June 2 is a sad day in Yankee land, as Lou Gehrig was lost to amyotropic lateral sclerosis, the condition that is more famously referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, on this day in 1941.
In a further sad transition in the Yankee family, Babe Ruth announced his retirement this day too, in 1935.
How much did I dislike the June 2, 2013, game at Yankee Stadium? First, it was an ESPN Sunday night game; we’d all be tired Monday due to the late start. Then they chose not to start the game another 50 minutes in anticipation of a thunderstorm expected on a sweltering steamy night, finally removing the tarp and starting the game at 8:50. Another half hour would have saved the Yanks from a loss, because the downpour came after the Red Sox scored their third singleton run in the top of the sixth; the Yankees did not even take last licks in the 3-0 loss.
With Yankee royalty in the house, as Roger Maris‘s sons Roger and Rich attended, the Yanks blasted the visiting Orioles 9-1 on June, 2010, with back-from-the-DL Jorge Posada DH’ing, with a hit and a walk. But the Bombers were led by three hits and three rbi’s from Nick Swisher, a home run and three runs scored from Robinson Cano, and three Curtis Granderson hits, with Robbie and Curtis driving in two apiece. Seven strong innings got Phil Hughes the win and, in the day’s “you don’t see that every day” moment, Baltimore DH Scott Moore‘s seventh-inning single up the middle took a turn toward left center after it caromed off second base ump Tim Welke.
The Yanks lost a makeup date (from an April rainout) with Seattle in the Stadium on Monday, June 2, 2014, 10-2, although it was a tight 2-2 contest through six. Sam “the Bugler” Grossman from Belmont Park played the National Anthem and jockey Hector Espinoza threw out the first pitch in anticipation of the Belmont Stakes. David Phelps matched “King” Felix Hernandez for a while, but four-run uprisings in the seventh and ninth innings gave this one to the visitors in convincing fashion.
The Yanks’ month-long struggle to maintain the lead they had taken in the AL East in Baltimore on May 1 continued on June 2, 1996, as the Bombers became roadrunners for a day. They used eight stolen bases to subdue the A’s, 11-4, and retain first place by a half a game. Kenny Rogers got the win as Gerald Williams swiped a club-record-tying four bases and Derek Jeter stole two.
Yankee Chairman of the Board Whitey Ford shut out the White Sox 3-0 on June 2, 1958, behind two homers by Hank Bauer and one by Mickey Mantle. White Sox shortstop Luis Aparicio had his successful stolen-base streak snapped at 26 when he was out at second on a failed hit-and-run play.
On that same 1958 day, future Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, not the fleetest of foot to ever play the game, hit into the first of the record four triple plays he batted into in his career, as the Orioles lost 2-1 to the Senators.
The visiting Red Sox were on the last stop of a 29-day road trip as they beat the Yanks 7-1 in the Polo Grounds on June 2, 1915. Babe Ruth starred on both sides of the ball, holding the Yanks to five safeties, and mashing a three-run jack against Jack Warhop as well.
The Yankees sent shortstop Brendan Ryan on a rehab assignment to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on June 2, 2015.
A World Series hero in 1999, Chad Curtis spent time being a valuable outfielder for the Yanks until disagreements with teammates spelled the end of his stay. Interestingly, the Angels made him available for the Yanks to receive in trade after he fought with teammate Kevin Mitchell on this day in 1997.
It’s hard to say if AL President Gene Budig‘s talk with Cleveland’s Jaret Wright to discuss head-hunting accusations the day before had any effect. Both Wright and Andy Pettitte had bad games on June 2, 1999, in Yankee Stadium, as the Tribe put up four in the first and the Yanks answered with five. A Paul O’Neill second-inning two-run blast made it 7-4, but the Indians’ third-inning uprising netted five and sent Andy to the showers. Wright failed to pick up the 10-7 Cleveland win, however, because he was replaced by Steve Karsay with one out and two on in the fourth, via a walk and (you guessed it) a hit by pitch.
The Cleveland Bronchos set an unenviable standard, which would be unequaled in the century, against the Baltimore Orioles when they committed six errors in the third inning of a 14-1 Baltimore victory on June 2, 1902. This Baltimore team would be moving and becoming the Highlanders/Yankees the next season; the Bronchos would stay put in Cleveland but morph into the Naps in 1903, and the Indians in 1915.
A player who ended up figuring significantly in the 2012 Yankees/Orioles rivalry, as he does going forward, made the transaction list when the Yankees traded outfielder/first baseman Steve Pearce, a free agent they’d signed, to the Orioles on June 2, 2012. He has gotten some big hits with each team, though not many with New York. Pearce has joined fellow AL East competitor Tampa in 2016.
As mentioned above, the Yankees activated catcher Jorge Posada from the 15-day disabled list on June 2, 2010.
The Yankees expressed some interest in signing ex-Red Sox hurler Frank Castillo in the offseason a few years back because of some great outings against the Bombers, as when he held them to four singles through eight frames in a 7-1 Boston win in the Bronx on June 2, 2002. Ex-Yank (et al) Rickey Henderson (in his only season in Boston), Doug Mirabelli, and Nomar Garciaparra homered off Ted Lilly in the Yankee loss.
After early career struggles, Pat Burrell, chosen first overall by the Phillies in the 1998 draft on June 2, contributed some decent play in the City of Brotherly Love. A’s lefty Mark Mulder (traded to St. Louis in 2005) was the second selection, and the Yanks got Drew Henson in the third round. In a very public trial, two-sport star Henson flopped at baseball. Also, two Yankee 2005 starters, Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano, were selected in the amateur draft on this day. Pavano was taken in the 18th round in 1994 by Boston, and Moose was a 13th-round selection by Baltimore in 1987.
Future Yankee Darryl Strawberry got his comeback started in earnest when he hit his first home run for the St. Paul Saints on June 2, 1996.
Yankee starter for two years Randy Johnson tossed the first no-hitter in Mariners history when he shut out the Tigers on June 2, 1990. And almost 100 years earlier, Brooklyn’s Ed Stein allowed no hits in edging Chicago 1-0 in a seven-inning no-hitter on this day in 1894.
Long-time Yankee hurler George Pipgras is one of two ex-Yankee players featured in June 2 events, because he was released by the Red Sox on this day in 1935, allowing him to start a new phase in his baseball career: He became an umpire. And while Pipgras played nine years in Pinstripes, Fred McGriff played none. A Yankee free agent selection, McGriff was lost in a trade before anyone realized he was a prospect. Fred blasted his 400th career home run playing first base for the Devil Rays in a game Tampa lost to the Mets 5-3 on June 2, 2000.
Mentioned above, Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig (1941) is just one of two Hall of Fame Yankee players to have died June 2. Lou played for the Yankees only, and hit 493 home runs with 1,995 rbi’s from 1923-1939. Also a first baseman, lefty-swinging Johnny Mize (1993) ended his career in the Bronx from 1949 to 1953 with 44 long balls, 179 rbi’s, and five Championship rings. Mize played for the Cardinals from 1936-1941, and with the Giants from 1942-1949, accumulating overall totals of 359 homers and 1,337 runs driven in. Another player with a nice Yankee career, lefty-hitting outfielder Gene Woodling (2001) reached 51 fences good for 336 runs knocked in with New York from 1949-1954. His overall numbers from 1943, 1946-1962 grew to 147 and 830 including significant stops with Cleveland, Baltimore, and Washington. Last of four Yankees on this sad list is righty Bob McGraw (1978), who debuted in the Bronx by pitching nine games (three starts) in 1917-1920 to a 1-2 record with no saves. Stints with the Dodgers and the Phillies from 1925-1929 increased his overall record to 26-38 with six saves.
We’ll add just three nonYankee players to the list of those who have died this day: First baseman Dave Orr (1915) hit most of his 37 long balls with 627 rbi’s from 1883-1890 in New York for the Metropolitans; and righthander Jay Hughes (1924) pitched to an 83-41 mark with no saves in Baltimore in 1898 and in Brooklyn from 1899-1902. And lefty-hitting, righty-throwing first baseman Preston Ward (2013) hit 50 home runs and drove in 262 runs plying his trade from 1948-1959 in several cities, with the longest stays with the Pirates, the Indians, the Cubs, and the A’s.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Although I was probably more focused as a fan then than at anytime, I had no idea while watching the Yanks struggle in the years after Mickey Mantle retired that my everyday second baseman Horace Clarke (1940) and my starting shortstop Gene Michael (1938) were both June 2 birthdays. “Stick” Michael’s tenure with the Yanks has extended quite a few years beyond his playing days, to the benefit of Yankee fans everywhere. The slick-fielding Michael was purchased from the Los Angeles Dodgers in November 1967, and he hit 12 home runs with 204 rbi’s in the Bronx before being released by the club in January 1975. He managed the Yankees to first place in the first half of the strike-divided 1981 season. His teams in that year’s second half and in the next season came in sixth and fifth respectively, the inverse of the finishes with which his squads with the Cubs in 1986 and 1987 ended up.
Not the fielder that “Stick” was, Clarke was signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent before the 1958 season, and he hit 27 dingers with 301 rbi’s in New York before he was purchased by the Padres in May 1974. Horace stole 150 bases in Pinstripes, and he had a knack for breaking up no-hitters in the latter stages of games.
Lefthanded pitching has always been key for a team playing in “The House That Ruth Built,” and reliever Mike Stanton (1967) was dynamite in the Bronx from 1997-2002, particularly in the postseason. Mike won 30 while only losing 12 in the regular season during that stay, and he saved 12 games too. He signed three-year free-agent deals with the Yanks in 1996 and 1999. His brief 2005 return to the fold was not a successful one.
In a 21-year career, Jack O’Connor (1869) caught 64 games in this franchise’s first New York season, 1903, and he drove in 12 runs during that stay. He jumped to New York from Pittsburgh to make the first Highlanders squad. He was traded to the St. Louis Browns for John Anderson that November.
Lefty Marshall Bridges (1931) had a memorable 8-4, 18-save season in the Bronx in 1962 after they sent Jesse Gonder to the Cincinnati Reds for him the December before. He threw in two more wins and one save before he was sold to the Senators in November 1963. Bridges was the key bullpenner on the World Champion 1962 squad after Luis Arroyo was unablle to duplicate the great year he had for the champs the year before.
This is a day that nine Yankee players call their birthday, so moving right along, Jerry Lumpe (1933) started his 12-year big-league career by playing three-plus years in the Yankee infield starting in 1956. He hit three homers, drove in 49 runs, and stole four bases in the Bronx, and got the only Yankee hit in a Hoyt Wilhelm one-hitter. He was signed as an amateur free agent before the 1951 season and he split seven seasons between the A’s and the Tigers once he was traded with Johnny Kucks and Tom Sturdivant to Kansas City for Ralph Terry and Hector Lopez in May 1959.
Outfielder Lou Skizas (1932) belted a home run in six at bats starting his career with the Yankees in 1956 before being traded with Eddie Robinson to Kansas City for Moe Burtschy, Bill Renna, and cash that June. Shortstop Frank Verdi (1926) played in only one big-league game; he had no at bats playing with the 1953 Yankees during it. And lefty Joe Pactwa (1948), who posted a 1-0 mark in his only four big-league games with California in 1975, was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 18th round of the 1966 amateur draft. They sold him to a team in the Mexican League in 1974, where California found him.
The second newest addition to the Yankee birthday club is not new to the game: 40-year-old DH/outfielder Raul Ibanez (1972), who signed as a free agent for the 2012 season. In his 17th big-league season, Raul spent 10 of those years with the Mariners split over two tours, and played three years each with the Royals and the Phillies, for whom he was playing when the Bombers bested them in the 2009 World Series. He started the 2012 season with 252/1,054 career homers/rbi’s, numbers he regularly added to in the Bronx, as he hit one memorable and game-altering home run after another. He left as a free agent and signed with Seattle to play in 2013.
Righthanded reliever Chris Martin (1986) joined the Yankee birthday list once they purchased him from Colorado in the 2014-2015 offseason. Although Chris pitched to a high era and no record with the 2014 Rockies in 16 games, he began the 2015 season as a strong bullpen cog before hurting his arm. Before that, he appeared in 15 games, suffering one loss and collecting a save. He returned to pitch in nine more games that year, incurring one more loss, and was released. He has not reappeared in the bigs.
Non-Yankee June 2 birthdays: Sloppy Thurston (1899), who posted an 89-86 mark from 1923-1933, mostly with Brooklyn; Larry Jackson (1931), 194-183 with the Cardinals, Cubs, and Phillies from 1955-1968; Jim Maloney (1940), who won 50 games more than he lost (134-84) for the Reds from 1960-1971; Darnell Coles (1962); Bryan Harvey (1963); Kurt Abbott (1969); Mike Kelly (1970); Reid Cornelius (1970); Neifi Perez (1973); Chin-hui Tsao (1981); Jared Burton (1981); Tim Stauffer (1982); Josh Geer (1983); Kaleb Cowart (1992); and Andrew Moore (1994).
Players Born This Day