On April 11, 1912, the Yankees wore the pinstripes for the first time in the opener against the Red Sox at Hilltop Park. The locals (playing on the “Hilltop,” they were the “Highlanders”) took a 2-1 lead in the first against Smoky Joe Wood, but two of the four tallies Boston pushed across in the ninth scored on Wood’s single in the 5-3 New York loss.
Reacting to the depletion of their bullpen in a 19-inning loss to Boston the night before, on April 11, 2015, the Yankees transferred righthander Ivan Nova, recovering from April 2014 Tommy John surgery, from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list; then optioned lefty Chasen Shreve to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders; and selected the contract of southpaw Matt Tracy from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
As if the devastating loss in the 19-inning marathon the night before wasn’t enough, the hangover from that game played a part in the 8-4 loss to Boston the Yanks suffered on April 11, 2015, a contest that began about 10 hours after the Friday night tilt. Living life on the seesaw between starter and reliever, Adam Warren got his team into the sixth down just 2-1, but righthander Chris Martin and lefthander Matt Tracy, the latter making his MLB debut after just having been recalled, were reached for three runs each in the seventh and eighth, respectively, with Joe Girardi‘s bullpen stretched beyond its limits. Those Sox rallies rendered Chris Young‘s three-run. eighth-inning bomb far too little, far too late.
New York took it on the chin again exactly 102 years following that 1912 opener mentioned above when the Yankees fell 4-2 to the visiting Red Sox on April 11, 2014. Alfonso Soriano homered off John Lester in the second while CC Sabathia held the visitors scoreless on one hit, striking out back-to-back hitters to close the fifth. But the first five at bats in the top of the sixth produced a home run, strike out, single, single, home run, so the — again, back-to-back — strike outs that closed that frame just added to the stunning blow that left us on the wrong side of a 4-1 score. Yankee pitching whiffed 14 Boston batters in the loss, while each team collected seven hits.
On April 11, 2004, the Bubba Crosby Fan Club in the Bronx opened with thousands of members as the speedy center fielder (Bernie Williams DH’d and batted second) blasted a three-run bomb against the upper deck facade in right field in the Stadium against Chisox righty Dan Wright to bring the home team from behind in a 5-4 Yankee win. Carlos Lee drilled a two-run first-inning triple off Mike Mussina, who aside from that allowed just a Jose Valentin homer to record the win over 6.3. Earlier in the game, Crosby appeared to have “caught” the right center field wall in an outstanding play on Magglio Ordonez‘s no-outs blast in the top of the third.
Shortstop Derek Jeter stroked two hits, stole two bases, and scored two runs in support of winner Andy Pettitte on April 11, 1998, in a 3-1 decision over Tom Candiotti and the A’s to put the Yanks over the .500 mark for the first time in that historic season.
One year later on April 11, 1999, the Yanks proved yet again how formidable they were with their one-two punch at the top of the order, as both Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter reached safely four of five times in the club’s 11-2 pasting of the Tigers. Jeter doubled, homered, and plated three in support of winner el duque Hernandez.
Yankee Captain Derek Jeter staked an early claim as MVP of the 2006 Yankees when he blasted a three-run, come-from-behind, eighth-inning home run off Ambiorix Burgos to rally the New Yorkers to a 9-7 Home Opening Day win over the Kansas City Royals on April 11.
The Yankees absorbed a 10-3 drubbing at the hands of Boston in their April 11 Home Opener at the Polo Grounds in 1917. They were unable to get untracked against Red Sox southpaw Babe Ruth, who allowed but three singles in the contest.
On April 11, 1987, Don Mattingly doubled twice for five rbi’s in a 12-run Yankees seventh inning in a 15-2 Bomber win in Royals (now Kaufmann) Stadium in Kansas City. Donnie, Gary Ward, and Ron Kittle had three hits apiece and lefty Dennis Rasmussen was the Yankee pitcher who benefited from all the offense.
On April 11, 2011, the Yankees signed young righthanded pitchers Francisco Castillo and Reinier Casanova.
Lefthander Hippo Vaughn so impressed Highlander Manager George Stallings with eight strike outs in six frames in an April 11, 1910, exhibition against Princeton University, that George handed him the ball for the season opener.
On April 11, 1966, Emmett Ashford became the first African American to umpire a major league game in a 5-2 Cleveland win over Washington in the nation’s capital. It is both an amazing and appalling fact that this long-overdue honor was achieved almost 20 years beyond the day that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier for players.
After a week of snow-outs caused by an April wintery blast, the Yanks finally opened the 1982 home season with a double dip on Easter Sunday, April 11, against the White Sox. The long-suffering New York fans got three extra innings for their trouble, but little else, as Goose Gossage lost the opener, 7-6, in 12 innings, and Chicago blanked the home team, 2-0, in the second tilt.
In a good trade for both teams, the Yanks shipped outfielders Bill Virdon and Emil Tellinger and pitcher Mel Wright to St. Louis for Enos “Country” Slaughter on April 11, 1954.
The Bombers lost Home Openers on April 11 in both 1961 and 1963. Minnesota’s Pedro Ramos blanked the club led by new Manager Ralph Houk in the former, 8-0, and Milt Pappas of the Orioles prevailed, 4-1, in the latter. The silver linings? Loser Whitey Ford in the first contest would post a 25-4 season, and the Yankee tally in the 1963 game was provided by a Mickey Mantle home run.
The New York Mets lost their first ever game to the Cardinals at Sportsman’s Park, 11-4, on April 11, 1962.
In Washington on April 11, 1907, New York’s Al “The Curveless Wonder” Orth bested the Nationals’ Long Tom Hughes, 3-2, in front of almost 13,000 fans in a matchup of hurlers who had been traded for one another.
I know I’m not the only fan of the classic baseball flicks It Happens Every Spring and the original Angels in the Outfield. Paul Douglas, who starred in the latter and was a featured player in the former, was born this day in 1907.
The only April 11 happenings affecting future Yankee players we’ll include today involve the pitching staff. On this day in 2002, new Pinstriped reliever Kyle Farnsworth broke his foot while warming in the Cubs bullpen; and Randy Johnson posted wins on April 11 in both 1996 and 1997. Pitching for the Mariners on both occasions, he beat the Tigers 9-1 in ’96, and the Red Sox 5-3 the year after.
In the same vein, Mark Langston and future Yank Mike Witt paired for the first combined no-hitter in the bigs in 14 years in California’s 1-0 win over Seattle on April 11, 1990. Witt would join the Yanks in a few months.
The Seattle Pilots opened their only season, in Sicks Stadium, on this day in 1969.
Second baseman/shortstop Bobby Vaughn (1965) is the lone ballplayer to die April 11 to have played for the Yankees. Debuting with the 1909 Highlanders, Vaughn played five games, four of them at short, went 2-for-14, and scored one run, but he did not drive any in. He played all but 20 of 147 games with the 1914 St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League at second to finiah his career with no home runs and 32 rbi’s.
Switch-hitting righthander Kid Nichols (1953) pitched for the Beaneaters from 1890-1906 to a 361-208 record with 17 saves. Fellow righty Joe Heving (1970) passed away April 11 too; he went 76-48 with 63 saves from 1930-1945, mostly with the Indians and the Red Sox. Shortstop Shorty Fuller (1904) played mostly with the Giants from 1888-1896, and he delivered six long balls with 350 rbi’s. Toiling mostly with the Cardinals and the Braves from 1930-1947, catcher Walker Cooper (1991) hit 173 home runs and drove in 812. Lefty-hitting outfielder Mike Menosky (1983) played with the Red Sox and Senators from 1914-1923, clearing 18 fences and knocking in 252 runs along the way. Lefty-hiting, righty-throwing third baseman Grady Hatton (2013), who played most of his 1946-1960 career with the Reds and then the Red Sox, smacked 91 homers and knocked in 533 runs. And most recently, southpaw Bill Henry (2014), who posted a 46-50 record with 90 saves from 1952 through 1969, did so playing most of his games with the Reds, the Giants, the Red Sox, and the Cubs. He started 44 games, and appeared in 527.
Players Who Have Died This Day
April 11 never stood out as a big Yankee birthday date before, but we’ll have to rethink that once switch-hitting and defensive first baseman extraordinaire Mark Teixeira (1980) signed to play with the team in time for the 2009 Championship year No. 27. Ironically, Tex, who got close to signing with Boston before the Yanks swooped in and snatched him away, was drafted in the ninth round of the 1998 draft by the Red Sox, but did not sign. Smart choice, as the Rangers took him in the first round in 2001. The AL co-leader in home runs in 2009, Mark approached the 2012 season with 314 career home runs and more than 1,000 rbi’s. Tex hurt his wrist training to play with the U.S. squad in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, rehabbed it with rest, then reinjured it and had surgery after playing just 15 games, during which he homered three times and drove in 12 runs. He had a down season in 2014, but rebounded big-time in 2015, as he rediscovered his power swing to the tune of 31 home runs and 79 rbi’s before losing a quarter of the season to a broken shin bone in August.
Former New York Met Wally Whitehurst (1964), who went 1-1 in two games (both starts) for the 1996 Yanks, was born today. Whitehurst was selected off waivers from Montreal in June of that year, and he was released in September.
Also celebrating a birthday is Turner Ward (1965), who never played in New York but whom the Yankees selected in the 18th round of the 1986 amateur draft. He was traded with Joel Skinner to the Cleveland Indians for Mel Hall in March 1989. Ward stroked 39 homers with 219 rbi’s playing in six different cities over a 12-year big-league career.
Righthander Amalio Carreno (1964), who appeared in three games to no record for the 1991 Phillies, was signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent in November 1984. His July 1988 trade to the City of Brotherly Love netted the Yanks Luis Aguayo in return.
We’ll bend the rules a bit and add outfielder Russ Canzler (1986) to the Yankee list, by virtue of the Yanks having selected him from the roster of the Cleveland Indians in January 2013, only to have Baltimore take him one month and one day later. Playing three games with the 2011 Rays and 26 with the ’12 Tribe, Canzler has amassed three home runs and 12 rbi’s. He is once again a free agent with the Yankees, and played all of 2014 Spring Training with them, largely filling in at first.
One game with Philly in 2007 and eight with the 2009 Nationals is all the major league action righthander Zack Segovia (1983) has on his resume so far, but anyone traveling to Tampa to watch 2010 Spring Training saw this righty answering the relief bell for the Yanks several times this past March.
Another iffy addition to this list is infielder Pete Kozma (1988), who signed with the Yanks in November 2015 after having played in 275 games with St. Louis from 2011 through 2015. A 2007 first-round pick by the Cards, defensive specialist Kozma hit just three home runs with 52 rbi’s over those years, and was hoping to ride his glove to a bit part on the 2016 Yanks. That was not to be, but with the shoulder injury Didi Gregorius suffered playing in the WBC, Pete’s wish may come true in 2017.
We lead off the list of others birthdaying this day with righty Jim Hearn (1921), who posted a very respectable 109-89 record for National League clubs in St. Louis, New York, and Philadelphia from 1947-1959. Also: Sid Monge (1951); Bret Saberhagen (1964); Steve Scarsone (1966); Joe Vitiello (1970); Sean Bergman (1970); Jason Varitek (1972); the lefty Bobby Jones (1972); Trot Nixon (1974); Todd Dunwoody (1975); Kelvim Escobar (1976); Josh Hancock (1978); Andres Blanco (1984); Alejandro de Aza (1984); Charlie Furbush (1986); Ryan Schimpf (1988); Kenta Maeda (1988); Chris McGuiness (1988); and Jose Cisneros (1989).
Players Born This Day