Friday, June 4, 2010

Fight Night In The Bronx

In the history of Major League Baseball, there have been only three men with the surname "Foreman" to play the game. None of them played for the Yankees, but Frank Foreman pitched for the Baltimore Orioles in 1901 and 1902. Following the '02 season, the Baltimore franchise relocated to New York, renamed the Highlanders, and a decade later, the Yankees.

There has been but one "Cotto" to play in the Major Leagues, Henry Cotto, pictured to the right. Cotto was born in the Bronx in 1961, but his family returned to their native Puerto Rico when Henry was just three months old. After breaking into the Majors with the Cubs in 1984, Cotto was traded to the Yankees. He spent the next three years shuttling between New York and Columbus, never really distinguishing himself.

After the 1987 season, Cotto was packaged with the highly unpopular Steve Trout and shipped to Seattle in exchange for Lee Guetterman, Clay Parker, and Wade Taylor. Cotto carved out a job for himself in Seattle as a reserve outfielder, base stealing specialist, and Junior Griffey's back up in center field. After washing out with the expansion Marlins in '93, Cotto surface as a replacement player during the '94-'95 strike, has been a coach in the Mariners' system since '96, and was the inspiration for the humorous Henry Cotto's Mustache.

Tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium another Foreman and another Cotto will be on the field. But despite the gloves on their hands, they won't be baseball players. Yuri Foreman and Miguel Cotto will take part in the first night of boxing at Yankee Stadium since September 28, 1976, when Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton had their third and final bout, one of the more controversial in history.

Despite the sweet science's long absence from River Ave, boxing has a rich and storied history at Yankee Stadia, with Gene Tunney, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Jake LaMotta, Sugar Ray Robinson, Floyd Patterson, and others joining Ali and Norton as some of the greats to have stepped in the ring in the House that Ruth Built.

I'm not crazy about the idea of turning Yankee Stadium into a multiuse facility, but with this fight, Army football, and the Pinstripe Bowl, it's clearly the direction in which the organization is leaning. But for tomorrow night at least, it'll be nice to see Yankee Stadium explore a different part of it's illustrious past.

For more on boxing's past at the Stadium, check out these links.

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