Editor’s Note: As part of WFAN’s 30th anniversary celebration, from April 3-14, we asked you to vote on your favorite local teams over the past 30 years. Over the course of two weeks, we are revealing the top-10 vote getters. To see the others, click here.
NEW YORK (WFAN) — Led by “Clueless Joe,” the Yankees ended up being a lot smarter than everyone else in 1996.
Following his team’s elimination in the first round of the playoffs the season before, owner George Steinbrenner pushed Buck Showalter into a corner. The Boss offered the reigning AL Manager of the Year a new two-year contract, but demanded he fire his hitting coach, Rick Down. Showalter refused and resigned.
Enter Joe Torre, the baseball lifer who’d never been to a World Series as a player and had just three games of postseason experience as a manager, despite guiding three different teams over 15 seasons.
The New York media had a field day.
But Torre didn’t pay that any mind. Thanks to the astute work over the years by several people within the organization, the Bombers had a fine mix of veterans and younger players to start the 1996 season.
The Yankees went on to finish 92-70, winning the AL East by four games, their first division title since 1981. They then knocked off the Texas Rangers in four games in the Division Series before taking out the Baltimore Orioles in five games in the ALCS.
New York went on to capture its first World Series crown since 1978 with a six-game win over the defending champion Atlanta Braves. The Yankees dropped games 1 and 2 in the Bronx in convincing fashion, but rebounded to win the next three in Atlanta.
World Series MVP John Wetteland closed Game 6 at Yankees Stadium, and not long after, veteran third baseman Wade Boggs jumped on an NYPD horse. The rest, as they say, is history.