“I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” More recent achievements on the Yankees field of battle notwithstanding, the day in 1939 that Lou Gehrig addressed a full house in the Baseball Cathedral, and became the first ballplayer to have his number (No. 4) retired, will always be the biggest moment in July 4 Yankee baseball history. It is a rarely reported side note that on the day the Yanks split two games, falling 3-2, but rebounding strongly to blast Washington 11-1 in the nightcap.
As to physical achievements on the field of play, Dave Righetti‘s July 4, 1983, no-hitter over the Red Sox, 4-0, was a glorious moment as well. It was the first Yankees no-hitter since Don Larsen‘s 1956 World Series Perfect Game, and the first by a Yankee lefty since George Mogridge threw the Bombers’ first-ever (from either side) 66 years earlier. Righetti struck out Yankee nemesis Wade Boggs, who would eventually earn a ring in the Bronx in 1996, to end the game.
Fresh off the DL, along with Adam Warren — who would close out the third with a ground-ball out — CC Sabathia failed to knock the rust off sufficiently to escape that four-run frame the Blue Jays put up in a 4-1 Yankee loss in the Stadium on July 4, 2017. After having recorded eight straight outs to start the game, CC fell victim to a walk, single, single, walk, walk, single that sent him to the showers. To the surprise of no baseball fan walking the planet, the lone Pinstriped tally was a home run off the bat of Aaron Judge. Much in the current rumor mill as one perhaps ticketed to be traded to the Yanks (please no), J.A. Happ held the home team to four hits and that lone run through six.
July 4, 2009, wasn’t too shabby, representing yet another in a long string of Yankee walkoff wins in the new Stadium, although it took extra play to do it. Once Adam Lind‘s sixth-inning home run keyed a three-run rally that gave Roy “Doc” Halladay and the visiting Blue Jays gave the lead over Chien-Ming Wang and the Yanks, a Johnny Damon two-run, seventh-inning jack tied it at 5-5. Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera, and Phil Coke held the visitors at bay for five frames, and veteran Brett Tomko got the win when Jorge Posada singled in Alex Rodriguez for the 6-5 win in the bottom of the 12th inning.
And it was extra play on July 4, 2010 as well, again vs. the Blue Jays. Following a disheartening 11-inning loss two days earlier and an 11-3 laugher during which the Bombers scored all 11 runs in the third inning on July 3, the teams battled to a 6-6 tie after nine. Marcus Thames, just off the 15-day DL that day, got his second walkoff of the year when his pinch-hit single off David Purcey plated Robinson Cano, who had walked to start the bottom of the 10th.
On July 4, 1977, the Yankees maintained a one-game lead on the same Red Sox team, as they rode Chris Chambliss, Roy White, Lou Piniella, and Graig Nettles home runs to a 7-5 victory over the Indians.
“Well framed” might be an apt description of the 13-8 victory the Yanks posted over the Orioles in the Stadium on July 4, 2005, a warm nice Monday where the Bombers frustrated their fans by giving all of their 6-0 early lead back, and more. Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, and Jason Giambi home runs gave the Yanks the early lead, but spot starter Tanyon Sturtze and relievers Scott Proctor, Wayne Franklin, and Jason Anderson faltered. The O’s led 8-6 on Brian Roberts and Jay Gibbons home runs after seven. No matter, as Baltimore pitching imploded in the eighth, contributing three walks and a hit by pitch along with an error, and Giambi’s second home run punctuated a seven-run inning that could have been uglier if both Tino Martinez and Bubba Crosby hadn’t combined on the second out when each slid into second at the same time, coming from different directions.
All was right with the world when Alex Rodriguez reached Boston righty Josh Beckett for a three-run, first-inning home run in Yankee Stadium on July 4, 2008, but reality set in as Darrell Rasner gave it back and more in three-run Red Sox rallies in the third and the fifth. They were largely led by Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell home runs, and Boston prevailed, 6-3. Eight members of the medal-winning U.S. Women’s Softball Team moved the games-counter left in the old Stadium from 37 to 36.
After falling to the Kansas City Athletics 11-1 in the first of two on July 4, 1962, the Yanks recovered to win the nightcap as Mickey Mantle homered his last two times up in the 7-3 win. After a day off on July 5, The Mick would homer his first two times to the plate in the next game, giving him his third and fourth dingers in succession as the Yanks battled in Minnesota.
Fresh off being informed that my job would be downsized out of existence in six weeks, I watched Mike Mussina and the Yanks fall 6-2 to the Twins on July 4, 2007. A Hideki Matsui home run and Andy Phillips rbi single helped forge a 2-2 tie through six. But Torii Hunter doubled and Jason Kubel homered leading off the seventh to end Moose’s day.
The perplexing downer that was David Cone‘s 2000 season took another ugly turn on the nation’s birthday when the Orioles defeated the Yanks 7-6 in the Stadium despite a three-run uprising by the home team in the bottom of the ninth. Brady Anderson and Harold Baines blasts had the Yanks down 4-2 early, but a three-run, sixth-inning shot, one of only two times second baseman Mark Lewis ever cleared the fences for Baltimore, ended Cone’s day in a frame extended by David’s own error on B.J. Surhoff‘s comebacker.
Bob Turley‘s 7-0 one-hitter leads the highlights of a July 4, 1959, doubleheader sweep of the Senators, but Tony Kubek‘s 8-for-10 in the twinbill at least merits honorable mention. The Yanks won 10-6 in the other game.
The Yankees suffered another July 4 loss to the Orioles on a Sunday afternoon in 1999. Roger Clemens was removed with one down in the seventh, the Yanks up 3-2, and the tying run on first, but righty Ramiro Mendoza was immediately slapped for three hits around an intentional walk. Ex-Yank catcher Mike Figga started the uprising on a double to center and B.J. Surhoff capped it with a home run to right.
There is nothing better than a come-from-behind win, something the Yanks appreciated on this day in 1964 as Mickey Mantle‘s three-run eighth-inning home run off Minnesota’s Al Worthington resulted in a 7-5 win.
The Red Sox invaded the Stadium on a hot, steamy Friday afternoon on July 4, 2003, and took no prisoners. David Wells allowed home runs to Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, and back-to-back shots to Bill Mueller and Jason Varitek in the 10-3 Boston victory. Young Jason Anderson walked three around Ortiz’s second fence-clearing drive in the seventh.
As alluded to in a game report above, when the Yankees activated righty Adam Warren and southpaw CC Sabathia from the 10-day disabled list om July 4, 2017, they cleared roster space for them by optioning righties Bryan Mitchell and Domingo German to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
The Yankees sent center fielder Mason Williams on a rehab assignment to the Tampa Yankees on July 4, 2016; and the team also signed free agent catcher Miguel Torres to a minor league contract.
It was easy to know that history would soon be made when the Yankees activated shortstop Derek Jeter from the 15-day disabled list on July 4, 2011, but no one anticipated how dramatic and singular that history would be. To make room, the team optioned outfielder Chris Dickerson to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yankees also assigned Justin Jackson to the minors.
On July 4, 2013, the Yankees sent shortstop Eduardo Nunez on a rehab assignment to the AA Trenton Thunder.
In a fairly recent transaction, the Yankees optioned lefthanded pitcher Brandon Claussen to AAA Columbus on July 4, 2003, six days after he had pitched the Yankees to a 9-8 victory over Tom Glavine and the Mets in his only Yankee start. Claussen would later be traded to Cincinnati for eventual 2003 ALCS hero Aaron Boone, and Brandon pitched in the Reds’ rotation through 2006. To fill Claussen’s spot on the 25, the Yanks purchased the contract of outfielder Curtis Pride from Columbus and promoted him to the big club.
While we’re taking care of off-the-field business, even less earth-shaking news was made by the Yankees on July 4, 2008, when they recalled lefty Billy Traber from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and optioned infielder Alberto Gonzalez to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room.
The thing that stands out about the 13-2 Yankee rout of the Rangers on July 4, 1988, is that Texas knuckleballer Charlie Hough struck out four Yankees in the first inning.
If you consider the fight in which Bill Dickey broke Carl Reynolds‘s jaw on July 4, 1932, a Yankee victory, that still only makes them 1-for-3 on the day, as Washington swept the Bombers in two, 5-3 and 12-6. In addition, the Yankee catcher received a 30-day suspension and a $1,000 fine.
The Yankees split two with Detroit in front of almost 75,000 in Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1961, falling 4-3 in 10 frames after winning the first game 6-2.
The Yankees managed to post the best record in the eighties but to miss the postseason throughout once their loss in the 1981 World Series was complete. From that point on, the decade seemed, at least to this fan, to feature too many games like the 2-1 loss to the White Sox in Comiskey on July 4, 1986. Yankee right fielder Claudell Washington pulled up on a John Cangelosi fly when a fan interfered with it in a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning. But the umps missed it, Cangelosi legged out a triple, and he scored the game winner on a sac fly.
Both Phil Niekro (1984 for the Yankees) and Nolan Ryan (1980 for the Astros) threw their 3,000th strike outs on July 4. Phil’s day ended happily, as the Yanks blanked the Rangers, 5-0, but Nolan’s Astros fell 8-1 to the Reds.
Mickey Mantle slugged two homers and knocked in three in Minnesota on July 4, 1967, but that was all the Mudcat Grant-led Twins would allow in an 8-3 Yankee loss.
It’s time for another Mickey Mantle highlight as the Yankee center fielder hit the 300th home run of his career, a three-run shot off Hal Woodeshick, in the first inning of a July 4, 1960 game with the Senators. Alas, the Yanks would come up short yet again, in a 9-8 loss to Washington.
Jim Thome was poised to tie the record of Dale Long, Don Mattingly, and Ken Griffey, Jr., of homers in eight consecutive games, but his streak was halted at seven in Yankee Stadium on July 4, 2002, as the Yanks stopped the first baseman, and the Indians, 7-1.
Yankee Herb Pennock outlasted Lefty Grove of the A’s in a 1-0, 15-inning Yankee win on July 4, 1925.
In what was not a huge move, but certainly a less than successful one, the Yankees claimed Darnell McDonald off waivers from the Boston Red Sox on July 4, 2012. This would lead to releasing, a few days later, part-time outfielder Dewayne Wise, who had been a productive asset.
Earlier we reported that Marcus Thames was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list in time to hit a walkoff single on July 4, 2010. Along with that transaction, New York optioned outfielder Chad Huffman to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to create room on the 25-man roster.
Detroit Tiger George Mullin pulls himself up from the bottom of the column in the day’s birthdays section because he celebrated his 32nd, on July 4, 1912, by throwing a 7-0 no-hitter at the Browns. And Giants lefty Hooks Wiltse managed a 10-inning no-hitter in a 1-0 win over the Phils four years earlier. Finally, Hall of Famer Satchell Paige threw a 4-0 no-hitter at the Negro League Homestead Grays on July 4, 1934.
The 14 wins in a row that Highlander Jack Chesbro achieved by garnering a victory on July 4, 1904, as the team swept two from the Athletics, 9-3 and 5-2, stood as the AL record until Walter Johnson bested it eight years later.
The Yankees treated 77,000-plus to two exciting, yet unsatisfying, games in the Stadium on July 4, 1933, as they lost both halves to the Senators, 6-5 and 3-2. The first game went 10 innings.
The Mets and Braves combined six hours and 10 minutes of playing time with two rain delays on Fireworks Night in Atlanta on this day in 1985. The Braves came from behind to tie in the 13th and then again on .060-hitting pitcher Rick Camp‘s first-ever homer in the 18th before the Mets finally prevailed, 16-13, in 19 innings. The postgame fireworks began at 4:01 am.
The Yankees signed Darryl Strawberry on July 4, 1996.
A rabid fan of the Yankees, I’m painfully aware that the franchise was not anywhere near the forefront of the drive that broke the nation’s color barrier as it applied to major league baseball. Perhaps because of that I enjoy sharing significant Negro League games that took place in the House That Ruth Built, as in the 8-4 Baltimore Elite Giants win over the Newark Eagles on July 4, 1942. In the game Giants spitball ace Bill Byrd beaned Eagles Manager Willie Wells, inciting Wells to come up with his own design of a batting helmet.
Interestingly, two of six one-time Yankee players who died July 4 earn that distinction because they played on the 1902 Baltimore Orioles team that would be relocated to New York as the Highlanders the next year. The 24 hits in 91 at bats for no homers but seven rbi’s third baseman Jimmy Mathison (1911) collected in 29 games in 1902 was his only big-leagues play. Catcher Lew Drill (1969) had two hits in eight at bats for that Orioles team, with no rbi’s, then hit two long balls and drove in 100 playing with Washington and Detroit in 1904-1905. Catcher Ed Sweeney (1947) hit three home runs and knocked in 151 runs with New York from 1908-1915, and did not add to either number while playing in 17 games with the 1909 Pirates. The five games (one start) for the Yanks righty Joe Vance (1978) finished his career with a 1-0-0 mark in 1937 and 1938; it represented half his tenure with the 1935 White Sox, for whom he won two and lost two in 10 games (no starts). Shortstop Jack Martin (1980) had 52 hits and 17 rbi’s (no home runs) debuting with the 1912 Highlanders; he increased the rbi total to 43 with the Braves and the Phillies in 1914. Finally, there is the unconventional Oscar Roettger (1986), who was a pitcher in six games (no starts) to an 0-0 record with one save for the 1923-1924 Yankees. He played with the 1927 Dodgers and the 1931 A’s, but as a first baseman, with no home runs and six rbi’s.
The only noteworthy nonYankee players to join that huge crew in passing away this day are catcher Walter Schmidt (1973), who hit three home runs and drove in 234 runs with the Pirates from 1916-1924, and with the Cardinals in 1925; and righthander Gene Conley (2017). Conley pitched five-plus years for the Braves, then two for the Phillies, and three for the Red Sox, from 1952 through 1963, posting a 91-96 win-loss record with nine saves.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Aside from being the anniversary of the birthday of late Yankee uber-owner George Steinbrenner this day, and the birthday of Yankee radio announcer John Sterling, July 4 is considered to be the birth of our country, a la Yankee Doodle Dandy.
If that was not an impressive enough assemblage, there are seven players born July 4 who have been with the Yankees, although only five of them got into games with the club. Most familiar to today’s fan will be Jim Beattie (1954), who posted a 9-15 mark in New York in ’78 and ’79, and who held the general manager position in Montreal and later shared that job in Baltimore with Mike Flanagan. Jim was selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 1975 amateur draft, and was traded along with Rick Anderson, Juan Beniquez, and Jerry Narron to the Seattle Mariners for Ruppert Jones and Jim Lewis in November 1979. He started and won one of the four games in The Boston Massacre back in 1978. After seven seasons with the Mariners, Beattie retired with a 52-87 record.
After eight years in San Francisco, Hal Lanier (1942) capped his career with two years in the Bronx infield, playing 95 games in 1972 and 1973. He drove in 11 runs after the Yanks picked him up in February 1972 and released him almost two years later. He hit eight career home runs, and drove in 273 runs.
Righthander Jack Warhop (1884) spent his whole 1908-1915 major league career with the Yanks, for whom he posted a 69-93 mark. One does not get the opportunity to lose almost 100 games on a generally bad team without showing some promise.
Righthanded reliever Amaury Sanit (1979) joined the Yankee Independence Day birthdayers in 2011 once he appeared in four games after having been signed as a free agent in August 2008.
Following five years with the Chisox, the Blue Jays, and the Dodgers, righty Sergio Santis (1983) signed with the Yankees in June 2015, pitching to no record or saves and a 6.00 era in two games. He arrived with a 7-12 mark with 39 saves, and Sergio’s biggest year was in 2011 with Chicago, for whom he posted 30 saves that season.
Also worthy of mention is outfielder Wayne Nordhagen (1948), who hit 39 career homers and drove in 205, mostly with the White Sox. A 1968 amateur Yankee draftee, Wayne was traded in 1973 with Al Closter, Dave Cheadle, and Frank Tepedino to the Atlanta Braves for Pat Dobson.
Outfielder Jabari Blash (1989) joined this list by the most tenuous of threads, as he was acquired from San Diego in a trade for third sacker Chase Headley and righthander Bryan Mitchell, along with some cash, in December 2017. Two months later, he was shipped to Anaheim for the elusive player to be named later, a guy who apparently continues to be unnamed in July 2018. Blash had hit eight home runs with 21 rbi’s over two years with the Padres, numbers that have not been added to so far in seven games with the Angels.
Non-Yankee birthdays lead off with Giants Hall of Fame pitcher Mickey Welch (1859); Detroit righty George Mullin (1859), who includes a July 4 no-hitter (see above) among the 228 victories he earned from 1902-1915; and manager Chuck Tanner (1929). Also: Jose Oquendo (1963); Vinny Castilla (1967); Brendan Donnelly (1971); Jay Canizaro (1973); Francisco Cruceta (1981); Jared Hughes (1985); Matt Dermody (1990); and Zac Curtis (1992).
Players Born This Day