January 19 in Yankee History

  • One of the highlights about January from a baseball fan perspective is that it is the month during which great players are often honored by being named to the Hall of Fame. And on January 19, one of those honorees was New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, joined on the dais in 1972 by the legendary Sandy Koufax and by 300-game winner Early Wynn. Yogi played for the Yanks from 1946 through 1963 (we won’t mention the handful of at bats for the Mets in 1965). He smacked 358 home runs, drove in 1,430 runs, and even stole 30 bases, and won three American League Most Valuable Player Awards. Continue reading
  • January 18 in Yankee History

  • The Yankees signed infielder Wilson Betemit to a one-year contract on January 18, 2008. Betemit’s switch-hit power intrigued the club, but it wasn’t much in evidence in the coming campaign. Unfortunately, his less than stellar defense around the infield was. Eventually, however, Wilson was one of the chips the Yanks used to pry Nick Swisher from the Chisox, and Nick had a great year for the 2009 Yankee champs. Continue reading
  • January 17 in Yankee History

  • Four days ago, we reported about the untimely death of Yankee owner Colonel Jacob Ruppert in 1939. It was on January 17 of that year that the New York Yankees elected Ed Barrow as president to replace Ruppert in that position. The brilliant Barrow, who had constructed the Yankee dynasty on a slew of canny acquisitions like that of Babe Ruth almost 20 years earlier, would remain Yankee president until 1945, when the team would be bought by Dan Topping and Del Webb. Continue reading
  • January 16 in Yankee History

  • There is just no precedent for it in baseball, and maybe none in the history of sport. On January 16, 1974, Mickey Mantle became the seventh player to be voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He had played for the Yankees only from 1951-1968, during which time he blasted 536 homers, knocked in 1,509 rbi’s, and sped to 153 stolen bases. He was the AL MVP three times, came in second in that vote another three times, and in third once. He came in first in offensive categories time and time again: batting average in 1956; rbi in 1956; home runs in 1955, 1956, 1958, 1960; triples in 1955; extra-base hits in 1952, 1955, 1956; total bases in 1956, 1958, 1960; runs in 1954, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961; on-base percentage in 1955, 1962, 1964; slugging percentage in 1955, 1956, 1961, 1962; OPS in 1952, 1955, 1956, 1960, 1962, 1964; and walks in 1955, 1957, 1958, 1961, 1962. Continue reading
  • January 15 in Yankee History

  • On January 15, 1958, the Yankees became a huge presence on WPIX-TV, as they agreed to have 140 games televised on channel 11 in New York. With the two NL franchises leaving town, the Bombers were making a statement. Philadelphia would cause some consternation when they announced six days later that they would be showing games in New York too, a short-lived threat to the Yankee monopoly that never came to pass. Starting from the point of the Bombers’ $1 million-plus deal, the TV in my home was often found on channel 11, and it was a good bet that I was the one who put it there. Continue reading
  • January 14 in Yankee History

  • January 14, 2009, was the day the Yankees sent out many of their nonroster and minor league invitations to the upcoming Spring Training. Among the invitees: infielders Doug Bernier, Angel Berroa, Justin Leone, Eduardo Nunez, Ramiro Pena, and Kevin Russo; outfielders Austin Jackson, Colin Curtis, Shelley Duncan, Todd Linden, and John Rodriguez; catchers Kyle Anson, Kevin Cash, Jesus Montero, P.J. Pilittere, and Austin Romine; righthanders Jason Johnson, Mark Melancon, and Sergio Mitre; and lefty Kei Igawa. Continue reading
  • January 12 in Yankee History

  • The San Diego Padres acquired the rights to Japanese pitcher Hideki Irabu on January 12, 1997, from the Chiba Lotte Marines. But the heavyset righthander refused to pitch for them and would force a trade to his first and only choice, the Yankees. He would have middling results in New York, with a 29-20 record from 1997-1999. Continue reading
  • January 11 in Yankee History

  • Presaging the acquisition of Babe Ruth five years later, the purchase of the Yankees by the ownership that would make them a winner would be decided with a handshake on December 31, 1914, but it wasn’t until January 11, 1915, that it became official. The baseball world was in total upheaval. The Federal League was in the middle of its two years of existence. Upstart American League teams were stealing players from stronger established NL clubs. Perhaps the biggest change of all, however, occurred when, with AL honcho Ban Johnson‘s encouragement, Colonel Jacob Ruppert and Captain Tillinghast L’Hommedieu purchased the New York Yankees from Frank Farrell and Bill Devery for $460,000. Wild Bill Donovan was installed as manager but three years later, he was replaced by Miller Huggins. A dynasty was about to be born, and the Leagues would never be the same. Continue reading
  • January 10 in Yankee History

  • Perhaps if the Yankee teams of 1989-1991 had a lot more pitching, and therefore had some postseason success (or failure even), January 10, 1992, wouldn’t feel like such a great day. But the team did not do well in those years despite the treacherous signing of ex-Dodger Steve Sax to replace Willie Randolph at second base. It was not only the wrong thing to do, the team continued to struggle. So Yankee fans were doubly blessed when on that 1992 day the White Sox shipped three hurlers who would win games in the Bronx to the pitching-starved club for the flaky Sax with his deteriorating infielding skills. Melido Perez eventually went 33-39 over four seasons but stabilized a shaky staff; Domingo Jean filled in with a 1-1 record, and Bob Wickman posted a sterling 31-14 mark with 11 saves until his trade for 1996 World Series hero Graehme Lloyd. Continue reading