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Should Willie Randolph and Graig Nettles be added to Monument Park?

Jun 4, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

Graig Nettles

Monument Park in Yankees Stadium was once reserved for the best of the best. The Mantles/Berras/Ruths of the world. In some ways that was a bit silly. A function of George Steinbrenner’s obsession with casting Yankees history in near-mythic terms and peddling the notion that anything less than uber-elite and perpetual champion players and teams was not up to Yankees’ snuff. That’s the kind of thing that leads to the sort of eye-rolling that a lot of Yankees fans have toward that franchise today.

And it also did a disservice to the merely good players who, if they played for any other franchise, would likely be honored somehow with a plaque or something in whatever that team’s particular hall of fame happened to be called. Lots of teams have those, by the way. They just don’t have press agents as good as those that Monument Park has had over the years.

The Yankees seem to be changing this. Last month they announced that Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez would be honored in Monument Park. I scoffed a little bit at that when the news came out, but after the weighing-in by some Tino fans and a month or so worth of reflection, I’m feeling cooler about it. Indeed, if this is truly a move by the franchise to come down off its “Only The Titans Are Worthy” stance toward its history, I’m all for it. Making Yankee Stadium a more populist place is good thing. I mean, you don’t go honoring Kevin Maas or anything, but people liked Paul O’Neill so why the heck not? At least as long as you don’t make everyone buy the notion that the standards haven’t been relaxed and that, really, Tino Martinez is worth every bit of praise that, say, Lou Gehrig is.

Anyway, Sweeny Murti thinks that if you’re letting O’Neill and Martinez in, you gotta do more:

O’Neill and Martinez will enjoy wonderful days this summer when they are honored. But if they are being recognized for their vital contributions to a Yankees dynasty, then I think we have to start opening the door to countless more players who could be considered Yankees greats.

We could add dozens more names if we wanted to, and maybe we will. But I’d like to start with two — Willie Randolph and Graig Nettles.

I suppose people’s mileage may vary, but they are pretty much the 1970s equivalents of O’Neill and Martinez. Not the biggest stars on the team, but certainly the sorts of players who could be strong second bananas on any championship club.

What say you, Yankees fans? You all for opening the doors like this? Or does Monument Park need to be reserved for only the inner-circle Yankee greats?

  1. penale52 - Jun 4, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    I would like to see Hall of Famer’s Lazzeri, Combs, Hoyt, Pennock, and Joe Gordon honored sometime soon. I have no problem with Tino getting a plaque, or Randoplh or Nettles (who probably have both have better Hall credentials than anyone I’ve already named). But I just wished they’d officially have a team HOF, a la the Red Sox, Cardinals, etc.

  2. banksatdixie - Jun 4, 2014 at 12:48 PM


  3. nobody78 - Jun 4, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    By the numbers, Randolph and Nettles are far, far ahead of Tino Martinez and Paul O’Neil.

    Per baseball-reference, Nettles and Randolph rank 115 (68.0) and 132 (65.6) respectively in WAR; O’Neill and Martinez are at 524 (38.7) and 838 (28.8) respectively. If you just look at what each did in New York, Randolph has 53.8 WAR and Nettles has 44.3: each contributed more as a Yankee than either Martinez or O’Neil did during his entire career.

    It’s true that they’ve got two rings to Paul and Tino’s four, but they spent more time with the Yankees and were better players overall while they were on the team. And two rings is nothing to sneeze at. Frankly, both Randolph and Nettles should both be bigger parts of the conversation for the National Hall of Fame — though both probably miss the cut by a bit. Adding them to Monument Park is a no-brainer.

    • 18thstreet - Jun 4, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      The numbers confirm what I was thinking. Nettles and Randolph were terrific players.

      I think teams should be very liberal with whom they honor.

    • RickyB - Jun 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

      Agreed. Yes, I’m biased as Graig Nettles was my favorite player growing up, but if O’Neill and Martinez are honored, there is no way that Nettles and Randolph shouldn’t be. I can still rival Batting Stance Guy on imitations of Nettles and Randolph, too.

    • 4cornersfan - Jun 4, 2014 at 5:39 PM

      I don’t think they put the players’ WAR on the plaques. True Yankees know who should be in the Park and who should not. Right now it feels just about right.

  4. larrytsg - Jun 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    Oh, Come on…. Tino and O’Neill? Both just passed through the Bronx, and even though they had their moments, they weren’t there for the long haul. What’s next, David Wells? Bucky F-ing Dent? Oops, revealed myself as a Sox fan on that one.

    No, you have to make a significant contribution to the club to get a monument. Maybe Jim Leyritz should be next? What about Wade Boggs on a horse? Scott Brosius? And any of these guys before Don Mattingly?

    • Rich Stowe - Jun 4, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      Mattingly’s number is already retired in Monument Park

    • larrytsg - Jun 4, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      Oops, my bad. Donnie Baseball is there already, 1997

    • pete2112 - Jun 4, 2014 at 2:40 PM

      I would hardly say O’Neil just passed through the Bronx. I believe it was 92 when they traded for him and he was an integral part of all those championship teams in the 90’s and 2000. I agree that his numbers aren’t stellar when you look at it from a comparison standpoint to others, but no one on those 90’s teams had jaw dropping numbers on paper. It was just how that whole team came together and won. As for Tino, no he wasn’t there as long, but he put up some great run producing seasons with the Yankees along with some great defense at first base. Not to mention having to take over for Mattingly, which I’m sure was no easy task. I feel Paul and Tino deserve their spot in monument park. And I’m not saying put everyone in there from those 90’s teams, but those two were integral in that dynasty run.

      • mazblast - Jun 4, 2014 at 2:52 PM

        I remember how Reds fans thought they’d snookered the Yankees into giving them Roberto Kelly for O’Neill, then thought they’d stolen from Atlanta when they traded Kelly for Deion Sanders. But that’s Reds fans for you–like Yankees fans, you should never confuse them by bringing up the facts.

        My favorite O’Neill memory was the night he was with the Reds in Philadelphia and got so mad with how the game was going that he KICKED the ball back into the infield after a base hit to him in right.

      • pete2112 - Jun 4, 2014 at 3:31 PM

        mazblast, I was actually pretty upset at the time when that trade went down. I was a Roberto Kelly (or was it Robert Kelly at that time as he kept changing his preference on his first name) fan and didn’t like it at all, but I would say that is one of the better trades made in that era and quite the catalyst for a lot of success.

  5. Rich Stowe - Jun 4, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    As long as the Yankees continue to only retire the numbers of the all-time greats, I see no problem honoring other players of “importance” with plaques. This will pay tribute to players such as Randolph and Nettles (along with O’Neill and Martinez) that made significant contributions to Yankees teams (and in case of Randolph and Nettles – may even be borderline HOFers)

    • hcf95688 - Jun 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

      I hope you’re being sarcastic, because the Yankees have done a terrible job of keeping their retired numbers exclusive.

      • Rich Stowe - Jun 4, 2014 at 2:25 PM

        their retired numbers are all the best of the best of the Yankees (and iconic Yankees) – Ruth, Berra, Dickey, Gehrig, Mantle, Guidry, DiMaggio, Mattingly, Munson, Martin, Maris, Rizzuto, Rivera, Howard, Stengel, and soon to come Torre and Jeter…

        who in that group doesn’t belong?

      • Rich Stowe - Jun 4, 2014 at 2:28 PM

        forgot Ford in my original list

  6. proudlycanadian - Jun 4, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    Why not add A-Rod while they are at it?

    • 4cornersfan - Jun 4, 2014 at 5:41 PM

      Why not? He deserves it.

  7. Brian Murphy - Jun 4, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    Mickey Rivers, definitely, only for the hope that he gives a long speech on his induction day, leaving the rest of us to decipher what he is saying.

  8. crackersnap - Jun 4, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    I thought the whole myth of Yankee-dom was that they ALL were The Greatest Of All Time?

    • mazblast - Jun 4, 2014 at 2:53 PM

      You must be one of the all-time Greats to be a Yankee, and you must be a Yankee to be one of the all-time Greats. This is Known Wisdom, not to be challenged by mortals.

      • rje49 - Jun 4, 2014 at 6:25 PM

        Hey mazblast, how bout Ralph Terry? (referring to a certain game ending HR of 1960)

  9. scorpiox1960 - Jun 4, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    It’s like little league now.

    Every Yankee gets into Monument Park and then we all go for pizza. Yay!!!

  10. nolanwiffle - Jun 4, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Sure…….give ’em their plaques. Just make sure Nettles is wearing a Padres hat on his. Suck it, Yankees!!

    • mazblast - Jun 4, 2014 at 2:58 PM

      And Reggie should wear an Oakland cap, since he won more titles there than in The Bronx. Maybe give Nettles a Cleveland hat (with Chief Wahoo) instead of San Diego. Randolph in Pirates black-and-gold. Tino in Seattle headgear. Paulie as a Red. Brosius with Oakland. Boggs in Boston blue and red.

      Let’s remind people just how those Yankees teams were “built”.

      • tchillen - Jun 4, 2014 at 3:04 PM

        Both Nettles and Randolph spent way, way more time with the Yankees than with the Indians or Pirates. Not really sure what you’re saying…

      • 4cornersfan - Jun 4, 2014 at 5:45 PM

        We bought the players because your owners were more interested in having new yachts, planes and houses than having winning teams.

  11. 18thstreet - Jun 4, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    As long as Big Stein’s monument is bigger than any other four combined, I don’t see anything wrong with it. I mean, this is tastefully understated: And it’s not like Steinbrenner isn’t more important to Yankee history than Ruth, Berra and DiMaggio put together. His plaque should obviously be ginormous.

  12. hcf95688 - Jun 4, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    Hell, why not? Reggie Jackson – who played all of FIVE seasons for the Yankees – is in monument park and has his number retired. The Yankees will do anything for a buck.

  13. rathipon - Jun 4, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    As long as they can sell more tickets, sell more memorabilia, and put more eyes behind the TV set, they will continue to manufacture as much history, pride, and tradition as possible. As a Yankee fan with a memory extending back to when things weren’t quite as commercialized, it’s a little bit sad. But it’s the way of the world, I suppose.

  14. Jason @ IIATMS - Jun 4, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    We’re gonna need a bigger Monument Park. Which means we’re gonna need another stadium. Which means we’re gonna need a few more team-friendly parking/land/rent side deals for the owners. Which means we’re gonna need a bigger moat, because we’re gonna need to raise ticket prices. Which means higher concessions prices. Which means we get to visit a plaque of every fan favorite ever in the New Monument Park at Yankee Stadium IV brought to you by ModellsMoheganSun(insert BigJapaneseCompany name).

    “Kids, this is Aaron Small. He came out of nowhere in 2004 and went 10-0! And here’s Shane Spencer, who hit a few home runs when he was called up but was smart enough to overthrow Tino Martinez (you know, his plaque is over there) so that Derek Jeter (he’s the bare-chested one in the statue riding the horse on the warning track) could make the famous ‘The Flip’. There’s a stone beyond the first baseline to denote where Cap’t Clutch made the catch and The Flip.”

    • scorpiox1960 - Jun 4, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      …..Which means there will be even less fans sitting behind home plate.

  15. trbmb - Jun 4, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    And what was once Monument Park in Yankee Stadium is now Monument Garage in Yankee Mall. If they add any more plagues, they’ll have to move a tractor or two out of the garage.

  16. genericcommenter - Jun 4, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    I would certainly take either or both of them over the other 2 dudes. Randolph first.

  17. djjeffhall - Jun 4, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Next they will add a monument for Bullet Bob Turley. Keep it to the true elite.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jun 4, 2014 at 6:23 PM

      And how about Don Larsen, greatest pitcher who ever lived… for 2 amazing hours. Then, not so much, but worthy of renaming it: Don Larsen Yankees Monument Park.

  18. wpjohnson - Jun 4, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    Never. It would seriously dilute the aura of Monument Park.

  19. 4cornersfan - Jun 4, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    Anything less than uber-elite and perpetual champion players and teams is not up to Yankees’ snuff and I don’t see anything wrong with that.

  20. wogggs - Jun 4, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    As long as we’re putting in anyone who was a reasonably good player, or was generally well liked, I can’t wait for Mickey Rivers day and Joe Pepitone day. Jim Leyritz half inning can’t be far behind, either.

  21. mikhelb - Jun 4, 2014 at 7:59 PM

    Randolph was one of the more constant players of the Yankees during his tenure in pinstripes. Very good at fielding, good speed, a contact hitter, and still holds the yankees highest WAR among Yankees secondbasemen.

  22. ashoreinhawaii - Jun 4, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    I think they should have left well enough alone with the original 5 stones (Huggins, Gehrig, Ruth, Mantle & DiMaggio). Adding Steinbrenner was ridiculous.
    The park is kind of a joke. Looks like a tacky cemetery.
    Stick the numbers on the wall. No need for plaques.
    Put the original 5 somewhere they can be seen. Not sure where, but since center field isn’t 461 feet anymore, it would be too dangerous to put them anywhere on the field.
    Oh, and tell the Steinbrenner kids to take 6th stone home.

  23. gloccamorra - Jun 4, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    Not a Hall Of Fame member? No plaque.

  24. lanzacash - Jul 31, 2014 at 7:38 PM

    Honoring Nettles is a no-brainer. He was the greatest 3rd baseman in Yankee history, and arguably the greatest fielding 3rd sacker of all time.

    • jg916 - Sep 25, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      Obviously, if you think Nettles was arguably the greatest defensive third baseman of all time you never saw Brooks Robinson or even Mike Schmidt.
      Nettles was exceptional. Robinson and Schmidt were the greatest.

    • jg916 - Sep 25, 2014 at 12:24 PM

      Obviously, if you think Nettles was arguably the greatest defensive third baseman of all time you never saw Brooks Robinson or even Mike Schmidt.
      Nettles was exceptional. Robinson and Schmidt were the greatest. Inarguably.

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