It’s not earth-shattering news that the Yanks often have days honoring ex-players, but they took advantage of the Old Timers Day festivities on June 26, 2011, to give tribute to retiring trainer Gene Monahan. In pregame ceremonies, Geno was given a Garth Books 10-gallon hat (and concert tix), a multi-signed Nascar helmet, a trip to the Alps, a Ford truck (perhaps with dog?), and a sitdown lawnmower. But the best were the funny player tributes by Derek Jeter: “He’s been here 100 years, I think”; and on tape from Don Mattingly: “He worked on Babe Ruth, you know.” Tino Martinez followed a Bernie Williams double with a home run to right to lead the Bombers past the Clippers in the three-inning 2-0 win in the OTD game. Then the Yanks used back-to-back Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada fifth-inning jacks, and another by Mark Teixeira in the eighth, to beat the Rockies 6-4.
A Yankee fan would be forgiven for anticipating good news when I share that the Twins/Yankees contest in the Stadium on June 26, 2016, featured seven home runs, which scored all eight runs in the game. But it was the visitors who were doing all the bombing, highlighted by back-to-back-to-back sixth-inning blasts off Nate Eovaldi, with Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, and Max Kepler providing the fireworks barrage. Danny Santana, ex-Yankee Eduardo Nunez, and Juan Centeno also went yard, with an eighth-inning Mark Teixeira shot, just the second hometown hit of the game, falling pitifully short in the 7-1 Minnesota win. Righthander Tyler Duffey was superb for the Twins, but many Yankee fans went home happy anyway, as the team had held its annual photo day festivities for a large number of season ticket holders before the game.
I spent many a frustrating hour on the George Washington Bridge in the 80′s traveling to and from the Baseball Cathedral in the Bronx. But the worst day (in terms of my frustration; in sum, it was a great day) was June 26, 1987. I was stuck in a Stadium-caused traffic jam as the Yanks battled the Red Sox, and I wasn’t going to the game, but rather driving visiting Irish relatives to my father’s house. Meanwhile the Yanks were having a glorious day, as they made a miraculous comeback against Roger Clemens and the Red Sox, and halted Wade Boggs‘s hit streak at 25 in the process. Down to The Rocket 9-0 in the second, the home team tied a club record with the dramatic comeback win, 12-11, in 10 innings. New York plated 11 in the home third, with Don Mattingly (four hits) and Dave Winfield (four rbi’s) leading the way.
Ten years earlier, the Yanks also staged a comeback of sorts vs. the Red Sox. They had been swept in Fenway in three games a week earlier, but on June 26, 1977, the Bombers completed a three-game home-standing sweep of their own, but it wasn’t easy. The Sox rallied from 4-1 down to tie the game in the ninth, but the 55,000-plus were sent home happy after Paul Blair‘s bases-loaded bouncer over Butch Hobson beat reliever Bill Campbell and the Sox 5-4.
A rough Andy Pettitte start in Yankee Stadium on June 26, 2013, went from bad to worse when Joba Chamberlain came on to give up a two-run home run to Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz in the seventh, making Ichiro Suzuki‘s home run in two straight games in the bottom half a little short, as this third hit from the right fielder made the score 6-5, Rangers. Lyle Overbay would homer as well, but the Yanks fell, 8-5.
Double, double, triple, double. That’s the way the Yanks started the rubber game of their three-gamer vs. the Pirates in PNC Park in Pittsburgh on June 26, 2008. The inning turned when Alex Rodriguez was doubled up off second on a Jason Giambi popup, but the Yanks and Mike Mussina still held a 3-1 lead through two innings … until the rains came. The umps kept us there for close to three hours of a frightful, lightning-lit downpour before calling the game, which would be made up when the Yanks made a stop in Pittsburgh on their way (?) to Toronto on July 10. The three runs would have come in handy in that one, a 4-2 loss.
Though I have always found attending “Battle of New York” interleague games vs. the Mets at Shea Stadium exasperating, I have to tip my Yankee cap to the gentleman seated a row in front and two seats to my left on Friday night, June 26, 1998. Seated hopelessly far from home plate in the right field corner near the top of the upper deck by the foul pole, he and I boisterously bellowed for our respective teams into the top of the seventh. With the Yanks down 4-3 largely on the strength of fifth-inning Mets homers from Brian McRae and Edgardo Alfonso, Al Leiter was removed after 110 pitches with Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter on base with one out. When Bobby Valentine signaled with his right arm for Mel Rojas to come in, this guy turned to me, shook my hand, and said, “Nice game.” He had barely made it out of the section when Paul O’Neill crushed Rojas’s first pitch for the three-run jack to right. Hideki Irabu started, but Ramiro Mendoza got the 8-4 Yankee win.
Veteran southpaw Randy Johnson had one of his better Yankee days in a 5-2 win over Atlanta on June 26, 2006. But kudos go out to the DH Jason Giambi and the team’s offense, which jumped on righthander Tim Hudson before he settled in. Jason homered for two runs in the first and three in the second, two innings during which it took Hudson 32 pitches to retire the home team each time. He retired the next nine batters on just another 32 tosses, but the damage was done. Braves reliever Kevin Barry had his major-league debut in this game.
The jury is no longer out on the ultimately disappointing career of former Yankee southpaw Brad Halsey, who had up-and-down seasons with Arizona and Oakland. On June 26, 2004, Yankee fans had high hopes for “The Admiral” in a subway series interleague game with the Mets after Halsey had pitched well in his debut against the Dodgers. But two walks scored on him in the third, and five hits around another walk in the fifth plated five more in the Mets’ 9-3 victory.
In yet another Battle of New York in an ESPN Sunday night game, the home-standing Yanks came to bat against Mets closer Braden Looper down 4-3 in the ninth on June 26, 2005. It was a tough night, as Robinson Cano and Jason Giambi seventh-inning miscues contributed to a Mets three-run rally, and Gary Sheffield was tossed once he disagreed with ump C.B. Bucknor‘s out call at first on a close play in that frame’s bottom half. But the crowd went home happy after Jason Giambi scored Tino Martinez and Alex Rodriguez on a walk-off double to the right center field gap in the 5-4 Yankee win.
Speaking of 2005, free agent signee Jaret Wright was transferred from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list on June 26. Also, lefty starter Sean Henn was returned to AAA Columbus to make room for young outfielder Kevin Reese.
Baseball fans have many frustrations, but certainly one that can be annoying and deflating is when your team faces a neophyte in his first start, and the kid throws a beaut. Detroit’s Bill Slayback threw seven innings of no-hit ball at the Yanks in a 4-3 Tigers win on June 26, 1972. Veteran outfielder Johnny Callison, in a brief, late-career, Bronx tour of duty, broke up the no-no with an eighth-inning single.
Speaking of holding teams hitless, not only did Boston’s Earl Wilson no-hit the Angels 2-0 on June 26, 1962, he also hit a home run off his adversary, Bo Belinsky, who had thrown a no-hitter six weeks before.
Welcome Back. The Yanks traded pitcher Paul Semall and cash to the Cubs to bring Bobby Murcer back to the Bronx on this day in 1979. I’m sure most are aware that there is a deep, abiding love affair going on between Yankee fans and Mr. Murcer, and it continues now, a few years after the former outfielder sadly passed away.
One year later, the Yankees’ third-round draft selection of two-sport star Billy Cannon, Jr., was voided by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn on June 26. Cannon’s father had notified other teams that Billy wanted to play for the Yankees and that he would attend college rather than sign with another major league baseball team, a threat he made good on once the Cleveland Indians selected his son in a special draft. The junior Mr. Cannon and baseball, alas, were never to make a go of it.
It was a good thing that the Yanks prevailed 6-2 in the first of two vs. Detroit on June 26, 1949. Little did they know that Pat Mullin would be homering three times in the Tigers’ 12-4 nightcap win.
On June 26, 2017, the Yankees placed outfielder Aaron Hicks on the 10-day disabled list, with a right oblique strain; and activated center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury from the 10-day disabled list. The team also recalled righthander Ronald Herrera and utility player Rob Refsnyder from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, making roster space for them by optioning outfielder Mason Williams and lefty Tyler Webb to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. And finally, the team signed shortstop Ricky Surum; center fielder Canaan Smith; first baseman Steven Sensley; and righty Austin Gardner.
The Yankees recalled righthander Luis Cessa from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, after optioning righty Nick Goody to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, on June 26, 2016.
On June 26, 2015, the Yankees sent southpaw Jose De Paula outright to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, and signed free agent righthander Michael Schaub to a minor league contract.
On June 26, 2013, the Yankees sent shortstop Eduardo Nunez on a rehab assignment to the A level Tampa Yankees.
On June 26, 2012, the Yankees transferred left fielder Brett Gardner from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list, and used the 40-man roster spot to claim righthander Danny Farquhar off waivers fom Oakland. They then optioned him to the AA Trenton Thunder.
On June 26, 2010, veteran Chad Moeller was assigned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre by the Yankees.
Art Fowler is most famed in Yankee circles for having served as Billy Martin‘s pitching coach several times, but he was relieving for the Cal Angels on June 26, 1961, and had allowed one lonely hit in his last 12 innings. But the homer he surrendered to Moose Skowron that day made the difference in the 8-6 Yankee win. Mickey Mantle had homered earlier, and Whitey Ford got the win.
In baseball’s bizarre early days, a late schedule change called for the Red Sox to play the Orioles on June 26, 1901, in Baltimore against the squad that would relocate north and become the Highlanders in 1903. The Baltimore players and 4,500 fans showed, but Boston travelled to Philly to play the A’s, only to discover that Philly was hosting Washington. Boston would not forfeit however, perhaps because the American League umpire scheduled to officiate showed up in Philadelphia too.
It was bizarre when Lakewood Blue Claws groundskeeper Bill Butler was the first in his position to be tossed from a ballgame on May 23, 2003, but not totally unprecedented. Clearwater Phillies organist Wilbur Snapp, for instance, got his walking papers on June 26, 1985, for playing “Three Blind Mice” after a disputed call that went against the home team.
He was just about at the end of his Yankee road when the Yanks sent 2005 hero Aaron Small to AAA Columbus on June 26, 2006.
The baseball world got a foretaste of things to come on June 26, 1920, as high school junior Lou Gehrig hit a grand slam home run in the eighth inning to lead his team to a 12-8 win in a high school championship game.
Frank Robinson hit 179 homers in six years in Baltimore. And there were only two grand slams among them. The weird thing is that both came in the June 26, 1970, 12-2 Orioles win over the Senators.
The Yanks erred in trading lefty Hippo Vaughn on June 26, 1912, to Washington, and the Senators compounded the error by selling him to AA Kansas City. From there the Cubs picked him up and he went on to win more than 150 games playing for Chicago.
Yankee outfielder from 2006-2009 Johnny Damon is featured in the first of two highlights involving future or former Yankee players that took place on June 26. On this day in 1999, he was still playing for K.C. when his solo home run was the only fence clearer in the Royals’ 10-run eighth inning in an 11-7 win over the White Sox. And eventual Yankee outfielder Hector Lopez, who homered three times in an 8-2, 12-inning win over the Senators on June 26, 1958, played in Kansas City too. But that was with the Athletics, not the Royals.
In more post-amateur draft news, the Yankees signed righthanded pitcher Adam Warren on June 26, 2009.
When New York Met Rusty Staub delivered a pinch hit in the ninth-inning 8-4 loss to the Phillies on June 26, 1983, he tied Dave Philley for the all-time record of eight pinch hits in succession.
One-time Yankee signee Jack Urban passed away on June 26, 2006. Urban, who compiled a 15-15 record over three seasons with Kansas City and St. Louis, was one of several players traded to get Clete Boyer in 1957. Jack never played for the Yanks, but lefthander Jimmy Johnson (1991) did, debuting by pitching 22 games (one start) for the 1944 club, thus becoming one of two guys who played in Pinstripes to die this day. Johnson lost two without winning, but he did save three in New York. After a stay of similar length with the 1945 White Sox, he ended up with a 3-2-7 mark. Another player who debuted in the Bronx, second baseman Kal Segrist (2015) played 13 games for the 1952 Yankees, during which he had one hit in 13 at bats, and drove in one run. Subsequently he played seven games for Baltimore in 1955, batting 3-for-9 with no home runs or rbi’s.
Hall of Fame Brooklyn catcher Roy Campanella (1993) easily merits first mention among four nonYankee players to pass this day. Campy hit 242 home runs good for 856 rbi’s from 1948-1957 before tragically becoming paralyzed in a career-ending car accident. Righthander Lil Stoner (1966) posted his 50-58 record with 14 saves between 1922 and 1931 largely with Detroit; and outfielder Wes Schumerlich (1985) cleared 27 fences and drove in 192 runs playing mostly with the Braves from 1931-1934. And most recently, righty Justin Miller (2013) posted most of his 24-14 record from 2002 through 2010 with Toronto and Miami.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Hands down, the highlight of today’s report is that June 26 is the birthday of Yankee Captain and all-star shortstop Derek Jeter (1974). Author of “the play” against the A’s in the 2001 ALDS and a host of other big-game performances, no one had his head more in the game than Jeter. The Yanks got him with the sixth pick in the 1992 amateur draft. Everybody say, “Hallelujah!” Jeter continued to accumulate big numbers; he stroked his 2,000th hit in 2006, and passed Joe DiMaggio on the Yankee all-time hit list in May 2007. Jeter inexorably climbed up the all-time Yankees leader board in several offensive and defensive categories, and also passed Lou Gehrig as the player with the most hits in old Yankee Stadium. And then, of course, he added to his legend with a 5-for-5 day in 2011 to reach and pass the 3,000-hit mark, becoming just the second player ever to equal that mark with a home run; his fifth hit of the day was a game winner. A strong season in 2012 came to a halt when he suffered a broken ankle in the ALCS. An injury-plagued 2013 saw him play in only 17 games, but he came back healthy for 2014, which was his final year.
June 26 Yankee birthdays continue with a cautionary tale of trying to restock when superstars leave. In the waning days of the 1960s when the Yanks were looking to replace the one and only Mickey Mantle, they traded with Pittsburgh for outfielder Bill Robinson (1943). After failing to shine in the Yankee outfield in 1967 and 1968 (13 homers, 69 rbi’s), Bill actually had a fine career in the NL until he retired in 1982, as his 166 home runs and 641 rbi’s show. But the Yanks got him and Chi-Chi Olivo from the Braves in November 1966 for Clete Boyer, who would prove that he had plenty of good baseball left in him, much to the Yanks’ dismay. The Yanks shipped Robinson to the Chicago White Sox for Barry Moore in December 1970.
The next Bomber birthday belongs to outfielder Dick Tettelbach (1929), who went 0-for-5 in two games in 1955. The Yanks sent him with Whitey Herzog (in this case, the “player to be named later”), Lou Berberet, Herb Plews, and Bob Wiesler to the Washington Senators for Mickey McDermott and Bobby Kline in February 1956. Dick would leave the game after the 1957 season having stroked one tater and driven in 10 runs.
Righty Mike Griffin (1957) went 2-4 in 63 innings for the Yanks from 1979 through 1981. He arrived in the November 10, 1978 blockbuster that brought Dave Righetti to the Yankees from the Rangers for Sparky Lyle, Domingo Ramos, and several others. He was shipped to the Chicago Cubs as a player to be named later with Doug Bird for Rick Reuschel in August 1981. With short stays with the Cubs, the Padres, the Orioles, and the Reds, Griffin won seven games while losing 15 overall.
And in 2006, lefty relief specialist Mike Myers (1969) was added to the list. Mike posted a 20-22 record with 14 saves from 1995 through 2005 pitching for Florida, Detroit, Milwaukee, Colorado, Arizona, Seattle, and Boston. Ironically, early in his career, Myers was traded as a “player to be named later” in a swap for Buddy Groom, who failed in the lefty reliever role with the Yanks in 2005. Myers had a decent 2006 season in New York, but he too struggled badly against lefties in 2007, despite his 3-0 record, and he was released mid-year.
Last, lefthanded DH Pete Dalena (1960) got one hit in seven at bats for the Indians in his only big-league action, but he was drafted by the Yankees in the 27th round of the 1982 amateur draft. He was released in 1988.
Other birthdays: Abner Doubleday (1819); Philadelphia Athletics outfielder from 1898-1911 Topsy Hartsel (1874); and fellow outfielder Debs Garms (1908), who played for the Browns, the Braves, the Pirates, and the Cardinals from 1932-1945. Brooklyn outfielder Babe Herman (1903) hit 181 homers with 997 rbi’s from 1926-1945. Also: Howie Pollet (1921); Dave Rosello (1950); Jeff Conine (1966); Rodney Myers (1969); Jason Kendall (1974); Jason Middlebrook (1975); Luis A. Gonzalez (1979); Chris Shelton (1980); Elijah Dukes (1984); Luis Hernandez (1984); Lou Marson (1986); and Michael Kohn (1986).
Players Born This Day