"The Gang of Four," "The Four Amigos," "The Core Four."
When the Yankees' hoisted their 27th World Series Championship trophy the focus was on the four Yankee stalwarts; Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte. There were numerous other storylines, from Matsui's historically prolific performance to Girardi's return to the World Series joining Billy Martin and Ralph Houk as the only Yankees in history to win a championship with the team as both a player and manager.But at the core of the 2009 championship team — in both an emotional and a tangible sense — were those four players. These men, all of whom have been the stabilizing mechanism that has held the recently volatile organization together throughout the many recent disappointments, have now served as the inspiration behind the World Series triumph of 2009. While players like Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson, Rondell White, Kenny Lofton, and Raul Mondesi came and went those four "true" Yankees (with the exception of Pettitte's short hiatus) have been the stalwarts, the pillars, the keepers of the Yankee legacy. And their commitment, loyalty, and devotion to a baseball institution greater than themselves gave Brian Cashman the consistent base he needed to finally get the formula correct once again, and bring home the long awaited 27th world championship in the franchise's 106-year history.
The last time around when the "Core Four" won a championship together (2000) things were different in the Bronx. Derek Jeter was 26, had just finished his third straight 200-hit season and was emerging as one of the greatest players in the game, with four World Series championships in his first five full seasons in the show.
28-year-old Jorge Posada finally escaped the shadow (and platoon) of his now manager Joe Girardi, officially becoming the Yankees regular starting catcher. That season Posada showed the first evidence that he would continue a proud Yankee lineage of catchers that spans from Wally Schang in the 20s to Thurman Munson in the 70s, ripping out 28 home runs and 86 RBIs — both career highs — and establishing himself as one of the premier offensive catchers in the game.
Andy Pettitte — also 28 — put in another solid season in the Yankees' rotation, winning 19 games and turning in one of the best postseason performances of his career.
And Mariano Rivera — the eldest of the four at 30 — was in the midst of his utter dominance of the American League and establishment as the greatest closer of all-time, once again tearing through the regular season and turning it up to astronomical levels in the postseason.