The “Core Four” close the door on the Phillies: Former Greensboro Hornets Champions again

The “Core Four” have done it again and you know what:

All four played here. They got their start here. It was down at the old ballyard on Yanceyville and Lindsey Streets…..

It was Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera and they all played right here in Greensboro at the War Memorial Stadium. They all played for the Greensboro Hornets and I even made a couple of stops along with Derek Jeter at some key sporting events along the way to where we are today.

I’m right here on this blog and Derek Jeter is on the top of the world again, make that the World Series Champions again!!!!!

Good job Greensboro guys and keep on putting us on top of the World Series ledger…….

Here it ’tis from the real fellas at

NEW YORK — They stood together, arms around each other’s shoulders, on a makeshift podium in the middle of a still-packed stadium as euphoria rained from the sky.

Mariano Rivera. Derek Jeter. Andy Pettitte. Jorge Posada.

They had done this before. And not just once. But somehow, this time was different. This time was special. This night was one that made them want to freeze time and hold onto a moment that was nine years in the making.

The clock had already blown past midnight on the night the New York Yankees won their 27th World Series. And the Gang of Four who connected two Yankee generations was going to savor this one for many more ticks of that clock.

So Derek Jeter held the World Series trophy in his hands and looked out at the ecstatic masses.

“Now,” he said, cradling that trophy as if he might never let it go, “this thing is right where it belongs.”

Behind the four of them, the scoreboard told the tale of the final World Series game, the final baseball game of 2009: Yankees 7, Phillies 3.

But scoreboards never tell you the whole story. And for these four men, this was a night that couldn’t have followed a more perfect script if George Steinbrenner had been able to personally sign the big script-writing free agent in the sky to an $8 zillion contract.

The Great Mariano got the final five outs. Derek Jeter slapped three hits. Andy Pettitte won the clinching game of a postseason series for the sixth time. Jorge Posada was the man catching that first pitch by Pettitte and that final pitch by Rivera.

There was something fitting about that — the four of them finding their names in this particular box score — because they are the men who connect all the dots in the Yankees’ universe.

You might have trouble convincing a Cubs fan or a Giants fan or an Indians fan that it has been a long time since the Yankees had themselves a night like this. But it’s longer than you think.

The last time they did this, the men squirting champagne all over the Gang of Four were long-lost names like David Justice, and Denny Neagle, and even Jose Canseco. It feels like those guys haven’t played in the big leagues in 90 years, not nine. But the last time the Yankees floated down the Canyon of Heroes, those men were riding right along with them.

In between titles, Mike Mussina came and went. Jason Giambi came and went. Even Raul Mondesi, Rondell White and Karim Garcia came and went.

But Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada kept putting on those pinstripes day after day. Pettitte bolted for Houston, then found his way back. And it was all about waiting for this night to arrive again.

So by the time it did, they understood this wasn’t their birthright, wasn’t as automatic as their teams had once made it look.

“It makes it sweeter, no doubt,” said Andy Pettitte, “because you don’t know if you’re going to go back. I realize I’m 37 years old. I realize I’m getting older. I realize I’m toward the end of my career. And that makes it sweet.

“The first one is always sweet, because you live your whole life, you want to win a championship, and when you’re able to do it that first time, that’s sweet. But when so many years pass, you don’t know if you’re ever going to be able to do it again. So it’s just very gratifying to be able to do this.”

We understand this is no tale of some plucky underdog battling to this place against all odds. This is a $208 million baseball team we’re talking about. This is a team that paid its four infielders alone more money ($81.225 million) than 16 of the other 29 franchises paid their whole teams. This is a team that had spent nearly $1.8 billion hard-earned Steinbrenner-family dollars in between trips to the Canyon of Heroes.

But contrary to popular belief, it’s never dollars alone that make that happen. You need talent. You need brains. And you need people — people who understand what winning is all about, what leadership is all about, what being a teammate is all about.

So these Yankees needed the Gang of Four — even more than they ever needed them back in the day when they were winning four of these titles in five years.

“On those teams [that won in the ’90s], those guys were young,” said GM Brian Cashman. “They weren’t veteran guys like they are now. They had different roles. Derek Jeter wasn’t a leader back then. Jorge Posada wasn’t a leader then. They were the guys looking to the David Cones, the Paul O’Neills, the Scott Brosiuses, the veterans around them. But now this is those guys’ team. They’ve taken over that leadership role. And they’ve proved they can deliver a championship with a whole new cast.”