January 28 in Yankee History

  • The American League was formally organized on January 28, 1901, as the Baltimore Orioles, the Philadelphia Athletics, and the Boston Somersets joined the Washington Nationals, the Cleveland Blues, the Detroit Tigers, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Chicago White Stockings. Franchises in Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Buffalo, in the plans for the fledging league since it was first proposed a year earlier, were folded, and Ban Johnson was in control. The Orioles would fail after playing two seasons in Baltimore, and be relocated to New York as the Highlanders for the 1903 season.
  • Former Pittsburgh Pirate Dale Long passed away in 1991 on January 28 (some sources give 1/27, and he was mentioned in yesterday’s history in this respect too), a meet-your-maker day he shares with kings (Charlemagne, 814; Henry VIII, 1547; Peter the Great, 1725) and heroes (the seven crewmembers of the ill-fated space shuttle Challenger, who all died when their craft exploded 73 seconds after takeoff on this day in 1986). Dale was the first major leaguer to hit home runs in eight consecutive games, a feat since matched by New York Yankee hero Don Mattingly, and later by Ken Griffey, Jr. Dale hit seven home runs with 27 rbi’s as he ended his career with the Yanks in 1960, 1962 and 1963.
  • On January 28, 1982, third baseman Graig Nettles was named the first Yankees Captain since Thurman Munson, who had died tragically in 1979.
  • Attempting to go to the team player alumni to fill a spot once again, the Yankees signed free agent left fielder Juan Rivera on January 28, 2013. With some late reps at first base with Mark Teixeira suddenly injured, Juan looked to have an inside track, but when Spring Training ended, he did not make the roster.
  • Cecil Fielder, who would join the Yanks during their World Series-winning 1996 season, signed a record contract to play with the Tigers this day in 1992.
  • The Orioles traded third baseman Doug DeCinces for outfielder Dan Ford on January 26, 1982. Mr. Ford’s claim to fame, at least as it pertains to this column, is that he hit the first home run in the “new” Yankee Stadium, reopened in 1976 after two years of repairs.
  • In what turned out to be a precursor to the Yanks reloading for the stretch run, the Kansas City A’s signed veteran hurler Murry Dickson as a free agent on January 28, 1958. They would trade him to the Yankees for Zeke Bella and cash in August of that season, and repurchase him for the 1959 season in May. Dickson would appear in two games in the Yanks’ ’58 World Series victory over Milwaukee, allowing two hits and two runs in four innings while striking out one.
  • January 28 is a big day for Baseball Hall of Fame selection. The only one of four sets of players to be voted in this day with Pinstripes on their resumes was when Edd Roush and Bill McKechnie made it in in 1962. Although third sacker McKechnie put in most of his playing time in Pittsburgh, he did play 45 games with the 1913 Yankees, contributing eight rbi’s during that time.
  • The other three January 28 sets of inductees into the Hall are Goose Goslin and Kiki Cuyler in 1968; Mickey Welch, George Kelly, and umpire Billy Evans in 1973; and Sam Thompson, Jim Bottomley, and umpire Jocko Conlan (who was a player for two years too) in 1974.
  • The New York Giants signed their first black players on January 28, 1949, inking Negro Leaguers Monte Irvin and Ford Smith. Irvin would star and make it to the Hall of Fame, while Smith never cracked a major league lineup.
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    Players Who Have Died This Day

  • Following Dale Long, whom we covered earlier, righthander Walter Beall (1959) probably deserves first mention of the three other Yankee players to have died on January 28, as he was with the club four years (1924-1927), and won four, lost five, and saved one in 32 games, 12 of them starts. He added a win in three games with the 1929 Senators. Righty Paul Schreiber (1982) posted no record in finishing his career in two games with the 1945 Yankees; he saved one game with Brooklyn in 1922-1923. Curt Blefary (2001) hit 10 home runs with 39 rbi’s for the 1970-1971 Yankees, near the end of his 1965-1972 career that was mostly spent with Baltimore; he hit 112 homers with 382 rbi’s overall.
  • There are two righthanders, two lefthanders, two catchers, and two infielders among the noteworthy nonYankee players to have died this day. Righty Vern Kennedy (1993) won 104 games while losing 132 with five saves from 1924-1935 for several teams, including the White Sox, the Dodgers, and the Indians; and Hub Pruett (1982) posted a 29-48-13 mark mostly with the Browns and the Phillies from 1922-1931. Portsider Bill Hill (1938) won 36, lost 69, and saved three games pitching most of the time for the Colonels from 1896-1899; and Red Oldham (1961), a switch hitter, went 39-48-12 from 1914-1926, mostly for Detroit. Catcher Billy Sullivan (1965) hit 21 long balls and drove in 378 runs from 1899-1916, mostly with the White Sox; backstop Earl Williams (2013) cleared 138 fences good for 457 rbi’s from 1970 through 1977, playing mostly with Atlanta and Baltimore; and infielder Barry McCormick (1956) went yard 15 times and knocked in 417 runs from 1895-1904 with the Orphans, the Colts, the Browns, and the Senators. Infielder Rocky Bridges (2015) stroked 16 homers with 187 rbi’s from 1951 through 1961, mostly with the Reds, but also in short stints with the Dodgers, the Senators, and the Tigers.
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    Players Born This Day

  • Although there are actually five Yankee players who were born on January 28, we’ll talk about six, allowing the power-hitting first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals (the majority of the time) Bill White (1934) into the club in honor of his distinguished and entertaining years broadcasting Yankee games besides the Scooter, Phil Rizzuto. A portsider, White blasted 202 homers with 870 rbi’s from 1956 through 1969 and, surprisingly for a big man, he stole 103 bases too. He also served as National League President, but I’m sure I’m not alone among Bronx Bomber faithful in most fondly remembering his call of Bucky Dent‘s home run in the 1978 playoff game victory against the Red Sox.
  • Signed almost as an afterthought at the end of a 2013 Spring Training during which Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira were lost to extended injuries, and only after Boston released him, Lyle Overbay (1977) was one of the few fill-ins for a problematic year who exceeded expectations. The 14 home runs and 59 rbi’s were not only welcome contributions on a team largely bereft of power, Lyle came through with many a big blast when a game was on the line. During his 2001 to 2013 time in the bigs playing first base several years for both Arizona and Toronto, along with brief stops in Pittsburgh and Atlanta before New York, Overbay has hit 147 long balls with 640 rbi’s through the 2013 season.
  • And there are two guys who had long and meritorious service playing in New York too. Tom Hughes (1884) pitched gamely with a middling Yankee team from 1906-1910, posting a 17-17 record and two saves, and ended his career pitching in Boston for the Braves from 1914-1918. Shortstop Lyn Lary (1906) made his big-league start in Pinstripes, as he hit 21 home runs, drove in 227 runs, and stole 42 bases for the Yanks from 1929-1934. He was traded to Boston for Freddie Muller and $20,000 in cash in 1934, and played from 1934 through 1940 for the Red Sox, the Senators, the Browns, the Indians, the Dodgers, and the Cards. Lary capped his career in 1940 with a second visit to St. Louis to play with the Browns.
  • Speaking of ending a career, righty Bob Muncrief (1916) ended a 15-year stint in the bigs by pitching just two games for the 1951 Yanks, but that was one tilt more than Guy Cooper (1893) did in New York. Guy followed his one game for the 1914 Yanks by pitching for the Red Sox the remainder of that year and in 1915 too. Muncrief was selected from the Cubs in the rule-V draft in November 1950. Cooper’s contract was sold to the Red Sox in May 1914.
  • Other birthdays: Hall of Fame shortstop George Wright (1847), who hit 11 taters, with 330 rbi’s and 41 stolen bases from 1871-1882, mostly in Boston with the Red Caps and the Red Stockings; he also managed Providence to a first-place finish in the National League in 1879. Also, Bill Doak (1891), who posted a 169-157 win-loss mark from 1912-1929, primarily in St. Louis; Pete Runnels (1928); Larvell Blanks (1950); Joe Beckwith (1955); Tsuyoshi Shinjo (1972); Chris Peters (1972), who pitched for the Pirates mostly, though he was signed as a free agent with the Yanks for several months in 2001; Jacob Cruz (1973); Magglio Ordonez (1974); Jermaine Dye (1974); Junior Spivey (1975); Bob File (1977); Doug Waechter (1981); Elizardo Ramirez (1983); Wesley Wright (1985); Brandon Guyer (1986); Nate Jones (1986); Jose Ceda (1987); A.J. Griffin (1988); Hunter Renfroe (1992); and Zac Reininger (1993).