Saturday, April 3, 2010

Home Cooking

Curtis Granderson? Really?

I was born the year after Joe DiMaggio retired. While I was only able to view his grace and skills through the lens of history, over the 58 years of my life I have been able to witness a succession of greatness at the true center of the Yankee universe. From the days of DiMaggio starting in 1936, until the present there has been almost a constant in Yankee World Series victories: the center fielder was home grown.

Apart from the aberration of Mickey Rivers in 1977 and 1978, and the 1943 victory which occurred when DiMaggio was a soldier at war, the last 23 World Series have been produced with a born and bred Yankee protecting that most hallowed part of the Yankee turf. Even before that, Earle Combs was pinstriped from beginning to end of his career and center fielder on the great Yankee teams of the Ruth/Gehrig era that dominated in the late 1920's and early 30's, and won championships in 1927, 1928 and 1932.

Can Curtis Granderson step into the shoes of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Bernie Williams to be part of the next generation of World Series champions? Or will he be a Ricky Henderson, an imported legend, who roamed center field for 5 years with success but no rings?

Almost as important is the query if we can ever have a love affair with an outsider. When I think of those most beloved Yankees of the last 6 decades, the names that immediately come forth are Mantle, Williams, Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly and even Bobby Murcer. All, except Murcer, spent every day of their major league careers in a Yankee uniform. While Murcer finished his career in the foreign surrounds of Chicago, after his playing days ended he returned as a broadcaster and spoke of his undying passion for the team until his death. He was, in the minds of most of us, a Cub in name only, but a Yankee in spirit from first to last.

All those we most love, and all those who have been most crucial to the success of our team have been nurtured and matured in the confines of Yankee Stadium. Will Curtis Granderson break that mold? Will we find love and success with an 'outsider' roaming as one of the centerpieces? As a life-long Yankee fan, I hope for the best but know that history would dictate otherwise.


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