Though a victory, the July 21, 2010 10-6 win over the Angels in Yankee Stadium was another disappointing day in Javier Vazquez‘s second tour in pinstripes. Staked to a 6-0 lead through four on three hits and three runs scored from Derek Jeter and three safeties good for three rbi’s from Mark Teixeira, Vazquez had given back all but one run of the lead by the time he left with no one out in the sixth. Ex-Yank Hiideki Matsui and his two-run homer that made it 6-5 was the last batter Vazquez faced. But a Yankee Kiddie Crew established some normalcy in the home seventh as all four runs scored on long balls from Juan Miranda and Colin Curtis.
Let’s start the July 21 Yankee happenings with a report on a guy who couldn’t attend this — or any future — Old Timers Day parties. The late Jim Catfish Hunter ended a three-game Yankee losing streak on this day in 1977 when he shut out the Brewers, 7-0. Unfortunately, the losing picked right up again, as the Bombers dropped the second of two, 5-4 in 10 innings.
Alex Rodriguez, Robbie Cano, and Derek Jeter homers highlighted the 12-4 spanking the Yanks applied to Minnesota in Yankee Stadium on July 20, 2008. Sydney Ponson was the beneficiary of the eight runs put up in the first three innings, six of them against Twins pitcher Nick Blackburn. This was one of the days the team infuriated many of their fans by giving the honor of moving the games-remaining counter in the old Stadium down, from 29 to 28, to a MetLife VP, rather than a player or other person deeply rooted in the team’s history.
The worst days of the late-sixties collapse were over and CBS had relinquished ownership of the team. The Yanks were showing signs. On July 21, 1972, they swept the Angels with back-to-back shutouts, 6-0 and 3-0, delivered by Fritz Peterson and Mel Stottlemyre, respectively.
It would have been impossible to predict, but the Yankee offense returned with a vengeance in a day/night doubleheader sweep of Tampa Bay in Yankee Stadium on July 21, 2007. It was offense-driven, as neither starter Kei Igawa nor Matt DeSalvo (see a transaction about this below) would get a win, but the Yanks stormed to 7-3 and 17-5 victories. Shelley Duncan‘s first major league home run keyed a five-run, seventh-inning, first-game assault, and Johnny Damon and Alex Rodriguez knocked in four apiece in the nightcap. Hideki Matsui and Rodriguez homered in the late game, but not to worry; the Yanks had plenty of firepower left for the Sunday game the next day.
In one of the stranger quirks Yankee (all baseball, really) fans have seen since things got a little weirder with the unbalanced schedule and interleague play, the Yanks took on the Blue Jays in the first of a two-game homestand (yes, homestand, not just series) on July 21, 2004. Javy Vazquez easily outpitched veteran Pat Hentgen, Gary Sheffield hit a three-run bomb, and Miguel Cairo had three hits in the Yanks’ 10-3 victory. But the brief stand would have its high point the next day.
OK. I got a few good memories in there. Now I have to share an infamous transaction, and one of the several times it came back to bite New York. The Yankees sent young slugger Jay Buhner to Seattle for Ken Phelps on July 21, 1988.
And then, exactly five years later, Jay Buhner chipped in with five hits as the Mariners and Erik Hanson bested the Yanks and Jimmy Key 10-3 on July 21, 1993.
The Yankees and their fans may have thought they were in for an easy day when Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris hit back-to-back, first-inning homers in a July 21, 1961 tilt with the Red Sox, but it would take Johnny Blanchard‘s pinch-hit, ninth-inning grand slam to finally overcome the Boston club, 11-8. The sixth pinch grand slam in the AL that year was a new league record, and Blanchard would have a magical year pinch-hitting that whole season as well.
It was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in the Bronx as they hosted the Old Timers Game on July 21, 2001. And the regular game was entertaining, if unsatisfying. Fifth-inning rbi’s by Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez tied the Blue Jays at 3-3, after Toronto had jumped out on third-inning homers by Carlos Delgado and Chris Latham. But Toronto plated two in the ninth off Mariano Rivera for a 5-3 win. Billy Koch saved it, but recent former Yankee Paul Quantrill got the win.
The Yanks lost a heartbreaker against the Angels in Anaheim on July 21, 2005. Things started well as Alex Rodrighuez hit his fourth home run in as many at bats against Bartolo Colon in the first, following his three-home-run assault against the hard-throwing righty in the Bronx. And the Yanks stretched their lead to 5-2 after back-to-back shots by Hideki Matsui and Jason Giambi leading off the seventh, the second of the day in Jason’s case. But a leadoff walk off Scott Proctor and two singles against Buddy Groom loaded the bases, and Vlad Guerrero blasted Tom Gordon‘s second pitch for the game-winning grand slam, 6-5 Angels.
The Yankees used a barrage of 16 hits through six innings in an 11-1 battering of the Devil Rays on July 21, 2000. Tampa Bay actually had the briefest of leads when former Yankee Gerald Williams hit a home run on Bombers starter Doc Gooden‘s second pitch of the game. Derek Jeter singled his first four times up, and he crossed home plate three times, as did Bernie Williams.
It was another sign of a lost season (to injury) for Yankee catcher Jorge Posada, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to July 20, with a partially torn right labrum on July 21, 2008. The roster spot was taken by outfielder Johnny Damon, who was activated from his first-ever trip to the DL.
The Yankees and Indians set an American League record for doubles with 16 on this day in 1921, but the Indians won the doubles race nine to seven, and the game, 17-8.
At an All Star Gala in Washington on July 21, 1969, Babe Ruth was selected as the Greatest All Time Player, and Joe DiMaggio was named the Greatest Living Player.
Fans thinking in the short term were upset when the Yankees designated veteran righthander Brett Tomko for assignment on July 21, 2009, to make roster space for recovering (from arm surgery) righty Sergio Mitre, who was elevated from AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Mitre would struggle down the stretch and Tomko beat the Yankees for the A’s a month later, but Sergio is a key long man for the 2010 team, just now coming back from another injury.
On this day in 1975, Felix Millan of the Mets stroked four straight singles, but was removed each and every time on a double play. All four ground balls were struck by 1996-2007 Yankee Manager Joe Torre.
And on July, 21, 1972, Hall of Fame knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm was released by the Dodgers two days before his 49th birthday. Jesse Orosco surpassed Wilhem’s record of 1,070 appearances in 2003.
The first of two moves the Yankees made on July 21, 2007, brought no great success, as the team purchased the contract of righthander Matt DeSalvo from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, optioning righty reliever Edwar Ramirez to AAA to make room. But the acquisition of catcher Jose Molina from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for righthander Jeff Kennard continued to prove beneficial well through the 2008 season. Jose has recently returned to the team after a long DL stint in 2009.
The Yanks traded young righty Ben Ford and Ozwaldo Mairena to the Cubs for Glenallen Hill on July 21, 2000.
When Billy Martin was let go from his managing job with the Texas Rangers on June 21, 1975, he was just two weeks removed from his first stint as skipper on the Yankees’ bench.
The Tigers and A’s played a 1-1, 24-inning tie on July 21, 1945.
Yankees outfielder Mark Whiten was arrested for second-degree sexual assault on this day in 1997.
In a famous confrontation on July 21, 1942, Satchel Paige struck out legendary Negro Leagues power hitter Josh Gibson on three consecutive fastballs with the bases loaded.
We’ll introduce a group of July 21 items featuring future or former Yankee players by honoring the eight innings current recent returnee Ron Villone, struggling to remain in the bigs in Washington when last seen, contributed to a one-hit, 1-0 Reds victory over the Cardinals on this day in 1999. One-time Yank Felipe Alou featured in the other side of a one-hitter, as his infield single was the only safety the Giants managed off Robin Roberts in a 3-0 loss to the Phillies on July 21, 1960. And one wonders how Ken Brett felt about his place in the baseball history books that he earned by allowing Hank Aaron‘s 700th career home run in a Phillies 8-4 win over the Braves on this day in 1973.
Players Who Have Died This Day
The Yanks have suffered only two losses of personnel on July 21, but they are biggies. Former Yankee manager and General manager Ralph Houk (2010), the “Major,” led the Yankees to World Series titles in his first two years on the bench, 1961 and 1962, and the AL pennant in 1963. A second 1966-1973 stint in the Bronx earned hom no more rings, nor did 10 years evenly split leading the Tigers and Red Sox later. He rarely played as a backup catcher with the Yanks from 1947-1953; Ralph’s passing in 2010, 10 days after Bob Shepppard and eight days after George Steinbrenner, was another blow to reeling Yankee fans. Also, Hall of Fame lefty-hitting centerfielder Earle Combs (1976), the “Kentucky Colonel,” was the lone Yankee player to have died July 21 until Houk passed. Playing only for the Yankees from 1924-1935, defensive specialist Combs hit 58 home runs and drove in 632 runs.
A list of five noteworthy nonYankee players to have died this day starts with Hall of Fame first baseman Jimmie Foxx, who passed away on July 21, 1967. Playing with the Philly A’s from 1922-1935, for the Red Sox from 1936-1942, and two-plus years with the Phillies and Cubs too, Jimmie stroked 534 career home runs with 1,922 rbi’s. Lefty-hitting catcher Harry McCurdy (1972) played mostly with the Phillies, White Sox, and Cards between 1922 and 1934; he reached nine fences and knocked in 148. Also a lefthanded hitter, outfielder Walt Moryn (1996) blasted most of his 101 long balls good for 354 rbi’s from 1954-1961 with the Cubs, with short stops with the Dodgers and Cardinals too. Shortstop Bill Gleason (1932) hit nine home runs and drove in 298 runs mostly for the Browns from 1882-1889; and righthander Bill Hoffer (1959) garnered most of his 92-46 mark with three saves in Baltimore from 1895-1899, ending his stay with a brief Cleveland stint in 1901.
Players Born This Day
First baseman Mike Hegan (1942), who spent parts of five years with the team, leads a list of six Yankee player birthdays; though two more guys who never made it to the field of play with the Bombers are discussed as well. Hegan was signed as a 1961 Yankee amateur free agent, was sold to the Seattle Pilots in June 1968, returned to the Yanks in a conditional deal with the Oakland Athletics in August 1973, and was shipped to the Milwaukee Brewers in May 1974. He stroked nine homers with 28 rbi’s and nine stolen bases in New York.
But the biggest candle in the July 21 Yankee cake arrived in 2009 with the signing of left-hander CC Sabathia (1980). CC arrived in New York with a 117-73 record, mostly with Cleveland, though he proved his mettle with an iron-man performance that carried the Milwaukee Brewers to the 2008 playoffs once the Indians traded him there. CC was the leader of the three-man rotation the Yanks used throughout the 2009 playoffs to cop their 27th Championship, has been a 2010 and 2011 All Star. He has posted a 53-19 record in New York in two and a half years.
Gary Waslewski (1941) went 2-3 with one save in 50 games for the 1970-1971 club. The Yanks got Gary from the Expos for Dave McDonald in May 1970, and they released him in April 1972.
Ray Keating (1891) posted a 23-40 win/loss record for the 1912-1918 teams until he was purchased by the Boston Braves in March 1919. He retired from the game after a year in Boston.
Infielder Howie Shanks (1890) played 66 games for the 1925 Yanks with a homer and 18 rbi’s in the middle of his 16-year career, once he arrived in New York via a December 1924 trade with the Boston Red Sox for Mike McNally.
Lefthanded outfielder Mike Handiboe (1887) scratched for one hit in 15 at bats in five games for the 1911 Highlanders, his only big-league service. And the two games (one start) righty Dick Carroll (1884) threw for the 1909 New York club were his only major league games as well. He stroked one hit in two at bats.
The two July 21 birthdayers who spent time with the Yanks but not in games are outfielder Brian Buchanan (1973) and shortstop Jerry Snyder (1929). Buchanan, a 1994 Yankee amateur draft choice who was traded with Cristian Guzman, Eric Milton, and Danny Mota to the Minnesota Twins for Chuck Knoblauch in February 1998, had hit 32 home runs with 103 rbi’s for the Twins, the Padres, and (briefly) the Mets from 2000 through 2003. Snyder played for Washington alone once the Yanks traded him there with Jackie Jensen, Spec Shea, and Archie Wilson for Irv Noren and Tom Upton in May 1952; Jerry amassed three career home runs with 47 rbi’s and seven steals.
Hall of Fame second baseman Johnny Evers (1881) of “Tinkers to Evers to Chance” fame was born July 21 too. Many other good ballplayers born this day: Moe Drabowsky (1935); Denis Menke (1940); Indians and Rangers GM John Hart (1948); the “Mad Hungarian,” Al Hrabosky (1949), whose brief time near the top of the closer pile netted him 97 saves; Mike Cubbage (1950); Dave Henderson (1958); Mark Williamson (1959); Mike Bordick (1965); Lance Painter (1967); Kimera Bartee (1972); Geoff Jenkins (1974); Brett Hinchcliffe (1974); Willie Eyre (1978), brother of fellow reliever Scott Eyre; and Wei-Yin Chen (1985).