Often castigated for their high-spending ways, GM Brian Cashman and the Yankees made a canny and cost-effective move on January 24, 2003, when they signed Jon Lieber to a two-year contract with a club option for a third year. Coming off arm surgery, Lieber spent his first year in the Bronx recovering, rehabbing from the surgery and building arm strength. But he was a rotation cog in 2004, posting a 14-8 record, which culminated in his 3-1 victory over Pedro Martinez and the Red Sox in Game Two of the ALCS. He pitched well in Game Six as well, but took the loss, as the Yanks fell to Boston in seven. Lieber pitched for the Phillies in 2005 through 2007, and with the Cubs for an injury-riddled 2008.
On that same 2003 day, the Yanks parted ways with lefthander Randy Keisler when he was designated for assignment. Drafted by New York in the second round of the 1998 amateur free agent draft, Keisler posted a 2-2 record in 2000-2001 in 14 Yankee games, 11 of them starts.
Baseball pitcher Tom Zachary, who compiled a 186-191 win/loss record from 1918-1936, primarily with the Senators, passed away on January 24, 1969. He played briefly with the Yanks, to great effect, posting a 16-4 mark with three saves in 1928, 1929, and 1930. Tom established a record (most wins without a loss) with his 12-0 mark in the Bronx in 1929, and made headlines other times in his career too, like when he surrendered Tris Speaker‘s 3,000th hit in 1925 and Babe Ruth‘s 60th homer on September 30, 1927. After three straight calendar days with no ex-Yankee player deaths, Zachary is just one of seven this day; the other six are discussed below just before the birthdays.
Continuing with their move begun the day before, the Yankees traded lefty David Huff to San Francisco for cash on January 24, 2014.
Who knows how things may have played out differently had d’Angelo Jimenez not suffered a broken neck in a car accident on January 24, 2000? Alfonso Soriano was making his first waves in the Yankee infield and the young Jimenez, signed as a free agent in 1994, was penciled in to be the utility infielder for the 2000 season. He had played six games at third in ’99, and one at second, stroking eight hits in 20 at bats with flawless defense. Largely due to his absence, late in the 2000 season the Yanks reacquired Luis Sojo to fill the utility role and Sojo hit the game-winner in Game Five against the Mets, so although the accident was all bad for the young player, it wasn’t necessarily so for the team. More than a year into Jimenez’s recovery, the Yanks traded him to the San Diego Padres in June 2001, for Jay Witasick, a move with disastrous results, certainly in New York anyway. D’Angelo has stroked most of 36 homers with 228 career rbi’s for the Reds from mid-season in 2003 through 2006, and signed a free-agent deal with Texas; he has played with Oakland and Washington too. What would he have done as a Yankee?
There were no Yankee players involved in the six-player trade that sent Whitey Herzog and Russ Snyder to the Orioles on January 24, 1961, but only because Snyder, a 1953 Yankee amateur selection, had been swapped with Tom Carroll to the Kansas City Athletics for Mike Baxes and Bob Martyn in 1959. Herzog was a Yankee draft choice too, in 1949.
January 24 Hall of Fame honorees include the diminutive Wee Willie Keeler, along with George Sisler and Eddie Collins, all got the necessary votes in 1939. Keeler played for several teams, but his stint in New York with the Yanks from 1903-1909 was his longest. Warren Spahn made the Hall in his first year of eligibility on January 24, 1973.
It was on January 24, 1980, that Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon purchased the New York Mets.
January 24 is a gruesome day indeed in Yankee land, as when third baseman Bill Werber died on that day in 2009 the list of Yankee player deaths grew to seven. Bill played five games with the 1930 and 1933 Yankees to start his career, garnering five runs scored and two rbi’s on 4-for-16 hitting. Playing with the Red Sox, A’s, Reds, and Giants through 1942, he finished with 78 home runs and 539 rbi’s. He was honored in Yankee Stadium in 2008 when he was 100 years old and the oldest living player in the league. We’ll list righthander Russ Ford (1960) first among the other six Yankee players who died January 24 after the aforementioned (above) Tom Zachary both because of the great Yankee name, but also because Russ did pretty well in his own right, going 73-56 with New York from 1909-1913, and extending that to 99-71 in 1914-1915 elsewhere. Catcher Monte Beville (1955) notched 31 rbi’s for the 1903-1904 Highlanders, adding 13 rbi’s with Detroit with whom he finished the latter year. Infielder/outfielder Angel Aragon (1952) played all 32 big-league games in his career with the Yanks from 1914-1917, with five rbi’s. Switch-hitting second baseman Ralph Young (1965) got one hit in 15 at bats and scored two runs in seven games for the 1913 Yanks; all four of his home runs with 254 rbi’s came with the Tigers from 1915-1922. Lefthander Ben Shields (1982) went 3-0 in six games (two starts) for the 1924-1925 Yanks, and won one more with the Bosox and Phillies in 1930-1931. The two games fellow southpaw Herb Karpel (1995) pitched to no record with the 1946 team, in which he allowed two runs in 1.7 innings, represented his only service.
Only one righthanded pitcher and one catcher stand out among noteworthy nonYankee players who died this day. Tommy Bond (1941) won 193 games and lost just 115 between 1876 and 1874, most of the time hurling for the Red Caps. Backstop Admiral Schlei caught for the Reds from 1904-1908 and the Giants from 1909-1911, with six home runs and 209 runs driven in.
Players Who Have Died This Day
The Yankee born January 24 that I remember most fondly is the tall righty reliever Tim Stoddard (1953). Not only did he post some fine numbers in the Bronx from 1986-1988, with a 10-6 record and 11 saves, but he is the player the club got back from San Diego when they finally banished woeful starter Ed Whitson to the other coast and the other league. Tim sandwiched a five-year stint with the Orioles inside of single seasons in Chicago, first with the Cubs, then the Chisox, before pitching in San Diego. He finished up pitching for Cleveland in 1989.
Reliever Neil Allen (1958) was Tim’s teammate in New York in 1987-1988, and pitched with the Yanks for a bit in 1985 too. He tossed to a 6-4 mark with the Yanks with a save, and ended his career in 1989 too, ironically also with the Indians. He was shipped with minor-leaguer Glen Braxton, catcher Scott Bradley, and cash to the Chicago White Sox for Ron Hassey, Matt Winters, and minor-leaguers Chris Alvarez and Eric Schmidt in February 1986. Earlier he pitched five seasons with the Mets, three with Cardinals (the Mets got Keith Hernandez from the Cards in a trade for Neil!), and a season and a half with the White Sox.
Second sacker Earle Gardner (1884) played his only big-league ball with the Yanks, contributing one homer, 108 rbi’s, and 38 stolen bases to the cause from 1908-1912. Lefthanded Wally Judnich (1917), who prowled the outfield most often, for the St. Louis Browns much of the time, once the Browns had acquired him from the Yanks in January 1940, never played with the Yanks although he was with the team. And finally, Yankee lefthanded pitching minor-leaguer Danny Borrell (1978) was born today.
Other birthdays: Catcher Pinch Thomas (1888), who played mostly with the Red Sox and the Indians from 1912-1921; outfielder Cliff Heathcote (1898), most of whose 1918-1932 career was spent with the Cubbies; Atlee Hammaker (1958); “nasty boy” Rob Dibble (1964); Cory Bailey (1971); and Mike Glavine (1973), who got to play with the Mets a bit in 2004 as a favor to his brother, Tom Glavine; one-time Mets prospect Scott Kazmir (1984); Numan Romero (1985); Franklin Morales (1986); Andy Dirks (1986); Tyler Flowers (1986); Ashur Tolliver (1988); Jose Quintana (1989); Whit Merrifield (1989); Tyler Wagner (1991); Tony Renda (1991); and Enny Romero (1991).
Players Born This Day