It’s easy to be deceived by the early innings in a baseball game, as in the July 20, 2010 tilt pitting the Angels and the Yankees in the Bronx. Riding a 2-0 first inning produced by a Nick Swisher home run and Jorge Posada‘s rbi groundout against Anaheim right-hander Sean O’Sullivan, Phil Hughes would be pulled after surrendering six runs in five-plus innings. But the young visiting hurler turned his game around so well that not only would he go six innings in the 10-2 Angels victory, he would earn a trade to the coming-into-New York Kansas City Royals, for whom he would take the same mound against the Yanks five days later (to thankfully different results).
The Yankees won their third straight home game by a 2-1 score on July 20, 2009, as Andy Pettitte gave up just about nothing once Baltimore’s Nick Markakis homered off him in the first. Eric Hinske equaled matters with a second-inning shot off David Hernandez in a game that would be one more in the list of the home team’s walkoff wins. Once Melky Cabrera made a potentially game-saving catch off Aubrey Huff in center field in the top of the ninth, Alfredo Aceves cashed in one of his 10 season wins when Hideki Matsui homered with one down in the ninth: Pie Time!
Interestingly, Andy Pettitte had pitched beautifully in a 2-1 Yankee win over Oakland in the old Stadium the year before, on July 20, 2008. He outdueled Justin Duscherer by allowing just one run on four hits through eight, walking none and striking out nine in the process. An Alex Rodriguez sac fly got Andy an early lead, but once the A’s tied it in the sixth, Jason Giambi untied it with a long drive to right for the game winner.
After having witnessed no Old Timers’ Game and five hours of rain delay a few weeks back from this day in 2006, it was at least good that so many ex-players made the ceremonies. It’s a delight to report a few of this select gang’s exploits that have occurred on July 20. To start with, it was no coincidence that Donnie Baseball got such an ovation. Don Mattingly tied an 81-year-old American League record when he recorded 22 putouts in a 7-1 win over the Twins on this day in 1987.
On July 20, 1985, Louisiana Lightning, Ron Guidry, won his 12th straight, 8-3 over the Twins, largely on the strength of Don Mattingly‘s two-run home run and two-run double.
Mel Stottlemyre‘s inside-the-park grand slam home run off Bill Monbouquette of the Red Sox carried him and the team to a 6-3 win over Boston on July 20, 1965. It was the first such feat by a pitcher in the major leagues in 55 years.
Third-inning rbi singles from Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, and Tino Martinez got the Yanks going in a 7-4 Roger Clemens win over Mark Thurmond of the Expos on July 20, 1999. Bernie had two hits and reached safely four times.
With the Indians enjoying an 8-2 lead over the Yankees in a July 20, 1960 contest, Mickey Mantle‘s tape measure blast off Gary Bell that carried over the Municipal Stadium auxiliary scoreboard and into the upper deck in right got a Yankee rally started. Alas, it fell short, and the Tribe won, 8-6.
An Alfonso Soriano two-run double and Jorge Posada‘s two-run jack were the key blows in a six-run Yankee sixth over the Indians in a 7-4 win on July 18, 2003. Yankee starter Mike Mussina was virtually untouchable until he tired and allowed four straight hits in the seventh.
Whitey Ford tied an American League record when he notched six strike outs in succession on July 20, 1956, in a 6-5 win over KC.
A band of great friends of mine, some from great distances away, chose July 20, 1998, as the day to meet at Yankee Stadium. We thought ourselves fortunate, as the originally scheduled game became a twinight doubleheader (one-entry!) due to a makeup. But it quickly became too much of a good thing, because the first game lasted 17 innings before the Tigers eked it out, 4-3. The Yanks salvaged a split by that same score behind Hideki Irabu in the second game, this one in just nine innings.
And what is it about July 20 and games against Detroit anyway? On July 20, 1941, the Yanks beat the Tigers, 12-6. This one, too, went 17 innings.
The Yankees hit into a triple play against the A’s on this day in 1923, but they prevailed in the game anyway, 9-2.
On July 20, 2011, the Yankees signed free agent righthander Daniel Mahoney and free agent third baseman Miguel Andujar.
The Yankees called for reinforcements from the farm when they purchased the contract of infielder/outfielder Shelley Duncan from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on July 20, 2007. Transferring first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz to the 60-day disabled list made room for Shelley on the 40-man roster; then optioning outfielder Kevin Thompson to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre got him to the 25. Although he would garner one rbi, the move had little immediate effect as the Yanks fell 14-4 to Tampa Bay that night.
Young Alex Graman received (and would fail in) his last chance with the Yanks when they purchased his contract from AAA Columbus on July 20, 2005, optioning southpaw reliever Wayne Franklin to Columbus to make room.
Following his injury the day before, the Yankees placed southpaw Andy Pettitte on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 19 on July 20, 2010, with a left groin strain. The team recalled righty reliever Jonathan Albaladejo from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take Andy’s spot on the 25.
In an exhibition game against the Pirates on July 20, 1936, ex-Yankee Waite Hoyt shut down his old team, 7-2, with Lou Gehrig‘s sixth-inning home run accounting for the first Yankee score.
Three no-hitters have taken place in the bigs on July 20, beginning with Brooklyn righty Mal Eason in a 2-0 win over the Cardinals in 1906. Jim Bunning of the Tigers threw one at the Red Sox, 3-0, in 1958; and the Dodgers’ Bill Singer blanked Philly, 5-0, with one of his own in 1970.
Rubber-armed knuckleballer Wilbur Wood started both ends of a double dip for the White Sox against the Yankees on July 20, 1973, but the Yanks beat him in both, 12-2 and 7-0.
This was the day in 2000 that Carl Everett of the Red Sox received a 10-game suspension for bumping an umpire twice in a game against the Mets one week before. The argument was about his position in (or outside of) the batter’s box.
Mickey Mantle went 3-for-4 and homered in the first inning of a 3-2 victory over the Senators on July 20, 1962.
Ray Caldwell of the Highlanders (Yankees) did double duty on July 20, 1912. As a pinch runner in Game One, he stole home in a 4-3 win over Cleveland; then he pitched his club to a 4-0 victory in the second.
The Yankees assigned newly inked shortstop Jorge Alcantara to their minor leagues on July 20, 2009.
The Yankees were called the Highlanders back in 1904 when on July 20 they traded pitchers Long Tom Hughes and Barney Wolfe to the Senators for Al Orth. Coming off a 10-22 campaign in Washington, Orth would win 11 the rest of the way, and 18 and 27 the next two seasons. He also carried a great nickname, “The Curveless Wonder.”
A fee was first charged for watching a baseball game on July 20, 1858, as a New York (Manhattan) team beat one from Brooklyn, 22-18.
In a July 20 highlight involving a future Yankee player, Johnny Mize stroked three homers in the same game for the second time in the same season when he did so on this day in 1938.
Players Who Have Died This Day
No Yankee ballplayers have died on July 20.
Very few nonYankees have died on July 20 either. One noteworthy guy was outfielder Morrie Arnovich (1959), who played mostly for the Phillies from 1936-1941 and in 1946, clearing 22 fences for 251 rbi’s during that time.
Players Born This Day
Although Mike Witt only went 108-108 during his career with the Angels, he was a stalwart, an innings eater, and he threw a Perfect Game. The birthdaying starter (1960) was only a shell of that when he finished up with the Yanks in ’90, ’91, and ’93, where he posted an 8-9 record. With things at an irrecoverable level of acrimony between George Steinbrenner and Dave Winfield, the Yanks traded him to the California Angels for Witt in May 1990.
Catcher Red Kleinow (1879) had two homers and 127 rbi’s for the Yanks from 1904 through 1910. The Yanks sold his contract to the Boston Red Sox in May 1910, and the Philadelphia Phillies selected him from the Red Sox the following June.
Other birthdays: Hall of Fame outfielder for the Tigers, the Browns, the Senators, the Dodgers, and the Pirates from 1923-1939, Heinie Manush (1901); should-be Hall player Tony Oliva (1940), who smacked 220 homers and drove home 947 as one of the best hitters of his time; former Mets co-owner Nelson Doubleday (1933); Mickey Stanley (1942); Gary Woods (1954); Charles Johnson (1971); Bengie Molina (1974); Jake Fox (1982); and Alexi Casilla (1984). Memorably, phenom Washington Nationals hurler Stephen Strasburg (1988) has joined this list in 2010.