Rookie Mickey Mantle hit his first Stadium home run, knocked in four runs and scored three in an 11-3 thumping of the Indians on May 16, 1951. The Mick’s first Stadium victim was Cleveland’s Dick Rozek.
With a 100-plus-year-old history and more Championships than anyone, it can be difficult for the current team to come up with highlights that rank with some of the best from yesteryear. But the victory the Yanks pulled out over the Rangers on May 16, 2006, ranks with any other. Texas battered Shawn Chacon and took a 9-0 lead in the second. Although he allowed a homer to his first batter, Aaron Small had what may have been his only ’06 highlight as he held the Rangers in for four innings, as the Bombers mounted a comeback. And they took a brief lead in the seventh before a Brad Wilkerson home run gave Texas a late lead. But the Yanks had their best comeback in years when Jorge Posada hit a two-out, two-run, bottom-of-the-ninth walkoff home run for a 14-13 win. Captain Derek Jeter had four hits, a walk, four rbi’s, and three runs scored. And Posada drove in five with the homer, a single, and two sac flies.
The second win of a season-turning four-game sweep of Minnesota came on Saturday, May 16, 2009. The Yanks tied the game 4-4 in the eighth on a Hideki Matsui pinch double and Mark Teixeira‘s single. Three innings later, Alex Rodriguez drilled Craig Breslow‘s 0-1 pitch for a two-run shot and a 6-4 win. Following as it did on the 5-4 win on a three-run ninth-inning rally the night before, crowned by Melky Cabrera‘s two-run single, it had the fanbase beginning to believe.
The precursor to a day of whispers and rumors, fines and trades, happened on May 16, 1956, when Yankee second baseman Billy Martin, celebrating his 28th birthday, was benched in favor of young Bobby Richardson for the first time. The Yanks beat the Indians 4-1 and Mickey Mantle hit one out.
Then it happened, exactly one year later, on May 16, 1957. The Yanks whipped Kansas City 3-0 in Yankee Stadium, as Mickey Mantle homered again. Then several Yanks celebrated Billy Martin‘s 29th birthday at New York’s Cocacabana night club. There was a fight, the police were called, and $5,500 in damages were assessed. The “usual suspects,” Mantle, Martin, Hank Bauer, and Yogi Berra, were fined $1,000 apiece, and Johnny Kucks was set back $500. Billy was soon to be traded.
Any game your team loses with a 3-1 lead at home in the eighth inning is bound to be a painful one, but the 6-3 loss to Minnesota on May 16, 2010 was particularly unpalatable, tarnishing as it did one of the all-time stars. Starter Sergio Mitre was in line for the win after allowing one run in five frames, and David Roberston carried it through the seventh. The initial goat award goes to Joba Chamberlain, as three of the five he faced in the eighth reached and one scored, but Mariano Rivera walked Jim Thome on a full count and Jason Kubel hit a 1-0 grand slam for the 6-3 Twins win. Bummer.
The Yankees tied a record set in 1903 by Cleveland and in 1906 by Boston when they registered their fourth consecutive shutout on May 16, 1932. The Yankee pitchers: Johnny Allen, George Pipgras, Red Ruffing, and Lefty Gomez. Gomez’s 8-0 beaut over the Indians also marked the fifth whitewashing the Yankee staff had spun in its previous seven games.
In a bizarre but effective (and painful) move, left-handed hurler Tommy Byrne of the White Sox pinch-hit for heavy-hitting Vern Stephens and blasted a grand slam home run off Yankee reliever Ewell Blackwell in the ninth inning of a May 16, 1953, contest in Yankee Stadium, climaxing the Chicago comeback to a 5-3 win over the New Yorkers.
The Yankees split a pair with the O’s in front of a big crowd in Memorial Stadium on May 16, 1954. Allie Reynolds held Baltimore to two hits in the 2-0 opening Yankee win, while Don Larsen beat his future mates for the Orioles in the nightcap, 6-2.
David Wells dominated the Devil Rays on a beautiful Thursday night in the Stadium on May 16, 2002, allowing only three hits in a 12-0 Yankee thrashing. The relentless Yankee offense was keyed by homers from Jorge Posada, Nick Johnson, and Bernie Williams.
Cal Eldred used his medically reconstructed right arm to perfection in the Stadium on May 16, 2000, as he held the Yanks to two hits over six and the White Sox blanked el duque Hernandez and the home team, 4-0.
The Yanks squeaked by the Mariners 2-1 on May 16, 2004, in Yankee Stadium, as Kevin Brown outpitched Joel Pineiro. John Flaherty homered in the home fourth and Tony Clark knocked in Bernie Williams the next frame, enough to overcome Ed Spiezio‘s eighth-inning dinger.
Roger Clemens took the Yankee Stadium mound in search of his 299th career victory vs. the Rangers on May 16, 2003. But throwing over 100 pitches, he allowed five runs through five innings while walking five and striking out 10, and left behind 5-3. Raul Mondesi rbi’s in the sixth and eighth knotted the game, but Texas jumped on Juan Acevedo for three tallies on a Hank Blalock double in the top of the 12th and the Rangers won, 8-5.
Mickey Mantle homered for the 13th time in the 1964 season as the Yanks beat Joe Grzenda and the Kansas City A’s 10-6 on May 16.
On this day in 2000 there was a melee set off at Wrigley after a Cubs fan stole Dodger catcher Chad Kreuter‘s cap and hit him in the head. Several Dodgers entered the stands, and arrests were made. The Dodgers would be assessed League-record suspensions.
Yankee hurler Hank Borowy‘s two-year winning streak was halted at 11 games when the White Sox whipped him and the Bombers 10-4 on May 16, 1944.
Pinstriped infielders Phil Rizzuto and Jerry Priddy were benched in favor of Joe Gordon and Frank Crosetti for the May 16, 1941 contest with the White Sox, and the Yanks used a ninth-inning rally to prevail, 5-4.
Starter Tommy Bridges of the home-standing Tigers held the Yankees to three hits in beating them 3-1 on this day in 1931.
The Yankees shipped lefty Larry Gura, a pitcher Billy Martin could not abide, to the Royals for catcher Fran Healy on May 16, 1976. Healy was one of the few friends Reggie Jackson had in New York, but his best work in the city came behind the mike, while Gura posted a 16-4 record in helping KC to the 1978 playoffs.
Orioles Hall of Famer Jim Palmer won his major league debut on this day in 1965, beating the Yanks, 7-5, and chipping in with a two-run homer off Jim Bouton.
Yankee outfielder Bob Meusel stole second, third, and home in the third inning of a 6-2 victory over Detroit on May 15, 1927.
Marking the exit from the Yankees that started with his being designated for assignment a few days before, the St. Cardinals claimed righthander Jess Todd off waivers from the Yankees on May 16, 2011.
Carl Yastrzemski‘s long home run out of Fenway to the right of the foul pole in a 6-2 win over the Indians on this day in 1970 was only the fourth poke ever in that spot after two by Jimmie Foxx and one by Yankee Moose Skowron in years gone by.
The Highlanders traded pitcher Walter Clarkson and outfielder Frank Delahanty, both siblings of future Hall of Famers, to Cleveland for hurler Earl Moore on May 16, 1907.
Pitching for the Mariners, recent Yankee starter Randy Johnson took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Athletics on May 16, 1993, but Lance Blankenship singled with one out in the 7-0 Seattle win.
When White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk hit for the cycle in a 7-6 loss to Kansas City on May 16, 1984, he became the second backstop in the 20th Century to hit his only triple of the year as part of a cycle.
New York Giant Mel Ott also hit for the cycle on May 16, doing his in Boston against the Braves in 1929. His team came up a loser too, 5-4.
Searching for a solution to their leaky pen, the Yankees signed veteran righthanded journeyman Pete Walker to a minor league contract on May 16, 2007, but he would never make the parent club.
Playing for the Padres, ex-Yankee Rickey Henderson extended his record for leadoff home runs to 79 on May 16, 2001; and in another long-ball May 16 feat by a one-time Yankee player, Darryl Strawberry reached his first fence in the bigs in an 11-4 Mets victory over the Pirates on this day in 1983.
And the White Sox and Rangers dealt exclusively in future and former Yankee chips when the former sent Bobby Bonds to Texas for Claudell Washington and Rusty Torres on May 16, 1978.
On May 16, 1991, the AAA Calgary Cannons hit three grand slams in a 22-7 spanking of the Tacoma Tigers.
Players Who Have Died This Day
The four Yankee players who have died on May 16 include three hurlers, one a lefty who ended his career with New York, another a righty who debuted there, and another righthander whose only major league service was for the pinstripers. Southpaw Dutch Ruether (1970) won 15 and lost nine with no saves in a career-ending 32 games (31 starts) with the 1926-1927 Yanks. Adding those numbers to the ones he compiled in pitching mostly for the Reds and Dodgers from 1917-1926 brings his totals to 137-95 with eight saves. Righthander Johnny Broaca (1985) not only debuted with the 1934-1937 Yanks to a 40-27 record with three saves pitching 99 games (84 starts), he only had one non-Yankee season. He went 4-2 with the Indians in 1939. Fans of a certain age, perhaps ones who saw the end of the Mickey/Whitey glory days, will remember Thad Tillotson (2012) as a bullpenner for the sad teams that followed. He posted a 4-9 record with two saves pitching 50 games for the Yankees in 1967 and 1968. Second baseman/infielder Germany Schaefer (1919) failed to hit in his one at bat in one game for the 1916 Yanks. Playing much of the years from 1901-1918 with Detroit and Washington, Schaefer reached nine fences good for 308 rbi’s.
Among noteworthy nonYankee players to have died this day is righthander Candy Cummings (1924), who went 21-22 with the 1876 Dark Blues and the 1877 Red Stockings, but who is much more famous as the man generally acknowledged to have invented the curveball. Also, catcher Larry Woodall (1963) played just with Detroit from 1920-1929, for whom he homered once, with 161 rbi’s. Finally, southpaw Kevin Hickey (2012), who won nine, lost 14, and saved 17 in two stints in the bigs when he was not pitching professionally in softball: 1981-1983 with the White Sox, and 1989-1991 with Baltimore.
Players Born This Day
As mentioned above, the late Yankee player and manager Billy Martin (1928) was born on May 16. The Yankees got Billy from Oakland of the Pacific Coast League before the 1950 season, and he stroked 30 homers and notched 188 rbi’s before he was traded with Woodie Held, Bob Martyn, and Ralph Terry to the Kansas City Athletics for Ryne Duren, Jim Pisoni, and Harry Simpson in June 1957. Martin managed the Yankees during the 1976-1978 seasons when they won three pennants and two World Titles, and also piloted the 1969 Minnesota Twins, the 1972 Detroit Tigers and the 1981 Oakland A’s to first-place finishes.
There are five other Yankee birthdays, starting with Rick Reuschel (1949), who was sent to New York by the Cubs for Doug Bird, Mike Griffin, and cash in 1981. Most of his 214-191 career mark came with the Cubs, though he did win four and lose four for the Yanks in 12 games. Reuschel was given his release in June 1983.
Jim Mecir (1970) arrived in the trade for Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson that cost the Bombers Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock before the 1996 season and went 1-5 in the Bronx. He was the player to be named later who was sent to the Red Sox with Tony Armas, Jr. for Mike Stanley in an August 1997 transaction.
And Rick Rhoden (1953) joined the Yanks in a November 1986 trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rhoden was acquired with Pat Clements and Cecilio Guante for Doug Drabek, Brian Fisher, and Logan Easley in one of the Yanks’ worst trades of the 80′s. Rick posted a 28-22 mark in New York over two years and was traded to the Astros for John Fishel and minor-leaguers Mike Hook and Pedro DeLeon in January 1989.
Lefty thrower Stubby Overmire (1919) posted a 1-1 record with the 1951 Yankees in 15 games (four starts). He was acquired from the St. Louis Browns in June 1951 for Tommy Byrne and was lost to the Browns on waivers the following season. And even though Frank Seminara never played for the Yanks, he was drafted by them in the 12th round of the 1988 amateur draft. He went 12-9 with the 1992-1993 Padres and the 1994 Mets after San Diego grabbed him from the Bombers in the rule-V draft.
Other birthdays: Lefty Watty Clark (1902), who went 111-97, mostly with Brooklyn, from 1924-1937; switch-hitting outfielder Dave Philley (1920), who hit 84 dingers with 729 rbi’s playing primarily with the White Sox from 1941-1962; Rube Walker (1926); Tigers star starter Jack Morris (1955), with a 254-186 career mark; “Wild Thing” Mitch Webster (1959); Bob Patterson (1959); Doug Brocail (1967); Jerrod Riggan (1974); Nick Bierbrodt (1978); Eugenio Velez (1982); George Kottaras (1983); Jensen Lewis (1984); and Tyler Cloyd (1987).