Ever since the New York Yankees transitioned from being the New York Highlanders back in 1913, the franchise has established a reputation for being perennial winners (27 World Series championships and counting) and as a team known for class and high standards. That said, Robert Dominguez and David Hinckley, both with longtime connections to The Daily News, shone a light on the dark side of Bronx Bombers history via Bronx Bummers: The Unofficial History of the New York Yankees’ Bad Boys, Blunders and Brawls.
Through 50 bite-size chapters, the duo unveil some of the seedier episodes in Yankees history that go beyond Babe Ruth’s off-field peccadilloes, the constant battles between elite catchers Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk in the 1970s or how former starter “Black” Jack McDowell flipped off fans after getting bombed by the White Sox during a July 1995 home game.
Lifelong Yankees fan Dominguez shares the five most intriguing moments he came across while putting this book together with Hinckley that both haters and die-hard fans of the team will get a kick out of.
“We talk about what a larger-than-life, obnoxious character George Steinbrenner was. But there were the very first owners—like “Big Bill” Devery, who was the most corrupt police chief in New York City history. And his partner [Frank J. Farrell] was owner of a multitude of gambling halls and bookie joints. It’s funny how in that era, that was so rampant and open.”
“Battle Of The Biltmore”
“Larry MacPhail was a co-owner of the Yankees along with Del Webb and Dan Topping in the mid-to late 1940s. At the Yankees 1947 championship victory party at the Biltmore, MacPhail announced his retirement. By that time, he was several sheets to the wind and in addition to firing farm director George Weiss in front of his wife and supposedly taking a swing at him, your owner punched everybody at the party including Topping and a reporter who had been a former aide of MacPhail during his days as a National League executive.”
Donnie [Doesn’t] Get A Haircut
“[Don Mattingly had a] mullet, and he was one of the players ordered to cut his hair. He took a stand, demanded a trade and went up against Gene Michael, back then, who was the GM. Mattingly pretty much threw a hissy-fit as the young star at the time, and he refused to get a haircut.”
Dale And Don
“[Don Mattingly] and Dale Berra got caught urinating in public in the same place on separate days by the same security guard. They successfully kept Mattingly out of the news, but once Berra got caught and reporters started sniffing around, it turned out that Mattingly had been arrested too. That was hilarious and kind of a lot of fun remembering that again.”
Playing What If With The 1980s Yankees
“In the book’s final chapter, I take a different approach on the Mattingly years, 1982 to 1996. They could have been a lot better had they kept [certain players]. Rick Dempsey, who played 24 years, was a great catcher. Little moves like this in addition to keeping Jay Buhner.
Fred McGriff, who if you had Mattingly, McGriff could have played DH or a little outfield. Would you have rather had Rickey Henderson or Jose Rijo in his prime? Doing that research and playing the what-if game. Being a Yankees fan, every generation had its great teams and players. Maybe not fair to the rest of baseball, but when you’re a Yankees fan, you don’t care. Things could have been a little bit different.”