On March 12, 1903, the New York Highlanders, precursors to the Yankees, were admitted to the American League. Happy Birthday, gang.
On this day in 1992, Yankees VP and Chief Administrative Officer Joseph Molloy, son-in-law of George Steinbrenner, was elected the new general managing partner of the club. Mr. Molloy has fallen on more difficult times of late, and George’s sons have taken over the helm.
Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo woo woo)
What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson.
‘Joltin Joe’ has left and gone away? (Hey hey hey Ð hey hey hey)
Paul Simon won a Grammy Award for that tribute to the Yankee Clipper on March 12, 1969. Poignantly, he would sing it in center field in Yankee Stadium in a tribute to the departed Yankee Clipper 30 years later after Joe’s death.
On a busy March 12, 2012, we were able to get an early look at at-the-time Blue Jays catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, since traded to the Mets, in a 4-1 Toronto win over Baltimore in Dunedin, Fla., before watching the Yanks drop a 4-3 decision to the visiting Astros in Tampa. In the latter, Hiroki Kuroda went three scoreless, but Houston scored two runs in the ninth against lefty Mike O’Connor. Young catcher JR Murphy, displaying a habit he continues with in 2013, had an rbi hit in the bottom half, but the Yankee rally fell short.
It can be silly to include the details of spring training games in Yankee history, but unfortunately, the 14-3 drubbing the Yanks received at the hands of the Blue Jays in Dunedin on March 12, 2000, was very telling about the (lack of a) future for a Yankee prospect. Penciled in to be the fifth starter in the coming season, southpaw Ed Yarnall would allow eight hits and three home runs in surrendering 10 runs in the first inning. The Yanks had acquired Yarnall in an offseason trade of third baseman Mike Lowell to the Marlins. “Can’t-miss” hurler Yarnall would not make the squad that year, or ever.
It had become that winnowing the roster time in Tampa on March 12, 2014, and the Yanks optioned catcher Gary Sanchez to the AA Trenton Thunder; and lefty Nik Turley and outfielder Slade Heathcott to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
The Yanks made it official on March 12, 2002, as they released Ruben Rivera. The young outfielder had the inside track on becoming the team’s fourth outfielder that year until that plan was derailed once he was caught stealing items from teammate Derek Jeter‘s locker to sell to a collector.
On March 12, 2013, righthander Brett Marshall was assigned to the New York Yankees.
On March 12, 2008, the Yankees added lefty reliever Billy Traber to the 40-man roster, and transferred young righthander Andrew Brackman to the 60-day disabled list.
Ground was broken for Boston’s first American League Ballpark on March 12, 1901, the Huntington Ave. Fairgrounds.
Former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey and Phillies power hitter Chuck Klein were elected to the Hall of Fame on March 12, 1980. Klein hit exactly 300 home runs over 17 seasons in the bigs.
No Yankee players have died on March 12.
Known as the “Fordham Flash,” Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch passed away on March 12, 1973. He played for the Giants from 1919-1926 and the Cardinals from 1927-1937, had a career .316 batting average, and stole 419 bases. Frisch is joined by seven other noteworthy nonYankee players to have died this day. Sam Mertes (1945) and Gene Moore (1978) both served as outfielders, Mertes from 1896-1906 with the Orphans and the Giants; of the seven teams Moore played with from 1931-1945, the longest stints were with the Boston Bees (four years) and the Cardinals (three). Mertes hit 40 home runs and knocked in 721; the lefthanded Moore’s corresponding numbers: 58 and 436. A first baseman who hit from the left side, Gordy Coleman (1994) played all but one season from 1959-1967 with the Reds, and reached 98 fences good for 387 runs. Southpaw Steve Gromek (2002) pitched for the Indians eight years and the Tigers five between 1941-1957, finishing up with a 123-108 record and 23 saves. Portsided first baseman/outfielder Fred Beck (1962) cleared 33 fences and drove in 251 runs with the Doves and the Whales from 1909-1915; and fellow lefthanded first sacker Norm Laker (2007) contributed 32 long balls and 271 rbi’s from 1958-1963, mostly with the Dodgers. Righthander Bob Anderson (2015) pitched from 1957 through 1962 with the Cubs, and with the Tigers in 1963, to a 36-46 record with 13 saves.
Players Who Have Died This Day
There are 10 Yankee birthdays on March 12, although some may surprise you. Most famous is ex-Met, Dodger, Giant, and Independent League St. Paul Saint Darryl Strawberry (1962), who played for the Yanks in 1994 through 1999, sometimes as an outfielder, but mostly as a DH. Darryl, who hit 41 of his 335 career home runs for the Bombers, was purchased from the St. Paul Saints on George Steinbrenner‘s birthday (July 4) in 1996.
Recent right fielder Raul Mondesi (1971) featured a cannon in right field, showed the ability to hit for power, but was not a good situational hitter. He was acquired from the Blue Jays for Scott Wiggins in July 2002, and Atlanta gambled on relying on him for the 2005 season, a move that did not pay off.
Veteran Philly outfielder Johnny Callison (1939) hit 10 homers with 44 rbi’s in part-time duty with the Yanks in 1972 and 1973, at the end of his career. The Yanks sent Jack Aker to the Cubs for Callison in January 1972.
Another player the Yanks attempted to squeeze some offense from at the end of his career was “Toy Cannon” Jimmy Wynn (1942), who got 77 at bats in 1977 with the Yanks, with one homer and three rbi’s. The Yanks purchased his contract from Atlanta in November 1976. Wynn hit most of his 291 career home runs for Houston.
Ruppert Jones (1955) was acquired with Jim Lewis in 1979 from the Mariners for Jim Beattie, Rick Anderson, Juan Beniquez, and Jerry Narron. He was penciled in to patrol center field and lead off for the Yanks for the 1980 season, but he hurt himself running into a wall, and missed half the season. He was packaged with Joe Lefebvre, Tim Lollar, and Chris Welsh to the Padres for Jerry Mumphrey and John Pacella in April 1981.
A 1993 Yankee amateur draft pick, Craig Dingman (1974) joined the parent club as the righty half of a young lefty/righty pitching tandem in 2000; former Yankee reliever Randy Choate was the lefty. Dingman amassed a 6.55 era in 10 games with no wins, losses or saves, and was sent to the Colorado Rockies for minor leaguer Julio De Paula in April 2001.
Lefty-hitting first baseman Ray Barker (1936) hit 10 homers with 44 rbi’s and a steal in closing out a career, which included a partial season in Cleveland and one in Baltimore, with the 1965-1967 Yankees. The Yanks got Ray from the Indians in May 1965 for Pedro Gonzalez, and traded him with minor-leaguers Chet Trail and Joe Brady to the Orioles for Steve Barber in June 1967.
And although outfielder Jack Little‘s (1891) career consisted entirely of three games with the 1912 Highlanders, he made them count, managing three hits, two runs scored and two stolen bases in 12 at bats. Shortstop Felix Escalona (1979) went 4-for-22, scored one run, drove in two runs, walked once, and stuck out six times in fifteen games for the 2004-2005 Yankees. The Yanks grabbed him from the Devil Rays, who had gotten him from the Giants off waivers in 2002. Felix knocked in 11 runs and stole eight bases for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2002 and 2003.
Big things are hoped for from southpaw reliever Jacob Lindgren (1993), a 2014 second-round pick by the Yankees (he was picked in the 12th round in 2011 by the Cubs, but did not sign). Lindgren so impressed the team that he marched through the rosters of the Tampa Yankees, the Charlotte RiverDogs, the Trenton Thunder, and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in just over one season, and pitched seven games with the parent club in 2015 before hurting his arm and going under the knife. After being released, Jacob was signed as a free agent by the Braves in December 2016, but has not pitched in the bigs since.
Among other birthdays, although righty David Lee (1973) only amassed a 5-2 record in the bigs (with the Rockies, the Padres, and the Indians), he makes the list on the basis of the players exchanged for him as he arrived and then left the Yankee organization. He was traded by the Rockies to the Bronx for Jay Tessmer and Seth Taylor in January 2001 and was sent to San Diego for Carlos Almanzar two months later.
Other birthdaying players: Vern Law (1930); two-time MVP Dale Murphy (1956); Steve Finley (1965); Dave Williams (1979); Carlos Muniz (1981); Zach Miner (1982); Eulogio de la Cruz (1984); Jose Arredondo (1984); P.J. Walters (1985); Joey Butler (1986); and Taylor Hill (1989).
Players Born This Day