Via the AP -
Mickey Rivers is a fan favorite at Yankees’ fantasy camps and a team spring training instructor. Now “Mick the Quick” would like to work full-time as a minor league instructor.
“Definitely, I love working with kids,” Rivers said on Saturday. “I think that’s exciting. Show them something different. You want to try and put something together with the kids.”
Rivers works with both major and minor league outfielders during the spring, and also helps out with baserunning and bunting sessions.
“What they see here, they probably take it and use through the course of their life,” Rivers said. “It’s a good thing.”
A speedy center fielder in his playing days, Rivers helped the Yankees to three AL pennants and two World Series titles from 1976-78. In 29 postseason games, Rivers hit .308.
“What I remember most is the guys,” Rivers said. “The togetherness. They’re going to let you know when you do something wrong and let you know when you do something right. That was most important.”
Former teammates of Rivers, including Reggie Jackson, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron Guidry and Graig Nettles, are also instructors at spring training. Yogi Berra, part of 10 World Series winning teams as a Yankees’ player, is also in camp. Berra was also a coach from 1976-83.
“It was a remarkable group,” Rivers said. “These guys had what it takes to be a great championship team. You had Thurman Munson, he was one of the great catchers. You had Reggie. He was a big favorite of mine coming out of California. We put a lot of pressure on him when he got there, but he was the one who was supposed to take the pressure. To be the big guy, you had to take the pressure.”
Also in the forefront was Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who Rivers said demanded his players be “professional.”
“The Boss was great,” Rivers said. “He wanted to be special. That’s how he works. That’s how he runs his team. He wanted to be at the top.”
Seeing this, I decided to check Rivers’ website – which I haven’t done in a while – and was pleased to see it’s still up and running.
Mickey was an interesting Yankee. When he was a player, I saw him as a slasher who didn’t walk enough to bat at the top of the order. And, I’m not quite sure what was up with his baserunning in 1977?
But, did you know that Rivers finished in the “Top 25″ of the A.L. MVP voting in all of the three full seasons that he played with the Yankees? Yup – he was 3rd in 1976, 11th in 1977 and 25th in 1978. I wonder how many Yankees, who played with the team in three full seasons or more, finished in the “Top 25″ of the league MVP vote every year they were with the team? Not many – I would bet.
And, Mick the Quick was “money” in a big game. Just look at Game 5 of the 1976 ALCS – where he was on base four times. Or, look at Game 5 of the 1977 ALCS – where he got that huge single in the 9th inning to tie the game. And, remember, these were the days where “Game 5″ was “do or die.” Also, Rivers was on base three times, in four tries, with two steals, in the famous “play-in” game against the Red Sox on October 2, 1978 – again, coming through when it was sudden death. (Mick also gave Bucky Dent a magic bat in that contest.)
Sure, Mickey had an interesting way with the English language. And, he had issues where he was also looking for pay advances. Oh, yeah, there was that time when his wife was waiting for him in the Yankees players parking lot and then started ramming his car with the car she was driving – because Rivers hadn’t been home for a few days.
But, bottom line, Rivers was a winning player when it counted. And, as Paul Blair once said about those late 70′s Yankees: “[Rivers] and Thurman [Munson] were the keys to the whole team.” And, because of all this, I hope Mick The Quick gets that gig that he’s looking for…as I’m sure he has a lot to offer towards helping some up-and-comers in regards to getting the job done when the chips are on the line.