By Sweeny Murti
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Gene Monahan is a name most Yankee fans have heard. But they probably don’t understand the impact this man has had over the years.

Monahan has long been considered the one of the finest athletic trainers in baseball, and it’s a job he’s held since 1973. Think about that for a second—George Steinbrenner used to fire managers and pitching coaches and public relations people and elevator operators and, well… almost any level of employee that didn’t meet a certain standard, real or ridiculous.

It was always The Boss’ way…when pitchers don’t pitch well, fire the pitching coach; when hitters don’t hit well, fire the hitting coach. When players get hurt… well, fire the trainer never entered the equation, although I’m sure Monahan has some stories about times Steinbrenner “fired” him, only to change his mind.

And a wise move the reversal always was because not only is “Geno” at the top of his profession, but he is also one of the truest gentlemen in the game. A career that began as a batboy in Fort Lauderdale in 1962 will end with 39 years as Head Trainer for the most famous franchise in all of sports.

Monahan left the Yankees briefly in 2009 to battle an illness, but was back in time for Opening Day in 2010 to receive his 7th World Series ring.

You can hear the emotion in Monahan’s voice as he made the announcement Wednesday afternoon that he will retire after the 2011 season:

The dog that Monahan wants to get? A retriever he will name Schrader, after NASCAR driver Ken Schrader (Monahan quite regularly whistles through the clubhouse, providing an update on the week’s big race).

He has treated the sore arms and legs of pretty much every player to wear a Yankee uniform since 1973, so you’d think he would develop a fondness for some of those players. While Monahan was reluctant to single out many, he did mention a few by name, including the late Bobby Murcer:

If you had time to hear all of Monahan’s stories from almost 40 years on the job, you would be sitting there an awfully long time, but entertained no doubt. Here’s one he told Wednesday about walking into his first big league clubhouse in 1973:

The Yankees have always been about the players, and that’s the way a man as humble as Monahan would want it. But there are many wonderful people behind the scenes who deserve a hand once in a while. This one is for Geno, a true gentleman and a true Yankee.

Sweeny Murti

Your thoughts on Monahan’s retirement? Let Sweeny know in the comments below…

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