April 23 is an amazing day in history. Seventeen years apart in the 16th Century it was the birthday of both Miguel Cervantes (“Don Quixote”) and then William Shakespeare (all those plays and sonnets). And on April 23, 1616, those two giants of Western Literature both passed away!
The first Yankee highlight goes not quite as far back, as the New York Highlanders garnered their first victory more than 100 years ago today. They beat Washington 7-2 behind starting pitcher Harry Howell on April 23, 1903.
Almost 10 decades later on April 23, 2000, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada became the first set of teammates to both hit homers from each side of the plate in one game, in a 10-7 win over the Blue Jays.
Yankee fans enjoyed a perhaps undeserved treat on April 23, 2016, in a walkoff 3-2 win against visiting Tampa Bay on a home run by Brett Gardner, who would hit just seven that year (after banging out 16 in ’15). This one pitted a game Masahiro Tanaka vs. southpaw Blake Snell, who was making his mlb debut, and who deserved better. He left with a 2-1 lead through five, but the Yanks plated runs on a wild pitch in the first and Gardner’s infield single off the body of lefty Xavier Cedeno in the seventh. What’s more, the fortunate carom would have gone for naught had not Jacoby Ellsbury extended the inning by reaching on yet another catcher’s interference call. And one more for the 40,000-plus in attendance: It was Babe Ruth bobblehead day.
The injury-depleted Yankees activated outfielder Hideki Matsui from the disabled list on April 23, 2007. To make room for him, southpaw Chase Wright, coming off a home run barrage in Fenway Park, was returned to AA Trenton.
We don’t mention Roy White often enough, as he was a good player on a bad team for much of his Bronx stay. He achieved the same distinction unique to switch hitters for the second time in his career on April 23, 1975, as he homered from each side of the plate in an 11-7 loss to the Red Sox.
It wasn’t planned that way, and there was no pre-game party, but April 23, 2006, was Jason Giambi day in the Bronx. Miguel Tejada jumped on Randy Johnson for a second-inning home run and a 1-0 Baltimore lead, but Giambi homered twice and doubled, and drove in two runs with each of those hits. Alex Rodriguez‘s sac fly plated the only non-Giambi Yankee run in the 7-1 win, and Johnson allowed just three hits over eight. That was because Tejada, who added a ninth-inning double against Mariano Rivera, went 4-for-4 while his team was otherwise 0-for-the-night.
The win went to Orlando “el duque” Hernandez as Chili Davis knocked in three runs and scored two on two singles and a double in a 6-4 win over the Blue Jays on April 23, 1999.
The Yankees dedicated a plaque in Yankee Stadium to former owner Jacob Ruppert on April 23, 1940, before losing to the Philadelphia Athletics, 3-0.
The 5-4 loss to the Senators in Washington on this day in 1933 was actually accepted with a sigh of relief. Superstar first baseman Lou Gehrig was knocked unconscious by an Earl Whitehill pitch, but he recovered and finished the game.
The Yankees released stalwart reliever Johnny Murphy on April 23, 1947. Murphy, who played 15 of his 16 years with the Yanks, won 53 of 93 decisions, and amassed 100 saves from 1932 through 1946. He served as the New York Mets GM in their miracle 1969 World Championship season, then died suddenly from a heart attack soon thereafter.
Yankee righty Bob Turley lost a heartbreaker on this day in 1959, falling 3-2 to Russ Kemmerer and the Senators despite allowing only three safeties. Mickey Mantle homered in the loss.
“Superchief” Allie Reynolds shut out the Red Sox 3-0 on April 23, 1947 as he bested Boo Ferriss and allowed nothing but two hits, both to Rudy York.
The Yankees got another of those Jose Contreras lessons on April 23, 2004, and had a little preview of Game 7 of the upcoming ALCS too. Derek Lowe quieted their bats and Boston drove Contreras from the mound in a five-run fourth inning in a Red Sox 11-2 win in Fenway Park that April day.
On this day back in 1929, the Yanks became the first visiting club to wear numbers on their unis, but they lost 4-2 in Fenway Park.
When Brewers outfielder Marquis Grissom stroked his 103rd career tater on April 23, 1998, he surpassed Lou Piniella‘s record for most roundtrippers without a multiple-homer game.
In other April 23 events involving future or former Yankee players, there is the first of two brawls that lengthened the 7-6 Indians win over the Red Sox on this day in 1999, with recent Pinstriped hurler Jaret Wright doing what most in New York knew him for before his ’05 arrival, as he precipitated the first melee by hitting Darren Lewis after having surrendered a homer, walk, and single in succession. Also there is the considerable damage inflicted upon the pitches of Milwaukee’s knuckleballing Steve Sparks by future Bombers (at different times) Scott Brosius and Jason Giambi in a 9-6 win on April 23, 1996. Scotty homered twice for four runs, while Jason doubled, tripled, then homered in the first, second, and fourth frames respectively. We’ll never know if he would have stopped at first after striking a fourth safety to record a cycle because he followed with two “at ‘em” balls, lining out both times.
The fact that one-time Yankee righty Vic Raschi‘s Cardinals lost to the Braves on April 23, 1954, might not in itself make this history. But that Vic allowed Hank Aaron‘s first of 755 career homers does.
There have been two no-hitters in major league baseball on April 23. Ed Head of the Dodgers threw the first in blanking the Braves 5-0 in 1946. And the twist to Astros hurler Ken Johnson‘s no-no in 1964 is that he lost the game to the Reds, 1-0.
The Mets won their first game ever on this date in 1962, beating the Pirates 9-1 after going 0-9 in games to start the season.
Righthander Rube Manning (1930) is the one Yankee player of three to have died on April 23 with the longest tenure with the team. Pitching for the Highlanders only from 1907-1910, he won 22, lost 32, and saved two in 84 games (57 starts). Southpaw Harry Harper (1963) won four and lost three for the 1921 Yankees in eight games (seven starts). After spending a great deal of time with Washington during his 1913-1923 career, his overall record was 57-65 with three saves. First baseman Deron Johnson (1992) had his major-league debut playing 19 games for the 1960-1961 Yankees. In 23 at bats he knocked in two runs. He added 245 home runs and 921 rbi’s from 1962 through 1976 playing with the Phillies, the Reds, the A’s, and the Red Sox.
Seven more players make the noteworthy April 23 death list, five righthanders, an oufielder, and a middle infielder. Ad Gumbert (1925) won 123 and lost 102 with one save from 1888-1896, mostly with the White Stockings, the Colts, the Pirates, and the Bridegrooms; Tim Keefe (1933) won 342, lost 225, and saved two for the Giants, Trojans, and Phillies from 1880-1893; St. Louis Cardinal Howie Krist (1989) won 37, lost 11, and saved six from 1937-1943 and in 1946; and Earl Wilson (2005) pitched to a 121-109 mark from 1959-1966 with the Red Sox and the Tigers. Shortstop/second baseman Jack Barry (1961) hit 10 long balls good for 429 rbi’s for the A’s and the Red Sox from 1908-1919; and lefthanded outfielder Cy Williams (1974) cleared 251 fences with 1,005 rbi’s for the Cubs and Phillies from 1912-1930. The fifth righty is a new entrant, Connie Marrero (2014), who did all his pitching with the Nationals in Washington, going 39-40 with three saves from 1950 through 1954.
Players Who Have Died This Day
By ending his career in six games with the 1965 Bombers, lefthanded outfielder/first baseman Duke Carmel (1937) qualified formerly as the only Pinstriper to celebrate April 23 as his birthday. Perhaps the most unique thing about Carmel is that the Yanks grabbed him from the crosstown Mets in the rule-V draft in November 1964. In eight at bats, Carmel struck out five times. Adding in his three years with the Cards and a few months with the Mets, Duke’s career totals are four home runs, 23 rbi’s, and three stolen bases.
Southpaw starter Sean Henn (1981) doubled the April 23 Yankee birthday fraternity when he started in and lost three games for the 2005 Yanks. With his minor league career derailed a few years back by arm surgery, the Yanks hoped the young lefty would take his place as a future moundman in the Bronx as he assumed a bullpen spot in 2007. But the 2-2 record with a 7-plus era sealed his fate, and the Padres grabbed him in May 2008 when the Yanks dropped from the 40-man roster. Sean pitched in 24 games for San Diego, Minnesota, and Baltimore in 2008 and 2009, then reappeared in Flushing in 2013, where he pitched four games for the Mets.
The 2011 season brought a new entrant, if not a new player to mlb, to the Yankee April 23 birthday list. Outfielder Andruw Jones (1977) got off to a good start as the Yanks’ fourth outfielder, with a home run in his first pinstriped at bat. Andruw had a long career as a phenom defender and home run hitter in Atlanta, one that got started with a record-setting two-home-run game by the youngest player to achieve that feat against the Yanks in the 1996 World Series. Andruw continues as a fourth outfielder and DH in 2012.
Other baseball birthdays feature Hall of Famers Warren Spahn (1921) and Jim Bottomley (1900). The former we know as a great lefty starter with the Braves and Giants (Mets too) with a career mark of 363-245; the latter was a St. Louis Cardinal first baseman from 1922-1937, where he totaled 219 homers with 1,422 rbi’s. Also birthdaying: southpaw Harry Coveleski (1886), who went 81-55 with nine saves mostly for the Phillies and the Tigers from 1907-1918; righty Jim Scott (1888), who posted a 107-113 mark with the White Stockings from 1909-1917; lefty first baseman Dolph Camilli (1907), who blasted 239 homers with 950 rbi’s with the Dodgers from 1935-1945; Rheal Cormier (1967); Jason Tyner (1977); Carlos Silva (1979); Fernando Perez (1983); Emilio Bonifacio (1985); and Luis Durango (1986).
Players Born This Day