December 21 in Yankee History

  • Recent steroids/HGH controversy notwithstanding, Yankee fans were delighted when former Pinstriped southpaw Andy Pettitte signed a one-year deal, with a one-year player option, to return to the Bronx on December 21, 2006. And for good reason. Pettitte pitched better than his 15-9 record, and his gutsy start in Game Two of the 2007 ALDS gave the team an excellent chance to advance to the next round, until a swarm of gnats ruined the evening. Andy struggled in the second half of a 14-14, 2008 season, but after mulling a Yankee offer came back in 2009, and only won the clinching games in all three playoff series on the way to Championship No. 27, that’s all. Happily, he signed on to play in 2010, had another very good year, but missed six weeks with an injury. And the saga contnues, as Andy called it quits after 2010, then unretired and pitched well before being injured in 2012, then signed again and pitched well in 2013. It is assumed he will be joining his “core four” teammates Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, retiring now, and leaving just Derek Jeter as an active Yankee player. Continue reading
  • December 20 in Yankee History

  • On December 20, 1966, the Yanks acquired shortstop Dick Howser from the Indians for minor leaguer Gil Downs. Although Dick would only garner 13 rbi’s during 148 games in ending his playing career with the 1967 and 1968 Yanks, he would establish a relationship that would eventually lead to his guiding the club. He would manage one game (a loss) for the ’78 World Champion winners, spanning the transition from fiery Billy Martin to the calmer Bob Lemon. Howser piloted the 1980 club that achieved a 103-59 record, although they would lose to the Royals in the ALCS. Continue reading
  • December 19 in Yankee History

  • The Bombers solved a long puzzle when they signed Japanese professional baseball star Hideki Matsui to be their left fielder on December 19, 2002. To many he was the MVP of the 2003 team, then he almost doubled his power numbers in ’04, and he was a consistent run producer in 2005, though he struggled in the post. “Godzilla” began the 2006 season with a new three-year contract to play in the Pinstripes, but lost most of the season when he broke his wrist trying to make a catch. The 25 homers and 103 rbi’s in 2007, highlighted by a July AL Player of the Month designation, would have been even better if he was not slowed at the end by a bad knee. Another bad knee in 2008 had the fanbase concerned, but Hideki fooled us all and saved the best for last, with a solid season at DH in 2009, capped by winning World Series MVP in the six-game victory over the Phillies. The Yanks have let him go to Anaheim now; let’s hope our fears do not come true and that he does not prove that to be too big a mistake, although it is being rumored he’ll be signed to yet another West Coast team to play in 2011. Continue reading
  • December 18 in Yankee History

  • Christmas came both early and late for Yankee fans in 2008. First, the team gave them two huge presents exactly one week early when they signed free-agent lefty CC Sabathia to a seven-year deal, and then righthander A.J. Burnett on for the next five years on December 18, 2008. Then more than 10 months later, the presents bore fruit as the Yanks took home Championship No. 27. Continue reading
  • December 17 in Yankee History

  • Yankee fans were crushed when Jimmy Key left the Bronx and signed with the Orioles after the ’96 win in the World Series, and the fact that David Wells left the Birds and signed with the Yanks on December 17, 1996, was not greeted with glee. But “The Boomer” enjoyed two, two-year stints in the Bronx afterward, and went 34-14 each time, very impressive numbers. Continue reading
  • December 15 in Yankee History

  • Outfielder Dave Winfield became baseball’s highest-paid player when he signed a 10-year deal with the Yankees on December 15, 1980. Despite being eventually labeled “Mr. May” by an enraged George Steinbrenner, he would notch a World Series-winning hit with the Blue Jays later in his career. Dave contributed often and played hard in the Bronx. He smashed 205 homers with 818 rbi’s in eight-plus years, as he missed the 1989 campaign with back surgery and was traded to California for righthander Mike Witt 20 games into the 1990 season. Witt had been a front-line starter for years, and threw a Perfect Game in 1984, but he was way past his prime, and would go 8-9 during three seasons in the Bronx. Continue reading
  • December 14 in Yankee History

  • Being a baseball fan is supposed to be an enjoyable and life-affirming endeavour, and despite the undeniable tension we suffer during tight games, pennant races, and playoff contests, it fills those requirements admirably. But “into each life a little rain must fall” the saying goes, and December 14 is a day dominated by poignant and sad moments for Yankee fans. We’ll begin the list with this: MVP Yankee catcher Elston Howard passed away on this day in 1980. Continue reading
  • December 13 in Yankee History

  • It seems forever since we’ve led off a Yankee daily history report with a mention of Mickey Mantle. On December 13, 1961, The Mick signed a contract for the 1962 season. He would earn $82,000, the second highest Yankee total (to Joe DiMaggio) to that point in time. He would only play 123 games due to injury, but what would he earn today for the 30 home runs and 89 rbi’s? Continue reading