The team highlight of a 12-3 thrashing of the White Sox on April 28, 2011, was a group cycle among the first four batters in the six-run sixth inning, as Brett Gardner homered, Eduardo Nunez doubled, Curtis Granderson stroked a triple, and Derek Jeter followed with a single. But the offensive star of the game was Nick Swisher, who walked, singled twice, homered, scored three times, and drove in four. CC Sabathia got the win.
Like a child viewing a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, major league baseball learned a little bit more about the secret weapon lurking in the Yankee bullpen on April 28, 1996. Mariano Rivera picked up the win while hurling the last three innings in a 6-3 defeat of the Twins, as Paul O’Neill both robbed Paul Molitor of a homer and then hit one of his own. Considering this game as a group with his two previous outings, Mo completed nine innings of no-hit ball. As the ’96 season progressed, Rivera’s typical outing would shorten a bit to two innings of setup coupled with a one-inning John Wetteland save. That tandem was so devastating that the Yanks would play for a lead after six, and win almost all of them. The formula took them all the way to a World Series victory.
April 28, 2012, in the Bronx was a day when the lesson was delivered not to trust, necessarily, what happened in the former year when developing expectations about player performance. No sooner had the Scoreboard, previous to the start of a home game vs Detroit, posted the 2011 stat that Freddy Garcia had struck out eight Tigers batters the previous May, his highest K total of the year, than he quickly surrendered six runs through two, largely on an Andy Dirks three-run jack and a Miguel Cabrera two-run single. On the other hand, Detroit got an early warning signal on closer Jose Valverde, who surrendered three tallies on three hits and a walk in the bottom of the ninth, closing the score to 7-5.
David Cone was dealing on Friday night, April 28, 2000, in Yankee Stadium, as he blanked the Blue Jays 6-0 with relief help from Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton. Cone allowed but three singles on a mere 84 tosses through seven. Bernie Williams stroked a two-run double, Derek Jeter tripled and scored, and Jorge Posada contributed a singleton jack off Kelvim Escobar.
If the April 28, 2007 contest vs. the Red Sox didn’t earn the title of “Most Surprising Game” the following morning, it certainly does now. With one more Yankee starter felled one batter into this one, the longest shot in the pen came on. But Kei Igawa shocked us all, turning in his finest performance. After Julio Lugo‘s game-leading-off liner cracked Jeff Karsten‘s knee (he stayed in for a batter!), Igawa stilled the Sox on two hits over six innings, and the Yanks won 3-1 on a Jorge Posada two-run home run.
The April 28, 2006 night game vs. Toronto got off to a doubly bad start. It was announced before the game that troubled former Yankee reliever Steve Howe had died in an accident, and then Jaret Wright surrendered a two-run, first-inning home run to Frank Catalonotto before he recorded an out. Wright allowed two baserunners to start the sixth and Scott Proctor almost escaped before allowing a three-run backbreaker to Shea Hillenbrand . Bernie Williams‘s two-run jack to answer was too little too late and the Blue Jays recorded a 7-2 victory.
An ugly two-day chapter in Yankee history started on April 28, 1985. After the Pinstripers lost to the White Sox 4-3 on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 9th (with Britt Burns winning over Joe Cowley no less), George Steinbrenner broke a promise and replaced manager Yogi Berra with Billy Martin (tour no. 4). The manner of Yogi’s removal (George had pitching coach Clyde King relay the message) had as much to do with Berra’s resulting vow to not set foot in Yankee Stadium while George still owned the team as did the firing itself.
The short Yankees starting stint he received in 2009 began for righty Phil Hughes after he was recalled from AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre on April 28 of that year. To make room the club optioned reliever Steven Jackson to Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
That sinking feeling in the stomachs of the Yankees and their fans took another hit when the team placed catcher Jorge Posada on the 15-day disabled list on April 28, 2008. It was looking like Jorge would not be able to catch with a sore shoulder for the foreseeable future; it took more time to determine that the injury had sapped him of hitting strength as well. To replace Posada, the Yanks purchased the contract of a catcher from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Chris Stewart, who would catch Phil Hughes in a 6-4 loss to the Tigers the next day. It would be Stewart’s lone season appearance.
The winners in the game between the St. Louis Browns and the Yankees on April 28, 1953, was the Yanks, as Gil McDougald knocked over catcher Clint Courtney at home plate in the 10th inning to score the go-ahead run in the 7-6 win. Picking the winner of the brawl that that collision precipitated is another matter. Courtney would spike Yankee Phil Rizzuto in the frame’s bottom half, and once the donnybrook was over, six players would be fined. One loser in the fight was umpire John Stevens, who dislocated his collarbone trying to break it up.
On April 28, 2012, the Yankees signed free agent outfielder Adonis Garica.
The A’s signed ex-Yank Vic Raschi, who had just been released by the Cardinals, on April 28, 1955, and purchased hurler Lou Sleater, who never pitched an inning for the Bombers, from the Yankees on the same day. The Yanks had acquired Sleater with Bobby Hogue, Tom Upton, and Kermit Wahl from the Browns in 1951 for Cliff Mapes.
When Boston’s Alex Gaston caught while his brother Milt Gaston pitched in the 7th inning of a 7-3 loss to the A’s on this day in 1929, they became the second battery made up of brothers in major-league history. The first? Tommy Thompson and Homer Thompson for the New York Highlanders in 1912.
When months come to a close, 30-day records are routinely tied, or surpassed. Juan Gonzalez‘s two rbi’s on this day in 1998 gave him 35 in April, eclipsing the record the Yanks’ Tino Martinez had set the year before. And when Brady Anderson stroked his 11th April homer two years earlier, he tied four players, including Graig Nettles, who had managed that amount in the first month of the 1974 season.
In a move that would not pan out, the Yankees signed free agent and former pinstriper southpaw Brad Halsey on April 28, 2011.
The Yanks shipped outfielder Dick Wakefield to the White Sox for lefthander Joe Ostrowski on April 28, 1950. But when Wakefield protested on the grounds that he had been “guaranteed” a $5,000 World Series share and the Sox refused to make up the difference, Commissioner Happy Chandler voided the deal.
I sometimes wonder if the decision to build the ballpark at Camden Yards was at all affected by the city’s need to move the Orioles out of a tainted Memorial Stadium once they extended their season-opening losing streak to a record 21 games in a 4-2 loss to the Twins on April 28, 1988. The loss broke a record shared by the 1906 Boston Red Sox and the 1916 and 1943 A’s for worst start.
On April 28, 1961, 40-year-old lefty Warren Spahn became the second oldest (to Cy Young) pitcher to throw a no-hitter, as he faced the minimum 27 Giants, and won 1-0. More on this in five days (when Nolan Ryan would eclipse both their ages with his seventh).
Boston had a nice 11-game home-run streak, during which time they had blasted 27 dingers, in 1969 until April 28, when Fritz Peterson of the Yankees shut them out by a 1-0 score.
The Baltimore Orioles club that would be shifted to New York as the Highlanders in 1903 made some April 28 headlines in the formative years of the American League. First eventual Hall of Fame Giants Manager John McGraw persuaded fellow Hall denizen and shortstop Hugh Jennings to leave Connie Mack‘s A’s for the Orioles on this day in 1901, precipitating a battle that saw Jennings finally play that season with the Phillies.
Then a year later on April 28, 1902, outfielder Jimmy Sheckerd of the Orioles became the first AL player to jump back to the NL, as he returned to Brooklyn. The practice of players “jumping” from one franchise (and league) to another was hotly contested, and was one of the reasons the two Leagues were finally forced to make peace.
Jason Grimsley was a serviceable reliever for the Yankees in 1999 and 2000. But he set a record that may never be broken on April 28, 1991 when he threw a wild pitch in his ninth consecutive game pitching for the Phillies during a 9-2 win over the Padres.
Flashy Bronx boy Joe Pepitone leads off the list of noteworthy April 28 achievements by future or former Yankee players when he returned to the Cubs’ lineup from a stomach ailment on that day in 1972 and blasted three-run taters two times in a 10-8 win over the Reds. And way back on April 28, 1911, Frank Baker of the Philly A’s became the first man to reach a fence against Walter Johnson in a 2-1 loss to Washington. The handful of four-baggers Johnson had yielded previously had all been of the inside-the-park variety.
The first night game in organized baseball history took place on this day in 1930, in Independence, Kan.
Lefty reliever Steve Howe (2006), mentioned above, is one of three one-time Yankee players to have died on April 28. A Rookie of the Year with the Dodgers for whom he pitched from 1980-1987, Howe went 18-10 with 31 saves in New York from 1991-1996, and 47-41 with 91 saves overall. Outfielder Archie Wilson (2007) drove in one run in six at bats during seven games with the 1951-1952 Yankees; playing 44 games of the latter year with the Senators and the Red Sox, he knocked in 16 more runs with no home runs. Righty Bob Porterfield debuted in the Bronx from 1948-1951 with an 8-9 record with one save. After hurling for the Senators and the Red Sox from 1951-1959 he posted a final record of 87-98 with eight saves.
A lefthander, a righthander and an outfielder comprise three more noteworthy April 28 player deaths. Righty Al Smith (1977) won 99 with 101 losses and 17 saves from 1938 through 1945 for the Giants, the Phillies, and the Indians; and southpaw Al Hollingsworth (1996) went 70-104 with 15 saves for the Reds, the Browns, and the Phillies from 1935-1946. Outfielder Pat Seerey (1986) hit 86 home runs with 261 rbi’s from 1943-1949, primarily with the Indians, but he played two seasons with the White Sox too.
Players Who Have Died This Day
The first two Yankees listed below not only share April 28 as their birthday; they also were both involved in trades affecting Ralph Terry. Pedro Ramos (1935) notched 40 saves for the Yanks from 1964 through 1966; and Tom Sturdivant (1930) went 36-23 with five saves in 1955 through 1959. The Yanks got Ramos from Cleveland for Ralph Terry, Bud Daley, and cash in September 1964. In December 1966, they shipped him to the Phillies for Joe Verbanic and cash.
Sturdivant, a 1950 Yankee amateur free agent, was traded to Kansas City with Johnny Kucks and Jerry Lumpe for Ralph Terry and Hector Lopez in May 1959.
Other Yankee celebrants include right-hander Cuddles Marshall (1925), Clarence Westly Marshall actually, who posted a 6-4 mark with three saves in the Bronx from 1946-1949; he was purchased by the Browns in May 1950. Also, outfielder Mike Chartak (1916) drove in three runs in 16 games for the Bombers in 1940 and 1942. He finished the ’42 season in Washington and then St. Louis with the Browns, for whom he played his last game in 1944. He hit 21 home runs with 98 rbi’s in his career.
Now released to clear roster room, right-hander Romulo Sanchez (1984) had two creditable performances in the Yankee pen early in the 2010 season. Romulo arrived in New York with a 1-0 big-leagues record via two years with Pittsburgh, and left with that same record.
Others: Red Lucas (1902); Tom Browning (1960); Luis Quinones (1962); Russ Morman (1962); Barry Larkin (1964); Jim Poole (1966); Jorge Sosa (1977); Sean Douglass (1979); Shawn Hill (1981); Jim Miller (1982); David Freese (1983); Pedro Lopez (1984); Dillon Gee (1986); and Daniel Moskos (1986).
Players Born This Day