The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox have arguably the most heated rivalry in the history of baseball if not all sports. Many players have worn both teams' uniforms, but the rivalry dates back to the sale of Babe Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees prior to the 1920 season. The Babe would obviously make the #1 player of both teams on an all-time list. This list, however, covers the top five players who have seen the rivalry from both sides for at least four years with each team during my lifetime (since 1969) or very close to it.
Sparky Lyle is the "very close" player to my lifetime. He began his career with the Red Sox in 1967. In his five Boston seasons, Lyle went 22-17 and saved 69 games. This was before the save became such a heralded stat, and closers frequently threw two or three innings then for a save. Lyle then won 57 games saved 141 for the Yankees from 1972-1978. He won two World Series with the Yankees in 1976 and 1977 but did not pitch in the Fall Classic for the 1967 Red Sox or 1978 Yankees. Lyle saved 238 games with five teams in his entire 16-year career.
Catcher/1B Mike Stanley played five seasons with each team although not consecutively for either. He split 1997 with both. During his Red Sox days, Stanley hit .274 with 73 home runs and 254 RBI. As a Yankee, he hit .285 with 72 home runs and 263 RBI. He made the postseason five times total with both teams but never played in a World Series. In his career, Stanley hit 187 home runs with five different teams.
Outfielder/DH Johnny Damon won a World Series with both teams -- Red Sox in 2004 and Yankees in 2009. He was a huge part of the incredible Red Sox 2004 ALCS comeback over the Yankees. From 2002-2005, Damon hit .295, 56 HR, and 299 RBI. He then went directly to the Yankees and hit .285, 77 HR, 296 RBI from 2006-2009. He is still active, and in his 18-year, he is a career .284 hitter as of July 7, 2012.
Hall-of-Fame Third baseman Wade Boggs was a perennial batting champion during his 11 years in Boston. He hit .338 for the Red Sox. He left Boston after a .259 season in 1992. He then hit.313 for the Yankees from 1993-1997 and won the 1996 World Series. He finished his career with 3010 hits, getting 2098 with Boston and 702 with New York. The remaining 210 came with the Tampa Bay Rays (then Devil Rays) in 1998 and 1999.
"Rocket" Roger Clemens pitched his first 13 years (1984-1996) for Boston and went 192-111 with a 3.06 ERA. He won three Cy Young Awards and an A.L. MVP award. Then after two Cy Young seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, he was traded to the Yankees in 1999. While there, he won two more Cy Young awards (seven total), four A.L. Pennants, and two World Series in five years from 1999-2003. He finished his career with a partial season back in Yankee Stadium in 2007. As a Yankee, Clemens went 83-42, 4.01 ERA. He struck out 4672 total batters in 24 years, 2590 as a Red Sox and 1014 as a Yankee.
We will likely see many more players for both teams, these five have been the best during my lifetime.
Baseball Reference, Individual Player Pages (Linked Above), baseball-reference.com.
Raymond was born in Connecticut into a family spilt between the Red Sox and Yankees. Although he grew up in Florida, Raymond became a Yankees fan. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. He currently coaches Little League in Florida. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau
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