The Yankees ended a stellar 10-day start to their 2018 Spring Training season with a stinker, as Tampa Bay came to GMS Field and pounded the home team 9-1. Ex-Yank Nate Eovaldi was strong in starting the game for the Rays, as he would be vs New York for the Red Sox seven months later. Righthander Ben Heller did a great job relieving Aroldis Chapman in the third by whiffing three straight, but his luck ran out there, as the next five Tampa batters reached safely, with three of them scoring. The rout was on.
The Yankees got back to winning in a big way on March 4, 2017, pounding the Tigers 11-1 in Lakeland, Florida, though Detroit pitching helped, issuing nine walks to go with the 13 hits from the visitors. Both right fielder Aaron Hicks and catcher Gary Sanchez stroked two-run bombs, with Sanchez earning a third rbi when he received one of those free passes with the bases loaded in the four-run fifth. Anchoring the ninth spot in the order, center fielders Dustin Fowler and Rashad Crawford had big hits, with Fowler scoring twice and Crawford driving in two. Yankee pitching struck out 11 Bengal batters, with starter Michael Pineda whiffing four straight, all swinging, spanning the first and second frames.
The Yankees spent a gorgeous day in Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida, losing 3-0 to the Tigers on March 4, 2016. The offense was limited to five singles and a Didi Gregorius double, but the pitching was solid, except for Vinnie Pestano, who followed starter Bryan Mitchell‘s two scoreless frames by surrendering a hit by pitch, a walk, and Miguel Cabrera‘s three-run jolt. Kirby Yates followed with a perfect fourth, and James Kaprelian and Luis Cessa went two scoreless apiece.
The Yanks hosted the Orioles at a very pleasant night game on March 4, 2014, but five hits and two runs (around a double play) in the bottom of the second morphed to two singles the rest of the way. David Phelps allowed one run and retired eight to start the game, but two singles, a hit by pitch, a walk, and a fielder’s choice off Chase Whitley in the seventh closed out the scoring in the O’s 3-2 win. Francisco Cervelli had his second home run, and a remarkable half a year from free agent infielder Yangervis Solarte had one of many early highlights with a two-out rbi single.
You don’t usually lose a job with a poor March 4 performance, particularly if you’re a veteran, but Boone Logan had some Yankee fans hoppin’ mad that day in 2011 when his ugly three-run seventh inning in GMS Field handed the visiting Red Sox a 5-3 win. The Yanks equaled an early tally with Mark Teixiera and Robinson Cano doubles, but their bottom-of-the-ninth, two-run rally fell short.
Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia spun two scoreless innings apiece in Clearwater on March 4, 2010, in what was announced as the 64th straight year the Phillies have held Spring Training in that Florida West Coast city. The home team pushed across a run in the seventh, but current Yankee uber-prospect Jesus Montero keyed a two-run rally in the ninth inning with a leadoff single, with David Winfree and Jose Gil driving in runs. Unfortunately, however, lefty Wilkins Arias allowed two hits sandwiched between a pop out and strike out, then gave up a game-losing single, 3-2 Phillies.
On March 4, 1913, the Yanks became the first club to train outside the U.S., as they set up camp in Bermuda.
Phil Hughes, wearing number 34 for the first time, threw just 11 pitches in getting four outs in a rain-shortened 2-0 Yankee victory over the Blue Jays in Knology Filed in Dunedin on March 4, 2008. Driven from the field by a sudden storm, Hughes would finish his work under cover, as the Yanks eked out a five-inning win (before the rains came again) on doubles by Shelley Duncan in the second and Jason Giambi in the fourth.
Former Dodger shortstop Pee Wee Reese and Browns, Red Sox, and Senators catcher Rick Ferrell were elected to the Hall of Fame on March 4, 1984. The frustration of the legion of Yankee Phil Rizzuto fans grew as his Brooklyn counterpart made the Hall and Phil did not. The election of Ferrell, too, has served as grist for many fans unhappy their favorite stars haven’t made it.
Even the most diehard of Yankee fans could not take any pride in the 2-1 victory over the Mets in a Spring Training exhibition game on March 4, 1995, as both teams were populated by replacement players.
On March 4, 2018, first baseman Chris Gittens was assigned to the Yankees.
The Yankees signed free agent infielder Mat Gamel to a minor league contract on March 4, 2015, although they would release him later that month.
First, perhaps, among March 4 Yankee spring highlights on the field of play was the second (and last) day of the Nick Johnson experiment in left field in 2002, as the Yanks fell 4-3 to the Twins, as Mike Stanton allowed all four tallies in an ugly fifth inning. On the same day in ’99, the Yanks took their Legends Field Opener 4-2 over Toronto on Chili Davis, Jorge Posada, and Shane Spencer rbi’s. The only Bomber highlight in a 4-1 March 4, 2004 loss to the Phillies in Clearwater was a rare Yankee Mike Lamb rbi. Lamb was acquired once Aaron Boone was lost to an off season injury, but the acquisition of Alex Rodriguez hastened the end of Lamb’s stay with the team. Johnson, by the way, returns to the team in 2010.
The highlight of the Yanks’ 10-5 win over the Phillies in Clearwater on March 4, 2007 was what Melky Cabrera and Bronson Sardinha combined to do in the seventh spot in the Yankee order. Cabrera singled three times and scored. Then Sardinha scored after running for Melky, and followed up with two more singles, scored again and drove in two runs.
The 4-1 loss to the Reds on March 4, 2006, was frustrating in that it was just more of the same with Yankee southpaw Randy Johnson. Johnson struck out two while allowing three hits over three frames, but the hits were a booming home run to left in the first, and back-to-back doubles off the left field wall in the third.
The playing of Enter Sandman by Metallica in Yankee stadium thrills the throng of Mariano Rivera fans. Metallica bass player Jason Newsted was born on March 4, 1963.
Former NBA phenom Michael Jordan bounced out to Texas pitcher Darren Oliver in his first Spring Training at bat in his quest to conquer baseball on March 4, 1994.
After a long series of woefully poor seasons, the Phillies hit on the idea of holding a contest to pick a new name. The winning suggestion, announced on March 4, 1944, was the Philadelphia Blue Jays. But back-to-back last place finishes in 1944 and 1945 (with 108 defeats in the latter campaign) caused them to abandon the idea.
Of the three Yankee players to have died on March 3, we’ll mention George Mogridge (1962) first because he threw the first no-hitter for the franchise. George, who won 48, lost 55 and saved eight in New York from 1915-1920, posted a 132-131-20 record in 1911-1912 and 1915-1927 overall, much of it with Washington. Lefthanded outfielder Larry Rosenthal (1992) knocked in nine runs during 36 games for the 1944 Yanks; in eight years, much of it with the White Sox, Larry cleared 22 fences good for 189 rbi’s. Although outfielder Kiddo Davis (1983) debuted with the 1926 Yankees, he did so while making no plays and having no at bats in one game. From 1932-1938 Davis hit 19 home runs with 171 rbi’s, much of it in New York with the Giants.
The March 4 death of Hall of Famer John Montgomery Ward (1925) leads a list of five non-Yanks. Both a pitcher and a position player, Ward posted a 164-102 record with three saves for the Grays and the Gothams from 1878-1884, but he also kicked in with 26 home runs with 867 rbi’s. Righthander Jack Taylor (1938) won 152 with 139 losses and five saves from 1898-1907, much of it with the Orphans, the Cubs, and the Cardinals. Southpaw Watty Clark (1972) posted most of his 111 wins, 97 losses, and 16 saves from 1924-1937 with the Dodgers; and righthander Les Sweetland (1974) went 33-58-4 with the 1927-1930 Phillies and the 1931 Cubs. And lefty-hitting, righty-throwing first baseman Don Mincher (2012) hit 200 home runs with 643 rbi’s, most notably with the Twins, but also with significant stops in Anaheim and Oakland, from 1960-1972.
Players Who Have Died This Day
We’ll start the list of Yankee birthdays with Hall of Famer Dazzy Vance, born on March 4, 1891. His career gives rare clear evidence that pitchers weren’t always better in “the good old days” when fewer pitchers threw many more innings, starting games with few days’ rest in between. Dazzy may never have made it had his managers not finally settled on a usage strategy that allowed him four full days’ rest in between starts. He went 0-4 in 10 games with the Yanks in 1915 and 1918 once they bought his contract from Pittsburgh in April 1915. Once he left the Yanks and “less is more” became a successful gameplan, he led the NL in strike outs seven straight years, and finished up with a 197-140 record.
Mel Queen (1918) went 8-4 for the Yanks over four years in the forties. They sold his contract to the Pirates in June 1947, and he pitched to a 27-40 career mark with one save.
Lefty O’Doul (born March 4, 1897) threw 11 games in Pinstripes in 1919-1922. O’Doul was traded by the Yankees with Chick Fewster, Elmer Miller, Johnny Mitchell, and cash in July 1922 to the Red Sox for Joe Dugan and Elmer Smith. Lefty became popular in San Francisco, and is given some credit for getting Joe DiMaggio to the Bronx. He was also beloved and a “father of baseball” in Japan after leading many groups to tour that Asian nation.
Righthander Neal Brady (1897) went 1-0 with the Yankees in 1915 and 1917 before finishing up with the 1925 Cincinnati Reds to an overall mark of 2-3 with one save. And finally, White Sox third baseman Lorenzo Gray (1958), who was purchased by the Yanks from Cleveland before the 1985 season, only to be released a year later without playing for them, hit one home run and drove in four runs overall.
The Yankees signed free agent southpaw José de Paula (1988), who bats righty should it ever come up, in November 2014, after he was released by the Giants who had grabbed him from the Padres, a team that signed him in 2006. He pitched 3.33 innings in one game for the 2015 Yanks, allowing one run on two hits, but four walks, although the run was scored with a home run. With a 0-0 record in his only major league action, de Paula was released in November 2015.
We’ll start the discussion of other birthdaying players with journeyman outfielder Brian Hunter (1968), who was a Tiger in 1997 when the Detroit club came to the Bronx for a twi-night midweek doubleheader to make up a rained out game. I arrived for the first game six innings late, then watched the Bengals beat the Yanks in 17 innings. Hideki Irabu gave the Bombers the split by winning the second game, but the unfortunate Hunter set a record by going 0-for-11 in the double dip.
Others: Jeff Pfeffer (1888), who went 158-112, mostly with Brooklyn, from 1911-1924; Bob Johnson (1936); Jack Fisher (1939); Danny Frisella (1946); Leron Lee (1948); Tom Grieve (1948); Sam Perlozzo (1951); Tom Lampkin (1964); Giovanna Carrara (1968); Lee Tinsley (1969); Dave Stevens (1970); Nerio Rodriguez (1971); Bruce Aven (1972); Tommy Phelps (1974); Hiram Bocachica (1976); Jack Hannahan (1980); Sergio Romo (1983); Michael McKenry (1985); Cory Luebke (1985); Dan Cortes (1987); Ryan Strausborger (1988); Rubby de la Rosa (1989); Richard Rodriguez (1990); and Nick Castellanos (1992).
Players Born This Day