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Let's remember the best appearances by Major Leaguers at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Thanksgiving dinner is wonderful, and spending time with family is a gift -- but we all know the real superstar of Thanksgiving is the parade down Fifth Avenue. Every year, balloons, floats and bands kick off the holiday with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade always features an eclectic group of participants from television stars to musical groups to ... baseball players.

Let's take a look back at some of the most memorable appearances by Major Leaguers in the parade.

1961 "Meet the Mets" featuring manager Casey Stengel

On Thanksgiving 1961, New York was a town with just one Major League team, but that was about to change with an expansion team called the New York Mets joining the National League the following spring. In order to introduce New Yorkers to their new team, future Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel led a Meet the Mets float in the parade.

Stengel

1969 Miracle Mets

Eight years after the parade crowd met the Mets, they welcomed them back as World Series champions. After a miracle season culminating in a World Series victory over the Orioles, outfielder Ron Swoboda and relief pitchers Tug McGraw and Ron Taylor celebrated with a Thanksgiving Day Parade victory lap.

MiracleMets

1981 Dave Winfield's crooning

It's amazing that baseball players continued to attend the parade after the 1981 performance by then-Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield. His rendition of Rodgers and Hart's "Manhattan" set the bar impossibly high for any baseball players following in his footsteps. I cannot recommend highly enough that you click over to Winfield's YouTube page to watch the full performance.

Winfield

1996 World Series champion Yankees

An 18-year championship drought may not be as dramatic as a 108-year drought, but when the 1996 Yankees won the franchise's first World Series since 1978, it was worth a hearty celebration. Here are some of the 1996 Yankees, including a 22-year-old Derek Jeter, parading down the streets of Manhattan:

1996Yankees

2011 Joba Chamberlain rode the Oneida Indian Nation float

Back when Joba Chamberlain was a member of the Yankees, he headlined a float hosted by the Oneida Indian Nation. Chamberlain is one of the few active Major League players with Native American heritage.

Joba

Only time will tell which Major Leaguer will be the next to dance and/or wave atop a float in Herald Square.