November 18, 2016, was a busy day in the Yankees franchise, starting with the release of outfielder Dustin Ackley and righthander Branden Pinder being sent outright to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Next, righthanders Nick Rumbelow and Nathan Eovaldi, and lefty Joe Mantiply, were designated for assignment. The club then selected the contracts of Yefry Ramirez and Jorge Mateo from the Tampa Yankees; of Ronald Herrera and Miguel Andujar from the AA Trenton Thunder; and of Giovanny Gallegos and Dietrich Enns from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Finally, the Yankees traded lefthander James Pazos to Seattle for righty Zack Littell.
On November 18. 2015, the Yankees signed free agent catcher Kyle Higashioka to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
On the waiver wire it read like an afterthought, as the announcement of a “player to be named later” would. But little did the Yankees know when they picked up Scott Brosius from Oakland on November 18, 1997, as the player the Yanks received for already departed Kenny Rogers that they were getting themselves the 1998 World Series Most Valuable Player.
In one of the biggest trades in major league history, the Yankees acquired first baseman Dick Kryhoski, pitchers Bob Turley and Don Larsen, shortstop Billy Hunter, and a few others from Baltimore for outfielder Gene Woodling, shortstop Willie Miranda, pitchers Harry Byrd and Jim McDonald and catchers Gus Triandos and Hal Smith and a few minor-leaguers on November 18, 1954, a transaction that would prove helpful to both teams.
It’s ironic really. Two years out of a last-place finish, and fourth place in the just completed season, the Yanks lost three key players in the expansion draft in November 1992 that stocked the Marlins and Rockies. But coming off three straight playoff appearances with a Championship in the middle year, their roster went largely untouched when the Diamondbacks and Devil Rays selected on November 18, 1997. The Yanks lost Ben Ford (and traded to get him back), and Brian Boehringer. Other players who had played or would play with the Yanks who moved that day included former prospects Matt Drews and Marty Janzen, both drafted from other clubs; and John Flaherty, whom the Rays got for Boehringer. Afterward the Yanks would acquire Todd Erdos from the D’backs once the draft was completed. Finally, the D’backs took David Dellucci from the Orioles that day; he would play for the Yanks in the 2003 stretch run.
The signing by the Yanks of free agent starter Don Gullett on November 18, 1976, after he had helped sweep them in the World Series for the Big Red Machine just about a month earlier that year was a mixed blessing. Although Gullett would spend much of the time during which he was contractually attached to the Yanks injured, he did manage a 14-4 mark in 1977, and his eight-inning stint in Game One of that year’s World Series kept the Yanks in a key game they would win in 12.
The Bombers traded catcher Brad Gulden and cash to Seattle for infielder Larry Milbourne and a player to be named later (again), on November 18, 1980. Milbourne would notch 17 hits and hit .327 in three postseason series for the Yanks in 1981, and in May of that season the Mariners sent the Yanks that player “later to be named.” His name? Brad Gulden.
On November 18, 2014, the Yankees signed free agent righthander Andrew Bailey to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Doing some roster adjusting on November 18, 2011, the Yankees called up outfielder Zoilo Almonte and second basemen Corban Joseph and David Adams from the AA Trenton Thunder; and right-handed pitchers David Phelps and D.J. Mitchell from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
On November 18, 2010, the Yankees traded lefty-hitting first baseman Juan Miranda to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the South Bend Silver Hawks traded righthander Scottie Allen to the Charleston RiverDogs, a Class A Yankee affiliate.
It sounded like a flurry of minor moves that would barely affect the parent club but all but one of the following would contribute to the 99-win 2006 Yankee season: On November 18, 2005, the Yankees purchased the contracts of lefthander Matt Smith and outfielder Kevin Thompson from AAA Columbus, righties Matt DeSalvo and Jeffrey Karstens from AA Trenton, and reliever T.J. Beam from Class A Charleston. And Karstens and DeSalvo started nine 2007 games on the mound between them.
Formerly a first baseman with the Cubs, future TV star Chuck Connors (The Rifleman) became the first player to oppose the major league draft on this day in 1951. Spending time in the Dodgers system with the Pacific Coast League L.A. Angels, Chuck had no desire to be moved away from a city where he could pursue both of his professions at once.
Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson outpolled Mickey Mantle for the AL Most Valuable Player Award on November 18, 1964, by a vote of 269 to 171. Other American League winners are Zoilo Versalles of the Twins in 1965; Kansas City Royal George Brett, with his .390 ba, in 1980; Texas Ranger catcher Ivan Rodriguez in 1999; and Roger Clemens, who beat out Don Mattingly in 1986, becoming the first starting pitcher to win it since Vida Blue in 1971. National League November 18 winners are Jackie Robinson in 1949; Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench in 1970; Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt, winning his second in a row in 1981; former Yankee prospect, but winning as a St. Louis Cardinal, Willie McGee in 1985; and Andre Dawson of the Cubs in 1987, the first ever player to win it for a last-place club.
Both the National and American League Cy Young Awards were handed out on November 18, 1985, as New York Met Doc Gooden took home the former, and Bret Saberhagen of the Kansas City Royals won the junior circuit prize.
Washington Senators outfielder Bob Allison was an easy winner of the AL Rookie of the Year Award on November 18, 1959, as he easily prevailed over Jim Perry of the Indians.
Hall of Fame baseball executive George Weiss was just getting his start when he represented Walter Johnson in an attempt to purchase the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League on November 18, 1924. Later, Weiss would serve in the Yankee front office for 29 years, seasons that brought the club 19 AL Pennants and 15 World Championships.
The brother of Hall of Famer George Brett, lefthanded pitcher Ken Brett (2003) is the only Yankee player to have died on November 18. Brett saved one game with no wins or losses while pitching two games (no starts) for the 1976 Yankees. Pitching two years each with the Red Sox, the Pirates, the White Sox, the Angels, and the Royals, among others, from 1967-1981, Ken won 83, lost 85, and saved 11 games.
The list of noteworthy nonYankee players who have died on November 18 includes two righthanded pitchers, a southpaw, and a second baseman. But first we’ll talk of a shortstop who had a great impact on the game as a player and a manager. Following a playing career in which he hit 126 long balls good for 757 rbi’s from 1946 through 1960, mostly with the Giants, but also with significant stops with the Braves, the Cardinals, and the Cubs, Alvin Dark (2014) extended his career by managing the Giants, the Athletics (in both Kansas City and Oakland), the Indians, and the Padres from 1961 through 1977. He led the 1962 Giants to the pennant, and won the World Series in 1974 with the Athletics. Mike Prendergast (1967) won 41, lost 53, and saved four games for the Whales, the Cubs, and the Phillies from 1914-1919; Freddie Fitzsimmons (1979) posted a 217-146-13 mark from 1925-1937 pitching with the Giants and the Dodgers from 1925-1943; and southpaw Johnny Lush (1946) went 66-85-2 pitching with the Phillies and the Cardinals from 1904-1910. Second baseman Charlie Neal (1996) hit 87 home runs and drove in 391 runs with the Dodgers, the Mets, and the Reds from 1956-1963.
Players Who Have Died This Day
We begin a plethora of Yankee November 18 birthdays with two key 2004 performers who signed with the Yanks before that season. Tom Gordon (1967) has 138 wins and 158 saves in 20 seasons, the last three with Philadelphia. Gary Sheffield (1968) has 480 home runs and almost 1,600 rbi’s in two decades. Both excelled in the Bronx, Gordon with a 14-8 mark with six saves in 159 appearances; and Shef with 70 home runs with 244 rbi’s in 2004-2005. Sheffield lost much of his 2006 season, and his right field position in Yankee Stadium, to a severe wrist injury. He was traded to Detroit for three minor-league relievers a couple of days before his 38th birthday, and DH’d for the Tigers in 2007-2008. He hit his 500th career home run playing for the Mets in 2009.
Other birthdays continue with lefty Allen Watson (1970), 4-0 in 38 games for the 1999-2000 Yanks; and Clay Bellinger (1970), who had 12 homers and 35 rbi’s in 181 games for the 1999-2001 Bombers, and who would have played for the Yanks only except for a two-game stint with Anaheim in 2002. Watson signed free agent contracts with the Yanks in 1999 and 2000; Bellinger in 1996.
Ron Coomer (1966) hit three homers and knocked in 17 rbi’s for the 2002 Yanks after signing with them that January. Lefty Danny McDevitt (1932) recorded a 1-2 mark with one save in eight games for the 1961 Yanks after earlier in his career shutting out the Pirates in the Dodgers’ last game at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field in 1957. Originally a free-agent signing with the Yanks in 1951, he returned in 1960 only to be traded in June 1961 to the Twins for Billy Gardner.
Jim Marquis (1900) played only two games in the bigs, both with the 1925 Yankees; and catcher Deacon McGuire (1863) drove in 67 runs for the 1904-1907 Yanks, and appeared in more major league seasons (26, from 1884 to 1912) than any catcher in baseball history.
Righthander Bruce Billings (1985) pitched in one game for the 2014 Yankees, posting the easy-to-calculate 9.00 era by allowing four earned runs on four hits and a walk in four innings. The seven strike outs opened some eyes, but Bruce’s day was done in because he allowed two home runs. A late-round draft pick in 2006, Bruce had pitched in five games for Colorado and Oakland in 2011; has no record or saves through the 2014 season; and was released by the Yanks in August of that year.
And if that’s not enough, there are five other players who spent time with the team, but never joined them on the field of play in a regular-season game. Southpaw Chris Howard (1965), who went 2-0 with one save with the White Sox, Red Sox, and Rangers, signed with the Yanks as an amateur free agent in June 1986, and was released by them in May 1990. Righty Gilberto Rondon (1953), a 1977 Yankees selection off the roster of the Astros, pitched to a 2-2 record with Houston and the White Sox. The Yanks sold him to Yucatan in the Mexican League in 1978.
Once he signed with the Yanks as an amateur free agent in 1962, Jim Shellenback (1943) posted a 16-30 big league record after New York moved him to the Pirates the next year. The Yanks lost first baseman Bud Zipfel (1938) to the Washington Senators in the 1960 expansion draft. A 1956 Yankee free agent, Bud hit 10 homers with 39 rbi’s in our nation’s capital in 1961 and 1962. And infielder Kermit Wahl (1922) hit three homers with 50 rbi’s for the Reds, the A’s, and the Browns. In July 1951 the Browns traded him with Bobby Hogue, Lou Sleater, and Tom Upton to the Yankees for Cliff Mapes.
Other birthdays: Manager Gene Mauch (1925); Phillie Athletics righty Jack Coombs (1882), who went 158-110 from 1906-1920; Steve Henderson (1952); Luis Pujols (1955); Jamie Moyer (1962); Dante Bichette (1963); Mark Petkovsek (1965); Shawn Camp (1975); Matt Wise (1975); David Ortiz (1978); recently departed (six years ago) Steve Bechler (1979); C.J. Wilson (1980); Brent Leach (1982); Travis Buck (1983); Jameson Taillon (1991); and Michael Reed (1992).
Players Born This Day