The M&M race was heating up in 1961, and the daily record of Yankee excellence defines what Yankee history is all about. On August 11 of that glorious year, both Mickey Mantle (his 44th) and Roger Maris (42nd) homered off Pete Burnside to lead the Bombers to a 12-5 win over Washington.
The 5-4 Yankee victory over Detroit in the Stadium on August 11, 2013, had a typical start from a Yankee perspective, but not a typical ending. The home team built a 4-1 lead over Justin Verlander on long balls, homers from Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano, and a Robinson Cano double. But backup catcher Brayan Pena homered off David Robertson in the eighth, and Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez ninth-inning jolts against Mariano Rivera tied it. Not to worry though, as with two down and none on in the bottom of the ninth, [presumed] singles hitter Brett Gardner went yard off one-time Yankee Jose Veras to cash in the victory.
The Yankees resorted to form on August 11, 2011, struggling against a guy they hadn’t seen before, nondescript Oakland rookie Tyler Chatwood, who blanked them through five innings, until Curtis Granderson hit a two-run game-tying homer in the sixth. Then Robinson Cano hit a grand slam off Scott Downs and the Yanks won, but only by a 6-5 score once Russell Branyan hit a three-run homer off Mariano Rivera in the ninth.
In a doubleheader sweep (5-3, 4-1) over the Indians on August 11, 1967, Yankee lefty Al Downing struck out the side in the second inning of the first game on nine pitches.
The Yankees handed the ball to reliever Scott Proctor for a spot start on August 11, 2005, and started a four-game sweep over Texas in Yankee Stadium with a 9-8 win. Overcoming a four-hit day by ex-Yank (briefly) David Dellucci, who stroked two homers and a double in that barrage, the home team won the game behind Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, and Derek Jeter home runs.
On August 11, 1980, Reggie Jackson hit the 500th home run of his career off Britt Burns in a 3-1 Yankee victory over the White Sox. It was Reggie’s 31st blast of the season.
David Wells held the Twins to four hits in a 4-0 win on this day in 1998. It was quite a come-down, as Wells had thrown a Perfect Game in his last start against the Minnesota-based team.
Even though The Splendid Splitter, Ted Williams, stroked his 2,000th career hit on August 11, 1955, the Yanks beat the Red Sox, 5-3.
On the other hand, the Yanks were defeated by the Indians, 6-5, on this day in 1929, the Tribe overcoming Babe Ruth‘s 500th home run in the second inning off Willis Hudlin.
Wilson Alvarez of the White Sox no-hit the Orioles, 7-0, on August 11, 1991, in his second major league start. Boston Braves hurler Vern Bickford no-hit the Dodgers, 7-0, on the same day in 1950. And in 1907 the Cardinals’ Ed Karger threw a 4-0, seven-inning (by earlier agreement) Perfect Game over the Boston Doves.
A two-run single by Yogi Berra on August 11, 1951, closed the door on a 7-4, 11-inning win over the A’s. Eddie Joost had homered in the ninth to send the contest into extra innings.
Frank Robinson broke Yankee hearts for the second time in the same season on August 11, 1966, when he dove into the stands to snatch Clete Boyer‘s bid for an 11th-inning, game-winning homer; Robby’s catch preserved a 6-5 Orioles win.
Play became less eased and natural for Joe DiMaggio late in his career, and on August 11, 1950, he was benched for the first time ever, due to a prolonged slump. But Cliff Mapes, in for Joe, rose to the occasion, blasting a seventh-inning homer to lead the Yanks over the A’s, 7-6.
Yankee fans were excited that the team acquired both Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle just before the July 31 trade deadline in 2006. But after a win in his first start, Lidle was beaten 7-4 by the Angels in Yankee Stadium on August 11. Garret Anderson and Maicer Izturis home runs got Anaheim started, and an Orlando Cabrera two-run, fifth-inning double put it out of reach. Few could have imagined that Lidle would die in a fiery airplane crash two months later.
In the year before he came to the Yanks, Jason Giambi and his brother Jeremy Giambi both drilled two-run homers to lead Oakland to an 8-6 win over the visiting Yankees on August 11, 2001. This teammate/brother/home run onslaught was repeated against the Yankees by Benjie Molina and Jose Molina almost exactly four years later, though the Yanks rallied for a win against Anaheim that day.
In the year when the Yankees would win their first American League pennant, they moved one percentage point in front of the Indians when they beat the A’s 7-3 on August 11, 1921. It would be Yankees vs. Indians down to the wire.
On August 11, 2016, the Yankees optioned third baseman Rob Refsnyder and righthander Nick Goody to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The club also recalled righty Luis Cessa and selected the contract of righty Ben Heller, both from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
A little more bullpen shuffle took place on August 11, 2014, as the Yankees optioned righthander Bryan Mitchell to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, and selected the contract of righty Chris Leroux from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to the Bronx 2013 shuttle continued apace on August 11, as the Yankees optioned infielder David Adams to their AAA club and recalled righthander Dellin Betances from that same location.
The Yanks shipped outfielder Luis Polonia to the Braves on August 11, 1995.
A bad-ball hitter like Yogi Berra was 50 years ago, and how Vlad Guerrero was recently, Manny Sanguillen, long of the Pirates, never saw a pitch he didn’t like. He stroked the first A’s hit against Mike Torrez and the Yankees in Mike’s 3-0, two-hit win on August 11, 1977. Sanguillen would do the same thing to Jim Palmer the following day, in a two-hit, 6-0 Baltimore victory over Oakland.
On August 11, 2012, the Yankees had bad news, as they placed ace southpaw CC Sabathia on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to August 9, 2012, with left elbow soreness.
On this day in 1970, Jim Bunning became the second hurler (after Cy Young) to win at least 100 games in both leagues. And in 1969, Warren Spahn earned his 300th victory in a 2-1 win over the Cubs.
The Yankees signed righthanders Hayden Sharp and Adam Smith on August 11, 2011.
Eventual Yankee broadcaster Red Barber joined Connie Desmond in covering the first game telecast in color when the pair reported a Dodgers doubleheader sweep over the Braves on August 11, 1951.
The Reds retired Johnny Bench‘s No. 5 on this day in 1984.
Infielder Joe Ward (1934) is one of two Yankee players to have died on August 11. The five hits in 28 at bats he stroked for the 1909 Highlanders resulted in no home runs or rbi’s, but a three-year career between 1906-1910 spent mostly with the Phillies netted 47 runs driven in, though still no roundtrippers. The seven games catcher Jack Zalusky (1935) (one of them at first base) played with the 1903 Highlanders represent his entire big leagues play. He had five hits in 16 at bats and drove in one run.
First baseman Harry Davis (1947) is the lone noteworthy nonYankee player to have passed this day. He reached 75 fences and knocked in 951 runs playing mostly for the A’s from 1895-1917.
Players Who Have Died This Day
It’s always fun to start the Yankee birthdays with someone of present or recent Pinstriped vintage, as is the case with Melky Cabrera (1984), a true lightning rod when Bombers fans discuss his potential. Despite failing defensively in a six-game trial in 2005, there is little doubt now that Cabrera has the tools to patrol center field (or any outfield position) in the majors for years to come, including an electric arm that threatens to lead the League in assists annually. But center field for the Yankees is a position that has a long and proud offensive history. Cabrera’s very good 2006 morphed into a mediocre 2007 season, one that took a dramatic upturn as the season progressed. But more than midway through 2008, his batting average and rbi totals continued to disappoint. All of which seems pointless now that he had a very good 2009 season, which helped earn him a trade to Atlanta for Javy Vazquez in the offseason following the Yanks’ 27th Championship. Melky achieved the first Yankees hitter cycle since 1995 in the summer of 2009. After a difficult 2010 season in Atlanta, Melky reinvigorated his career in Kansas City in 2011 and, after a trade, was having a year worthy of MVP mention in San Francisco. Following a humbling ban for using PEDs, Melky tore it up again on both sides of the ball in Toronto in 2013-2014, but the Jays let him go, and her’s back to disappointing in 2015, now with the White Sox.
While Cabrera made his name in the banged-up 2006 Yankee outfield, an injured hamstring denied Richard Steven “Bubba” Crosby (1976) the chance to do the same. Bubba had a hit and an rbi with the 2003 Dodgers, then fortune smiled when he arrived in the Bronx with righty Scott Proctor in a swap for Robin Ventura in a 2003 trading deadline move. Crosby added four homers and 20 rbi’s with the 2004-2006 Yanks. Unfortunately, with Melky and veteran Bernie Williams rising to the occasion when Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield went down, Bubba was without a spot on the roster just a few days short of his 30th birthday. He signed with Cincinnati, but retired without reaching the major leagues again.
Shortstop Eddie Leon (1946) makes the list of five Yankee August 11 birthdays, after five years in Cleveland, when he played one game for the Yanks in 1975 with no at bats, no putouts, and no assists. Eddie arrived in New York via a trade with the White Sox for Cecil Upshaw in December 1974, and he was released the following May.
Long-time Boston starter Bill Monbouquette (1936) went 11-12 with one save in 50 games for the 1967 and 1968 Yankees. The Yanks signed Monbouquette as a free agent in June 1967 and traded him to the San Francisco Giants for Lindy McDaniel in July 1968.
A 200-game winner, Bobo Newsom (1946) was a valuable addition to the Yankee staff for the 1947 stretch run, during which he posted a 7-5 mark. The Bombers acquired him from the Washington Senators in July of that year, and he signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Athletics five years later.
Gordon Rhodes (1907) went 7-9 in the Bronx in the first four of his eight years in the bigs, 1929-1936. Rhodes was swapped by the Yankees for Wilcy Moore of the Boston Red Sox in May 1932.
There are three other major league players celebrating another year on the planet today who spent time on the Yankee team, though none of the three enjoyed any game action with the team. Carlos Martinez (1964), a 1983 Yankee amateur free agent, was traded with Ron Hassey and Bill Lindsey to the Chicago White Sox for Ron Kittle, Wayne Tolleson, and Joel Skinner in July 1986. Martinez would hit 25 homers with 161 rbi’s in eight seasons in Chicago. Outfielder Van Snider (1963) played all of his 19 big-league games with Cincinnati (one homer, six rbi’s) before being traded from there to New York with Tim Leary for Hal Morris and Rodney Imes in December 1989. Finally, Leroy Reams (1943), who enjoyed but one at bat with the 1969 Phillies, was signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1962.
Other birthdays: second baseman/outfielder for Philly and the Giants from 1900 through 1915 Danny Murphy (1876); Reds outfielder for 18 years Vada Pinson (1938); Bryn Smith (1955); Andrew Lorraine (1972); Kurt Birkins (1980); Colby Rasmus (1986); Pablo Sandoval (1986); Drew Storen (1987); Andrew Lambo (1988); Mayckol Guaipe (1990); and Wilfredo Tovar (1991).
Players Born This Day