December 7 in Yankee History

  • I’m sure it’s just a quirk that December 7 is so rich in Yankee history, and it’s already a pretty big day “in infamy,” what with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on this day in 1941, which ushered the United States into World War II. Two years before that fateful day, the slowly dying Yankee Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, (who would succumb to his illness in 1941) was ushered into baseball’s Hall of Fame on December 7, 1939. Lou had been forced to retire at the age of 36 after blasting 493 homers and knocking in 1,995 runs in a Yankee career that spanned 1923-1938. He is the rare exception who had the mandatory five-year waiting period for Hall acceptance waived. Continue reading
  • December 6 in Yankee History

  • There was a stark choice given veteran Yankee reliever Mike Stanton on December 6, 2002. “Take a pay cut and you can stick around; you have 15 minutes to answer.” On the one hand, the eventually signed Chris Hammond failed to make the lefty set-up spot his own that year. And Gabe White, C.J. Nitkowski, and Felix Heredia all failed miserably trying to fill Mike’s role in 2004. The situation did not improve with Stanton (again), Buddy Groom, or Alan Embree in 2005. But on the other hand, Stanton was hurt and ineffective with the Mets in ’03 (2-7 in 50 games, five saves, 4.57 era), and not much better (2-6, 0 saves, 3.16 era) in ’04. Mark Guthrie (the other alternative) was only so-so with the Cubs in 2003, and then didn’t pitch in the bigs. Bottom line: It was not a bad move to not re-sign Stanton, but it was a problem trying to effectively replace him. Mike Myers was effective in 2006, but he took his place on the “disaster” list in 2007. Continue reading
  • December 5 in Yankee History

  • The three-team trade that landed shortstop Didi Gregorius on the Yankees on December 5, 2014, was initially greeted lukewarmly, and five months later was the subject of considerable complaints, as Gregorius started the ’15 season not only struggling with the bat, but in the field and running the bases too. Further, young righthander Shane Greene, whom New York shipped to Detroit, started his Tigers season at 3-0, with a minuscule era. But Detroit, who had traded second baseman Domingo Leyba and lefthander Robbie Ray to the Arizona Diamondbacks (who shipped Didi to the Yanks), would remove a struggling Greene from their rotation, then demote him to the minors as the season passed, and Gregorius blossomed in all aspects of the game in the Bronx. He would hit 20 homers with 70 rbi’s in 2016. Continue reading
  • December 4 in Yankee History

  • Although perhaps a bit heartless, the Yanks’ decision not to pursue bullpen mainstay and free agent Dave Righetti after the 1990 season was a pretty good one in the long term. Although he managed 24 saves with the San Francisco Giants after signing with them on December 4, 1990, he would only add another couple in the next four years, and went 8-18 in that time, for the Giants, the A’s, the Blue Jays, and the White Sox. Continue reading
  • December 3 in Yankee History

  • Two lefthanded free agent pitchers signed contracts with new teams on December 3, 1988. Jesse Orosco, who would later see limited action with the Yankees in the latter stages of the 2003 season, signed with the Cleveland Indians. Lefty finesse starter Dave LaPoint signed with the Bronx Bombers. I saw the Yankees let him face more than 10 batters in the same inning in a Spring Training game once and retire none of them. During the season he was better, but not overly so, on a Yankee team sadly in need of quality arms. His career mark was 80-86, but an even .500 other than his time with the Yanks. The six more games lost than won is a number he picked up in Pinstripes, posting a 13-19 record with the Yanks during the 1989 and 1990 seasons. Continue reading
  • December 2 in Yankee History

  • Just the other day we commemorated the trade that brought Graig Nettles to the Bronx. You win some, you lose some. On December 2, 1971, the Yanks pulled off one of their worst swaps ever. Just three years after Stan Bahnsen had won the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and following three winning seasons out of four, the Yanks sent the hard-throwing righty to the White Sox for third-base candidate Rich McKinney. Bahnsen would fashion 91 major-league wins after leaving the Bronx, and go 21-16 in Chicago in 1972. McKinney, on the other hand, hit one homer with seven rbi’s in 37 games in the Bronx, 33 of them at third, where he made eight errors. And he would be out of baseball in six years, not nearly soon enough for some who watched him play the not-so-hot corner in Yankee Stadium. Continue reading
  • December 1 in Yankee History

  • One of the signs I enjoyed seeing on display as I watched the Yankees in the eighties on WPIX in New York was one held up by a season ticket holder behind the righthanded batters box that read, “Baylor is a God.” The Yankees signed free-agent slugger Don Baylor to a five-year, $5 million contract to be their Designated Hitter on December 1, 1982. I guess the 71 dingers and 265 rbi’s over three years weren’t quite godlike. He was pretty good when the Yankees were going from great to several steps less than. Continue reading
  • November 30 in Yankee History

  • Twelve home runs and 204 rbi’s over seven seasons are the kinds of numbers that get passed off as mediocre in this report all the time. And even though this player’s three managerial stretches with the Yanks all netted positive results (34-22 prestrike in 1981; 14-12 post-strike; and 44-42 in 1982), they hardly merited many boldface declarations either. But few would dispute, despite those ordinary numbers, that the acquisition of Gene “Stick” Michael from the Dodgers on November 30, 1967, was one of the Yankee moves of the last third of the last century that had the most far-reaching positive effects. Continue reading
  • November 29 in Yankee History

  • It was candy-bar time in New York, time to stir the straw, which had just arrived. Free agent lefthanded power-hitting outfielder and future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson signed a $3.5 million contract to play for the Yanks on November 29, 1976. Reggie had established his credentials in Oakland, played one season in Baltimore, and proved his worth in New York. He would become Mr. October by hitting three homers in the deciding Game Six of the 1977 World Series. Continue reading
  • November 28 in Yankee History

  • The Yankees learned early in their successful years that the key to continued success was retooling. So, after winning their second Championship in 1927, they recognized that need, and released righty Bob Shawkey and lefty Dutch Ruether on November 28, 1927. Shawkey had anchored the staff for 13 years, winning 168 games during his stay, and Ruether chipped in with another 15 wins since his arrival the season before. Continue reading