August 31 in Yankee History

  • Home runs by Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird off Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez on August 31, 2017, in Yankee Stadium keyed the 6-2 home team victory. CC Sabathia went six innings for the win, and David Robertson and Dellin Betances finished up.
  • It may have been Ivan Nova‘s strongest ever start when he blanked the Orioles on just three hits in a 105-pitch, complete-game 2-0 shutout in Yankee Stadium on August 31, 2013. Brett Gardner doubled off Scott Feldman to start the bottom of the first, then scored on a Robinson Cano single. Cano then homered off lefty Troy Patton in the eighth to forge the final score. Sue and I were thrilled to have a segment appearing on the big board pregame featuring the Ticket Licensee of the Game, during which I left the crowd with a fitting “C-C-H-H-A-A-A-A-R-R-R-G-G-E-E-!-!-!” call.
  • In an August 31, 1995, game that I believe served as the template for a hilarious episode of the TV sit-com Seinfeld, Paul O’Neill homered in his first three at bats to drive in eight runs in an 11-6 win over the Angels in Yankee Stadium.
  • It was not just the gaudy offensive stats, but the record too, that has many fans thinking the 1927 Yankees were among the best teams of all time. They lengthened their lead over the second-place A’s to 17 games on August 31 by beating the Red Sox, 10-3. The offense featured Babe Ruth‘s 43rd homer, two better than the 41 on Lou Gehrig‘s ledger, and the Yanks extended their record to 89-37.
  • The 2012 AL East race was set on August 31, 2012, with the Yankees hosting the Orioles with a three-game lead. But it was not over, as the O’s said through a 6-1 win on two Mark Reynolds home runs. The only Yankee run was a one-out, ninth-inning home run from Curtis Granderson.
  • There are plenty of names and highlights to mention about a Yankees/Blue Jays contest in Yankee Stadium on August 31, 2008, but the 6-2 win by Toronto is not one of them. Alfredo Aceves had his major league debut relieving an ineffective Andy Pettitte with one down in the seventh by sandwiching two strike outs around an intentional walk of Vernon Wells. Both Yankee tallies were significant numbers, as Alex Rodriguez tied Bill Dickey for 14th on the all-time Yankee home run list in the fourth, and Jason Giambi‘s 205th Pinstriped long ball in the sixth tied Dave Winfield for 10th on that same list. Another guy who hit a few deep blasts to right, Jesse Barfield, moved the games left in the old Stadium counter from 11 down to 10 in this game.
  • Billed as the “Battle in Seattle,” there was buzz aplenty in Safeco Field when Yankee ace Randy Johnson faced new hotshot prospect Felix Hernandez on August 31, 2005, just four weeks after the rookie’s big-league debut. This one lived up to the hype, as Johnson bested Hernandez 2-0 in a contest that saw just nine hits, two after the starters left. Singleton home runs by Robinson Cano and Gary Sheffield provided all the scoring.
  • Graig Nettles‘s second homer of the game gave the Yanks and Sparky Lyle the win over the Mariners, 5-4, on August 31, 1977.
  • Randy Johnson had one of his better Yankee outings in a 6-4 win over Detroit in Yankee Stadium on August 31, 2006. The Unit had allowed just three hits, including singleton homers by Magglio Ordonez and Omar Infante, until he tired in the ninth and allowed another bomb to one-time Yankee Marcus Thames for the last two runs. The Yanks prevailed on two rbi’s apiece by Bobby Abreu, Alex Rodriguez, and Bernie Williams.
  • It was one for the history books in Yankee Stadium on August 31, 2004. Javier Vazquez was gone after allowing six runs to the Indians in just 1.3 innings, and Tanyon Sturtze gave up seven more over three. Knowing that the two worse shutout losses in Yankee history were 15-0 to the White Sox, I stayed because I had to see if history would be made. C.J. Nitkowski went 1.7 frames, long enough for the Tribe to reach a 16-0 mark, and Esteban Loaiza put the capper on the 22-0 drubbing by surrendering six more tallies in the ninth. Coco Crisp, Jody Gerut, and Victor Martinez homered, Omar Vizguel had six straight hits, and Jake Westbrook was the beneficiary of the offensive explosion.
  • The Yankees prevailed over the Browns in a wild game in Yankee Stadium on August 31, 1948, with the home team plating four in the eighth and St. Louis answering with five in the ninth off Joe Page. Tommy Henrich slugged a homer and pulled off an unassisted double play to help Allie Reynolds get the win, 10-9.
  • Despite the fact that Jim Lemon of the Senators blasted three consecutive homers and number one fan President Dwight Eisenhower was in attendance, the Yanks whipped the Senators in Washington on this day in 1956, 6-4.
  • August 31 has not been kind to the New York Mets. They lost their 13th in a row at home to the Phillies 1-0 on the day in 2002, becoming the first National League team to ever go winless at home for an entire calendar month. And 20 years earlier they dropped their 15th game in a row, on a 4-0 two-hitter by former Met Nolan Ryan.
  • The Yanks ruined the Senators’ chance to move into first place on August 31, 1945, when they swept them in a doubleheader, 3-2 and 3-1.
  • It came as a surprise to some fans when the Yankees designated outfielder Kevin Thompson for assignment on August 31, 2007. It came as mo surprise when they released righty reliever Jim Brower, however. Lofty numbers the veteran journeyman had posted in the minors quickly proved elusive, as Jim’s era soared over 13 once the Yanks gave him a look.
  • Young Expos righty Mike Johnson allowed just four hits in six innings in a 3-2 loss to the Yankees in the Stadium on August 31, 1997, but one of them was a Bernie Williams home run. Rondell White delivered both Expos runs off Mike Stanton in the eighth, but Mariano Rivera came on for the four-out save and preserved Andy Pettitte‘s victory.
  • The 26th August win the Indians earned on the 31st in a 6-1 victory over the Yanks in 1954 tied a record set by the 1931 Philadelphia A’s for wins in the steamy month.
  • Outfielder Frank Delehanty enjoyed a decent 10-year mlb career, but he was never the ballplayer his Hall of Fame brother Ed Delehanty was. But Frank did a pretty good imitation in a 20-5 Highlanders rout of Washington on August 31, 1906, as he delivered two home runs, a triple, and a single, and knocked in seven runs.
  • Two Chicago no-hitters took place on August 31, as Jimmy Lavender of the Cubs beat the Giants, allowing just two baserunners in a 2-0 win, in 1915; and White Sox hurler Vern Kennedy threw the first ever in Comiskey Park when he shut out the Indians 5-0 in 1935.
  • One of a flurry of August 31, 1993, deals involved the Yankees, as they traded pitcher Rich Batchelor to St. Louis for reliever Lee Smith.
  • One-time Yankee Rickey Henderson joined some pretty heady company when he scored his 2,000th career run on August 31, 1998, in an Oakland A’s uni. Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Pete Rose, and Willie Mays preceded him.
  • Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson announced his retirement on August 31, 1966.
  • On August 31, 2017, the Yankees recalled righthander Giovanny Gallegos from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, and optioned lefthanders Caleb Smith and Jordan Montgomery to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
  • On August 31, 2011, pitcher Daniel Camarena, signed the day before, was assigned to the Tampa Yankees. The Yankees also signed free agent righthander Moises Cedeno.
  • When Jack Fournier of the White Sox hit two home runs off Hall of Fame righty Walter “Big Train” Johnson in a 4-3 Chicago win on August 31, 1914, it was a feat that would not be matched until Yankee star Lou Gehrig accomplished it 12 years later.
  • Yankee Manager Joe McCarthy allowed Dixie Walker of the White Sox to run for Mike Kreevich in a 5-1 Yankee win on August 31, 1936, once the latter was spiked, consenting to Kreevich returning to the outfield in the inning’s bottom half. This rare practice was known as using a “courtesy runner.”
  • The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 5-1 behind Justin Miller on August 31, 2002. Shannon Stewart and Eric Hinske scored twice each and Carlos Delgado drove in two against Orlando “el duque” Hernandez.
  • Dodger Gil Hodges blasted four homers and a single, driving in nine runs, in a 19-3 Brooklyn thumping of the Braves on this day in 1950.
  • When the Kansas City Royals fired Manager Jim Frey on August 31, 1981, they replaced him with former Yankee player and Manager Dick Howser.
  • The two Ken Griffeys, Junior and Senior, became the first father-and-son tandem in history to play together on the same major league team, in center and left field respectively, and they both went 1-for-4 in a 5-2 Seattle win over Kansas City, on August 31, 1990.
  • Lou Gehrig hit his second grand slam home run in three days in a 6-5 loss to the Senators on this day in 1931.
  • In the first of two August 31 highlights involving future or former Yankee players, Hank Borowy blanked the Dodgers 3-0 for the Cubs on this day in 1931 while allowing just one single and facing the minimum 27 batters. Borowy had a fine 56-28 mark debuting with the Yankees from 1942 to 1945, when the Yanks sold him to the Cubs for their stretch drive. And when recently retired Yankee starter Mike Mussina was reached by Chuck Knoblauch for a home run in a 5-2 Twins win over Baltimore on August 31, 1991, it was the eventual Yankee second baseman’s only home run of the year.
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    Players Who Have Died This Day

  • The 149 games catcher Mike Garbark (1994) played for the Yankees in his only big-leagues service in 1944-1945 narrowly give him the longevity lead among the three Yankee players to have died on August 31. He went 116-for-475, homered twice, and drove in 59 runs. Outfielder Jesse Hill (1993) played his first major-league ball during 107 games with the 1935 Yankees. His four home runs with 33 runs batted in while hitting 115-for-392 grow to six and 108 when stints with the Senators and the A’s in 1936-1937 are added in. Switch-hitting third baseman Heinie Odom (1970) played just one game in the bigs, for the 1925 Yankees. He neither homered nor drove in any runs, but his 1-for-1 hitting stats left him with a career batting average of 1.000.
  • The list of notable nonYankee players to have died this day includes a southpaw hurler, two righthanders, and two position players. Lefty Duke Esper (1910) won 101, lost 100, and saved five games from 1890-1898, mostly with the Phillies, the Orioles, the Senators, and the Browns; switch-hitting righty thrower Will White (1911) went 229-166-0 mostly for Cincinnati from 1877-1886; and Roy Parmalee (1981) won the better part of his 59 wins with 55 losses and three saves from 1929-1939 with the Giants. Shortstop Skeeter Newsome cleared nine fences good for 292 runs batted in with the A’s, the Red Sox, and the Phillies between 1935 and 1947. Finally, although there really was a Crash Davis (2001), made famous by the Kevin Costner film Bull Durham, he played middle infield rather than catching, and he hit two home runs with 43 rbi’s in his only major-league play, with the 1940-1942 Phillies.
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    Players Born This Day

  • Yankee August 31 birthdays lead off with Claudell Washington (1954), who has a lot more memorable things about his Yankee career than one would expect for a guy who only played in parts of four losing seasons here. First, he was acquired with Paul Zuvella from the Braves in 1986 for Ken Griffey, Sr. and Andre Robertson. And then in 1990 the Yanks shipped Luis Polonia to the Angels for Rich Monteleone and to reacquire Washington. Claudell, who hit 26 homers and chipped in with 124 rbi’s in the Bronx, decided the longest game I ever saw in person (an 18-inning win over the Tigers on 9/11/88) with a homer. Finally, he hit the 10,000th home run in Yankee history, again in 1988.
  • While researching the day’s Yankee birthdays, I had the very cool experience of noticing that outfielder Juan Bernhardt (1953) shared a last name with a coworker, who it turns out is his cousin, though they have never met. Juan had 21 at bats with an rbi in 10 games for the 1976 Yanks before playing three years with Seattle, where he became the first Mariner to homer in the Kingdome. Juan was a Yankee free agent signing in 1970, and they lost him to the Mariners in the 1976 expansion draft that stocked that club.
  • Second baseman Ray Mack (1916), who appeared in just one game with the Yankees in 1947, joined the club from Cleveland with catcher Sherm Lollar in a trade that year that sent Hal Peck, Al Gettel, and Gene Bearden to the Indians. And though he never played for the Yanks, righthander Tom Dukes (1942) was signed by New York as an amateur free agent before the 1962 season. Sent to the Milwaukee Braves in an unknown transaction in June 1965, Dukes posted a 5-16 record with 21 saves from 1967-1972 with the Astros, the Padres, the Orioles, and the Angels.
  • A recent addition to the Yankee list is Ramon Ramirez (1981), whom the Yanks signed as a free agent in March 2003 after the Rangers had drafted, then released, him back in 1998. Ramon was traded by the Yanks with minor-leaguer Eduardo Sierra to the Colorado Rockies in July 2005 for Shawn Chacon. He has pitched to a 15-10 mark with one save with the Rockies and then the Royals, and now the Red Sox, since.
  • Three Hall of Famers lead off the other August 31 birthdays of note: Negro League player Ray Dandridge (1913); Philadelphia lefty with a .627 winning percentage and 326 wins Eddie Plank (1875); and two-league mvp and recent Expos/Nationals Manager Frank Robinson (1935). Robinson hit 586 home runs in 21 years in the bigs, and Plank was actually traded to the Yankees at the end of his career, but chose to retire instead. Other notables: Tracy Stallard (1937), who surrendered Roger Maris‘s 61st home run in 1961; Tom Candiotti (1957); Von Hayes (1958); Jeff Frye (1966); Hideo Nomo (1968); Nate Minchey (1969); Gabe Kapler (1975); Tim Drew (1978); Ramon Santiago (1979); Tim Raines, Jr. (1979); Clay Hensley (1979); Shane Loux (1979); Ramon Ramirez (1981); Armando Gabino (1983); Juan Nicasio (1986); Steve Johnson (1987); Matt Adams (1988); Caleb Gindl (1988); John Hicks (1989); Austin Pruitt (1989); Erik Gonzalez (1991); Dillon Peters (1992); and Ricardo Rodriguez (1992).