The way I would describe the Yankee June 12 victory in the new Stadium is that although it was the least impressive home field walkoff of a magical season, it had to be the most excruciating 2009 road loss for the crosstown New York Mets. There was nothing pretty about this one, as it marked half-year Yank Brett Tomko‘s worst Yankee outing, giving up four runs in relief of Joba Chamberlain while getting just two outs. Then Hideki Matsui‘s three-run homer off Mets lefty Jon Switzer gave the Bombers a 7-6, sixth-inning lead, but singleton runs the next two frames gave the visitors a one-run bulge. A Derek Jeter single and an intentional free pass to Mark Teixeira around a popout and strike out set up a “hyphen-rod” duel and Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) had the Yanks set up to lose when Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod)popped up to second baseman Luis Castillo … who dropped the ball. Both runners scored, and the Stadium crowd undoubtedly had their most emotional rollercoaster moment of a scintillating season, 9-8 Yanks.
When Freddy Garcia posted a second straight win by a free agent starter for the Yanks over Cleveland, 9-1, on June 12, 2011, it was the offense that was the star. Curtis Granderson (4-for-4, two runs scored, two rbi’s) and Alex Rodriguez (three hits, three rbi’s, a run scored) led the way, with Derek Jeter contributing two hits, two rbi’s, and two runs, and Brett Gardner three hits and three runs scored.
It’s all in the numbers in this game, and we all know it, but every once in a while we forget which one is the bottom line. That’s why we need games like the one the Bombers played the Indians on June 12, 1938. The Yanks fell behind 6-0, then scored seven to win, 7-6. That’s all we need to know.
But it’s nice to hit special numerical plateaus, something Casey Stengel achieved with the Yanks’ win over Detroit, 6-4, on this day in 1959. It was Casey’s 1,000th win as Yankee manager, as Don Larsen bested Jim Bunning.
Yankee fans sat through an ugly, rainy hour waiting for a promised pitcher’s duel on June 12, 2007, and they were not disappointed, even if some Arizona fans were. The Bombers jumped on D’backs ace Brandon Webb in the first inning. Johnny Damon reached on Orlando Hudson‘s error leading off the bottom of the first, Derek Jeter singled, and Bobby Abreu homered to right center for a 3-0 Yankee lead. From that point on, Webb allowed three hits through seven, and Chien-Ming Wang four, but the damage was done, and the Yanks cashed in a 4-1 victory. During the game the crowd was advised that Detroit’s Justin Verlander had thrown a no-hitter.
Breaking up a scoreless game through five, Mickey Mantle homered off Washington’s Frank Bertaina in the sixth on June 12, 1967, in a 2-0 Yankee win.
Mickey Mantle homered from each side of the plate yet again on June 12, 1957, and he knocked in four runs, but the White Sox took the game, 7-6.
In a typical Jon Lieber outing, the Yanks and their righty starter prevailed over the Padres 3-2 in Yankee Stadium on June 12, 2004. Bernie Williams and Mark Loretta doubles keyed matching one-run rallies and the teams were tied after five. But when young San Diego righty Brian Tankersley allowed the first two Yanks to reach in the sixth, Gary Sheffield singled them both in off Scott Linebrink for the eventual winning margin. Ex-Yank second baseman and long-time Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman worked an inning in the Yankee box. Lieber notched the win despite allowing 11 hits in six innings.
Most of the Yankee fans went home unhappy when the Diamondbacks took the Yanks 9-5 on a steamy Wednesday afternoon in the Bronx on June 12, 2002. I tried to take the pragmatic approach, pleased both that the Bombers did take two of three to avenge the 2001 Series loss, and that I had Robin Ventura‘s fourth-inning foul ball in my pocket.
It’s the rare game that causes a field reconfiguration. The Yanks repainted the base of the left field foul pole after the June 12, 2001, game when the Expos’ Mark Smith was awarded a 12th-inning homer off Mariano Rivera on a ball that was clearly foul (to everyone but the umps). Joe Torre‘s pleas to third-base ump Ron Kulpa and to home plate umpire Mark Hirschbeck fell on deaf ears, and the Yankees lost the game, 2-1.
John Lee Richmond threw the first Perfect Game in professional baseball history on June 12, 1880. Jim Wilson of the Braves (2-0 over the Phillies in 1954) and Dock Ellis of the Pirates (2-0 over the Padres in 1970) threw no-hitters this day too. Although it no longer qualifies, New York Giants hurler Mike McCormack‘s rain-shortened 3-0 no-no over the Phillies on this day in 1959 was on the books for years. Richie Ashburn reached him for a single in the top of the sixth, but that whole inning was washed away by the rains that ended the game.
The Yanks traded wife-swapping lefty Mike Kekich to the Indians for Lowell Palmer, who would never pitch for the Yanks, on June 12, 1973. And speaking of ex-Yankee hurlers, White Sox starter Stan Bahnsen shut out the Indians, 2-0, on that same day, despite giving up 12 hits.
The Yanks got Mike Aldrete from the Angels for recent bullpen coach Rich Monteleone on this day in 1996.
Yankee lefthander Dave Righetti became the ninth reliever with 200 saves on June 12, 1990, in a 5-4 win over Boston. Lee Guetterman got the win and Rob Murphy took the loss.
Outfielder Roy Weatherly of the Yankees became the first plying his craft to notch 10 outfield putouts in a game twice in the same season when he managed that number on June 12, 1943, in a 14-5 win over Philly in Shibe Park.
The Indians took two from the Yankees, 7-3 and 10-2, in front of almost 70,000 in Cleveland on June 12, 1955.
The Yanks prevailed over the Orioles by a 7-5 score on June 12, 1986, despite the three empty-bases jacks by Juan Beniquez.
The Bombers could not recover once Waite Hoyt allowed seven Cleveland tallies in the first two frames of a June 12, 1927 battle with the Indians. George Pipgras pitched well in relief and contributed a home run, and Babe Ruth hit his 21st of the season, but Cleveland eked out an 8-7 win.
The Yankees sold the contract of rookie southpaw Bob Meyer to the Angels on June 12, 1964. On the same day two years earlier they sent infielder Billy Gardner to the Red Sox for Tommy Umphlett and cash.
Despite a 29-48 career record, Browns pitcher Herb Pruett had Babe Ruth‘s number. A junkballer, he struck out the Babe 10 times in 13 career at bats (with two hits), three of those whiffs in a 7-1 St. Louis victory over the Yanks on June 12, 1922.
The Highlanders had a bad day on June 12, 1907, as they committed 11 errors in a 14-6 loss to Detroit.
When the Yankees lost two pitchers on June 12, 2011, placing righty starter Bartolo Colon on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring and righthanded reliever Amauri Sanit on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 11, with right elbow inflammation, they responded by signing free agent righty bullpenner Cory Wade and recalling righthanded swingman Hector Noesi from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The club also recalled outfielder Chris Dickerson from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, signed righty draftee Julian Nunez, and signed free agent lefthander Greg Smith.
The major-league first recent Yankee slugger Gary Sheffield achieved on June 12, 2001, proves how valuable an offensive player he can be. His singleton homer beat the Braves that day, making it the Dodgers’ third 1-0 win of that young season on Sheffield home runs.
One-time Yankee Rickey Henderson became the second player to reach 900 career steals in a 6-5 Oakland loss to Texas on June 12, 1990.
The intricate triple play the Giants managed against the Pirates on this day in 1925 is scored thus: 6-2-5-9-4-3.
Approaching what has become the annual slate of mid-June interleague games, it’s a good time to report that the Giants beat the Rangers 4-3 in the first regular-season interleague game on June 12, 1997. Players notching firsts that day included Mark Gardner with the first interleague win, Darryl Hamilton with the first hit, one-time Yankee Stan Javier the first home run, and Rod Beck the first save in these interleague contests.
It’s not hard to find the perfect June 12 highlight featuring a former or future Yankee player. On this day in 1916, hurler Babe Ruth‘s three-run seventh-inning homer tied the St. Louis Browns for the Red Sox at 3-3. The big news is not that the Browns prevailed 4-3, but rather that it was the Bambino’s first career home run. And on June 12, 1980, one-time Yankee DH Mike Easler hit for the cycle in the Pirates’ 10-6 win over the Reds.
Taking care of some business with young draftees, the Yankees signed shortstop Conor Mullee and right-hander William Oliver on June 12, 2010.
The Yankees signed lefty pitcher William Hall on June 12, 2009.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, was dedicated on June 12, 1939.
Players Who Have Died This Day
No Yankee player has died on June 12.
Four noteworthy players have died on June 12. Before we mention three outfielders who passed, catcher Art Wilson (1960) reached 24 fences good for 226 runs driven in with the Giants, the Braves, the Whalers, and the Cubs from 1908-1921. Switch hitter Cliff Carroll (1923) hit most of his 31 long balls with 423 rbi’s from 1882-1893 with the Grays, the Senators, and the Colts; and lefty hitter Randy Moore (1992) hit 27 home runs and knocked in 308 runs with the Braves, the White Sox, and the Dodgers from 1927-1937. And although lefty-hitting outfielder Glen Gorbous (1990) hit just four homers and drove in 29 runs with the Reds and Phillies from 1955-1957, he was quite famous for having won some longest-throw competitions before he played in the bigs.
Players Born This Day
Prior to the 2003 season, the only Yankee who ever played for the team and celebrated June 12 as his birthday was lefthander Gary Jones (1945), whose only big league service came in 14 games in Pinstripes in 1970-1971. He pitched to no record in the Bronx, and was traded with Terry Ley to the Texas Rangers for Bernie Allen in December 1971.
Leftfielder Hideki Matsui (1974) joined the June 12 birthday Yankee crew when he signed in December 2002. He contributed more than 100 taters and 500 rbi’s in a sometimes magical display, including hitting a walkoff home run in his first Stadium game, despite his broken wrist in early 2006 and two knee surgeries since. And then, just when most fans felt Hideki’s best playing days were behind him, he rose up and won the 2009 World Series MVP by blasting Pedro Martinez and the Phillies in six games. He took his magic bat to Anaheim in 2010, Oakland in 2011, and now Tampa Bay in 2012. I can do no better than Derek Jeter‘s assessment: He’s one of my favorite Yankees ever.
Two more birthdaying players spent time with the Yanks though they never played for them. Phil Mudrock (1937) played but one major league game with the 1963 Chicago Cubs once they got him from the Yanks in 1961. New York had inked him as an amateur free agent in 1956. Finally, shortstop Jack Cusick (1928) was another Yankee signing who ended up playing for the Cubs once they got him from the Bombers in the 1950 rule-V draft. He hit two homers, 22 rbi’s, and two stolen bases with the 1951 Cubs and the 1952 Boston Braves.
And the Yanks added another June 12 birthdayer in 2011, righthanded reliever George Kontos (1986), who threw to an even 3.00 era in seven games that year before being traded to the Giants in March 2012 for catcher Chris Stewart. George was drafted by New York in the fifth round in 2006, was claimed, then returned in the rule-5 draft by San Diego in 2010.
Hall of Famer Bill Foster (1904), who toiled in the Negro Leagues, leads the other birthdays. Also, catcher/outfielder Red Dooin (1879) with 10 homers and 344 rbi’s for the Phillies from 1902-1916; Tigers outfielder from the same time Matty McIntyre (1880); second baseman Otto Knabe (1884), with 365 rbi’s for the Phillies from 1905-1916; Gerry Arrigo (1941); Keith Miller (1963); Scott Aldred (1968); Damon Buford (1970); Ryan Klesko (1971); Damon Hollins (1974); Roger Bernadina (1984); and Kyle McClellan (1984).