Derek Jeter retired at end of the 2014 season. He joins the list of Yankee legends who have left gaping holes in the lineup. Here's a look at those who have followed the famed Bronx Bombers and how they fared.
1935: Babe Ruth is replaced by George Selkirk
When Canadian-born George Selkirk filled the Yankees’ Babe Ruth-sized hole in right field during the 1935 season, he also took the Bambino’s number, changing his No. 1 to No. 3 when Ruth signed with the Boston Braves for the final 28 games of his career. Unfortunately, that’s about the only way Selkirk resembled the greatest Yankee of all time. It’s not that Selkirk was bad. He played 800 games for the Yankees after Ruth’s departure, was an All-Star twice, played on five World Series teams and hit .289 with 103 homers and 538 RBI in that span. But he wasn’t Babe Ruth — and honestly, how could he have been?
1939: Lou Gehrig is replaced by Babe Dahlgren
Lou Gehrig may have never been Lou Gehrig had he not had the chance to replace a headache-ridden Wally Pipp on June 2, 1925, but Babe Dahlgren was never quite able to fill Gehrig’s shoes as impressively as Gehrig filled Pipp’s after Dahlgren started in place of the Iron Horse on May 2, 1939, ending Gehrig’s string of 2,130 consecutive games played. Dahlgren lasted two seasons in pinstripes after becoming the Yankees’ full-time first-baseman and hit .250 with 27 home runs and 162 RBI, winning a World Series in ‘39. He was purchased by the Boston Braves in February 1941 and played with seven more teams before his retirement in 1946.
1952: Joe DiMaggio is replaced by Mickey Mantle
It’s no easy task replacing a legend like Joe DiMaggio, but a 20-year-old Mickey Mantle did so admirably in 1952, his first full season as the Yankees’ center fielder, hitting .311 with 23 home runs and 82 RBI, good enough for third in MVP voting. Still, fans were not initially enamored with Mantle, if for no other reason than because he wasn’t the Yankee Clipper, but by 1956 that had all changed, once Mantle had a Triple Crown and his first of three MVP awards under his belt. Now, of course, the Hall of Famer, eight-time World Series winner and Yankee lifer Mantle is considered to be not just one of the greatest Yankees, but one of the best hitters of all time.
1969-70: Mickey Mantle is replaced by Bobby Murcer
In 1969, the season after Mickey Mantle retired, the Yankees used a center field-by-committee approach to filling Mantle’s shoes in the outfield, with six different players starting at least 15 games at the position. But by 1970, Bobby Murcer had emerged as the Bombers’ center fielder of the future and spent most of the next five seasons flourishing in that spot before moving primarily to right field in 1974. After the ‘74 season (and four consecutive All-Star selections), Murcer was dealt to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Bobby Bonds, but he returned to the Yankees five years later and played out the rest of his career in pinstripes, retiring with 175 home runs and 687 RBI in 1,256 games as a Yankee.
1938: Tony Lazzeri is replaced by Joe Gordon
Arguably the best second baseman in Yankees history, Tony Lazzeri spent the first 12 years of his career in New York and had seven seasons with 100 or more RBI as part of the Yankees’ feared “Murderers Row” lineup. In 1938, Lazzeri signed as a free agent with the Cubs, opening the door for rookie Joe Gordon to take over his spot. In Gordon’s first season, he hit 25 home runs, setting an AL record for second baseman at the time, and over the next seven seasons, Gordon would register 1,000 hits, 153 homers and 617 RBI — including an MVP campaign in 1942 that saw him hit .322 with 18 round-trippers, 103 RBI and 12 steals. In 2009, Gordon, like Lazzeri before him, was inducted by the veterans committee into the Hall of Fame.
1956: Phil Rizzuto is replaced by Gil McDougald
A five-time All-Star and seven-time World Series winner, Phil Rizzuto spent his entire career with the Yankees, winning the 1950 AL MVP, and of the nearly 14,000 innings he played, just four of them came at a position other than shortstop. He was also one of the greatest double-play turners ever, teaming up with second basemen Jerry Priddy, Joe Gordon and Jerry Coleman at various points in his career. But by his final season, in 1956, Rizzuto had handed over the starting shortstop job to Gil McDougald, who began his own career with five excellent seasons splitting time between second and third base, earning a Rookie of the Year honor in 1951. McDougald would go on to earn All-Star honors at short in 1956 and 1957 before returning to his original spot at second base in 1958.
1947: Bill Dickey is replaced by Yogi Berra
The first truly great Yankees catcher, Bill Dickey spent his entire career with the club, playing 17 seasons with the Yankees from 1928-1946, a span that included two years in the service. During Dickey’s final season, he split time with Aaron Robinson, starting 38 games behind the plate to Robinson’s 92, but in 1947, the first season after Dickey’s retirement, a 22-year-old Yogi Berra blossomed as a legitimate contender for the starting catching job. By 1948, Robinson had been traded to the White Sox, and by 1949, Berra had separated himself as the Yankees’ primary catcher, a position he held until Elston Howard supplanted him in 1960 — three MVPs and 10 World Series rings later. Berra had his No. 8 retired by the Yankees in 1972, the same year he was inducted to the Hall of Fame.
1960: Yogi Berra is replaced by Elston Howard
he first black man to play for the Yankees, Elston Howard had already established himself as an jack-of-all-trades in New York by the time he took over for Yogi Berra as the team’s primary catcher in 1960, but it wasn’t until he became a full-time backstop that Howard emerged as a bona fide star. All told, Howard played 13 seasons in the Bronx, and in 1963, he beat out Al Kaline and Whitey Ford for AL MVP honors. The Yankees would win four World Series during Howard’s playing career with the team, and won two more after Howard returned to New York as the team's first base coach, a position he held for a decade. In 1984, four years after his death, the Yankees retired Howard's No. 32.
1967: Elston Howard is replaced by Jake Gibbs
In August 1967, the Yankees traded Elston Howard to the Red Sox, opening the door for lightly-used backup Jake Gibbs to ascend to New York’s vaunted throne behind home plate. Unfortunately, Gibbs wasn’t long for the position, and by 1969, Gibbs was already splitting time with Frank Fernandez and Thurman Munson, the latter of whom would win Rookie of the Year in 1970 and an MVP in 1976. To his credit, Gibbs stuck around with the club until 1971, when he retired with a .233 career batting average, 25 homers and 146 RBI in 538 career games, all with the Yankees. He played 3,834⅔ career innings in the field during his 10-year career, with all but one of them — his first career appearance — coming behind the plate.
1979: Thurman Munson is replaced by Rick Cerone
Before his tragic death in a plane crash during the 1979 season, Thurman Munson was beloved by the Yankee organization and its fans, and spent the last four years of his career as the team’s first captain since Lou Gehrig. So naturally, replacing him was no easy task. In the immediate aftermath of Munson’s accident, Jerry Narron took over as the Yankees’ everyday catcher, but after the ‘79 season, New York traded for Blue Jays catcher Rick Cerone to man the position going forward. Cerone finished seventh in AL MVP voting in 1980 and even got one first-place vote, but struggled at the plate afterward, hitting just .227 with 11 homers over his final four seasons in New York, and by 1983, Butch Wynegar had overtaken him as the Yankees’ regular backstop.
1967: Roger Maris is replaced by Steve Whitaker
For 37 years, Roger Maris was baseball’s single-season home run king and a huge star for the Yankees, whose clubhouse he called home for seven campaigns. During that time, Maris won two MVPs and a Gold Glove and played in five consecutive World Series, winning two. So it goes without saying that replacing him in right field after his trade to the Cardinals in 1966 wouldn’t be easy, as evidenced by the 10 years it took to find a long-term replacement at the position. The 1967 season saw Steve Whitaker start the majority of New York’s games in right, but in 1968 Andy Kosco claimed the post. Bobby Murcer started 88 games in right in 1969 before replacing Mickey Mantle in center, and it wasn’t until Reggie Jackson took over in 1977 that the position was truly solidified.
1982: Reggie Jackson is replaced by Ken Griffey Sr.
It took a decade for the Yankees to find an everyday right fielder after Roger Maris left, but once they did, he was immediately a star. Reggie Jackson played five years with the Yankees, hitting 144 homers and driving in 461 runs, and his performances during the team’s two World Series wins in that span — hitting a combined .418 with seven homers and 16 RBI in the ’77 and ’78 Classic — earned him the title Mr. October. Jackson signed with the Angels before the ‘82 season, however, so the Yankees made do with Ken Griffey, who'd been acquired from Cincinnati during the offseason. Griffey put up respectable numbers, hitting .277 during his only season in right field, but in 1983, the Yankees moved him to first base, and before long, Dave Winfield had staked his claim in right.
1990: Dave Winfield is replaced by Jesse Barfield
After eight years with the Padres, Dave Winfield began his Yankee career in left field in 1981, but from 1984 through 1988 he was a force in right, where he won three gold gloves. In nine total seasons with New York, Winfield hit .290 with 205 homers and 818 RBI, but early in the 1990 season — thanks in part to a toxic relationship with George Steinbrenner — he was traded to the Angels, opening up the right field hole again. Fortunately, the Yankees already had their man in Jesse Barfield, who had played in place of Winfield in 1989, when Winfield missed the whole season with a back injury. Barfield didn’t last long, however, and by 1992 the former Blue Jay was third on the right field depth chart after three mostly productive seasons in pinstripes.
1996: Don Mattingly is replaced by Tino Martinez
Another Yankee lifer, Don Mattingly spent his 14-year career in New York, where he was a six-time All-Star, nine-time Gold Glove winner, a batting champ in 1984 and an MVP in 1985, hitting .324 with 48 doubles, 35 homers and a league-high 145 RBI. Donnie Baseball began his career as an outfielder, but made his bones as a first-baseman until his retirement in 1995. Fortunately, the Yankees were quick to trade for Tino Martinez to take Mattingly’s place and after a strong start to his Yankee career on the 1996 World Series-winning team, Martinez hit 44 homers and drove in 141 runs in 1997 — the same year Mattingly’s No. 23 was retired by the team — good for second in MVP voting. All told, Martinez played six seasons in the Bronx and won four World Series in that span.
2014: Mariano Rivera is replaced by David Robertson
Another key cog in the Yankees’ 1990s dynasty, Mariano Rivera was as automatic as a closer could get for 19 seasons in the Bronx. The MLB career leader in saves with 652, Rivera posted a career ERA of 2.21, struck out 1,173 batters in 1,283⅔ innings and won five World Series rings in the process. When an injury forced Rivera to miss most of 2012, Rafael Soriano stepped in and saved 42 games, but last year, in the first year of the post-Rivera era, former set-up man David Robertson saved 39 games in 44 chances, with one of his blown saves setting up Derek Jeter’s game-winning hit in his final home game. In December, Robertson signed with the White Sox, meaning another new closer — likely Dellin Betances — will take over the job in 2015.
2015: Derek Jeter is replaced by Didi Gregorius
After watching Derek Jeter man the shortstop position for the Yankees for most of the last two decades, it’s almost challenging to envision anyone else filling the void he left behind. Sure, Jeter’s individual offensive stats were never particularly eye-popping, and his defensive prowess escaped him in the latter years of his career, but The Captain was The Captain, and he’ll forever be revered in the Bronx. When Jeter missed most of an injury-plagued 2013, a collection of players teamed up to fill his spot, with Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix carrying most of the load, and the situation going into 2015 is equally murky. The job will likely go to ex-Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius, whom the Yankees traded for in December, but even so, it’s far too early to guess how Gregorius' tenure will pan out.