The 10 Most Hated Villains of the Yankees
When you rule the baseball world for the better part of a century, you’re bound to make a few enemies. Here are the 10 most loathed villains in Yankee history.
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#10 | Bill Lee | Boston Red Sox
Anyone who says the Yanks fight “like a bunch of hookers swinging their purses” is bound to be unpopular in the Bronx; however, “Spaceman” wasn’t just loathed by his rivals. His own manager, Don Zimmer, once famously said that during his vast tenure in the game of baseball, Lee is the only person he would not allow inside his home. It’s probably because Lee nicknamed him “Gerbil.” He received his comeuppance on May 20th, 1976 when his throwing shoulder was separated during a melee at the Stadium thanks to Graig Nettles and Mickey Rivers. His fastball was never the same.
#9 | John Rocker | Atlanta Braves
John Rocker burst onto the scene in 1999, saving 38 games for Atlanta and helping lead them to the World Series. In an infamous Sports Illustrated article published that December, Rocker spewed a torrent of racial and sexual prejudice that shocked and angered the sports world and beyond.
On ever playing for a New York team:
I would retire first. It’s the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you’re [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing.
On New York City:
The biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the foreigners. I’m not a very big fan of foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?
During the ’99 NLCS he displayed a seething ire for Mets fans, spitting at them, flashing the finger, and taunting them with his smarmy grin. But Rocker’s fastball and faster mouth could not withstand the Yankee onslaught that swept the Braves in the Fall Classic. The Yanks hurt Rocker in Game 1 of the series in the 8th inning, tagging the racist flamethrower for 3 runs on a single to Paul O’Neill and a walk to Jim Leyritz. By 2003 he would be out of baseball but not before providing us with timeless wisdom: “I’m not a racist or prejudiced person. But certain people bother me.” He still maintains a website that sells t-shirts reading, “Speak English.” If there is a Cooperstown for a-holes he’ll be a first ballow Hall of Famer.
#8 | Curt Schilling | Boston Red Sox
Every talented Red Sock is a quasi-enemy of all Yankee fans, but Schilling took special delight in beating New York, both as a Diamondback and a Red Sock, and riling us up along the way. When he was famously asked about the supernatural qualities of the Yankees and their mythic Stadium prior to the 2001 World Series, Schilling retorted,
When you use the words mystique and aura, those are dancers in a nightclub. Those are not things we concern ourselves with on the ball field.
Prior to game 1 of the 2004 ALCS, Schilling also told the New York media, “No scenario can top shutting 50,000 people from New York up.” He then went out and gave up 6 runs in 3 innings. Since retiring he has not slowed his vitriol against the Yanks, with a specific proclivity for maligning A-Rod, but for everything A-Rod did, he never soaked one of his socks in ketchup.
#7 | Ford Frick | Commissioner of Baseball
Ford Frick served as the Commissioner of Baseball from 1951 to 1965. In his most controversial decision he mandated record-keepers to count Roger Maris‘ home run record as separate from Babe Ruth‘s if Maris did not best the Babe in 154 games, the same number Ruth was afforded in 1927. Frick’s ruling, which he had no authority to hand down, placed even greater pressure on Maris during his most trying season in baseball. The asterisk on Maris’ 61 home runs was not removed from the record books until 1991.
#6 | Armando Benitez | Baltimore Orioles
On May 19, 1998 Benitez, the fireballing closer for the O’s, yielded a 3-run, 8th inning home run to Bernie Williams that vaulted the Yanks into a 7-5 lead. Benitez, furious over giving up the game-breaking long ball, drilled Tino Martinez in the back on the very next pitch, inciting a vicious brawl at the Stadium. Graeme Lloyd and Darryl Strawberry got several good punches on Benitez before the fight spilled into the Oriole dugout. From that day on the temperamental hurler has been loathed by Yankee Nation. When he became a Yankee 2003 I was beside myself, but he was thankfully shipped off to Seattle after pitching just 9.1 innings.
#5 | Carlton Fisk | Boston Red Sox
During the great Yankee/Red Sox rivalry of the 1970s the gritty Fisk was the face of Boston. He also was the antagonist in separate brawls with Thurman Munson (1973) and Lou Piniella (1976). He also famously chased Deion Sanders down the first base line for not running out a pop up saying later, “Yankee pinstripes, Yankee pride. I’m playing for the other team, and it offended me.” (I actually think that anecdote is pretty cool, though).
#4 | Gary Sheffield | New York Yankees
I hate to include a Yankee on this list, but Sheff brought it on himself. I liked him enough during his 3 years in New York, in which he hit 76 home runs, but after he left town he accused Joe Torre of treating the black players on the team differently saying, “They weren’t treated like everybody else. I got called out in a couple of meetings that I thought were unfair.” Darryl Strawberry, a Yankee from 1995-1999, denied ever feeling like he was treated unfairly by the beloved manager.
#3 | Manny Ramirez | Boston Red Sox
The showboating. The dreads. The lack of respect for the game. The tantrums. The massive wad of tobacco. ”Manny Being Manny.” The reasons for disliking Manny Ramirez are numerous. Take your pick.
#2 | Dr. Feelgood
Max Jacobson, infamously known as “Dr. Feelgood,” administered amphetamines and medications to elite clients including JFK, Tennessee Williams, and Truman Capote. But he is loathed in Yankee Town for the shot he gave Mickey Mantle in late September, 1961, while the Comet was in the thick of the chase for Ruth’s home run record. Mantle said the shot was incredibly painful, possibly striking his hip bone, and the area became seriously infected in the subsequent days, so much so that an abscess the size of a fist developed on his hip. Mantle wondered whether or not Jacobson wanted to hurt him, telling his wife Meryln, “I just got sucked dry by a vampire.” The infection derailed the beloved Yank in the home run chase, and Maris went on to hit the historic 61.
#1 | Pedro Martinez | Boston Red Sox
Do I really need to explain this one? He threatened to hit Jorge Posada in the head, said he’d like to wake the Babe up by drilling him in the ass, claimed he was the most influential player to ever walk onto the field at Yankee Stadium, and threw down Don Zimmer by his ears. However, we are the ones who may have had the last laugh as Pedro eventually lamented after a loss in 2004,
What can I say? Just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy. I can’t find a way to beat them at this point. They’re that good. They’re that hot right now–at least against me. I wish they would disappear and not come back. I would rather like to face any other team right now.
That’s right, Pedro. We are your daddy.