Blow the party horns; tug on the party hats. In descending order, Yankee fans, baseball fans, and spectator sports fans of all stripes should all rejoice, maybe even celebrate with a piece of cake. Babe Ruth, our very own revered and beloved Bambino, the Sultan of Swat, the man around whom so much of what we obsess about today originally began, was born on this day in 1895. Once acquired from the rival Red Sox by Business Manager Ed Barrow, he led the Yankees to the Promised Land with his booming bat, having already set a pretty high standard as a pitcher in Boston. He played from 1914-1935, the last year with the Boston Braves, and amassed 714 home runs and 2,213 rbi’s during that time. And there are five more Yankee birthdays this day (see below).
The Yanks signed righty Jose Contreras, newly defected from Cuba, to a four-year contract on February 6, 2003.
On this day in 1998, the Yanks traded Eric Milton, Brian Buchanan, Cristian Guzman, and Danny Mota to the Twins for second baseman Chuck Knoblauch. Milton, a fly-ball pitcher prone to surrendering home runs, excelled in Minnesota before injuries set in, had a decent 2004 season with the Phillies, and signed with the Reds for three years in 2005 after the Yankees considered bringing him back. Guzman and Buchanan performed very well for the Twins and other clubs, but Knoblauch helped garner three rings in the next four seasons in the Bronx. His feat of twice hitting multi-run home runs in the World Series to rally his team to a tie, in games they eventually won, will not be forgotten for a long, long time.
On February 6, 2012, the Yankees signed free agent righthander Andury Acevedo.
The Yanks signed lefty Al Holland as a free agent on February 6, 1986. He went 1-0 in 1986 and 1987 to close out an 11-year career , appearing in 28 games, all but three of them in the former year, and all but one of them in relief.
The St. Louis Browns’ acquisition of catcher Wally Schang from the Bombers on February 6, 1926, for lefthander George Mogridge was a worthwhile one. He would hit 21 dingers, knock in 167 runs, and steal 17 bases the next four years, while the Yanks would waive Mogridge before he ever pitched for them. George had been with the Yanks from 1915 through 1920, when he recorded a 48-55 mark and eight saves. George pitched the first Yankee no-hitter, a win vs. the Red Sox in 1917.
The bookended career of pitcher Dazzy Vance approached its end with his trade by St. Louis to Cincinnati on this day in 1934. Vance had stumbled to an 0-3 start with the Yankees in 1915 and 1918, blossomed into a Hall of Famer with the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1922-1932, including a 28-6 NL MVP season in 1924, and faded to 0-2 with the 1934 Reds.
Darryl Strawberry‘s 60-day suspension for violation of baseball’s drug policy on February 6, 1995, resulted in his release by the Giants, and his eventual signing by the Yanks after a stint with the Independent Northern League’s St. Paul Saints.
Former Yankee lefthander Al Leiter was obtained by the Mets in a trade with the Marlins on this day in 1998. Al rejoined the Yankees down the stretch in 2005, but retired before the 2006 season opened. He worked in the YES broadcast booth in 2007, and at the mlb channel now.
In February 6 Stadium news, Seattle voters approved the bond issue that funded the Kingdome on this day in 1968; and the Baltimore Orioles organization broke ground on the Ballpark at Camden Yards in 1990.
Although Lew Burdette (2007) is the most famous of six one-time Yankee players to have died on February 6, he is more known for winning three World Series against the Bombers in the 1957 World classic than for the two games he threw for New York in his 1950 debut. Lew posted most of his 203-144 record with 31 saves for the Braves. Lefty Hank Thormahlen (1955) had a significant Yankee stay, with a 28-20 mark from 1917 through 1920. A year with the Red Sox and one with the Brooklyn Robins brought that record down to 29-30. Southpaw thrower Noodles Hahn (1960) posted most of his 130-94 record with Cincinnati from 1899-1905, but he finished up with six games, all starts, for the 1906 Highlanders, with three wins and two losses. Almost all of lefty-hitting third baseman Del Paddock‘s (1952) one year in the bigs was spent with the 1912 Highlanders, for whom he stroked one home run with 14 rbi’s in 46 games, but he subsequently played one game with the 1912 White Sox. Righthander Bob Muncrief (1951) got most of his 80 wins with 82 losses for the St. Louis Browns from 1937-1949, but he threw three innings over two games for the 1951 Yanks to finish his career. He allowed five hits and three runs. The 29 games that Gabby Street (1951) caught for the 1912 Highlanders would have ended the nine-year career he spent mostly with Washington, but amazingly, he returned to the diamond 19 years later and played one game for St. Louis in 1931. Six of Street’s career 105 rbi’s (he hit two home runs) came in New York.
Even without the several-decade broadcast career in a major market, Hall of Fame outfielder Ralph Kiner (2014) earns pride of place on this list on most days. Kiner blasted himself to prominence by leading the National League in home runs his first seven years in the bigs. Playing most of his 1946 through 1955 career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ralph cleared 369 fences, and drove in 1,015 runs. Righthander Hardie Henderson (1903), who threw mostly for the Orioles and the Trolley Dodgers from 1883-1888, is one of the two noteworthy nonYankee players to die on February 6 before 2014. Henderson won 81 games and lost 121. Finally, we’ll add New York Giants shortstop Art Fletcher (1950). He hit 32 long balls good for 675 rbi’s from 1909-1922.
Players Who Have Died This Day
The first Yankee birthday on February 6 occurred in 1895 when the greatest spectator-sport athlete and showman in history, Babe Ruth, arrived in Baltimore. Scroll to the top of this page to read about The Babe.
On Babe Ruth‘s day, the next Yankee birthday we’ll talk about has a home run connection too. It’s almost eerie that Dale Long (1926) was a lefthanded first baseman, because it was his record home-run streak of hitting at least one such blast in eight consecutive games that Yankee lefty first sacker Don Mattingly matched 20 years ago. Dale played significant years with the Pirates and the Cubs before the Yanks purchased his contract from San Francisco in 1960, but Washington snatched Long in the 1960 expansion draft. He wrapped up his career in New York in 1962-1963 once they traded Don Lock to the Senators for him in July 1962. Long contributed seven homers, 27 rbi’s, and one stolen base to the Yankee cause.
Although he never played for the Yanks, we honor Kanekoa Texeira (1986), who was traded by the White Sox with Nick Swisher to the Yankees for Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez in November 2008. The righthander would be taken by Seattle in the rule-5 draft in December 2009. Teixeira, famous for a while in the Bronx because of the similarity of his name to that of Mark Teixeira, pitched to a 1-1 record for the Mariners and the Royals through the 2011 season.
Frank LaPorte (1880) played a lot of infield at both second and third base and in the outfield too in an 11-year career that began with the 1905-1907 Highlanders (Yankees). After a brief stop with the Red Sox, who purchased him in December of 1907, the Yanks reacquired him for Harry Niles in 1908, then traded him with Jimmy Austin to the St. Louis Browns for Roy Hartzell in 1911. Frank collected six home runs, 217 rbi’s, and 45 stolen bases with the Bombers.
More recent Yankee birthdayers are teammates Mark Hutton (1970) and Bob Wickman (1969). Australian Hutton started six games (in 21 appearances) with the Yanks in 1993, 1994, and 1996 before being traded to the Marlins for reliever David Weathers; Mark posted a 1-3 mark in the Bronx. Wickman arrived in a great trade with the White Sox (Steve Sax for three pitchers!) in 1992, and posted a 21-14 record with 11 saves into the 1996 season. Unfortunately, he then was, in effect, stolen by the Milwaukee Brewers along with Gerald Williams for two injured players: Pat Listach, who would never play again, and lefty reliever Graeme Lloyd. Thankfully, the latter miraculously recovered to play a huge role in the Yanks’ postseason later that year. Wickman has been a front-line closer, and toiled for the Braves in 2007.
Other birthdays: Lefty-hitting pinch hitter deluxe Smoky Burgess (1927); Richie Zisk (1949); Bill Dawley (1958); Chad Allen (1975); Travis Wood (1987); second overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft Pedro Alvarez (1987) from Washington Heights, third (and first) baseman for the Pirates; Donald Lutz (1989); Matt Duffy (1989); Luke Maile (1991); Chad Girodo (1991); and David Paulino (1994).
Players Born This Day