In my He played in the postseason with WHAT team 25 man roster post, I found lots of pictures of well known players looking strange in different uniforms. Elston Howard as a Red Sox? Dizzy Dean as a Cub? Dwight Gooden with the Indians?
But none of those pictures are as strange as these three Yankee legends who wore the uniforms as a coach for different clubs.
They all look absurd. Which one is the strangest?
BABE RUTH – Coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Ruth never got a shot to manage a team. The closest he ever got was being the first base coach for the 1938 Dodgers under manager Leo Durocher.
It was a match made in hell as Ruth felt he was the superior talent to Durocher (was there any argument there?) and HE deserved to manage the team.
Durocher felt that Ruth’s head wasn’t in the game and Ruth wound up leaving.
Yes, it is crazy seeing Ruth as a Dodger. But the fact that it is a black and white picture from another era makes it less anachronistic than the next two pictures. And besides, Ruth wound up playing for the Braves at the end of his career, so the idea of him wearing a strange uniform is not so foreign.
JOE DiMAGGIO – Coach for the Oakland A’s
OK, this is a little absurd.
DiMaggio played in a preexpansion, pre franchise moving, black and white TV era. The A’s were in Philadelphia when he retired after the 1951 World Series.
Now here he is, skipping over the Kansas City move and landing in Oakland? And unlike Ruth who played for three different teams, DiMaggio was a Yankee only icon. He took the baton from Gehrig and became the superstar of style and grace in Yankee pinstripes.
And here he is in the bright green Oakland unis for the 1968 and 1969 seasons? This was AFTER Simon and Garfunkel sang “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?” Well, I hope the nations lonely eyes turned to the East Bay.
But DiMaggio was a product of the Bay Area. And Charlie O. Finley wanted to bring some prestige to the A’s when they arrived in Oakland. So Joe D was offered a coaching job and an executive position. And he did get to mentor a certain young slugger named Reggie Jackson.
It didn’t last long and soon Joe’s main profession became selling Mr. Coffee and throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium.
(He probably became richer doing those two things than playing baseball.)
YOGI BERRA – Coach for the Houston Astros
This is so surreal that it almost looks like a Photoshopped picture.
It sounds like a scenario from a dream. “I had a dream that Yogi Berra was a coach… but he was in a Houston Astros uniform, back when they had the orange stripes across the belly.”
I actually remember Yogi as the Astros coach. During the 1986 NLCS, I remember him in the Houston dugout and patting Billy Hatcher on the back when he hit his game tying, series extending home run in Game 6.
And even with that memory this STILL looks absurd.
Yogi has no connection to the Astros!
He is a St. Louis native so maybe the Cardinals would have made sense… but the ASTROS?
A player who so represented a traditional romantic time of baseball played for the very team whose legacy was the modern and the new era. Yogi, the hero who played in the post war Yankee dynasty, was calling a dome with fake grass and garish orange uniforms for an expansion team.
I am trying to think of some metaphor to explain how absurd that is… but I can’t think of one better than Yogi Berra in a Houston Astros uniform!
He had two bitter divorces from the Yankees. One after the 1964 World Series when he was fired as the manager and replaced by former Cardinals manager Johnny Keane. Yogi found refuge with his mentor Casey Stengel and became a Mets coach and eventually a manager.
Then in 1985 when Steinbrenner fired Yogi as the Yankees manager in 1985. He joined the Houston coaching staff and never embraced the Yankees again until DiMaggio passed away in 1999.
Maybe Joe D left him a message. “Don’t have the last uniform you wear be that ridiculous orange Astros uniform.”