We could call today’s rundown The Great Escape in honor of what is the late iconic movie star Steve McQueen‘s birthday, as it was on this day that any semblance of a battle for the starting Yankee shortstop job in 1996 came to an end when the late Tony Fernandez fractured his right elbow in a game with the Astros. Tony was a veteran on the ’95 playoff team, and until recently was the most recent Yankee to have hit for the cycle, but he was never accepted in New York as he was in Toronto, for whom he played four separate times in his career. Given the unexpected opportunity to start on the rookie-phobic Yankee team, Derek Jeter began a magical year at short by homering in Jacobs Field in his first regular-season game in Cleveland. He won the Rookie of the Year Award, and the Yanks won the Series. The rest, as they say, is history.
On March 24, 1933, Babe Ruth signed for $52,000, a paycut that was a sign of those tough economic times. The Babe would respond with a 34-homer, 103-rbi season, and win the last regular-season game he would ever pitch, only his fifth mound appearance in the Bronx.
Although he started Spring Training with an early home run, his so-called battle with Austin Romine for the backup catcher job never really materialized, and a struggling (at the plate) Gary Sanchez was optioned by the Yankees to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on March 24, 2016.
On March 24, 2019, the Yankees optioned shortstop Tyler Wade to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. In addition, righthanders Kyle Zurak and J.P. Feyereisen; third baseman Chris Hess; and catcher Saul Torres were assigned to the Yankees.
On March 24, 2018, the Yankees optioned righthander Domingo German to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, and signed free agent catcher Kellin Deglan to a minor league contract. Also on the same day, third basemen Vicente Conde and Oswaldo Cabrera; second baseman Billy Fleming; and shortstop Hoy Jun Park were assigned to the Yankees.
On March 24, 2017, the Yankees optioned righthander Luis Cessa to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders; and received righty Tyler Jones from the Diamondbacks, a rule-5 pick Arizona chose not to retain.
In March 24 player moves affecting former and future Yankee players, the Astros sent infielder Sandy Alomar, Sr., to the Mets in 1967; and former Yankee standout third baseman Andy Carey was traded from the Phillies to the White Sox and then from Chicago to the Dodgers in 1962. Further, the always-in-the-news Leo Durocher, who had gotten his start in the Yankee infield 22 years earlier, admitted to Commissioner Happy Chandler on this day in 1947 that he had bet on card games. It would cost him a one-year suspension from his job managing the Dodgers.
Less than a year removed from signing a minor league deal with the Yankees, former White Sox outfielder Brian Anderson, trying to resurrect his career on the mound as a righthander, was assigned to San Francisco Giants on March 24, 2010. He was subsequently invited to 2011 Yankee Spring Training after signing with them.
The Yankees reassigned outfielder Austin Jackson and infielder Eduardo Nunez to Minor League camp and optioned first baseman Juan Miranda to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on March 24, 2009. After being traded for Curtis Granderson, Jackson had successful years with the Tigers and continued to play in the bigs through 2018, while Miranda spent time in the Bronx while playing mostly in the minors, and then moved on. Nunez played with the Yanks from 2010 through 2013, and has played with the Twins, the Giants. and the rival Red Sox since; he has signed as a free-agent with the crosstown Mets for 2020.
In a mini-drama that took a positive turn afterward, the Yankees optioned righthander Dellin Betances to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on March 24, 2012.
The Yankees optioned outfielder Bronson Sardinha to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and reassigned him to minor league camp on March 24, 2007. They reassigned infielders Andy Cannizaro and Angel Chavez, catcher Raul Chavez, and lefty pitcher Ben Kozlowski to minor league camp as well. Both Sardinha and Cannizaro would play on the team in the upcoming year.
The Ups and Downs of Spring Training: the Yankees, who had just assigned veteran reliever Scott Strickland to Major League camp 10 days earlier, assigned him to Minor League camp on March 24, 2008.
Righthander Tim Belcher announced his retirement on March 24, 2001, with a record of 146-140. The Yanks drafted Tim in the first round (first pick) of the 1984 amateur draft on January 17, 1984, only to lose him in a procedural snafu to the Oakland Athletics less than a month later when the Athletics were awarded a selection in the compensation draft.
On this day in 1961, the New York State legislature approved a $55 million package to build what would become Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadow.
The International Olympic Committee agreed to a six-team exhibition baseball tournament on March 24, 1984.
When Cardinals President Matthew Stanley Robison died unexpectedly on March 24, 1911, he left the club and much of his estate to his niece, Mrs. Helene Hathaway Britton. She thereby became the first female owner of a major league baseball club.
No Yankee players have died on March 24.
Catcher Birdie Tebbetts (1999) and three righthanders are the three most prominent nonYankee major league players to have died March 24. Tebbets played with Detroit from 1936-1947, and four and two years with the Red Sox and Indians, respectively, accumulating 38 home runs with 469 rbi’s before he was done. Dick Coffman (1972) won 72, lost 95, and saved 38 from 1927-1945, pitching seven years for the Browns and four for the Giants during that time. The 76-57 record with 48 saves Mace Brown (2002) posted from 1935-1946 was earned primarily with the Pirates, although he pitched three years with the Red Sox too. And fellow righty Carl Scheib (2018) pitched almost exclusively for the KC A’s from 1943 through 1954 (he pitched three games with the Cardinals that final year) to a 45-65 record with 17 saves. Catcher Larry McLean (1921) hit six home runs and drove in 298 playing from 1901-1915 with five teams, most prominently with the Reds, with significant stops with the Giants and Cards too; and outfielder Jimmy Bannon (1948) homered 19 times good for 253 rbi’s playing for the 1893 Browns and the 1894-1896 Beaneaters.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Sore-armed former Yankees reliever Steve Karsay was born on March 24, 1972. Steve posted a 6-4 mark with 12 saves for the 2002 Yankees, and his seven-game return to the 2004 club showed some promise. But he would be released after six 2005 appearances. He was signed as a free agent in December 2001 after nine largely effective seasons, mostly with Oakland and Cleveland.
Other Yankee birthdays include that of catcher Bob Tillman (1937), who hit two homers and drove in nine for the Yanks during 54 games to close the 1967 season. His brief Yankee stint was sandwiched between a five-plus-year tour of duty for the Red Sox and a three-year stop in Atlanta once the Yanks traded him there in December 1967 with Dale Roberts for Bobby Cox.
Lefthanded first baseman Dick Kryhoski (1925) got his start in the Bronx to the tune of one homer, 27 rbi’s, and two stolen bases for the 1949 Bombers before being traded to the Tigers for Dick Wakefield. Kryhoski actually returned to New York in December 1954 in a blockbuster deal with the Orioles where the O’s shipped Bob Turley, Don Larsen, and Billy Hunter to New York for Gene Woodling, Harry Byrd, Jim McDonald, Hal Smith, Gus Triandos, and Willy Miranda, but the Yanks sold Dick to the A’s the following spring.
Righty Ernie Shore (1891) capped his career by going 7-10 with one save for the 1919-1920 Yanks after a year with the Giants and four with the Red Sox. The Yanks got him along with Duffy Lewis from Boston in December (after their 1918 World Series victory) for Frank Gilhooley, Slim Love, Ray Caldwell, Roxy Walters, and cash.
Outfielder Kip Selbach (1872) hit three dingers with 60 rbi’s and 22 steals for the 1902 Baltimore Orioles, the franchise that would become the 1903 New York Highlanders and, eventually, the Yankees. As was common practice in the hurly-burly world of baseball back then, Selbach jumped to Baltimore from the Giants before the 1902 season. And southpaw reliever Heath Phillips (1982) makes the list based on having spent most of 2008 Yankee Spring Training with the Yankees battling for a bullpen spot. Phillips won one game and lost one while pitching six games for the 2007 White Sox in his only big-league play so far.
The 2009 season welcomed a new Yankee player into the March 24 birthday ranks when Chad Gaudin (1983) was purchased from the San Diego Padres that August. Following his 2-0 record in 11 games (six starts) for the Yankees (and one relief appearance in the 09 Series), and a 1-2 mark with the 2010 Yanks, Chad had a 35-39 record with two saves after eight seasons, two of each which he has spent with the (at the time) Devil Rays and the A’s. After appearing with Washington Nationals in 2011, the Marlins in 2012, and the Giants in 2013, his overall record stands at 45-44-2.
Another long list of Yankee birthdays increases in length with the advent of the 2016 season with the trade with the Cubs that brought second baseman Starlin Castro (1990) to the Bronx. A shortstop in Chicago for his first 806 games from 2010 into the 2015 season, he was switched to the other side of the second-base bag to make room for Addison Russell at short. Starlin arrived in the Bronx with a proven righty stick, with which he had hit .281, with 62 home runs and 363 rbi’s. It worked out perhaps even better than hoped, as Castro bonded with his double play partner Didi Gregorius, giving the Bombers their first ever 20-home-run hitting tandem at second base and shortstop in 2016. After another solid, though injury-marred, season in pinstripes in 2017, Castro was one of several coins the Yanks spent to trade for slugger Giancarlo Stanton from Miami before the ’18 season. The consummate pro hit 34 homers with 140 rbi’s in Miami in 2018 and 2019, and has been signed as a free agent by Washington for 2020.
In the pseudo-Yankee category of March 24 birthdays, we have Scott Wiggins (1976), who never pitched in the Bronx, but who did get into three games with the 2002 Toronto Blue Jays after the Yanks sent him there for Raul Mondesi.
Hall of Fame first baseman George Sisler (1893) leads the list of other baseball birthdays. He stroked 102 homers with 1,175 rbi’s almost entirely for the St. Louis Browns from 1915-1928; his lifetime ba was .340. His 1920 season number of 257 hits stood as the record until Mariner Ichiro Suzuki finally surpassed it in September 2004. In addition: Jesus Alou (1942), who at one time was part of an all-Alou brothers major league outfield, and is the one of those three siblings never to play for the Yanks; Garry Templeton (1956), whose main claim to fame is that he was the shortstop Saint Louis shipped to San Diego in return for eventual Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, the Wizard of Oz; Bruce Hurst (1958); Ron Robinson (1962); Wilson Alvarez (1970); Mario Encarnacion (1974); Norris Hopper (1979); Dirk Hayhurst (9181); Robinson Tejeda (1982); Corey Hart (1982); Dustin McGowan (1982); Lucas Luetge (1987); Josh Zeid (1987); Christopher Bostik (1993); J.B. Wendelken (1993); and Kevin Ginkel (1994).
Players Born This Day