Yankee fans had been driven to distraction waiting for months to see if lefty starter Andy Pettitte would retire or come back to pitch for the team in 2009, until he signed a one-year deal on January 26, 2009. And it’s a good thing, too. Not only did the crafty southpaw put together a 14-8 season, but he won four more games without a loss in the postseason, getting the win in the clinching games of the ALDS, ALCS, and World Series. Andy had a great year with the 2010 Yankees, but was hurt late, then retired, but unretired for 2012, an injury-filled year. He did retire following an 11-11, 2013 campaign.
It comes with the territory if you’re a baseball star with the Yankees in the biggest and best city on earth. Basking in the glow of accomplishments during the 1961 World Championship season and earlier seasons, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle signed contracts to appear in a new Columbia Pictures movie: Safe at Home! on January 26, 1962. It would largely be filmed during Spring Training.
Once the Yankees designated pitcher Kevin Whelan for assignment to create roster space on June 26, 2012, the club signed free agent righthanded starter Hiroki Kuroda.
Carl Mays starred for three teams and was a larger-than-life character on a baseball diamond. But he is unfortunately best known for having thrown the only fatal pitch in a major-league game. On August 16, 1920, his rising fastball caught the temple of Cleveland Indian Ray Chapman, who collapsed and never recovered. The big-league career of Mays, with 208 victories, came to a close on January 26, 1930, when he signed to play with Portland of the Pacific Coast League.
The Yankees re-signed utility infielder Miguel Cairo to a one-year contract and designated righthander Matt DeSalvo for assignment on January 26, 2007. DeSalvo would return to the club and start six big-league 2007 games to a 1-3 mark, and Cairo would provide his usual solid professional play, even filling in often at first base after Doug Mientkiewicz broke his wrist. Cairo, who was sadly released after a late-season trade for Wilson Betemit, drove in 10 runs and stole eight bases in 54 games.
On January 26, 1983, the Cubs sent ex-Yank (happily) Dick “Dirt” Tidrow and three players to the White Sox for future Yank (much less happily) Steve Trout and one player. Dick came to the Yankees in the same 1974 trade that brought Chris Chambliss from the Indians for Fritz Peterson and Steve Kline. And when Chambliss hit the pennant-clinching ninth-inning homer in 1976 off KC’s Mark Littell, Tidrow got the win.
Another January 26 player move involving a future or former Yankee player is the release of hurler Johnny Cooney by the Braves in 1931. And former Yankee outfielder Jackie Jensen, who starred for much of his career in Boston, announced his retirement on this day in 1960, a move largely driven by his fear of flying. (He would change his mind and play one more year.)
On this date in 1989, baseball rescinded the ridiculous 1988 decision to over-enforce the balk, which had led to 924 calls during the ’88 season.
Players voted into the Hall today: Hank Greenberg and Joe Cronin (1956); Mel Ott and Jimmie Foxx (1951).
Outfielder Dick Tettelbach (1995), who debuted with the 1955 Yanks with no hits in five at bats, is the one of the four ex-Yankee players to have died on January 26 who was not a catcher. Dick later hit one home run with 10 rbi’s for the Senators. Chick Autry (1950) debuted with the 1924 Yanks with one run scored in two games, and he hit two homers with 33 rbi’s in other unis over the next six years. Most of backstop Steve O’Neill‘s (1962) 13 career homers with 537 rbi’s were behind him when he cleared one fence and drove in 13 in 35 games for the 1925 Yankees; he played much of his 15 years with Cleveland. Eddie Phillips (1968) hit two long balls good for four rbi’s in nine games for the 1932 Yankees in a career that spanned 1924-1935, and that resulted in 14 bombs and 126 rbi’s, playing for six other teams.
Abner Doubleday, long reputed to be the originator of the game of baseball, died at the age of 74 on January 26, 1893. William Wrigley, chewing gum millionaire and owner of the Cubs, passed away on the same day in 1932. In honor of the three Yankee catcher deaths, we’ll lead the list of three additional noteworthy nonYankee January 26 player deaths with that of backstop Del Rice (1983), whot hit 79 homers and knocked in 441 runs with the Cardinals, with a short Braves stint, in his 1945-1961 career. The other two are outfielders. Bill Barrett (1951) smacked 23 roundtrippers and delivered 328 runs from 1921-1930, mostly with the White Sox; and Chet Laabs (1983) who homered 117 times good for 509 rbi’s with the 1937-1939 Tigers, the 1939-1946 Browns, and the 1947 A’s.
Players Who Have Died This Day
It’s every little boy (and girl)’s dream. You come to the plate with the championship on the line, replacing the injured hometown star. Brian Doyle (1955) lived it in 1978, and excelled in the role after taking second baseman Willie Randolph‘s place in the playoffs. As one of five Yankee players born on January 26, Brian celebrates his day of birth today. He debuted with the Yanks that fateful year, and backed up at second a while longer, blasting one homer, with 10 rbi’s, and one stolen base in regular-season play in the Bronx from 1978-1980. He had been traded to the Yanks along with Greg Pryor from the Texas Rangers for Sandy Alomar, Sr., in February 1977, and closed out his career playing with the 1981 Oakland A’s after they claimed him from the Yanks in the rule-V draft.
For some time, the only other Yankee born on January 26 was lefty-hitting outfielder Mike Patterson (1958), who was acquired from the Oakland Athletics with minor leaguer Chuck Dougherty and Dave Revering for Jim Spencer and Tom Underwood in May of 1981. Mike hit one homer with two rbi’s and a stolen base in 15 games for the Bombers in 1981 and 1982 to end his career after playing with Oakland in April 1981.
Southpaw Mike Pazik (1950) gets honorable Yankee mention too because, even though he never played for the Yanks, he was drafted by the club in the first round of the 1971 amateur draft. To get Dick Woodson in May 1974, the Pinstripers shipped Bazik to Minnesota, where he would post a 1-4 mark from 1985-1987 in 13 games, six of them starts.
And although January 26 Yankee birthdayer Hector Noesi‘s (1987) tenure in the Bronx has been short, it is hoped that the part he has played in the trade to acquire righthander Michael Pineda from Seattle will be a boon to the Yankee rotation for years to come. Hector, a Yankee 2004 amateur draft signing, went 2-2 in 30 games and gobbled up some highly significant innings, in the Yankee 2011 season, then slipped to 2-13 for the 2012-13 Mariners, while Pineda missed the 2012 and 2013 Yankee seasons due to shoulder surgery. Pineda looked to be turning it around, but had arm trouble and was not re-signed in New York. While Noesi had a solid 2014 season starting for the White Sox, but he went 0-4 with a high era there in 2015, after which he became a free agent.
One of a group of new righthanded hard throwers to get a shot in the Yankee pen in 2015, Branden Pinder (1989) was drafted by the club in the 16th round in 2011. He recorded a fine 2.93 era in 25 games (no starts), although he lost two games while neither winning nor saving any. He had arm trouble and surgery in 2016, after appearing in just one game, and was designated for assignment following the season. He was subsequently signed as a free agent by the Angels, and then released by them.
Other birthdays include those of outfielder Bob Nieman (1927), who smacked 125 homers with 544 rbi’s for the Orioles, the Browns, the Cardinals, the Indians, the Tigers, and the White Sox from 1951-1962; and ex-catcher and long-time broadcaster and funny man Bob Uecker (1935). Others: Morris Nettles (1952); Rick Schu (1963); Kevin Blankenship (1963); Lou Frazier (1965); Jeff Branson (1967); Tim Pugh (1967); Andres Torres (1968); Dan Carlson (1970); Esteban German (1978); Brandon Medders (1980); Antonio Perez (1980); Ryan Rowland-Smith (1983); Jemile Weeks (1987); and Josh Prince (1988).
Players Born This Day