It was candy-bar time in New York, time to stir the straw, which had just arrived. Free agent lefthanded power-hitting outfielder and future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson signed a $3.5 million contract to play for the Yanks on November 29, 1976. Reggie had established his credentials in Oakland, played one season in Baltimore, and proved his worth in New York. He became Mr. October by hitting three homers in the deciding Game Six of the 1977 World Series.
In a player move that did not work out nearly as well, the Yanks went hunting for a Mickey Mantle outfield replacement, shipping popular third baseman Clete Boyer to the Braves for Bill Robinson on November 29, 1966. Bill would amass a total of 16 homers and 90 rbi’s in his 1967-1969 stay in the Bronx, numbers which Clete easily eclipsed in his first season with the Braves: 26 dingers, 96 runs driven in. Robinson would have a good career as a reliable hitter and outfielder, but he would never approach the stardom that frenzied Yankee fans had envisioned.
It was a tough call that did not work out the first year when the Yanks signed catcher Jorge Posada to a four-year deal on November 29, 2007. Jorge had shoulder trouble from the outset in 2008, tried to play through DH’ing, then settled on surgery after collecting three home runs with 22 rbi’s in 51 games. Much was hoped for in a comeback year in 2009, and much was achieved, as Jorge caught 100 games, hit 22 home runs and drove in 81 runs.
Infielder Phil Linz‘s batting average dipped to .207 in 1965, so the Yanks swapped him with Ruben Amaro of the Phillies on November 29, 1965. Phil managed two homers with 29 rbi’s over the next three seasons with the Phils and the Mets. Ruben only notched one dinger and 22 rbi’s in the Bronx, but to a higher batting average.
When Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ruled on a punishment for Yankee Manager Billy Martin on November 29, 1979, for his fight with a marshmallow salesman the month before, perhaps the Thanksgiving turkey did the talking: Billy was let off with a warning. And Billy’s career was tumultuous. On this same day in 1966, a Chicago jury awarded Jim Brewer with $100,000 in damages stemming from an on-field altercation with Martin in 1960.
In a few November 29 player moves involving either former or future Yankee personnel, the Dodgers traded second baseman Miguel Cairo and third sacker Willis Otanez to the Mariners for third baseman Mike Blowers in 1995; the Marlins shipped outfielder Carl Everett to the Mets for second baseman Quilvio Veras in 1994; and the Giants released pitcher Waite Hoyt in 1932. Finally, in two trades on November 29, 1971, pitchers Ken Holtzman, Gaylord Perry, and Sam McDowell, all of whom would later toss for the Yanks, were moved. Holtzman went from the Cubs to the A’s, while Perry was sent to the Indians from the Giants for McDowell. On the same day, future Yankee outfielder Cesar Geronimo went from the Astros to the Reds.
With 24 Gold Gloves between them, Orioles defensive artists Brooks Robinson and Paul Blair (who would be playing in the Bronx shortly) last received that honor on November 29, 1975.
In a rambling quote on November 29, 1992, that would lead to her eventual demise, Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott used offensive words to describe both black people and citizens of Japan, and admitted to admiring Adolf Hitler.
Hall of Fame hurlers Walter Johnson and Grover Cleveland Alexander faced each other for the first time in an exhibition game on November 29, 1916. Among the players that day were future Yankee managers Casey Stengel and Hal Chase; Chase both played for and managed the Yanks.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Two former players with Pinstripes on their resumes died on November 29 in the last few years, hurler Pete Mikkelsen in 2006, and first baseman Vic Power in 2005. Mikkelsen, a Yankee draftee, was traded to Pittsburgh for Bob Friend in December 1965 after winning 11, losing 13, and saving 13 pitching 91 games (just three starts) in two years in New York. Pete had a 45-40 mark with 49 saves in nine years overall, much of it with the Pirates, the Cubs, and the Dodgers. Although Power was originally a Yankee once the team purchased his contract, he was traded before ever playing here. In an ugly time, it was feared that the angry Power might not be happy as one of the first African American players in New York, and he was traded to Kansas City in December 1953. In 12 seasons, Vic stroked 126 home runs, good for 658 runs driven in, mostly with the A’s, the Indians, and the Twins. And six other Yankee players have died on November 29. Lefty-hitting outfielder Bob Bescher (1942) had 12 rbi’s on 53 hits in 54 games for the 1905-1906 Highlanders, numbers that grew to one home run and 122 rbi’s after five years with the White Sox. Outfielder Tuck Stainback (1992) homered five times and drove in 23 runs on 163-for-645 hitting in 211 games for the 1942-1945 Yankees. A four-year stint with the Cubs and two each with the Dodgers and the Tigers brought the numbers up to 17 and 204. Third baseman Charley Smith (1994) was tragically garnered in a trade that sent away Roger Maris. His 10 home runs with 45 rbi’s in New York in 1967-1968 fell way short; he reached 69 fences and drove in 281 in a 1960-1969 career with significant stops with the White Sox, the Mets, and the Dodgers. First baseman Bob Unglaub debuted with the 1904 Highlanders, netting two runs knocked in on 4-for-19 hitting in six games. Playing seven years subsequently with the Americans and the Senators gave him five overall homers with 216 rbi’s. Righthander Al Cicotte (1982) won, lost, and saved two games each while debuting with the 1957 Yanks in 20 games (two starts). Pitching for five teams over the next five years made the numbers 10-13-4. Finally, lefty-hitting righty pitcher Jim Turner (1998) ended a 1937-1945 career by pitching 88 games (no starts) with the Yanks the last four years to an 11-9-19 mark. Stops with the Bees and the Reds increased the record to 69-60-20.
The list of noteworthy nonYankee players who have died on November 29 includes a southpaw, a catcher, two switch-hitting outfielders, and shortstop Red Kress (1962), who homered 89 times and knocked in 799 runs from 1927-1946 playing eight years with the Browns, three years each with the White Sox and the Senators, and two with the Tigers. Outfielder Artie Latham (1952) hit 28 home runs and collected 345 rbi’s playing mostly with the Reds and the Cardinals from 1908-1913; and Bernie Neis (1972) cleared 25 fences good for 210 rbi’s from 1920-1927 with the Dodgers and the Braves. Lefty Marcelino Lopez (2001) won 31, lost 40, and saved two games mostly for California and Baltimore from 1963-1972; and catcher Harry Danning (2004) hit all 57 of his home runs with 397 rbi’s from 1933-1942 with the Giants.
Players Born This Day
There are seven Yankee November 29 births, but one stands head and shoulders above most who have ever worn the uni. Mariano Rivera (1969), undisputably the greatest postseason closer in major league history, and perhaps the greatest closer ever, prepares to begin his 15th Yankee season in 2009 having posted a 68-49 career win/loss record and 482 saves over his first 14. Mariano was selected by the Yankees in the 1990 free agent draft. It is a disgrace that he has never earned a Cy Young nor an MVP Award. One would have thought all the years would have taken a toll, but Rivera walked just six with 77 strike outs in 70-plus innings in 2008, and saved 39 games with just one blown save. He went 3-3 with 44 saves in 2009, and was the only postseason closer among the eight partaking teams who did not fail his team in the clutch during the postseason.
Lefty-hitting DH and outfielder Mike Easler (1950) smacked 18 Yankee homers and drove in 99 runs in finishing his career in the Bronx after being swapped from Boston for Don Baylor in March 1986. The Yankees then traded Mike with Tom Barrett to Philly that December for Charles Hudson and minor-leaguer Jeff Knox. They got Easler back from the Phillies for Keith Hughes and Shane Turner in June 1987. Easler hit 118 career taters with 522 rbi’s.
Outfielder Otto Velez (1950) started his career with the Bombers by hitting six home runs and driving in 28 runs from 1973-1976 once the Bombers drafted him in 1969. They lost him in 1976 in the expansion draft that stocked Toronto and Seattle. Velez played for six years with the Jays and one for the Indians for 78 career jacks and 272 rbi’s.
Long Tom Hughes (1878) posted a 7-11 mark with the 1904 Yanks, after having compiled a 7-5 mark with the 1902 Baltimore Orioles team that would move to New York as the Highlanders in 1903. The Boston Somersets purchased him from Baltimore in July 1902, and traded him to the Highlanders for Jesse Tannehill in December 1903. New York shipped him and Barney Wolfe to the Washington Senators for Al Orth in July 1904.
Lefty-hitting outfielder Irv Noren (1924) hit a respectable 31 dingers with 208 rbi’s with the 1952 through 1956 Yanks once they got him from Washington with Tom Upton for Jackie Jensen, Spec Shea, Jerry Snyder, and Archie Wilson in May 1952. Noren was sent to Kansas City in February 1957 with Jack Urban, Rip Coleman, Milt Graff, Billy Hunter, Mickey McDermott, and Tom Morgan for Curt Roberts, Clete Boyer, Art Ditmar, Bobby Shantz, Jack McMahan, and Wayne Belardi.
The last two Yankees born this day each played only one year in the bigs, only with the Yanks. Jack Enright‘s (1895) only appearance was a start for the 1917 Bombers during which he surrendered five hits and five runs (three earned) in five innings; he took the loss. And shortstop Jack Wanner (1885) notched one hit in eight at bats with one stolen base during three games for the 1909 Highlanders.
Other birthdays: broadcaster Vin Scully (1927); George Thomas (1937); Dick McAuliffe (1939); Bill Freehan (1941); Joe Price (1956); Howard Johnson (1960); Bob Hamelin (1967); and a pitcher named Pedro Martinez (1968) who posted a 7-4 mark for the Padres, Astros, Mets, and Reds from 1993-1997, and who is not the guy who pitched well for the Dodgers, was the ace of the Expos, and was a mainstay of the Red Sox rotation over several seasons before toiling for the Mets in Flushing the last few years. Also, Francis Beltran (1979); Brian Wolfe (1980) Guillermo Quiroz (1981); and Craig Gentry (1983).