On May 3, 1936, Joe DiMaggio made his regular-season debut. Joe’s three hits included a triple, as he scored three runs and knocked in one in a 14-5 victory over the St. Louis Browns.
Don Mattingly tied a major league record with three sacrifice flies in a 9-4 win over the Texas Rangers on this day in 1986.
I guess we can hope that someday it will serve as a poignant setup for a future episode of Yankeeography that righthander Phil Hughes was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 3, 2007, two days after he threw a seven-inning no-hitter against Texas before injuring himself in his second big-league start. Righty reliever Chris Britton was recalled from AAA Scranton to replace Phil, then quickly returned as Mike Mussina came off the DL. Moose would beat Texas twice in the next week. Hughes, by the way, is a concern yet again after turning in stellar years in the pen in 2009 and as an 18-win starter in 2010, out early in 2011 with a dead arm.
Yankee Stadium was to be quite a coup for the Bronx, so much so that on May 3, 1922, Mayor Hylan closed streets to aid in getting the construction started. It was built right across the Harlem River from the Polo Grounds (located in Manhattan), and clearly (and purposefully) in sight of the older structure.
The Yankees placed lefty reliever Damaso Marte on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder tendinitis on May 3, 2009, retroactive to April 26. Righthander Anthony Claggett was recalled to the Yankees from AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees, but his effect on the 2010 team was over.
Detroit outfielder Charley Maxwell was off to a horrid .136 start at the plate in 1959 until May 3, when he blasted four homers in a doubleheader sweep of the unsuspecting Yankees. He went yard in the ninth frame of the Game One 4-2 win; then reached the fences his first three trips to the plate in Game Two, an 8-2 Tigers victory.
Mickey Mantle‘s sixth-inning bomb off Mike Garcia on May 3, 1955, brought the visitors to a come-from-behind 4-3 lead, but the home-standing Indians came back to edge the Yankees, 5-4.
A fifth-inning Mickey Mantle homer before a tiny crowd in Yankee Stadium on May 3, 1956, was followed by blasts from Hank Bauer and Yogi Berra, but it wasn’t enough as the Bombers fell to the KC A’s, 8-7. It was the third consecutive game Mantle had homered.
The Yankees made a slew of roster moves on May 3, 2005, but one of them was a good one. They designated righty reliever Steve Karsay for assignment; optioned outfielder Bubba Crosby to Columbus; and recalled lefty starter Sean Henn from Double-A Trenton. But the big move turned out to be when they recalled second baseman Robinson Cano from Triple-A Columbus and inserted him into the lineup.
The Yanks had a terrible time playing the Devil Rays in 2005, but few days were worse than the Tuesday May 3 tilt in Tampa Bay. Kevin Brown was reached for base hits by eight of the first nine Rays players up, and the Yanks fell behind 6-0 in an eventual 10-6 loss.
Staking an early claim on the Rookie of the Year award he was to win, Gil McDougald hit both a grand slam home run and a triple in an 11-run ninth inning as the Yanks routed St. Louis 17-3 on this day in 1951.
Before he signed with the Red Sox, the Yanks had had success against Keith Foulke. On May 3, 2003, the Yanks trailed 3-1 behind Tim Hudson and the A’s through eight, but Jason Giambi hit a two-run bomb to tie it off Foulke in the top of the ninth. Unfortunately, this was the point in the season where the wheels came off for reliever Juan Acevedo, who had been briefly effective filling in for an injured Mariano Rivera. Juan allowed a Scott Hatteberg double and an Eric Chavez homer on the first three pitches he threw in the bottom of the 10th, and the A’s had a 5-3 win.
Those of us who remember the late 80′s and the year the League went balk-crazy can smile at all the trouble Yankee hurler Vic Raschi had in 1950 with the new rule that year requiring a one-second stop. He beat the White Sox 4-3 on May 3, 1950, despite the four balks called against him.
The wily vet Luis Tiant would play some huge parts on both sides of the Yankees/Red Sox ongoing passion play as his career went on, but when he threw his third straight shutout in blanking the Yanks, 1-0, on this day in 1966, he was a 25-year-old, third-year man in Cleveland.
Not particularly known as an explosive offensive team, the New York Highlanders assaulted A’s pitching for 10 runs in the ninth inning of a contest they were trailing 18-5 on this day in 1912. But future Hall of Famer Eddie Plank put a stop to the attack and preserved the 18-15 Philly win.
Former New York tough-luck lefty Ted Lilly would have been hard-pressed to get a Yankee “W” on May 3, 2002, once he allowed the first two Mariners to score. Ichiro Suzuki singled to right on the game’s first pitch, Bret Boone delivered him with a triple to Death Valley on a 1-0 pitch and then scored as a wild toss to Mike Cameron rolled to the screen. Still, the Bombers managed to tie it on Nick Johnson‘s homer even though Freddy Garcia allowed but three hits through eight. But a Desi Relaford homer settled things in the 5-2 Seattle win.
Yankee starter Judd Doyle earned the sobriquet “Slow Joe” for a reason. He used everything in his considerable bag of tricks to extend a Highlanders/A’s May 3, 1907, contest to a new record playing time of three hours, seven minutes. The Highlanders won the 10-inning contest, 4-3.
Third baseman Eric Chavez‘s concussion forced the Yankees to make some moves, so on May 3, 2012, he was placed on the 7-day disabled list (newly introduced to deal with that specific problem). New York transferred righty Joba Chamberlain from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster; then the Yankees selected the contract of third baseman Jayson Nix from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Few realized the import of the signing of Darryl Strawberry to a contract with the Northern League St. Paul Saints, where he joined veteran hurler Jack Morris on the roster, on May 3, 1996. But once Straw proved he could be a good soldier and provide a valuable lefty bat, the Yanks took a flier on him. His greatest contribution that year, perhaps, was the three homers he blasted in the five-game victory over Baltimore in the ALCS.
The Yanks had mixed results in May 3 trades. The swap of long-time first baseman and pinch-hitter deluxe Johnny Blanchard to Kansas City for backstop Doc Edwards on this day in 1965 got them a serviceable vet to fill in for the injured Elston Howard at the cost of a vet whose playing days were just about over. But the May 3, 1952 move of shipping promising outfielder Jackie Jensen to Washington in a group for good-hitting vet Irv Noren got them very little in return for a guy who would eventually hit 170 homers in Boston and win the 1958 AL MVP.
New Yankee third-base prospect Mike Blowers tied an AL record by making four errors this day in 1990 in a 10-5 loss to the Indians.
Warren Spahn put a real scare into the Johnny Vandermeer fans on May 3, 1961, as the 40-year-old lefty flirted with the back-to-back no-hitter record. But a misplay by left fielder Mel Roach cost him, he let down his guard, and he had to settle for a two-hit, 4-1 win.
While pitching for the 1992 Padres, former Yankee spot reliever (and now current pitching coach) Dave Eiland would match a record set by Buster Narum on this day in 1963. Narum homered and then finished the year with more homers (1) than wins. Ed Hobaugh matched the mark that same year, and Eiland would join them 29 years later.
In a noteworthy May 3 item featuring a former Yankee player, Bobby Bonds cracked his 300th home run off Milwaukee’s Moose Haas in a 6-1 loss to the Brewers on this day in 1979. And one more: One year later Scott Sanderson allowed the 521st and last home run of Willie McCovey‘s career.
The Bells became the second three-generation family in major league history (the Boones were the first) on this day in 1995, as David Bell made his debut at third with the Indians in a 14-7 win over the Tigers. David followed his dad Buddy Bell and grandfather Gus Bell. Gus would pass away four days after David’s first big-league game.
When Jeff Kent of the Giants hit for the cycle in a 9-8 loss to the Pirates on May 3, 1999, he became only the second player to achieve that feat in Three Rivers Stadium. Yankee Manager Joe Torre pulled it off back in 1973.
Ferguson Jenkins became the fourth pitcher in major league history to win 100 games in each league when he beat the Orioles 3-2 on May 3, 1980.
Players Who Have Died This Day
The two things the two Yankee players to have died this day have in common is that each played with the Yanks in two seasons, and each played with one other team as well. Lefty-hitting first baseman Frank Leja (1991) debuted with the Yanks in 1954 and 1955, getting no home runs or rbi’s in just seven at bats in 19 games; he added to neither total playing seven games with the 1962 California Angels. Catcher Darrell Johnson (2004) hit a home run and knocked in eight runs with the Yanks in 1957 and 1958. Short stints in Cincinnati in 1952, and in 1960-1962 netted him one more home run and 20 additional rbi’s.
Pitching is the common factor among three of the four other noteworthy players who have died on May 3. The lone righthander among the three, Al Maul (1958) won 84, lost 80, and saved one from 1884-1901, mostly with Washington. Lefty Ted Breitenstein (1935) went 160-170 with three saves for the Browns and the Reds from 1891-1906; and Alex Kellner (1996) pitched more often than not for the Philly A’s to a 101-112 record with five saves from 1948-1958. Finally, first baseman Joe Adcock (1999) hit most of his 336 home runs with 1,122 rbi’s for the Braves from 1950-1967.
Players Born This Day
Hall of Fame hurler Red Ruffing (1904), who spent almost 17 of his 24 years in the bigs with the Yanks, leads the contingent of four team members who were born May 3. He was a losing pitcher in Boston (39-96!) until the Yanks acquired him in May 1930 for Cedric Durst. But the four 20-win seasons he compiled corresponded with the Yankee World Championship run from 1936-1939, he was with the club for seven AL pennants and six Series winners, and he threw 42 of his 48 career shutouts playing for the team in the South Bronx. A belated (and posthumous) Monument Park plaque honoree a few years back, Ruffing holds the Yankee record for most wins by a righthander.
Cliff Markle (1894) posted a 6-6 win-loss mark in three years with the Yanks in two tours of duty from 1915 through 1924. Ken Silvestri (1916) caught for the 1941, 1946, and 1947 teams (before and after World War II) after he was brought over from the Chicago White Sox in 1940 for Bill Knickerbocker. He hit one homer and knocked in five runs in 33 games for the Bombers.
And the most recent member of the Yankee May 3 birthday club is lefty-hitting first baseman Ivan Cruz (1968), who went 5-for-20 as a backup at first base for the 1997 team. He was signed as a free agent out of the Tigers’ system in November 1995. Lastly, catcher Chris Cannizzaro (1938), who was a Yankee for 12 days in December 1966 when they purchased him from the Mets, until the Tigers, in turn, bought his contract, never played in Pinstripes. Chris hit 18 home runs with 169 rbi’s with the Mets, Padres, Dodgers, and Cardinals from 1960-1974.
Other birthdays lead off with Hall of Fame Phillie and Redlegs lefty thrower Eppa Rixey (1891), who posted a 266-251 record from 1912-1933; Chuck Hinton (1934); Davey Lopes (1945); Darren Dreifort (1972); Gabe Molina (1975); Ryan Dempster (1977); Nick Stavinoha (1982); Nate Spears (1985); Homer Bailey (1986); and Ben Revere (1988).