Tribute to The Legends of the Yankees by David O'Keefe
''I've always wanted to do a tribute to the New York Yankees, the winning-est franchise in sports. When you think of winning, you think of the Yankees.
The Yankees have so many great players and managers from a lot of different eras, so I concentrated on the ones most popular with fans and ranked highest by sports writers in lists of all-time greats.
I wanted Babe Ruth (the greatest baseball player who ever lived) to be the first thing you see, so I put him in the middle of the painting and worked out from there. He is the #1 favorite Yankee and around him are the other five fan favorites. I call the whole group "the circle of six.'' There's Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter and Yogi Berra.
Mariano Rivera is often ranked as the 7th-greatest Yankee and I have him to the left of the center group in the back because he was so tall. At 6-feet-2-inches he was a giant of a closer. Near Rivera are center-fielder Bernie Williams, manager Joe Torre, catcher Jorge Posada, Miller Huggins, manager of the famed "Murderer's Row'' teams of the 1920s, and shortstop Phil Rizzuto.
Also on that side are longtime owner George Steinbrenner and manager/second baseman Billy Martin, who are the comic relief of the painting as they embrace and appear to patch up their many differences. I put the two managers with the best records - Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel - in the dugout. They are looking out onto the field together and are tied at seven World Series Championships each.
On the right side of the painting is a collection of great Yankee pitchers: Whitey Ford, Ron Guidry, Lefty Gomez, Andy Pettite and Red Ruffing. First baseman Don Mattingly, catchers Thurman Munson and Bill Dickey are there too. Dickey is handing a ball to Berra, another famed catcher. The three players in the front on that side are Reggie Jackson and Roger Maris, both much-loved for their hitting; and Elston Howard, who broke the Yankee's color barrier in 1955.
The painting has 27 famous Yankees in it and they are gathered in Yankee Stadium underneath the stars. All the players are in pinstripes except for Ruth, who is in the all-white uniform of his era. I put jackets on some of them from their eras to break up all the white in the painting.''