It’s another day where a great candidate for top highlight is surpassed by an even better one. Does it help if I share that numero uno happened on Beanie Baby Day in the Bronx? It doesn’t seem possible, but the word “several” no longer applies in describing the multi-year anniversary of David Wells‘s Perfect Game, a 4-0 win over the Twins on May 17, 1998. Bernie Williams had a homer among his three hits, Latroy Hawkins manned the mound for the visiting Twins, and Boomer threw only 11 of 27 first-pitch strikes.
The excellence of Hiroki Kuroda‘s pitching over eight innings in the Yanks’ 5-0 win over visiting Toronto on May 17, 2013, slips this highlight into second place. Ex-Yank Melky Cabrera slashed a leadoff double to right in the first, with the Jays’ second (and only other) hit off Hiroki coming in the seventh. Patrick Viera of the UK’s soccer club Manchester City threw out the ceremonial first pitch, Brett Gardner scored the only run New York would need after tripling in the first, and David Adams had two hits and scored twice.
The May 17, 2014, highlight might have slipped into second place behind the David Wells no-no, but given how the season turned out, more recent readers will have a hard time believing the numbers in a 7-1 hometown win where every run scored as a result of balls clearing a fence. Two-run jacks by Mark Teixeira early and Brian McCann late sandwiched singleton drives from Zoilo Almonte, Brett Gardner, and Alfonso Soriano, with Starling Marte‘s one-run, first-pitch drive off Dellin Betances leading off the sixth being the only Cubs reply. Betances, of course, struck out the next three.
In a game that had glorious first and last innings, the Yanks prevailed over the Red Sox 11-9 on May 17, 2010, in Yankee Stadium when they scored nine of their runs in the first and ninth frames. They jumped up 5-0 on Daisuske Matsuzaka on rbi’s by Alex Rodriguez (2), Robinson Cano, Francisco Cervelli, and Marcus Thames in the first inning, only to lose the lead when Chan Ho Park allowed back-to-back home runs by Kevin Youkilis and Victor Martinez in the eighth. But not to worry, as A-Rod and then Thames reached Jonathan Papelbon for two-run homers in the bottom of the ninth for an 11-9 walkoff win.
That highlight became possible earlier that day because the Yankees activated Chan Ho Park from the 15-day disabled list, making room for him on the roster by returning righthander Ivan Nova to AAA.
Just a few years ago today, in a highlight that would lead the way on most days, but comes in fourth (and sinking) this day, a struggling Jason Giambi won his way into the hearts of the Stadium faithful when his grand slam brought the Yanks back from three runs down in the bottom of the 13th on a rainy Friday night in the Bronx on May 17, 2002. Babe Ruth, in 1925, was the only other Yankee to hit a game-winning walk-off grand slam with the team down by three. The Yanks won by a 13-12 score.
On Sunday, May 17, 2009, A.J. Burnett and Minnesota’s Kevin Slowey dueled through six scoreless innings, then both surrendered two runs in the seventh in Yankee Stadium. But this was a magical Yankee wraparound series, and Johnny Damon reminded the Twins how much they hated coming to New York when he homered for the 3-2 walkoff winner to the “Damon deck” in right off Jesse Crain in the bottom of the 10th inning. Alfredo Aceves got one of his many relief wins in the game.
On May 17, 1977, Sparky Lyle pitched six innings in relief of Ron Guidry until the Yanks scored three and beat Oakland, 5-2, in 15 innings.
You may want to take notes on the Yankee 6-0 blanking of the Mariners in Seattle on May 17, 2005, because it stands out as a rare Carl Pavano highlight from his first year with the club. In hindsight one has to question the wisdom behind allowing Carl to throw 30 pitches in a two-hit, one-strike-out ninth inning for the 133-toss complete game. Pavano allowed five hits (all singles) and no walks while striking out seven (all swinging), and kept the pesky Ichiro Suzuki off the bases. Batting in the unaccustomed eighth spot in the order, DH Jason Giambi delivered three tallies on three hits, including a sixth-inning home run. Alex Rodriguez homered as well.
Chien-Ming Wang held the Texas Rangers to four hits and one run into the eighth inning in a Yankee Stadium battle on May 17, 2006, until Gary Matthews, Jr. homered for two more. But two rbi’s by Jorge Posada and one each from Robby Cano and Bernie Williams carried the Yanks to a 4-3 win. Mariano Rivera pitched a one-two-three ninth inning for the save.
Tampa Bay Devil Ray (at the time) Fred McGriff homered in a major league record 35th big-league ballpark on this day in 1999. The venue was The Ballpark in Arlington, as the Rays swamped the Rangers 13-3. Mr. McGriff was a one-time Yankee minor leaguer.
That Ranger team took their second in a row in the Bronx on May 17, 2003, beating the Yanks on a pile of singles. They bunched five one-base hits into a three-run second, and used two more singles with a sac fly and an error to add two in the fourth in the 5-2 win.
Roger Maris‘s record-breaking 1961 season did not start out like a house afire, as he hit only his fourth homer (and first at Yankee Stadium) on May 17. But the 24 he added in the next 38 games established him as a bona fide threat to Babe Ruth‘s record. This day’s blast would fall just a bit short of what was needed, as the Bombers fell 8-7 to Washington.
The Mickey Mantle homer of the day is the one he hit in the first inning on this day in 1964, as the Yanks outlasted the A’s, 11-9.
Tom Tresh and Mickey Mantle both homered in a furious five-run seventh-inning comeback in a game in which they trailed Cleveland by an 8-2 score on May 17, 1967, but the rally fell short and the Tribe held on for an 8-7 win.
The Yankees prevailed over the White Sox in both ends of a double dip on May 17, 1947 by identical 4-3 scores. The teams were deadlocked in Game One with Bomber Spec Shea‘s three hits and two runs offsetting the two base knocks and stolen base from George Dickey until Joe DiMaggio settled things with a tater in the bottom of the ninth. The pitchers’ duel between Chicago’s Eddie Lopat and Spud Chandler of the Yanks in the nightcap was settled when George McQuinn, who lashed three hits, scored the winner in the eighth.
On May 17, 2017, the Yankees optioned righthanders Conor Mullee and Chad Green to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, and designated lefty Phil Coke for assignment. The team filled those roster spots by recalling southpaw James Pazos, righty Luis Cessa, and utility player Rob Refsnyder from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Adjusting the front end of their pen for the third straight day, the Yankees optioned righty Bryan Mitchell to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on May 17, 2015, filling the spot by activating southpaw Chris Capuano from the 15-day disabled list.
Due to a strained trapezius muscle suffered the day before, the Yankees placed southpaw starter Andy Pettitte on the 15-day disabled list on May 17, 2013, filling his roster (and rotation) spot by recalling lefty Vidal Nuno from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
The Yankees transferred lefthander Cesar Cabral from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list on May 17, 2012. The team also signed free agent righthander Manolo Reyes.
Skirting the ban on Sunday baseball in Cleveland, the Highlanders faced the Blues in Columbus, Ohio, on May 17, 1903. The Cleveland club beat the New Yorkers 9-2 as Addie Joss outdueled Clark Griffith.
The Yankees placed righthander Rafael Soriano on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 14 on May 17, 2011, with right elbow inflammation. They called up outfielder Chris Dickerson from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to fill the roster spot. The team also signed free agent lefty Randy Flores that same day.
On May 17, 2010, the Washington Nationals designated former Yankee reliever Brian Bruney for assignment.
The first of two May 17, 2009 transactions involves how the Yankees came to acquire a minor league hurler whom they finally used a year later in early May in Fenway Park. The Yankees traded righthander Eric Hacker to the Pittsburgh Pirates and got Romulo Sanchez from the Pirates’ Indianapolis Indians minor league club in return. In addition, the club sent struggling righty Brian Bruney to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankee.
The Phillies beat the Cubs 23-22 in 10 innings on May 17, 1979. The Phils blew a 15-6 lead after three innings before recovering to win.
The Yanks and Browns set a new major league record on this day in 1953 in a 6-5, 10-inning Yankee win. They used 41 players between them, with the Yanks playing 23. Whitey Ford avoided his first defeat as a starter, as the bullpen picked him up, and Mike Blyzka took the loss once Don Larsen had gone 9.3 innings for St. Louis.
The Yanks lost the rubber game of a three-gamer with Chicago on May 17, 1941, with Myril Hoag providing the offense in a 3-2 White Sox win.
It was ex-Yankee Tony Lazzeri‘s record that Gus Zernial of the A’s tied when he stroked his seventh dinger in four successive games in a 7-6 win over the Browns on this day in 1951.
The Yankees reinstated Dick Wakefield on May 17, 1950, but he was not asked to rejoin the team.
There is a bit of a Yankee connection to the fact that two players added their 3,000th career hits on May 17. Hank Aaron netted his with a first-inning home run (number 570) off Wayne Granger in a game the Braves would lose 7-6 to the Reds in 15 innings in 1970. And Washington lefty Tom Zachary was victimized by Tris Speaker‘s 3,000th on this day in 1925. Zachary made several headlines in his career, going 12-0 for the Yankees in a record-setting year, but he is perhaps best known as the guy who gave up Babe Ruth‘s 60th home run in 1927.
The first May 17 highlight featuring future or former Yankee players today belongs to one who was both. The seven home runs the Cubs used to pummel the Padres in a 23-6 win on this day in 1977 included back-to-back-to-back shots climaxed by one from Bobby Murcer.
Two more May 17 feats in the same category: Wade Boggs stroked his 2,000th hit in a 3-1 Boston loss to California on this day in 1992; and when Mike Blowers‘s grand slam led Seattle to a 16-9 win over Texas on May 17, 1993, he became the 13th player ever to hit four-run jacks in back-to-back games.
The Orioles outscored the Mariners 14-13 on May 17, 1996, and outhit them 21 to 20.
Angels outfielder Bobby Valentine broke his leg trying to prevent a Dick Green home run on this day in 1973, as the A’s prevailed over Bobby’s Angels, 5-4.
Both Yankee players who have died on May 17 debuted with the Yanks, including lefty-hitting outfielder Dixie Walker (1982), who hit 16 home runs with 58 rbi’s playing 131 games in the Bronx in 1931 and 1933-1936. Playing mostly with the Dodgers from 1936-1949, Walker finished with 105 long balls and 1,023 rbi’s overall. Southpaw Bill Wight (2007) won three and lost two in 15 games (five starts) with the 1946-1947 Yankees; he pitched mostly with the White Sox and the Orioles through the end of the 1958 season, with an overall record of 77-99 with eight saves.
Second baseman Otto Knabe (1961), one of two additional noteworthy players to have died this day, hit eight long balls good for 365 rbi’s between 1905 and 1916, most of it with the Phillies. And lefthanded outfielder/first baseman Catfish Metkovich (1995) played more often than not with the Red Sox and the Pirates from 1943-1954, collecting 47 home runs and knocking in 373 runs during that time.
Players Who Have Died This Day
One-time Yank May 17 birthdays include Pascual Perez (1957), 3-6 in 1990 and 1991 before drug abuse ended his career with a 67-68 mark. The Yanks signed him as a free agent in November 1989.
Outfielder and valuable bench player Carlos May (1948) was picked up from the White Sox for Ken Brett and Rich Coggins in May 1976. The lefty batter smacked six homers with 56 rbi’s with the Yanks in 1976 and 1977 after playing in Chicago for eight years. The Yanks sold May, whose career numbers are 90 home runs with 536 rbi’s, to the Angels in September 1977, opening a spot on their roster that major league baseball would not allow them to fill that postseason.
And righthander Jim McDonald (1927) won 16 while losing 12 with the 1952-1954 Bombers. He also took a couple of rides on the Baltimore/New York shuttle after the Yanks got him from St. Louis for Clint Courtney in 1951. He was included in the Harry Byrd, Gus Triandos, and Gene Woodling package that pried Bob Turley, Don Larsen, and Billy Hunter out of Baltimore in November 1954, and made the return trip once the Yanks sent Eddie Lopat south for him the following July. McDonald won 24 and lost 27 with one save in his career.
We’ll lead another Yankee graph with third baseman Scott Seabol (1975) because he was a recent enough member of the organization that many fans will remember him. Scott went 0-for-1 as a Yankee DH in the 2001 season after being selected in the 88th round of the 1996 amateur draft. And although Porfi Altamirano (1952) never played in the Bronx, the Yanks did acquire him in the December 4, 1984 trade that sent Ray Fontenot and Brian Dayett to the Chicago Cubs for Rich Bordi, Henry Cotto, and Ron Hassey. Porfi posted a 7-4 mark with two saves with the Pirates and Cubs from 1982-1984.
The most recent addition to the Yankee May 17 birthday list is outfielder Ben Gamel (1992), who received plaudits for his work in the minors after New York drafted him in the 10th round of the 2010 free agent draft, and who made his major league debut in the Bronx in 2016 by getting one hit in eight at bats playing in six games before he was traded in August to Seattle. As of this writing, Ben has hit two long balls and driven in 10 runs for the Mariners in 36 games.
Hall of Fame player in the Negro Leagues Cool Papa Bell (1903) leads the remainder of the day’s birthdays. Other celebrants: Jack Voigt (1966); Wiki Gonzalez (1974); Jose Guillen (1976); Carlos Pena (1978), who received a look from the Yankees in 2006 after he was released by the Tigers, and who starred in Tampa Bay from 2007 through 2010; Nick Masset (1982); Jeremy Sowers (1983); and Todd Redmond (1985).
Players Born This Day