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It stands to reason that since the New York Yankees have been around for over a century, and have generally been quite successful, they have been the team of countless legendary baseball players. Some of these players are responsible for the rise in popularity of baseball in America, and others are notable not only for their on-field accomplishments, but also their accolades off the field. In left-center field at Yankee Stadium, Monument Park honors many of those historic players in a sort of outdoor museum, complete with commemorative plaques and the numbers of the jerseys of retired players.
Monument Park sits between the home team bullpen and the away team bullpen and was originally in play. Outfielders would often have to work around the monuments to get to balls hit to left center field, and on at least one occasion a ball got stuck in or around one of the monuments. Monument Park has since been separated from the field of play, thereby eliminating risk to both the players and the monuments themselves.
There are several different types of tributes to players within Monument Park. The greatest honor a player can receive is an actual stone monument; these are awarded posthumously to the greatest Yankee players of all time. Players with actual "monuments" include Joe Dimaggio, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Babe Ruth.
Other players are honored with plaques and retired numbers. Not all players with plaques in Monument Park have had their numbers retired as well, but most have. Almost all the players honored in Monument Park played for or coached the New York Yankees except for Jackie Robinson, whose number was retired throughout Major League Baseball in 2007. He was honored with a plaque commemorating him as the first African-American to play in major league baseball. Others honored in Monument Park are Popes, announcers, and the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Players who have been honored include Thurman Munson, Elston Howard, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, Roger Maris, Phil Rizzuto, Ron Guidry, and several others.
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