Yanks honor Willie Randolph, stun Mel Stottlemyre with Monument plaque

NEW YORK -- The Yankees had a surprise in store for Mel Stottlemyre.

And what a surprise it was.

The Yankees stunned their former ace/pitching coach by honoring him with a plaque in Monument Park as part of the franchise's 69th annual Old-Timers' Day ceremonies at Yankee Stadium.

"I had no clue," Stottlemyre said of the poignant tribute, which proved to be a very emotional moment. "I can't believe my family was able to keep this a secret. 'Thrill' isn't the word to use. It's beyond that."

Stottlemyre, 73, has been battling bone marrow cancer for 15 years. But he was in great spirits after receiving the honor.

"I'm on top of the clouds," Stottlemyre said. "My treatments have been going pretty good."

Stottlemyre was cleared by doctors to fly into the New York area Thursday night.

"In 2000, after having a stem-cell transplant, I was going to retire from baseball. But because of you people and the support I got here at the ballpark I decided to come back, and it was the greatest thing I ever did,'' Stottlemyre told the crowd.

Former co-captain Willie Randolph also was honored with a plaque in Monument Park. That had been planned. Both players wore No. 30 while playing in pinstripes.

"That made today extra special, to share this honor with him," Randolph said.

"The emotions are just running wild right now,'' Randolph said before the crowd chanted his name. "I just want to soak it in one more time -- bear with me.''

Randolph grew up a Mets fan in Brooklyn and managed his boyhood team from 2005 to '08, leading New York to Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series.

"The coolest thing about this day is that I get to share this with all my guys,'' Randolph said, addressing former teammates as they hung their arms over the dugout railing. "We've got the '70s, '80s, '90s and 2000s, and I was along for that whole ride.

"I'm still living a dream. I'm in uniform, 60 years old, playing baseball with my boys. I don't want to wake up.''

Stottlemyre, who pitched in the Bronx from 1964 to '74, compiled a sterling 2.97 ERA and made five All-Star appearances. He later served as pitching coach from 1996 to 2005, wining four World Series titles.

"Putting on the pinstripes, to me, meant everything to me," Stottlemyre said. "Every time I put this uniform on, even though we weren't, I felt unbeatable."

Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium featured appearances by the regular roster of fan favorites, including Hall of Famers Whitey Ford, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Wade Boggs, Goose Gossage and Joe Torre.

Yogi Berra, who turned 90 last month, was not in attendance at the ceremonies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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