Yanks to celebrate '96 champs in grand fashion
Festivities to honor 20th anniversary of World Series win include Saturday's reunion ceremony
NEW YORK -- The Yankees have revealed a star-studded guest list for the 20th-anniversary celebration of the 1996 World Series championship team, which will include a reunion ceremony on the field at Yankee Stadium prior to Saturday's 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Rays.
Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill, David Cone, Wade Boggs, Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and manager Joe Torre are among the luminaries from that squad -- the 23rd World Series winner in franchise history -- expected to be in attendance.
The celebration began on Friday, as the first 15,000 guests in attendance for that night's game against the Rays received a 1996 World Series replica trophy, presented by Delta Air Lines. On Sunday, the Yankees will host Mariano Rivera's Monument Park plaque-dedication ceremony, with many notable Yanks alumni and special guests on hand to honor the Major Leagues' all-time saves leader.
The full list of attendees for Saturday's reunion is as follows:
Brian Boehringer, Boggs, Jose Cardenal, Tony Cloninger, Cone, Mariano Duncan, Cecil Fielder, Andy Fox, Joe Girardi, Gooden, Charlie Hayes, Matt Howard, Jeter, Pat Kelly, Jimmy Key, Jim Leyritz, Graeme Lloyd, Martinez, Ramiro Mendoza, Gene Monahan, Jeff Nelson, O'Neill, Dave Pavlas, Pettitte, Posada, Tim Raines, Willie Randolph, Rivera, Strawberry, Torre, John Wetteland, Williams.
At the Yankees' recent Old-Timers' Day, Williams said that the camaraderie of 1996 set that year apart from the Yanks teams he had played on previously.
"The chemistry was great; it was awesome," Williams said. "Joe Torre was the perfect guy for the job. He was the one that would take all of the distractions away from us. As long as we played the game hard, be on time and played the game the right way, he would go through the wall for us. That really allowed us to play our game with no added pressure from what it is, one of the hardest places to play, New York City."
Hayes said that he is reminded every day about his catch that ended the World Series, when he ranged near the seats in foul territory near third base at the old Yankee Stadium to secure a popup by the Braves' Mark Lemke. He believes that the title continues to mean so much to Yankees fans not just because it was their first since 1978, but because it kicked off the fun to come.
"I thought by now people would have forgotten about it, but I guess it was a very significant moment in Yankees history and I'm glad to actually be part of it," Hayes said. "I think I've had over four million people tell me they were at the game, so it's kind of unique. I just sort of roll with it."
Wetteland, the Most Valuable Player of that World Series, said that the '96 season was among the most emotional of his career.
"There were so many moments within that World Series," said Wetteland, who recorded the save in all four victories. '[Jim] Leyritz's home run. Andy Pettitte's gem that he threw [in Game 5] after [losing] Game 1. Wade Boggs drawing the walk off of [Steve] Avery, and how Joe had him as the last guy on the bench. I've always said, I think Joe Torre won that World Series because he just flat outmanaged Bobby Cox. Joe always seemed to have the matchup at any part of the game that he wanted. His spirit was always so cool and collected. I think that rubbed off on all of us."
Fans are asked to be in their seats by noon ET to enjoy the introductions and subsequent ceremonies prior to the regularly scheduled Saturday and Sunday games, which will air exclusively on YES Network. On both dates, Stadium gates will open to ticket-holding fans at 11 a.m.
The celebration concludes on Aug. 28 against the Orioles, with 1996 World Series Champions Fan Ring Day presented by Betteridge Jewelers for the first 18,000 guests 14 and younger.