August 15 in Yankee History

  • Righthander Sonny Gray put together what would turn out to be a rare good start in a 5-4 victory over the visiting crosstown Mets on August 15, 2017. He threw shutout ball until a walk and a Dominick Smith home run leading off the top of the seventh had him removed from the game. Homers from Jacoby Ellsbury and Gary Sanchez had the Yanks up 4-2 when Aaron Judge doubled leading off the home eighth. That he would score on a Sanchez sac fly became pivotal because fellow Mets rookie Amed Rosario shocked Aroldis Chapman with a two-run jolt in the ninth, for a 5-4 Bombers victory.
  • Luis Cessa failed to come through with a quality start in the Bronx on August 15, 2018, falling to the visiting Rays, 6-1. A Miguel Andujar home run in the home second matched an early Brandon Lowe rbi single, but when Tampa reached Cessa for two-run frames in the third and fourth, the Yankees could not recover. The Yanks recalled Cessa from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to start this one, designating righthander George Kontos for assignment to create a roster spot.
  • Putting together an awesome start, Chad Green, recalled from AAA that morning, walked none while striking out 11 over six innings in a 1-0 win over R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays on August 15, 2016. The hard-throwing righthander gave up two singles, and Toronto scratched out one single and a walk over the last three innings.
  • It was a very good thing that Freddy Garcia and three relievers pitched well enough for the Yankees to prevail 3-2 over the Rangers in new Yankee Stadium on August 15, 2012, because I may have stormed the Scoreboard otherwise. Once the Yanks had scored all their runs on Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, and Eric Chavez rbi’s in the bottom of the third, the board shared the fact that, after his awesome home-run-hitting display across the street in the 2008 Home Run Derby, Josh Hamilton had not yet hit one in the new place, a stat that remained true for all of six pitches. Hamilton would close the score to 3-2 with another long ball in the sixth, but Rafael Soriano struck him out in the ninth inning.
  • It was the second time in his career that Mickey Mantle homered from both sides of the plate when he did it on August 15, 1955, in a 12-6 win over Baltimore. Following the Yanks’ 5-4 win in the first game, The Mick’s heroics keyed the double dip sweep.
  • History of a different kind perhaps, and it took place on the “wrong” side of New York City, but the Beatles appeared live in Shea Stadium on August 15, 1965.
  • The Yanks failed to complete the elusive four-game home sweep of Anaheim on August 15, 2013, when the visitors doubled up Phil Hughes and the home team, 8-4. Ex-Yank (briefly) third baseman Chris Nelson broke a fourth-inning 1-1 tie with a two-run jack, and then he tacked on a grand slam in the eighth off Boone Logan.
  • On August 15, 2002, Bernie Williams notched five hits and the Yankees beat the Royals, 7-5. Williams “burned” to the tune of a double and four singles, but it took a three-run ninth-inning homer by Raul Mondesi against Roberto Hernandez to win the game.
  • The outcome against the Royals on August 15, 2008, wasn’t as good. Andy Pettitte battled Gil Meche to a 3-3 tie through seven, but one more time, despite having a stellar record for saves, Mariano Rivera failed when entering a tie game, as center fielder Mitch Maier‘s ninth-inning rbi single gave Kansas City a 4-3 win. As you will see below, it was the first night where Yankee center field belonged to newcomer (from the minors) Brett Gardner, but he went 0-for-4 and struck out twice. Brett is having a much better year in left field in 2010.
  • The reason Brett Gardner was getting his shot was that the Yanks had tired of waiting for outfielder Melky Cabrera to turn around a bad year at the plate, as they shipped him to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Few would have predicted that day that Melky would come back so strong in 2009, where he hit all year, crowned by the first Yankee cycle in 14 years. The Yankees also designated first baseman Richie Sexson for assignment after a failed experiment in the Bomber lineup that day. Obviously, Gardner was recalled from AAA to take Melky’s place as well, and righty Chris Britton was recalled yet another time too. Finally, the team purchased the contract of infielder Cody Ransom, who would soon have a bright moment, and placed righthander Dan Giese on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
  • The three-run Mickey Mantle bomb, which followed a triple by Tom Tresh and a walk, turned the tables on Oakland’s Blue Moon Odom on August 15, 1968, as the Yanks edged the A’s, 4-3.
  • The lead Yankee story from August 15, 1991, is not the 5-1 win over the Royals, but rather the $250 fine and benching handed to Don Mattingly by Manager Stump Merrill, reportedly in response to the first baseman’s flouting of the club’s policy on hair length.
  • With the team turning a corner and charging into playoff contention, some roster moves were made on August 15, 2007, as lefty Sean Henn and righty Edwar Ramirez were recalled from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The first move just involved a swap with Jeff Karstens making the opposite trip, but a spot was needed on the 40-man squad to add Ramirez. Sadly, reliable backup infielder Miguel Cairo was released to create roster space.
  • Marty Cordova‘s three rbi’s off Hideki Irabu on August 15, 1999, carried Brad Radke to a 5-4 win in Yankee Stadium. Despite the nine hits the Twins righty allowed over eight innings, the Bombers only reached him for two tallies, closing the Minnesota edge to one run on a two-run rally off Mike Trombley in the bottom of the ninth.
  • The Yankees closed the gap between themselves and the first place Red Sox to 4.5 games on August 15, 1977, on a 6-2 Mike Torrez win over the White Sox. It was Mike’s fifth consecutive complete game.
  • Oakland A’s hurler Vida Blue‘s marvelous 1971 season record soared to 22-4 when he beat the Yankees 6-4 on August 15. Two years before the introduction of the Designated Hitter to the American League, the righty scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.
  • When obscure Yankee outfielder Guy Zinn stole home twice in a contest vs. Detroit on August 15, 1912, he not only helped the team to a 5-4 win. He also added to the last place Yankee team’s record of 18 steals of home in a year. The record still stands.
  • It was Yankee Clipper Joe DiMaggio to the rescue twice in the first of two against the A’s on August 15, 1948, but to no avail in a 5-3 loss. Joe tied the game in regulation with his 20th home run of the year, then tripled home another run in the 10th in a rally that fell two runs short. Philadelphia took the nightcap by the same score as well.
  • An Art Ditmar five-hitter and two home runs by Mickey Mantle carried the Bombers to a 4-3 win over the Orioles on August 15, 1960. The dingers came off Jerry Walker and Hoyt Wilhelm, one of them after catcher Clint Courtney dropped Mickey’s foul pop.
  • In a return to live action that few had anticipated, the Yanks activated righty starter Jaret Wright from the 60-day disabled list and optioned lefty reliever Wayne Franklin to AAA Columbus on August 15, 2005.
  • Chairman of the Board Whitey Ford lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to Chicago’s Juan Pizzaro on August 15, 1961. Roger Maris homered for the Yankee run. Pizzaro threw a four-hitter, and Ford failed in an attempt to win his 21st game of the year.
  • On August 15, 2017, the Yankees placed righthander Luis Cessa on the 10-day disabled list, with a ribcage injury, and recalled lefty Caleb Smith from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to fill the roster spot.
  • As alluded to in the 2016 game described above, on August 15, 2016, the Yankees recalled Chad Green from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and, in a corresponding move, optioned righty Luis Severino to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The team also signed free agent righthanders Jean Luna and Jose Peguero to minor league contracts.
  • On August 15, 2015, the Yankees once again designated southpaw Chris Capuano for assignment; then recalled righty reliever Caleb Cotham from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
  • Adjusting a battered pitching staff yet again, the Yankees transferred righthander David Phelps from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list on August 15, 2013, with a right forearm strain. The team then selected the contract of lefty David Huff from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
  • On August 15, 2011, the Yankees signed three draftees, righthanded pitchers Jordan Cote, William Davis, and Joseph Maher. The club also signed veteran free agent righty, and one-time Yankee, Scott Proctor.
  • Milwaukee Brave Lew Burdette no-hit the Phillies 1-0 on this day in 1960. Back in 1905, Rube Waddell of the Philly A’s no-hit the Browns 2-0, but that game only went five frames.
  • When lefty Chuck Finley of the Angels struck out four Tigers in the first inning in a game on August 15, 1999, he became the first hurler to garner that particular achievement twice in the same year. The Yankees were Finley’s four-time victims in the first inning back on May 12.
  • One of the most famous catches in baseball history was made on August 15, 1951, when Willie Mays snared Carl Furillo‘s drive in a 3-1 Giants win over the Dodgers. Mays then completed the play by nailing Billy Cox trying to tag and score from third.
  • When Boston’s Jim Rice hit a double in a Sox 2-1 win over K.C. on August 15, 1977, he became the first Boston player to achieve 20 homers, 20 doubles, and 10 triples in a season since Ted Williams in 1939. What makes it interesting in terms of this column is that just three major leagers had achieved that feat in the same intervening years, all of them Yankees: Charlie “King Kong” Keller (1946), Joe DiMaggio (1948, 1950), and Mickey Mantle (1955).
  • And in August 15 highlights involving future or former Yankee players, one-time Yankee southpaw George Mogridge became the only pitcher to ever steal home in extra innings when he did so in the 12th inning of Washington’s 5-1 win over the White Sox on this day in 1923. And while still making his name as a pitcher, the immortal Babe Ruth upped his head-to-head record against Walter Johnson to 3-0 when he outlasted the Washington Hall of Famer 1-0 in 13 innings on August 15, 1916.
  • In an image few fans of the time can forget, Giants hurler Dave Dravecky broke his pitching arm in his second appearance after trying to recover from cancer on August 15, 1989.
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    Players Who Have Died This Day

  • Righthander Karl Drews (1963) is the only Yankee player who has died on August 15. His 52 games (13 starts) with the 1946-1948 teams represented his debut, and he pitched with the Browns, the Phillies, and the Reds until 1954. His Yankee record was 8-10-2, and he retired at 44-53-7.
  • New York Giants (mostly) outfielder George Burns (1966) is one of two position players among four noteworthy nonYankee guys to die this day. George reached 41 fences and drove in 611 runs from 1911-1925. The other two are righthanded pitchers: Lew Richie (1936) pitched to a 74-65-9 record with the Phillies, the Doves, and the Cubs from 1906-1913; and Jeff Pfeffer (1972) won 158, lost 112, and saved 10 games from 1911-1924, pitching mostly for the Dodgers and the Cardinals. But the perhaps most noteworthy member of this group, lefty hitting, righty throwing catcher Choo Choo (Clarence) Coleman (2016) played in Philly in 1961, but for the Mets in 1962 (their initial season), 1963 and 1966. Choo Choo hit nine home runs, drove in 30 runs, and stole seven bases.
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    Players Born This Day

  • There are three Yankee August 15 birthdays, but the best of the group is the recently retired Scott Brosius (1966). Perhaps Scott’s value to the club is best expressed by the characterization that Aaron Boone finally emulated him in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Scott came through with 65 homers and 282 rbi’s for the Yanks from 1998 through 2001, and was MVP of the ’98 World Series sweep of the San Diego Padres. And if that’s not enough to describe the positive effect Brosius had while wearing the Pinstripes, consider this: He was acquired from the Oakland Athletics in November 1997 for Kenny Rogers and cash, after it had become painfully clear that The Gambler could not win the big game in New York. In short, the Yanks would have parted with Rogers for nothing; instead, they got a World Series MVP. Finally, Scotty needs to be credited with the two-out, two-run, game-tying home run in Game Five of the 2001 World Series the night after Tino Martinez had done the same thing in Game Four. Fans rejoiced when Scott recently returned to Yankee Stadium for the 2007 Old Timers Game.
  • Other Yank birthdays include those of Joe Cowley (1958), whose 21-8 mark for the 1984-1985 team was better than I remember; and Ben Ford (1975), who went 0-1 in four games for the 2000 Yanks. Cowley, a November 1983 Yankee free agent signing, was traded with Ron Hassey to the Chicago White Sox for Britt Burns in December 1985. Joe pitched a multi-walk no-hitter with the White Sox.
  • Although Ford was an amateur Yankee signer too, he was lost to the D’backs in the expansion draft that stocked that club. The Yanks got him back, along with Izzy Molina, for Darren Holmes in March 1999. They in turn shipped Ford and Oswaldo Mairena to the Chicago Cubs for Glenallen Hill the following July.
  • In addition, there are two other August 15 birthdayers who spent time with the club, though not on the field during a regulation game. Outfielder Chris Singleton (1972) hit 45 homers with 265 rbi’s with the White Sox and the Orioles from 1999-2003 once the Bombers sent him to Chicago in December 1998 for Rich Pratt. The Yanks had acquired Singleton with Alberto Castillo from the Giants for Charlie Hayes in November 1997.
  • And Tom Dodd (1958), who appeared in eight games for the 1986 Orioles, was actually with the Yanks twice, first when he was the seventh pick of the 1980 amateur draft. The Yanks sent him with Jeff Reynolds and Dave Revering to the Blue Jays for John Mayberry in May 1982. Seven months later the Jays sent him back south with Dale Murray for Dave Collins, Fred McGriff, and Mike Morgan. The Yanks released Dodd five months later.
  • Other birthdays: Hall of Fame player, manager and executive Charlie Comiskey (1859); St. Louis pitcher from 1918 through 1932 Bill Sherdel (1896); Jose Santiago (1940); Duffy Dyer (1945); Billy Conigliaro (1947); ex-Twins Manager Tom Kelly (1950); Bob James (1958); Jeff Huson (1964); Mike James (1967); Ryan Budde (1979); Robert Novoa (1979); Oliver Perez (1981); Jarrod Dyson (1984); Jorge de Leon (1987); Adam Cimber (1990); Jon Moscot (1991); Yorman Rodriguez (1992); Jacob Webb (1993); and Nick Gardewine (1993).