Well, I did kind of expect this to move along at a faster pace, but then I had to go and do something over the weekend; the lead-up to and the aftermath of which have definitely been one of the most interesting parts of my life to say the least, but then here we are well into March and spring training talking about 1994 >;)
I suppose that is appropriate enough; after all, 1994 is when things got really interesting for the Yanks. The clubhouse demons were being scrubbed away little-by-little, replaced with a mix of developing young stars and aged grit. Stick was fitting pieces of the puzzle to a potential 100-plus game winning team that was practically steamrolling the competition. Jimmy Key, the certified ace of the staff, was on pace to win 24 games. Paul O’Neill was also realizing the potential that Stick saw in him, batting a league-leading .359. They had the best record in the AL, and second best in all baseball. Fans, casual and razed alike, were prepping to see New York favorite Donnie Baseball in his very first post-season series of his storied career.
Baseball came to a complete standstill with the players’ strike. Gone were the post-season aspirations for Mattingly and the Yanks. Gone was the trust and interest in baseball in general; the local teams having scuffled in the early 90s. Gone was a chance to join their brethren NY pros in basketball and hockey to host championship series in the same year, with the Rangers finally getting the Stanley Cup after years of struggles and almost-there’s, while the Knicks were a couple of missed foul calls and a Starks-raving mad hoist-a-thon from winning a long-awaited championship of the own. To the fans, particularly in NY, the players betrayed their trust and their dreams, leaving them with a series of “what-ifs”. Baseball; emotionally at least, was over…
- Opening Day Starters: underline
- Also Played: #
- Regulars On Roster: blank
- Renowned From Other Teams: bold
- Unheralded Rookie/Prospect: *
- Unheralded Vet: italics
- Rookie Season (became regulars): ~
1994 New York Yankees Roster
- 25 Jim Abbott
- 54 Joe Ausanio*
- 35 Paul Gibson
- 34 Greg Harris
- 31 Xavier Hernandez#
- 41 Sterling Hitchcock
- 57 Steve Howe
- 52 Mark Hutton
- 28 Scott Kamieniecki
- 22 Jimmy Key
- 46 Terry Mulholland
- 34 Rob Murphy
- 19 Bob Ojeda
- 39 Donn Pall
- 33 Mélido Pérez
- 54 Jeff Reardon
- 27 Bob Wickman#
- 13 Jim Leyritz
- 43 Bob Melvin
- 38 Matt Nokes
- 20 Mike Stanley
- 12 Wade Boggs
- 24 Russ Davis~
- 50 Robert Eenhoorn*
- 19 Kevin Elster
- 2 Mike Gallego
- 14 Pat Kelly
- 23 Don Mattingly
- 47 Dave Silvestri
- 18 Randy Velarde
- 26 Daryl Boston
- 21 Paul O’Neill
- 17 Luis Polonia
- 45 Danny Tartabull
- 51 Bernie Williams
- 29 Gerald Williams
Ah, there are quite a few names that stand out; Xavier Hernandez, who posted great numbers with Houston in the previous three seasons, but was demoted to middle reliever during his lone season with the Yanks; Terry Mulholland, who was the definition of a journeyman pitcher during his 11-team odyssey through the major leagues (and connoisseur of the pick-off move); Bobby Ojeda, one of the many anti-heroes of the 1986 Champion Mets, who the year before survived a tragic boating accident that claimed the lives of two of his teammates on the Cleveland Indians; Jeff Reardon, who had claimed the title of All-Time saves leader against the Yanks in 1992, up-and-coming rookie 3B Russ Davis; Kevin Elster (another survivor of the 86 Mets team, who was recently out of baseball after a second shoulder surgery and contemplating retirement); Daryl Boston, the former White Sox and Mets (post-championship) outfielder who seemed to always bedevil the Yanks in particular throughout the 80s, and the return of Luis Polonia from NY baseball pariah status, likely due to his solid ability to get on base. Future MLB manager Bob Melvin also made a cameo appearance on the roster. Of all of those players, Davis, Elster and Polonia would make it to 1995, though none of them would reach the end of that season. Polonia, in fact, is the only new player on the 1994 team who would actually experience a championship with the Yanks after a late-season trade in 2000.
Might I bring your attention to the rookie shortstop, Robert Eenhoorn. Who? Really dyed-in-blue-and-pinstripes Yankee fans would know Mr. Eenhoorn; the Dutch-born infielder was a phenom playing in the highest league of professional baseball in the Netherlands at age 16. Six years later, the Yanks drafted him out of Davidson College in North Carolina and began in 1990 by tearing up the NY-Penn League on his way to being named the top prospect in the league. His next few seasons however, were up-and-down; batting well over .300 across two Class-A teams, but struggling in AA, after which he lost his blue-chipper status. However, he would advance to Triple-A for 1994 and was a late-season call-up that year before the strike ended the season prematurely. The next season; his last with the Yankees, Eenhoorn would become the answer to the trivia question favorite, “who was the last starter at shortstop before Derek Jeter?”
For what it’s worth, however, he was a good player in his heyday, and he went on to manage and serve as technical advisor (general manager) with several Dutch national teams, including the one that won the 2011 World Baseball Cup, earning him knighthood. So, he’s more than just a footnote in Yankee lore >;)
- November 27, 1993: Andy Stankiewicz and Domingo Jean were traded by the Yankees to the Houston Astros for Xavier Hernandez.
- December 9, 1993: Spike Owen was traded by the New York Yankees with cash to the California Angels for Jose Musset (minors).
- December 20, 1993:Luis Polonia was signed as a free agent by the Yankees.
- December 22, 1993:Sam Horn was signed as a free agent by the Yankees.
- January 28, 1994:Bob Ojeda signed as a free agent by the Yankees.
- February 9, 1994:Bobby Muñoz, Ryan Karp, and Kevin Jordan were traded by the Yankees to the Philadelphia Phillies for Terry Mulholland and a player to be named later. The Phillies completed the deal by sending Jeff Patterson to the New York Yankees on November 8.
- February 15, 1994:Jeff Reardon was signed as a free agent by the Yankees.
- March 21, 1994:Paul Assenmacher was traded by the Yankees to the Chicago White Sox for Brian Boehringer.
- March 29, 1994:Kevin Maas was released by the Yankees.
- May 1, 1994: Kevin Elster was signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees.
- May 5, 1994: Bob Ojeda was released by the New York Yankees.
- May 6, 1994: Jeff Reardon was released by the New York Yankees.
- June 23, 1994: Sam Horn was released by the New York Yankees.
- July 3, 1994: Greg A. Harris was signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees.
- July 13, 1994: Greg A. Harris was released by the New York Yankees.
Good-bye, Stankie, goodbye Domingo Jean. Goodbye Spike Owen, hello… Sam Horn??? Yeah, that happened. Kevin Maas was released by the Yanks during the offseason, but he would return on a minors contract in 1995 before signing with Minnesota for a little while , then Korea and then across three different organizations in their minors before calling it a career. Reardon and Ojeda were signed as free agents, but were released in early May. Assenmacher gave way to Brian Boehringer from the White Sox. And Greg A. Harris, the switch-pitcher of the Yanks before there was a Pat Vindette, only stuck around for less than two weeks before he was summarily dismissed. Thus was the increasingly micromanaging angst of Buck Showalter, who managed to bring the team to the brink of glory that had been missing since 1981, only for the rug to be pulled out from under him, the Yankees, all of baseball and most importantly, the fans. With all the controversies, ineptitude and general infighting in the sport, it seemed at that point we’d all had enough…
…although if there was one good thing to say about it, it’s that Michael Jordan was forced to realize he was not a top-notch baseball player, so he went back to what he knew… three-peats!