The San Diego Padres acquired the rights to Japanese pitcher Hideki Irabu on January 12, 1997, from the Chiba Lotte Marines. But the heavyset righthander refused to pitch for them and would force a trade to his first and only choice, the Yankees. He would have middling results in New York, with a 29-20 record from 1997-1999.
It was a sad moment for many a Yankee fan, myself included, when David Cone signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox on January 12, 2001. Coney had the reputation of being a “hired gun” back in 1994 when the Yanks first traded for him, but by 2000 he had become a real spokesman for the players on the club, and was a huge factor in their turnaround from pretenders to multiple champions in the late ’90s.
It was the end of an era in New Jersey baseball history when the Yankees sold their Newark franchise, the once-proud Bears, to the Cubs on January 12, 1950. The Chicago National League rep relocated the team to Springfield, Mass. In recent years, former Yankee catcher Rick Cerone tried to re-create some of that New Jersey magic with his Independent Atlantic League Newark Bears.
On January 12, 1984, free agent Goose Gossage ended his stay in Pinstripes by signing with the San Diego Padres. He had saved 150 games for the Bombers from 1978-1982, while posting a 41-28 win-loss record, was the 1978 Rolaids Reliever of the Year, and finished in third place in 1980 in the American League in both the Cy Young and the MVP voting. He was replaced as the Yankee closer by Dave Righetti (after his 1983 no-hitter vs. The Red Sox as a starting pitcher). Goose has finally earned his place in the Hall of Fame.
In a move that had been building for days, the Dodgers traded southpaw Tyler Olson and infielder Ronald Torreyes to the Yankees for third baseman Rob Segedin on January 12, 2016. Also, grabbing a minor league free agent who had been in the Yankees’ system since his signing in 2010, the Rays invited non-roster first baseman Kyle Roller to spring training. Roller would finish that year with the Independent League Somerset Patriots.
Many thought that the signing of free agent first baseman Tony Clark by the Yanks to a one-year contract on January 11, 2004, became meaningless once the club acquired defensive specialist Travis Lee almost two months later, but you can never tell. Injury felled Lee after just seven games, incumbent first baseman Jason Giambi struggled with injuries and ineffective play, and Clark became a huge contributor, with 16 home runs and 49 rbi’s.
The Yankees also cleared the first base position a bit that same 2004 day when they designated minor league first sacker Fernando Seguignol for assignment. Originally a member of the Yankee organization whom they had sent to Montreal for John Wetteland in 1995, Seguignol had shown some promise at first in a 2003 return stint in the organization.
A tiny part of the magical 2009 squad who returned the Championship to the Bronx departed the Yankees when the Atlanta Braves signed free agent outfielder Eric Hinske on January 12, 2010.
It happens every Winter, and it leads to a buzz of Tampa activity every Spring. The Yanks made their biggest Spring Training invite to nonroster players on January 12, 2007, welcoming Jeff Nelson, Andy Cannizaro, Angel Chavez, Raul Chavez, Tyler Clippard, Ben Davis, Eric Duncan, Brett Gardner, Phil Hughes, Steven Jackson, Ben Kozlowski, Ramiro Pena, Ross Ohlendorf, Peter Pilittere, Todd Pratt, Omir Santos, Jose Tabata, Marcos Vechionacci, Kevin Whelan, and Steven White to Tampa.
In other January 12 transactions affecting former or future Yankee players, the Angels signed Matt Luke to a free-agent contract in 1999; and the Cardinals did the same with Darren Bragg that same day. In 1972, the Red Sox tabbed Roy Smalley; and on January 12, 1924, outfielder Bobby Veach was sold to the Red Sox by the Tigers. Lastly, Gaylord Perry signed with the Braves on January 12, 1981, after recording a 4-4 mark in 10 games with the Yanks in 1980. Finally, in news of a different sort, Giants Manager Leo Durocher, who had gotten his playing career started as a shortstop with the Yankees, was fined on January 12, 1949 for signing Freddie Fitzsimmons as a coach while he was still under contract to the Braves.
January 12, 1900, was another pivotal day in the early history of the Yankees. On this day Hall of Famer John McGraw, who would make his name with the Giants in New York shortly, announced that if the National League dropped its Baltimore team, he would form an American League squad in the city. They ignored the threat, and McGraw introduced Baltimore to the AL in 1901, while he moved to the NL Giants the following season. In 1903, that AL franchise would relocate to New York as the Highlanders, which ironically would become one of McGraw’s biggest headaches in the years to come.
January 12 Hall of Fame honorees include Steve Carlton in 1994; Willie Stargell in 1988; and Brooks Robinson and Juan Marichal in 1983.
Major league baseball would implement its free agent draft on January 12, 1920.
Two Yankee catchers died on January 12. Joe McCarthy (1937), not the same-named manager, caught one game and had two at bats for the 1905 Highlanders (no rbi’s) and 37 games for the Cardinals (two rbi’s) in 1906; and Joe Smith (1974), whose only big-leagues play was in the 14 games he caught for the 1913 Yankees. Smith scratched five hits in 32 at bats, and knocked in two runs.
Senators and Tigers pitcher Win Mercer, who posted a 131-164-10 record from 1894 through 1902, committed suicide on January 12, 1903. There are four noteworthy pitchers who were nonYankee players to die this day, three righties, and southpaw Shaw Dupee (1938), who won 83 games, lost 121, and saved none for the Senators and the Wolverines from 1893-1899.Harry Staley (1910) posted a 136-119-1 mark with the Beaneaters and the Alleghenies mostly from 1888-1895; Jimmy Lavender (1960) won 63, lost 76, and saved 12 games for the Cubs and the Phillies from 1912-1917; and Eddie Solomon (1986) threw mostly for the Braves, the Pirates, and the Dodgers from 1973-1982, to a 36-42-4 record.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Late in the 2010 season the Yanks had a new entry to their January 12 birthday club when rookie Ivan Nova (1987) was called up and got seven starts once veteran Andy Pettitte missed six weeks due to a muscle injury. Grabbed by the Yankees in the 2004 amateur draft, Ivan could have been lost when he was exposed and taken by the Padres in the 2008 Rule-5 draft. But he was returned to the Yanks in March 2009. Not only was he very good going 1-2 in the 2010 stretch run, Nova was a rotation cog in 2011, something that originally carried over to 2012. His 16-4 mark in the former was a huge boost, ushering him into third place in the Rookie of the Year vote, one which he probably would have won until a few years ago when wins by a starter became devalued to a great degree by today’s “experts.” That being said, he was at a crossroads entering 2013, because a string of bad starts in late 2012 zoomed his era over 5.00, and lowered his record to 12-8. A late surge in 2013, as he was the team’s best starter down the stretch, gave Yankee fans hope for his future, but Ivan underwent shoulder surgery after a 2-2 start in 2014. He struggled after his midseason 2015 return, posting a 6-11 mark in 17 games. Ivan pitched to a 7-6 mark in the Bronx in 2016, until the Yanks traded him to Pittsburgh at the end of August for not highly rated minor leaguers Tito Polo and Stephen Tarpley. Nova was revived in the Steel City, where he went 5-2 down the stretch, and re-signed with the Pirates for three years.
Two of the other Yankees born on January 12 were both bit players on Yankee teams that were about to break out of long doldrums. Andy Fox (1971) was the 25th man on the 1996 team that brought the Championship back to New York after an absence of 18 years. Drafted by the Yanks in the second round of the 1989 amateur draft, Andy hit three home runs, drove in 14 runs, and stole 13 bases in part-time duty in 1996 and 1997. He was traded to the Diamondbacks in 1998 for former Yankee prospect Marty Janzen and Todd Erdos, and divided seven seasons between there and Florida before playing for the Expos and the Rangers in 2004.
Lefty-swinging outfielder Terry Whitfield (1953) played his 31 games in Pinstripes debuting for the team from 1974-1976 after being the 19th overall selection, and the Yankees’ first, in the 1971 amateur draft. He managed seven rbi’s for the Bomber team that in his last year made it back to the World Series for the first time in 15 years. He was traded in 1977 to the Giants for Marty Perez, played four years in San Fran, several seasons in Japan, and closed out his career with three years with the Dodgers in L.A.
Journeyman reliever Luis Ayala (1978) was an important innings eater out of the Yankee pen in 2011 once they signed him to a free agent contract that February and he made the club in Spring Training. Luis went 2-2 in 52 games. Following the 2011 season, his record since his 2003 debut after multiple seasons with the Expos/Nationals and short stays with the Mets, Twins, and Marlins, is 31-41 with 18 saves.
Other birthdays: Paul Reuschel (1947); Randy Jones (1950); Mike Marshall (1960); Tim Hulett (1960); Casey Candaele (1961); Mike Simms (1967); Rich Loiselle (1972); Jorge Velandia (1975), who made his first big-league home run count by hitting a grand slam off New York’s Brian Bruney in 2007; Reggie Taylor (1977); Bobby Crosby (1980); Chris Ray (1982); Dontrelle Willis (1982); Scott Olsen (1984); Chris Hatcher (1985); Hyun Soo Kim (1988); Justin Marks (1988); and Alex Wood (1991).
Players Born This Day