For almost 40 years, Gene Monahan has been treating the wounds of Yankees players. As Yankee trainer since 1972, and an organizational employee since 1963, Monahan has truly been an enduring link. From Mantle to Murcer to Mattingly to Mariano, Geno has been on hand for all the highs and lows.
Now, however, comes word that Monahan is in a serious battle with his own health. Since it was announced that he would miss his first spring training in 48 years, very little had been said about Monahan’s illness. Seeing tears in Monahan’s eyes as he received his 2009 World Series ring, and then watching those same tears well up in the eyes of Joe Girardi has he discussed the moment, confirmed the seriousness of what we had all feared.
Gene Monahan has throat and neck cancer. He has been undergoing treatment since January, when he had surgery to remove his tonsils. In total, he has received 30 radiation treatments, including his latest just before the ring ceremony. According to Monahan, the prognosis is good, but the healing process will still take some time. The Yankees are hoping to have Geno back full-time at some point over the summer, but for now he has been helping out Steve Donahue, Monahan’s assistant since 1986, by consulting on injuries and doing prep work at Yankee Stadium.
Seeing Gene Monahan trot out for his ring was the most emotional part of Opening Day, just as poignant as the sight of George Steinbrenner sitting in a luxury box with his wife Joan at his side. I’ve always thought (and hoped) that Monahan would write a book. He has seen so much of Yankee history firsthand that his accounts would probably make for incredible reading. Chris Chamblis’ HR in 1976, Monahan was there. Reggie’s three bolts in 1977…Monahan was there. The Munson tribute…Geno was on the bench. Rag’s no-hitter, every version of Billy Ball, Donnie’s prime, Jeter’s rookie season, the four championships under Torre and Girardi’s #27 have all been witnessed by Monahan. Monahan even serves as a link to all three versions of Yankee Stadium. Think about it…every book about the Yankees since the 1970s, from The Bronx Zoo to The Yankee Years, has featured at least one interesting vignette about Monahan. Imagine putting them all together?
The Yankees are a team of legends…its players, its owner and, yes, even its trainer. Hopefully, that legend has a lot more room to grow.
Under the Care of Geno…
- World Championships: 7
- AL Pennants: 11
- Managers: 16
- Yankees Record: 3313-2553