January 8 in Yankee History

  • It was another painful lesson on how not to build a winner from the ’80s when Bill Gullickson made his decision. During the 1987 season, the Yanks had traded Dennis Rasmussen, a young lefty with a great record in New York, to Cincinnati for righty Gullickson for what would become a failed stretch run (though that can’t be blamed on Bill and his 4-2 mark in eight games). But he didn’t like New York and, faced with a midnight January 8 deadline to sign a new contract with the Yanks, Gullickson inked a two-year deal with the Tokyo Giants instead. And in the case of Rasmussen, who had been 39-24 in New York over several seasons, who is to say how he would have performed had he remained? As it was, he finished up with a 52-53 post-Yankee record.
  • Hall of Famer Frank Chance had a fine playing career, and as a manager, and he piloted the Cubs to four pennants and two Championships, including their last one more than 100 years before they finally won it again in 2016. But his managing magic had run out before he took over the helm of the light-hitting Highlanders (Yankees) from Hal Chase on January 8, 1913. The team posted a 117-168 record over two seasons under Frank, finishing seventh in 1913 and sixth the following season.
  • On January 8, 2016, Cleveland traded righthander Kirby Yates to the Yankees in a cash transaction.
  • The results of a baseball writers’ poll naming one All Star Team from both leagues that was announced January 8, 1941, included two Yanks: center fielder Joe DiMaggio and second baseman Joe Gordon. Gordon, by the way, was recently named to the Hall of Fame, where DiMaggio was enshrined years ago.
  • In the last transaction involving him before his eventual trade to the Yankees, reliever Tim Stoddard was signed to a three-year deal with San Diego on January 8, 1985. The Bombers exchanged failed starter Ed Whitson for Stoddard two years later.
  • The Yankees signed free agent righthander Robert Coello to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training on January 8, 2013. Unfortunately, some ugly innings in March sealed his fate, and he would be released in July.
  • Of 10 free agents who faced a January 8, 1987 deadline to re-sign with their former clubs or be barred from playing for them until May 1, Ron Guidry and Gary Roenicke were with the Yanks, and Tim Raines, Toby Harrah, and Doyle Alexander would be with the team in different years. The fact that these 10 players received no viable offers from other teams led to the Players’ Association’s first anti-collusion suit against the owners.
  • The early competition to replace Nick Swisher in the Yankee outfield began in earnest when the club signed free agent left fielder Matt Diaz on January 8, 2013.
  • Yankee outfielder Johnny Damon, a first-round amateur free agent selection of the Kansas City Royals in 1992, changed teams for the first time when he was moved from the Royals to the A’s in a three-teamer (Tampa Bay was the third team) on January 8, 2001. K.C. garnered catcher A.J. Hinch and outfielder Angel Berroa from Oakland, and reliever Roberto Hernandez from the Devil Rays; outfielder Ben Grieve and a player to be named later traveled from Oakland to Tampa Bay; and the A’s got starting pitcher Cory Lidle from the Rays along with Damon from K.C.
  • January 8 Hall of Fame honorees include Rod Carew, Gaylord Perry, and Ferguson Jenkins in 1991 and Willie McCovey in 1986. And on the same day in 1996, the Hall announced that no new members had been selected, which had only happened six times before.
    Players Who Have Died This Day

  • No Yankee players have died on January 8.
  • Hurler Harvey Haddix, who compiled a 136-113 win-loss record in his career, passed away on January 8, 1994. Harvey will always be remembered for pitching 12 perfect innings on May 26, 1959, only to lose the Perfecto, the No-Hitter, and the game in 13. Baseball also lost All Star Detroit pitcher Schoolboy Rowe on January 8, 1961. Rowe won 158, lost 101, and saved 12 games from 1933-1949, mostly with the Tigers and the Phillies. Righthanded outfielder Jim O’Rourke (1919) hit 50 home runs and drove in 1,010 runs from 1876-1893 with the Giants, the Red Caps, and the Bisons; and portsided outfielder John Titus (1943) cleared 38 fences good for 561 rbi’s from 1903-1913, most of it with the Phillies. Righthander Jackie Brown (2017) posted a 47-53 record with three saves from 1970 through 1977, throwing most of his innings with the Rangers, the Senators, and the Indians.
    Players Born This Day

  • Of the eight January 8 Yankee birthdays, all belong to recent club members. A Mickey Mantle worshipper, as so many Yankee fans are, Jason Giambi (1971) wears the no. 25 (2 + 5) in The Mick’s honor. Despite a disappointing 2003 season and postseason, his two dingers in Game Seven of the ALCS win over the Red Sox were huge. But he broke down from admitted (apparently, to a grand jury) steroid abuse in 2004. A lefthanded power hitter in The House That Ruth Built, Giambi had another bleak few months starting 2005, but then made a huge turnaround. He earned the Comeback Player of the Year Award with 32 home runs and 87 rbi’s. Combining Giambi’s 187 taters with 675 rbi’s for Oakland from 1995-2001 with his years in Pinstripes, he reached the 350-homer mark and neared 1,150 career rbi’s in 2006. Giambi broke down badly in 2007, undergoing plantar fascitis surgery; he returned to the lineup minus his power swing. A 32-homer, 96-rbi 2008 season, his last in Pinstripes, has him just four short of the 400-home-run mark.
  • Any hope Yankee fans had that Carl Pavano‘s (1976) 2007-08 seasons would afford the team another Comeback Player Award were dashed quickly. He pitched well in a surprise Opening Day start in 2007 and won his next start. But another DL stint and (in effect) Yankee-career-ending arm surgery followed. After posting a 57-58 mark with mostly bad teams in Montreal and Florida since 1998, much was expected when the Yanks coaxed the free agent Pavano from the Red Sox and others before the 2005 season, but he missed months with shoulder woes and struggled to a 4-6 mark; then failed to pitch at all in 2006. Historically huge to the Yankee/Red Sox rivalry in the last few years was Boston’s November 1997 trade of Pavano and Tony Armas to the Montreal Expos for Pedro Martinez. Carl, who finalized his 9-8 record by going 4-2 in seven games down the 2008 stretch, has certainly thrown his last Yankee pitch. The “American Idle,” however, has somewhat rescued his career and is a top free agent starter as we approach the 2011 season.
  • The stoic and quiet Brian Boehringer (1969) got his start in the Bronx in 1995, and garnered a 5-9 win-loss record here during his initial three-year stay, plus a stop in 2001. The Yanks got Brian from the Chicago White Sox for Paul Assenmacher in March 1994. He was lost to the Devil Rays in the 1997 expansion draft, and they traded him on the same day with Andy Sheets to the Padres for 2004-2005 Yankee backup catcher John Flaherty. After Boehringer was signed as a free agent with the Yanks in December 2000, he was traded the following July to the Giants for Bobby Estalella and minor-leaguer Joe Smith.
  • Neither of the next two birthdaying players who have been with the Yanks actually played for them. Third baseman Shane Turner (1963), who signed with the Yanks as an amateur free agent in June 1985, was traded two years later with Keith Hughes to the Phillies for Mike Easler. Turner knocked in six runs and stole two bases in limited action with the 1988 Phillies, the 1991 Baltimore Orioles, and the 1992 Seattle Mariners. And catcher Brian Johnson (1968) played mostly for the Padres and the Tigers from 1994-2001, during which time he amassed 49 home runs with 196 rbi’s. Drafted by New York in the 16th round of the 1989 amateur draft, Johnson was taken by San Diego in the minor league draft in December 1991.
  • But a player from the minors who arrived via trade actually did add to the Yankee birthday list in 2011, when righty reliever Kevin Whelan (1984), acquired with two other minor league pitchers for Gary Sheffield in 2006, got into two games, to no record. He got five outs, with a strike out, while allowing but one hit, but walked five too; he allowed one run.
  • He only pitched in two games down the 2014 stretch, but veteran southpaw Jeff Francis (1981) makes the birthday team based on that. Allowing two hits and a run in just under two innings pitched, Jeff posted a win in one of those games. He pitched for Toronto in 2015. In an 11-year career spent mostly with Colorado, Francis has a 72-82 mark with one save, at the conclusion of the 2015 season.
  • 2019 brought one more player into the Yankee birthday fold with the signing of second baseman Breyvic Valera (1992), whose main claim to fame, perhaps, is that he was one of five players the Dodgers sent to Baltimore for infielder Manny Machado for the stretch run in 2018. Subsequently sent to San Francisco, from where the Yankees selected him off waivers in May 2019, Breyvic arrived in Toronto that September by the same route. But while he was Yankee property, Valera appeared in 12 games, and drove in three runs. In limited play for the Cardinals, the Orioles, the Dodgers, the Blue Jays, and the Yankees, he ended the ’19 season having accumulated one home run and 14 rbi’s in 54 games. Signed as a free agent by Toronto again, he added a home run and 15 rbi’s in 46 games in 2021.
  • With all the early January Hall of Fame election references in the last few days, it is fitting that we commemorate the birthday of one of the most deserving whose snub from that organization has finally been ended: Bruce Sutter (1953) — and this from a Yankee fan smarting at the exclusion of Roger Maris, Thurman Munson, Goose Gossage (finally allowed in), and Don Mattingly. Sutter introduced the split finger, and was a three-inning closer. Other birthdays: Although he played only sparingly for Philadelphia in 1915 and 1916, Bud Weiser (1891) makes the list on name appeal alone; catcher Walker Cooper (1915), who played 16 years for National League teams only, mostly for St. Louis (eight years) the Giants (four), and the Braves (four years spanning both Boston and Milwaukee), but also for the Reds, the Pirates, and the Cubs; Chuck Cottier (1936); Randy Ready (1960); Paul Carey (1968); ex-Mariners and Mets outfielder Mike Cameron (1973); Jeremi Gonzalez (1975); Reed Johnson (1976); Jeff Francoeur (1984); Matt LaPorta (1985); James Russell (1986); Jon Edwards (1988); Carlos Contreras (1991); Jeff Hoffman (1993); and Chris Paddock (1996).