Another discussion can be made for the way the Yankees honor their players. I respect the fact that Monument Park honors many of those who have impacted the history of the franchise. Some may think the organization has overdone it with the amount of players that have been honored. While I disagree with the second statement, I feel the Yankees have forgotten a little bit about their earlier history.
The easiest way to trace the history of the franchise of this team is to start at Babe Ruth and go forward. In all honesty, the times of Ruth were the start of relevant times for the Yankees franchise. However, there was a longer transition from the New York Highlander franchise of 1903-1912 to the New York Yankees franchise that was still not good but getting better- to the most successful franchise in the history of professional sports. This process started before the arrival of Ruth and before the opening of Yankee Stadium. Managers Frank Chance and Bill Donovan- followed by the legendary Miller Huggins- lead teams that were gradually better than the ones of the past. Wally Pipp, Roger Peckinpaugh and Homerun Baker were all part of the team prior to the arrival of Ruth. Prior to the acquisition of Carl Mays and the re-acquisition of RHP Jack Quinn, the Yankees had a pretty good RHP by the name of Bob Shawkey.
If you study the infancy of the Highlanders franchise, you know that HOF RHP Jack Chesbro won 127 games for New York from 1903-1908, including an amazing 41 in 1904. Al Orth won 27 games in 1906 and Russ Ford won over 20 games in 1910 and 1911. In an era dominated by pitching, the Yankees only had three players win over 20 games a total of six times during the first 12 years of their existence. Then, they acquired Shawkey.
Shawkey made his MLB debut during the 1913 season for the Philadelphia Athletics season under manager Connie Mack. Though Shawkey did not pitch in the World Series that season against the New York Giants, he did pitch well in his 15 starts. Shawkey was rewarded for his work a year later, when he won 15 games and got to pitch in game 4 of that year's World Series against the surprising Boston Braves. He pitched 5 innings, giving up 3 runs, 2 earned, before being relieved by future Hall of Famer Herb Pennock. The Athletics were swept in the series, in what was truly one of the greatest sports stories that nobody talks about.
Connie Mack was known to be a very difficult man to negotiate a contract with. Rather than pay any player market value, he would rather trade or sell that player and find somebody else to take his place. He did that on a number of occasions and sold Shawkey to the Yankees during the 1915 season. Shawkey would win 24 games in his first full season in NY- in 1916. This was the first of 4 20 win seasons and 134 wins in his 13 year Yankees career.
Shawkey, like many others, left his team to defend his country in World War I in 1918. Before he went into the Navy, he made 2 starts, but rejoined the team in time for the 1919 season. His 1919 season was the start of a run which saw him win 110 games in 6 seasons, including his last three MLB seasons of 20 wins. Before the likes of Carl Mays and eventually Pennock and the return of Quinn, there was Shawkey, the right handed pitcher who was the first steady Yankees successful top pitcher. Shawkey would pitch in the World Series in 1921 and 1922, when the Yankees made it there for the first time. He got no decisions in both the 1921 World Series, where of course the Yankees lost to the New York Giants in the first ever "all New York" World Series.
The Yankees played their home games at the Polo Grounds through the 1922 season, but finally the Yankees got their own stadium, just in time for the 1923 season. In fact, their first pitch in the new stadium was thrown by none other than Bob Shawkey. The Yankees went on to win their first World Series that season, with Shawkey winning game 4 of a series the Yankees would eventually win in 6. Shawkey was part of the first 4 Yankees teams to make it to the World Series. And he pitched on the 1927 "Murderers Row" team, but did not pitch in the World Series.
Shawkey was one of only five Yankees to be on the AL Pennant winning teams of 1921, 1922 and 1926 AL Pennant winning teams and the 1923 World Series winning team. And one of four players (Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel and Waite Hoyt were the others) to be on the 1921-1923 and 1926-1927 teams. Ruth, Muesel and Hoyt were also on the 1928 team. After the 1927 season, Shawkey pitched in the minors for the Montreal Royals in 1928 until retiring as a player. In 1929, Shawkey took over as the Yankees pitching coach until Huggins fell ill and had to stop managing the team. Huggins would die just five days after he managed his last game. Art Fletcher, who had managed in the big leagues before, led the team for the final 11 games of the 1929 season. Shawkey was named manager for the 1930 season and led the team to a 3rd place finish, behind the Philadelphia Athletics and Washington Senators with 86-68 record.
Waite Hoyt had an incredible run himself wearing the pinstripe uniform. Hoyt joined the Yankees before the 1921 season in a deal with the Red Sox, winning 157 games over the course of 10 seasons with the club. He also went 6-3 in World Series play, pitching in 6 World Series, 3 of which the Yankees won. Hoyt should be recognized in his own right, as he and Shawkey were the most successful pitchers to have success with those Yankees teams. Hoyt also pitched in the 1931 World Series for the Athletics against the St Louis Cardinals. While Hoyt has not gotten the recognition he deserves from the Yankees, he has gotten his call to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was inducted by the Veterans Committee in 1969, 15 years before his death in 1984.
Shawkey was brought back to the old Yankee Stadium in 1976 after the park was renovated. He threw out the first pitch at age 85, five years before he passed away on 12/31/1980. At the time, the Yankees had started to honor a lot of their past players and continue to do so through this day. It would not have cost too much to give him a plaque, the man was a part of the first five AL Pennant winning teams in the history of the team. In addition, he was with the team as early as 1915. The Yankees have not honored a player to play for them as early as then. I would start with Hoyt when it comes to honoring Yankees pitchers of the past. And Shawkey deserves to be honored as well.