Coming off a win the night before, Mets fans in Yankee Stadium were excited when they reached A.J. Burnett for two runs in the first inning of the May 21, 2011, game, but home runs by Russell Martin, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and Alex Rodriguez off Chris Capuano restored order in a 7-3 Yankee win. Derek Jeter‘s seeming unstoppable climb to 3,000 hits settled in at 2,973 after two singles and two runs scored.
The only positive Yankee highlight in the 6-0 shutout Felipe Paulino and the Royals took in the Stadium on May 21, 2012, was Alex Rodriguez‘s 500th career double in the home sixth inning. Mike Moustakas and Jeff Francoeur each stroked two-run homers on a wet, threatening, unpleasant Monday night in the Bronx.
The Yanks got a solid start out of Darrell Rasner on May 21, 2008, as he struck out six Orioles batters while allowing them just five hits in an 8-0 shutout. Alex Rodriguez had the only homer, and Johnny Damon equaled him with two rbi’s. It was the beginning of Fleet Week in New York, always a colorful time in the Stadium. John Walsh, host of America’s Most Wanted, moved the games-remaining counter in the old Stadium from 60 to 59.
Andy Pettitte and Scott Erickson (yes, the veteran who actually populated the Yankee pen briefly in 2006) had a classic pitcher’s duel in Yankee Stadium on May 21, 1998. The Orioles took a fourth-inning lead on Raffy Palmeiro‘s dinger and Scott was dealing, allowing but five hits to the eight the O’s compiled off Andy. And the most impressive thing is that Erickson threw 23 of 27 first-pitch strikes three times through the Yankee order. But it was telling when he threw three out of four first pitches out of the zone starting the home eighth, the very inning that the Yanks rallied for a 3-1 win.
Although the superb Chien-Ming Wang was pushed to 114 pitches midway into the seventh inning in a May 21, 2007 Yankee Stadium battle with Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox, he was more than good enough, and the Yanks coasted to a 6-2 win. Prefiguring the fine leadoff work he would contribute later in the season, center fielder Johnny Damon reached base four out of five times; Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi homered; and Robbie Cano doubled and tripled, drove in one run, and scored another.
It’s not hard to understand where the alliterative name Bronx Bombers came from when you consider days like May 21, 1932, when they swept a doubleheader from Washington by scores of 14-2 and 8-0. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig homered, as did Tony Lazzeri, with the latter going 6-for-7 on the day.
But baseball is a funny game to figure, and six years later on May 21, 1938, Thornton Lee of the White Sox held the explosive Yankees scoreless into the eighth inning. But mound opponent Spud Chandler took matters into his own hands and cranked a dinger that frame, winning his own game 1-0.
A rare Enrique Wilson home run that glanced off the foul pole in Texas on May 21, 2004, brought the Yanks within one of the Rangers in the fourth inning at 5-4. But Texas rode seventh-inning two-run home runs by ex-Yank David Dellucci and Hank Blalock to a 9-7 win.
Once again playing the part of party crashers, the Yanks strode into Cleveland for the George Burns Day festivities held in honor of that Indian player’s MVP 1926 season on May 21, 1927. The New Yorkers stole away with a 6-4 win in 12 innings.
Knowing as we do that baseball players fail in big spots all the time, I can share that some of the incredibly clueless and faithless behavior by Yankee fans toward star third baseman Alex Rodriguez in recent times was fed by an at bat in a Yankees/Mets ESPN Sunday night battle on May 21, 2006. The Yanks had taken a fourth-inning, 2-0 lead on Derek Jeter‘s single, but 2005 hero Aaron Small was reached for four runs in the bottom half on back-to-back, first-pitch home runs by Carlos Delgado and David Wright. The Yanks loaded the bases with no one out in the eighth off Aaron Heilmann, and a Jason Giambi sac fly moved them within one run of the lead. New York was abuzz for days afterward once A-Rod followed by bouncing into a 6-4-3, and the Yanks fell 4-3.
Despite the fact that Babe Ruth blasted three consecutive homers for one of two times in his career on May 21, 1930, the A’s rode a Jimmie Foxx tater and the record-setting eight walks drawn by Max Bishop to a 15-7, 4-1 doubleheader sweep.
The Yanks benefited from a Mickey Mantle blast off Moe Burtschy over the more distant of two right field fences in Kansas City on May 21, 1956, in an 8-5 win. The prodigious drive matched one each that had been struck there in earlier games by Larry Doby and Suitcase Simpson.
Mickey Mantle did his part for his buddy Whitey Ford in the latter’s last major league appearance, as The Mick hit his fifth homer in six games. But Whitey took the loss as Tiger Earl Wilson turned in Detroit’s third consecutive victory over the Bombers, 9-4, on May 21, 1967.
Manager Buck Rogers and three of his Anaheim Angels had reason to dislike this East Coast trip more than most in 1992. After having played until almost midnight before succumbing to the Yankees and John Habyan in 12 innings 3-2 the night before, they were all injured as the bus carrying the team was in an accident on the New Jersey Turnpike on the trip to Baltimore in the early morning hours of May 21.
Red Sox rookie Frank Sullivan whiffed Mickey Mantle three times and whipped the Yankees 6-3 in the Stadium in his first start on this day in 1954. Mantle cleared the auxiliary scoreboard in right center in his fourth at bat, however.
After homering in the first inning off KC’s Orlando Pena on May 21, 1963, Mickey Mantle jacked another one out in the fifth. Roger Maris then homered too and the Yanks beat the A’s 7-4.
Mel Stottlemyre usually had fine control, but on May 21, 1970, he issued 11 walks to the Senators in 8.3 innings, with lefty Steve Hamilton finishing up, as the Yanks prevailed 2-0. A two-run homer by Danny Cater accounted for the scoring.
On May 21, 2019, the Yankees transferred third baseman Miguel Andujar from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day list, with a right labrum tear. This gave the team room on the 40-man to select the contract of righthander David Hale from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. And then they got him on the 25-man roster by optioning lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
On May 21, 2018, the Yankees recalled righthander Giovanny Gallegos from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders; and sent first baseman Greg Bird and outfielder Billy McKinney on rehab assignments to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The team also sent righty Tommy Kahnle on a rehab assignment to the Charleston RiverDogs; and signed free agent shortstop Dionys Vallejo and righthander Randy Vasquez to minor league contracts.
On May 21, 2017, the Yankees recalled righthander Bryan Mitchell from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
The Yankees signed free agent lefthander Neal Cotts to a minor league contract on May 21, 2016.
The Yankees juggled the front of their bullpen on May 21, 2011, first optioning righthander Amauri Sanit to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, and then recalling righty Lance Pendleton from the same location to take his place.
The Yankees activated righthander Jeff Karstens from the 15-day disabled list and optioned him to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on May 21, 2008.
It was in the midst of an injury-riddled year that Yankee righthander Orlando “el duque” Hernandez was sent to the 15-day Disabled List on May 21, 2002.
Former Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer was fired from his managerial job with the Cubs this day in 1991, and he was replaced by Jim Essian.
Roger Clemens notched his 200th win on May 21, 1997, and he did it against the Yankees, as his Blue Jays won, 4-1. Kenny Rogers took the loss, allowing all four runs in the third, three coming on Ed Sprague‘s home run. It would be fair to say that few in the crowd suspected the Rocket would win no. 300 in Pinstripes.
Clean uniforms every day! Jake Ruppert took total possession of the Yankees on May 21, 1923, when he paid T.L. Huston $1.5 million for his share. Jake bought the players two more sets of uniforms 10 days later so they could wear clean ones every day. It was an unprecedented move.
When Boston’s Jimmie Foxx hit a grand slam for the second consecutive day in an 11-8 win over the Tigers on this day in 1940, he equaled an American League mark shared by Yankees Bill Dickey and Babe Ruth (twice). And five years earlier, the Babe stroked a homer in his brief 1935 stint with the Braves in a 4-1 win over the Cubs.
The Yankees released veteran Robin Roberts, whom they had signed in the offseason in 1962, without ever sending him to their mound in a game. But he would win 42 more games for the Orioles once they picked him up that same year on May 21.
When former Yankee Brian Dayett hit a grand slam off Cincinnati’s Tom Browning in a 7-4 Cubs win on May 21, 1985, it would be his only round-tripper of the year.
A fourth-inning Ken Griffey, Jr. home run in Seattle’s 13-7 win over the Red Sox on May 21, 1996, made Junior the seventh-youngest player to reach the 200-taters mark. The six who got there sooner: Mel Ott, Eddie Mathews, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, and Henry Aaron.
The 1-0 White Sox victory over the Senators in one hour, 29 minutes on May 21, 1943, is the shortest-ever night game in American League history.
The first of two additional May 21 items featuring future or former Yankee players occurred as Pittsburgh Manager Fred Clarke‘s protest of Roger Bresnahan‘s shin guards was disallowed on this day in 1907. Bresnahan caught with the 1901-1902 Baltimore Orioles, the franchise that would become the Highlanders (later Yankees) in 1903.
And 2005-2006 Yankee starter Randy Johnson, who passed the 4,500-strike-out plateau, notched his 3,500th career whiff in a 9-4 Arizona victory over the Giants on May 21, 2002.
No Yankee players have died on May 21.
Four pretty decent pitchers have died this day, one a lefty and two who threw from the right side. Southpaw Jim Whitney (1891) pitched mostly with the Red Caps, the Beaneaters, and the Senators to a 191-204 record with two saves from 1881-1890. Silver King (1938) won 204, lost 153, and saved six games from 1886-1897, pitching for the Browns, the Pirates, the Giants, and the Senators; and Herm Wehmeier (1973)posted a 92-108 mark with nine saves with the Reds, the Phillies, and the Cardinals from 1945-1958. And although Fred Gladding (2015) threw with his right hand, he batted from the left side. Pitching for just Detroit and Houston from 1961 through 1973, Fred posted a 48-34 record with 109 saves.
Players Who Have Died This Day
There are two old-time Yankee birthday celebrants on May 21, and three who were active in the sport fairly recently. Hank Johnson (1906) went 47-36 with seven saves for the Yanks during eight years pitching in the Bronx before being traded to Boston with Ivy Andrews and cash for Danny MacFayden in June 1932. Johnson would go 16-15 in Boston, and 0-5 for the A’s and the Reds afterward.
And long-time White Sox outfielder Larry Rosenthal played 36 games for the Yanks in 1944, notching nine rbi’s and a stolen base in that time. The Yanks sold Rosenthal’s contract to the Athletics that June. Larry’s overall numbers: 22 home runs, 189 rbi’s, and 13 stolen bases.
Braves Manager for a long time Bobby Cox (1941) played only two years in the bigs, as he manned third base in the Bronx during 220 games in 1968 and 1969. He stroked nine homers and knocked in 58 runs in New York once they traded Bob Tillman and Dale Roberts to Atlanta for him in December 1967. And Chris Widger (1971) replaced Joe Oliver as Jorge Posada‘s backup in 2002. He drove in five runs in 64 at bats.
A new, highly significant and high-end player joined the Yankee May 21 birthday list in 2015 with the arrival of lefty closer Andrew Miller (1985), who was signed for the season as Yankee-from-birth, so to speak, David Robertson signed with the White Sox. A third-round, then first-round, choice of Tampa Bay and then Detroit in 2003 and 2006, Miller was largely used as a starter through 2011. In 193 relief appearances with Boston and Baltimore since, he arrived with but two career saves, but excelled in that regard in the Bronx, even if he was slipped into the setup role in 2016. He was traded for valuable prospects to the Indians down the stretch, and helped them get into, and almost win, a World Series.
Two other birthdaying players spent time with the Yanks, although they never made their lineup card for a regular season game. Catcher Moe Thacker (1934) signed as an amateur free agent with the Yankees before the 1952 season. He went to the Cubs in 1938 in an unknown transaction, and he subsequently hit two homers with 20 rbi’s for the Cubs and the Cardinals. And fellow backstop El Tappe (1927) was purchased from the Henderson ballclub in the Texas League by the Yankees in 1950. He also was shipped to the Cubs (in 1952), and he managed 17 rbi’s in limited play there over six seasons.
The day’s other birthdays are led by Hall of Fame Cleveland outfielder Earl Averill (1902) and White Sox starter Monty Stratton (1912), famous to this chronicler because of the Jimmy Stewart/June Allyson movie. Averill hit 238 taters with 1,164 rbi’s from 1929-1941, and Stratton posted a 36-23 mark with the White Sox before having to call it quits after losing his leg in a hunting accident. Others: Mace Brown (1909), who went 76-57 with the Pirates and the Red Sox from 1935-1946; Bob Molinaro (1950); Eddie Milner (1955); Paul Runge (1958); former Twins star first baseman Kent Hrbek (1960); Tom Martin (1970); Bryce Florie (1970), who took a Ryan Thompson line drive in the eye when playing for the Red Sox when Thompson was a Yankee; Mark Quinn (1974); Travis Harper (1976); Rocky Biddle (1976); Josh Hamilton (1981); Ed Lucas (1982); Matt Wieters (1986); Allan Dykstra (1987); Joe Hudson (1991); Williams Perez (1991); Jacob Turner (1991); Joey Rickard (1991); Joe Ross (1993); and Jose Alvarado (1995).
Players Born This Day