On April 29, 1977, Ron Guidry, in his first start of the season, rode Thurman Munson‘s three-run home run to a 3-0 shutout over the Mariners, with relief help from Sparky Lyle.
The Blue Jays beat Freddy Garcia and the Yanks 5-3 on Jose Bautista and J.P. Arencibia home runs behind J.C. Romero on March 29, 2011 in Yankee Stadium. Robinson Cano provided the Yankee offense with a walk, two home runs, and three runs scored.
Fred Talbot limited the Angels to two hits on this day in 1967 and beat them 5-2 in Yankee Stadium. First baseman Mickey Mantle hit a two-run dinger and drove in three.
Perhaps some Yankee fans thought things couldn’t get any worse on April 29, 1985, after the painful loss to the Palehose the day before. A bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth had dropped the Yanks to 6-10 on the season. George Steinbrenner apparently felt that things had gone bad enough, as he replaced Manager Yogi Berra with the fourth coming of Billy Martin. But the fans and George were wrong, as the team found a new way in coming up with loss no. 11 on April 29. Convinced that Bobby Meacham‘s drive to the wall in the fourth would be caught (not an unreasonable approach, as Meach only hit eight homers in over 1,300 career abs), Willie Randolph headed back to first to tag up. Even though the ball cleared the wall, however, the homer was lost when Meacham and Randolph collided in the base path. A Ron Guidry nemesis, Texas third sacker Larry Parrish hit three taters and the Rangers beat the Yanks, 7-5.
The Yanks accomplished something they had only done once before when they scored every time they came to bat in a 17-6 spanking of the Blue Jays in Yankee Stadium on April 29, 2006. The last time they had done it was back in 1939.
When the Yankees optioned righty Chris Britton to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on April 29, 2008 and recalled reliever Edwar Ramirez from AAA the same day, it was to help a bullpen that was already in crisis. And Ramirez didn’t have to wait long. Young Phil Hughes not only took another loss when he started against the Tigers in the Bronx that day, he failed to close the fourth inning, after having fallen victim to a two-run Magglio Ordonez double and home runs by Curtis Granderson and ex-Yank Gary Sheffield. A two-run Robinson Cano jack and singleton tallies following leadoff walks to Shelley Duncan and Hideki Matsui in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, were not enough, and Detroit prevailed 6-4. Al Leiter advanced the games left in Yankee Stadium counter down from 72 to 71 in the fifth inning.
Derek Jeter crushed Barry Zito‘s first pitch over the left field fence in Yankee Stadium on April 29, 2004, in an eventual 7-5 Yankee win. Alex Rodriguez, Bernie Williams, and Miguel Cairo also homered off Zito, and Kevin Brown got the win.
With all of baseball abuzz about the death of Cardinals player Josh Hancock in a car crash the night before, the Yanks and Chien-Ming Wang were whacked by the surprising Alex Cora of the Red Sox on April 29, 2007. His fifth inning two-run homer off Wang more than erased a Yankee lead, and the Red Sox won the game 7-4. Doug Mientkiewicz and Derek Jeter home runs went for naught.
With what would turn out to be a fractured right fibula, Jeff Karstens was placed on the disabled list on April 29, 2007, and reliever Colter Bean was recalled from AAA Scranton to take his spot on the 25-man roster.
Loss or no loss, it was hard not to appreciate the beauty of the double-complete-game, 2-0 Blue Jays victory over the Yanks in the Bronx on April 29, 2005. Roy Halladay outdueled Randy Johnson, whose only blemish was an Eric Hinske two-run seventh-inning bomb, in a game that took just two hours and eight minutes to complete.
In a recent personal Yankee highlight day, on April 29, 2001, I caught the first seven frames of a 3-1 victory over the A’s in the Bronx; then took a subway and a train to see Phil Lesh (former Grateful Dead bass player) and Friends in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The Yankee rbi’s were provided by Derek Jeter in the third, and young outfielder Michael Coleman and Alfonso Soriano in the fourth, and Roger Clemens got the win.
Perhaps it cushions the blow that the Yanks suffered a 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays in Yankee Stadium on this day in 2000 a bit when I tell you that former and future Yank David Wells went five for Toronto but did not get the win. Not much comfort there though, as future Yank Paul Quantrill pitched the next two and garnered the victory.
On April 29, 1939, Joe DiMaggio tore a muscle in his right foot in the outfield. Not only did the Pinstripers lose the game, 3-1 to the Senators, the Yankee Clipper would miss the next 35 games.
Seattle’s Edgar Martinez‘s first-inning double off David Cone on April 29, 1998, scored Ken Griffey and put the M’s up, 2-0. But New York’s Tino Martinez responded with two run-scoring singles and Chad Curtis hit a three-run home run in an 8-6 Yankee win.
In a typically painful late 80s day, Yankee fans witnessed Chicago catcher Carlton Fisk tag both Bobby Meacham and Dale Berra out at home on the same play. Unprecedented? Hardly. Washington catcher Luke Sewell planted tags on Lou Gehrig and then Dixie Walker in a 6-3 Senators over the Yanks on April 29, 1933.
On April 29, 2012, the Yankees adjusted their bullpen, optioning Cody Eppley to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, while recalling Fellow righthander D.J. Mitchell from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
When the New York ban on Sunday baseball was temporarily lifted in 1906, the Highlanders and the Philadelphia A’s played a benefit for the victims of the San Francisco earthquate on April 29. Also the teams swapped players, with speedster Danny Hoffman going to New York for outfielder Dave Fultz.
Russ Derry homered twice, including his second grand slam of the season, as the Yanks beat the Senators, 14-5, in the first game of a doubleheader on this day in 1945. Joe McCarthy must have been shaking his head at the wasted runs as the Bombers fell in the second game, 2-1.
On April 29, 1901, war hero (from the Spanish American War!) Admiral George Dewey was on hand to watch Washington win the American League opener over Baltimore 5-2, with Joe McGinnity losing to Bill Carrick. This losing Orioles franchise would be transferred to New York and become the Highlanders in 1903.
The Yanks beat the White Sox 5-2 in Comiskey on this day in 1959 on homers from Mickey Mantle, Hank Bauer, and Moose Skowron.
The A’s Stuffy McInnis wasted no time on April 29, 1911, in a 10-6 win over the Highlanders. He collected five singles on a mere seven thrown pitches by hitting the first offering three times, and the second twice.
Subbing for the injured Derek Jeter on April 29, 2003, Erick Almonte came up with two of only six Yankee hits on the day, and Mariner Gil Meche outdueled Roger Clemens in a 6-0 Yankee loss.
The Yankees rejiggered the big-club catching corps on March 29, 2011, activating Francisco Cervelli from the 15-day disabled list, and optioning Gustavo Molina to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
On April 29, 1997, five of the six outfielders (Boston CF Shane Mack didn’t join in the fun) playing in Fenway in a Red Sox tilt vs. the Angels threw out runners on the basepaths. Angels centerfielder Garrett Anderson and Boston leftfielder Wil Cordero repeated the feat the next day. Was it good outfield play or bad baserunning?
Chili Davis, who would be wearing the Pinstripes the following season, gave the Royals a 6-5 win over the Blue Jays on April 29, 1997, when he led off the 10th inning with his 300th career home run.
When Cleveland’s Wes Ferrell threw a 9-0 no-hitter at the St. Louis Browns on April 29, 1931, the closest call was when his brother Rick Ferrell beat out a ground ball, which was eventually ruled an error.
Boston starter Roger Clemens struck out 20 Seattle Mariners on April 29, 1986. He surpassed the record of 19 shared by Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver at the time.
April 29 items featuring former or future Yankee players most worthy of note are not highlights: Darryl Strawberry was sentenced to 18 months in prison on this day in 2002 for violating his probation. And on April 29, 1891, Tim Raines became the 2,998th strike out victim of Steve Carlton when he led off against the Phillies lefty in a 6-2 Montreal loss. Carlton followed with whiffs of Jerry Manuel and Tim Wallach to strike out the side and reach 3,000 for his career.
Charlie Reilly of the 1892 Phillies became major league baseball’s first pinch hitter on April 29 of that year.
The Grim Reaper is no respecter of persons, or of players either, and it would not be unusual to see the least of Yankee players dying the same day as the “immortal” Babe, or the Iron Horse too. Which is what makes April 29 such a unique date in that respect. Both Walt Smallwoood and Ed Monroe played two years for the Yankees; they both debuted in 1917. Each was a righthanded pitcher; neither ever played for another team. Smallwood pitched in eight games (no starts) to 0 wins, 0 losses, and 0 saves. Monroe pitched in 10 games (one start), and he won one and saved one. They both passed away in the sixties at the age of 74. And they are the only two one-time Yankee players to die on April 29, Smallwood in 1967 and Monroe in 1969.
Of the other four noteworthy players to have died April 29, two pitched, and two patrolled the outfield. Mentioned above, righthander Josh Hancock posted a 9-7 record with one save for the Red Sox, the Phillies, the Reds, and the Cardinals from 2002 until his untimely 2007 death. A switch-hitter, Charlie Ferguson (1888) pitched with his right; he won 99, lost 64, and saved four for the Phillies from 1884-1887. Righthanded outfielder Jimmy McAleer (1931) hit most of his 12 long balls with 469 rbi’s between 1889 and 1907 with the Cleveland Spiders; and lefthanded Dom Dallesandro (1988), another patroller of the baseball meadow, reached 22 fences good for 303 rbi’s from 1937-1947, almost all of it with the Cubs.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Sterling Hitchcock (1971) and John Vander Wal (1966) were the two Yankee April 29 birthdayers of most recent vintage until the 2008 season. Hitchcock’s first “hitch” in Pinstripes (once he was selected in the ninth round of the amateur draft in 1989) from 1992-1994 produced a 16-15 mark with two saves; he went 6-9 from 2001-2003. Vander Wal hit six homers with 20 rbi’s and one steal in 84 games for the 2002 Yanks. Aside from the birthday, they share the fact that they’ve each been involved in fortuitous trades for the Bombers. The package of Hitchcock and Russ Davis garnered Tino Martinez, Jim Mecir, and Jeff Nelson from the Mariners on Pearl Harbor Day in 1995, and it only cost the Yanks Brett Jodie and minor-leaguer Darren Blakely to get Hitchcock back from San Diego in 2001. And Vander Wal was greeted more warmly once he was acquired from San Francisco in December 2001 than he might have been, simply because the highly unsuccessful Jay Witasick was gladly spent to get him.
The newest Pinstriped birthday belongs to a guy who did not ever play for the team in the Bronx. Catcher Omir Santos (1981) was a 21st round Yankee selection in the 2001 amateur draft and a regular sight in Tampa Spring Training games until the Bombers granted him free agency in 2007. He promptly signed with Baltimore, and had one hit in 10 at bats while appearing in 11 games with the 2008 Orioles.
Infielder Ernie Johnson (1888) played the last three of his 14 years in New York, ending in 1925. His career numbers were 19 homers with 256 rbi’s. And lefty pitcher Noodles Hahn (1879) posted a 3-2 win/loss record for the Yanks in 1906. Both Johnson and Hahn arrived on the team via waiver selections from other teams, Johnson from the Chicago White Sox in 1923, and Hahn from the Cincinnati Reds in 1906.
Lefthander Mickey McDermott (1929) turned a phenomenal start with the Red Sox into a .500 career, and won two and lost six with the 1956 Yanks. New York got McDermott and Bobby Kline from Washington in February 1956 for Whitey Herzog, Lou Berberet, Bob Wiesler, Herb Plews, and Dick Tettelbach. Mickey left New York in a blockbuster trade with Kansas City so huge that it makes this list often. The Yankees exchanged McDermott, Rip Coleman, Milt Graff, Billy Hunter, Tom Morgan, Jack Urban, and Irv Noren for Curt Roberts, Clete Boyer, Art Ditmar, Bobby Shantz, Jack McMahan, and Wayne Belardi one year later.
Righty Marv Breuer (1914), who went 25-26 with three saves for the Yankees from 1939-1943, ends the list, but we’ll include Expos (now the Nationals) pitcher Tony Armas, Jr. (1978), who signed with the Yanks as an amateur free agent in August 1994. The Bombers shipped him with Jim Mecir to Boston in the 1997 stretch run for Mike Stanley. Later, the Red Sox included Armas in a trade for Pedro Martinez.
Outfielder Chad Huffman (1985) joined the Yankee April 29 birthday club in 2010 after the Yanks grabbed him on waivers from San Diego. In nine games in the Bronx Chad had three hits, two rbi’s, and scored a run. He has since moved to Cleveland via waivers as well.
Other birthdays: Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio (1934); righthander Steve Ridzik (1929), who posted a 39-38 mark with the Phillies from 1950-1966; Mets third baseman Ed Charles (1933); Tom House (1947); Rick Burleson (1951); Ron Washington (1952); Bob McClure (1952); Steve Crawford (1958); Tony Saunders (1974); Rafael Betancourt (1975) Erasmo Ramirez (1976); Tony Armas (1978); and Kelly Shoppach (1980).
Players Born This Day