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Introducing the 1998 Yankees Diary: A 25th Anniversary Retrospective

All throughout the 2023 season, we’ll go day-by-day through the stories of the legendary 1998 Yankees.

Dan Brink

Twenty-five years ago, no one could have known what was to come. The Yankees had captured hearts around New York by winning the World Series in 1996, their first title in 18 years. But manager Joe Torre’s 96-win ballclub fell short in ‘97, settling for a Wild Card spot and falling in a heartbreaking ALDS loss for the second time in three years.

The 1997-98 offseason featured a minor changing of the guard. Championship contributors Wade Boggs, Cecil Fielder, and Dwight Gooden departed in free agency. Disappointing starter Kenny Rogers was shipped out to Oakland for a fateful player to be named later. Catcher Joe Girardi had to accept that up-and-comer Jorge Posada would take some more of his playing time. Extension talks with Bernie Williams stagnated and the Yankees were forced to consider that ‘98 could be the star’s last season in pinstripes.

Most importantly, GM Bob Watson decided that a total of two years under George Steinbrenner was quite enough and resigned in February, opening the door for 30-year-old assistant general manager Brian Cashman to take the top spot behind the scenes. A couple days later, the front office swung a blockbuster trade, acquiring All-Star second baseman Chuck Knoblauch from Minnesota for a package led by top prospect Eric Milton. In spring training, the Yankees signed Orlando “El Duque” Hernández, a former star pitcher from Cuba who had defected but would need some time to get back into game shape.

That was the scene at the end of Yankees spring training. Despite the offseason shakeup, the core of the ‘96 champions was still intact, with Williams in center, All-Star Paul O’Neill in right, matinee idol Derek Jeter at shortstop, co-aces David Cone and Andy Pettitte leading the rotation, sophomore closer Mariano Rivera anchoring the bullpen after a heartbreaking finish to ‘97, and Tino Martinez at first base, fresh off a runner-up MVP campaign. Make no mistake: they had a dangerous team, and Baseball Prospectus unanimously expected them to recapture the AL East crown from the Orioles while fending off the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and expansion Devil Rays.

But 114 wins?

A bevy of breakout campaigns and comeback seasons?

One of the most well-rounded rosters that the game has ever seen?

An 11-2 record in the playoffs en route to a final record of 125-50?

That aforementioned player to be named later becoming World Series MVP?

No one could have predicted dominance to this degree. It was probably the most successful season in baseball history, and we as Yankees fans were lucky enough to see it.

Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of Opening Day for the 1998 Yankees, and we’ll mark the occasion by kicking off a new series here at Pinstripe Alley. Throughout the year, we’ll go day-by-day throughout the season and look back on forgotten classics, memorable moments, and notable news. There’s a trove of stories and even some video to explore that we can’t wait to present.

What were the Yankees up to on any given day in 1998? We’ll find out together!


April 1, 1998: L, 4-1 @ Anaheim — Opening Day struggles (0-1)
April 2, 1998: L, 10-2 @ Anaheim — Jeter falters in field, bullpen implodes (0-2)
April 3, 1998: off
April 4, 1998: L, 7-3 @ Oakland — Cone can’t stop the bleeding (0-3)
April 5, 1998: W, 9-7 (10) @ Oakland — Posada propels team to first win (1-3)
April 6, 1998: L, 8-0 @ Seattle — Shutout in the Kingdome; doom & gloom (1-4)
April 7, 1998: W, 13-7 @ Seattle — A much-needed slugfest (2-4)
April 8, 1998: W, 4-3 @ Seattle — Yanks avoid ‘95 déjà vu (3-4)
April 9, 1998: off
April 10, 1998: W, 17-13 vs. Oakland — A home opener for the ages (4-4)
April 11, 1998: W, 3-1 vs. Oakland — Andy dandy in win over A’s (5-4)
April 12, 1998: W, 7-5 vs. Oakland — Paulie powers first sweep (6-4)
April 13, 1998: Game cancelled after Yankee Stadium scare (off)
April 14, 1998: off
April 15, 1998: W, 6-3 vs. Anaheim — Darryl leads “home” win at Shea (7-4)
April 16, 1998: off
April 17, 1998: W, 11-2 @ Detroit — Tino is grand in seventh-straight W (8-4)
April 18, 1998: W, 8-3 @ Detroit — Coney gets it right for eighth in a row (9-4)
April 19, 1998: L, 2-1 @ Detroit — Irabu loses pitchers’ duel (9-5)
April 20, 1998: W, 3-2 (11) @ Toronto — Sloppy defense costs Jays late (10-5)
April 21, 1998: W, 5-3 (10) @ Toronto — 10th-inning rally banks another win (11-5)
April 22, 1998: W, 9-1 @ Toronto — The Rocket gets lit up (12-5)
April 23, 1998: off
April 24, 1998: W, 8-4 vs. Detroit — Yankee Stadium reopens with a win (13-5)
April 25, 1998: W, 5-4 vs. Detroit — Darryl-fueled comeback downs Detroit (14-5)
April 26, 1998: off
April 27, 1998: W, 1-0 vs. Toronto — Clemens dispatched again in 1-0 win (15-5)
April 28, 1998: L, 5-2 vs. Toronto — Offense can’t win ‘em all (15-6)
April 29, 1998: W, 8-5 vs. Seattle — Cone fans 11 M’s (16-6)
April 30, 1998: W, 9-8 (10) vs. Seattle — Rock ties it, Tino walks off in extras (17-6)

May 1, 1998: W, 2-1 @ Kansas City — Irabu spins a gem (18-6)
May 2, 1998: W, 12-6 @ Kansas City — Late rally buries Royals (19-6)
May 3, 1998: W, 10-1 @ Kansas City — Royals swept away (20-6)
May 4, 1998: off
May 5, 1998: W, 7-2 @ Texas — Bats stay hot in Arlington (21-6)
May 6, 1998: W, 15-13 @ Texas — Wells melts down, Yanks barely survive (22-6)
May 7, 1998: off
May 8, 1998: W, 5-1 @ Minnesota — Crazy eights (23-6)
May 9, 1998: L, 8-1 @ Minnesota — Ortiz says hello as Yanks lose (23-7)
May 10, 1998: W, 7-0 @ Minnesota — Mendoza twirls a shutout (24-7)
May 11, 1998: off
May 12, 1998: W, 3-2 vs. Kansas City — Bernie’s first bomb beats Royals (25-7)
May 13, 1998: W, 8-6 vs. Texas — Newman-approved slam for Bernie (26-7)
May 14, 1998: L, 5-7 (13) vs. Texas — Mo blows save, Yanks lose in 13th (26-8)
May 15, 1998: L, 6-7 vs. Minnesota — A two-game losing streak?? (26-9)
May 16, 1998: W, 5-2 vs. Minnesota — Mendoza stymies Twins again (27-9)
May 17, 1998: W, 4-0 vs. Minnesota — David Wells is perfect (28-9)
May 18, 1998: off
May 19, 1998: W, 9-5 vs. Baltimore — The Benitez Brawl (29-9)
May 20, 1998: W, 9-6 vs. Baltimore — Bats do the talking vs. O’s (30-9)
May 21, 1998: W, 3-1 vs. Baltimore — Pettitte sweeps O’s away (31-9)
May 22, 1998: L, 4-5 @ Boston — Red Sox rally in Beantown (31-10)
May 23, 1998: W, 12-3 @ Boston — Emphatic response to elusive L (32-10)
May 24, 1998: W, 14-4 @ Boston — Boston bullying continues (33-10)
May 25, 1998: W, 12-0 @ Chicago (AL) — How about another beatdown? (34-10)
May 26, 1998: W, 7-5 @ Chicago (AL) — Late rally secures series (35-10)
May 27, 1998: L, 9-12 @ Chicago (AL) — Nelson torched pre-suspension (35-11)
May 28, 1998: W, 8-3 vs. Boston — Bombers beat up Wakefield (36-11)
May 29, 1998: W, 6-2 vs. Boston — Cruising to 26 games over .500 (37-11)
May 30, 1998: L, 2-3 vs. Boston — Saberhagen rights BoSox ship (37-12)
May 31, 1998: L, 7-13 vs. Boston — Series split? Season over (37-13)

June 1, 1998: W, 5-4 (10) vs. Chicago (AL) — Yanks survive off-night from Mo (38-13)
June 2, 1998: The MLB Draft and W, 6-3 vs. Chicago (AL) — Seizing on mistakes (39-13)
June 3, 1998: W, 7-1 vs. Tampa Bay — El Duque’s sparkling debut (40-13)
June 4, 1998: W, 6-1 vs. Tampa Bay — No Jeter, no problem (41-13)
June 5, 1998: W, 5-1 vs. Florida — Not-so-fearsome defending champions (42-13)
June 6, 1998: W, 4-2 vs. Florida — Bernie fries the Fish (43-13)
June 7, 1998: W, 4-1 vs. Florida — Coney spins a gem in sweep (44-13)
June 8, 1998: off
June 9, 1998: W, 11-1 @ Montreal — Bernie, Brosius blast off at Big O (45-13)
June 10, 1998: W, 6-2 @ Montreal — Irabu shines, Raines steals 800th (46-13)
June 11, 1998: L, 5-7 @ Montreal — Nine-game winning streak up in in smoke (46-14)
June 12, 1998: off
June 13, 1998: off
June 14, 1998: W, 4-2 vs. Cleveland — Coney makes a comeback (47-14)
June 15, 1998: L, 4-7 @ Baltimore — Un-Wells in Baltimore (47-15)
June 16, 1998: L, 0-2 @ Baltimore — Bombers blanked by Ponson (47-16)
June 17, 1998: W, 5-3 @ Baltimore — Darryl’s moonshot avoids sweep (48-16)
June 18, 1998: W, 5-2 @ Cleveland — Brosius, Knoblauch lead late rescue (49-16)
June 19, 1998: L, 4-7 @ Cleveland — Thome smokes Cone (49-17)
June 20, 1998: W, 5-2 @ Cleveland — Mo locks down 50th victory (50-17)
June 21, 1998: L, 0-11 @ Cleveland — Mini-skid reaches low point (50-18)
June 22, 1998: W, 6-4 vs. Atlanta — Victorious in ‘96 WS rematch (51-18)
June 23, 1998: L, 2-7 vs. Atlanta — Glavine glides through Yanks’ bats (51-19)
June 24, 1998: W, 10-6 @ Atlanta — Coney cruises in seven (52-19)
June 25, 1998: W, 6-0 @ Atlanta — Boomer beats the Braves (53-19)
June 26, 1998: W, 8-4 @ New York (NL) — First Subway Series win at Shea (54-19)
June 27, 1998: W, 7-2 @ New York (NL) — Mets fumble away series (55-19)
June 28, 1998: L, 1-2 @ New York (NL) — Odd walk-off foils sweep (55-20)
June 29, 1998: off
June 30, 1998: W, 9-2 vs. Philadelphia — Cone goes the distance (56-20)

July 1, 1998: W, 5-2 vs. Philadelphia — All-Stars show out in win (57-20)
July 2, 1998: W, 9-8 (11) vs. Philadelphia — Tino stuns Phils in the ninth (58-20)
July 3, 1998: W, 3-2 vs. Baltimore — Brosius walks off Andy/Moose duel (59-20)
July 4, 1998: W, 4-3 vs. Baltimore — Blown call in ninth benefits Yanks (60-20)
July 5, 1998: W, 1-0 vs. Baltimore — Pitchers’ duel goes to Coney (61-20)
July 6, 1998: off
July 7, 1998: Five Yankees at 1998 All-Star Game in Denver
July 8, 1998: First-half review (off)
July 9, 1998: W, 2-0 @ Tampa Bay — Pettitte begins second half with zeroes (62-20)
July 10, 1998: W, 8-4 @ Tampa Bay — Blasting past the sloppy D-Rays (63-20)
July 11, 1998: W, 2-0 @ Tampa Bay — Coney’s turn to roll Tampa Bay (64-20)
July 12, 1998: W, 9-2 @ Tampa Bay — How about another 10-game winning streak? (65-20)
July 13, 1998: L, 1-4 @ Cleveland — First loss of July (65-21)
July 14, 1998: W, 7-1 @ Cleveland — Back in the win column (66-21)
July 15, 1998: W, 11-0 @ Detroit — All engines are go in the Motor City (67-21)
July 16, 1998: L, 1-3 @ Detroit — Playing down to the opponent (67-22)
July 17, 1998: L, 6-9 @ Toronto — Rocket triumphant (67-23)
July 18, 1998: W, 10-3 @ Toronto — A win in Bernie’s return (68-23)
July 19, 1998: L, 3-9 @ Toronto — Canseco blasts Pettitte (68-24)
July 20, 1998: L, 3-4 (17) & W, 4-3 vs. Detroit — A whole lotta baseball (69-25)
July 21, 1998: W, 5-1 vs. Detroit — Jeter homers in breezy effort (70-25)
July 22, 1998: W, 13-2 vs. Detroit — El Duque strong in taming of Tigers (71-25)
July 23, 1998: off
July 24, 1998: W, 5-4 vs. Chicago (AL) — Straw lifts Yanks past Pale Hose (72-25)
July 25, 1998: L, 2-6 vs. Chicago (AL) — Seventh-inning disaster (72-26)
July 26, 1998: W, 6-3 vs. Chicago (AL) — Bernie’s three-hit day downs ChiSox (73-26)
July 27, 1998: off
July 28, 1998: W, 9-3 @ Anaheim — Trio of homers beats Halos (74-26)
July 29, 1998: L, 5-10 @ Anaheim — Angels not fooled by El Duque (74-27)
July 30, 1998: W, 3-0 (10) @ Anaheim — Late heroics from Tino (75-27)
July 31, 1998: MLB Trade Deadline and W, 5-3 @ Seattle — Posada mashes M’s (76-27)

August 1, 1998: W, 5-2 @ Seattle — Dog days start with win (77-27)
August 2, 1998: L, 3-6 @ Seattle — Buhner strikes again (77-28)
August 3, 1998: W, 14-1 @ Oakland — Bombers bludgeon A’s (78-28)
August 4, 1998: W, 10-4 & W, 10-5 @ Oakland — Another pinch-hit slam from Straw secures doubleheader sweep (80-28)
August 5, 1998: L, 1-3 @ Oakland — Candiotti’s knuckler does the trick (80-29)
August 6, 1998: off
August 7, 1998: W, 9-2 & W, 14-2 vs. Kansas City — Shane who, now? (82-29)
August 8, 1998: W, 14-1 vs. Kansas City — 37 runs in 2 days (83-29)
August 9, 1998: W, 5-4 vs. Kansas City — Bernie sweeps KC away (84-29)
August 10, 1998: W, 7-3 vs. Minnesota — Pure efficiency (85-29)
August 11, 1998: W, 7-0 vs. Minnesota — A gem from Boomer (86-29)
August 12, 1998: W, 11-2 vs. Minnesota — Brooms for the Twins (87-29)
August 13, 1998: W, 2-0 vs. Texas — Duque rolls for eighth straight (88-29)
August 14, 1998: W, 6-4 vs. Texas — Nine in a row, 60 games over (89-29)
August 15, 1998: L, 5-16 vs. Texas — End of the streak (89-30)
August 16, 1998: W, 6-5 vs. Texas — Bernie goes boom for walk-off (90-30)
August 17, 1998: W, 7-1 @ Kansas City — Call him King David (91-30)
August 18, 1998: W, 3-2 (13) @ Kansas City — Extra-innings Bernie (92-30)
August 19, 1998: L, 3-5 @ Minnesota — Misstep at the Metrodome (92-31)
August 20, 1998: L, 4-9 @ Minnesota — Five errors sink Yanks (92-32)
August 21, 1998: W, 5-0 @ Texas — Boomer, Tino smash Rangers (93-32)
August 22, 1998: W, 12-9 @ Texas — Brosius takes Wetteland deep in comeback (94-32)
August 23, 1998: L, 10-12 @ Texas — Rangers destroy El Duque (94-33)
August 24, 1998: L, 3-7 vs. Anaheim — Seventh-inning letdown (94-34)
August 25, 1998: L, 6-7 vs. Anaheim — Three losses in a row?! (94-35)
August 26, 1998: L, 4-6 & W, 7-6 vs. Anaheim — Jeter walks off doubleheader split (95-36)
August 27, 1998: W, 6-5 (11) vs. Anaheim — Bernie’s turn to walk it off again (96-36)
August 28, 1998: W, 10-3 vs. Seattle — Double digits down M’s (97-36)
August 29, 1998: W, 11-6 vs. Seattle — A playoff spot by August (98-36)
August 30, 1998: L, 3-13 vs. Seattle — Griffey does Griffey things (98-37)
August 31, 1998: off

September 1, 1998: W, 7-0 vs. Oakland — Wells flirts with second perfecto (99-37)
September 2, 1998: L, 0-2 vs. Oakland — A’s return the shutout favor (99-38)
September 3, 1998: off
September 4, 1998: W, 11-6 @ Chicago (AL) — 100 wins already (100-38)
September 5, 1998: L, 5-9 @ Chicago (AL) — Pettitte takes his lumps (100-39)
September 6, 1998: L, 5-6 @ Chicago (AL) — A bad day for Irabu (100-40)
September 7, 1998: L, 3-4 @ Boston — No fun at Fenway (100-41)
September 8, 1998: W, 3-2 @ Boston — Coney outduels Pedro (101-41)
September 9, 1998: W, 7-5 @ Boston — The AL East clincher (102-41)
September 10, 1998: W, 8-5 vs. Toronto — O’Neill helps dispatch Jays (103-41)
September 11, 1998: L, 4-5 vs. Toronto — Clemens ignites beanball war (103-42)
September 12, 1998: L, 3-5 vs. Toronto — So-so September continues (103-43)
September 13, 1998: L, 3-5 vs. Toronto — Bullpen loses Cone’s 20th win bid (103-44)
September 14, 1998: W, 3-0 vs. Boston — Pedro outpitched again, by El Duque (104-44)
September 15, 1998: L, 4-9 vs. Boston — Bullpen B-squad falters (104-45)
September 16, 1998: L, 0-7 @ Tampa Bay — Shutout in St. Pete (104-46)
September 17, 1998: W, 4-0 @ Tampa Bay — Irabu gets Yanks back on track (105-46)
September 18, 1998: W, 15-5 @ Baltimore — Spencer, O’Neill provide fireworks (106-46)
September 19, 1998: L, 3-5 @ Baltimore — O’s deny shot at 116 wins (106-47)
September 20, 1998: W, 5-4 @ Baltimore — Winning as Ripken’s streak ends (107-47)
September 21, 1998: L, 1-4 vs. Cleveland — The final regular-season loss (107-48)
September 22, 1998: W, 10-4 & W, 5-1 vs. Cleveland — Spencer steals the spotlight (109-48)
September 23, 1998: W, 8-4 vs. Cleveland — September Shane strikes again (110-48)
September 24, 1998: W, 5-2 vs. Tampa Bay — American League wins record tied (111-48)
September 25, 1998: W, 6-1 vs. Tampa Bay — Duque, Derek set AL wins record (112-48)
September 26, 1998: W, 3-1 vs. Tampa Bay — Lucky No. (1)13 (113-48)
September 27, 1998: W, 8-3 vs. Tampa Bay — 114 and Spencer’s third slam (114-48)

Shane Spencer’s September to remember
The 1998 MLB Playoff Field

American League Division Series (won 3-0)
September 29, 1998: W, 2-0 vs. Texas — Boomer shuts down Rangers in opener (1-0)
September 30, 1998: W, 3-1 vs. Texas — Andy’s turn to roll the Rangers (2-0)
October 2, 1998: W, 4-0 at Texas — Sweep complete in Arlington (3-0; 117-48 overall)
Darryl Strawberry battles cancer

American League Championship Series (won 4-2)
October 6, 1998: W, 7-2 vs. Cleveland — Revenge on Wright in ALCS opener (1-0)
October 7, 1998: L, 1-4 (12) vs. Cleveland — Knoblauch pulls a rock, tying series (1-1)
October 9, 1998: L, 1-6 at Cleveland — Bartolo puts Yanks in serious bind (1-2)
October 10, 1998: W, 4-0 at Cleveland — El Duque rights the ship (2-2)
October 11, 1998: W, 5-3 at Cleveland — Boomer send Yanks to Bronx with lead (3-2)
October 13, 1998: W, 9-5 vs. Cleveland — World Series bound (4-2; 121-50 overall)

World Series (won 4-0)
The Last Hurdle: The 1998 San Diego Padres
October 17, 1998: W, 9-6 vs. San Diego — Tino’s slam makes Stadium erupt (1-0)
October 18, 1998: W, 9-3 vs. San Diego — Bombers flex muscles in big win (2-0)
October 20, 1998: W, 5-4 at San Diego — Brosius heroics stun Hoffman (3-0)
October 21, 1998: W, 3-0 at San Diego — A sweep into immortality (4-0; 122-50 overall)
Scott Brosius’ journey from PTBNL to World Series MVP

Final Reflections
Were the 1998 Yankees the best team in baseball history?