Yankees honor Pettitte by retiring his No. 46
NEW YORK (AP) Andy Pettitte would often glare down opposing hitters from the mound, his hat pulled tightly over his forehead and his glove shielding his face from the batter, so only his eyes were visible to those watching the tall lefty from Texas.
That intensity was gone Sunday. Instead, Pettitte was visibly emotional as the Yankees retired his No. 46 one day after longtime teammate Jorge Posada was honored by New York.
Pettitte was surrounded by teammates, family, friends and cheering Yankees faithful as the organization unveiled his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium during a pregame ceremony.
He also made a nearly 12-minute speech.
''A little over 20 years ago, I sat in the old Yankee Stadium bullpen, we were playing the Texas Rangers,'' Pettitte said. ''I had made the team out of spring training as a left-handed reliever and I sat there and looked around and said `Wow, this is absolutely amazing.' Looking back on that day, I could never of imagined, 20 years later, the most storied franchise in sports history would be honoring me in such a way.''
Although he was the only member of New York's ''Core Four'' not to spend his entire career in pinstripes - he spent three seasons with the Houston Astros - Pettitte was with the Yankees for 15 years, building 219-153 record with a 3.85 ERA. Pettitte has the most wins of any left-hander in the franchise's illustrious history and his 2,020 strikeouts are the most for any pitcher. Despite his outstanding regular season numbers, Pettitte was even better in the postseason, going 18-10 with New York during their brilliant stretch in the late 1990s and 2000s.
When combined with the one victory Pettitte had in Houston's 2005 playoff run, his 19 postseason wins are a major league record.
New York was without a championship team since 1978 before winning one in 1996, Pettitte's second season in the majors, and then won three in a row from 1998-2000. Pettitte won his fifth championship with the Yankees in 2009.
''He had that ability to always dial it up when we needed him and I tell you what, that's a guy that you want to be around and that's a guy that you want on the mound in pivotal games,'' said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was a teammate and manager to Pettitte.
A 22nd-round draft pick by New York in 1990, Pettitte - whose No. 46 was also briefly worn by Don Mattingly - retired as a three-time All-Star and the Most Valuable Player of the 2001 American League Championship Series.
Pettitte is linked with Mariano Rivera, Posada and shortstop Derek Jeter in the ''Core Four,'' so it was fitting that Pettitte share his weekend with Posada. Those two came up through the organization together and made their major league debuts during the 1995 season. According to a tweet sent out by Elias Sports, they combined for a 100-51 record as the starting battery for New York.
''What makes today even more special for me is to be able to share this weekend with my teammate, my catcher, and my friend Jorgie,'' Pettitte said. ''Do you remember back in Oneonta, 24 years ago? That we'd be having a weekend like this is absolutely crazy.''
Among his many gifts, Pettitte received a jeweled base, signed by all of the on-field attendees of the ceremony and presented by Rivera. According to STATS Inc., the 72 victories earned by Pettitte that ended in a Rivera save is a major league record. The pair also combined for 11 in the postseason.