The late offense that saved Nate Eovaldi from a loss after he surrendered five runs to the Astros over five innings, largely on two home runs, would prove illusory later in the season, but the solid bullpen work that ensured the victory on April 7, 2016, would be a club feature all year. Starlin Castro and Mark Teixeira homers (two in his first two games wearing the pinstripes for Castro) supplied the comeback offense in the 8-5 victory, but the three-hit, no-run relief from Kirby Yates, Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller carried the day.
Carrying on the kind of career that had him homering in his first ever big-league game and going 5-for-5 on the day he took aim at 3,000 hits, Derek Jeter doubled leading off the home fifth, starting the game-winning two-run rally in what would be, we all knew, his last home opener, as the Yanks beat Baltimore 4-2 behind Huroki Kuroda on April 7, 2014. Virtual unknown free agent signee Yangervis Solarte quietly had an rbi single and scored after a walk on a 1-for-3 day in front of 48,000 on a passable April afternoon, with rain on the way.
At 3-2, in third place behind Baltimore and Toronto, the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3 in cold and wet Yankee Stadium on April 7, 2011, on rbi’s from Nick Swisher, Andruw Jones, Russell Martin, and Brett Gardner. A.J. Burnett bested Nelson Liriano, and Derek Jeter passed Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby for 33rd place on the all-time hits list in this game.
Following an early loss in which he did not pitch poorly, we got our first real hint of what was to come from the 2008 Mike Mussina when he allowed just two hits in six innings of a 6-1 victory over the Tampa (no longer Devil) Rays on April 7. Bobby Abreu led the offense, with a two-run bomb in the first along with a triple, a single, a walk, three runs scored, and two rbi’s. Nursing a sore hand after being hit by a pitch a few days earlier, Derek Jeter left the game in the third, with first baseman Wilson Betemit sliding over to short, and Morgan Ensberg taking over a first. New Jersey Devils players Zach Parise and Travis Zajac advanced the home-games-left counter down from 75 to 74 in the fifth inning.
I was pretty excited on April 7, 1969. I was attending school in a Washington, D.C., that at the time was a hotbed of political activity, and that also had a baseball team that was to that day host my New York Yankees in the Senators’ RFK Stadium home opener. It’s no surprise that Bobby Murcer hit the first of back-to-back jacks that led the Yanks and Mel Stottlemyre to a victory over Camilo Pascual of the home-standing Senators. Who teamed up with Bobby on the homers? The fact is that although third baseman Jerry Kenney was to have one of his better offensive seasons that year at .257, the homer he hit that day was one of only two on the year. Think pleasant thoughts and recall Kenney as a coin spent to get the great Graig Nettles; try to forget that he served as the starting third baseman for the 1970 New York Yankees while hitting only .193.
The following year, when Mel Stottlemyre trotted out to take the Yankee Stadium mound for his fourth straight Opening Day start on April 7, 1970, he equaled old-timers Lefty Gomez and Jack Chesbro in that regard. Mel fell behind the Red Sox and Gary Peters, 4-0, after five frames, but the Bombers chased Peters with a three-run sixth. Alas, the scoring ended there, in a 4-3 Yankee loss.
It was entirely fitting that Yankee fans awoke on April 7, 2003, thinking of records and unmatched seasons, delighted as they were with the 15 homers the Bombers had just slugged in six games, because it was the day of birth of John Ganzel in 1874. John, a member of the New York Highlanders in their inaugural season in 1903, hit the team’s first home run 22 games into the campaign. The team hit 18 taters as a group that year. He is the brother of “Chick” Ganzel and uncle of player Babe Ganzel.
Alfonso Soriano, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada all doubled in a three-run first inning in a 7-2 win over the Devil Rays on April 7, 2002. Both Jeter and Soriano would add two singles apiece, and Derek notched three rbi’s, carrying Roger Clemens to the win. Interesting sidelights to this win include that the Bombers jumped on Yankee reliever (later) Tanyon Sturtze for the early barrage; that the only earned Devil Rays run was driven in by catcher John Flaherty, who retired after a two-year stint as Jorge Posada‘s backup in New York; and that this was the day the Yankee players were presented with their 2001 American League Championship rings.
Of the several things to celebrate about the Yankees’ 3-0 Opening Day victory over Milwaukee on April 7, 1977, we’ll first report the tally notched when the wily Willie Randolph plated teammate Reggie Jackson on a suicide squeeze, in honor of Willie’s job piloting the crosstown Mets, which sadly came to an end in 2008. Catfish Hunter got the win, holding the Brewers scoreless through seven before Von Joshua‘s last of three hits sent Catfish to the showers once it struck his instep, and “Toy Cannon” Jimmy Wynn homered in his first-ever at bat in Pinstripes.
And new to this Opening Day category is the opening of Enron Field in Houston on April 6, 2000, as Octavio Dotel took the 4-1 Houston loss to Philadelphia. The since indicted, convicted, and then deceased Enron President Kenneth Lay threw out the first ball, and President George Bush was in attendance.
Perhaps the home run that Chris Chambliss powered for the Indians in a 2-1 win over the Tigers in front of 74,000-plus on April 7, 1973, got the Yankees thinking about trading for him the following season. In other April 7 action involving soon-to-be or past Yankee players, the Reds received lefty reliever Gabe White in trade from the Rockies in 2000; ex-Yank Ron Blomberg denied fellow ex-Yank Mike Torrez a victory by homering off Boston’s Dick Drago in the ninth inning of a 6-5 White Sox victory in 1978; and the career of Doc Gooden got off to a good first step as he and the Mets beat the Astros 3-2 in his major league debut on April 7, 1984.
The Yankees claimed outfielder Chad Huffman off waivers from San Diego and assigned him to AAA Scranton on April 7, 2010. Although Chad’s time in the Yankee organization would be brief, he did make the big club and got his first major league hit later in the year.
Astro Ken Forsch (1979) and Tiger Jack Morris (1984) threw no-hitters on April 7; Ken and his brother Bob thereby became the first set of brothers to both attain that distinction in major league baseball history.
Yesterday we reported that it was that day in 1989 that Orel Hershiser‘s record consecutive-scoreless-innings streak came to a close, a mark about which L.A. fans can be proud. But the April 7 news out of L.A. evokes shame rather than pride. On this day in 1987, the team was in disgrace when Dodgers Exec Al Campanis stated on the TV news program Nightline that blacks were not equipped to work in baseball management.
In a totally bizarre twist, catcher Chick Ganzel (1914) is the only player with a Yankee connection (through a blood relative) to have died on April 7. Ganzel passed away on the seventh day of the fourth month, the same date (different year) that his brother John, mentioned above as the first to hit a New York home run for the Yankees, was born. Chick hit 10 home runs with 412 rbi’s from 1884-1897, playing parts of that time with the Beaneaters and with the Wolverines.
There are two righthanded pitchers and two position players of some note who have also passed away on April 7. Chicago White Sox hurler Jim Scott (1957) won 107, lost 113, and saved nine from 1909-1917. Luis Aloma (1997) also pitched for the Chisox, in a shorter career but with nice numbers: 18-3 with 15 saves from 1950-1953. Outfielder/third baseman Bob Kennedy (2005) played much of the time from 1939-1957 with the White Sox also, and the Indians too. He slugged 63 long balls good for 514 rbi’s. Finally cather Shanty Hogan (1967) played with several teams, predomiantly the Braves, the Giants, and the Senators, from 1925-1937. He homered 61 times, and drove in 474.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Yankee players born April 7 start with the aforementioned John Ganzel, who contributed nine home runs and drove in 119 in New York in 1903-1904. Other birthdays include outfielder Bobby Del Greco (1933), and righty Oral Hildebrand (1907). Del Greco spent 1957 and 1958 of his 14-year career in the Yankee outfield, stroking four hits and scoring four runs in limited duty; he was purchased from the Cubs in September 1957 and shipped to the Phillies before the 1959 season. Hildebrand pitched for the Yanks in 1939 and 1940, the last two of his 10 years in the bigs, to a very respectable 11-5 mark with two saves. The Bombers got Oral with Buster Mills in October 1938 from the St. Louis Browns for Joe Glenn and Myril Hoag.
Righthanders Rick Sawyer (1948) and Ricky Bones (1969) each pitched to no record in the Bronx, Sawyer in five games with the ’74-’75 teams, and Bones in four tilts in 1996. The Yanks received Bones in August 1996 as compensation from the Brewers once it was determined that Pat Listach, shipped to New York with Graeme Lloyd for Bob Wickman and Gerald Williams the week before, would not be able to play any more with a broken foot. Sawyer arrived in New York with Walt Williams from Cleveland in a March 1974 three-team deal, in which the Yankees sent Jerry Moses to Detroit. In addition, the Tigers sent Ed Farmer to New York, and they also shipped Jim Perry to the Indians. Gene Locklear was acquired from the Padres for Sawyer in a July 1976 trade.
It was not a new addition to the baseball April 7 birthday list, but was new in the pinstriped chapter when Brett Tomko (1973) not only spent time with the Yanks in Spring Training in 2009, but fashioned a 1-2 record in 15 games with the parent club before being released. Unhappy that the Yanks had not given him much of a chance, Brett latched on with Oakand for whom he went 4-1 down the stretch in six games, all starts. One of the wins was over the Yanks in which Tomko pitched five innings for the “W.”
In light of the fact that the Giants were a very successful New York NL baseball franchise that the Yanks competed with during much of their early existence (even sharing the Polo Grounds for a number of years), it is ironic that we list long-time Giants Manager and Hall of Famer John McGraw (1873) among Yankee player birthdays, but he did appear with the team in Baltimore in 1901-1902 before it was relocated to New York. After hitting one home run with 31 rbi’s for the Orioles team, McGraw led the Giants to 10 NL pennants and three World Championships from 1902-1932.
Rounding out the April 7 baseball birthdays, second baseman Bobby Doerr (1918) of the rival Boston Red Sox, another Hall honoree, hit 223 homers with 1,247 rbi’s from 1937 through 1951. Others: Tom Phoebus (1942); Bill Stoneman (1944); Ron Belliard (1975); Ben Petrick (1977); Danny Sandoval (1979); Adrian Beltre (1979); Vinny Rottino (1980); Chia-Jen Lo (1986); Kevin Shackelford (1989); Eduardo Rodriguez (1993); Jodh Hader (1994); and Magneuris Sierra (1996).
Players Born This Day