He was just “James” in the Bronx until April 16, 2019, but on that day, “Big Maple” had his New York Coming Out Day with an 8-0 shutout of Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox. Sale was reached for four runs over the third and fourth innings on a Brett Gardner double, rbi singles from DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit, a triple from Mike Tauchman, and a Clint Frazier home run. Paxton allowed just two hits while striking out 12 through eight dominant frames, saving the bullpen as Joe Harvey finished up. The offense continued apace following Sale’s fifth inning departure, closing out the scoring on home runs from Gleyber Torres and Tauchman, the latter a three-run jolt in the sixth.
The Yankees gave a rude welcome to a young ex-mate, lefthander Caleb Smith, in a 12-1 obliteration of the visiting Miami Marlins on April 16, 2018. A red-hot Didi Gregorius led the way with two home runs good for three rbi’s, Gary Sanchez knocked in three with three hits, and Aaron Judge homered and drove in two. Luis Severino allowed one hit while whiffing six over six, and Chasen Shreve gave up the lone Miami run in the eighth.
Following three straight one-run home victories, the Yankees beat up on the Cardinals, 9-3, on April 16, 2017. Soon to be lost for much of the season, Greg Bird, off to a horrendous start, gave the crowd some hope by going 3-for-3 with a homer, a double, and a walk; he scored twice and drove in two. Other encouraging signs were an Aaron Judge rbi triple — that looked to be a home run and a blown call, even in replay — preceding Bird’s second-inning blast, and another extra-base hit from Aaron Hicks, who homered in the fifth. Michael Pineda coasted through seven, and the home team blew the doors off against St. Louis reliever Miguel Socolovich in a five-run eighth, greeting him with two walks, a single, and two doubles to start the frame.
The Yankees, who had beaten the Cubs in back-to-back exhibition games to open their new palace in 2009, were even more ungracious hosts on April 16, 2014. Forced to play their two-game series as an early-season, day/night doubleheader due to an all-day downpour the day before, they blanked the visitors from the North side of Chicago twice, 3-0 and then 2-0. Unaware of the injuries that would follow, Yankee fans had to be heartened by the stellar starts from Masahiro Tanaka —no runs on two hits and 10 K’s through eight innings — and Michael Pineda, who allowed just four hits through six dominant frames. On a gorgeous but freezing both day and night, Carlos Beltran‘s first-inning homer carried the play in the first game, and veteran Scott Sizemore, making a very brief stop with the parent club, had his biggest pinstriped day, scoring the first one and driving in the second in the nightcap. Yankee righty Shane Greene must have had barely enough time to unpack before the club recalled him from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, in town as a 26th player on a doubleheader day.
Much of the offense came from Carlos Beltran yet again on April 16, 2016, as he drove in both hometeam runs with a double in the third and a homer in the seventh, but it was not enough, and “King” Felix Hernandez and the Mariners emerged victorious, 3-2. CC Sabathia pitched well until a sloppy three-run fifth, during which ex-Yanks Russell Martin and Robinson Cano both drove in runs, Martin on a home run.
Before the April 16, 2013, game where the Yanks hosted Arizona, it was announced that NFL kicker and legendary broadcaster Pat Summerall had passed away. In the game that followed, Ivan Nova gave up two early runs, but he got the 4-2 win because by the time he exited after five innings, Robinson Cano had homered for three in the fourth. The group of Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera combined to allow one hit and no walks over the last four frames.
The Yankees jumped on ex-teammate Carl Pavano on April 16, 2012, for three first-inning runs, two of them on leadoff back-to-back jacks from Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson, but Freddy Garcia couldn’t handle the largesse, allowing five tallies through five innings in a 7-3 Bombers loss. On a gorgeous, high-70s Monday night, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Ryan Doumit did much of the damage.
The Yanks prevailed over Texas 5-2 on yet another freezing night in the Bronx on April 16, 2011. Freddy Garcia went six innings for the win, and Mark Teixeira (in the first) and Robinson Cano (the eighth) supplied the offense with two-run jacks.
Although it was a real slog for new Yankee ace CC Sabathia as the team opened their home season and their brand-new ballpark facing CC’s ex-mates from Cleveland on April 16, 2009, he left a 1-1 game in the sixth. He held the Indians to the lone tally despite having allowed five hits and five walks while making 122 throws. But things got ugly once he left, as Jose Veras set up the disastrous nine-run top of the seventh with a four-pitch walk and two doubles, and Damaso Marte finished it off with two walks, a hit by pitch, and two home runs in the 10-2 Cleveland clobbering. Interestingly, Tribe catcher Kelly Shoppach, who would break up CC’s no-hit bid in Tampa as a Ray almost one year later, knocked in the lone run against Sabathia.
The home-standing Yanks beat the Red Sox 15-9 in Yankee Stadium on April 16, 2008, despite the six-run Boston fifth when they greeted Chien-Ming Wang with a double, single, single, single, single to start the frame. All nine Yankee starters scored runs and eight of them notched rbi’s as Clay Buccholz was reached for eight hits and seven runs into the fourth. In the bottom of the fifth inning, 1978 hero Bucky Dent advanced the games-remaining counter in Yankee Stadium from 74 to 73.
Kansas City righty Chad Durbin seemed determined to have a bad day in the Bronx on April 16, 2000, no matter what. He survived a shaky first inning despite walking Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter while throwing his first 10 pitches off the plate. He then created a three-run rally in the third almost singlehandedly. After walking Paul O’Neill to start, he made errors on back-to-back grounders back to the box struck by Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez before allowing a two-run double to Ricky Ledee. Catcher Jimmy Leyritz chipped in with a home run and spot starter Jason Grimsley was the recipient of the gift runs in an 8-4 Yankee win.
Lefty reliever Sparky Lyle had a 13-5, 26-save, Cy Young Award-winning season in the Bronx in 1977, but April 16 was one of the few bad days. He gave up a two-run, game-tying tater to Cecil Cooper in the ninth inning in Milwaukee. A subsequent triple by Sal Bando and a Steve Brye single cashed in the 4-3 Brewers’ victory.
On April 16, 2002, the Yankees took advantage when Sydney Ponson of the Orioles had “one of those” innings. He escaped the second after having allowed only three scores because he struck out the eighth and ninth batters to come to the plate. But before straightening himself out, Sydney had allowed doubles to Jorge Posada, Rondell White, and Alfonso Soriano sprinkled around three walks. Roger Clemens accepted Ponson’s largesse and cruised to a 7-1 victory.
But on April 16, 2004, the entire Yankee team had a forgettable frame, as they made two first-inning errors and Javier Vazquez allowed homers to Bill Mueller and Manny Ramirez in that same frame. Down quickly 4-0, they lost the game in Fenway Park 6-2.
On April 16, 2019, the career of Yankees first baseman Greg Bird took another body blow when the club placed him on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to April 14, with a left plantar fascia tear. They replaced Bird by selecting the contract of Mike Ford from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Room to get Mike on the 40-man was created by transferring center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day list, recovering from left hip surgery.
On April 16, 2019, the Yankees signed free agent second baseman Jace Peterson again.
On April 16, 2016, the Yankees optioned lefthander Tyler Olson to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, filling his spot by recalling righty Branden Pinder from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Following an unsuccessful experiment where he became injured playing center field, the Yankees placed second baseman Jose Pirela on the 15-day disabled list, with a concussion, on April 16, 2015.
Reflecting a season positive and a season negative, the Yanks made two transactions on April 16, 2009. First they placed newly injured right fielder Xavier Nady on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 15, with right elbow pain, which would not effectively subside. But when they recalled righty David Robertson from AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre, it began a season when the young reliever moved from down the depth chart to eventual reliable playoff performer.
On April 16, 1929, the New York Yankees became the first major league team to wear numbers on their uniforms. The numbers initially referred to a player’s place in the batting order.
On the same day 30 years later in 1959, the Yanks introduced the first scoreboard capable of carrying messages (in addition to the count, the score, etc.).
On April 16, 2010, the Yankees recalled lefty Boone Logan from AAA Scranton.
The Yankees had a couple of their better Boston battles on this day, at least of the extra-inning variety. The Bombers prevailed, 7-6, in 18 innings in 1967, with Al Downing winning over Lee Stange. The game lasted five hours and 50 minutes.
Three years earlier, on April 16, 1964, Dick Radatz had been victorious over Whitey Ford, 4-3, in a contest that went 11.
I suppose it’s logical that some of the quirkier occurrences in baseball happened early in the season as players were just getting acclimated. On April 16, 2000, Chuck Finley, the only pitcher in history to have struck out four batters in the same inning twice, did it for a third time. But going back one day and six years earlier, Beloit Brewers (and eventual White Sox) pitcher Kelly Wunsch struck out five batters in an inning against the Springfield Sultans. Obviously, wild pitches and passed balls came into play.
On April 16, 1935, Babe Ruth played his first game as a National League player before 25,000, the largest Opening Day crowd in Braves’ history to that point.
It seems to me that in my younger days the Yanks were always taking it on the chin in rain-affected games in Baltimore. The two clubs attempted to play two on April 16, 1972, after the previous day’s game was washed out. But as it was, the one contest they did play lasted but seven innings before the rains confirmed a 3-1 Pat Dobson victory for the Birds.
Hall of Famer Robin Roberts was released from the Yankees squad before ever pitching for them on this day in 1962, after having been signed the previous October. After the release, Roberts would catch on with Baltimore and pitch into the 1966 season, posting a 52-47 mark after the Yankees release. And although veteran infielder Lonnie Frey was sold to the Cubs by the Reds on April 16, 1947, it was a temporary arrangement. Chicago, in turn, would sell Frey to the Yanks nine weeks later.
Major league baseball has had three no-hitters thrown on April 16, two of them in the 1970s. Most recently Bob Forsch of the Cardinals denied the Phillies any hits or runs on this day in 1978 in a 5-0 win. Chicago Cub Burt Hooton used his knucklecurve to pick on the Phillies too, in a 4-0 win in 1972. He walked seven. And when Bob Feller of the Indians accomplished the feat in a 1-0 win over the White Sox in Comiskey Park on April 16, 1940, he did it on the occasion of the two clubs’ opener.
Three one-time Yankees were wearing different uniforms when they enjoyed three-homer slugfests on April 16. Most recently, current Pinstriper Alex Rodriguez reached the fences three times, knocked in seven runs, and scored five in the Mariners’ 19-7 rout of the Blue Jays in 2000. Earlier, Cecil Fielder blasted three taters as the Tigers also beat the Blue Jays on this day in 1996 (just months before becoming a Yankee); and Dave Kingman included a grand slam in his triple in the A’s 9-6 win over Seattle on April 16, 1984.
Second baseman Chick Fewster (1945) is the only Yankee player to have died on April 16. Debuting with the Yankees during 228 games from 1917-1922, Chick reached three fences and drove in 36 runs. After playing with the Indians, the Red Sox, and the Dodgers from 1922-1927, those numbers grew to six and 167.
The most well-known of four other noteworthy players to have died this day is the lefthanded outfielder for the 1934-1935 Chicago White Sox Jocko Conlan (1989). Conlan reached no fences and knocked in just 31 runs, but he made the Hall of Fame through long years serving as an umpire. The list includes three other outfielders, one of them pretty famous on his own: Jim McTamany (1916), who hit 19 long balls with 334 rbi’s playing mostly for the Dodgers and the Colts from 1885-1891; and lefty-hitting Ron Northey (1971), who hit most of his 108 home runs good for 513 rbi’s from 1942-1957 with the Phillies, the Cardinals, and the White Sox. And right fielder Downtown Ollie Brown (2015) blasted 102 homers and drove in 464 runs from 1965 through 1977, playing most of the time with the Giants, the Padres, and the Phillies. Finally, righthander Sam Gray, who won 111 and lost 115 with 22 saves for the Browns and the Phillies from 1924-1933, died on April 16, 1953.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Because the 1902 Baltimore Orioles is the franchise that would be folded the next year and moved to New York to originate the Yankees, lefthander Crese Heisman (1880), who lost all three games he started for that club that year, can be considered the first of seven Bombers born on April 16.
Next on the list would come Hall of Famer Paul “Big Poison” Waner (1903), who knocked in one run with the Yankees in a few games in 1944-1945 at the end of his career. Paul is rightfully famed for his long career in Pittsburgh with the Pirates, where he hit 113 home runs and drove in most of his 1,309 career runs.
Bernie Allen (1939), who played as an American League infielder spanning 1962-1973, spent the last two seasons with the Yanks as one of many non-answers to their third base problem. The Yanks got him from the Texas Rangers in December 1971 for Terry Ley and Gary Jones, and sold him to Montreal in August 1973. Allen stroked nine home runs with 25 rbi’s in Pinstripes.
Despite showing occasional power in his Yankee debut, the club shipped catcher Frank Fernandez, a 1962 free-agent signing, to Oakland with Al Downing after the ’69 season for Danny Cater and Ossie Chavarria. Frank reached the fences 20 times with 63 rbi’s in New York.
On the other hand, lefty-hitting catcher Bruce Robinson (1954) was purchased from that same California team in February 1979; he finished up in the Bronx driving in two runs in 10 games.
Lefthander Curt Young (1960) was picked up as a free agent in 1992 after he had spent the previous eight years playing for Oakland as well. He went 3-0 in 13 games for the Yanks, and had an overall 69-53 mark.
The Yankee April 16 birthday club grew in 2016 with the addition of lefthander Richard Bleier (1987) to the team. Although Bleier, drafted in the sixth round in 2008 by Texas and signed by the Yanks as a free agent in December 2015, pitched well in the Bronx, he was sold to Baltimore in February 2017. In his only major league service, Richard pitched to no record, or saves, in 23 games in New York in 2016, but to a fine 1.96 era. He has done solid lefty relieving in Baltimore in 2017 and early 2018, once he was traded there for the all too popular player to be named later, in February 2017. Bleier has gone 8-1 with four saves in the Orioles bullpen through the 2019 season. Traded to Miami in August 2019, Richard has added two wins and a loss in 23 games as of this writing. He pitched two scoreless innings for the Marlins in their postseason run in 2020.
Other birthdays: Dutch Leonard (1892), lefty hurler for Yankee rivals the Red Sox and the Tigers; Pete Suder (1916); Rich Rollins (1938); 1967 Boston hero Jim Lonborg (1942); Bob Montgomery (1944); manager Bruce Bochy (1955); Ken Takahashi (1969); Fernando Vina (1969), who stroked five hits on his 29th birthday in a 5-3 Brewers 14-inning over the Expos in 1998; Antonio Alfonseca (1972); Kelly Dransfeldt (1975); Justin Wayne (1979); Tommy Manzella (1983); Travis Shaw (1990); Nolan Arenado (1991); Paco Rodriguez (1991); Keone Kela (1993); Tyler Bashlor (1993); Albert Almora (1994); and Nivaldo Rodríguez (1997).
Players Born This Day