Songwriter Patty Smith Hill, author of no less famous a tune than Happy Birthday to You, was born on March 27, 1868, so today we lead off with one Yankee birthday, and there are few bigger than that of Hall of Fame Yankee Manager Miller Huggins (1879). He managed five years in St. Louis and 12 in New York, spanning the years the Yanks played in the Polo Grounds and then across the Harlem River once the Bombers opened their jewel in the Bronx. His Yankee teams won six AL pennants and three World Series, including the record franchise’s first.
We’ll cover yet another Yankee March 27 birth here, because it coincides with a transaction, and provides a bit of a cautionary tale as well. It sometimes seems that the notion that baseball is more a business than a game is a recent phenomenon, one Yankee fans had to grapple with with the loss of longtime Yankee Andy Pettitte to Houston early in the new Millennium. Bombers righthander Steve Sundra (1910), who would later become the toast of the town, started his career in New York in 1936. He failed to make the squad the following year, but was back in 1938. When he fashioned an 11-1 record in 1939, his overall mark stood at 17-5 with two saves. But in 1940 he struggled, falling to 4-6, and on March 27, 1941, his contract was sold to Washington. That deal was finalized on his 31st birthday.
Righthanded outfielder Andy Kosco enjoyed a mildly successful major league career, with 73 home runs and 267 rbi’s from 1965-1974. Once the Yankees grabbed him from the Oakland A’s in the ’67 rule-5 draft, he was one of several counted on to fill the hole in the Yankee outfield left by the aging Mickey Mantle‘s move to first base, and Kosco backed Mantle at that infield defensive position too. But he was traded away in December (for lefty Mike Kekich, and that’s another story). Andy was moving to his fifth team since the Yankee stint when the Red Sox traded him and Phil Gagliano to Cinncy for pitcher Mel Behney on March 27, 1973.
The thing that made the Yankees/Astros preseason tilt on March 27, 2005, interesting was that the Pinstripers would be facing ex-teammate Andy Pettitte. The veteran southpaw allowed but one hit the first time through the lineup, but Derek Jeter tripled and Alex Rodriguez homered with two down in the third. The Yanks took the ballgame 7-4.
On March 27, 2016, the Yankees optioned second baseman Rob Refsnyder to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Also, righthander Matt Wotherspoon was assigned to the Yankees.
Righthander Radley Haddad was assigned to the Yankees on March 27, 2014.
In a quick turnaround, the Yankees designated righty Dan Otero for assignment on March 27, 2013, then claimed righthander Sam Demel off waivers from the Houston Astros.
On March 27, 2011, lefthander Wilkins Arias; righties Amaury Sanit, Kevin Whelan, Tim Norton, and Francisco Gil; and outfielder Abraham Almonte were assigned to the Yankees. In addition, righthanded pitcher Lance Pendleton was returned to the Yankees from the Houston Astros, and the Braves released one-time Yankee reliever Scott Proctor.
Player movement increases at the end of March with seasons about to begin, and quite a few former and future Yankee players have been involved on March 27. On this day in 1993, the Marlins acquired lefty reliever Chris Hammond from the Reds. Two of the five principals in a 1992 Brewers/Padres swap were infielder (at the time) Gary Sheffield, moving to the West Coast and the National League, with hurler Ricky Bones heading the other way, to Milwaukee. (Bones would stay in Milwaukee until, during a particularly ineffective 1996 season, he would be offered to the Yanks as compensation after the Brewers sent never-to-play Pat Listach [out with a broken foot] to New York in the Bob Wickman trade.) And the Mets basically stole David Cone from the Royals on March 27, 1987, as they sent catcher Ed Hearn in return. Cone also made the March 27 news in 1992, though he would certainly rather not have. Three women charged the former Mets righty with exposing himself while in the Mets bullpen that day.
The Yankees reassigned infielders Cody Ransom and Bernie Castro; outfielders Jason Lane, Greg Porter, and Brett Gardner; and catcher Jason Brown to Minor League camp on April 27, 2008. Ransom and Gardner would spend significant innings in the bigs in the coming season, and Gardner has been the starting left fielder (sometimes center fielder) largely since.
Speaking of late March roster moves, the Yanks packaged hurler Colter Bean to AAA Columbus, and pitchers Mark Corey and Dusty Bergman to their minor league camp, on March 27, 2006.
Legendary New York Giants Manager John McGraw had many a memorable day in his baseball career, with 10 pennants and three World Series wins. But he had but two seasons left when he made the wildly incorrect prediction that nighttime baseball was doomed to failure, on March 27, 1931.
The lone Yankee player to have died on March 27 was lefty-hitting outfielder Frank Gleich (1949), who had all 45 of his big-league at bats during 29 games he played with the 1919-1920 Yankees. He reached no fences, but drove in four runs.
It pays to think “lefty” when considering nonYankee players to die March 27, as the list includes two southpaws, a portsided first sacker, and an outfielder who threw with his left hand. The most recognizable outfielder is Dutch Zwilling (1978), who hit 30 home runs with 202 rbi’s with the White Sox, the Whalers, and the Cubs in 1910 and from 1914-1916. First baseman Joe Start (1927) played for five teams from 1876-1886, mostly with the Chicago White Stockings. Start hit seven home runs and drove 357 runs across home plate. Hurler Toad Ramsey (1906) pitched for the Colonels and the Browns from 1885-1890, with 114 wins and 124 losses; and Chet Nichols (1995) posted a 34-36-10 mark with the Braves, the Red Sox, and the Reds from 1951-1956 and 1960-1964.
Players Who Have Died This Day
We mentioned ex-Yankee Manager Miller Huggins (1879) and righty Steve Sundra (1910) in the March 27 Yankee birthday context above. Huggins posted a 1,067-719 record piloting the Yanks. Of Sundra’s career 56-41 record, 21-11 of it was in New York. Also in that vein, starting pitcher Lynn McGlothen (1950) made his last four appearances, and none other, for the Yanks in 1982, all in relief. He was signed as a Yankee free agent in May 1982 and was released that September.
Bill Sudakis (1946), predominantly a Dodger, played 89 games at third base for the Yanks in 1974. The Bombers got him from Texas on Pearl Harbor Day in 1973, and traded him to California for Skip Lockwood 361 days later. Bill hit seven homers with 39 rbi’s in New York.
Joe Lucey (1897), who never settled on a position in 13 major league games, got his start with the 1920 Yanks, for whom he had three at bats in three games, one playing shortstop, one second base, and the other undetermined. Lucey then played 10 games for the Red Sox in 1925, seven of them as a pitcher.
Other birthdays: Wes Covington (1932); Vic Harris (1933); Dick Ruthven (1951); Jaime Navarro (1967); Adam Melhuse (1972); Creighton Gubanich (1972); Dee Brown (1978); Mike Cuddyer (1979); Johnny Monell (1986); catcher Buster Posey (1987), who, aside from stellar work behind the plate on three championship teams for the Giants, made a name for himself when he once played all nine positions in a nine-inning game in the minors; Ryne Harper (1989); Matt Harvey (1989); Junior Lake (1990); Jake Esch (1990); Montana DuRapau (1992); Jake Odorizzi (1990); Brandon Nimmo (1993); Clay Holmes (1993); and Eric Stout (1993).
Players Born This Day