It was 60 degrees and nice when the Yanks hosted the Anaheim Angels in their home opener on April 13, 2012. And new free agent starter Hiroki Kuroda quickly endeared himself to the Bronx, allowing just four singles and no runs through eight innings. Initially, Ervin Santana seemed up to the challenge after striking out two to start the bottom of the first, but a single, a stolen base, and two walks set it up for Nick Swisher, who then delivered three runs with a double in a 5-0 Yankee win. Recently retired Jorge Posada threw out the ceremonial first pitch to his father, Jorge Posada, Sr.
April 12 Bronx baseball was rained out in freezing wet 2011, and the Bombers played Baltimore in a wet, chilly, misty Yankee Stadium on April 13, a night so unpleasant that the Yanks offered free tickets to an upcoming game for all attendees. The UCONN national basketball champs were honored pregame with Kimba Walker throwing out the first pitch. Derek Jeter, who matched Bobby Bonds in career hits with a second-inning single, was honored for having stroked at least 150 hits in all the 15 preceding seasons; and Jorge Posada passed Phil Rizzuto for 14th on the Yankee hit list with a homer and single. An Alex Rodriguez three-run home run and Robinson Cano two-run double had the Yanks up 6-0 after two, and the home team prevailed 7-4.
The only bad news from a 7-5 Yankee win over Anaheim in Yankee Stadium Opening Day on April 13, 2010, was that reliever David Robertson struggled in a four-run ninth and had to be rescued by Mariano Rivera. Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth sang the National Anthem and beloved “not retired” Yankee Bernie Williams threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game, and Andy Pettitte earned the win with 100 pitches in six innings. Jorge Posada passed Mickey Mantle for seventh on the Yankees doubles list with his 344th in the seventh inning. Indicating promise that would not be fulfilled, Nick Johnson gave the Yanks an early lead with a first-inning home run and scored three times, Jorge had three hits, and Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez drove in two runs apiece.
In 1978, April 13 was Reggie Candy Bar Day. Reggie Jackson had boasted earlier in his career that if he ever played in New York they would name a candy bar after him, and it came to pass, six months after he attained the heights with his three-home-run, 1977 World Series-winning game. On this day each fan entering the game was given a Reggie Bar, and they threw them on the field when the rightfielder hit a three-run homer in the first, in a 4-2 win over the White Sox.
On April 13, 1998, a beam fell in the loge section of the Stadium on the third base side, during the day before a night game was to be played, so thankfully no one was in the section. Two of the games the Yanks had scheduled with the Anaheim Angels were postponed, and one would be played, but at Shea Stadium.
Believe it or not, another huge Stadium development took place in New York on April 13, way back in 1911, 87 years before the beam fell. Hours after the Giants lost 6-1 to the Phillies, the grandstand and left field bleachers burned to the ground at the Polo Grounds, the Jints’ home park. It’s fairly well known that until the Yanks opened their own Stadium across the Harlem River in the Bronx in 1923, they were tenants and co-users of the field at the Giants’ park. They were without a home once the Hilltop Park lease expired in 1912. But perhaps less known is the fact that the Highlanders were the first of two to serve in the role of landlord. After the aformentioned fire the American League New York team allowed the Giants to share their field until the reconstruction of the Polo Grounds was complete.
Despite all the offensive heroics, the big story coming out of the the Bombers’ 19-1 thrashing of the Senators on April 13, 1955 was that Whitey Ford allowed but two hits while stroking three of his own.
The year before on April 13, 1954, Washington beat the Yanks, 5-3, in the presidential opener when Mickey Vernon hit a two-run homer off Allie Reynolds in the 10th. Starters Whitey Ford and Chuck Stobbs were not around for the final this time.
Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi home runs keyed a 9-3, home-standing Yankee win over the Royals on April 11, 2006, as Randy Johnson took his second season win.
On Tuesday night, April 13, 1999, the Yankee catcher “made them pay.” The Yanks had just taken a 3-2 lead against the Orioles on a Tino Martinez eighth-inning double, and Arthur Rhodes intentionally walked Chili Davis to get to Jorge Posada. He fouled off four pitches before hitting an opposite-field three-run jack. Ramiro Mendoza started but left a 2-2 tie after six, and the Yanks won the game 6-3.
On the same day in 2003, the Yankee Stadium Scoreboard trumpeted the stat that Bernie Williams had driven in his 1,000th career run 11 days earlier as he strode to the plate in the eighth inning with the Yanks down, 1-0, to the Devil Rays. The switch-hitting outfielder then tied the game on the next pitch with a sharp single up the middle. The Yanks would lose this one 2-1, however, on an unearned run in the ninth. Devil Rays starter Victor Zambrano dueled Roger Clemens that day, and Juan Acevedo took the loss.
Detroit “Yankee Killer” Frank Lary posted his last win over the Bombers on April 13, 1962, a 5-3 victory in which he was hurt running out a triple. He would win only two more games. On the same day the crosstown Mets lost their first-ever home game, falling 4-3 to the Pirates in the Polo Grounds.
Carl Mays got the win and Babe Ruth went 5-for-5 in the Yankee season opener on April 13, 1921, an 11-1 humbling of the A’s.
On this day in 1992, the Yanks and the Blue Jays, at 5-0 and 6-0 respectively, became the third set of teams undefeated this late into the season to play. The Yanks took the game, 5-2, but months later it was the Jays who played in, and won, the World Series.
In an early season move spurred by injury, on April 13, 2011, the Yankees placed righty reliever Luis Ayala on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 11 with a strained lat. To take his spot the team recalled Hector Noesi from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
On April 13, 1952 Babe Ruth‘s widow unveiled the Fayetteville, North Carolina site of the Babe’s first home run.
Hammerin’ Hank Aaron went hitless in five at bats in his major leaague debut on April 13, 1954.
The hook to reporting the strange doings in Montreal on April 13, 1994, in a Yankee history column is the tidbit that ex-Yank Brian Dorsett broke up Pedro Martinez‘s no-hitter bid against the Reds by singling leading off the ninth. Earlier, Martinez lost a Perfect Game in his fifth major league start when he hit Reggie Sanders with a pitch in the eighth. Amazingly, Sanders charged the mound, thinking Pedro had hit him on purpose.
There are four other April 13 news items regarding future or former Yankee players that make today’s list. The starter and loser in the first game ever for the brand-new American League Baltimore Orioles (formerly the St. Louis Browns) in 1954 was Don Larsen. It seems fitting that eventual firebrand Yankee outfielder and then manager for several teams Lou Piniella collected the game-winning two-run single in K.C.’s 5-3 win over Minnesota in 1971 in a game that is best known for featuring a record seven players being hit by pitches. On April 13, 1991, California’s Dave Winfield collected 15 bases and six rbi’s on three home runs, a double, and a single in a 15-9 destruction of the Twins. And former Yankee prospect Rex Hudler was the goat in Cleveland’s 6-5 win over California. His caught stealing in the ninth inning gave Derek Lilliquist a win in a game in which he retired no Angels batters when the Tribe scored and won it in the 10th.
When Rollie Fingers broke the American League save record with his 217th in a 6-5 Milwaukee win over Texas on April 13, 1985, the name he removed from the record book was that of ex-Yank Sparky Lyle.
Texas Ranger (newly signed by Houston, later in Washington, now out of the game) catcher Ivan Rodriguez drove in nine runs in a 15-6 win over the Mariners on April 13, 1999. The two homers and single that did all the damage came in the first three innings.
Pete Rose got his first major league base hit (a triple) on April 13, 1963, and on the same day in 1984, hit a double to become the second player (after Ty Cobb) ever with 4,000 hits.
Outfielder/third baseman Frenchy Bordagaray (2000) is the only Yankee player to have died on April 13. In 71 at bats during 36 games with the 1941 Bombers, Frenchy managed one rbi with no home runs. In a 1934-1945 career spent largely playing for the Dodgers he reached 14 fences good for 270 rbi’s.
Three outfielders and a second baseman comprised the list of other notable players to have passed on this day, or at least they did until 2009, when ex-Tiger phenom Mark “the Bird” Fidrych died in a tragic farm accident. If you look up the numbers, you’ll find just a 29-19 career record, but talk to anyone who witnessed the way the Bird took the baseball world by storm back in 1976. Lefty-hitting second sacker Don Blasingame (2005) played more often than not with the Cardinals and the Senators from 1955-1966, and he hit 21 home runs with 308 rbi’s. Of the three outfielders, just Tommy Griffith (1967) hit from the left side, hitting 52 long balls with 619 rbi’s, mostly for the Reds and the Dodgers, from 1913 through 1925. Mike McCormick (1976)played with the Reds too, and the Braves from 1940-1951, with 14 home runs and 215 rbi’s; and Joe Schultz (1941) of the Cardinals contributed 15 fence clearers good for 249 rbi’s from 1912-1925.
Players Who Have Died This Day
The emphasis is on old-timer when looking at Yankee players born April 13. Jake Stahl (1879) played 75 games in the Yank (Highlander) outfield in 1908, during which time he reached the fences twice, drove in 42 runs, and stole 17 bases. The Yanks got Stahl from the Chicago White Sox in October 1907, and sent him to the Boston Red Sox the following July.
And Kid Elberfeld (1875) played infield for the Yanks from 1903 through 1909. Kid doubled Jake’s home run total, delivered 321 runs, and came up with 139 steals. Ironically, Kid arrived in New York via a June 1903 trade with Detroit for Herman Long (1866) and Ernie Courtney. Another April 13 celebrant, shortstop Long had notched eight rbi’s and three steals with the Highlanders in 22 games in that inaugural 1903 season before he was shipped to the Tigers.
Fellow infielder Oscar Grimes (1915) hit nine homers with 96 rbi’s and 13 thefts during 281 games with the 1943-1946 Yankees. Grimes was traded by the Cleveland Indians with Roy Weatherly to the Yankees for Roy Cullenbine and Buddy Rosar in December 1942.
Steve Pearce almost qualifies for the Yankee April 13 birthday list twice, because he had two stints with the club. The first baseman was signed as a free agent in March 2012 only to be purchased by the Orioles that July. But the Yanks reacquired Steve in August, now from the Astros, for the stretch run, and his home run and four rbi’s were significant contributions in the 12 games he played. Appearing in games for Pittsburgh from 2007 through 2011, and back with Baltimore now, Pearce has hit 13 long balls good for 78 rbi’s as the 2013 season approaches.
There are three more April 13 Bomber birthdays, even if they only played 16 games for the club among them. Most recently Al Leiter‘s brother Mark Leiter (1963) went 1-1 in eight games (three starts) debuting for the 1990 team, and threw for seven more clubs until his last service with Milwaukee in 2001. The Yanks parted ways with Mark when they traded him to Detroit for Torey Lovullo in March 1991. And Charlie Meara (1891) and George Shears (1890) each played all four games of their respective big-league careers with the Yanks, Charlie in the outfield in 1914, and George as a pitcher in 1912. Shears scored one run, and doubled for his only hit in six at bats. In seven at bats, Meara doubled that hit and run total, and he drove in a run too.
Other birthdays: Doug Strange (1964); Wes Chamberlain (1966); Ricardo Rincon (1970); Hunter Pence (1983); and Lorenzo Cain (1986).
Players Born This Day