A tree may grow in Brooklyn, but on February 5, 1921, the New York Yankee baseball club purchased 20 acres in the South Bronx. This plot, across the Harlem River and within sight of the Polo Grounds they had shared with the Giants for almost 10 years, would be the location of Yankee Stadium.
A product of Puerto Rico, Luis Arroyo was inducted into the Latin American Hall of Fame Museum on February 5, 2002. Luis capped a nondescript major league career with four stellar years in the Yankee pen, as he amassed a 22-10 record with 43 saves for the Bombers from 1960-1963. It was highlighted by his 15-5, 29-save, 1961 season.
Lest you think that the Yankees didn’t make any mistakes shipping untried minor leaguers out of town before George Steinbrenner took control in the Bronx, the trade of outfielder Tommy Holmes to the Braves for first baseman Buddy Hassett and outfielder Gene Moore on February 5, 1942, is telling. First, on the Yankee side of things, Moore was subsequently shipped out of the Bronx within three weeks and Hassett, after an effective 1942 season for the Yanks in which he hit five homers, knocked in 48 runs, and stole five bases, joined the Navy and never returned to the bigs. Holmes, on the other hand, hit over .300 over 10 years with the Braves, and he won the NL MVP Award playing for them in 1948.
Though not a power threat, first sacker Hal Chase was an effective offensive player, and he was capable of great defense. He hit 20 homers, drove in 494 runs, and stole 248 bases for the Yankees from 1905-1913. But he was an unsavory character, and was often accused of indifferent play in his career. After leaving the Yanks, Chase was charged with betting against his team and throwing games by owner Garry Hermann and Manager Christy Mattheson of the Cincinnati Reds on February 5, 1919. The NL President declined to act, and Hal was traded to the Giants. But they had trouble with him too, and once the Black Sox Scandal broke at the conclusion of the 1919 season, “Prince Hal’s” career was finished.
On February 5, 2018, the Yankees signed free agent lefthander Nestor Oronel to a minor league contract.
As is usual practice for the time of year, on February 5, 2016, the Yankees invited a group of nonroster players to Spring Training: right fielder Aaron Judge; center fielder Dustin Fowler; catchers Santiago Nessy and Eddy Rodriguez; shortstops Tyler Wade and Jorge Mateo; righthanded pitchers James Kaprielian, Chad Green, and Brady Lail; and lefthander Tyler Webb.
February 5, 2015, was “nonroster invitee to spring training” day, as the Yankees invited first basemen Greg Bird and 1B Kyle Roller; outfielders Jake Cave and Aaron Judge; shortstop Cito Culver; second baseman Rob Refsnyder; catchers Francisco Arcia, Kyle Higashioka, and Trent Garrison; lefthanders Jacob Lindgren, James Pazos; and Tyler Webb; and righthanders Luis Severino, Nick Rumbelow, Wilking Rodriguez, Diego Moreno, and Nick Goody to spring training.
On February 5, 2014, the Yankees signed free agent righty Cole Kimball to a minor league contract.
Johnny Hopp, who would play 80 games for the Bombers in 1950-1952, hitting three taters, with 14 rbi’s, and four stolen bases, was traded to the Braves from the Cardinals on February 5, 1946.
A merry-go-round treatment of several players between the Yankees, Orioles, and others continued on February 5, 2013, when Baltimore claimed outfielder Russ Canzler, whom the Yanks had just designated for assignment after claiming him from Cleveland, off waivers from New York.
The signing by the Pirates of free agent infielder Doug Bernier to a contract on February 5, 2010, is a lesson in the transitory nature of life as a minor leaguer. Bernier, who has two major league games with the 2008 Reds on his resume, spent much of the 2009 season as a Yankee signing, then failed to make the major league club in Pittsburgh in 2010, is now a free agent signee with the Yankees with an invite to 2011 Spring Training yet again.
February 5 is a day when no Yankee player has died.
One of four deaths among famous baseball people on February 5 befell Barney Dreyfuss, who owned the Pirates ballclub, and who succumbed due to complications after surgery in 1932. And on February 5, 1897, Hall of Fame hurler Charley “Hoss” Radbourn passed. A winner of more than 300 games for the Providence Grays and the Boston Beaneaters in the old National League from 1881-1891, Radbourn won 59 games in 1884 (though some records credit him with 60). Righthander Dad Clarkson (1911) posted a dead-even 39-39-0 record pitching most of his games from 1891-1896 with the Browns and the Orioles. Finally, power-hitting first baseman Rudy York (1970) hit most of his 277 home runs with 1,152 rbi’s from 1934 to 1948 with the Detroit Tigers.
Players Who Have Died This Day
A list of Yankee birthdays for February 5 would be replete with nothing but players who made brief stops were it not for the career of colorful shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh (1891), who played with the Yanks from 1913-1921 and briefly managed the team in 1914. Roger broke in with Cleveland, and played five years in Washington and one year with the White Sox after his Yankee stay. He was acquired from the Cleveland Naps in 1913 for Bill Stumpf and Jack Lelivelt, and packaged with Rip Collins, Bill Piercy, and Jack Quinn to the Boston Red Sox for Everett Scott, Joe Bush, and Sam Jones in 1921. In New York, Peckinpaugh homered 36 times, drove in 427 runs, and stole 135 bases. He also managed six seasons in Cleveland after he retired as a player.
Lefty-hitting outfielder/first baseman Lee Thomas (1936) and catcher Mike Heath (1955) got their starts in Pinstripes, but neither stuck around very long. A 1954 Yankee amateur free agent selection, Thomas had only two at bats in two games for the 1961 club, when he was traded with Ryne Duren and Johnny James to the Los Angeles Angels on May 8 for Tex Clevenger and Bob Cerv. Lee finished that season and three more with the Angels, played two years with the Red Sox, one with the Braves, two with the Cubs, and finished his career with Houston in 1968.
Heath, a second-round 1973 amateur draftee by the Yanks, managed eight rbi’s in 92 at bats during 33 games with the Championship 1978 Yankee team, followed by seven years with Oakland, a few months with the Cardinals, and four-plus seasons with the Tigers; Mike closed things out with the 1991 Atlanta Braves. He was involved in a blockbuster in November 1978 when the Yanks sent him with Sparky Lyle, Larry McCall, Dave Rajsich, Domingo Ramos, and cash to the Texas Rangers for Dave Righetti, Juan Beniquez, Mike Griffin, Paul Mirabella, and minor leaguer Greg Jemison.
And first baseman Hank Workman (1926) hit from the left side in his five at bats in two games for the 1950 Pinstripers, his only major league experience. Hank recorded one hit, scored one run, and struck out one time.
Standing head and shoulders above all the other players born this day is Hall of Famer and career home-run champ (we’ll continue to call him that until things settle) Hammerin’ Hank Aaron (1934), who spread his 755 dingers and 2,297 rbi’s over a career that stretched from 1954-1976. He is the only man to ever hit at least 20 home runs for 20 consecutive seasons. Outfielder Max Flack (1890) actually got his start in Chicago in the Federal League in 1914, then played with the Cubbies and the Cardinals until he retired after 1925 with 35 taters, 391 rbi’s, and 200 stolen bases. Other birthdays: former New York Mets owner Joan Payson (1903); Don Hoak (1928); Al Worthington (1929); Norm Miller (1946); Roberto Alomar (1968); Chris Brock (1970); Abraham Nunez (1977); Devern Hansack (1978); Eric O’Flaherty (1985); Ryan Webb (1986); Mark Hamburger (1987); and Mark Zagunis (1993).
Players Born This Day