Wednesday, February 01, 2006

February 1st, 2001

Jim Leyritz Signs with Mets

Leyritz would never see any action for the Mets, failing to make the team out of Spring Training and so moving into retirement. These days "The King" writes an occasional column for and hosts a show on Leyritz is probably best known for the home run he hit in the 1996 World Series which is now regarded as the turning point which turned the Torre Yankees into the late 1990's dynasty they would become.

I'm--obviously--very fond of that moment, but my all-time favorite Jim Leyritz story actually comes from another World Series. In 1999 Leyritz was traded to the Yankees in mid-season (for someone named Geraldo Padua whom I have never heard of before and probably never will again) and added to the roster for the World Series. In Game Four, after the Braves had closed the Yankees' lead to 3-1, Leyritz was sent up to pinch hit Darryl Strawberry against lefty Terry Mulholland. Leyritz promptly drove a home run to give the Yankees a three-run lead they would not relinquish, winning the World Series as Mariano Rivera went through the Braves 1-2-3 in the ninth.

What I like about this story is two things. The first is that it gives Leyritz a cool bit of trivia, his last World Series (and post season) at-bat resulted in a home run--I think he's still the last guy to have done that although I'm not positive. The part of the story I really like though concerns Leyritz's reaction. As you might've guessed by his nickname Leyritz always thought rather highly of himself. That opinion is widely believed to be part of the reason he was traded after the 1996 season despite his heroics. Leyritz was always widely known as a great post-season home run hitter; he is third all time in HR/AB among those with five or more. Anyway, upon his return to the dug-out, Leyritz was mobbed by teammates patting him on the back, giving high-fives, and so on. Leyritz waited until everyone had settled down and the bench waited for him to say something, perhaps along the lines of "Hell yeah!" or "Damn I'm great!" Instead Leyritz turned to his teammates and said the only thing a rational man could say having just hit his eighth post season home run in sixty-one at-bats: "I don't know."

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