Normally a seat in the high left-field corner, as in the new Yankee Stadium in 2009, is not a favored perch from which to watch a game. But I daresay there was no better place on my visit to PNC Bank in Pittsburgh on June 25, 2008, what with the gorgeous view of the Allegheny River beyond the left field fence. Rightfielder Bobby Abreu had a home run, scored twice, and drove in four in the 10-0 Yankee win after the Bombers had fallen to the Pirates the night before. Joba Chamberlain was the recipient of all the Yankee offense, and lefty Zach Duke started and took the loss for the Pirates.
Some might think it would be hard to find a Shane Spencer highlight that did not take place in September 1998, but his ninth-inning home run off Mike Timlin was the difference in the Yankees’ 9-8 win over Baltimore on June 25, 1999. During this game, Jesse Orosco made his 1,051st relief appearance to break Kent Tekulve‘s major-league record.
Coming off a Saturday rainout that postponed the Old Timers Game as well (though not the ceremonies), the Yanks rode a Johnny Damon seventh-inning home run off a very tough Dontrelle Willis for a 2-1 victory over Florida in Game One on June 25, 2006, and a split of the double dip. Making the day even more interminable, there was about an hour rain delay before the first game, and the nightcap was the ESPN Sunday night game, so it was a l-o-o-o-n-g day. Mike Mussina went seven for the win and became the 28th pitcher to amass 2,500 career strike outs in the process. In the nightcap, young righty Anibal Sanchez gave up five hits but no runs through 5.7 in his major-league debut. Former Red Sox prospect Sanchez would be cashing in a no-hitter shortly. Miguel Cabrera singled and scored in the first and homered to key the 5-0 Marlins win.
The Detroit Tigers had a magical year in 1984, but Dave Winfield strung together five singles and knocked in four runs in a 7-3 Yankee win over them on June 25 of that year, with Ron Guidry getting the win. Winfield tied Ty Cobb by amassing three five-hit games that month.
Mike Torrez and Luis Tiant both pitched for the Yankees and the Red Sox, among others. On June 25, 1977, the Yanks had the right mix as Mike bested Luis 5-1 in a win over the Boston club. Graig Nettles‘s three-run homer led the way.
The Yanks appeared to be on their way to a laugher on June 25, 2001, as they parlayed eight second-inning hits into a 5-0 lead over the Indians. But after Randy Keisler allowed hits to the first four guys up in the sixth, Jay Witasik relieved and also gave up four hits and Cleveland plated seven. Tino Martinez to the rescue, as it was his two-run, pinch-hit, seventh-inning bomb to right that was the difference in an 8-7 Yankee win.
During an 8-4 Yankees win over the Twins on this day in 1961, Roger Maris hit his 40th of 61 home runs. The deed was done in Minnesota.
The Yankees did fairly well with minor moves made to retool their bench and bullpen a bit on June 25, 2003. They released Charles Gipson and Mike Thurmond to make room for Karim Garcia and Dan Miceli, both of whom they acquired from Cleveland for a player to be named later. Gipson had been a total bust as an extra outfielder and pinch runner, and Garcia provided a valuable lefty bat. Miceli would be gone shortly on the other hand, after posting one save, but Thurmond was not performing well at the back of the pen.
The Yankees and Expos swapped outfielders on this day in 1971, with Ron Swoboda heading to New York in exchange for Ron Woods.
When Bernie Williams struck out five times in a game in August of 1991, he was the first Yankee to do so since pitcher Johnny Broaca set the ignominious mark while beating the White Sox, 13-2, back on June 25, 1934. Lou Gehrig powered the win in that game by hitting for the cycle for the first time in his career. The win restored the Bombers to first place over the Tigers.
The Yankees twice came up empty in three-game series that ended on June 25, first following losses the previous two games to the White Sox with a 4-2 loss this day in 1953. Chicago skipper Paul Richards used five different players at first base that day, and the Bombers still had a nine-game lead in the League even after the sweep.
Things were tighter and more desparate in New York when they fell in the third of three to Steve Barber and the Orioles on June 25, 1964, as the three-game swing moved Baltimore into first place.
Nolan Ryan was on the mound for the Mets on this day that they struck out 14 times, combining with the 13 whiffs by the Phillies. The two teams thus set a dubious record on June 25, 1969, of 27 strike outs in nine innings. The Phils won 6-5 in 10.
Jack Chesbro won his 12th straight on this day in 1904, as he and the Highlanders beat Boston’s Cy Young, 5-3.
Babe Ruth did it all on June 25, 1915, while playing for the wrong team. He whipped the Yankees in Fenway 9-5 with eight punch-outs in a complete game, homered off Yankee starter Ray Caldwell, and added a single off Yankee Manager Bill Donovan. Most managers played in those days, and Donovan had put himself on the mound in relief.
The Highlanders and the White Sox battled to a 6-6 tie in 18 innings on this day in 1903. It must have been a nonstop nerve-racking day with plenty of chances, as the two teams had 30 hits between them.
The following June 25 high(low?)light is one I regarded often with gallows humor while this player was a Yankee later in his career. On this day in 1976 Texas Ranger Toby Harrah established an undesirable record no one wants to match. He played an entire doubleheader at shortstop without a fielding chance.
Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis defeated Primo Carnera in a boxing match held at Yankee Stadium on June 25, 1935.
Speaking of heavyweight fighters, contender Smokin’ Joe Frazier offered to hold a clinic to teach baseball players how to fight. On June 25, 1967, he was quoted saying, “All they do is hurt themselves instead of the other guy. Look at Joe Pepitone. He banged up his hands without getting a punch across. Baseball players should know about combinations as well as double plays.”
We’ll start a short list of additional June 25 highlights featuring future or former Yankees with the history that Detroit Manager Luis Pujols and K.C. field boss (and 2006-2008 Yankee first base coach, and 2009 bench coach) Tony Pena made when they became the first Dominican-Republic-born managers to face each other in a major league game on this day in 2002. Pena’s squad prevailed 8-6.
David Weathers, who was just one year removed from a stint in the Yankee pen, had to leave his own no-hitter after five innings on this day in 1995, because a Tim Pugh fastball hit him on his pitching hand. David’s Marlins prevailed over the Reds in that one, 5-1.
Rookie righthander Jose Jimenez of the Cardinals beat the Diamondbacks 1-0 on the season’s first no-hitter on June 25, 1999.
Bobby Bonds became the second player (after William Duggleby in 1898) to hit a grand slam in his debut game, as Ray Sadecki and the Giants shut out the Dodgers on June 25, 1968, 9-0.
Players Who Have Died This Day
On June 25, no Yankee players have died.
Three noteworthy nonYankee players who have passed away on June 25, all position players, all contemporaries, and two were lefties. Righthanded shortstop Tommy Corcoran (1960) cleared 34 fences good for 1,135 rbi’s from 1890-1907, mostly with the Redlegs, but with a short Bridegrooms stint as well. First baseman Jake Beckley (1918) played with the Redlegs too, as well as the Pirates, the Cardinals, the Giants, and the Alleghenies from 1888-1907, during which time he hit 86 long balls and drove in 1,575 runs. Finally, outfielder/first baseman Buck Freeman (1949) hit 82 home runs with 713 rbi’s for the Americans and the Senators in 1891, and from 1898-1907.
Players Born This Day
Before we list the birthdays of Yankee players, George Abbott, Broadway producer of the show Damn Yankees, was born on June 25, 1887, exactly 11 years after General Custer lost his life and that of his men to Sitting Bull in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
We’ll lead off five Yankee June 25 birthdays with that of catcher Mike Stanley (1963), who stroked 72 homers in the Bronx from 1992 through 1995 with a brief revisit in 1997. He was signed as a free agent in 1992, and after leaving was reacquired in August 1997 from the Red Sox with minor-leaguer Randy Brown for Jim Mecir and Tony Armas, Jr. The Red Sox would later use Armas as one of several players to get Pedro Martinez from the Expos. Stanley hit 187 home runs with 702 rbi’s in 15 big-league seasons.
The Bronx was abuzz with excitement when the Yanks traded for righthander Javier Vazquez (1976) before the 2004 season, but after a good start he faded to a 14-10 record, culminating in a very bad outing in Game 7 of the the ALCS in New York vs. Boston before he was traded away. He has been reacquired for the 2010 season, got off to bad start, and finished poorly after a respectable midseason. Javier pitches for the Marlins in 2011.
Next, rubber-armed lefty Bob Shirley (1954) signed free agent contracts with the Yankees in 1982 and again in 1987. He posted a 14-20 win/loss record with five saves during some pretty bleak years (1983-1987). Bob’s overall mark in the bigs was 67-94 with 18 saves.
Lefty outfielder Camp Skinner (1897) had 33 at bats in 27 games for the 1922 team; he notched two rbi’s. Skinner was traded in January 1923 to the Boston Red Sox with Norm McMillan, George Murray, and cash for southpaw Herb Pennock, who would have great years in Yankee Stadium, which would open three months after the trade.
And pitcher John Deering (1879) split 1903 between the Tigers and the Yanks, going 3-4 in Detroit and 4-3 in New York. Finally, though he never played in Pinstripes, we’ll include righty Humberto Robinson (1930), who posted an 8-13 mark with the Braves, the Indians, and the Phillies from 1955-1960. Robinson was part of an intricate four-team deal involving the Yankees from April 8-11, 1959. He was sent from the Braves to the Indians; the KC Athletics sent Jack Urban to the Yankees; the Yanks sent Mark Freeman to the Athletics. And the Indians sent Mickey Vernon to the Braves.
Other birthdays: first baseman Joe Kuhel, who hit 131 homers with 1,049 rbi’s from 1930-1947 with the Senators and the White Sox; outfielder Don Demeter (1935), with 163 dingers and 563 runs driven in with the Dodgers and the Tigers; Dick Drago (1945), who posted most of his 108-117 record and 58 saves with the Royals and the Red Sox from 1969-1981; Alejandro Pena (1959), 56-52 with 74 saves largely with the Dodgers from 1981-1996; Brad Woodall (1969); Aaron Sele (1970); Michael Tucker (1971); Carlos Delgado (1972); Kane Davis (1975); Ryan Kohlmeier (1977); Aramis Ramirez (1978); Luke Scott (1978); Santiago Casilla (1980); Paul Maholm (1982); and Daniel Bard (1985).