Friday, January 12, 2007

Nellie Comes Home

Today, Jeff Nelson pulled a Jerry Rice. He signed a one day minor-league contract so he could retire a Yankee. "Nellie" was a bulldog of a reliever who - at his best - had one of the most devastating sliders the game has seen.

His ability to raise his game in pressurized situations leaves him a strong legacy with Bomber fans. He was also one of the best Yankee weapons when a brawl broke out. The 6-8 245lb country boy never backed down from a fight.

On his time in New York:

"Playing with those guys for five years and winning the World Series four times, I had the best times of my life there," Nelson said in a telephone interview. "It was important for me to go out where I really made my name."

A member of four World Series championship teams with the Yankees in 1996, '98, '99 and 2000, Nelson appeared in 331 games with New York, including a return stint in 2003. He was 23-19 with a 3.47 ERA as a Yankee, and said he was especially grateful for the way he was treated by the fans over the years.
Hopefully a reliever with Nelson's heart & determination will emerge from next year's bullpen. With so many young arms eligible to make the big-league jump, a future power-arm may want to review Nellie's success. In 20 postseason series, Nellie had an overall ERA of 2.65.

The Yankees postseason record for games in which Nelson appeared is 14-2. I concede that this is an inconclusive stat because of how dominant the Bombers were during the 1996-2000 stretch, but his ability to hold off opponents in late innings had to have something to do with their accomplishments.


Zachary A. said...

Yeah, Nelson was a good guy to have on our side when the Bombers went up against the Sox. Besides his baffling delivery, he was a tough guy. I believe he was charged (or almost charged) with his actions in a brawl during Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS.

yankeesZrider said...


Nellie versus Sox Groundskeeper. Apparently they never gathered enough evidence to charge him or Karim Garcia - who was also involved in the fray.

I'm not sure, but that Fenway employee has to have been sauced. Why else would you mess with a 6-8 brawler like Nelson.

Also, why would he even start a fight in the first place, causing him to be fired from a groundskeeping job that probably has a 100,000 person waiting list.