If the term ”legacy player” had existed in the 1960′s, Eddie Mathews would have qualified. Mathews played 3rd base for the Braves, not just the Atlanta Braves, but the Milwaukee Braves, and the Boston Braves. Mathews is the only man to play for the team in the the three cities the Braves called home. In 1966, Mathews hit 16 homers and drove in 53 runs with an OBP of .341. . Did I mention Mathews finished the 1966 season with 493 career homers. At that point in time only Ruth (714), Mays (542), Foxx (534), Ted Williams (521) and Ott (511) had over 500 homers. Mathews at 493 was racing Mickey Mantle at 496 to see who would be the next to break the 500 career home run mark. On December 31, 1966, Mathews the all time Braves 3rd basemen, the only player to have played for the team in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta, 7 home runs from 500 was traded along with two others to Houston for a pitcher named Bob Bruce (3-13 ERA 5.34) and Dave Nicholson (10 homers 31 RBI and 92 strike outs with a .246 average). In 1967 Bruce was 2-3 for the Braves in 12 appearances, and Nicholson played in 10 games driving in 1 run in what would be the final major league season for both. Mathews went on to the Hall of Fame, and his number (41) is retired by the Braves. Anyone who remembers Mathews will always think of him as a Brave.
I thought of Mathews as I was mulling over the Jeter situation. Things have sure changed for legacy players. As much as I would love to see Jeter get hit number 3,000 in a Yankee uniform it just may not happen. If $45 million over three years won’t get this thing done then I say wish him the best and prepare to move on. When old timers day 2021 rolls around, and number 2 exits the dugout, the stadium will rock and all this will be long forgotten.
The Yankees need to plan for 2011, either Jeter recognizes his marketplace reality and signs, or the Yankees start looking in a different direction. This needs to get done in the next few weeks.