If you’re a true Yankee fan than you remember July 4th 1983. Yes, it is the birthday of our great country and the birthday of George Steinbrenner, however it is also the day that Dave Righetti pitched a no hitter against the Boston Red Sox. It was the first no hitter since Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The other night, I had the pleasure of reuniting with Rags, as Righetti was affectionately known by his teammates. He came out to Long Island to help his former bullpen catcher and present day head baseball coach at Adelphi University, Dom Scala, raise funds for the upcoming baseball season. The event was held at Chateau Briand in Carle Place. The room was filled to capacity with over 350 supporters of the Yankees and the great baseball program that Adelphi has put together through the vision of Coach Dom Scala.
When I told Righetti that I thought it was wonderful that he would do this for Scala he said, “There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for Dom.”
Most people don’t know that Dom Scala was in the bullpen that July 4th and was the person that prepared Rags for that game.
If I’m not mistaken, it must’ve been about 100 degrees that day and Scala would only recommend that Rags throw only a certain number of warmup pitches because of the heat. That may or may not have made the difference in Rags’ success that day. I like to think that it did!
The rest is history-he pitched his historic no hitter. The former president of the United States, Richard Nixon, went to the clubhouse to congratulate Righetti and the no hitter turned out to be one of the best birthday gifts the Boss had ever received.
Last night, Righetti spoke about his three World championships with the Giants . He spoke about his wonderful marriage and his pride in being a father to his three kids. At one point he cried because of how blessed he has been with his incredible family. At that point quite a few of us in the audience started to cry because of how beautifully he shared such a private story. At that point I decided to take away some of the tension by asking Rags if he still did his Elvis Presley imitation. He started to laugh and said that if I asked to do it that he wouldn’t.
One thing that I found interesting was how he talked about all the former Yankee employees that are out in San Francisco. From the General Manager to the hitting coaches etc. Rags said that they are known as the “Yankees West.” He spoke of his time with the Yankees, New York and all his teammates with great love. He had some wonderful Boss and Billy Martin, Bobby Murcer and Nettles stories. He told some great George Steinbrenner stories that really showed just how hands on the boss really was and how angry the players could get but how much respect and admiration they had for the man known as the Boss. With all of his success I could tell that Rags has missed the Yankees He spoke of how he supports Dom Scala and the great job that he does not just with his college kids but with all kids that he comes in contact with.
The great thing that Dave Righetti and Dom Scala have in common is that they are still in love with being a Yankee. Whether you were a batboy, warmed up pitchers in the bullpen or got to strike out future hall of famer, Wade Boggs, to win a no hitter, as long as you got to wear that pinstriped uniform you are forever a New York Yankee.
I know Tony Bennett says he left his heart in San Francisco but in this case I think Rags left his heart in New York.
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