Given the way the 2009 season came to an end, particularly as it relates to this one person on each team’s 25, it’s hard to remember what befell the Yanks on May 7 of that year, or to even believe what took place. But to anyone like myself, sitting in new Yankee Stadium watching them play the Tampa Rays, it was a very sad night indeed when Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria homered off Mariano Rivera back to back in a ninth inning that began with the teams tied 6-6. The Yanks were behind early in this one, but thanks largely to Johnny Damon‘s two-run double and two-run home run, they made a nice comeback, only to lose 8-6.
Good days. Bad days. Sometimes on the same day. On May 7, 1996, the Yanks, feeling their oats over the first-place position they had snatched away from Baltimore six days earlier, scored eight runs in the sixth inning in a 12-5 win over the Tigers, with Paul O’Neill and Ruben Sierra serving as the hitting stars. Later that day the team learned that David Cone was suffering from an aneurysm that would require surgery and cost him much of the season, at best.
Great unsung Yankee outfielder and first-base and outfield coach in 2004-2005 Roy White stroked home runs from each side of the plate in a 7-3 win over the A’s on this day in 1970.
Speaking of current Yankee coaches and off-the-field personnel, once the Yanks loaded the bases on John Burkett of the Rangers on May 7, 1997, all three runs were delivered by the next two batters, as catcher Joe Girardi doubled in two and second sacker Luis Sojo delivered the third on a fielder’s choice grounder. Tino Martinez added a homer and David Cone went six in the 5-2 Yankee win.
Starkly written in my scorecard for May 7, 2007 are these words: “Worst Call of the Year!” Baseball fans are a pretty passionate bunch, and we do get steamed over a bad call or two. And it might seem clueless to claim worst call for the year just one month in. But in this case I was right, and the blunder glaringly cost the struggling Yankees a game. The Yanks had sent disappointing free agent signee Kei Igawa down to AAA Scranton and replaced him with untried Matt DeSalvo to start that night’s game against the Mariners in Yankee Stadium. And DeSalvo exceeded all hopes, outdueling Miguel Battista to a 2-1 lead through seven. Kyle Farnsworth retired two to start the eighth when Jose Vidro singled over short and Willie Bloomquist was sent out to run for him. Bloomquist broke for second on the 1-0 pitch, and Robbie Cano grabbed Jorge Posada‘s throw and drifted toward him, slapping a tag on the prone pinch runner a clear three to four feet before he reached second. Tens of thousands in the Stadium and millions at home saw the play as clear as day — all except for second base ump Gerry Davis, who lost sight of the bag and called the runner safe. Kenji Jojhima tied the game with a single, and three outs later (when the game should have been over) Adrian Beltre homered to give Seattle a 3-2 lead and the win. Joe Torre missed this game, as he had been suspended one game when mlb disciplined reliever Scott Proctor for throwing at a Boston player.
Nothing like the struggles Derek Jeter is having as he ages, really, are the problems the Yankee Captain had in a horrid start in 2004. On this day in 1999, Derek teamed with Hideki Irabu to defeat the Mariners, 10-1. Irabu allowed only four hits over seven, while the Yankee shortstop broke up a scoreless game with a three-run homer in the fifth and followed with a two-run single one inning later.
In early 2004, Derek Jeter couldn’t buy a hit. But he would gladly trade it in for his 2003 start where he suffered a bad shoulder injury in the season’s first game. And on May 7, 2003, Jeter began his rehab by playing five innings for the AA Trenton Thunder. He reached on an error and singled in three trips, but was no longer in the lineup when right fielder Mike Vento delivered the game-winning, two-run, two-out double in the bottom of the ninth as the Thunder beat the visiting Binghamton Mets, 4-3.
The failures are rare and therefore more shocking when they happen. The Baltimore Orioles strung four singles together in the ninth inning of a come-from-behind 7-6 victory over Mariano Rivera and the Yanks in Yankee Stadium on May 7, 2000.
Behind Elston Howard‘s first major league home run and a Mickey Mantle tie-breaking bomb to dead center in the eighth, the Yanks cashed in a come-from-behind 9-6 win over the Red Sox on May 7, 1955. The Bombers spotted Boston a 5-0 lead, battled back, and then added three more in the ninth.
Detroit first baseman and catcher Mickey Tettleton provided the fireworks in the May 7, 1993, Tigers’ 7-6 win over the Yanks, as he homered from each side of the plate. But the game-winner Detroit pushed across in the 12th inning was achieved on three walks and a hit. And a bit of trivia: Tettleton is one of two guys to have played in the bigs who has the letter “t” appear four times in his last name. Yankee lefty Andy Pettitte is the other.
Highlander righty Ray Keating threw a one-hit masterpiece at the Tigers on May 7, 1913, allowing just a second-inning single to Chas Deal in the 6-0 win.
When Yankee lefty Tom Zachary won his first decision of the year on May 7, 1929, it was the first of 12 wins without a loss that season, setting a record for wins without any losses. And the victory was doubly sweet, as it came on his 33rd birthday (see below).
Wrigley Field is the classic ballpark on the north side of Chicago where the Cubs play, but when the Angels joined the American League, they played some of their games in another park of that same name in L.A. On May 7, 1961, they beat the Yanks 5-3 there in front of their biggest crowd in that venue, just short of 20,000 fans.
Though famous for his consecutive-games-played streak and for prodigious rbi totals, Yankee star Lou Gehrig‘s signature hit was the grand slam home run. On this day in 1927, he christened the new right field pavilion in Comiskey Park by capping the Yanks’ scoring with a ninth-inning slam there, the first tater in the remodeled park. Yankee lefty Herb Pennock coasted to the 8-0 win.
The Yanks have not had a batter hit for the cycle since Tony Fernandez did so in 1995, so it’s a rare and memorable achievement. But it’s truly special when a player can do it in the fashion Yankee Bob Meusel did on May 7, 1921. First, he didn’t complete it until his last at bat, in the ninth inning. Further, he saved the rarest of hits for his last. And on top of that, it was a game-winner, as his two-run triple plated the winning runs in a 6-5 victory over the home-standing Senators. And, oh yeah, he did it in front of former President Woodrow Wilson.
Reversing a position player/pitcher adjustment to their 25-man roster from just a couple of days before, the Yankees optioned outfielder Greg Golson to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and, to fill the spot opened up, recalled righty Romulo Sanchez from AAA on May 7, 2010.
Future Yankee broadcaster and National League PresidentBill White homered in his first major-league at bat against the Cardinals in the Polo Grounds on May 7, 1956.
Umpire Tim Hurst was suspended for five days after striking New York Highlander Manager Clark Griffith in the mouth on May 7, 1906. It happened while the New Yorkers were beating Washington 7-2 behind Al Orth, the “Curveless Wonder.”
On May 7, 1957, Yankee third baseman Gil McDougald hit a line drive that struck Cleveland pitcher Herb Score in the right eye. Bob Lemon relieved and earned the Indians’ win, 2-1, but Score would never be the same pitcher again.
On May 7, 1954, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra hit back-to-back homers in the seventh in a 2-0 win over the A’s.
A melodrama in the Bronx had its climax on May 7, 1966. Following the 1964 World Series loss to the Cardinals, Yogi Berra was fired and replaced by the Cardinals’ skipper Johnny Keane. But the Yanks fell to sixth under Keane in 1965, and with only five victories 20 games into the 1966 season, GM Ralph Houk fired Keane and replaced him as field boss.
When 2005 New York starter Kevin Brown threw a two-hitter and retired 17 straight Marlins on May 7, 2001, he was playing for the Dodgers, as was eventual one-time Yankee Gary Sheffield, whose home run provided the difference in a 1-0 win.
May 7 feats of baseball prowess from 80-plus years ago: Pirates shortstop Glenn Wright turned an unassisted triple play in a 10-9 win over the Cards in 1925; and Giants righty Jesse Barnes no-hit the Phillies 6-0 three years earlier.
When the Yankees played the Dodgers in an exhibition in front of 93,103 in the L.A. Coliseum on “Roy Campanella Night” on May 7, 1959, it was the biggest crowd to see a game in major league history. The visiting New Yorkers won the game 6-2.
A new Hall of Famer in 2008, Joe Gordon hit two homers and Red Rolfe one, as the Yankees trounced the White Sox 15-4 on this day in 1939. Meanwhile, Bobo Newsom of the Browns seven-hit the Red Sox 6-3, sending them into second place behind the Yankees, who would remain in first the rest of the way.
There are at least two May 7 achievements by future or former Yankee players worth reporting on, beginning with the 1-0, two-hitter spun by Babe Ruth in besting Walter Johnson and the Senators on this day in 1917. It was the third time Ruth had beaten The Big Train 1-0, it drove Ruth’s season record to 6-0, and he drove in the only run of the day with an eighth-inning sac fly.
And Johnny Mize hit two of seven Cardinals home runs in an 18-2 drubbing of the Dodgers on May 7, 1940. St. Louis amassed 20 hits, including 13 for extra bases, accruing 49 total bases.
The term “bullpen” was introduced to baseball readers by the Cincinnati Enquirer on this day in 1877.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Of two Yankee players to have died on May 7, at least righthander Marty McHale (1979) played for the Yanks three years, 1913-1915, posting a 12-27 record with one save. When spot appearances with the Red Sox and Indians in between 1910 and 1916 are added in, the mark slips to 12-30. On the other hand, second baseman Ray Mack (1969) had some fine years with Cleveland from 1938-1946, during which he compiled 34 long balls with 278 rbi’s, but he appeared with the Yanks in just one game in 1947; he had no at bats.
Left-handed outfielder Gus Bell (1995) leads the list of notable non-Yankee players to have passed this day, both because he is the patriarch of a three-generation baseball family (son Buddy Bell, grandson David Bell), and because he cleared 206 fences good for 942 rbi’s mostly with the Reds from 1950-1964. Outfielder Bing Miller (1966) hit 116 long balls with 990 rbi’s for the Philly A’s from 1921-1936; first baseman Sid Farrar (1935) homered 18 times and drove in 412 for the Phillies from 1883-1890; and third sacker Bill Coughlin (1943) hit 15 homers with 380 rbi’s for the Senators and the Tigers from 1899-1908. We’ll include Boom-Boom Beck (1987) despite his paltry 38-69-6 mark with the Browns, the Dodgers, and the Phillies between 1924 and 1943, because of the great nickname, which referred to the sound pitches he had thrown made when they crashed into outfield fences.
Players Born This Day
As mentioned above, Tom Zachary (1896) is one of two Yankee players born on May 7. Tom posted a 16-4 mark (including his 12-0, record-setting 1929 season) with three saves for the Yanks from 1928-1930. He accumulated a 186-191 record over 17 years pitching most of the time for the Washington Senators and the Boston Braves. Zachary had a sense of history, as he allowed Tris Speaker‘s 3,000th hit in 1925, and also Babe Ruth‘s famous 60th home run in 1927.
Also born on May 7 was Steve Whitaker (1943), who played in the outfield in the Bronx from 1966 through 1968. Despite high hopes, Steve was a disappointment at the plate during barren Yankee years, and he hit 18 homers with 48 rbi’s and two steals. The Yanks nabbed him in the 1962 free-agent draft and lost him to the K.C. Royals in the 1968 expansion draft.
Two other birthdays of note involve the Yanks. The Bombers tried to hire Manager Dick Williams (1929) away from Charley Finley and the A’s, but failed. Williams led Oakland to the AL West title in 1971 and won back-to-back Championships in 1972 and 1973. He also piloted teams in the postseason with Boston in 1967 and San Diego in 1984. Also outfielder Billy Murphy (1944), who had his only taste of the big leagues with the Mets in 1966, was a Yankee 1962 draft pick until the crosstown team took him as a rule-V selection in 1965.
Other birthdays: Lefthander Case Patten (1876), who posted most of his 105-128 record with Washington from 1901-1908; colorfully nicknamed Ed Heusser (1909), the “Wild Elk of the Wasatch,” won 56 while losing 67 from 1935-1948 with the Phillies, the Cardinals, and the Reds; Mark Smith (1970); Brook Fordyce (1970); Conor Jackson (1982); James Loney (1984); and Osvaldo Martinez (1988).