With the 25th anniversary of the 1998 Yankees this year, we here at Pinstripe Alley have been doing a daily diary recounting what that team was doing throughout the year. If you read one of those posts on any given day, you’re probably going to recognize the names of the Yankees players mentioned.
Many of the players on the ‘98 team were part of or would go on to be part of the ‘96, ‘99, and 2000 teams during the Yankees’ dynasty. Not all of them are no-doubt Yankee legends, but anyone in that group would get a very nice hand at an event like Old Timers Day. Beyond that, even players who didn’t have long-lasting careers in the Bronx — say, a Ricky Ledee — had some memorable moments.
However, there are some players on the team that you might not have any memory of donning pinstripes. Let’s remember those guys.
Bradley was a fast riser in the Yankees’ minor league system as they had used a first round draft pick on the pitcher the year before in 1997. While he played all of that season in Low-A, he flew through High-A and Double-A, putting up impressive numbers in both starting and relief roles. While his stats in Triple-A weren’t as impressive, the Yankees called him up, which would make him the youngest member of the 1998 squad, at just under 23 years old at time of his debut.
Due to minor injuries to Hideki Irabu and Ramiro Mendoza, Bradley was promoted to the majors and given his major league debut on August 22nd against the Rangers. He went 1.2 innings, with a hit by pitch the only blemish on a scoreless debut. Four days later, he got the start in a game against the Angels. He likely got that in part because it was part of a doubleheader that was being squeezed in after the structural problems at Yankee Stadium had led to games being postponed earlier in the season. He got hit for five earned runs in five innings that day, and in total put up a 5.68 ERA in 12.2 major league innings.
Going into the next season, Bradley was rated as the 25th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America. He started the season in Triple-A Columbus, but started to really struggle. While he continued to be well regarded by the Yankees, he continued to struggle over the next couple seasons, apparently dealing with issues in his mechanics.
Bradley eventually left the Yankees’ organization in 2002, having never made it back to the majors. He played part of that season in the Rockies’ system, but his handful of innings in ‘98 ended up being the extent of his MLB career. Earlier this week, it was announced that he was going to be part of Old Timers’ Day this season as part of the Yankees honoring the ‘98 team.
Having begun his minor league career back in 1986, Bruske finally made it to the major leagues in 1995 with the Dodgers. Prior to that, he had missed two entire seasons, and had been part of both the Guardians and Astros’ organizations before going to LA.
Bruske spent 1995 and ‘96 with the Dodgers before signing with the Padres for 1997. After that season, the Dodges picked him back up off waivers. He started the 1998 season back there only to be traded in July to ... the Padres. After only four appearances back there, the Yankees acquired him in August as bullpen insurance with Jeff Nelson dealing with back troubles.
On August 23rd, the Yankees picked up Bruske and a minor leaguer in exchange for Shea Morenz and Ray Ricken — neither of whom would make the majors. Bruske ended up pitching nine innings across three games for the Yankees, putting up respectable numbers. However, he wouldn’t appear in the postseason for the team.
The Yankees brought him back for spring training in 1999, but released him before the season, in which he wouldn’t pitch at all. He made it back to the majors in 2000 with the Brewers before his career finally came to an end.
You might’ve noticed the team the Yankees got Bruske from in the 1998 trade: the Padres. That makes him one of just a handful of players to appear for both teams in a season where they played each other in the World Series.