The Yankees pounded the visiting Orioles both early and late in an 8-1 Spring victory on March 2, 2017. Matt Holliday and Greg Bird home runs put the Bombers up 4-1, and Billy McKinney continued his strong campaign, knocking in three with a homer and an rbi double after subbing for right fielder Aaron Hicks in the sixth. Adam Warren gave up the lone Baltimore tally in a three-inning start on a singleton home run by Caleb Joseph in the third.
With the Yanks always adept at putting on a show, fans knew the Spring opener in George M. Steinbrenner Field on March 2, 2016, would be memorable, but once the pregame festivities came to a close, the game would top all that had come before. Among the guests introduced before first pitch, aside from the coaching staff, were el duque Hernandez, Hideki Matsui, Lee Mazzilli, Stump Merrill, Stick Michael, Willie Randolph, Goose Gossage, Ron Guidry, and Reggie Jackson. In a sign of a struggling season to come, young Luis Severino was reached for five runs in the second, but a barrage of hits including a Dustin Ackley two-run double staked the home team to an 8-7 lead through eight. Not to be crushed by the two tallies Nick Goody allowed in the ninth, the Yanks stormed back for the 10-9 win with two scores of their own, a rally sparked by young shortstop Jorge Mateo‘s leadoff triple. In a final twist, that winning comeback was forged against southpaw Joe Mantiply, a hurler in Yankee camp in 2017 once he was signed as a free agent in November ’16.
March 2, 2014, was a coming-out day of sorts for two young Yankee hurlers, as righthanders Bryan Mitchell and Shawn Greene allowed one run during the third through sixth innings, allowing the visiting Yankees to double up an early 4-1 lead to an 8-2 win against the Blue Jays in Dunedin. Long balls from Eduardo Nunez and Carlos Beltran (back to back in the third) and John Ryan Murphy, following Carlos in the third spot in the order, carried the day.
It’s easy to take flights of fancy in the spring, but I was pretty sure I was not seeing a foretaste of the 2013 season when weak-hitting catcher Chris Stewart, who would be thrust into the starter’s role, homered for two runs in a 7-3 victory over Detroit in Tampa on March 2. Unfortunately, my skepticism was warranted, and then some. Highly regarded, early-in-his-baseball-career outfielder Tyler Austin doubled in a run in the home eighth.
The offseason was a series of pseudo Father’s Days in baseball’s last decade of the 20th Century. When Tino Martinez was traded to the Yankees in late 1995, his wife was giving birth to one of their children. Likewise, on March 2, 1992, Ryne Sandberg signed a contract with the Cubs that made him the highest paid player up to that time (a four-year extension worth $28.4 mil). That signing also happened to be the 14th birthday of his son, Jared (see below).
It was a largely uneventful game when the Yanks hosted Houston in Tampa on March 2, 2011, but each team posted an ugly late-inning rally against young pitching, with the Yanks getting the last laugh. The Yanks scored in the second following a booming Alex Rodriguez double, but failed to go up 2-1 in the fifth when Michael Bourn nailed Justin Maxwell at the plate on a perfect throw on Derek Jeter‘s single. The ‘stros mounted a four-run sixth, but New York replied with five in the bottom of the ninth when Russell Martin was walked to drive in the winner.
He hardly felt like “Joltin’ Joe.” Suffering from the pain, Joe DiMaggio left Yankee camp on March 2, 1949, to have his ailing right heel examined. Although he followed the advice recommending that surgery was not needed, the injury did plague him for much of the upcoming year.
The Yankees purchased first baseman George Burns from the Detroit Tigers on March 2, 1918. Before Burns would ever play a game, they quickly sent him to the Philly A’s for Ping Bodie, but a decade later Burns would be acquired from Cleveland, and play in 13 games for New York.
The 2005 Yankee Spring Opener on March 2 had some interest even for fans who consider Spring Training games meaningless. Yankee stars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Bernie Williams, and Johnny Damon would be playing just the one game in Tampa before heading to World Baseball Classic games elsewhere, Williams with Puerto Rico, and the other three with the U.S.A. team in Arizona. Jeter went 1-for-3, A-Rod 0-for-3, and Williams and Damon 2-for-3, with the latter stroking hits his first two times up in Pinstripes. But after taking an early lead over the visiting Phillies, the Yanks fell 6-3 when southpaw Mike Myers struggled in his first ever Yankee outing, surrendering a three-run, seventh inning.
The Yanks kick-started their 2001 Spring Training in Legends Field with a 4-0 win over Toronto on March 2, with Roger Clemens whiffing four Blue Jays in two scoreless inings. Chuck Knoblauch started at second with Luis Sojo subbing for an injured Derek Jeter at short. Alfonso Soriano would replace Sojo and get a lot of infield work early. But later that month, Soriano would be in left field. It was a busy month, and by Opening Day Knoblauch would patrol out there with Soriano at second.
Fans arriving late, as we did, for the Yanks’ March 2, 2002, tilt vs. the Blue Jays could be excused for being excited once Drew Henson delivered young Juan Rivera from second base with an rbi single to left. But Henson would play just three games in the Bronx that year and eight all told. He would never duplicate that rbi in the regular season.
Spring Training had its early hero when the Yanks came from behind to beat the Devil Rays 3-1 in St. Petersburg on March 2, 2007. Derek Jeter‘s first-inning single was the club’s only hit through six innings. But one-time Mets minor league infielder Chris Basak, in for Alex Rodriguez at third base, homered for three runs in the top of the eighth, sending all the Yankee fans back to Tampa happy. Young Kevin Whelan received the first of two quick saves he would get in the Yanks’ first five games.
The Yankee heroes when they and the Phillies played to a 7-7 tie in Legends Field on March 2, 2008, were Jason Giambi, who homered and doubled for four rbi’s his first two times up, and outfielder Justin Christian, who singled for the tie in the bottom of the eighth.
On March 2, 2016, the Yankees signed free agent outfielder Chris Denorfia to a minor league contract and invited him to Spring Training.
It was hardly earth-shattering news when the Yankees reassigned infielders Eric Duncan and Eduardo Nunez to Minor League camp on March 2, 2008. Both had had two at bats the day before, though Duncan singled twice while Nunez had gone 0-for-2.
Darryl Strawberry, who starred in the Mets outfield and later hit some big home runs for the Yanks, had the Mets all over the sports pages on March 2, 1989, when he took a swing at teammate Keith Hernandez.
March 2, 1999, was a date that welcomed four new members to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. The honorees were Orlando Cepeda, Frank Selee, Smoky Joe Williams, and Nestor Chylack.
“Official Playing Rules of Professional Base Ball Clubs” was adopted this day in 1904. And 30 years earlier, the batter’s box was officially adopted on March 2, 1874.
James “Cool Papa” Bell, renowned Hall of Fame Negro Leagues player, died on March 2, 1991. Two one-time Yanks passed this day as well, starting with second baseman Earle Gardner (1943), an exclusive Yank whose entire mark of one home run with 108 rbi’s from 1908-1912 came with the New York Highlanders. First baseman Fred “Bonehead” Merkle (1956) spent much of his 1907-1926 career with the Giants with overall numbers of 60 long balls and 733 rbi’s, but he posted one of the rbi’s with the Yanks while playing with them in 1925-1926.
Seven righthanded pitchers of some note died March 2: Stump Wiedman (1905), 101-156-2 with the Wolverines from 1880-1888; Howie Camnitz (1960), 133-106-15, much of it with Pittsburgh, from 1904-1913; Ray Moore (1995), who split his 63-59-46 career almost evenly among the Orioles, the White Sox, and the Twins from 1952-1963; Atlanta Brave Rick Mahler (2005), 96-111-6 from 1979-1991; Slick Castleman (1998), who posted his entire 36-26-1 mark with the Giants; Joe Decker (2003), with a 36-44-0 mark with the Cubs and Twins from 1969-1979; and Dodger Clem Labine (2007), who went 77-56 with 96 saves from 1950-1962. Matt Kilroy (1940), the lone southpaw on today’s list, pitched mostly in Baltimore from 1886-1898 to a 141-133 record, no saves. Last we have Pirates outfielder Adam Comorosky (1951), with 28 home runs and 417 rbi’s from 1926-1935; and Detroit first baseman Dale Alexander (1979), who hit 61 long balls good for 459 runs driven in from 1929-1933.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Following just seven plate appearances in five 2017 games, young third base prospect Miguel Andujar (1995) easily leaps to the top of the Yankee March 2 birthday list. Signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent in 2011, he had a stunning start at third in Chicago on June 28, 2017, going 3-for-4, and driving in four with a first-inning single and a two-run double off the center field wall in the ninth. Fans screamed to see more of Miguel over an underperforming Chase Headley, but Andujar was returned to the minors, where he stayed. Ironically, Headley would finish the season, and the postseason, strong, but he has been traded away, and many believe third base may be Andujar’s job with the big league club in ’18. Stay tuned.
This is the birthday of former Yankee reliever Jim Konstanty (1917), who amassed an 8-3 record playing for the Yanks from 1954 through 1956, once the Yanks snatched him from the Phillies off waivers in August 1954. He threw in 62 games and only started one over that span.
Also representing the Yankees in the birthday list is lefthanded outfielder Danny Hoffman (1880), who played with the 1906-1907 Highlanders (Yankees) after several years with the A’s in Philly and before a similar stay with the Browns. Danny, who socked five homers, drove in 69 runs, and stole 63 bases in New York, was traded with Hobe Ferris and Jimmy Williams to the Browns for Fred Glade and Charlie Hemphill in February 1908.
Outfielder Frank Colman (1918) cleared three fences for 11 runs while finishing his career in 27 games for the 1946-1947 Yankees. He had already played five years for the Pirates, and amassed 15 dingers with 106 rbi’s in his career.
On the flip side, righthander Dick Starr (1921) debuted with the 1947-1948 Yankees, winning his only start in five appearances. The next three years he hurled for the Browns, with a brief stop in Washington at the end; Starr finished up at 12-24 with two saves.
Honorable Yankee birthday mention goes to righthander Tim Layana (1964), who posted a 5-5 record with the Reds and the Giants but who was a third-round 1986 Yankee amateur draft pick. Graig Nettles‘s brother, lefty swinger Jim Nettles (1947) hit 16 homers with 57 rbi’s for the Twins, the Tigers, the Royals, and the A’s, but the Yanks signed him as a free agent in January 1980, only to release him one year later.
The Yankee connection to righthander Wilking Rodriguez (1990) is tenuous in the extreme. Originally signed by Tampa as an amateur free agent in 2007, in his next draft, he joined the Royals and months later pitched two games for them, to no record, in 2014. Kansas City released him that August; the Yanks signed him seven days later, then released him in another four, re-signed him one month later, and finally released him in November 2016.
Hall of Famer Mel Ott (1909), who hit 511 homers and recorded 1,860 rbi’s, and stole 89 bases with the Giants from 1926-1946, was born on March 2, 1909. Other birthdays: the fascinating character and backup catcher with the White Sox, the Senators, and the Red Sox Moe Berg (1902), who very likely did serve as a U.S. spy in Japan in World War II; Mort Cooper (1913), with a 128-75 mark from 1938-1949, mostly with the Cardinals, and the 1942 National League MVP; Don Schwall (1936), 1961 AL Rookie of the Year; Dave Tobik (1953); Terry Steinbach (1962); Ron Gant (1965); Leo Gomez (1966); Jay Gibbons (1977) Jared Sandberg (1978); Glen Perkins (1983); Brandon Wood (1985); Bud Norris (1985); Nick Franklin (1991); and Ariel Hernandez (1992).
Players Born This Day