkably, he pitched another two seasons and went to spring training with the Yankees in 1988 before retiring.
Catcher: Deacon McGuire (43 years, 193 days)
The then-New York Highlanders acquired the veteran McGuire ahead of their second season in New York in 1904. He became more of a backup in 1905, ‘06, and in one single game in ‘07, after which he was acquired by the then Boston Americans. That one single game came when he was well over 43, making him the oldest catcher in franchise history.
More remarkably, his last ever major league game came another five years after that, when he was 48.
First Base: Deacon McGuire (42 years, 322 days)
Looks like we’re going to have to find a cloning machine, as McGuire is also the oldest first baseman in Yankees’ history. In the final game of the 1906 season, he played first base and batted lead-off in a 5-4 win.
Second Base: Bert Campaneris (41 years, 147 days)
We were agonizingly close to this being Jorge Posada from the time he filled in at second base in a blowout in 2011 at 41 years old. Instead, the answer is Campaneris from his 60-game stint with the Yankees in 1983.
A six-time All-Star and three-time World Series winner with the A’s, Campaneris would sit out of the majors in ‘82, but the Yankees picked him up for depth and ended up using him after dealing with injuries. He performed admirably in 60 games, but was released after the season and never played in the majors again.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter (40 years, 91 days)
Not only do you know that guy, you know this game. The oldest player to ever play shortstop for the Yankees was Jeter on September 25th, 2014. That would be his final home game at Yankee Stadium, where he quite famously had a walk-off hit. Jeter did make two appearances after that during the last series of the season as Fenway Park, but they both came at DH.
Third Base: Bert Campaneris (41 years, 206 days)
Álex Rodríguez’s final game came up a couple months short at 41 years and 16 days, leaving Campaneris as the answer again. Over the final months of the ‘83 season, most of Campaneris’ appearances came at third base, making him the answer for this position as well. Good thing we invested in the cloning machine.
Left Field: Enos Slaughter (43 years, 128 days)
The Hall of Famer Slaughter played several of his final couple seasons in New York and ended up with a couple World Series rings for his trouble. In 1959, he was mostly used as a pinch-hitter/bench option, including on September 2nd against the Senators. He played both corner outfield spots in this game, becoming the oldest left fielder in Yankees’ history in the process.
Center Field: Ichiro Suzuki (40 years, 306 days)
Ichiro’s initial stint with the Yankees after the surprising 2012 trade from Seattle was very fun, but the ensuing two-year contract after that was not as much. However before it ended, it did produce him becoming the oldest center fielder in franchise history in an August game in 2014.
Notably, Ichiro went on to appear in five further seasons after this, passing the 3,000-hit plateau with the Marlins in 2016 and returning to the Mariners for his final 17 games. By the time he officially retired in March 2019, he was 45 years old.
Right Field: Enos Slaughter (43 years, 129 days)
The day after setting the record in left field, Slaughter set the record in right. A little over a week after this game, Slaughter was purchased by the Braves, where he finished out his MLB career.
Designated Hitter: Álex Rodríguez (41 years, 16 days)
A-Rod’s final game may have missed out on the third base spot, but it was the oldest appearance by any Yankee DH. The 2009 playoff hero started out the game at DH and knocked a double for the 3,115th hit and 2,086th RBI of his 22-year career. He then shifted over to third for one at-bat before exiting the game and hanging up his spikes for good.