The "Core Four" is a nickname given to the New York Yankees baseball players Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera. All four players were drafted or originally signed by the Yankees in the early 1990s, played together in the minor leagues, and made their Yankee debuts in 1995. Each of them was a key contributor to the Yankees' late-1990s dynasty that won four World Series championships in five years. By 2007, they were the only remaining Yankees from the franchise's dynasty of the previous decade. All four players were on the Yankees' active roster in 2009 when the team won the 2009 World Series—its fifth championship in the past 14 years.
Three members of the Core Four (Jeter, Rivera and Posada) played together for 17 consecutive years, longer than any other similar group in North American professional sports. Pettitte had a sojourn away from the team when he played for the Houston Astros for three seasons, before returning to the Yankees in 2007. Pettitte retired after the 2010 season, reducing the group to the so-called Key Three. Posada also retired after the 2011 season, ending his 17-year career with the Yankees. The Yankees were expected to begin the 2012 season with just Jeter and Rivera as the group's remaining players, until Pettitte came out of retirement on March 16, 2012 to return to the team.
Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte all joined the New York Yankees organization in the early 1990s as amateurs. Rivera signed as an international free agent in February 1990. The Yankees selected Pettitte in the 22nd round and Posada in the 24th round of the 1990 Major League Baseball Draft. Jeter was selected in the first round, with the sixth overall selection, of the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft.
Together, the Core Four progressed through the Yankees minor league system in the early 1990s. It was during their tenure with the Oneonta Yankees of the Class A-Short Season New York-Penn League in 1991 that Posada began catching for his future major league batterymate Pettitte. The latter threw a knuckleball at the time, which Posada struggled to catch (hitting him mostly on the knee), prompting Pettitte to abandon the pitch. Promoted to the Greensboro Hornets of the Class A South Atlantic League in 1992, Posada and Pettitte met Jeter, a highly regarded prospect, who was assigned to the team. Posada and Pettitte initially questioned the hype surrounding Jeter, but soon recognized his talent and poise.
The four first played together with the Class AAA Columbus Clippers of the International League. All four made their major league debuts in 1995. Both Jeter and Rivera were demoted back to the minors in June.
Jeter became the Yankees all-time hits leader on September 11, 2009, with his 2,722nd hit, surpassing Lou Gehrig. On July 9, 2011, against the Tampa Bay Rays, he collected his 3,000th hit, becoming the 28th player to reach the milestone, the first Yankee to accomplish the feat and collect all 3,000 hits with the team, the first player to reach the milestone with a New York team, the fourth-youngest player to reach the mark, the second to do it by hitting a home run, the second to reach the mark in a five-hit game, and the first to attain the milestone playing shortstop exclusively. Furthermore, Jeter broke Rickey Henderson's franchise record for stolen bases on May 28, 2011, when he stole his 327th base against the Mariners. Jeter's third milestone in 2011 was breaking Mickey Mantle's record for most games played as a Yankee, accomplishing this on August 28, 2011 against the Orioles. In 2000, he became the only player to win both the World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award and the All-Star Game MVP in the same season. He is also the only Yankee to be awarded the All-Star Game MVP.
Posada is only the fifth major league catcher with at least 1,500 hits, 350 doubles, 275 home runs, and 1,000 runs batted in (RBIs) in a career, and the only major league catcher to ever record a .330 batting average or better with 40 doubles, 20 home runs, and 90 RBIs in a single season. He is only the second Yankees catcher to hit 30 home runs in a season, after Yogi Berra. Among Yankee catchers, Posada is first all-time in doubles (365), walks (897), and intentional walks (74), and second in home runs (261) and extra-base hits (636). Among all Yankees players, Posada ranks sixth all-time in grand slams (10). On April 16, 2009, Posada hit the first home run at the new Yankee Stadium.
Rivera reached regular season career totals of 602 saves and 857 games finished in 2011, surpassing Trevor Hoffman as the all-time leader in both categories. Rivera also holds records for 15 consecutive seasons with 25 or more saves, nine consecutive seasons with 30 or more saves, and 14 seasons with 30 or more saves (tied with Hoffman). Since 1996, Rivera has held an earned run average (ERA) under 3.00 in all but one season (2007). In the postseason, Rivera holds the all-time record for saves (42) and ERA (0.71). Throughout his 12 All-Star selections, he has saved a record four All-Star Games, his most recent one coming in 2009. Rivera's career ERA (2.21) and WHIP (1.00) are the lowest of any pitcher in the live-ball era. On May 25, 2011, he became the 15th pitcher in major league history to make 1,000 appearances, and the first to do so with a single team. His appearances total ranks as the most in American League history.
Pettitte and Rivera hold the all-time record for most wins–saves combinations. The last occurrence of this was on April 4, 2013, when Rivera saved Pettitte's win against the Red Sox for the 70th time.
In 2010, Rivera, Jeter, and Posada became the first trio in any of the four North American major sports leagues to play together on the same team for 16 consecutive seasons.
On July 14, 2011, with a pinch-hit appearance against the Blue Jays, Posada played his 1,660th game with Jeter. This broke the record for most regular-season games played together by two Yankee teammates, previously held by Lou Gehrig and Tony Lazzeri.
In addition to winning five World Series championships, the Core Four have also won seven AL pennants and 11 AL East championships for the Yankees. Furthermore, the four have led the team to 15 postseason appearances in their 16 seasons with the Yankees (every season except for 2008).
With the rise of free agency and trades, many sportswriters regard that it is highly unlikely that another group of players of comparable size will spend their entire careers with a single team.
Career statistics with Yankees
|The Core Four on the Cover of Sports Illustrated 6 Months After The Yankees' 2009 World Series Victory|
|Yankee team record|
|American League record|
|^||Major League record|
|Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame|
|*||Denotes player who is still active|
|G||Games played or Games pitched|
|RBI||Runs batted in|
|ERA||Earned run average[a]|
The statistics are updated through July 27, 2012
|SS||Derek Jeter*||2,522||10,276||1,825 (3rd)||3,215||248||1,224 (7th)||.313 (7th)||346|||
|C||Jorge Posada||1,829 (8th)||6,092||900||1,664||275 (8th)||1,065||.273||20|||
|SP||Andy Pettitte*||418 (8th)||2,626 (4th)||210 (3rd)||116 (4th)||0||3.94||1,899 (2nd)||845 (5th)|||
|RP||Mariano Rivera*||1,053||1,221 2⁄3||76||58||609^||2.22||1,121 (9th)||278|||
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