The titular (though not actual, as it turned out) leaders of the 2015 AL East experienced what would be a season-long reversal of fortunes in Yankee Stadium on April 12, 2015, as seven of the first eight Yankee batters to face Clay Buchholz scored, an outburst punctuated by a three-run double off the bat of Alex Rodriguez, and back-to-back homers from Chase Headley and Stephen Drew. Despite lingering questions about the quality and depth of their rotation, the Red Sox and their fans were feeling good about their team’s early success — which would prove illusory — and Buchholz’s line into the fourth was 10 runs (nine earned) on nine hits and two walks on 79 pitches. Everyone in the Yankee lineup would score, and seven would drive in runs, led by Rodriguez’s four and three apiece from Headley and Brian McCann, in the Bombers’ 14-4 win, their first of several early-season appearances on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.
Although CC Sabathia pitched a great game and allowed the Orioles just one earned run over eight innings, with eight strike outs on April 12, 2012, that comes in third or fourth place to several highlights that all involve the word “three.” First, once an unearned run in the seventh tied the game at 2-2, the Yanks benefited big-time from a three-run error on Baltimore’s Adam Jones, who dropped Vernon Wells‘s fly ball in center field, forging the 5-2 final score. Hinting at promise that would prove illusory, newly signed Kevin Youkilis went 3-for-3 with a walk, scored a run, and drove one in. But the standout moment of the game followed an e-2 and a single in the top of the eighth when Manny Machado smacked what appeared to be a tailor-made dp grounder to Robinson Cano at second. Once his throw went to second for one out, however, Jayson Nix threw to third, and when the dust cleared that Yanks had recorded a triple play, 4-6-5-6-5-3-4.
The love affair with Hideki Matsui in the Bronx grew on April 12, 2003, when he plated the game-winner in a 5-4 win over the Devil Rays with a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth. The safety scored third baseman Todd Zeile, who had capped the Yankee four-run rally in the second with a two-run homer. Amazingly, forgotten man Bubba Trammell had perhaps his only good day in the Bronx. He doubled twice, singled, scored one, knocked in two, and reached base a fourth time when his eighth-inning pop to a sun-bathed left field struck rising Rays star Carl Crawford on the head.
Yankee fans who thought what they saw in the Stadium in a 7-4 win over the Red Sox on April 12, 2014, was a sign of things to come could hardly have been more wrong, as the Bombers stroked two, two-run home runs, and three singletons, for all their scoring. The lack of power in a park built for it would stand out all season long. On this day the long balls were smacked by Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann — and another later — Alfonso Soriano, and Kelly Johnson; veteran righty Hiroki Kuroda had to be shocked by all the offense.
On April 12, 1927, the Yankees beat the Philadelphia Athletics 8-3 before 65,000 fans, the biggest Opening Day crowd ever. Mark Koenig went 5-for-5 to lead the battering of A’s ace Lefty Grove. With the win the Yanks moved into first, a place they held or shared the rest of the way. This is an AL Record that would go unmatched until the 1984 Tigers equalled it.
Mel Stottlemyre threw a one-hitter at Detroit on this day in 1969, besting Denny McLain by a score of 4-0.
The Yanks lost squeakers on April 12 in both 1965 and 1966. Long after starters Jim Bouton and Jim Kaat had left the contest in the former, Minnesota’s Cesar Tovar‘s 12th-inning single plated the winner off Pedro Ramos. It followed Hector Lopez‘s three-base error on a wind-blown pop in a 5-4 loss. And Mickey Lolich struck out 10 and outdueled Whitey Ford in a 2-1 Detroit win in the Bronx in 1966.
On April 12, 1970, plaques honoring Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle were first dedicated at Yankee Stadium. They both have monuments now. The Bombers split with the Indians in the double dip that followed, with Mel Stottlemyre falling 2-1 to “Sudden” Sam McDowell in Game One, and Jack Aker getting the nightcap win 5-4 when Ron Hansen walked in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded.
Highlander Hippo Vaughn outdueled A’s ace Chief Bender, 2-1, in the Home Opener in Philadelphia on April 12, 1911.
The Yankees posted ragged home wins on April 12 in both 1998 and 2000, with the latter serving as the Home Opener. In that contest, the Yanks needed a two-run double by Tino Martinez in the seventh for a come-from-behind 8-6 win over the Rangers despite having taken a 4-2 lead in the fifth on Bernie Williams‘s three-run bomb. Young Mike Buddie got the win in the ’98 tilt behind Bernie Williams‘s rally-capping, sixth-inning, two-run single. Darryl Strawberry supplied the insurance run with a seventh-inning homer in the home team’s 7-5 win over Oakland.
Pitching for the opposition, former Yankee hurler George Mogridge, who in an earlier season was responsible for the club’s first no-hitter, beat Sam Jones and the Yanks 6-5 in Washington on April 12, 1922.
The Yanks won a twice-postponed Home Opener over the Red Sox on April 12, 1959, 3-2, behind Bob Turley‘s two-hitter and Norm Siebern‘s eighth-inning tater.
The Yanks cashed in another Home Opener on this day in 1990, as they took the lead vs. Cleveland in the eighth inning on Luis Polonia‘s single. Billy Martin‘s son threw out the first pitch before the 6-4 Yankee win.
Washington Nationals starter Charlie Smith allowed four hits and struck out 10 in besting Doc Newton and the Highlanders on this day in 1909, the first game in which the New Yorkers were guided by new Manager George Stallings.
Walter Johnson and the Nationals bested Ray Caldwell and the Yanks in 11 innings, 3-2, on April 12, 1916.
On that same 1916 day, the Yankee franchise had a big near miss when the Red Sox sent eventual Hall of Fame outfielder Tris Speaker to the Cleveland Indians for Sam Jones and Ray Thomas. The Bombers had turned down an offer of Speaker for cash and Fritz Maisel several days before. Maisel would play but two more seasons, one in New York, while Speaker would lead Cleveland through the 1926 season; he would add 78 homers to his career total and maintain a high average until he retired in 1928.
The freak occurrence that got future Yankee Dion James a double on April 12, 1987, leads off the only former and future Yankee highlights we’ll include this day. As a Brave, James hit what looked to be a lazy fly ball to Mets center fielder Kevin McReynolds, until the ball hit and killed a pigeon, and landed for a hit. Grand slams “low”light the other two items, as Cecil Cooper used one to knock former Yank Mike Torrez out of an 18-1 Milwaukee win over the Red Sox on April 12, 1980. Don Money followed with another salami off Chuck Rainey in the nine-run second, one of just four times in major league history that two grand slams have been hit in one inning. It was also the second inning when Merv Rettenmund of the Reds blasted a grand slam off former Yank Jack Aker in a 14-2 win over the Braves on April 12, 1974.
Reacting to the tattered appearance of their bullpen, the Yankees selected the contract of veteran righty Kyle Davies from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on April 12, 2015, making room on both the 40- and 25-man rosters by designating lefty Matt Tracy for assignment.
The Yankees assigned righty John Van Benschoten to AA Trenton on April 12, 2010.
On April 12, 1877, Albert Spalding introduced the precursor of today’s catcher’s mitt.
There no April 12 Yankee player deaths.
Not only are there no Yankee player deaths this day, there are few among other notable players either. Southpaw Ed Morris (1937) did most of his pitching from 1884-1890 with the Alleghenies, and he won 171, lost 122, and saved one. Righthander Carl Morton (1983) posted the greater part of his 87-92 mark with one save from 1969-1976 with the Expos and the Braves. A catcher when he played, Hal Smith went yard 23 times and drove in 172 runs from 1956 to 1965, mostly for St. Louis.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Yankee reliever in 2003 Antonio Osuna was born on April 12, 1973. He won two games and lost five in 48 appearances that year after the Yanks signed him as a free agent; they released him after the season.
Also born today was lefty Bill Wight (1922), who spent the first two years of his 1946-1958 career pitching with the Yanks, for whom he had a 3-2 win-loss mark. He was sent with Fred Bradley and Aaron Robinson to the White Sox for Eddie Lopat in February 1948.
Outfielder Sammy Vick (1895), who reached the fence twice and knocked in 30 runs for Yankee teams from 1917-1920, was also a chip used to acquire pitching, as he was shipped with Del Pratt, Muddy Ruel, and Hank Thormahlen to the Red Sox for Waite Hoyt, Harry Harper, Wally Schang, and Mike McNally in December 1920.
And although lefty thrower Dale Roberts‘s (1942) only two big-league appearances came in the Bronx in 1967 (no record), he was traded with Bob Tillman to the Braves later that year for Bobby Cox.
Brand-new to the Yankee roster is outfielder Brennan Boesch (1985), who was acquired halfway through 2013 Spring Training from the Tigers in the wake of Curtis Granderson having had his forearm broken when hit with a pitch in his first spring at bat. A lefty batter who has had lots of success in Yankee Stadium but not patrolling the outfield, Boesch had hit 42 home runs with 175 rbi’s in Detroit in three seasons, and added three long balls and eight rbi’s in the Bronx, where he played sparingly until being sent to AAA, and eventually released in July.
Neither hurler Matt Williams (1971) nor Bill Lindsey (1960) played for the Yanks, but both spent some time with the team. Williams arrived and left as a free agent and posted no record in 11 games with Colorado and Milwaukee. Lindsey caught nine games for the ’87 White Sox after being traded with Ron Hassey and Carlos Martinez to Chicago for Ron Kittle, Wayne Tolleson, and Joel Skinner in December 1986.
Infielder/outfielder Adonis Garcia (1985) also never played for the Yanks, though he showed promise in Spring Training and in the minors once they signed him as an amateur free agent in 2012. Probably released (on April 1, 2015) because he had turned 30, Garcia was snatched up by the Braves, for whom he hit 10 homers and drove in 26 runs while batting .277 in 58 games in 2015. And in 2016, Garcia played in 134 games, with 14 homers and 65 rbi’s. He seems to have found a home.
Other birthdays feature Hall of Famers Vic Willis (1876), who played with the Boston Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates from 1898 to 1910; and Cleveland hurler Addie Joss (1880), who led the league in lowest era twice, wins once, and fewest hits and walks per nine innings once and twice, respectively. Also born April 12: Reb Russell (1889), who went 81-59 with the White Sox from 1913-1919; Johnny Antonelli (1930); Charlie Lau (1933); Mike McFarlane (1964); Jerry Goff (1964); Paul Lo Duca (1972); D.J. Carrasco (1977); Danny Garcia (1980), who was the first Brooklyn Cyclone to ever play for the Mets; Hisasni Iwakuma (1981); Justin Riggiano (1982); Brad Brach (1986); Pedro Hernandez (1989); Raudel Lazo (1989); Burch Smith (1990); and Edgar Olmos (1990).
Players Born This Day