A three-run Mark Teixeira home run off Brad Penny in Yankee Stadium on April 2, 2011, gave the Yanks a 6-0 lead that they would convert into a 10-6 win over the Tigers. A three-run shot by Russell Martin and a solo homer from Alex Rodriguez forged the final Yankee score, and A.J. Burnett got the win.
Old friend Tino Martinez had a career day on April 2, 1997, when he hit homers the first three times up in a game in Seattle’s Kingdome, leading the Yanks to a 16-2 rout. Tino scored five runs and notched seven rbi’s. He hit one-, two-, and three-run jacks, but in three chances at the grand slam, he “only” walked and singled.
Two starting pitchers embarking on excellent seasons battled in Yankee Stadium on April 2, 2008, and it was no contest, as Toronto’s A.J. Burnett bested Mike Mussina and the Yanks 5-2. The big blow for the Jays was center fielder Vernon Wells‘s second-inning, two-run blast, while Burnett was driven from the mound when Alex Rodriguez followed up Bobby Abreu‘s leadoff seventh-inning walk with a homer of his own. Two Alex Rios rbi’s provided the difference. Ahmad Bradshaw of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants advanced the games left counter down from 80 to 79 games. Burnett, who thankfully toiled in pinstripes later, made some key starts for the team in the 2009 championship postseason, despite 2010 struggles.
The biggest surprise of Bronx Opening Day on April 2, 2007 vs. Kansas City was that oft-injured Carl Pavano got the start. He allowed but two hits and an unearned run through four as the Yanks took the lead, but left on the short end after a four-run fifth. A Derek Jeter two-run single got the home team even, and Alex Rodriguez capped the 9-5 comeback win with a two-run eighth-inning homer, with Brian Bruney, Sean Henn, Luis Vizcaino, Kyle Farnsworth, and Mariano Rivera blanking the Royals on three singles over the last 4.7 frames. The multiple innings out of the pen, however, combined with injuries in the rotation, bespoke a trend that would prompt early-season struggles.
On this day in 2001 the Reds sold the contract of lefty Ed Yarnall to the Orix Blue Wave in Japan. Ed had been traded to the Reds by the Yanks in the deal that brought Denny Neagle to New York. Prized as the Holy Grail of Yankee success (a lefthanded starter in the House That Ruth Built!) in earlier years, Yarnall had failed spectacularly in the Bronx after being acquired from Florida after the 1998 season for third baseman Mike Lowell.
The Yankees started a busier than they would have liked April 2, 2017, by placing shortstop Didi Gregorius on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to March 30, with a strained right shoulder, an injury he sustained playing for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. The team also placed first baseman Tyler Austin, a more viable backup at the position than Chris Carter, on the 60-day disabled list, with a fractured left ankle. Then to take Didi’s place on the roster, the team selected the contract of shortstop Pete Kozma from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. And finally, they signed free agent catcher Sharif Othman to a minor league contract.
The Bombers beat the Royals, 7-3, in Yankee Stadium on April 2, 2001, Yankees Opening Day. Roger Clemens‘s five strike outs on the day were thought to have surpassed the number recorded by the great Walter Johnson, the former all-time leader in the American League. But the Elias Sports Bureau discovered that a Johnson whiff was missed in 1907, and their recalculation of his total to 3,509 pushed the big righty into a tie with the Rocket, something Clemens took care of in his next outing.
Some other memorable moments by future or former Yankee players on April 2 took place in 2001. Gary Sheffield homered for the 1-0 win by the Dodgers over the Brewers; Tim “Rock” Raines pinch-hit for the Expos, thus becoming the 27th player to play in four decades; and David Wells got the 7-4 win for the White Sox over the Indians, in the opener for both clubs. Interestingly, in that game Juan Gonzalez became the fourth player in major league history to hit two taters on Opening Day twice in a career. Eddie Matthews did it in 1954 and 1958; former Yank Raul Mondesi in 1995 and 1999; and Yankee Manager Joe Torre achieved the feat in back-to-back years, 1965 and 1966.
Gary Sheffield makes the list yet again for having signed a six-year deal with the Marlins on April 2, 1997, the same day Alvaro Espinosa signed with the Mariners. The first four guys involved in the 1976 A’s trade of Reggie Jackson and Ken Holtzman to Baltimore for Don Baylor, Mike Torrez, and Paul Mitchell were all one-time Yanks. And amazingly, yet-to-be (at the time) Yankee reliever Jason Grimsley was traded by the Phillies to the Astros even-up for Curt Schilling on April 2, 1992.
Young 17-year-old Gate Attraction Miss Jackie Mitchell pitched to the Yankees in a promotional exhibition game with the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern League on April 2, 1931. Both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were struck out as they went along with the gag, but serious-faced Tony Lazzeri attempted to bunt, and then walked, bringing the young lass’s mound stint to an end. The Bombers cruised to a 14-4 win.
A light hitter for much of his career, Kevin Elster joined four Rangers teammates in homering in a 20-4 humbling of the White Sox on on April 2, 1998, and Cecil Fielder managed a much more rare achievement when he stole second base in the Tigers’ 10-6 win over the Twins on April 2, 1996, the year he would later become a Yankee and win a ring with them. Also on April 2, righthander Pedro Ramos was traded from Minnesota to Cleveland in 1962, his last stop before joining the Bombers in 1964; and Roger Bresnahan replaced an ill Hugh Jennings as Manager of the 1902 Baltimore Orioles, about one year removed from their move to New York.
On April 2, 2015, the Yankees optioned righthander Chase Whitley to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The following young players were also assigned to the Yankees: outfielder Dustin Fowler, infielder Vicente Conde, second baseman Jose Rosario, and catchers Radley Haddad and Jesus Aparicio.
Righthanded pitcher Josh Schmidt was assigned to the Yankees on April 2, 2010.
Following their 1918 Crown, the Red Sox started their 1919 campaign with back-to-back shutout victories by eventual Yankees Carl Mays and Sad Sam Jones. This record would not be duplicated until Red Sox ace Curt Schilling shut out the Padres for the D’backs 9-0 on April 2, 2002. Toeing the mound in the Bronx recently was Randy Johnson, who preceded Schilling’s whitewash with a 9-0 blanking of his own, setting up the circumstances allowing him and Curt to match the 84-year-old record.
A major league baseball committee declared on April 2, 1908, that baseball was invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1839. Even though this finding would not stand up to further scrutiny, that declaration led to the Hall of Fame being established in James Fenimore Cooper’s New York hometown anyway.
Although not a Yankee, we’ll honor the late New York Mets Manager and Dodgers player Gil Hodges, who died on April 2, 1972, at age 47, with Yankee death(s). Yogi Berra replaced him as manager on this day when no Yankee player had died, until recently. Hodges fans, who continue to be frustrated that he has not made the Hall of Fame, could tell you that Gil hit most of his 370 home runs with 1,274 rbi’s from 1943-1963 with the Dodgers, with the last two years being played with the Mets. But new to the list is right fielder/third baseman Allie Clark (2012), who debuted with the 1947 Yanks, hitting one home run with four rbi’s in 24 games. Playing mostly for the Indians and A’s from 1948-1953, Clark upped those numbers to 31 long balls and 135 runs driven in.
Of three other noteworthy players to have passed April 2, we have an outfielder, a first baseman, and a third baseman. Outfielder Matty MacIntyre (1920) hit four home runs with 319 rbi’s from 1901-1912, mostly with Detroit. First sacker John Morrill (1932) hit most of his 43 long balls with 643 runs driven in in Boston, with the Red Caps and the Americans, in a career that spanned 1876-1890. And third baseman Bill Brubaker (1978) played most of his games with the Pirates from 1932-1943, good for 22 long balls and 225 rbi’s.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Lots of ballplayers join the Emperor Charlemagne (742), authors Hans Christian Andersen (1805) and Emile Zola (1840), and singer Marvin Gaye (1939) in celebrating April 2 as their birthday. There are four Baseball Hall of Famers: pitcher Don Sutton (1945), White Sox infielder Luke Appling (1907), umpire Al Barlick (1915), and manager Hughie Jennings (1869).
Yankees birthdaying include Jon Lieber (1970), who posted a fine 14-8 mark with the 2004 Yankees. Jon, who has pitched for the Phillies following his New York stop, had won exactly 100 big-league games after his Yankee stint since he was a 1992 second-round amateur draft pick by the K.C. Royals.
Billy Sample (1955), who played the 1985 season in Pinstripes, came away with one home run, 15 rbi’s and two steals in 59 games. The Yankees got Billy from The Texas Rangers for Toby Harrah in February 1985, and traded him to the Braves for minor-leaguer Miguel Sosa nine months later.
Also on the Yankee b’day list: Mike Kekich (1945) who, aside from his infamous liaison with Mrs. Fritz Peterson, went 31-32 for the Yanks in 1969 through 1973; and Pete Incaviglia (1964). Pete went 4-for-16 in five games for the ’97 club. Kekich was acquired from the Dodgers in 1968 for Andy Kosco, and the Yankees sent Mike to the Indians for Lowell Palmer in 1973, while “Inky” both arrived and left as a free agent. And second sacker Tom Barrett (1960), a 1982 Yankee free agent selection, managed four rbi’s in 54 games for the club before being traded with Mike Easler to the Phillies for Charles Hudson and a minor leaguer in December 1986.
Also: Art Ceccarelli (1930), who was drafted from the Yanks by the A’s before posting a 9-18 record with KC, Baltimore, and the Cubs; Ceccarelli was re-acquired from the Cubs for Mark Freeman in March 1960, but Art did not make the 25-man roster during either tour with the Yankee team.
Other baseballing players of note: Bobby Avila (1924); seven-time All Star White Sox pitcher Billy Pierce (1927); Boston reliever Dick Radatz (1937); Mets shortstop Al Weis (1938), who hit seven regular-season homers in 10 seasons, but hit one in the ’69 Series too; Red Sox, Cardinals, and Dodgers outfielder Reggie Smith (1945); Heity Cruz (1953); Al Nipper (1959); Curt Leskanic (1968); Denny Hocking (1970); Hisanori Takahashi (1975); Brian Barden (1981); Mike McCoy (1981); Bob Rasmussen (1989); and Wilmer Difo (1992).
Players Born This Day