Back when there was only one Cy Young Award for both leagues, Yankee lefthander Whitey Ford defeated Warren Spahn of the Braves in the vote, with the results announced on November 8, 1961. “The Chairman of the Board” posted a 25-4 record with a 3.21 era in the recently completed season.
On November 8, 1951, Yankee catcher Yogi Berra won the first of his three Most Valuable Player Awards. Fellow Yankees Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi, and Gil McDougald also finished in the Top Ten, with Phil Rizzuto and Eddie Lopat taking 11th and 12th in the vote, respectively.
The Yankees declined the club option on first baseman Tino Martinez on November 8, 2005, making him a free agent and, in effect, ending his playing career. Now a broadcaster and Yankee adviser, Tino hit 192 of 339 career home runs for the Yanks, and 739 of 1,231 rbi’s. His appearances in the stands (and throwing out a first pitch) at 2007 ALDS games and in the 2009 run to the championship were among the highlights.
On November 8, 2016, the Yankees designated righthander Branden Pinder for assignment.
On November 8, 2013, the Yankees signed free agent center fielder Jose Infante to a minor league contract.
When Baltimore Oriole Frank Robinson won the AL MVP on November 8, 1966, teammates Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell took second and third place in the voting. Robby thus became the first (and still only) player to win the prize in each league. Dale Murphy won his second consecutive NL MVP on the same date in 1983; shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr., beat Detroit Tiger Cecil Fielder in a close vote for the 1991 AL prize; and Sammy Sosa almost doubled up fellow slugger Mark McGwire for the 1998 NL honor on November 8. I wonder how these would do if the vote were held now.
Scoring well in their fourth straight reentry draft, the Yankees signed free agents Bob Watson and Rudy May to long-term contracts on November 8, 1979. Watson hit 19 home runs with 80 rbi’s the next two seasons, while May enjoyed a 15-5 1980 campaign. But as the Yanks’ fortunes dipped, so did May’s, as he slipped to a 13-22 mark over the next three years, his last in the bigs.
Two NL stars who would eventually wear the Pinstripes left their original teams on November 8 having accomplished less than expected, given their acknowledged potential. The Dodgers traded Raul Mondesi and pitcher Pedro Borbon to the Blue Jays for Shawn Green in 1999; and free agent former Met Darryl Strawberry inked a five-year deal with the Dodgers in 1990.
Boston Red Sox first baseman Walt Dropo is the first of three November 8 Rookie of the Award winners (winning his in 1950), followed by the Cubs’ Jerome Walton in 1989, and Reds reliever Scott Williamson in 1999. Walton, by the way, would try to latch on with the Yankees as an extra outfielder in 1999 following a 10-year career, but he was released just before the season.
The American League OK’d the move of the Philadelphia Athletics to Kansas City on November 8, 1954.
In a bizarre story, former Mets GM Steve Phillips took a paid leave of absence on November 8, 1998, while a sexual harassment suit filed by a Spring Training employee with whom he had had an affair was resolved. Mr. Phillips is in similar hot water now in 2009.
American League Founder Ban Johnson had another in a series of bad days on November 8, 1920, as five AL teams joined with their NL brethren in threatening to depose him. It’s important to remember, I think, that American League baseball might never have been established in New York City without the support, the encouragement, and the insistence of Johnson.
Although he never played for the Yanks, we’ll credit one-time Yankee Manager Bucky Harris (1977) as the first of four Yankees to have died on November 8, and in Bucky’s case, it’s also the day he was born (see below). As a second baseman, Harris poled nine home runs with 506 rbi’s playing 10 seasons with the Senators and two with the Tigers from 1919-1931. Outfielder Birdie Cree (1942) has some decent numbers for a guy you never hear about. He played 742 games for the Highlanders (and Yankees) only from 1908-1915, clearing 11 fences good for 332 rbi’s on 761-for 2,603 hitting. Catcher Joe Connor (1957) ended a career played in parts of four sesons by playing five games with the 1905 Highlanders. He notched two rbi’s in New York on 5-for-22 hitting, increasing the totals to one home run and 18 runs driven in after stops with the Browns in 1895, the Beaneaters in 1900, and the Brewers and the Blues in 1901. Finally, lefthanded first baseman Earl Torgeson (1990) ended a 1947-1961 career by playing 22 games for the Yanks in ’61. He added nothing to his totals of 149 long balls and 740 runs driven in while getting two hits in 18 at bats. He played six years with the Braves, five with the White Sox, and three each with the Phillies and the Tigers.
The list of noteworthy nonYankee players who have died on October 31 includes two righthanded pitchers, a southpaw, two second basemen, an outfielder, a catcher, and catcher/outfielder King Kelly (1894), who homered 69 times and knocked in 950 runs from 1878-1893 with the White Stockings and the Beaneaters. Outfielder Hank Leiber (1993) went yard 101 times and collected 518 rbi’s playing with the Giants and the Cubs from 1933-1942. Fred Anderson (1957) posted a 53-57-8 mark pitching with the Giants, the Red Sox, and the Buffeds from 1909-1918; Johnny Lanning (1989) won 58, lost 60, and saved 13 for the Bees, the Pirates, and the Braves from 1936-1947; and southpaw Bob Chipman (1973) posted a 51-46-14 record with the Dodgers, the Cubs, and the Braves from 1941-1952. Lefty-hitting second baseman Cupid Childs (1912) hit 20 roundtrippers from 1888-1901, good for 743 rbi’s, playing mostly with Cleveland; and switch-hitting second sacker Claude Ritchey (1951) cleared 18 fences and drove in 673 runs with the Pirates, the Doves, and the Colonels from 1897-1909. Most recently, lefty hitting, righty throwing catcher Russ Nixon (2016) played for Boston, Cleveland, and Minnesota from 1957 through 1968, reaching 27 fences and driving in 266 runs during that time.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Hall of Fame player and manager Bucky Harris (1896), “The Boy Wonder,” is one of four Yankees who celebrate November 8 as their birthday. He had led the hapless Washington Senators to the World Series title in his first of 29 years managing at the age of 27 (as a player/manager) back in 1924 (thus the nickname), and skippered the 1947 World Champion Yankees as well.
DH Henry Rodriguez (1967) went 0-for-8 in five games for the 2001 Yankees, and struck out in six of those at bats. Unfortunately Henry did not approach the Bronx success of Paul O’Neill in the Bronx despite the fact that they had both been traded for outfielder Roberto Kelly at one time in their careers. Rodriguez was signed by New York as a free agent in February 2001, and he was released in June.
Outfielder/DH and 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton (1989) became the newest Yankee birthdayer when New York sent second baseman Starlin Castro and two minor leaguers to Miami for him in early December 2017. Drafted in the second round of the 2007 amateur draft, Giancarlo had hit 267 home runs with 672 rbi’s in Florida from 2010 through 2017, numbers he increased by 38 and 100 respectively in the Bronx in 2018. Stanton had early and late struggles in New York, but his numbers were solid, and he largely carried the team when teammate Aaron Judge was lost to a broken bone in his hand. Giancarlo is signed to a huge contract through the 2027 season, with a team option for 2028, but he can opt out of the deal following the 2020 season.
All 19 games outfielder John Fishel (1962) played in were with the 1988 Houston Astros, before he was traded with minor leaguers Mike Hook and Pedro DeLeon to the Yankees in January 1989 for Rick Rhoden. Fishel hit one home run with two rbi’s in 26 at bats as an Astro.
Other birthdays: Dodgers second baseman Tony Cuccinello (1907); Ed Kranepool (1944); Jerry Remy (1952); John Denny (1952); Dwight Smith (1963); Jeff Blauser (1965); Eric Anthony (1967); Jose Offerman (1968); Shane Halter (1969); Edgardo Alfonso (1973); Nick Punto (1977); Victor Marte (1980); Darwin Barney (1985); Bryan Shaw (1987); Yasmani Grandal (1988); and Nick Kingham (1991).
Players Born This Day