The Yanks took their first home series of 2012 by pounding Anaheim’s Randy Williams and Hisanori Takahashi for eight early runs, highlighted by Derek Jeter‘s three-run fourth-inning bomb, on April 15. Later, DH Raul Ibanez got his fabulous and magical season in The Bronx started with an upper-deck shot and three rbi’s of his own in the 11-5 Yankee win.
A good way to get acclimated to a new ballclub is to come through with a game-winning hit against a serious rival, something Curtis Granderson had already done in Fenway Park with a home run the week before, but the newest Yankee in the 2010 season wasn’t done, as he kicked in triples in back-to-back innings in a 6-2 Yankee Stadium win against the Angels on April 15 of that year. But Robinson Cano outdid him, homering twice in the same game. Phil Hughes went five for the win, Derek Jeter homered and had two hits, and DH Marcus Thames opened some eyes with two hits as well. The game was the fifth multi-triple one in Granderson’s career.
Look no further for an April 15 event than this day in 1976 when Yankee Stadium was reopened after two years of renovations. Bob Shawkey, who was the winning pitcher of the game that served as the 1923 Stadium opener, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Yankees came from behind to win 11-4, and subsequently made it to the World Series that year, after too, too long an absence. In answer to an oft-asked trivia question, the first homer in the “new” Yankee Stadium was hit by Minnesota’s Dan Ford. We’ll hear that question yet again in 2009.
The Yanks tried to mount rallies again and again facing Matt Harrison of the Rangers in Yankee Stadium on April 15, 2011, but he had the ground ball pill working and double plays in the first, third, fourth, fifth, seventh, and eighth innings doused every fire. A rare dry night that month, it was freezing in the Stadium and, in a promising sign that would not be much repeated, young righty Lance Pendleton showed some promise in retiring the visitors in order the last three innings in the 5-3 loss.
The Bombers made a return visit as the home team to Shea Stadium on April 15, 1998. It was strange taking the seven train to Flushing to see the Yanks, but that’s where they made up one of the three with the Anaheim Angels they couldn’t play in the Bronx once a loge level beam had fallen two days earlier. The Yanks prevailed, 6-3, but strangest of all, longtime Mets star Darryl Strawberry homered off Omar Olivares, and the Big Apple the Mets have over their outfield fence rose halfway (still concealing the Mets logo) and spun in celebration. In a unique double header, the Mets beat the Cubs in Shea 2-1 later that evening.
Babe Ruth hit the first of the season-record (for 34 years) 60 home runs on April 15, 1927, in a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Athletics.
Combining a Babe Ruth highlight with a Stadium quirk, Lefty Grove and the A’s beat the Yanks, 6-2, in Philly on April 15, 1930. The Babe hit a monster shot to right center that hit a speaker in Connie Mack Stadium and bounded back onto the field, and it was ruled a double.
Sadly, the “I told you so” contingent among the Yankee faithful had a field day on April 15, 2007, when Carl Pavano was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Unfortunately, fellow righty starter Mike Mussina was disabled with one of the team’s many hamstring injuries as well. Chris Britton was recalled from AAA Scranton to hopefully take some of the unfilled innings.
Following his elevation to the Hall of Fame the year before, the Yanks dedicated a plaque to former Business Manager Ed Barrow in Yankee Stadium on April 15, 1954. (See 1918 highlight below.) The former Red Sox Manager jumped to the Yanks front office in 1920, was responsible for the switch of the Bambino from the mound to everyday service in the outfield, raided the Boston club for stars like Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock, and served in the Yankee front office during their first 10 World Title seasons. Afterward, the Yanks whipped the Philadelphia A’s, 3-0.
Walter Johnson outdueled New York Highlander Jack Quinn, 1-0, on this day in 1912.
I’ll admit it; I was spoiled. After seeing David Wells and David Cone hurl Perfect Games in consecutive years, I was beside myself with excitement when Ramiro Mendoza retired the first 19 KC Royals on April 15, 2000, before surrendering a single to Carlos Febles over shortstop with one out in the seventh inning. Shane Spencer homered over the retired numbers in left center for three in the first, and Chuck Knoblauch and Roberto Kelly reached the fences too in the eventual 7-1 Yankee win.
The Yanks lost a heartbreaker to the White Sox, 4-3, on this day in 1980, as Jim Kaat allowed an unearned tally in the 14th inning.
The home-standing Bombers bested the Blue Jays on April 15, 2003, in a game where Mike Mussina outdueled Roy Halladay 5-0. There was a full moon on a gorgeous night, Jorge Posada homered, and Bernie Williams had three hits.
Under new Manager Bucky Harris, the Yankees and Spud Chandler lost 6-1 to Phil Marchildon and the A’s on April 15, 1947. On Opening Day, Philly came ready to play, as demonstrated when Eddie Joost scored on the front end of a double steal he pulled off with Elmer Valo.
Babe Ruth got the Red Sox off to a good start in 1918 when he pitched Boston to a 7-1 victory over the A’s on April 15. It was this year that Red Sox Manager Ed Barrow (soon to be Business Manager with the Yanks) started Ruth’s conversion to an offensive player, as he would appear in 72 contests as an outfielder/first baseman.
Adjusting their injury-depleted roster, the Yankees placed Phil Hughes on the 15-day disabled list with a tired arm on April 15, 2011. To create room on their 40-man list, the team transferred lefty Pedro Feliciano from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list, and then called up Lance Pendleton from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Two no-hitters have been thrown on April 15. In 1915, Rube Marquard of the Giants pulled the trick on Brooklyn by a 2-0 score, one year after he had lost 22 games. And 22-year-old Juan Nieves threw the first no-no in Brewers history on this day in 1987, a 7-0 whitewashing of Baltimore.
An old adage has it that catchers who have caught good pitchers for years are very dangerous against them if they ever face them as an opponent. On April 15, 1997 former Yankee backstop and World Series hero Jimmy Leyritz got the game winner off Mariano Rivera in an 8-5 Anaheim win.
The Dodgers purchased the contract of outfielder Ernie Koy from the Bombers on April 15, 1938. He would hit 20 homers and drive in 151 runs for the Bums over the next three seasons.
Jackie Robinson went hitless on this day in 1947 in his major league debut.
The Yanks and Orioles settled down after forging a 7-7 tie in the fourth inning on April 15, 1999, but two faithful New York performers failed in the late innings as Paul O’Neill made a big error and Mariano Rivera allowed three hits and two runs in the ninth, handing Baltimore a 9-7 win.
The only April 15 future Yankee player highlight comes to us via Baseball Library, who reports that when Reggie Jackson appeared in a 1972 A’s win over the Twins, he was the first major-league player to have facial hair (a mustache) since Wally Schang in 1914.
In a rather quirky stat, Sammy Sosa hit his 210th career homer on April 15, 1998. In so doing, he set the record at the time for the greatest amount of career homers without a grand slam.
The Indians lost their first regular-season game at Jacobs Field to Kansas City, 2-1, on April 15, 1994.
Southpaw Nick Cullop (1961) is the more famous of two Yankee players to have died on April 15. He posted an 18-15-2 mark with the 1916-1917 Yankees while pitching in 58 games (40 starts). He played with Cleveland and with Kansas City of the Federal League in 1913-1915 and in 1921 for an overall record of 57-55-2. Righty Floyd Newkirk‘s (1976) career amounted to one inning pitched for the 1934 Yanks; he allowed a walk and a hit but no runs, and never came to bat himself.
Pitchers who threw from opposite sides and a lefty-throwing, switch-hitting first baseman comprise the rest of the noteworthy April 15 death list, starting with righthander Jack Coombs (1957), who posted most of his 158 wins, 110 losses, and eight saves with the A’s and Dodgers from 1906-1920. Lefty Mickey Harris (1971) won 59, lost 71, and saved 21 from 1940 through 1952, mostly with the Red Sox and the Senators. Ripper Collins (1970) blasted 135 homers and drove in 659 runs mostly with the Cardinals from 1931-1941.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Of the two Yankee players who shared Tax Day, April 15, as their birthday until 2011, reliever King Cole (1886) easily had the longer tenure with the team. He finished his seven-year career with the Yanks in 1914 and 1915, winning 14 and losing 12 in that time. Southpaw Billy Brewer (1968) was one of three contenders to the role of Yankee 1996 lefty relief specialist, once he was acquired from the Dodgers for Mike Judd in June of that year. Brewer fell out of that competition quickly however, posting a 9.53 era despite posting a win in four games. Dale Polley hung in longer, losing out to eventual postseason hero Graeme Lloyd.
The addition to the Yankee birthday list in 2011 did not have a long stay with the team either. New York selected the former Indians southpaw Aaron Laffey (1985) off waivers that August from Seattle where he had gone 1-1 to that point in the season. His 2-1 mark in 11 games with the Bombers down the stretch brought his career mark since starting with Cleveland in 2007 to 21-23.
Other birthdays: Eddie Mayo (1910); Ed Bailey (1931); Leo Posada (1936, related to Jorge? I don’t think so); Woodie Fryman (1940), who posted 141 wins with 155 losses with mostly losing teams in Philadelphia and Montreal from 1966-1983; former NL batting champion Willie Davis (1940); Ted Sizemore (1945); Mike Diaz (1960); Jeromy Burnitz (1969); Ricky Otero (1972); Paul Phillips (1977); Tim Corcoran (1978); former anger-management problem in Los Angeles Milton Bradley (1978); Michael Aubrey (1982); John Danks (1985); Chris Tillman (1988); and Adeiny Hechavarria (1989).
Players Born This Day