They called him “The Witch Doctor”, since only magic could give those sinkers and sliders so much late movement. The slender Panamanian with the quick delivery and aggressive approach made himself invaluable to the New York Yankees during their championship runs with his ability to induce ground balls in any situation and the versatility to pitch as a starter in long or short relief.
Mendoza was a hot commodity almost as soon as he entered the league. Every time the Yankees needed a player to support their playoff run, Mendoza went on the block. Rarely were fewer then seven teams interested in a guy who could be their number-three starter. When the Yankees attempted to trade for Sammy Sosa in 1998, the Cubs demanded Mendoza, and in the 1999 negotiations to acquire Rondell White from Montreal, the Yankees’ refusal to include Mendoza proved a fatal stumbling block.