The good times continued to roll in Tampa as the Yankees outlasted the visiting Rays, 4-3, on March 9, 2015, behind stellar pitching from Michael Pineda, Nate Eovaldi, David Carpenter, and Justin Wilson, but the best news of the day was two hits and an rbi from DH Alex Rodriguez and an rbi double from Greg Bird.
The 12-7 thrashing at the hands of the Pirates on March 9, 2010 in Tampa was one of those Spring Training games that was filled with potential indications of things to come that would not take place. CC Sabathia and Boone Logan were reached for four runs each in the first and ninth innings, respectively, Nick Johnson homered his first two times to the plate, and Jon Weber had another big offensive day, with two doubles, two runs driven in and one scored. Both Johnson and Weber caused all that damage batting second as the two DHs the Bombers used that day.
After an injury-plagued and frustrating 1935 season with the Boston Braves during which the elusive managing job he craved eluded his grasp yet again, Babe Ruth had given up. On March 9, 1936, he turned down an offer from the Cincinnati Reds to stage a comeback, an offer that once again hinted at a behind-the-bench opportunity.
On March 9, 2018, the Yankees optioned righthanders Albert Abreu and Jonathan Loaisiga to the Tampa Tarpons.
On March 9, 2016, the Yankees signed free agent shortstop Borinquen Mendez to a minor league contract.
On March 9, 2014, the Yankees optioned righty Jose Ramirez to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. A starter there the season before, Jose was moved to the pen and, recovering from am injury, would pitch in nine games in AAA later in 2014, and eight games with the big club in the Bronx.
Former Yankee infielder Randy Velarde was training with the Angels on March 9, 1997, when he tore a ligament in his right elbow while throwing from the outfield. He would miss the season.
Babe Dahlgren, another former Yankee who is famous for having been the man who supplanted Lou Gehrig at first base when the Iron Horse’s streak came to an end, was joining his fourth team in less than two years when he was traded to the Phils by the Dodgers for Lloyd Waner and Al Glossop on March 9, 1943. He was just four years removed from his starting job in the Bronx.
With a guaranteed contract off a solid 2011 season, Freddy Garcia went the first three innings in a 3-0 Yankee win over Atlanta in George M. Steinbrrenner Field on March 9, 2012. Rafael Soriano and Manny Banuelos followed with scoreless innings, and the rbi’s were delivered by Nick Swisher in the first, Robinson Cano in the fifth, and Melky Mesa in the seventh.
It was creepy looking back at the 2006 Yankee season that was brought to a too early conclusion to see that there was a prefiguring of the Kenny Rogers effective start that killed their ALDS chances against Detroit. The Yanks faced the veteran lefty on March 9, 2006, in Legends Field. Although the Yanks had routinely hammered Rogers in start after start since he had been a member of the team in the mid-nineties, he held them to one run in three innings while the Tigers jumped on Randy Johnson for five runs.
The bad news for March 9 Spring Training games the Yanks have played in the last decade has revolved around one bad pitching performance among many. In 2000, righty Darrell Einertson allowed seven hits to the first 10 Phillies he faced in a 5-2 loss in Clearwater where Hank Bauer and Darren Daulton were the Phillies’ guests on the day. One year later, reliever Matt Karchner solidified his status as a pitcher with no chance to travel north when he surrendered all three runs in his only inning in a 4-3 win over Tampa Bay.
But neither of those meltdowns approach the implosion suffered by southpaw Gabe White in an afternoon Legends Field tilt vs. the Braves on March 9, 2004. Marcus Giles stroked White’s first delivery starting the third inning (in relief of Mike Mussina) for a homer, and by the time the smoke cleared Atlanta had seven big runs on a walk and six hits, including J. D. Drew and Johnny Estrada bombs, the latter a grand slam. Then White finally recorded an out.
But Tanyon Sturtze turned in a fine performance in Legends Field on this day in 2002, He allowed just three hits and struck out four in four shutout innings in a 2-0 win. Unfortunately, Sturtze was with the Devil Rays then, so the game was a Yankee loss.
Clearing some room in camp, the Yankees reassigned righthanders J.B. Cox, George Kontos, and Kanekoa Texeira to minor league camp on March 9, 2009. And righty Andrew Brackman was optioned to Single-A Charleston.
With the exception of some naming switches and the move of the Expos to Washington for 2005, the major leagues reached their current configuration when the teams voted on March 9, 1997, to admit the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks into the fold for the 1998 season.
The end result of huge clerical errors made in the Boston front office was the need to trade Fred Lynn away, along with the free agent signing of catcher Carlton Fisk to a contract by the White Sox on March 9, 1981.
The team in Cleveland was known as the Spiders when they signed Louis Sockalexis, a full-blooded Penobscot Indian, to a contract on March 9, 1897. Inspired by his all-around play, fans began referring to the team as the Indians, even though Sockalexis played only parts of three seasons there. “Indians” became the club’s official nickname in 1915.
Lefty-hitting catcher Aaron Robinson (1966) is the more accomplished of two Yankee players who have died on March 9. Debuting in New York in 1943 and from 1945-1947, Robinson used 743 at bats in 233 games to accumulate 29 long balls and 124 rbi’s. He roughly doubled those numbers from 1948-1951, mostly with Detroit, and finished with 61 homers, 272 rbi’s. Righthander Jim Hardin (1991) lost his only two decisions in 12 games (three starts) for the 1971 Yanks. From 1967-1972 he posted a 43-32 record with four saves, much of it with Baltimore.
Two first baseman, one lefty and one righty, along with a righthanded pitcher, comprise the rest of the March 9 player of interest death list. Zeke Bonura (1987), the righty, hit 119 home runs with 704 rbi’s from 1934-1940, playing most of his games with the White Sox. Portsider Elbie Fletcher (1994) played mostly with the Pirates from 1934-1949, and cleared 79 fences good for 851 career runs driven in. Cubs righty Bill Hands (2017) from 1965 through 1972, who finished up hurling for the Twins and Rangers until 1975, posted a 111-110 mark with 14 saves overall.
Players Who Have Died This Day
The hero of the 2003 ALCS, Aaron Boone (1973) is the first of 12 March 9 Yankee birthdays. After injuring his knee playing basketball in the offseason after his ’03 heroics, Aaron was then released and eventually replaced at the Yankee hot corner by the incomparable Alex Rodrguez. Boone hit six taters, notched 31 rbi’s, and stole eight bases in 2003 after being acquired from the Reds for lefty pitching prospect Brandon Claussen. And now in 2018, he takes the helm as new Yankee manager.
Terry Mulholland (1963) and his lefthanded starter’s arm arrived in New York on February 9, 1994, in a trade with the Phillies for Bobby Munoz. Terry never fired in the Bronx, with a 6-7 record that deserved to be worse, but he used southpaw credentials to eke out an almost 20-year career in the bigs, almost all of it, with the exception of his Pinstriped pause, in the National League.
Infielder Bert Campaneris (1942) crowned a 20-year career in the bigs with the 1983 Yanks, for whom he batted .322 with 11 rbi’s and six steals in 60 games. He was signed to a free agent contract in February 1983, and was released following that season. A versatile player, “Campy” once played all nine positions in the same game with Kansas City in 1965.
Although Jackie Jensen (1927) hit nine homers with 31 rbi’s and 13 steals starting his career with the 1950-1952 Bombers, this is a rare story of a player shared by the Yanks and the Red Sox who played much better in Fenway. Jensen starred in Boston from 1954-1961, where he won the 1958 AL MVP Award. The Yanks traded Jensen to Washington with Spec Shea, Jerry Snyder, and Archie Wilson for Irv Noren and Tom Upton in May 1952. In December 1953, the Senators got Mickey McDermott and Tom Umphlett from the Red Sox for Jensen.
And outfielder Myril Hoag (1908) played well in the Bronx in his big-league debut, smacking 11 homers, 185 rbi’s, and 17 stolen bases from 1931-1938 until he was traded with Joe Glenn to the St. Louis Browns for Oral Hildebrand and Buster Mills in October 1938. Hoag played eight years with the Browns, the White Sox, and the Indians before retiring in 1945.
Southpaw Wayne Franklin (1974) lost one game in 13 appearances out of the Yankee pen once he was signed as a free agent in April 2005. He was not retained after that season. He has a 14-16 record after seven major league seasons.
Southpaw reliever Clay Rapada (1981), the newest Yankee March 9 birthday celebrant, was a significant addition to the 2012 squad, a LOOGY who went 3-0 in 70 appearances, many of them to face just one or a few batters. As is common with the career of a lefty specialist, Clay has pitched to an overall 8-0 record since 2007 with five clubs, the Cubs, the Tigers, the Rangers, the Orioles, then the Yanks; and four games with Cleveland in 2013.
The last four birthdaying Bombers had less significant stats than the five we’ve mentioned. Portsided reliever C.J. Nitkowski (1973) signed on with the Yanks as a free agent in 2004 in the wake of the repeated failures by lefties Gabe White and Felix Heredia. Nitkowski posted a 1-1 record in 19 games, but he did not make the postseason roster. Lefty-hitting outfielder Frank Kane (1895) had one at bat in one game for the 1919 Yanks to end a career that featured just three other games, all of them with the 1915 Brooklyn Tip-Tops of the Federal League.
Righty George Davis (1890) went 1-4 in 10 games (seven starts) for the 1912 Highlanders and followed with three seasons with the Boston Braves, who purchased his contract from the Highlanders in December 1912. Elmer Bliss (1875) managed to play two different positions in two different seasons for the Yanks in his only major-league action while playing in only two games. He went 1-0 in one mound appearance with the 1903 club; then went 0-for-4 as an outfielder in his only game with the 1904 Yanks.
Catcher Koyie Hill (1979) signed a free agent contract with the Yankees in 2006. After a three-game cup of coffee with the 2003 Dodgers, Hill, who hit one home run with 12 rbi’s in almost 50 games with the ’04-’05 D’backs, hasn’t played with the Yankee parent club. A solid journeyman backup now, Koyie spent 2007-2012 with the Cubs, and has played with the Marlins and Phillies since.
One of the factors that contributed to baseball taking the country by storm around the turn of the 20th Century was a trove of superb baseball writing. Perhaps our first great baseball scribe, Ring Lardner, was born on March 9, 1885.
Other baseball birthdays for March 9 begin with Hall of Fame shortstop with the Pirates and the Dodgers Arky Vaughn (1912); outfielder and manager Billy Southworth (1893), who won two World Series and one National League pennant guiding the Cardinals; Ron Kline (1932); Jim Landis (1934); John Curtis (1948); Shooty Babitt (1959); Benito Santiago (1965); Willy Aybar (1983); Elliot Johnson (1983); Craig Stammen (1984); Jesse Litsch (1985); Brian Bocock (1985); Daniel Hudson (1987); Kenny Roberts (1988).
Players Born This Day