New Guys From New York*
*Excludes all players named Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, or Mariano Rivera (different post)
This first half of this post was actually the really easy part of this of writing about the baseball card impact of the late 90s/early 2000s New York Yankees. In my opinion, this team was probably the team that I have watched during my lifetime. They were a complete team in every sense of the word. The first half of my post featured a few of the really important core players who appeared on the 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 World Championships teams. Tonight, I want to get into some of the other players who appeared for brief moments on the team's journey to their four World Series rings.
One of the big misconceptions about this team was the fact that they were "bought" high end teams. Yes, there were high end expensive players on the teams, but some of the money that the team spent in assembling their rosters was put into providing a strong group of veterans. I remember a lot of the players who popped up on these teams, but I am always surprised to find someone I forgot about every time I go and scan over the roster on Baseball Reference. A lot of names you recognize as a baseball fan, who gave their final productive season/seasons for a shot at a ring and were rewarded for checking their star at the door and accepting a job as a role player. Let me walk you through a brief list of some of my favorites. Again, some of these are Hall of Famers, others are not.
1987 Topps Glossy Send-In Tim Raines
Tim Raines appeared on the 1996 and 1998 World Championship teams and signed with the Yankees after playing fifteen years on the Expos and White Sox. In my opinion, Raines is a Hall of Fame player and it's not even really worth arguing too much about. The JAWS rating system puts Raines as the 8th best left-fielder of all-time ahead of Billy Williams, Ralph Kiner, and Manny Ramirez. Raines was a role player for the Yankees never appearing in more than 109 games in a season with between 200-300 at-bats in a season. While being a role player Raines did what Raines did as a starter: got on base often. He posted an almost .400 OBP for the Bronx Bombers during his three seasons.
I have had other Raines cards on my blog and am a big fan of his cards. Tremedously undervalued on the field and off the field. Collectors can find autographs of the retired great for less than $10. Relics cards and copies of his 1981 rookie cards are easy to find for less than $5. Raines cards are a steal. Buy them, any of them.
1991 Score Mike Mussina RC
The Moose was a front line pitcher for years in Baltimore, but gave up his spot as the Orioles top starter to fill a role as a middle of the rotation guy on the Yankees. Mussina signed with the Yankees at the end of their World Series run in 2001 when they lost to the Diamndbacks. He actually has no World Series rings with the Yankees, but in my opinion, he still fits in with this era of players. Mussina pitched eight seasons in Baltimore and won more than 15 games five times while posting four seasons with an ERA+ over 125. His only 20 win season was actually his final season in 2008. I am on the fence about Mussina being in the Hall of Fame, but probably give him the nod. JAWS ranks him ahead of peers such as Glavine and Roy Halladay, but also in front of Hall of Famers such as Bob Feller and Jim Palmer.
Mussina is a pretty inexpensive find on cardboard. His rookie cards are early 90s junk wax and will cost you $1 to $5. Autographs are not too difficult to find and are reasonable in price. Always liked the Moose and there are plenty of cool cards floating around of him.
1987 Topps Traded David Cone
David Cone was a front line starter on the 1996 and 1998 World Series teams. He was also on the 2000 team, but the Yankees seemed to win in spite of Cone that season and not because of him. Cone had actually spent the first half of his career with the Mets, Royals, and Blue Jays helping the Jays to a World Series in 1992 and winning a Cy Young Award with the Royals. Cone went 6-1 for the Yankees in the postseason and always seemed to pitch well for the team when the playoffs rolled around. Not a Hall of Famer, but a really good player nevertheless.
Cone's cardboard is somewhere around Mussina's. Rookie cards are cheap and plentiful. Autographs will run you a few bucks, but they're out there and can found for a good price. Cone has been a pretty good signer towards the end of his career and during his retirement.
1983 Topps Wade Boggs
I always thought it was odd watching Boggs play for the Yankees, but the long-time Red Sox third baseman made the jump to the Bronx Bombers in 1993. He helped the team to the World Series in 1996 and then left the team to play for his hometown Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Boggs hit .311 in 1996, but had a slugging percentage under .400 and only had an OPS+ of 98. He still made some key contributions to the team and was a productive hitter during the 1996 playoffs. Boggs is already in the Hall of Fame and the ring he won with the 1996 Yankees seemed to be the icing on the cake to his career. He was still short of 3000 hits, but picked up that milestone a few seasons later.
Boggs has a good following in the hobby and his rookie card is one of the better early 80s RCs to chase down. Boggs has signed a bunch over the years, but his autographs are not always cheap. I would put him somewhere as a mid-range priced signature, but if he's a Red Sox, it always seems to be worth a little bit more.