Sunday, February 11, 2007

rip... Hank Bauer

Former Yankees great Hank Bauer passed away today.

Bauer helped win seven World Series titles during 12 seasons with the Yankees. He also was a decorated combat Marine during World War II.

The team issued several statements:

George Steinbrenner: “Hank Bauer is an emblem of a generation that helped shape the landscape of our country. He was a natural leader and a teammate in every sense of the word, and his contributions went well beyond the baseball field. His service to the Yankees, his country, and his family shows why I have been so privileged to call him a friend.”

Yogi Berra: “I am truly heartbroken. Hank was a wonderful teammate and friend for so long. Nobody was more dedicated and proud to be a Yankee, he gave you everything he had.”

Along with his accomplishments on the field, Bauer was involved in one of the legendary off-field stories.

In 1957, he went to the Copacabana night club in Manhattan with Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Johnny Kucks. Some other patrons started to heckle Sammy Davis Jr. and a scrap broke out.

Bauer reportedly broke the nose of one Edwin Jones but was never charged.The fight led the Yankees to trade Martin, who they thought was a bad influence on Mantle. The players involved were fined $1,000, which was a fortune in those days.

Bauer never admitted to throwing the punch. But I remember once at an Old Timers Day he was asked about it and he said, “I can’t remember exactly what happened but it was a hell of punch!”