Yankees showcased in new book "Being There"Collection features 100 accounts of the top moments in history
That's made perfectly clear in Eric Mirlis' new book "Being There", which asks 100 well-known sports enthusiasts and sports media professionals to name the top five sporting events they have witnessed live.
Like the number of World Championships the club has, 26 different events involving the Yankees were listed in the book, with 42 overall references to those events.
"The Yankees just create those moments and those nights and those games maybe more than any other team in the United States," said Mirlis, the senior editor of CSTV.com. "The Yankees just have that affect on memories and legendary moments. We all know it's a mythical franchise. It's the most famous franchise in this country. Things just happen there, and things happen there that people never forget."
No one event was overwhelmingly mentioned more than another involving the Yankees, with no more than three people listing any one Yankees game, so the Bronx Bombers memories are well spread out.
Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS between the Yankees and Boston Red Sox was among the top five for FOX broadcasters Kenny Albert and Curt Menefee as well as sports statistician Marty Aronoff, while Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS between the same two teams was listed by FOX's Chris Myers and Ken Rosenthal as well as ESPN's Dave O'Brien.
"Over the last few years you look at the success of a team like the New York Yankees and that's going to lend itself to people wanting to talk about that," Mirlis said.
Mirlis, a native New Yorker with 16 years of experience in the sports industry -- starting with the New York Islanders and later the NBA -- got the idea for the book after talking with WFAN's Rick Ackerman.
Ackerman told Mirlis of a conversation in the Madison Square Garden media room involving Albert, New York Post columnist Steve Serby and veteran New York Times and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Dave Anderson. The trio was talking about the best moments they have covered over the years.
That gave birth to "Being There", published by The Lyons Press, as Mirlis spent about nine months compiling questionnaires sent out to members of the sports world. The only stipulation was they had to have witnessed the event in person -- not on television.
Many of the people in the book were at these events as part of their job. Others were more personal, such as New York Giants play-by play announcer Bob Papa, who recollected attending Game 3 of the 1978 ALCS between the Yankees and Royals at Yankee Stadium. Just a freshman in high school, Papa went to the game with his cousin and recalled in great detail Thurman Munson's two-run homer in the eighth to put the Yankees ahead for a 6-5 win. The Yankees clinched the pennant the next day.
There was also actor Stephen Collins, a native New Yorker and sports fan. He remembered a 1976 regular season game at Yankee Stadium against the then-California Angels.
Frank Tanana was pitching a two-hitter for the Halos and leading 8-0 entering the ninth, only the Yankees rallied to tie the game and send it into extra innings. The Bronx Bombers ended up losing the game 11-8 in 11 innings but Collins always remembered the crowd's reaction when Roy White hit the game-tying homer -- as if the Yankees had just won the World Series.
But as many times as the Yankees are mentioned, they aren't among the top three most mentioned events.
The New York Rangers winning the Stanley Cup in 1994 was listed the most -- with 13 references.
Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, specifically the ball going through Bill Bucker's legs was next with 11 mentions while seven different people included the Sept. 6, 1995 Angels-Orioles game at Camden yards as Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played.
Interestingly enough, of the 26 Yankees events mentioned, only 11 have come since 1996 when the Yankees started their most recent run of success, including four World Championships.
Mirlis attributes that to the fact that while the Yankees won so many of those regular season and postseason contests, few stick out because of the kind of individual moments that make a game special.
"It's as much about luck as anything else," Mirlis said. "You can create championships, but it's awfully tough to create moments. Things have to fall into place to create that moment that goes down in history."