#TBT: Bernie, Posada homer from both sides of plate
The year 2000 was a big one for the New York Yankees.
They survived a 3-15 season-ending slump to finish first in the American League East with an 87-74 record. They beat Oakland in the AL Division Series, then Seattle in the AL Championship Series, then the New York Mets in a five-game Subway Series to take their 26th World Series title.
With all of that fanfare, it's easy to forget a big first by sluggers Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada at the start of the season. On April 23, 2000, the pair became the first switch-hitting teammates in baseball history to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game.
When one switch-hitter homers from both sides of the plate in the same game, he becomes a member of a club that is already exclusive, with fewer than 100 members. On that April afternoon 15 years ago, 20,485 fans at the Skydome in Toronto saw Williams and Posada establish their own elite club.
The 10-7 Yankees victory saw eight total home runs. Yanks right-hander Orlando Hernandez gave up four of his own that day. Williams and Posada, hitting fourth and sixth in the lineup, each homered in their first at-bat, left-handed, off Blue Jays righty Frank Castillo. Williams' shot to left-center field came in the top of the first inning with Derek Jeter on third base. Posada hit his to right-center to lead off the second.
"Eventually, the Blue Jays went to the bullpen for relief and brought in left-hander Clayton Andrews," recalls Ken Singleton, who covered the game for MSG Network. "That's when Bernie and Jorge really went on the offensive."
Both Williams and Posada connected for home runs while batting right-handed against Andrews in the fourth inning, first Williams with a three-run shot and then Posada with a two-run blast to fuel a seven-run inning.
The two were definitely pushing each other. As Williams crossed home plate, he got a congratulatory slap on the helmet from Jeter. As he trotted past the on-deck circle where his pal Jorge was loosening up, Williams playfully challenged Posada to follow suit.
"After he came back to the dugout, he said, 'Me, too!'" Williams -- who is officially retiring on Friday -- said at the time. "It really hasn't sunk in yet, but it's one of those things that you look back on when you retire and say, 'Man, guys have been playing this game for a long time and that's the first time that's happened.' It's certainly something to look back on and be proud of."
Rick Cerrone was the Yankees' director of public relations at the time.
"In 2000, we were not in the Internet age as we are now, and I remember scurrying to find out if and when this had previously happened," Cerrone recalls. "The first thing I did was go to the media guide, where we had information in the back about switch-hitting home runs, and that's what told me it had never happened in a game for the Yankees. To confirm that it had never happened in baseball, I made that trusty call to the Elias Sports Bureau. When all else fails, call Elias. And in 2000, I used a land line to do it."
Nine years later, Arizona Diamondbacks switch-hitters Tony Clark and Felipe Lopez duplicated the feat on Opening Day in 2009.
While plenty of teams have boasted a pair of power-hitting switch-hitters at different times in history, the Yanks have been more blessed than most.
One of the most notable power-hitting, switch-hitting duos -- Mickey Mantle and Tom Tresh -- also wore pinstripes. Mantle homered from both sides of the plate in one game 10 times in his career. Tresh did it three times. But the closest they came to each homering from both sides of the plate in the same game was a month apart in the summer of 1964.
In 2009, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira each homered on their own from both sides of the plate in the same game, on April 22, April 29 and May 4, respectively. Teixeira and Swisher did it again on their own in 2012, one week apart on April 21 and 28.
They're all in good company, but only Posada, Williams, Clark and Lopez make up that most elite club. And Posada and Williams did it en route to something greater.
"After we made history, we said, 'Let's get a ring,'" Posada said.
Everyone knows how that turned out.