It’s a good day to feature Mickey Mantle, who on March 26, 1951, hit a homer estimated to have traveled between 654 and 660 feet in an exhibition game at USC. “Good fences make good neighbors,” the poet Robert Frost wrote. We feature fence-buster extraordinaire The Mick for his homer on March 26, and the poet, who was born this day in 1874.
Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg and Red Ruffing re-signed with their clubs on this day in 1936, Hank with Detroit for $20,000, and Red for $12,000 with the Yanks. Red pitched for the Yanks for 15 years, and went 7-2 in World Series games; his Yankees played in seven Fall Classics, and won six of them. The winningest righthander in Yankee history, Ruffing received his own plaque in Monument Park in 2004, a much belated and much deserved honor.
On March 26, 1937, Joe DiMaggio proclaimed he was taking Ty Cobb‘s advice to use a 36- or 37-oz. bat rather than the 40-ouncer he had been swinging. Joe hit .346 that year, and his 46 homers were his highest total in the bigs.
On March 26, 2018, the Yankees signed free agent righthander Franyer Hernandez to a minor league contract.
On March 26, 2017, shortstop Kyle Holder was assigned to the Yankees.
On March 26, 2016, righthanders Jonathan Holder, Alex Smith, Matt Marsh, and Giovanny Gallegos were assigned to the Yankees. Also on this day, the club optioned righty Nick Rumbelow and southpaw James Pazos to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
On March 26, 2015, the Yankees released righthanded pitcher Jared Burton.
On March 26, 2014, the Yankees optioned righthander Preston Claiborne and catcher Austin Romine to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (though the Romine move was reported yesterday too).
In two bad-news items that occurred on March 26, 2013, the Yankees placed lefthander Cesar Cabral on the 60-day disabled list, with a stress fracture in his left elbow; and released second baseman David Adams. Adams would be called back with the Yankee infield littered with serious injuries in 2013, but he would not distinguish himself, leading to a more permanent release months later. Also that day, the Yankees claimed righthander Dan Otero off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.
Veteran Yankee fans considered it business as usual when the Yanks reassigned second baseman Robinson Cano along with catcher David Parrish to their minor league camp on March 26, 2005. The rookie infielder who had had a hot spring would get another year in AAA. Or would he?
The Yankees purchased the contract of righty Pat Malone from the Cubs on this day in 1935. He went 19-13 with 18 saves over the next three seasons.
On March 26, 2010, outfielder Melky Mesa was assigned to the Yankees.
The Yankees trimmed their 2006 roster of three players on March 26, though two would make several return trips during the season. Outfielders Kevin Reese and Kevin Thompson were optioned to AAA Columbus, while catcher Ben Davis was reassigned to the minor league camp.
Slowly resolving an unpredictable backup infielder battle, the Yankees released nonroster invitee Chris Woodward on March 26, 2008.
Gene Mauch struggled as a backup infielder through a decade of major league play, mostly in the NL, and is more famous as a sub-.500 manager for 26 years whose win and loss totals both hover around 2,000 games. But back in his playing days, the Yankees had grabbed him from the Boston Braves in November 1951 in the rule-V draft. Then the Cardinals purchased him in a waiver move, before Mauch ever played in New York, on March 26, 1952.
Future and former Yankee players have made some March 26 news. The Mets traded Al Leiter‘s brother Mark Leiter, who got his big-league start with the Yanks (as did Al) in 1990, to the Rockies for former Red Sox hurler Brian Rose in 2001. The White Sox shipped former Yank Joe Cowley to the Phillies for outfielder Gary Redus on this day in 1987. And the A’s swapped Claudell Washington for the Rangers’ pitcher Jim Umbarger and infielder Rodney Scott on March 26, 1977. Washington would patrol the Yankee outfield in 1988 and 1989, while Scott would finish his career by playing 10 games in the Bronx in 1982. Also on March 26, one of three batters the legendary Walter Johnson hit with pitches in 1920 was Bucky Harris, a shot off his head. Harris would manage the Yankees in 1947 and 1948, winning the Championship that first year.
Similarly, we include the decision by Baltimore GM Lee MacPhail, who had earlier held that post with the Yanks, to reschedule an exhibition battle with the Reds. On March 26, 1960, McPhail moved their planned tilt in Havana to Miami in fear of the political instability on the heels of Fidel Castro‘s rise to power.
Of five Yankee players to have passed away on March 26, lefty thrower Marius Russo (2005) wore no uni but the Pinstripes (and the Yankees road grays of course); he won 45, lost 34, and saved five from 1939-1943, and in 1946. Southpaw Jerry Nops (1937) makes the Yankee list because he ended his career with the 1901 American League Baltimore Orioles team that was two years removed from a future shift to New York to become the Highlanders. Nops won 12, lost 10 and saved one with Baltimore in 27 games (three starts). Added to his totals accrued while playing for four teams from 1896-1900, his record becomes 72-41-1. And lefty-hitting outfielder Dan Costello (1936) debuted with the 1913 Yankees, managing one hit and scoring one run in two at bats in two games, where he is not listed as having fielded a position. He finished up with the 1914-1916 Pirates, ending with no home runs, but 24 rbi’s. Righthander Dan Tipple‘s (1960) career was short but eventful. He started two games (of three appearances overall) for the 1915 Yankees, winning one and losing one, in his only big-league play. And most recently, catcher Jerry Moses (2018) played 21 games with the 1973 team, batting 15-for-59 with no home runs but three rbi’s. He got his start in Boston with the Red Sox in 1965, and 1968-1970. Jerry played with five other teams through the 1975 season, hitting 25 long balls with 109 rbi’s in his career.
Hall of Fame first baseman George Sisler died on March 26, 1973. He played the first 13 years of his 1915-1930 career with the St. Louis Browns, with final totals of 102 home runs, 1,175 rbi’s, and 2,812 hits. And we’ll include Cardinals and Pirates third baseman Jimmy Burke (1942) for the one home runs and 187 rbi’s he accumulated from 1898-1905. New to the list is righthander Todd Frohwirth (2017), who posted a 20-19 mark with one save pitching mostly for the Phillies and the Orioles from 1987 through 1996.
Players Who Have Died This Day
We lead off March 26 Yankee birthdays with that of Jose Vizcaino (1968). Few Yankee fans have forgotten that Jose finished the 2000 season with the Yanks, as his 12th-inning single drove home the game winner in Game One of the Subway Series vs. the Mets. But how many recall that the Yanks got him that June from the Dodgers for Jim Leyritz? Jose stole five bases and knocked in 10 runs playing for that team, none bigger than the World Series game winner. Jose was, for a short time, invited to rejoin the Yanks for 2011 Spring Training, but that offer was retracted.
The Yanks got righty Bill Zuber (1913) from the Senators in January 1943 for Jerry Priddy and Milo Candini. Zuber posted an 18-23 record with two saves from 1943-1946, and then the Yanks sold his contract to the Red Sox.
And Roger Hambright (1949) was claimed by the Yankees in the 67th round of the 1967 draft. His 3-1 record with two saves in 18 games for the Bombers in 1971 was his sole big-league experience.
Almost lastly, the Bombers selected righty Frank Langford (1971) in the 17th round of the 1993 amateur draft, and lost him to the Dodgers in December 1997 in the rule-V draft. After posting an 0-2 mark in 12 games, Langford was returned by L.A. in May 1998, but he never pitched in the bigs again.
We get a new Yankee birthday entry even though 2002 Yankee draftee and righty Eric Hacker (1983) made his big-league debut in 2009 with another team. Hacker posted no record in three games with the Pirates once the Yanks shipped him there for fellow righthander Romulo Sanchez in May 2009. Hacker did not pitch in the bigs in 2010, but Sanchez did pitch in two games for the Yankees. Hacker signed on in 2011 with the Twins, for whom he appeared in two games that year. He went 0-1 for the 2012 San Francisco Giants in four games, one of them a start.
The latest Yankee player born this day until 2015, slick-fielding shortstop Brendan Ryan (1982), played 17 games trying to plug holes in the injured Yankee infield in 2013, and was signed to — mostly — back up the retiring Derek Jeter in 2014. The light-hitting Ryan hit .220 in pinstripes in those ’13 games, with one home run, good for his only rbi. In 2014 in 49 games but just 114 at bats, Ryan delivered eight rbi’s and no home runs. He was included, along with Adam Warren, in the trade with the Cubs for Starlin Castro. He played with Anaheim in 2016, and was signed as a free agent by Detroit afterward.
Two additional players joined the Yankee March 26 birthday list in 2015. Outfielder Ramon Flores (1992), a 2006 free agent signer with the team, hit .219 and scored three runs in 12 games with the parent club in early ’15, and made some stellar defensive plays as well. Ramon was traded, along with Jose Ramirez, to the Mariners for Dustin Ackley on July 30, 2015. He played a full season as a backup outfielder in Milwaukee in 2016 following a trade, and was claimed on waivers by the Angels in November 2016; he played three games for Anaheim in 2017.
The puzzling way in which second baseman Rob Refsnyder (1991) was handled in 2015 bears a closer look. In the following season, he was trying to make himself a viable candidate for playing time around the infield, particularly at third base. Drafted by the Yanks in the fifth round in 2012, Rob seemed to be a lock to be the starter at second midseason in ’15 during a callup in which he played against the Red Sox and hit a long home run over the Green Monster. But he was returned to AAA at the All Star break, not to return until September 1. Overall, he hit .302 with two home runs and five rbi’s in 16 games. Although he became more versatile in 2016, playing the corner outfield spots, second and first base, his power deserted him, with 12 rbi’s and no long balls in 58 games; Rob was traded to Toronto for first baseman Ryan McBroom in July 2017, and played 40 games with Tampa Bay in 2018.
Other baseball birthdays: Righty Mel Queen (1942), who won 20 games while losing 17 for the Reds and the Angels from 1966-1972; Kevin Seitzer (1962); Shane Reynolds (1968); Jesus Tavares (1971); Jason Maxwell (1972); Jason Dubois (1979); Josh Wilson (1981); Marcus Hatley (1988); Jeff Bandy (1990); Hernan Perez (1991); Matt Davidson (1991); Michael Taylor (1991); Rob Zastryzny (1992); and Trevor Oaks (1993).
Players Born This Day