Put your memory cap on and think back to the Yankees’ 2000 season. That Bronx Bomber team opened the year with plenty of punch in its line up but it finished it with lots more. On the last day of June, 2000 they picked up David Justice from the Indians. Three-and-a-half weeks later, they added Glenallen Hill and then on August 8th of that year, Jose Canseco became a Yankee. Justice would prove to be the biggest spark to New York’s drive to the 2000 postseason. In just 78 games, he hit 20 home runs, drove in 60 and averaged .305. Canseco did OK in his 37 games in pinstripes during which he contributed a half-dozen homers and 19 RBIs. But it was today’s birthday celebrant who was the most surprising of the three. In just 132 at bats, Hill belted 16 HRs. If he played a full season for New York and was able to maintain that pace, he’d have hit right around 64 dingers. He had already been in the big leagues for a decade by the time he joined the Yankees and the most home runs he had ever hit in a full season were the 24 he managed for the 1995 Giants.
A New York Times reporter interviewed the Santa Cruz, California native in September of that season and asked him where his suddenly prodigious power emanated from. Hill told the guy some story about how in 1997, while he was still with San Francisco he noticed during a game against St. Louis that Mark McGuire’s right hand was coming off the bat in the middle of his swing. Hill said he asked Big Mac about it and the slugger explained it gave him a better angle on his swing which resulted in more home runs. Hill claimed he had been trying to master that maneuver ever since and was finally getting it down just in time to help the Yankees win a pennant.
I don’t know how much truth there was to that explanation but I do know there is evidence that may indicate McGuire and Hill talked to each other about more than just there swings. Both players were later linked to PEDs and after Hill was out of the big leagues, he acknowledged using them. Canseco of course is the Godfather of Steroids and rumors of David Justice’s use of the juice have been circulating for years. In hindsight, if I had to render an opinion, I would have to say that at least some of the power surge this trio supplied my favorite baseball team’s offense during the second half of that 2000 season might just have been chemically enhanced. Hill turns 47 years old today. He shares his March 22nd birthday with this former Yankee pitcher turned pitching instructor, this Yankee hurler who met a tragic death and this one-time Yankee catcher.
|CHC (5 yrs)||331||993||908||154||276||37||3||59||167||25||81||216||.304||.360||.546||.906|
|SFG (3 yrs)||358||1388||1274||174||341||83||8||54||217||38||91||280||.268||.319||.473||.792|
|CLE (3 yrs)||205||725||665||72||160||26||3||28||88||20||47||153||.241||.293||.415||.708|
|TOR (3 yrs)||138||441||411||65||100||16||5||16||50||12||28||98||.243||.290||.423||.714|
|ANA (1 yr)||16||66||66||4||9||0||0||1||2||0||0||20||.136||.136||.182||.318|
|NYY (1 yr)||40||143||132||22||44||5||0||16||29||0||9||33||.333||.378||.735||1.112|
|SEA (1 yr)||74||277||259||37||75||20||2||12||33||1||14||45||.290||.332||.521||.853|
Most Yankee fans remember today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant as a former Yankee bullpen coach and minor league pitching instructor. He worked for the Yankees in one capacity or another from 1998 until 2008. But I remember Monteleone when he was a Yankee bullpen pitcher in the early nineties. In fact he was a pretty good right-hander for some pretty bad Yankee teams. The Yankees had got him and Claudell Washington from California right after the 1990 season started in exchange for Luis Polonia. Over the next four seasons he fashioned an 18-9 record in pinstripes pitching strictly in a relief role. He became a free agent after the 1994 campaign and signed with San Francisco.
He pitched three more years in the big leagues and one more in Japan before transitioning into coaching. He had one qualification that ideally suited him for a position as a coach in the Yankee organization. He was born and still lived in Tampa, otherwise known as the southern kingdom of George Steinbrenner. Monteleone soon would become a junior member of George’s Tampa based roundtable of baseball advisors.
Other Tampa natives who wore the pinstripes under the reign of King George included Lou Piniella, Dwight Gooden, Tino Martinez, Mike Heath, Fred McGriff, Sam Militello and Gary Sheffield.
|CAL (4 yrs)||3||5||.375||3.42||48||0||14||0||0||0||68.1||74||28||26||9||19||40||1.361|
|NYY (4 yrs)||17||9||.654||4.06||120||0||38||0||0||0||232.2||217||119||105||26||83||154||1.289|
|SFG (1 yr)||4||3||.571||3.18||39||0||8||0||0||0||45.1||43||18||16||6||13||16||1.235|
|SEA (1 yr)||0||0||6.43||3||0||1||0||0||0||7.0||10||5||5||2||4||2||2.000|