January 13 is not the happiest of days in the Yankee family. On this day in 1939, owner Colonel Jacob Ruppert died of phlebitis. He was then succeeded in the role of president of the club by the brilliant former business manager who built the Yankee winners, Ed Barrow.
Ex-Yankee Manager and Hall of Famer Joe McCarthy lived to the ripe old age of 96. But it was January 13 when he passed away too, in 1978 in his case. Joe fashioned a winning record in five years with the Cubs before his Yankee run, and did the same with the Red Sox for three seasons after he left the Bronx. But he is in the Hall because he won eight pennants and seven World Championships in his 16-year stint with the Yankees. My own recollection of Joe almost entirely derives from hearing Mel Allen and The Scooter, Phil Rizzuto, talk about him while broadcasting games, although McCarthy only managed Phil for three seasons.
Watching Designated Hitter Ruben Sierra stroke line drives in Tampa in March 2005, it was comforting that the ballclub had re-signed him to a one-year contract on January 13, 2005. But Ruben would turn 40 as the Yankees season ended, and he had a couple of debilitating injuries during the campaign that ruined his year. He hit four home runs with 29 rbi’s.
Perhaps with an eye to the reserve infielder spot Jayson Nix had held down through a few seasons, the Yankees signed free agent infielder Scott Sizemore to a minor league contract on January 13, 2014, and invited him to spring training. But lingering injury issues followed Sizemore into March, he made a late debut in the Bronx, and failed to catch on in very limited play.
Some Yankee comings and goings on January 13, 2015, as the Colorado Rockies traded righthander Chris Martin to the Yankees for cash; and the club designated newly acquired righty Gonzalez Germen for assignment.
In January 13 player moves that affected former or future Yankee players, the Twins signed righthander Jim Deshaies to a free-agent contract in 1994; the Red Sox packed Mike Torrez off to the Mets for minor-league third baseman Mike Davis in 1983; and the Pirates shipped Murry Dickson to the Phillies for two players back in 1954. Dickson would pitch in six games for New York in 1958, his last season; Deshaies had gotten his start after being a Yankee draftee, while Torrez’s one-year Bronx tour was in the middle of his career.
On January 13, 1982, Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson became the 12th and 13th players to be elected to the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.
After a .211 season with the Padres, first baseman Steve Garvey retired on January 13, 1988.
Two-sport star Bo Jackson suffered a career-threatening (and eventually career-ending) injury playing in an NFL playoff game for the Oakland Raiders against the Cincinnati Bengals on January 13, 1991. The K.C. Royals subsequently released him, and he latched on with the White Sox.
On January 13, 1992 the excavation of the site that would become Jacobs Field in Cleveland began. Maybe that was what got the bugs stirred up, years ago.
Buck Weaver, a player mired in the Black Sox scandal, unsuccessfully applied for reinstatement on January 13, 1922.
The saddest January 13 events, from a Yankee fan perspective, come at the top of this column, with the passing of owner Jacob Ruppert and Hall of Fame Manager Joe McCarthy, but there’s plenty more where that came from. Shortstop Kid Elberfeld (1944), who hit four homers with 182 rbi’s for New York from 1903 to 1909, is one of four Yanks, and eight noteworthy players overall, to die on January 13. Kid upped those numbers to 10 and 535 in an 1898-1914 career spent largely with Washington. Second baseman Ray Morehart (1989) hit a homer with 20 rbi’s playing 73 games for the 1927 Yanks after having played two years with the White Sox (giving him 29 more rbi’s); and righty Tom Morgan (1987) won 38 and lost 22 while saving 22 for the 1951-1956 Yanks, boosting those numbers to 64-47-64 the next seven years, with the Angels, the Tigers, and others. Most recently, southpaw Luis Arroyo (2016) finished his big league career with the Yanks from 1960 through 1963, including a fabulous 1961 campaign fans of a certain age will remember (15-5 with 29 saves). Luis’s mark over four seasons in New York was 22-10-43, and 40-32-44 when his years with the Cardinals (1955), the Pirates (1956-1957), and the Reds (1959) are added in.
A shortstop and three righties dominate the list of noteworthy nonYankee players to die January 13. Shortstop Charlie Gelbert (1967) hit 17 home runs and drove in 350 runs primarily with St. Louis from 1929-1940; and Pete Conway (1903) posted his dead even 61-61 mark from 1885-1889 mostly with the Alleghenies. Bill Dineen (1955) went 170-177-7 mostly with the Boston Beaneaters and Americans from 1898-1909; and Mike Garcia (1986) posted his 142 wins, 97 losses, and 23 saves from 1948-1961 almost entirely with Cleveland.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Righthanded backup shortstop Mike Milosevich (1915) was the only Yankee player born on January 13 until the 2006 season. He played in 124 games across the 1944-1945 seasons, his only major league service. Mike drove in 39 runs and stole one base during that time.
Righty starter Darrell Rasner (1982), whom the Yankees selected off waivers from the Washington Nationals in February 2006, surprised many in the Yankee fanbase when he pitched some big innings with the team that same year. Darrell went 3-1 in six games, three of them starts, then went 1-3 (six games, all starts) when pressed due to injury in 2007. Unfortunately, when the Bombers were really pitching short in 2008, Darrell got the ball to start an incredible 20 games. He won but five, with 10 losses, and the Yanks won few of his no-decisions.
Honorable mention goes to two guys who were with the Yanks but did not play with them. Righty Steve Comer (1954) had gone 39-29 over five years in Texas before he signed a free-agent contract with the Yanks on January 21, 1983. He would be released at the end of Spring Training, and play another two seasons, first with the Phillies and then the Indians. Shortstop Orlando Miller (1969) was a Yankee amateur draft signee in 1987. The Astros sent Dave Silvestri and minor leaguer Daven Bond to New York for Miller in March 1990. Miller hit 24 home runs and drove in 113 while playing for Houston from 1994-1996 and for Detroit in 1997.
Other January 13 birthdays: Fred Schultze (1901), who patrolled the outfield from 1927-1937, mostly for the St. Louis Browns; Larry Jaster (1944); Mike Tyson (1950); Bob Forsch (1950), who teams with his brother Ken as the only siblings to each throw no-hitters in the bigs; Odell Jones (1953); Kevin Mitchell (1962); Billy Jo Robidoux (1964); Kevin Foster (1969); Elmer Dessens (1971); Akinori Otsuka (1972); Jose Capellan (1981); Andrew Sisco (1983); Oliver Drake (1987); Heath Hembree (1989); and Hoby Milner (1991).
Players Born This Day