We lead off the way we usually end this day, for the most obvious of reasons. The most famous (of six) Yankees to be born on November 25 is the Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio (1914). Hitter of 361 lifetime home runs (all as a righty batter) in a home ballpark with a virtually unreachable left center field wall, he won three MVP Awards and two batting titles, while driving home 1,537 runs. He led the league in rbi’s twice, in homers twice, slugging percentage twice, and total bases three times. He played 13 seasons around World War II, and wore the honor of being the “greatest living ballplayer” with dignity for almost 50 years before his death in 1999.
New York Yankee catcher Thurman Munson received 23 of 24 votes in winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award on November 25, 1970. Munson caught 132 games his rookie year, stroked six home runs, and knocked in 53 runs.
The year before that, outfielder (and future Yankee) Lou Piniella won the AL ROTY on November 25 as a Kansas City Royal. The other three American League players who were honored with this award on the same late November day were Jose Canseco of the A’s in 1986; shortstop Ozzie Guillen of the White Sox in 1985; and Texas Ranger Mike Hargrove in 1974. Cincinnati Red Tommy Helms won the NL Rookie of the Year on this same day in 1966.
Despite losing the batting title (and the Triple Crown with it) to George Kell by .0002, Ted Williams won the American League Most Valuable Player Award in a landslide on this day in 1949. He was followed in the voting by Yankees Phil Rizzuto and Joe Page. Milwaukee Brewer Rollie Fingers became the first relief pitcher to ever win the American League MVP Award when he took it home on November 25, 1981, after edging Oakland’s Rickey Henderson in the voting. And Chicago Cubs slugger Ernie Banks bested Willie Mays for the NL prize on this day in 1958.
After Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane reneged on the original offer he had accepted and decided against bolting his team for the same job with the Red Sox, the Boston club hired 28-year-old Theo Epstein to fill the position on November 25, 2002. Twenty-three months later, the Red Sox celebrated their first Championship in 86 years, but Epstein’s on-and-off stint in the Boston front office since has been hit and miss (mostly hit): They missed the playoffs in 2006, then won it all again in 2007. Epstein has completed an unprecedented two-time achievement, presiding as the GM when Boston broke its 86-year championship drought, and now following up in Chicago as the Cubs recently won their first ring in 108 years.
And speaking of young men being hired to jobs one envisions being filled by someone older, the Cleveland Indians hired 24-year-old Lou Boudreau to be player/manager on this day in 1941.
The Sporting News, acting in this capacity while baseball was not, named the New York Giants’ Bill Terry and Boston’s Joe Cronin as National League and American League MVPs, respectively, on November 25, 1930.
No Yankee players have died on November 25.
Hall of Fame Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis died on November 25, 1944. Credited with saving the game following the 1919 Black Sox scandal, Landis served until his death. On the downside, if he did not encourage the game’s segregation policies, he did nothing to fix them either. The list of noteworthy nonYankee players who have died on November 25 includes a first baseman, a second baseman, a third baseman, an outfielder, and a lefty hurler. First baseman Charlie Carr (1932) hit six home runs and drove in 240 runs playing two years with Detroit and one each with six other clubs between 1898 and 1906; and second baseman Burgess Whitehead (1993) hit 17 long balls with 245 rbi’s playing with the Cardinals, the Giants, and the Pirates from 1933-1946. Third baseman Ray Jablonski (1985) cleared 83 fences and knocked in 438 runs from 1953-1960 with the Cardinals, the Reds, the Giants, and the A’s; and lefty-hitting outfielder Ival Goodman (1984) hit 95 roundtrippers with 525 rbi’s from 1935-1944 with the Reds and the Cubs. Most recently, southpaw Lou Brissie (2013) pitched from 1947 through 1953 for the Philly A’s and Cleveland Indians to a 44-48 record with 29 saves.
Players Who Have Died This Day
As trumpeted above, November 25 is first and foremost the birthday of the Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio (1914, see above). And his umatched 56-game hitting streak isn’t even mentioned there (though I couldn’t resist here.)
It also marks the birth of another big-name Yankee. Bucky Dent (1951) will always be remembered for his 1978 playoff home run that broke the hearts of all of Boston. With the Yanks he hit 27 homers and knocked in 209 runs from 1977 through 1982. He managed the Yanks for a short time in both 1989 and 1990, but to an 18-22 mark the first year, and an 18-31 record in the latter, numbers that got him quickly replaced. He seemed to have a future in that respect too, as a recent manager of the AAA club in Columbus, but he left the team after the 2005 season. The Yanks got Dent from the White Sox in April 1977 for Oscar Gamble, La Marr Hoyt, minor-leaguer Bob Polinsky, and cash, and traded him to the Texas Rangers for Lee Mazzilli in August 1982.
The 29 home runs and 82 rbi’s with the ability to play both outfield and first base were only two of the many things newest Yankee born this day Nick Swisher (1980) brought to the 2009 Champs. A real character, Nick may have kept the clubhouse light; we know he did the fanbase. Playing in Oakland from 2004-2007 and with the White Sox (in a down year) in 2008, the outfielder/first baseman had hit 104 home runs with 324 rbi’s before he arrived in the Bronx. Another 29-homer year despite a knee injury in 2010 solidified Nick’s hold on right field in the Bronx, but struggles in the postseason for three years running had fans worried. Nick’s 2012 option was picked up, and he had another good season, and poor postseason. After signing with Cleveland, Nick has had another solid season in 2013, though a disappointing, if brief, postseason. Knee injuries ruined Nick’s stay in Cleveland, and he hopes to stick with Atlanta, to whom he was traded in late 2015.
Mark Whiten (1966) hit five homers with 24 rbi’s in 69 games for the 1997 team, and played in Toronto, Cleveland, and St. Louis too. He was signed as a free agent in January of that year, and released in August after being exposed in some shameful off-the field behavior.
Outfielder Archie Wilson (1923) played his first big-league ball with the 1951-1952 Yanks before appearing in Washington and in Boston in ’52 as well. The Bombers shipped Wilson with Jackie Jensen, Spec Shea, and Jerry Snyder to Washington in May 1952 for Irv Noren and Tom Upton.
Jim Weaver (1903) pitched to a 2-1 record with the 1931 Yanks in 17 games (five starts) after one year in Washington; he played two years with the Browns, three with the Pirates, and two with the Reds once he left the Bronx.
The Yanks gambled on hard-throwing righthander Octavio Dotel (1973), recovering from shoulder surgery, as they signed him as a free agent for 2006. Dotel failed to recover sufficiently however, and he posted no record with a 10-plus era in 14 games at the end of the year. He has a 43-36 mark with 83 saves, most it with Houston, entering the 2009 season.
A 2006 Yankee draft choice, third baseman Jimmy Paredes (1988) never played for the Yanks, as he was traded with Mark Melancon to Houston for Lance Berkman in 2010. He hit three home runs with 31 rbi’s in 118 games with the 2011-2013 Astros. Paredes, who was with the AL East champ Orioles in 2014 and 2015 — during which time he got some big hits vs the Yankees — ended the 2016 season with 20 home runs and 100 rbi’s, after having served brief stints with Kansas City and Toronto, and most recently Philadelphia.
Other birthdays: Jakie May (1895), who played with St. Louis and Cincinnati from 1917-1932; Mike Ryan (1941); Chico Walker (1957); Shingo Tkatasu (1968); Joe Borchard (1978); Zach McClellan (1978); Grant Dayton (1987); and Nate Karns (1987).
Players Born This Day