Happy Birthday to us. Yankee Stadium opened this day, as the Yanks beat the Boston Red Sox 4-1 on April 18, 1923, behind the pitching of Bob Shawkey over Howard Ehmke, and on Babe Ruth‘s three-run home run. It must have been some party; 74,000-plus were in attendance. It was a particularly poignant anniversary in 2008, and was so again in 2009.
To say that the loss to Cleveland in new Yankee Stadium on April 18, 2009, was ugly like the ballpark-opening 10-2 defeat to the Tribe two days before would be a big understatement. Chien-Ming Wang‘s injury and shoulder weakness problems were apparent from the start of the second inning, and rather than stretch an already spent bullpen, manager Joe Girardi replaced him eight runs into the frame with newly promoted (that day) Anthony Claggett. Somehow surviving the 14-run inning, the rookie righthander would allow eight runs of his own, and the home team would fall 22-4. Putting a happy face on an ugly day, however, a small horde of fans would head into Manhattan to catch Bernie Williams‘s concert at the Nokia Theatre that evening, where the ex-Yank responded to an audience suggestion that the Yanks “could have used you” with a smile, and “Yes, I know.”
Going for the three-game sweep, the Yankees lost a heartbreaker to Arizona on April 18, 2013, 6-2 in 12 innings. Phil Hughes actually pitched quite well, surrendering just two runs over seven innings to his bete-noir: singleton home runs from Didi Gregorious and Martin Prado. But the remaining crowd rose to their feet in the bottom of the ninth when a one-out, one-run bomb to left by Francisco Cervelli tied the game at 2-2. But the Yanks did little in extras, as David Phelps, in for the 11th, escaped early trouble, but not a disastrous top of the 12th. A double, catcher’s interference and hit by pitch loaded the bases, and after Cody Ross singled for one, ex-Yank Eric Chavez cleared the bases with a double.
One year later, the Yankees beat the Texas Rangers 5-2 in Yankee Stadium on April 18, 2010, behind the four-hit, eight-inning pitching of Andy Pettitte and home runs by Mark Teixeira and Jorge Posada. Recovering from a bout with cancer, Yankee trainer Gene Monahan threw out the first pitch, and Curtis Granderson was credited on the board as the first player to homer in his first Yankee at bat since Cory Ransom had.
Yankee fans could learn a thing or two about fan-ness from Minnesota Twins enthusiasts, who keep visiting the Bronx even though their team rarely wins in New York. But when the Twins ensured at least a four-game series split with a 6-5 win in New York on April 18, 2012, Minnesota prevailed largely on Justin Morneau‘s three hits, including two home runs, and three rbi’s. Derek Jeter scored twice, and Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher drove in two runs apiece.
As you read further into today’s report, you’ll discover that there has been a lot more good than bad in April 18th Yankee history, and 2005 was no exception. You learn a lot about the offense when you read that the Yanks unleashed their first 13-run inning of the campaign, blasting Tampa’s Rob Bell and friends for that many on 11 hits in the second. Alex Rodriguez, who had a 5-for-6 game with two bombs and six rbi’s, got it all started with with his two-run dinger, and after six straight singles, a double, walk, and seventh one-base hit, Tino Martinez, with six rbi’s of his own, crowned it with a grand slam. But nothing’s perfect in this life, and this silver performance was ringed by some clouds. First, new starter Jaret Wright did his best to give the lead back and had to be pulled with one down in the sixth after allowing eight tallies in the eventual 19-8 win. And Tampa managed to split the two-gamer with a victory the next night, and dogged the Yankees all year, winning the season series decisively.
No lead is safe in Fenway I often heard the Scooter say as he broadcast Yankee games for so many years, and the Yankee/Red Sox contest on April 18, 1950, was a perfect example. Commissioner Happy Chandler presented Ted Williams with his MVP award from the previous year on this Opening Day in Boston, and the Sox jumped on Allie Reynolds for five runs in the fourth and a 9-0 lead. But the Yanks came back, as Billy Martin garnered two hits in one inning in his first major league game (a first in the game’s history), and the Yanks prevailed 15-10, largely on the strength of a nine-run eighth inning.
A year later, Eddie Lopat showed the Yanks how to take the Red Sox in a more understated fashion, as he two-hit them in a 6-1 beauty.
As we saw Alfonso Soriano toil in Texas and his switch to the outfield wth Washington and now the Cubs, it’s hard not to fondly remember days like April 18, 2003, when he deposited Brad Radke‘s first pitch over the wall in an 11-4 Yankee win over the Twins in the Homer Dome. Roger Clemens was the beneficiary of all the offense, as Robin Ventura blasted two homers and Raul Mondesi one.
It was a twice-delayed (by rain) Opener in the Bronx that the Yanks played against the Red Sox on April 18, 1929. Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis presented diamond-studded watches to the Yankee players in honor of the 1928 Championship, George Pipgras beat Boston’s Red Ruffing 7-3 despite allowing nine walks, and Lou Gehrig homered. So did Babe Ruth, who waved to his new wife as he rounded the bases.
The Bombers extended their winning streak in Detroit to a record 12 games as David Cone beat Greg Keagle and the Tigers, 8-3, on April 18, 1998.
The Yankees beat the Red Sox, 3-0, on this day in 1944 behind Johnny Lindell‘s first homer of the year, as Hank Borowy picked up the shutout.
In a move that none of us anticipated would essentially be a season ender, the Yankees placed left fielder Brett Gardner on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow soreness on April 18, 2012.
The Miami Marlins claimed lefty Matt Tracy off waivers from the Yankees on April 18, 2015, then the Yanks sent Joel De La Cruz outright to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
In a year where the pen was a strength, the Yankees made some early moves when they optioned righty Jonathan Albaladejo to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recalled righthander Edwar Ramirez from AAA on April 18, 2008.
Experiencing early injury problems that would plague him all year, Yankee reliever Tanyon Sturtze was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle on April 18, 2005. And 2006 would be even worse.
The “Old Redhead,” Red Barber, broadcast his first major league baseball in a Giants/Dodgers tilt on April 18, 1939. Red would broadcast Yankee games for years.
The first of two April 18 items featuring former or future Yankee players that we’ll share today involves two guys using their legs to make a headline, while most of their careers they prevailed by swinging big bats. In Oakland’s 7-5 win over the Mariners on April 18, 1987, former Yank Reggie Jackson scored on the front end of a double steal, pairing with future Yank (briefly) Jose Canseco to pull it off.
And almost a decade before arriving in the Bronx, rookie California Angel Rudy May lost his no-hit bid when Detroit’s Jake Wood doubled against him in the eighth inning on April 18, 1965. May survived nine frames allowing just the one hit, but the Tigers won the game in 13.
It’s great when a player reaches a milestone; it’s doubly so when it wins a game. Mike Schmidt hit his 500th home run vs. the Pirates in the ninth inning on April 18, 1987, rallying his Phillies from a deficit to an 8-6 win with his three-run shot.
Reds pitcher Tom Seaver, on the other hand, recorded his 3,000th strike out by whiffing the Cards’ Keith Hernandez on this day in 1981, but in a 10-4 loss.
Outfielder/second baseman Harry Niles (1953) is the only Yankee player to have died on April 18. In 96 games with the 1908 Highlanders, Niles reached no fences, but he drove in 24 runs. Those numbers become 12 and 152 when you add the rest of his play from 1906-1910, much of it with the Red Sox and the Naps (Cleveland).
Three righthanded pitchers of note have died this day: George Haddock (1926) pitched for the Senators and Bridegrooms from 1888-1894 to a 95-87 mark with two saves; Jack Stivetts (1930) won 203 games from 1889-1899, losing 132 and saving four, largely for the Beaneaters and the Browns; and Sheldon Jones (1991) posted most of his 54-57 record with 12 saves for the Giants from 1946-1951. And four noteworthy infielders died this day too: Middle infielder Pop Smith (1927) reached 24 fences good for 358 rbi’s for the Alleghenies, the Beaneaters, and the Colts from 1880-1891; lefty-throwing third sacker Hick Carpenter (1937) hit most of his 18 home runs with 543 driven in with the Red Stockings from 1879-1892; second sacker Cotton Tierney (1953) hit 31 long balls with 331 rbi’s from 1920-1925 mostly with the Pirates; and lefthanded first baseman Jack Burns (1975) blasted 44 roundtrippers and knocked in 417 runs from 1930-1936, almost all of it with the Browns.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Former Yankee lefty Dennis Rasmussen was born on April 18, 1959. Dennis’s stay in New York was more successful (39-24 from ’84 through ’87, and 18-6 in 1986 alone) than the trade that brought him here or the one that sent him away. He was acquired from San Diego for World Series hero Graig Nettles, and then was shipped to Cincinnati for Bill Gullickson. (Gullickson would go 4-2 in the Bronx in 1987, then decide he did not like it here and sign to play in Japan, not much of a return for a young lefty.)
The Yanks got a new addition to their April 18 birthday list once shortstop Alberto Gonzalez (1981) was one of four players they acquired from Arizona for Randy Johnson before the 2007 season. As mostly a defensive replacement, he garnered one rbi in 12 games in 2007 and another in 28 games in 2008 before being traded to the Nationals for Jhonny Nunez in July of the latter year. Alberto was brought to the Bronx in disastrous 2013 when the Yanks used close to 10 different players each at first, at short, and at third. In 13 games Gonzalez collected six hits and drove in four runs.
Righthander Rich Bordi (1959) posted a 9-9 mark with two saves for the Yanks after arriving from the Cubbies with Porfi Altamirano, Henry Cotto, and Ron Hassey in December 1984 for Ray Fontenot and Brian Dayett. Rich was traded with Rex Hudler to the Orioles for Leo Hernandez and Gary Roenicke the following December, then returned two years later as a free agent.
The Yankee list continues with shortstop Tommy McMillan and lefty-hitting outfielder Duffy Lewis, both of whom share April 18, 1888, as their birthday. Lewis lashed 11 homers with 150 rbi’s and 10 steals with the 1919-1920 Yanks after eight years with the Red Sox and before one in Washington. McMillan finished up with 12 rbi’s and 18 stolen bases for the 1912 Highlanders, after three years in Brooklyn and a few months in Cincinnati. Nothing is known about how McMillan came to be a Yankee, but Lewis arrived from the Red Sox along with Ernie Shore in a December 1918 trade for Frank Gilhooley, Slim Love, Ray Caldwell, Roxy Walters, and cash.
And finally, southpaw hurler Steve Kraly (1929) posted an 0-2 mark with one save for the 1953 Bombers in five games, three of them starts. But honorable mention also goes to righthander Moe Burtschy (1922), whom the Yanks got from the K.C. A’s with Bill Renna for Eddie Robinson and Lou Skizas in June 1956. Although Burtschy never played for the Yanks, he posted a 10-6 mark with four saves for the A’s in Philly and in Kansas City.
Hall of Fame Tiger outfielder and first baseman Sam Crawford (1899) leads the list of other baseball birthdays. He blasted 97 homers, with 1,525 rbi’s and 366 stolen bases, from 1899-1917. Also old-time righty Jack Scott (1892), who won more than 100 games with the Braves and the Giants from 1916-1929. Others: Steve Blass (1942); Ron Schueler (1948); Doug Flynn (1951); Bobby Castillo (1955); Jim Eisenreich (1959); Rico Brogna (1970); Brady Clark (1973); Brian Buscher (1981); Miguel Cabrera (1983); Mike Parisi (1983); Marcos Mateo (1984); Billy Butler (1986); Evan Marshall (1990); Anthony DeSclafani (1990); and Henderson Alvarez (1990). And former lawyer for the Major League Players Association Ed Garvey was born on April 18, 1940.
Players Born This Day