On November 9, 1951, Yankee catcher Yogi Berra won his first of three MVP awards. Yogi had batted .294, with 27 home runs and 88 rbi’s, along with his great work behind the plate.
A club of visiting major leaguers to Japan were defeated by a Japanese All Star team, 6-4, when one of the members of the home team hit a grand slam home run off Shane Reynolds of the Astros on November 9, 1996. Who supplied that power? Recent Yankee Designated Hitter Hideki Matsui, the 2009 World Series MVP. A great power hitter known as Godzilla in Japan, Hideki lived up to the name in 2004, although his power numbers slipped a bit in the following season. He was out with a serious injury for much of 2006, and struggled down the stretch with a bad knee in 2007, after winning the AL Player of the Month Award in a torrid July. Bad knees relegated Matsui to mostly DH duties in 2008 and 2009, but he made the adjustment beautifully.
It was on November 9, 1998, that it was first revealed that Hall of Fame Oakland A’s and New York Yankee pitcher Jim Catfish Hunter was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig‘s disease. Sadly, the pitcher nicknamed “Catfish” would pass away 10 months later.
Former Yankee star player Lou Piniella, who had managed both the Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds, was named to pilot the Seattle Mariners on November 9, 1992. Piniella led his hometown Tampa Bay Devil Rays the last few years until his resignation, and he piloted the 2007-2008 Cubs to back-to-back AL Central titles. The NL Chicago team stumbled badly under Lou in 2009.
And speaking of ex-Yankees in the managing ranks, the Orioles grabbed New York first base coach (and bench coach) Lee Mazzilli to be their field boss on November 9, 2003. Fired midway during the 2005 season, Mr. Mazzilli served as Joe Torre‘s bench coach in 2006, but was replaced by Don Mattingly in 2007.
On November 9, 2015, the Yankees signed free agent catcher Francisco Diaz to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training. The club also signed free agent righthander Jhony Brito to a minor league contract.
On November 9, 2014, the Yankees signed free agent outfielder Chris Young. Former Met Young, who had closed the ’14 season with the club after a late-season signing, would contribute mightily to the team’s 2015 fortunes in the season’s first half, but he struggled, as many pinstripers did, down the stretch.
The Yankee front office took care of a lot of business on November 9, 2009. First, they activated righthander Ian Kennedy, catcher Francisco Cervelli, center fielder Melky Cabrera, righties Edwar Ramirez and Sergio Mitre, and southpaw Michael Dunn. The team then outrighted speedster Freddy Guzman to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Finally, younger players Wilkin De La Rosa, Shelley Duncan, Jonathan Albaladejo, Mark Melancon, Christian Garcia, Juan Miranda, and Andrew Brackman, along with veteran righthander Josh Towers, all had their roster status changed by the Yankees. Finally, left fielder Johnny Damon, righthander Chan Ho Park, DH Hideki Matsui, right fielder Eric Hinske, and catcher Jose Molina filed for free agency.
In a case involving Yankee farmhand George Toolson, who had refused a move from AAA to AA, the United States Supreme Court ruled by a 7-2 vote on November 9, 1953, that baseball is a sport and not a business, and therefore not subject to antitrust laws.
The most recent of three November 9 Rookie of the Year Awards was the AL one handed out in 1999 to Carlos Beltran of the Kansas City Royals. Free agent Beltran closed the 2004 season in Houston, and the switch-hitting center fielder with power disappointed in the Mets outfield in 2005, but he was MVP runner-up to Philly’s Ryan Howard for his work in 2006. Dodger pitcher Hideo Nomo won the NL ROTY Award in 1995; and Sam Jethroe of the Boston Braves won the NL prize on the same day in 1950.
Milwaukee Brewer Robin Yount was a unanimous choice for AL MVP on November 9, 1982. George Foster of the Reds won the 1977 NL version largely on the strength of the at-the-time rarity of 50+ home runs (52) on the same day; and St. Louis Cardinal Triple Crown Winner Joe Medwick waltzed to the 1937 Award on November 9 of that year.
On November 9, 1912, the Cubs sold the contract of Manager Frank Chance to the Reds. When he passed waivers the following month, Cincinnati set him free and he signed on to be the manager of the Highlanders (Yankees). He would pilot them for two seasons.
Switch-hitting second baseman Otis Johnson (1915), the only Yankee player to have died on November 9, played 71 games for the New York Highlanders in 1911. He had 49 hits in 209 at bats, hit three home runs, and drove in 36 runs. His New York experience represented all of his big-league play.
The list of noteworthy nonYankee players who have died on November 9 includes one lefthanded pitcher, a lefty-hitting outfielder, a third baseman, and, new to the group, two righthanders. Bob Weiland (1988) won 62, lost 94, and saved seven games from 1928 through 1940 pitching mostly for the White Sox and the Cardinals (four years each), and the Red Sox (three years). Lefty swinging outfielder Danny Green (1914) hit 29 home runs and knocked in 423 runs playing with the 1898-1901 Orphans and with the 1902-1905 White Sox; and third baseman Fred Haney (1977) cleared 8 fences and drove in 228 runs playing mostly with the Tigers (four years) and the Red Sox (2 years) between 1922 and 1929. The baseball world was stunned when righthander Tommy Hanson passed away due to catastrophic organ failure at the age of 29 on this day in 2015. Hanson pitched for Atlanta from 2009 through 2012, and for Anaheim in 2013, to an overall record of 49-35 with no saves. And even newer to the list is Ken Howell (2018), who posted a 38-48 with 31 saves with the Dodgers from 1984 through 1988, and in 1989-1990 with the Phillies. Of 245 games, Ken started 54 of them.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Nine Yankee birthdays start with that of lefty Kevin Mmahat (1964), who went 0-2 in four games (two starts) for the 1989 Yanks in his only major league service. A Rangers amateur free agent signing, Mmahat was purchased by the Yanks in June 1988.
Lefthanded outfielder Dion James (1962), who finished 14 years in the bigs in New York by hitting 12 homers and knocking in 79 runs from 1992 through 1996, signed free agent contracts with the Yanks in 1992, 1995, and 1996. Dion once was awarded a double when the fly ball he hit struck and killed a pigeon while in flight.
Next is pitcher Dave Wehrmeister (1952), who was traded to the Yanks for Jay Johnstone and played five games for the 1981 club. He pitched three years in San Diego and spent his last two seasons in Philly and with the White Sox. The Yanks got minor-leaguers Jim Rasmussen and Kelly Faulk from the Phillies for Wehrmeister in June 1983; he posted an overall record of 4-9 with two saves.
Lefty-hitting outfielder Ted Sepkowski (1923) played his final two games with the ’47 team, after parts of three seasons in Cleveland. With New York, Ted is listed as having played no position, with no at bats, but he scored a run and was caught stealing once.
The next three Yankee birthdays all debuted in New York. Infielder Jerry Priddy (1919) notched three homers and 54 rbi’s for the 1941-1942 Yankees in a career that continued through three years with the Senators, two with the Browns, and four with the Tigers. The Bombers traded Priddy to Washington for Bill Zuber and cash in January 1943.
Second baseman Roy Schalk (1908) got three hits in 12 ab’s during three games for the 1932 Bombers and played two years with the White Sox 12 years later. And lefthanded-hitting outfielder Harvey Hendrick (1897) recorded four home runs and 23 rbi’s for the ’23-’24 Yanks and followed that up with four years in Brooklyn and two in Cincinnati. The Yanks got Hendrick with George Pipgras from the Red Sox in January 1923 for Al DeVormer and cash.
Yankee fans and brass were thrilled with the 2015 debut of first baseman Greg Bird (1992), who provided the silver lining to the broken calf bone that derailed Mark Teixeira‘s huge comeback season. Greg contributed solid, though not stellar, defense, while hitting 11 home runs and driving in 31 runs in 46 games. The Yankee organization and its fans were crushed when Bird was lost for the 2016 season due to shoulder surgery, and despite a stellar stint in the Arizona Fall League and a wonderful 2017 Spring Training session, Greg was lost for most of the season yet again with foot surgery. A fifth-round choice and signing in 2011, Bird’s lefty power bat appeared to be the perfect fit for the short porch in right in the Bronx going forward, which he demonstrated with a strong finish to the ’17 season, and in the postseason. He blasted nine home runs and 28 rbi’s on the year. and three more long balls and six driven in in the stirring postseason run. He had a horrible season in 2018, however, hitting 11 home runs with 38 rbi’s while striking out 78 times in 82 games. He was replaced at first by late-season pickup Luke Voit, and did not even make the postseason roster. Greg failed to rebound in 2019, stroking one homer with one rbi in 10 games, blunted by injury and ineffectiveness.
And finally, though he never took the field with the team, former Royals and Cardinals Manager Whitey Herzog (1931) signed with the Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1949. The Yanks sent Herzog, Lou Berberet, Bob Wiesler, Herb Plews, and Dick Tettelbach to the Washington Senators for Mickey McDermott and Bobby Kline in April 1956.
Other birthdays start with the intimidating St. Louis Hall of Fame starter Bob Gibson (1935), who won 251 games from 1959 through 1975; Jim Riggelman (1952); Brewers lefty Ted Higuera (1958), whom Don Mattingly respectfully referred to as “Bad Teddy”; lefty-hitting Moonlight Graham (1876), made famous from the movie, Field of Dreams ; Chad Ogea (1970); Scott Sauerbeck (1971); Joe Nunnally (1971); Jose Rosado (1974); Jeff D’Amico (1974); Peter Bergeron (1977); Jason Standridge (1978); Adam Dunn (1979); David Bush (1979); Chuck James (1981); Tony Barnette (1983); Joel Zumaya (1984); Zach Neal (1988); Curt Casali (1988); Andrew Knapp (1991); Rowan Wick (1992); Eric Mejia (1994); and José Quijada (1995).
Players Born This Day