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Elephants, Ice Cream, Shotguns, and Other Gifts From the Yankees Throughout History

Catfish Hunter and his elephant. Photo: G. Paul Burnett/AP

The Yankees begin their final homestand of the regular season tonight, and on Sunday, they’ll honor retiring closer Mariano Rivera in a pregame ceremony. There will surely be another day in his honor next season for the Yankees to retire No. 42 for him, but considering the steady stream of presents Rivera has received from opposing teams on his farewell tour this season, it’s likely the Yankees will present him with some gifts of their own this weekend. And if the past is any indication, Rivera could have a lot of stuff coming his way.

Lou Gehrig, 1939
Gehrig announced his retirement in June 1939 after being diagnosed with ALS, and the Yankees honored him on July 4 of that year. (Gifts via the following day’s New York Times.)

• A silver trophy, “measuring more than a foot and a half in height” according to the Times
• A silver service set
• A fishing rod and tackle (from the Yankee Stadium employees and ushers)
• A silver cup (from the Yankees office staff)
• An eighteen-inch trophy with a wooden base, supported by six silver bats with an eagle atop a silver ball (from his Yankees teammates)

Gehrig also received a number of gifts on his day from other organizations:
• A fruit bowl and two candlesticks (from the New York Baseball Giants)
• A silver pitcher (from the Stevens Associates)
• Two silver platters (from the Stevens employees)
• A scroll (from the Old Timers Association of Denver)
• Another scroll (from fans of that day’s opponents, the Washington Senators)
• A tobacco stand (from the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America)

Tommy Henrich, 1948
“Old Reliable” played for the Yankees from 1937 until 1942, then again from 1946 through 1950 after completing his military service. In 1948, the Yankees held “Tommy Henrich Day” in his honor. (Gifts via the New York Times.)

• An automobile
• A hunting rifle
• A movie camera and projector
• A piano
• A suit
• A watch
• A watch for his wife
• Nylons and orchids for his mother and wife

Joe DiMaggio, 1950
The Yankee Clipper didn’t get any presents on the day the team retired his number in 1952 shortly after his playing career ended, but perhaps that’s because they had already showered him with the below gifts (totaling an estimated $50,000) on a day in his honor in 1950. (Gifts via the New York Times.)

• An automobile
• A speedboat
• Two watches
• A chain
• A knife
• A wallet
• Cuff links
• A gold buckle
• A tie pin
• Artwork
• A trophy
• Two television sets
• A rifle
• A bronze plaque
• A $100 hat
• A golf bag
• An electric blanket
• A radio
• A thermos jug set
• A gold key chain
• A silver loving cup
• Phonograph records
• Driving glasses
• Sunglasses
• Candy
• Shirts
• A clock
• An oil painting
• Carpeting
• A roaster
• A gold money clip
• A Medal of Honor
• A statuette
• A neckerchief and clip
• A mattress and springs
• Cheese
• Potatoes
• Oranges
• Walnuts
• Lemonade
• Lima beans
• Paperweight
• Metal elephant
• Portrait
• A dozen golf balls
• An ashtray
• A tote bag
• A cocker spaniel
• A traveling bag
• An alarm clock
• A sliver money clip
• Many ties
• Taxi service
• 300 quarts of ice cream
• Some $7,500 for the New York Heart Fund and the Damon Runyon Memorial Cancer Fund
• A bicycle (for his son)
• A plaque (from the visiting Boston Red Sox)

Yogi Berra, 1959
Berra would play eighteen seasons with the Yankees from 1946 to 1963. In 1950, the Yankees held a day in his honor. The 59 gifts presented to him were carted on a trailer and included the ones below. (Gifts via the New York Times.)

• A station wagon
• Dancing lessons
• A color television
• Electric trains for his sons
• Sets of encyclopedias for his sons
• Fall hats for his wife
• A check for the Berra Scholarship Fund (from the visiting Boston Red Sox)

Whitey Ford, 1961
Ford would pitch for the Yankees from 1953 to 1967 and was given a day in his honor in September, 1961. (Gifts via the New York Times.)

• A car
• An electric golf cart
• Matching golf clubs
• An automatic washer and dryer
• A cruise to South America for Ford and his wife
• A Bermuda vacation for Ford’s entire family
• Patio furniture
• A tape recorder
• Record albums
• A movie camera
• A television set
• Custom-made luggage
• Clothing
• A “man-sized roll of lifesavers,” which, according to the Times, “did not contain mints, but, appropriately, Luis Arroyo, the Yanks’ relief ace.”

Bobby Richardson, 1966
The twelve-year veteran announced that he’d be retiring after the 1966 season and was given a day in his honor that September. Many of the tangible gifts he received were donated to charity. (Gifts via the Times.)

• More than $11,000 for the Bobby Richardson Day Fund, to be distributed to various youth groups
• Flowers
• Cameras
• A year’s supply of coffee, gasoline, and home products
• A wardrobe
• A second honeymoon in the Poconos for Richardson and his wife
• Sports equipment for his four children
• Home appliances and furnishings
• A rifle
• A typewriter
• An outboard motor
• A small boat
• A home television recorder
• 1,000 New Testament Bibles
• A 1967 station wagon

Catfish Hunter, 1979
Hunter, who played the last five seasons of his career in New York, announced that he’d retire at the end of the 1979 season and was given a day in his honor that September. (Gifts via the AP.)

• A leather luggage set
• Two shotguns
• Four cameras
• A television
• A pickup truck
• A trip to Hawaii for Hunter and his family
• An automobile
• A 5,500-pound elephant

Hunter also received gifts from other groups:
• A check for the Diabetes Foundation (from the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America)
• A plaque and press clippings from the Oakland Tribune

Lou Piniella, 1984
Piniella ended his playing career during the 1984 season and became a full-time coach. In August, he was honored at Yankee Stadium. The gifts below are among the ones he received that day. (Gifts via the

• Two cars
• Two trips to Hawaii
• A trip to Tokyo or Hong Kong

Don Mattingly, 1997
Mattingly sat out the 1996 season and officially announced his retirement in January of the following year. Later that summer, the Yankees retired his number in a ceremony at Yankee Stadium. (Gifts via the following day’s Newsday.)

• His-and-hers golf carts
• An extended-cab GMC Sierra truck
• A cherry-red Dodge Sebring convertible
• A big-screen TV
• A laptop computer
• Golf clubs
• A custom-designed Don Mattingly baseball arcade game
• All of his Topps baseball cards, framed and matted
• A No. 23 diamond ring
• No. 23 diamond rings for his three sons
• A pendant for his wife
• 23 long-stemmed roses, also for his wife

Gene Monahan, 2011
The longtime Yankees trainer announced that he would retire at the conclusion of the 2011 season after 49 years with the organization. He was honored at that year’s Old-Timers Day. (Gifts via ESPN New York.)

• The frieze from his locker in the old Yankee Stadium
• Two seats from old Yankee Stadium
• A Thomas Kinkade painting of old Yankee Stadium
• A riding lawn mower
• A Stetson hat signed by Garth Brooks
• Round-trip tickets to Las Vegas to see Garth Brooks in concert
• Round-trip travel and two tickets to NASCAR championship weekend
• Autographed helmet from NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick
• A fifteen-day tour of the Alps
• A 2012 Ford F-150 Harley Davidson Edition pick-up truck
• A letter from Bud Selig

Gifts From the Yankees Throughout History