Yankee slugger Babe Ruth signed a one-year contract on March 16, 1932, for $75,000. Coming off a 46-homer, 163-rbi season, the 41 taters and 137 tallies he would drive across in ’32 would still be very good numbers.
On March 16, 2018, the Twins traded righthander Luis Gil to the Yankees for center fielder Jake Cave. And outfielder Alexander Palma was assigned to the Yankees.
On March 16, 2017, the Yankees optioned outfielder Mason Williams to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The club also signed two free agent righthanders, Wellington Diaz and Ernesto Frieri, and invited the latter to Spring Training.
On March 16, 2015, the Yankees signed free agent outfielder Nelson Alvarez to a minor league contract.
On March 16, 2014, the Yankees assigned outfielder Brandon Thomas, righthander Caleb Cotham, and lefty Aaron Dott to their minor league camp. The club also optioned southpaw starter Manny Banuelos to the A level Tampa Yankees.
In perhaps the most startling March 16 news affecting former or future Yankee personnel, Angels pitcher Matt Keough was hit by a batted ball squarely in the head while sitting in the dugout in a Cactus League game in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1992. The righthander, who went 3-4 in 12 games with the 1983 Bombers, had emergency surgery to have a blood clot removed. Also Washington owner Clark Griffith, formerly the Highlanders’ first manager and the guy who tossed the first Yankee shutout (both in 1903), led a group that blocked Bill Veeck‘s request to move his Browns from St. Louis to Baltimore on March 16, 1953. Lastly, future Yankee lefty Denny Neagle was traded from the Twins to the Pirates on this day in 1992.
Another ex-Yankee merits March 16 mention in what had become Hall of Famer Honus Wagner‘s almost annual announcement that he would be retiring. He left the game behind yet again on March 16, 1908, but then played in 151 games, more than he had in 10 years. He took his sixth batting title, and led the league in hits, total bases, doubles, triples, rbi’s and stolen bases in 1908. He was denied the Triple Crown because Brooklyn’s Tim Jordan‘s total of 12 homers exceeded his by two. First baseman Jordan had eight at bats in two games, with one hit and two runs scored, for the 1903 Highlanders.
Not only did the Yankees option four fairly high-profile young players to the minors on March 16, 2012, the bigger news was that they signed a free agent lefty most of us know, Andy Pettitte. And they sent an infielder and an outfielder to both AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and to the AA Trenton Thunder, outfielder Melky Mesa and infielder Corban Joseph to AAA, and second baseman David Adams and outfielder Zoilo Almonte to AA.
March bookkeeping continued on March 16, 2013, as righthander Michael Pineda had his roster status changed by the Yankees. Also, outfielders Neil Medchill, Eduardo Sosa, and Ben Gamel; infielder Ali Castillo; and catcher Austin Romine all were assigned to the Yankees.
On March 16, 2011, the Yankees optioned righthander Ryan Pope and lefty Steve Garrison to the AA Trenton Thunder; then they optioned second baseman Kevin Russo, third baseman Brandon Laird, righty Andrew Brackman, and outfielder Melky Mesa to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
In routine Spring Training moves, the Yankees optioned lefthander Wilkin De La Rosa to Single-A Tampa and southpaw Michael Dunn and righty Eric Hacker to AA Trenton on March 16, 2009.
Denny McLain, who posted the last 30-win season (31-6 in 1968) was convicted of racketeering, extortion, and cocaine possession on March 16, 1985.
No Yankee players have died on March 16.
Herb Pennock almost accomplished the World Series Perfect Game trick pulled off by Don Larsen in 1956, only 29 years earlier. But Pie Traynor broke up his perfect game with an eighth-inning single, although the Pirates were swept by the Yankees in 1927. A Hall of Fame third bagger, Traynor, who hit 58 home runs and drove in 1,273 runs from 1920-1937 exclusively with the Pirates, passed away on March 16, 1972. Nine other nonYankee ballplayers of note died on March 16, though no one-time Yankees. Leon Cadore, who once pitched all 21 innings in a game, and who went 68-72 mostly with Brooklyn from 1915-1924, died this day in 1958. But neither Cadore’s nor Traynor’s passing was as tragic, it seems, as when San Diego Padre Eric Show succumbed at a drug treatment center on this day in 1994. Eric had a fine 101-89 record in the bigs, but was most known for having surrendered the hit to Pete Rose that broke the all-time hits record. Righthander John Healy (1899) won 78 and lost 136 games for the Maroons, the Hoosiers, and the Orioles from 1885-1892; and lefty-swinging second baseman George Grantham (1954) hit 105 home runs with 712 rbi’s from 1922-1931, most of the time playing with Pirates and the Cubs. Most recently, righty reliever with the Red Sox and others from 1962-1969 Dick Radatz (2005) had a career mark of 52-43 with an impressive 122 saves. Southpaw Kid Madden (1896) posted most of his 54-50-2 record from 1887-1891 with the Beaneaters and the Red Stockings; and righty Harry Feldman (1962) went 35-35-3 with the Giants from 1941-1946. Outfielder Jigger Statz (1988) hit 17 roundtrippers with 215 rbi’s for the Cubs, the Giants, and the Dodgers from 1919-1928; and Sam Dungan (1939) cleared three fences good for 197 runs driven in from 1892-1901, primarily with the Colts.
Players Who Have Died This Day
The Yankee March 16 birthday list had a significant addition when they sent Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to Detroit for center fielder Curtis Granderson (1981) before the 2010 season. Following a big game-winning home run early in Fenway Curtis pulled a hamstring, which slowed and sidelined his first season in Pinstripes, but he closed strongly for 24 home runs and 67 rbi’s. Entering what could be a BIG year in the Bronx in 2011, he had amassed 126 career long balls good for 366 runs driven in since his 2004 debut, then had an MVP-worthy 2011 in which he led the AL in rbi’s and all of baseball in runs scored. Hoping for a bounceback season after a down 2012 (43 home runs, but a .232 average and 195 strike outs), Curtis had his 2013 season ruined by twice suffering broken bones when hit by a pitch, the first by a broken forearm suffered not only in his first Spring game, but his first at bat. Curtis has signed a deal to play with the crosstown Mets the next several years, then retired after the 2019 season having played also with the Dodgers, the Blue Jays, the Brewers, and the Marlins.
During the beginning of the 1987 season, Charlie Hudson (born March 16, 1959) had the pitching version of what Shane Spencer experienced in September 1998 and Kevin Maas almost a decade earlier. Starting with the home opener, the newly acquired (from the Phillies for Mike Easler; Claudell Washington was signed as a free agent to take Mike’s spot) righty reeled off six wins in a row to start the season. Before the year was out he would struggle, and spend a stint in the minors, but he finished with an 11-7, and 6-6 in ’88 before ending his Yankee career. He was traded in March 1989 to the Tigers for Tom Brookens.
Other Yankee birthdays: Juan Espino (1956) spent his entire four-year major-league career as a backup catcher on the Yanks once they signed him as an amateur free agent in 1974. He was purchased by Cleveland in 1984, but did not play for them and the Yanks got him back the following January. Espino hit one home run and drove in eight runs in 49 games.
Clint Courtney (1927) caught too, for 11 years, but his first game (in 1951) was the only one he ever played for the Yanks, who traded him to the Browns for Jim McDonald in November 1951. Courtney hit 38 home runs with 318 rbi’s by the time he hung up his spikes after the 1961 season, spending significant time with the Browns and the Senators.
The Yankees’ 2014 addition to their March 16 birthday list came when they traded a failed Kelly Johnson to the Red Sox for a failed Stephen Drew (1983) after the All Star break. A contract holdout that year, Drew failed to hit in Boston, and failed in the same way in the Bronx, but the career shortstop did supply quality defense at second, well enough, it appears, that he was brought back to the Yankees in the same role in 2015. He’s overdue to start hitting, may have been the thinking, but if so, it was faulty reasoning. Drew has spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons with the Nationals in a backup infielder role, to some success, and is a free agent going forward.
And one of Pie Traynor‘s teammates on the 1927 Pirate team that disappointed Pennock was Lloyd Waner, one half of one of the greatest sets of brothers to ever play the game. Lloyd, born March 16, 1906, went by the nickname of Little Poison, while his older brother Paul Waner was known as Big Poison. Also Buddy Myer (1904), lefty-hitting second sacker who smacked 38 dingers, with 850 rbi’s and 156 steals from 1925-1941, mostly with Washington; Don Blasingame (1932); Rich Reichart (1943); Quinton McCracken (1970), Abraham Nunez (1976); Hee Seop Choi (1979); Brian Wilson (1982); Rusty Ryal (1983); Brandon League (1983); Mickey Storey (1986); Andrew Triggs (1989); Michael Blazek (1989); Spencer Kieboom (1991); Cory Spangenberg (1991); Reyman Guduan (1992); Jacob Rhame (1993); Rowdy Tellez (1995); and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. (1999).
Players Born This Day