February 11 in Yankee History

  • Bobby Murcer‘s away-from-the-Yanks odyssey took a second step on February 11, 1977, when he was traded from the Giants to the Cubs for Bill Madlock. Finally on June 26, 1979, he would return to the Bronx as the Yanks sent pitcher Paul Semall and cash to the Cubs. Bobby hit 34 homers with 181 rbi’s and 21 stolen bases with the Giants in 1975-1976, and followed with 43, 175, and 32 with the Cubs. It was a crushing blow to Yankee fans when Bobby succumbed to his illness in 2008. Continue reading
  • February 10 in Yankee History

  • What would we do with a Yankee pitcher who turned in a 303-150 win-loss record? We would wax on into the night about the strength and drive of his fastball, the elegance of his big nose-to-toes slow-breaking curve, and wink at the cunning of his well-timed and devastating change. No, the Yankees have had no such phenom toeing the mound in the Bronx. But when considering Yankee birthdays for February 10, we come across a couple of guys who starred for two separate Pinstriped Dynasties, and their numbers, when grouped, are astounding. Lefty hurler Herb Pennock (1894) arrived on the Yankee scene on January 30, 1923, traded by the Red Sox to New York for Camp Skinner, Norm McMillan, George Murray, and cash just in time for the opening of the Yankee Cathedral in the Bronx. Herb dominated for years, and won five starts without a loss in World Series play. He also collected two WS saves along the way, the last in the Babe Ruth “Called Shot” game in Wrigley in 1932. Pennock had a classic start in the 1927 Series against the Pirates, when he retired the first 22 batters and ended with a three-hitter. Continue reading
  • February 9 in Yankee History

  • February 9 is the birthday of slick-fielding third baseman Clete Boyer (1937). After eight stellar seasons in the Bronx, Clete was traded in 1966 to the Braves for Bill Robinson, a badly failed Yankee attempt (one of many) to find a star to replace Mickey Mantle in center. Clete responded with his finest offensive year (26 homers, 96 rbi’s). And in 1969 Clete fell “victim” to the buxom Morganna, who walked on the field and kissed him. Clete had blasted 95 homers with 393 rbi’s and 27 stolen bases with the Yanks from 1959-1966. He was acquired from Kansas City in 1957 along with Art Ditmar, Bobby Shantz, Jack McMahan, Curt Roberts, and Wayne Belardi for Irv Noren, Milt Graff, Mickey McDermott, Tom Morgan, Rip Coleman, Jack Urban, and Billy Hunter. Unfortunately, Clete died during the 2007 baseball season. Continue reading
  • February 8 in Yankee History

  • February 8 was a bad Yankee day in the back-to-back years, 1983 and 1984. During the latter, the Yanks front office goofed. The number one player in the last year’s draft was Tim Belcher. He had become available once he refused to sign with the Twins, so the Yanks signed him, but it came to pass after they had submitted their list of protected players. The A’s, due compensation once the Orioles had signed their Type A free agent Tom Underwood, swooped in and grabbed Belcher before the Bombers could rectify the situation. Continue reading
  • February 7 in Yankee History

  • Baseball players make millions of dollars today, while the guys who came before, relatively speaking, made a pittance. But the road from there to here was a journey of a lot of steps. Joe DiMaggio, who would for more than 30 years after retiring be known as “the greatest living ballplayer,” established a new plateau for major-league players on February 7, 1949, when he signed a $100,000 contract with the Yankees to play the upcoming season. It was the first ever six-digit contract in the League. Continue reading
  • February 6 in Yankee History

  • Blow the party horns; tug on the party hats. In descending order, Yankee fans, baseball fans, and spectator sports fans of all stripes should all rejoice, maybe even celebrate with a piece of cake. Babe Ruth, our very own revered and beloved Bambino, the Sultan of Swat, the man around whom so much of what we obsess about today originally began, was born on this day in 1895. Once acquired from the rival Red Sox by Business Manager Ed Barrow, he led the Yankees to the Promised Land with his booming bat, having already set a pretty high standard as a pitcher in Boston. He played from 1914-1935, the last year with the Boston Braves, and amassed 714 home runs and 2,213 rbi’s during that time. And there are five more Yankee birthdays this day (see below). Continue reading
  • February 4 in Yankee History

  • In just one more sign that the eighties were not “The Glory Years,” on February 4, 1984, the Yanks traded righty reliever George Frazier, who looked a lot like a tall Ron Guidry until he threw the ball, and a young Otis Nixon, in his first year in the bigs, to Cleveland for Toby Harrah. Toby never really warmed to the opportunity to replace the traded and much beloved Graig Nettles. Harrah hit just .217 in 84 games and was shipped out a year later to Texas for minor leaguer Eric Dersin and outfielder Billy Sample. Harrah hit one home run, drove in 26 runs, and stole three bases in the Bronx, while Frazier split his 1984 season between Cleveland and Chicago (the Cubs) to a 9-5 mark. Nixon patrolled outfields for 15 years, through the 1999 season, with significant stopovers in Cleveland, Montreal, Atlanta, and Toronto. Harrah holds two odd (and unenviable) fielding records: He accepted no chances at shortstop in a June 25, 1976, doubleheader, a first and only occurrence for a major league shortstop. And on September 17, 1977, he played 17 innings in a game at third base without recording an assist. Continue reading
  • February 3 in Yankee History

  • In the early years of the Twentieth Century, the game of baseball continued to evolve. One sign of progress was the acceptance of some practices which were then gradually called into question, only to eventually be ruled illegal. The spitball was a famous example of this phenomenon, but a less heralded one was the emery ball, described in one source as “an illegal pitch in which the ball is filed with an emery board for better grip.” This pitch was most often associated with New York Highlander righthander Russ Ford, who introduced it in 1910. Russ put up some good numbers with the Yanks, going 73-56 with three saves from 1909-1913 before spending two years with the Buffalo Blues (later Buffeds) of the Federal League. But he really excelled right after he put his innovation into practice: He posted a 48-17 mark in 1910 and 1911. The American League banned Russ’s brainchild on February 3, 1915. Continue reading