Following three fifth-place finishes and one seventh in the AL East in five years, you could be forgiven for figuring the Yankees were not a team from which two expansion clubs would be looking for talent when the League stocked the new franchises in Miami and Colorado on November 17, 1992. But you’d be wrong. First, the Yanks had already decided to leave 1990 first round pick Carl Everett unprotected. But the Florida Marlins, after using their first (second overall) pick on Toronto’s Nigel Wilson, took Yankee third baseman Charlie Hayes next. Florida then took Everett with the 27th pick of the day. Not to be outdone in carving the Yankee pie, the Colorado Rockies took catcher Brad Ausmus 54th. Few realized that the Yanks had struck late-round magic when they nabbed the catcher in the 48th round of the amateur draft in 1987, but we know it today, as Brad has made himself quite a career as a sought-after receiver and manager in baseball more than two decades later. But he has not played for the Yanks.
Two other Yankee-related player moves came out of that two-team-building 1992 day. Amazingly, the Marlins managed to nab eventual lights-out San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman with their fourth pick, only to trade him for recent Yankee outfielder Gary Sheffield. And finally, the Rockies turned their 10th pick into catcher Joe Girardi, who would later catch and then coach in the Bronx. Ironically, Girardi took his place on the Florida bench piloting the Marlins in 2006. After broadcasting for YES in 2007, Girardi took over the managing reins of the Yankees from Joe Torre for the 2008 season. And he guided the team to its 27th Championship in 2009.
Alex Arias, who later (June 6, 2002) would sign on as a free agent with Yankees, was also traded on November 17, 1992. He and Gary Scott were sent by the Chicago Cubs to the Florida Marlins for lefthander Greg Hibbard. Alex was then released twice, and would not do much in Pinstripes (a walk and two strike outs in eight plate appearances), before being granted free agency by New York on October 28, 2002.
On November 17, 2016, the Yankees traded catcher Brian McCann and cash to the Houston Astros for righthanders Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman.
Second baseman Randy Velarde, who always seemed to be destined to spend many years in Pinstripes, was traded from the Oakland A’s to the Texas Rangers on November 17, 2000. He had one more Bronx visit in his future.
Atlanta Brave Chipper Jones is the most recent of four November 17 MVP winners. He won the NL Award that day in 1999, as did Atanta Brave Dale Murphy on the same day back in 1982, becoming the first Braves winner since Henry Aaron in 1957. American League winners on November 17 are Toronto’s George Bell in 1987 and Rod Carew of the Twins in 1976.
San Francisco Giant Willie McCovey was a unanimous selection as National League Rookie of the Year on November 17, 1959.
Commissioner of Baseball Ford Frick was replaced in that position by retired Air Force Lieutenant-General William Eckert on November 17, 1965.
We spoke of clubs being added to the American and National Leagues above. The history of the American League features lateral movement along with expansion. On November 11, 1953, the name of the St. Louis Browns officially was changed to the Baltimore Baseball Club. The team would take the field in a new city with a new name; they would be the Orioles.
The first to pass on of the four Yankee players to have died on November 17 was lefthanded outfielder Benny Kauff (1961), who debuted by playing five games for the 1912 Highlanders. He collected two rbi’s on three hits in 11 at bats, numbers that ballooned to 49 home runs and 454 rbi’s after two years in the Federal League with the Hoosiers and the Tip-Tops, followed by a 1916-1920 stop with the Giants. Shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh (1977) played 1,219 games with the 1913-1921 Yankees, reaching 36 fences good for 427 rbi’s while getting 1,170 hits in 4,515 at bats. A three-year stint with Cleveland earlier, and six years spent mostly in Washington afterward rendered the final numbers of 48 and 739. Finally, switch-hitting outfielder Hersh Martin (1980) ended his career with the 1944-1945 Yankees. He had 208 hits in 202 games, collecting 16 homers and 100 rbi’s in 736 at bats. Four years with the Phillies and the Yankee years resulted in 28 career home runs and 215 runs driven in. The most recent addition is righty-hitting, lefty-throwing outfielder Zeke Bella (2013), who debuted for the 1957 Yankees by hitting no homers and collecting no rbi’s, and going 1-for-10 at the plate, in five games. Zeke had a home run with nine rbi’s for the Kansas City A’s in 1959.
The list of noteworthy nonYankee players who have died on November 17 includes two righthanded pitchers, two southpaws, a catcher, and a lefty-hitting outfielder. Mort Cooper (1958) won 128, lost 75, and saved 14 games from 1938-1949 pitching mostly for the Cardinals; while Paul Derringer (1987) posted a 223-212-29 record with the Cards, the Reds, and the Cubs from 1931-1945. Lefty Earl Hamilton (1968) won 116, lost 147, and saved 13 games with the Browns, the Tigers, the Pirates, and the Phillies from 1911-1924; and portsider Ray Sadecki (2014) posted a 135-131 mark with seven saves in 563 games (328 of them starts) from 1960 to 1977 pitching mostly for the Cardinals, the Giants, and the Mets. Catcher Bill Merritt (1937) hit most of his eight home runs and drove in 195 runs with the Pirates, the Beaneaters, and the Reds from 1891-1899; and lefty-hitting outfielder Smead Jolley (1991) hit 46 roundtrippers good for 313 rbi’s with the White Sox and the Red Sox from 1930-1933.
Players Who Have Died This Day
There are now six November 17 Yankee birthdays, though only five who have actually played for the team, and one of them for just a few games in late 2012. Jeff Nelson (1966) held righthanded batters to a .118 average with his frisbee curve and fastball, and he went 23-19 with nine saves in the Bronx from 1996 through 2000, plus a couple of months in 2003. He was acquired by the Yanks in a December 1995 trade with the Seattle Mariners, coming to New York with Tino Martinez and Jim Mecir for Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock.
Outfielder Darnell McDonald (1978) is the player who joined the fold in 2012, plucked off the Boston roster once the Yanks had dfa’d DeWayne Wise to make room for Ichiro Suzuki. Darnell, who has played in 350-plus games since 2004 with Baltimore, Minnesota, and Cincinnati along with Boston and New York, played four games with the Yanks, going 0-for-4 with two strike outs, and garnering two putouts in the outfield.
Lefty Alex Graman (1977) pitched poorly in three games (two starts) for the 2004 Yankees. Graman was selected by New York in the third round (111th overall pick) of the 1999 amateur draft. And righty Lee Stine (1913) finished a four-year big-league career by allowing one run in 8.7 innings pitched for the 1938 Yankees, after two years with the White Sox and one with the Reds.
Gene Stallings (1867) managed the Yankees for the 1909 and 1910 seasons until, convinced that Hal Chase tried to throw a game but unable to make the charge stick, he gave way to that first sacker for the 1910 season’s final 11 games. Stallings piloted the Yanks to a fifth-place finish in ’09 and had them in second place when he left in favor of Chase, but they would slide to sixth under Hal. Later Stallings would lead the 1914 Miracle Braves from last place on July 4 to that season’s NL pennant, and they then would sweep the favored A’s in the World Series.
The newest kid in the pinstriped corner of the November 17 birthday room is righty starter Shane Greene (1988). While just a 15th-round pick in 2009 who had had a nondescript minor league career going, Greene opened some eyes with his poise and command in 2014 Spring Training, and got a shot because four-fifths of the big league rotation promptly landed on the DL. While experiencing the occasional to-be-expected misstep, he compiled a 5-4 record with a respectable 3.78 era in 15 appearances, 14 of them starts. It initially seemed a huge mistake that Greene was sent to Detroit before the 2015 season in a three-team trade that netted the Yanks shortstop Didi Gregorius from Arizona, as Greene started strong, while Gregorius struggled at hitting, fielding, and even baserunning. But those tables turned dramatically, and Greene was just one of several factors that tumbled the Tigers into last place. And Didi earned the respect of the Bronx faithful, something that he did more of in 2016. Greene, meanwhile, has pitched better since he was moved to the bullpen, going 4-3 with nine saves in 2017 for the Tigers. Blossoming into that role, he saved 54 in 2018 and 2019 before being traded to Atlanta in the stretch run of the latter year. He won one game for the Braves in 2020.
Righthander Adonis Rosa (1994), signed by the Yanks as a free agent in 2013, appeared in one game for the 2019 club. He struck out two with no walks in two innings, but the lone hit he surrendered was a home run. He was released in September 2020.
Righthander Jim Mann (1974) went 0-1 in 25 games for the Mets, Astros, and Pirates from 2000 through 2003. The Yankees signed Mann to a free-agent contract in January 2004, and released him six months later.
Among other birthdays, I do not know if there is any relation to the Yankee owner, but a second baseman named Gene Steinbrenner (1882) had two hits in nine at bats for the 1912 Phillies. Also: Hall of Fame New York Mets sensation Tom Seaver (1944), who posted a 305-211 win-loss record from 1967-1986; Mike Garcia (1923); Orlando Pena (1933); Jim Brewer (1937); Brad Havens (1959); Mitch Williams (1964); Paul Sorrento (1965); Ben Weber (1969); Billy McMillon (1971); Eli Marrero (1973); Val Pascucci (1978); Ty Taubenheim (1982); Scott Moore (1983); Ryan Braun (1983); Nick Markakis (1983); Trevor Crowe (1983); Everth Cabrera (1986); Seth Lugo (1989); Hector Sanchez (1989); Elias Diaz (1990); and JT Brubaker (1993).
Players Born This Day