So, you're about to see Bronx Bombers, the new play celebrating the storied history of the New York Yankees, but there's only one problem: You know absolutely nothing about baseball. Don't worry, theater fans, we’ve got you covered! Read below for a crash course on the legendary players featured in the new show—and would it kill you to delete one of those Real Housewives reruns to make room for Yankees Classics on your DVR? Play ball!
Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra, #8
Played by Peter Scolari
Active Years: 1946-1963; Position: Catcher
Known as one of the greatest catchers of all time, this Hall of Famer's legendary career includes 10 World Series championships (kind of like 10 Tony Awards), the most of any player in baseball history. Berra is known for his witty Yogi-isms—turns of phrase like "It ain't over 'til it's over" and "I really didn't say everything I said." He got his nickname from a childhood friend, who thought he looked like a snake charmer, or "yogi" in an old movie.
George Herman "Babe" Ruth, #3
Played by C. J. Wilson
Yankee from 1920-1934; Postion: Outfielder/Pitcher
The Babe joined the Yankees direct from the rival Red Sox, a move that dramatically created “The Curse of The Bambino,” the supposed reason for the Red Sox’s inability to win a World Series Championship for over 80 years. Ruth set the bar as a power-hitter, knocking a record-setting 714 home runs in his career. Ruth made money fast and couldn't wait to run out every night and spend it—he was a notorious womanizer and smoked up to 12 cigars a day.
Lou Gehrig, #4
Played by John Wernke
Yankee from 1923-1939; Position: First Base
Nicknamed "The Iron Horse" for his incredible strength, Gehrig played 2,130 consecutive games for the Yankees, a record that stood until 1995. His durability and hitting skills earned him the title of Captain of the Yankees, with whom he celebrated six World Series championships. Gehrig retired from baseball at age 36 when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (now commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) in an iconic speech where he called himself “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
Joe DiMaggio, #5
Played by Chris Henry Coffey
Yankee from 1936-1951; Position: Center Fielder
As a Yankee, DiMaggio hit consecutively in 56 games, a record that still stands in 2014. Also known as "The Yankee Clipper," he was part of nine World Champion teams and won the AL MVP award three times. DiMaggio’s two brothers, Vince and Dom, were also Major League ballplayers. DiMaggio was briefly married to Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe and is namechecked in 12 popular songs, including Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson."
Billy Martin, #1
Played by Keith Nobbs
Yankee from 1950-1957 (player), 1975-1978, 1983, 1985, 1988 (manager); Position: Second Base
Though he enjoyed an 11-year career as a player, Martin is best known as a manager, a title he held with the Yankees on five separate occasions. Exacerbated by his drinking, Martin often came to blows with players and team owner George Steinbrenner over his management of the team. Regardless of his hot temper, Martin had a total of five World Series rings to show for his career.
Mickey Mantle, #7
Played by Bill Dawes
Yankee from 1951-1968; Position: Center Fielder
Best known for his hitting, “The Mick” worked around injuries and alcoholism to enjoy a Hall of Fame career, including winning the elusive Triple Crown Award (leading the league in batting average, runs batted in and homeruns) and being elected to a whopping 20 All-Star teams. He needed two hands to show off his seven World Series rings.
Elston Howard, #32
Played by Francois Battiste
Yankee from 1955-1967; Position: Catcher
Howard made history as the first African-American to play for the New York Yankees. His time with the Yanks led him to four World Series championships and 12 All-Star appearances. He’s credited with the creation of two integral aspects of baseball to this day: the batting doughnut (used to make a bat feel heavier while on deck) and using the pinky and index finger as a more visible way of indicating the number of outs.
Thurman Munson, #15
Played by Bill Dawes
Yankee from 1969-1979; Position: Catcher
Over the course of his 11-year career, Munson was on two World Champion teams, named to seven All-Star teams and awarded American League MVP and Rookie of the Year. Known as the heart and soul of the Yankees, he was the first player to be named Captain since Lou Gehrig. On a day off, Munson tragically died at the age of 32 when he crashed while piloting his private jet.
Reggie Jackson, #44
Played by Francois Battiste
Yankee from 1977-1981; Position: Right Field
Jackson was nicknamed Mr. October for his phenomenal batting during the post-season, including hitting three home runs in a single World Series game. The Yankees won two championships with Jackson at the helm and he achieved superstar status in New York—Clark Bar even named a candy bar (the Reggie!) after him. Though he left the team after five seasons, he later returned to work in the Yankees front office as a special advisor.
Derek Jeter, #2
Played by Christopher Jackson
Yankee from 1995-present; Position: Shortstop
Known as "The Captain," Jeter’s calm attitude and prodigious skills have kept him the leader and face of the Yankees since their new era was launched in 1996. In his time as a Yankee, Jeter has enjoyed five World Series championships and 13 All-Star appearances. Jeter is one of only 28 players in Major League Baseball history to achieve 3,000 hits, a milestone that he reached in 2011. His penchant for dating celebrities (Mariah Carey, Jessica Biel, Minka Kelly) has made him a tabloid mainstay.
See Bronx Bombers, opening February 6 at Circle in the Square Theatre.