Wahoo! Baseball is back for 2015! Pitchers and Catchers have reported, Baseball Tonight podcast has become daily and hope springs eternal across MLB. To celebrate here’s my small collection of items used by Yankees players during Spring Trainings of the past!
Wil Nieves 2007 Spring Training Opening Day Cap
The first GU cap I ever bought, this Nieves cap is my ‘lucky cap’ and has been to more games at both Yankee Stadiums then Mr Nieves played there.
Luis Vizcaino Spring Training Road BP Jersey
The first ever GU jersey I purchased, Vizcaino would go 8-2 in relief during the 2007 season.
Juan Miranda 2008 Spring Training Opening Day Pinstripe Jersey
ST opening day jersey from the then heralded Cuban rookie Juan Miranda
Rob Thomson 2010 Spring Training Home BP cap (Cool Base)
Okay what list of mine wouldn’t be complete without a Rob Thomson item.
On September 28th, 2008 the Yankees finished their season with a doubleheader in Fenway. Game 1 was the Marquee matchup featuring Mike Mussina trying for 20 wins for the first time in his career and Daisuke Matsuzaka tuning up for his expected postseason appearances. The Yankees would beat the Red Sox 6-2 earning Moose his 20th win and his last of his career. Game 2 would be the ‘lesser’ of the Dher, with both teams employing mostly rookies and backups on the diamond. One of these players was Wilson Betemit making his last start for the Yankees organization.
Betemit was the utility infielder for the Yankees that year, though he saw more action then he could have predicted due to the many injuries that plagued the team. He hit .265 with 6 HR’s in just under 200 plate appearances over the season, nothing eye popping but he did what was expected of him. In this final game of his Yankees tenure, he would be signed by the White Sox in 2009, he went 1-5 with a run scored in a dreary 4-3 New York loss.
During the 2008 campaign I had been collecting as many Game Used jerseys as I could find from the ongoing season. With it being the final year in which baseball would be played in the great cathedral anything that appeared on the field was in high demand and short supply. The first jersey I picked up was of then bench coach Rob Thomson’s road jersey which would spark a whole other obsession, followed by Brian Bruney’s jersey from Opening Day. Then in the offseason I was approached by a Steiner Re-seller who had received the jersey and helmet of Betemit from that final game. The jersey was covered in dirt, the first ‘dirty’ jersey I would own and, well I’m a sucker for helmets, so I purchased them. This would begin an offseason odyssey to complete the uniform in which I luckily stumbled across the pants and locked down one of the toughest items to obtain, a players cleats.
Jersey (Note the distinctive Fenway Dirt)
Pants (The dirt continues!)
Cleats (Signed by Betemit)
Bat (From earlier in the season, signed by Betemit)
With Game 1 of the 2014 World Series starting tonight, I thought this would be a perfect time to write about the postseason items I have in my collection. Though not the biggest area of my collection, certainly most of the items are from the 2009 season, I am proud of what I have gathered together and think they provide an eclectic mix of items. All Game Used Clothing and Equipment is Steiner and MLB Authenticated.
Doug Mientkiewicz 2007 Road Jersey – Worn From 05/11 to 10/5 (Game 2 of the ALDS @ Cleveland)
The first of two items I own from the infamous 2007 ALDS against Cleveland, this jersey was actually on the field during the bottom of the 8th when Joba was swarmed by bugs. The 10 patch on the left sleeve is in remembrance of Phil ‘Scooter’ Rizzuto who passed during the season and the black armband is in remembrance of Cory Lidle whose plane crashed in NYC earlier the year.
Luis Vizcaino 2007 Cap – Worn Through to Game 4 of the ALDS @ Cleveland
Vizcaino would enter the ‘bug game’ in the bottom of the 11th and would allow a Travis Hafner Walkoff RBI single to lose the game. This cap is one of the most filthiest in my collection (as can be seen in the underside photo) with even the logo covered in dirt (though not as clear in the left photo) it’s also the only sticky clothing item I own, guessing to the tacky rosin applied to the brim.
Melky Cabrera 2009 Playoff Hoodie – Used Throughout 2009 Playoffs
Melky wore this (very comfortable!) hoodie mainly in the New York games of the DS and CS of 09. Interestingly the sleeves have been cut off (not by the manufacture) presumably when in LA.
Rob Thomson 2009 Locker Nameplate – 2009 World Series
Mentioned before in my Rob Thomson collection post, this is a very cool display piece and an awesome World Series item.
Mike Harkey 2009 Road Jersey – 2009 World Series (Games 3-5)
My favorite postseason item, and one of my favorites of the whole collection, is this Game Used World Series jersey. All WS items became very hard to find after the 09 fall classic was over with players keeping their items and others snapped up as soon as the Stadium’s lights dimmed. Harkey was a recognizable fixture in the bullpen as coach, his towering frame is represented well by the huge jersey. I love patches and to have the World Series patch (a thing of beauty) on a Game Used jersey thrills me each time I see it.
Rob Thomson 2012 Cap – 2012 Postseason
Again as seen before in the Rob Thomson collection post, another postseason item of his. This remains the last time the Yankees have made the playoffs, hopefully 2015 will be the year the Bronx Bombers return.
It’s known by my friends & family that among my Game Used Collection there’s another collection inside, that of Yankees 3B Coach Rob Thomson. Whilst many may find it strange to collect a coach, my reasons are that a 3B coach is very visible through out the game. Whether it be on the field or on the bench, Rob Thomson’s presence can be noted and this makes it easy to authenticate items. The following is my complete collection of Rob Thomson used items I own accompanied with a brief explanation as to why I bought them. All Game Used memorabilia has Steiner certification and most with the MLB Authentication Hologram.
2008 Road Jersey (Used up till May 17th vs the Mets)
My first Rob Thomson item I ever purchased, by 2008 I was well into my Game Used Yankees collection but had yet to settle on one specific player. In the Spring of 08 I attended the Yankees series at US Cellular Field with my Mom and often saw Rob Thomson walking around wearing this jersey, little knowing I would one day own it. Later on in the summer I was given the opportunity to purchase this jersey and I leapt at the chance, my Robbie collection was born.
2009 Road Jersey (Used in Road Games till April 22nd)
2009 was an exciting year for Yankee fans, we had a new stadium, some incredible pick ups in the offseason and after the very bitter ending to 2008 a sense of hope that 09 was the year we made it 27 championships. In the offseason I had picked up the challenge of collecting Utility man Wilson Betemit’s entire uniform from the last game of the season (a feat I achieved) and plunking a cool $1500 on Mike Mussina’s complete uniform that he wore when he got his 2500th career Strikeout but with the start of a historic season, I wanted a piece of that history and felt like collecting through Rob Thomson would achieve it. This Road Jersey was worn though out the opening weeks of the season which the Yankees started on the road. Whilst not the most impressive start in the franchises history it laid the foundation for what would become an amazing year.
2009 Home Jersey (Used on Opening Day, April 16th)
Opening Day at the new Yankee Stadium on April 16th was wonderful except the final score. Whilst the Indians pummeled the Yankees ace CC Sabathia many fans still rejoiced at the opening of the new cathedral. Rob Thomson wore this jersey through out the whole game and there is nothing quite like seeing photos of him at that game and knowing you own that very jersey.
2009 Light Home Jacket (Used into Playoffs)
I always wanted a modern game used jacket (I have an old starter one from the pen, it still included a piece of bazooka joe that it’s owner Brian Bruney, had left in the pocket) and I love this item. The Yankees logo proudly displayed on the arm and Yankees written across the chest is a thing of beauty. Having being used into the playoffs is a wonderful bonus too.
09 World Series Locker Room Nameplate
As soon as Steiner’s let me know this existed I had to own it. Wonderful memories and a really cool looking piece of memorabilia.
2010 Spring Training Home Cap (Cool Base)
My first Rob Thomson cap, this thing is pretty darn well used (as you can see from the images above, yes that is sweat stains on the bill) and I really liked the design of these lids.
2010 Road Jersey (Opening Day at Fenway April 4th)
2010 started with Yankee fans basking in the glory of being the defending World Champions, and all though the first game of the season was a loss at Fenway it wouldn’t dampen our sprits. This jersey was also the first time the Yankees went with the new team tailored MLB logo on the rear of the jersey, swapping the red white and blue for gray white and blue.
2010 Home Jersey (Opening Day April 13th)
The Yankees would defeat the Angels 7-5 on their first Opening Day win at the new house and Jeter hit a HR, passing Rob Thomson and this very jersey as cameras followed him running the bases.
2010 Equipment Bag
When Steiner’s notified me of the 2010 Rob Thomson items they had just received, this equipment bag immediately sparked my interest. Always on the lookout for ‘different’ items, I thought this was a really cool example of day to day life in the bigs. Nothing was inside the bag bar a lot of base path dirt.
2012 Postseason Used Cap
I’m a sucker for patches and when MLB started putting the Postseason logos on their caps during the WC, LDS & LCS I needed to own one. Unfortunately at time of writing this was the last time Rob Thomson and the Yankees were in the postseason, hopefully 2014 will give me another logo’d cap to purchase.
Today’s the day! The only thing better then Opening Day across Baseball is Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. The Bronx buzzes once again with the sound of the crack of the bat, vendors plying their wares and the crowd roaring their approval. One of the most iconic images of this special day is the crisp, clean pinstripes standing against the green of the field. In my collection I have a few Game Used jerseys worn in these special games, for this article I have selected two from 2008-09 that I feel stand out and also mirror in a weird way with the 2013-14 Yankees.
Brian Bruney – RHP – Worn Opening Day 04.01.08
2008 ‘s Opening Day was a bittersweet farewell to the original house. Though it had gone through at least 3 variations in it’s 85 years of existence it was still always the place where generations of families came and made their own memories seeing the greats of the game. You could always point and say Ruth hit one over there, Gehrig made his speech right there, Mantle nearly hit the facade over there etc etc and now this season would be the last chance fans could honestly do that.
The day itself was a damp one. The game originally was supposed to take place the day before on the Monday but was rained out. However a strong performance by Chien-Ming Wang and a HR by Melky Cabrera in the 6th gave the Yankees their final Opening Day win in the House that Ruth Built and brightened the hearts of all Yankee fans expecting one final chance of October glory in those hallowed walls, an event that sadly would not occur.
Game used items from 2008 were very expensive. Demand was high not only from collectors but the players who wore the equipment. I have 3 jerseys from 08 (including the entire uniform Wilson Betemit wore in the last game of the season at Fenway) but my major goal at the time was to own a jersey worn on that final Opening Day. Bruney didn’t pitch that game, he only stood on the foul line during introductions and sat on the bench through 9 innings but to me the jersey is kind of magical. It was worn on that day, and that day only. Never again will a jersey be seen in a MLB game on that side of 161st Street.
Rob Thomson – 3B Coach – Worn Opening Day 04.18.09
Opening Day at the New Yankee Stadium in 09 was not pretty. It began positively enough, the sun was shining, there was a moving ceremony in which Jeter laid the bat the Babe had hit the first HR at the Old Stadium on home plate, but then it went wrong. Wrong to the tune of a 22-4 defeat by the Indians.
So why is this jersey special? Well bar from the fact it is part of my 09 Rob Thomson collection, this jersey was on the field constantly through the game. It was clearly seen when Mark Teixeira and Melky belted out the first Yankee home runs hit during a season at the new park. To me it’s apart of history, not the proudest piece of Yankees history but still a part of it none the less.
Okay okay, I hear you ask, what does this have to do with the 2013-14 Yankees? Well, in 08 the Yankees didn’t make the playoffs, the first time since the strike shortened season of 94, and we all know what happened in 2009. After the disappointing ending to the 2013 campaign, hopefully history will repeat it’s self in 2014 and give New Yorkers their 28th World Championship!
Have a wonderful Opening Day Yankee fans!