The story tells itself once the names of the two Yankee players involved are mentioned, I’m sure. It was more than 30 years ago today that hurlers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich decided to swap wives (more like families, actually) in Spring Training. Some point out that the story had a happier outcome for Fritz, for he was with the ex-Mrs. Kekich for many years, while the other couple did not last a month. But although it’s true that Fritz also lasted longer in the Bronx after the incident, neither lasted long. Both were banished to Cleveland in trades, though at different times so they were not teammates again.
Although we sadly had to leave the March 5, 2017, battle with the Pirates in GMS Field after five with the Yanks up 1-0 on a Matt Holliday double, an error, and a wild pitch, the Bombers would score late to win a tight one, 3-2. Unfortunately, our flight back North was not willing to wait for the end of the game. We did get to see Masahiro Tanaka strike out four over three innings, and the home team extended their record to 9-2.
Youth was served in a 6-4 Yankee win over the visiting Red Sox at George M. Steinbrenner Field on March 5, 2016, as Jorge Mateo‘s two-run third-inning homer opened the home team scoring and Aaron Judge delivered three more with a moon shot over the right field wall in the seventh.
In a sign of just how much a part baseball played in American culture mid-20th Century, the entertainment newspaper Variety took time on March 5, 1942, to deride the “droopy drawers” that were all the rage among ballplayers. The two nominal targets of their frustration both played in New York, the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio and Carl Hubbell of the Giants.
The Washington Nationals came to Tampa on March 5, 2011, and although they tried their best to hand the Yanks a win with their sloppy play, the hosts refused to accept the gift. Once Brett Gardner led off the home fourth with a double, infield errors around a walk set it up, and the four rbi hits in succession gave the Yanks an eight-run inning. But the visitors scored in five innings to the Bombers one, and left with a 10-8 victory.
If Joba Chamberlain wants to get past the initial upset of his showing up heavier than expected for 2011 Spring Training, he would do well to either call in sick on March 5, or change the impression he has given with outings that day in back-to-back years. The Tampa Rays took a 1-0 lead they grabbed off Phil Hughes, nominally battling Chamberlain for a spot in the starting rotation, on March 5, 2010, and increased it to 7-0, with five of six runs in the third and fourth innings being charged to Joba. The Yanks actually made it a game with a six-run seventh keyed by Eduardo Nunez, Juan Miranda, and Kevin Russo doubles, but the Rays closed strong for a 12-7 win.
It was a day Joba Chamberlain would just as soon forget when the Yanks had their second [bad] 2009 taste of World Baseball Classic play in a 6-0 loss to Team Canada on March 5, 2009. Joba allowed a four-pitch walk, single, walk, walk, and walk before Jonathan Albaladejo crowned the six-run top of the first by allowing a two-run Matt Stairs double, a sac fly and a single. The scoring, and just about all of the offense, was over, and the Yanks fell, 6-0.
Robbie Cano and Wilson Betemit doubles got a three-run second started and Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu rbi singles around a Derek Jeter walk finished it off in a March 5, 2008 Legends Field tilt vs. the Twins, but the visitors gave the Yanks their first loss of the campaign when they tallied three in the eighth against Chris Britton in a 7-5 Twins victory.
Other March 5 Yankee Spring Training highlights include the five-run third inning the Bombers managed off Kevin Millwood of the Braves on seven hits in 2001, and the six tallies they got off the same righty, at the time of this game with the Phillies, in 2004. Jason Giambi highlighted the latter uprising with a grand slam. On the other end of the spectrum, 1998 Bombers prospect Mike Jerzembeck, whose career would be derailed by a freak injury on a throw from catcher to second base, was slapped around for six runs on three hits and three walks by the Blue Jays on this day in 1999.
The highlight of the Yanks’ 3-2 win over the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., on March 5, 2006, was the 1.33 innings turned in by hard-throwing youngster Phillip Hughes. Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui keyed the offense, and Jeff Karstens had a good outing holding down the Jays in the latter innings.
Early results on the March 5, 2007 Yankee game vs. the Tigers in Legends Field were mixed: The debuting signee Kei Igawa established the lack of strike zone command he was to show all year in allowing two runs on two hits and three walks while taking 40 pitches to get three outs to start, but Mariano Rivera had a 13-pitch, two-strike-out third inning during which he made a fine play too. The day had a successful ending for Yankee fans for two reasons: Bronson Sardinha hit a two-out, two-run walkoff home run to right for a 6-5 Yankee win; and he did so against ex-Yankee southpaw reliever Felix Heredia.
On March 5, 2015, four minor leaguers were assigned to the Yankees: lefthander Fred Lewis, shortstop Tyler Wade, and righthanders Cesar Vargas and Taylor Garrison.
On March 5, 2013, the Yankees optioned David Adams to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, an indication to many that he did not figure in that year’s plans. Key injuries altered that viewpoint.
Standing at 297 wins, Gaylord Perry signed with the Seattle Mariners on March 5, 1982. He had gone 4 and 4 for the 1980 Yanks in 10 games (eight starts), but he would show no compunction little more than 14 months later when on May 6 he became the 15th pitcher to win 300 career games, by beating the Yankees 7-3.
Other March 5 player moves affecting former or future Yankees included Rick Cerone‘s being traded by the Braves to the Brewers in 1986; and the auto accident that injured Don Zimmer along with his Dodger teammates Duke Snider and Johnny Podres in 1958.
In a similar vein, two guys with Yankee connections made the headlines this day. Dodgers President Larry MacPhail, who would hold the same title for the Yankees five years later, decreed on March 5, 1941, that all his players had to live in Brooklyn. And when the Cardinals were beaten by the Cuban All Stars in Havana on this day in 1936, the home team’s starting pitcher was Luis Tiant, Sr. (father of Luis Tiant, Jr., who would star for the Indians, the Red Sox, and the Yanks).
There were March 5 elections to the Hall of Fame in both 1996 and in 1997. The honoress in the former year included former Orioles Manager Earl Weaver; pitcher Jim Bunning, who won more than 100 games in each league; 19th Century Manager Ned Hanlon; and Negro Leagues pitcher Bill Foster.
In 1997, White Sox backstop Nellie Fox, long-time Dodgers skipper Tommy LaSorda, and former Negro Leagues star Willie Wells were honored.
Many fans have heard of Pete Gray, who played the outfield with one arm during World War II, but Bert Shepard‘s tale is amazing as well. With his right leg amputated after his fighter went down in the same war, he taught himself to pitch with an artificial limb, and went to camp with the Senators trying to make the squad on March 5, 1945. Named a coach, he bailed out an overworked staff by pitching 5.3 innings against the Red Sox on August 4 of that year, allowing just one run on three hits, in a 14-5 loss.
No Yankee players have died on March 5.
St. Louis Cardinal outfielder/third baseman Pepper Martin, who hit 59 home runs good for 501 rbi’s while playing 13 seasons between 1928 and 1944, died on March 5, 1965. Martin is joined on the noteworthy nonYankee player death list by a righty pitcher and three infielders. Dave Foutz (1897) won 147 games, lost 66, and saved four pitching for the 1884-1887 St. Louis Browns, the 1888 Trolley Dodgers, and the 1889-1894 Bridegrooms; and third baseman Jim Donnelly (1915) hit two homers and drove in 237 runs from 1884-1898 playing for nine different clubs, primarily the Senators and the Browns. Portsided first baseman Les Fleming (1980) hit 29 long balls and knocked in 199 runs from 1939-1949, much of it with Cleveland; and infielder Roy Hughes (1995) cleared five fences good for 205 rbi’s from 1935-1946 playing for the Indians, the Pirates, the Browns, and the Cubs.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Most recently a Marlins, Padres, and Dodgers starter in the NL , Kevin Brown (1966) followed up a forgettable (I wish) 2004 season with the Yanks with more of the same in 2005. The Yanks shipped Jeff Weaver, Yhency Brazoban, and another minor leaguer to L.A. for Kevin after the 2003 season.
After 10 years in the K.C. Royals’ organization and one with the Phillies, righthander Doug Bird (1950) signed a free agent deal in New York in April 1980. After pitching to an 8-1 mark for the ’80-’81 Yanks, Bird was traded with Mike Griffin and cash in June 1981 to the Chicago Cubs for Rick Reuschel.
Lefty-hitting outfielder Elmer Valo (1921), who played with the A’s in Philly for much of his 1940-1961 career, scored a run in five at bats for the 1960 Yankees. He signed on as a free agent in December 1959, and was released the following May. Third sacker Don Savage‘s (1919) 1944 and 1945 seasons with the Yanks were his only ones. He hit four homers, notched 27 rbi’s, and stole two bases. Catcher Chick Autry‘s (1903) six-year career officially began with the 1924 Yanks; he played two games, had no at bats, but managed to score a run.
And finally catcher Walt Alexander (1891) closed out his career with the 1915-1917 Yanks, with one homer, 12 rbi’s, and three steals. From 1912-1915, he played in St. Louis with the Browns, the team from which the Yankees purchased him in July 1915. The bonus player is outfielder Jim Gleeson (1912), who spent some time with the Yanks (for whom he never played in the bigs) after a stint in Cleveland. The Bombers sold him to the Cubs in January 1939. In a career that spanned 1936-1941 with the Indians, the Cubs, and the Reds, Gleeson hit 16 homers and knocked in 154 runs.
Hall Of Fame lefty outfielder for the Phillies (mostly) Sam Thompson (1860) was born on March 5. Some other very good ballplayers were born today: New York Giants righty Jeff Tesreau (1889) went 115-72 from 1912-1918. Virgil Barnes (1897) posted a 61-59 record from 1919-1928, also with the Giants; Pirates reliever Kent Tekulve (1947); Milwaukee catcher Del Crandall (1930); infielder Phil Roof (1947); Steve Ontiveros (1961); Jose Mercedes (1971); Jeffrey Hammonds (1971); Chad Fonville (1971); Ryan Franklin (1973); Felipe Crespo (1973); White Sox banger Paul Konerko (1976); Mike MacDougal (1977); Mike Hessman (1978); Eric Bedard (1979); Francisley Bueno (1989); Brad Mills (1985); Joe Benson (1988); Hector Gomez (1988); L.J. Hoes (1990); Ben Lively (1992); and Kyle Schwarber (1993).
Players Born This Day