ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Corporate Culture of the New York Yankees in the Postwar Dynasty

Updated on February 24, 2013
Source

“Don’t mess with my money.”

That’s what many a rookie Yankee heard from veteran ballplayers like All-Star outfielder Hank Bauer during the “dynasty” era.

It was less a threat and more of an attitude, the New York Yankee way, the team’s professional approach that set the club apart from others.

The phrase referred to the players’ share of the World Series money. Everyone on the team, including rookies and batboys, shared in the team’s winnings — the ultimate display of “team.”

For instance, twice in 1955, the Yankees briefly called Bobby Richardson up from the minors. He played with the team less than three weeks while Gil McDougald recovered from an injury. Then back down he went to the minors.

Three weeks later, Richardson got the call back to New York, after the Yankees had secured the pennant. Manager Casey Stengel played him in 11 games, spelling the veterans before the World Series. They went on to fall to the Brooklyn Dodgers, 4 games to 3.

For the simple fact he’d contributed in this small way to the team’s success, his major league teammates voted to reward Richardson with a one-third share of the World Series money. That $1,500 bonus was a lot of money in 1955, particularly for a small-town South Carolinian who worked at a gas station that off-season.

Hank Bauer
Hank Bauer

Attitude Is Everything

When guys like Bauer said it, they were setting the standard expected up and down the lineup and the bench: We’re here to play hard every day, put out our best effort every day, give it our all every game.

The phrase also applied when after-hours conduct might be jeopardizing on-field performance. Whitey Ford recalled, “He [Bauer] pinned me to the wall of the dugout one day and said, ‘Don’t mess with my money.’ ”

The veterans also “said” it without saying a word. They set an example by their top-tier effort, their consistent diligence, their commitment to the team’s success.

This attitude helps characterize the New York Yankee ethos of the era. It exemplifies the team’s “corporate culture.” It indicates a palpable professionalism that new team members, rookies just up from the minor leagues and veterans traded from other teams alike, picked up on almost immediately.

Every organization needs to establish standards, expectations, and a strong work ethic if it wants to succeed. There must be a shared vision, a shared attitude that permeates the organization.

It would seem inherent with a team. But too often, absent a clear example set at the top and leaders up and down the line who share and help instill this standard, self-interest can overtake what’s best for the whole.

The wrong attitude — in business, nonprofits, political organizations, and sports — can lead to internal politics and gamesmanship that undermine the group’s objectives. It puts people on edge, feeds distrust, and has those in the group constantly looking over their shoulders and second-guessing themselves. It breeds a lack of confidence and lowers morale.

The New York Yankees of the “dynasty” era in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s illustrate how a high standard of professionalism and teamwork can result in tremendous success. This club made the World Series some 15 times in the two decades after World War II — and won 10 of those championships.

Phil "The Scooter" Rizzuto
Phil "The Scooter" Rizzuto

The Yankee Way

What characterized the golden-era (well, one of the golden eras) New York Yankees, in terms of the team’s approach, attitude, and allegiance?

Veterans conveyed the level of performance expected. “The Yankees were, to a man, a fiercely competitive group,” Lew Paper observed in Perfect, “and they did not tolerate a teammate who seemed to be giving less than everything he had.”

Paper cited pitcher Eddie Lopat confronting rookie Mickey Mantle in the dugout in ’51. His brooding over a strikeout caused Mantle’s lapse in the field on a ball hit his direction. “You want to play?” Lopat said in no uncertain terms. “We don’t need guys like you. We want to win.”

“Don’t mess with my money” falls in this category. Tony Kubek put it this way:

“The Yankees had a philosophy that discipline doesn’t come from the top. We disciplined each other. The expression heard all the time, especially when a veteran was talking to a younger player, was, ‘Stop fooling around. You’re messing with my money.’ They were talking about World Series money, which we all needed badly.”

The Yankee attitude that Paper called “a detached professionalism” impressed young first baseman Joe Collins in 1949. The pennant race came down to two games against the Red Sox at the Stadium, with the Yankees trailing Boston by a game. “[E]verybody had the feeling on the ball club that we had gotten this far and it’s only a question of playing two games and winning them.”

New York took both games. Attitude is everything.

Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio’s introverted, silent form of leadership had demonstrable effect on his teammates. “Let’s go” from DiMag invigorated the Pinstripe Brigade as a longer pep talk by a lesser light could never do.

The veterans helped the youngsters perfect their skills (even though they could be the regulars’ replacements someday).

For example, at spring training in 1957, rookie Richardson trained with the parent club. The infield was a who’s who of great ballplayers: “The Scooter” Phil Rizzuto, Billy Martin, Andy Carey, Gil McDougald, Moose Skowron, and Jerry Coleman.

“But every one of those players gave me encouragement,” Richardson said. “Jerry Coleman, especially, spent hours with me, perfecting my pivot move, showing me how to charge slow rollers, and helping me eliminate my skip and jump in the double-play maneuver.”

The best trained the best. The lessons Jerry Coleman gave Bobby Richardson resulted in the next middle infield’s dominance. Richardson and Kubek would smoothly turn double plays, making it look as effortless and with as much perfection as Coleman and Rizzuto had done before them.

Coleman had come by this mentoring attitude honestly. “In the spring of ’49 we were just a bunch of guys,” he told Peter Golenbock in Dynasty. “And I remember that first year, one of the things about the Yankees that never existed on some clubs and is very hard to find is that the old players teach the young.”

Then there was the camaraderie that unified the team members. It stemmed from the club’s rich tradition, its well-known history, the pride that each person felt. It resulted in a selflessness that demonstrated the team was more important than personal glory.

“Yankees of that era didn’t care about batting averages,” relief pitcher Hector Lopez said. “They cared more about clutch hitting.”

In the stretch of the famous home run derby between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in 1961, Maris was closing in on Babe Ruth’s record, but he was running out of season. Yet, Maris laid down a bunt in a clutch squeeze play for the good of the team, rather than swinging for the fence.

Bud Daley joined the Yankees pitching staff, traded from the Kansas City Athletics in 1961 just before the trading deadline. Daley made fewer starts in N.Y. than he had in K.C., but in the last third of the season he pitched 35 consecutive innings without being scored on.

“There was a different attitude with the Yankees,” Daley recalled. “In Kansas City you pitched for yourself. In New York you pitched for the team.”

“They were always encouraging,” Carey said. His sacrifice grounder against the Indians, which advanced the runner to second, earned the hitter who was disappointed in himself enthusiastic congratulations from the veterans in the dugout. “They had their little cliques, but to a man, there was nothing like being a Yankee.”

Lopez attributed the unity to “Yankee spirit. We believed in the uniform, the tradition, and each other.”

Just being in the same place Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and other legends had occupied injected pride, tradition, and glory — and a sense of place.

“One of my greatest thrills was walking into the Yankee clubhouse for the first time,” Bill Stafford, a pitcher who came up through the Yankee farm system, said. “I saw all those stars standing around, then I looked at the name tags over their dressing stalls. Maris, Richardson, Kubek, Ford, Skowron, Boyer, Terry, Berra, and Mantle. I was a New York boy. They were all my idols. And then I saw the name tag over my locker. Bill Stafford. I couldn’t believe I was there.”


This corporate culture, based on team tradition and pride, fostered healthy competitiveness, accountability, and teamwork. Underlying the Yankees’ standard of professionalism was an esprit de corps that balanced competitiveness and unity. This exemplified the Bronx Bombers of the postwar dynasty. And, despite adversity that comes with baseball, this culture served the team well in that storied era.

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • lions44 profile image

    CJ Kelly 

    4 years ago from Auburn, WA

    Awesome article. Can't get enough Yankee lore. Sorry I missed this earlier. I had forgotten about Golenbock's book. Need to read it. What's even more fascinating is why that culture did not sustain the organization into the late 60s & 70s. I know a lot of that had to do with the CBS ownership group, etc. and not developing the black player as well. Voted up.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)