April 1 in Yankee History

  • It was only fitting, perhaps, that the final Opening Day in old Yankee Stadium was rained out March 31, 2008, and postponed until April 1. Reggie Jackson threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Tuesday night game, George Steinbrenner was the first of 81 (sometimes) celebrities to advance the home games left counter from 81 to 80 in the fifth inning, and the Yanks prevailed 3-2 over Toronto in a scintillating pitchers’ duel between Roy Halladay and Chien-Ming Wang. That Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera threw scoreless eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to preserve the win was not surprising, but two other things were: First, Melky Cabrera came through with a tying home run in the sixth inning; then, Jason Giambi contributed greatly to the winning rally in the seventh with a cunning baserunning move, diving to the ground to avoid a tag and then scrambling to second just in time to thwart a double play attempt that put Alex Rodriguez at third base with one out. DH Hideki Matsui delivered the run with a fielder’s choice ground ball. Continue reading
  • March 31 in Yankee History

  • Culminating an insane major league schedule prepared, one assumes, by “professionals” who have never seen a map or a thermometer, the Yanks celebrated 2011 Opening Day in the Bronx on March 31, the first of 20 games played in a frigid, wet stadium before May 1. Recent Yankee retiree Mike Mussina threw out the ceremonial first pitch to one-year-from-retirement Jorge Posada. Behind Mark Teixeira‘s three-run bomb, the Yanks tied the Tigers through six with staff aces CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander pitching, and Curtis Granderson greeted ex-Yank lefty Phil Coke with a leadoff seventh-inning home run that led the way to the 6-3 hometown win. Continue reading
  • March 30 in Yankee History

  • Despite all the concern about the early-season effects, the Yanks actually got off to a good start in their earliest ever Opener, vs. the Devil Rays in the Tokyo Dome on March 30, 2004. Hideki Matsui doubled with one out and Jason Giambi homered (to left center, no less!) for the 2-0 lead in the first. Mike Mussina scattered three singles through three, but the Rays plated back-to-back fourth-inning walks. Then leadoff, sixth-inning, extra-base hits from Jose Cruz, Tino Martinez, Julio Lugo, and Toby Hall sent Moose to the showers and the Yanks to an 8-3 loss. Continue reading
  • March 29 in Yankee History

  • Few would deny that one man, Babe Ruth, will forever sit atop the Baseball Pantheon. Among a handful of others competing for second place would be legendary pitcher Cy (Denton True) Young, born this day in 1867. In 22 years, Cy sandwiched stints in Cleveland (early with the NL Spiders, later with the AL Indians) around a long stay in Boston, and amassed two equally impregnable numbers: 511 wins, 316 losses. Cy threw the first perfect game in AL history, and in 1904 he went 24.3 innings without giving up a hit. And as if in confirmation that this is a day for champions, the prize-winning racehorse Man O’War was born exactly 50 years later. Continue reading
  • March 28 in Yankee History

  • On March 28, 1986, the Yankees and Red Sox swapped DHs. Mike Easler donned the Pinstripes, while Don Baylor headed north to Fenway. The Sox came out on top in this one, as Baylor slugged 31 dingers good for 94 rbi’s in 1986, while the Yanks settled for Easler’s 14 homers and 78 driven in; both sluggers stole three bases. Continue reading
  • March 27 in Yankee History

  • Songwriter Patty Smith Hill, author of no less famous a tune than Happy Birthday to You, was born on March 27, 1868, so today we lead off with one Yankee birthday, and there are few bigger than that of Hall of Fame Yankee Manager Miller Huggins (1879). He managed five years in St. Louis and 12 in New York, spanning the years the Yanks played in the Polo Grounds and then across the Harlem River once the Bombers opened their jewel in the Bronx. His Yankee teams won six AL pennants and three World Series, including the record franchise’s first. Continue reading
  • March 26 in Yankee History

  • It’s a good day to feature Mickey Mantle, who on March 26, 1951, hit a homer estimated to have traveled between 654 and 660 feet in an exhibition game at USC. “Good fences make good neighbors,” the poet Robert Frost wrote. We feature fence-buster extraordinaire The Mick for his homer on March 26, and the poet, who was born this day in 1874. Continue reading
  • March 25 in Yankee History

  • When after the 2003 season Aaron Boone blew out his knee playing basketball, leaving the Yankees without any promising options at third base, their first move was to make a February 4 trade with the Rangers for Mike Lamb. Lamb was prepared to fight for the third-base job with free agent Tyler Houston, but twelve days later, the Yanks swooped in and claimed the prize the Red Sox had failed to get, pulling off a deal with Texas that brought Alex Rodriguez to New York for Alfonso Soriano. Before the trade, the Yanks had made sure that Rodriguez was amenable to a shift from short to third, thereby eliminating their need for Lamb. On March 25, 2004, Lamb found himself on the move again after the Yanks traded him, sending him to the Astros for minor league righthander Juan DeLeon. Continue reading
  • March 24 in Yankee History

  • We could call today’s rundown The Great Escape in honor of what is the late iconic movie star Steve McQueen‘s birthday, as it was on this day that any semblance of a battle for the starting Yankee shortstop job in 1996 came to an end when Tony Fernandez fractured his right elbow in a game with the Astros. Tony was a veteran on the ’95 playoff team, and until recently was the most recent Yankee to have hit for the cycle, but he was never accepted in New York as he was in Toronto, for whom he played four separate times in his career. Given the unexpected opportunity to start on the rookie-phobic Yankee team, Derek Jeter began a magical year at short by homering in Jacobs Field in his first regular-season game in Cleveland. He won the Rookie of the Year Award, and the Yanks won the Series. The rest, as they say, is history. Continue reading
  • March 23 in Yankee History

  • On March 23, 1972, the Yankees agreed in principle to continue playing ball in the Bronx. Later that year on August 8, they put it in writing by signing a 30-year lease contingent on a modernization to be completed in time for the 1976 season. Old-time Yankee fans point to this renovation as the true end of the original ballpark, though most of us point to the final game in September 2008. Continue reading