Fans throughout Yankee land were devastated on July 11, 2010 with the disheartening news none of us wanted to hear. The one and only Bob Sheppard, the “Voice of God,” who had served as Yankee Stadium emcee since Mickey Mantle‘s rookie season in 1951, had passed away. Mr. Sheppard, and all of us who loved him and craved hearing his voice so dearly, were bitterly disappointed that he was not healthy enough to appear in the old Stadium’s final season, although video messages from him during the Baseball Cathedral’s last game were a true treasure. We all hoped he would some day christen the new stadium with his voice as well, but that was not to be. It was the beginning of a very bad week in Yankee land.
With center fielder Ichiro Suzuki leading off, fans were thrilled that Derek Jeter, DH’ing in one of his all too infrequent 2013 starts, singled and scored in the first inning on July 11. The Royals had jumped to a 3-0 lead on catcher Salvador Perez‘s home run off Andy Pettitte. But chipping away at the lead from the start, the Yanks finally overcame KC with a four-run fifth inning, with rbi hits from Lyle Overbay, Zoilo Almonte, and Eduardo Nunez. But concerns [rightfully] returned when Brett Gardner pinch hit for Jeter following his rbi groundout in the sixth, in an 8-4 win. The team had activated Jeter from the 60-day disabled list earlier in the day, making room for him by designating first baseman Travis Ishikawa, who had been with the club just two days, for assignment.
Yankee fans hoped, but did not expect, that the team would get a boost once they optioned righty reliever Juan Padilla to Triple-A Columbus on July 11, 2004, to make room on the roster so they could activate Orlando “el duque” Hernandez from the 60-day list. He started paying off on the move right away in a 10-3 win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on a gorgeous hot Sunday afternoon in the Bronx. Jorge Posada got the Yanks started with a second-inning home run and he joined Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, and Hideki Matsui in stroking rbi singles in the four-run home third, but he sprained his ankle on the first base bag. Sheffield finished the scoring with an eighth-inning bomb, and he had three hits, two rbi’s, and two runs scored.
When the American League beat the National League in the 2000 All Star Game on July 11, 6-3, Chicago’s James Baldwin got the win and Chipper Jones went 3-for-3 for the losers. But Derek Jeter had three hits in as many tries too, and he won the MVP Award for that game. Less than four months later, the Yankee shortstop would collect a truly rare double honor, being named MVP of the All Star Game and the World Series in the same season.
The American League team in the All Star Classic played this day in 1939 was dominated by Yankees, as skipper Joe McCarthy started six Pinstripers. It was the seventh All Star Game, it took place at Yankee Stadium, and the AL won, 3-1.
Aaron Robinson, Yankees catcher, returned to the lineup following service in World War II on this day in 1945, joining Red Ruffing, who had arrived a bit earlier. Robinson would later be involved in two huge upgrades for the Bombers, giving way to Yogi Berra behind the plate in 1947, and bringing Eddie Lopat in a trade from the White Sox to the Yanks in February 1948.
Yogi Berra could tell you that the Yanks were robbed on July 11, 1959. Both he and reliever Ryne Duren were tossed from a tight contest with the Red Sox. Boston shortstop Don Buddin followed the spat by hitting a grand slam in the 10th inning off Bob Turley, and the Sox won 8-4.
We hoped to witness just one moment of the resurrection of a career when we attended an Independent Atlantic League ballgame featuring the Newark Bears visiting the Somerset Patriots on July 11, 1999. There was plenty of Yankee pedigree in the park with Rick Cerone owning the Bears and Sparky Lyle managing the Patriots, but we were there to see ex-Yankee Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens. A Yankee from 1989-1993, Bam Bam managed a few at bats with the Expos in 1997 and the D’backs in 1998, but the Bears were all he could manage that year. He played left field but alas, went 0-for-4; Bobby Bonds, Jr., homered and singled, and knocked in three for the Pats, who won the game, 5-0.
With the Yankees having made a rain-caused, one-day stop losing in Pittsburgh the day before, we opted for yet another minor league experience as the real team was dropping the first “scheduled” game of their road trip 5-0 in Toronto on July 11, 2008. The Staten Island Yankees had a chance to win this one against the visiting Oneonta Tigers despite the two runs David Phelps surrendered in the first. But one batter before shortstop Addison Maruszak went yard in the home fifth, catcher Mitch Abeita, on via a leadoff double, was picked off second by the catcher. The Baby Bombers loaded the bases in the ninth inning, but came away empty, losers by a 3-1 score.
In the same 2003 contest where he won his 300th game, Roger Clemens became the third pitcher with 4,000 strike outs. Nolan Ryan was the first to earn the distinction, as he fanned Danny Heep of the Mets in the sixth inning of a 4-3 Houston win on July 11, 1985.
When the Yankees selected the contract of infielder Rob Refsnyder from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on July 11, 2015, they created roster space by first transferring center fielder Mason Williams from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day list, with right shoulder inflammation; and then optioning infielder Cole Figueroa to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The club also sent center fielder Taylor Dugas outright to the AA Trenton Thunder.
The Yankees shipped outfielder Don Lock to the Senators for first baseman Dale Long on this day in 1962. Long went on to hit .298 in the Bronx that year.
Readjusting yet again a pen in disarray, the Yankees activated southpaw Jeff Francis, then designated righty Jim Miller for assignment on July 11, 2014. Continuing in the same vein, the club recalled righthander Matt Daley from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders as well.
Yankee fans who were pleased that so many returning ex-Yanks helped out in the Joe Torre years were pleased when the team signed lefty Eric Milton to a minor league contract on July 11, 2008, but the oft-injured hurler never returned to play in the Bronx.
On July 11, 2011, the Yankees signed free agent righthander Francis Joseph.
The sad career of former Red Sox star Tony Conigliaro ended on July 11, 1971. He retired that day when he realized his vision, already impaired as the result of a tragic beaning, was deteriorating.
Patsy Dougherty had four of the Highlanders’ 17 hits in a 10-1 victory over the Boston Pilgrims on July 11, 1904.
Anything germane to the career of Babe Ruth is certainly fodder for this column, even though early highlights are from his days with the Red Sox. And the earliest highlight was his first appearance in Boston following his purchase from the International League Baltimore Orioles. He pitched the Beantown boys to a 4-3 victory over Cleveland in his debut on July 11, 1914. And in further Boston news, it was on this day in 1923 that Sox fans rejoiced when Harry Frazee and his player-selling ways left, as Frazee sold the club to a group of Ohio businessmen, who hired Bob Quinn to run the team.
Former Yank Chuck Knoblauch was still with the Twins on this day in 1996 when he had his 10th multi-hit game in a row.
July 11 highlights featuring future or former Yankees include this day in 1972 when Reggie Jackson reached on the only Oakland hit off Boston’s Marty Pattin. Reggie’s single came with one down in the ninth of the Red Sox 4-0 victory.
Also the last career stop of perpetually injured Yankee starter Carl Pavano before his ’05 free agent signing to pitch for the Yanks was a July 11, 2002 trade between the Expos and the Marlins.
Actor Tab Hunter, who played Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees on Broadway in 1958 opposite Gwen Verdon, was born July 11, 1931. It’s about a Senators fan who sells his soul to you-know-who in return for leading Washington in beating the Pinstripers to win the pennant. Only the Yankees could play the iconic winners in such a story.
See above at the beginning of this report for a tribute to Bob Sheppard, who passed away this day in 2010. In addition, lefty-hitting outfielder Frank Gilhooley (1959) is the only Yankee player who has died on July 11. Gilhooley went 251-for-907 in 250 games from 1913-1918 playing in New York, with two home runs and 55 rbi’s. A previous stop in St. Louis, and a subsequent one with the Red Sox, increased his rbi numbers by three, to 58.
Of two noteworthy nonYankee players who have died this day, southpaw Dutch Leonard (1952) won 139, lost 112, and saved 13 games in a 1913-1925 career equally divided, roughly, between the Red Sox and the Tigers. Lefthanded first baseman Joe Hauser (1997) cleared 80 fences and drove in 356 runs mostly with the Philly A’s from 1922-1928.
Players Who Have Died This Day
The list of Yankee July 11 birthdays grew to three in 2016: Righty Stan Thomas (1949) toiled for the Rangers, Indians, and Mariners over five years in the ’70s, finishing up by going 1-0 in three games for the Yankees in 1977. The Yanks got Thomas from the Seattle Mariners as part of a conditional deal in August 1977, and traded him with minor leaguer Ed Ricks to the White Sox for Jim Spencer, Tommy Cruz, and minor leaguer Bob Polinsky that December. Thomas went 11-14 with nine saves in his career.
Southpaw thrower Vito Tamulis (1911) posted an 11-5 record with a save for the Yanks in 1934 and 1935. Afterward, he played with the Browns, the Dodgers, and the Phillies for a total of 40 wins, 28 losses, and 10 saves.
Righthander Johnny Barbato (1990), a 2010 sixth-round selection by San Diego whom the Yanks acquired in a trade of Shawn Kelley in 2014, impressed many in Spring Training, and made the Opening Day squad in 2016. He got off to a great start, but faltered, with his era climbing to close to 6.00 after 12 games, and a 1-2 record. He was trying to work his way back pitching for the AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders until a roster crunch led to his being traded in April to the Pirates for minor league righthander Matt Frawley. Johnny pitched to a 0-1 record and an era hovering around 4.00 in 24 games in Pittsburgh, and pitches for the Tigers in 2018.
In addition to those three guys, righthander Ron Cook (1947) and lefty Harry Wolter (1884) spent time with the Yankees. Wolter won four while losing six for the Pirates, the Cardinals, and the Red Sox in 1907 and 1909. The New York Highlanders acquired Harry from Boston for Clyde Engle in May 1910, but he did not make it to the field of play with them. Cook also won four games, but he lost eight and saved two for the Astros in 1970-1971. He was a 1967 amateur free agent with the Yanks until he was sent from New York to the Astros the following year.
Other birthdays: shortstop Milt Stark (1893) hit 22 homers with 696 rbi’s for NL teams in New York, Philly, St. Louis, and Brooklyn from 1913-1926; Bob Allison (1934), a Twins outfielder from 1958-1970 with 256 dingers and 796 rbi’s; Joey McLaughlin (1956); Donne Wall (1967); Andy Ashby (1970); Billy Ashley (1970); Mark Little (1972); Javier Lopez (1977); Blaine Boyer (1981); Jon Meloan (1984); Yorman Bazardo (1984); and Bryan Augenstein (1986).
Players Born This Day