It sounds memorable enough to simply call it the 240th home run of the Yankees’ record-breaking 1961 season. But it was “61 in 61,” and the greatest significance of Roger Maris‘s 61st home run of that season off Boston’s Tracy Stallard on October 1 was that it finally put an end to the Yankee right fielder’s tortured race to surpass Babe Ruth‘s 1927 record. And it was “big” in another way too, the only score in a 1-0 Yankee win. All these many years later, with contested numbers, the number is bigger than ever.
Finally rising from the canvas, the Yanks took the last of four from Boston on October 1, 2015, by a 4-1 score, and in so doing won the 10,000th game in franchise history, an achievement delayed for three days. CC Sabathia went five for the win, with Adam Warren tossing three, and Dellin Betances cashing in the save that clinched an appearance in that season’s Wild Card game. A Carlos Beltran home run and Brendan Ryan rbi single put the Bombers up 2-0 in the second and, once the Red Sox closed it to 2-1, late home runs by Greg Bird and Rob Refsnyder gave the home team some breathing room. The Yankee pen allowed just one walk and one single over the last four. It was a cold and rainy evening in the Bronx, but it didn’t feel that bad.
Looking back on the 2012 season from a 2013 perspective, the final home series in which the eventual AL East Champ Yanks swept a struggling Red Sox team was a good time indeed. On October 1, CC Sabathia threw a dominant eight innings, allowing four hits, two runs, and a walk on 103 pitches; he pounded 20 of 29 first-pitch strikes. The offensive star in the 10-2 win was Robinson Cano, who homered and doubled, drove in three runs, and scored two.
The 1-1 tie in 2011 ALDS Game One between Detroit and New York that had been interrupted after an inning and a half the day before resumed in Yankee Stadium on October 1. And it remained a tight contest, the final score notwithstanding. With Ivan Nova and Doug Fister subbing for aces CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander, who had started the game, it remained tied until Robinson Cano‘s rbi hit made it 2-1 after five. But the Yanks broke it open with a six-run sixth off Al Alburqerque, mostly on a grand slam from Cano, who finished with six rbi’s in the Yankee 9-3 win.
Derek Jeter‘s leadoff single off Tim Wakefield gave him his first 200-hit season since 2000, and started a five-inning, seven-run onslaught that ensured the Yanks the AL East title in Fenway Park on October 1, 2005, the day before the season ended. Home runs from Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, and Alex Rodriguez carried the action, and Randy Johnson earned his fifth victory of the season over Boston, an 8-4 Yankee win.
When the Red Sox lost to the Orioles 8-7 on October 1, 1977, the Yanks won their second consecutive AL East title.
Babe Ruth homered in a 6-5 season-ending win over the Red Sox on October 1, 1933. But the unique thing was that he pitched the game too. It was the final pitching appearance of his career and he threw a complete game.
It was a pleasant surprise that Sunday, October 1, 2006, the last day of the regular season, was gorgeous, which was not the forecast, but the game was unsatisfying, a 7-5 loss to Toronto in Yankee Stadium. Jorge Posada hit a two-run home run for the Yanks, but they lost when rookie Adam Lind did the same against Kyle Farnsworth with two down in the top of the ninth. Bernie Williams managed the Yanks in (probably) his last game, and he doubled after he inserted himself as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning.
The Yankees and their fans were ecstatic on the morning of October 1, 1978, with a one-game lead with one to play. But Rick Manning of Cleveland beat them 9-2 in the Bronx as the Red Sox rode a Luis Tiant 5-0 shutout over Toronto to a 162-game deadlock. It was outside the Stadium that day as the Yanks prepared to travel to Boston for a playoff that I first heard the since oft-repeated taunt claiming that “Boston S___s!”
The Yanks beat the White Sox 8-1 behind Sterling Hitchcock on October 1, 2001, in the game that was originally scheduled to take place in Yankee Stadium on the evening of September 11. Shane Spencer reached safely four times and scored on three of them, and Derek Jeter knocked in three runs with two doubles.
The Yanks have had some playoff experience on October 1 as well. On this day in 1932, Babe Ruth gestured after Charlie Root of the Cubs had two strikes on him in the fifth inning. Legend has it that he was pointing and calling where he would homer on the next pitch, but Root always swore that Ruth was only confirming that that was strike two. The Babe followed by stroking his second homer of a game in which Lou Gehrig also went yard twice, as the Yanks coasted to a 7-5 win.
The Braves beat the Yankees 4-3 in 10 innings in the first game of the 1958 World Series behind a complete-game effort from Warren Spahn.
The Yankees fell 6-2 to the Rangers in the first game of the 1996 ALDS, as John Burkett topped David Cone. None in the saddened Yankee Stadium crowd realized that the Yanks would beat the Texas team in their next nine ALDS games.
The Yankees fell to the Dodgers 4-2 in Game One of the 1952 World Series on October 1, as relief ace Joe Black, who started only two games in the regular season, got the start and beat the Bombers.
And on the same day one year later in 1953, the Yanks took a two-games-to-none lead despite being outhit by the Dodgers, nine to five, as Eddie Lopat bested Preacher Roe, 4-2.
The Dodgers’ Ramon Martinez, Pedro’s brother, won his 20th game on October 1, 1990. Alex Kellner became the A’s first 20-game winner since Lefty Grove when the former achieved that number on this day in 1949. And back on October 1, 1908, the Giants’ Christy Mathewson notched his 37th win 4-3 over the Phillies on one day’s rest.
And on that same 1949 day that Grove won no. 20, the Red Sox, needing to win just one of the remaining two against the Bombers to clinch the pennant, took a 4-0 lead before 69,500-plus in the Bronx, but Joe Page held them right there as the Yanks mounted a comeback. Johnny Lindell homered for the 5-4 Yankee win.
The weird thing about the opening ALDS game between the Yanks and Angels on October 1, 2002, was that the California club, in the playoffs for the first time since 1986, faced the same starter against the Yanks in 2002, Roger Clemens, that they had faced in their last appearance 16 years earlier. The Yanks scored four in the eighth, and won this game, 8-5. It would be their only win of the Series against the eventual World Champion Angels.
The Bombers rallied from 3-0 down to tie the Cardinals in the eighth inning in Game Two of the 1942 World Series on October 1. But Stan Musial singled in Enos Slaughter in the bottom half and St. Louis prevailed, 4-3.
Allie Reynolds coasted to a 10-3 victory over Brooklyn in the second game of the 1947 World Series on October 1, despite allowing nine hits. Tommy Henrich homered in the victory.
After having hit two home runs in the 1952 Series that Brooklyn lost to the Yanks, Duke Snider became the first to achieve that figure twice when he homered two times in the Dodgers’ 5-3 win over the Yanks in the 1955 classic on October 1.
Joe Gordon contributed a home run and a single to the cause when Red Ruffing pitched the Yanks to a 3-2 win over the Dodgers in Game One of the 1941 World Series on October 1.
Unaccustomed to the October inactivity that comes with missing the World Series, Yankee Manager Casey Stengel attended the White Sox Game One, 11-0 victory over Brooklyn on October 1, 1959, as a reporter. It was just the second Yankee series miss since 1947.
After having lost the first game of the 1936 World Series to the crosstown Giants, the Yanks had to sit on October 1 as Game Two was rained out. They would be ready the next day.
The Yankee season-long quest of first place in 1974 took its final blow on October 1 as the Orioles clinched the AL East with a 7-6 win over Detroit as the runnerup Yankees fell to the Brewers 3-2.
The Bombers won their 14th straight when they beat the Red Sox 3-1 behind Jim Coates on October 1, 1960. In relief, Tracy Stallard fanned Roger Maris. The next Maris at bat against Stallard would come one year later with very different results.
Ted Williams smacked four hits in a 7-3 victory over the Series-bound Yankees on October 1, 1950. With many Yankees sitting out, rookie Ernie Nevel started and took the loss, and later in the contest, Eddie Ford was one of several relievers. He was not yet known as “Whitey.”
The Yankees and the Dodgers combined for an at-the-time record seven home runs in an exhibition game on October 1, 1917, in front of a crowd of U.S. soldiers. The Yankees won the game, 11-8.
The Browns had two strange experiences on October 1, 1944. First, they attracted their first sellout crowd in St. Louis in 20 years. Then when they won both halves of a double dip with the Yanks by identical 5-2 scores on two Chet Laabs home runs, they clinched the American League pennant. Strange days indeed!
The Bombers clinched the 1921 pennant with a 5-3 win over Philadelphia in the first of two on October 1, 1921, with Carl Mays notching his 17th straight victory over the Athletics. After taking a 6-0 lead in the nightcap, Babe Ruth made his second 1921 pitching appearance, but he gave back the lead. New York won Game Two 7-6 in 11 innings, and Ruth drove in his 167th run.
The Yankee 4-3 loss in Philly on October 1, 1912, was the 100th loss of that forgettable 50-102 season.
On October 1, 1932, a 17-year-old ballplayer made his first appearance with the San Francisco Seals. Shortstop Joe DiMaggio smacked one hit against the Missions.
Carl Yastrzemski nabbed the 1967 Triple Crown with a 4-for-4 showing in Boston’s 5-3 pennant clincher over Minnesota on October 1.
Another October 1 Boston highlight took place back in 1903, as the first modern World Series game (called “Championship of the United States” at the time) took place in Huntington Street Park. Deacon Phillippe pitched Pittsburgh to a 7-3 win that day.
The Yanks overcame the A’s in their last game in Kansas City on October 1, 1967, 4-3 behind Mel Stottlemyre. The A’s would play in Oakland starting in 1968.
The Bombers beat Washington and Walter Johnson 2-1 in Jack Chesbro‘s final Yankee victory, on October 1, 1908.
On October 1, 2013, the Yankees signed free agent righthander Ronald Johnson to a minor league contract.
We’ll look to the managerial ranks when adding an October 1 highlight featuring one-time Yankee personnel in other uni’s. Former Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer was fired from the manager’s job in Boston on this day in 1980, exactly four years before current Yankee field boss Joe Torre suffered the same fate with the Atlanta Braves.
No one-time Yankee players have died on October 1.
There is the slightest Yankee hook to the career of long-time Dodgers Manager Walter Alston (1984), one of four noteworthy nonYankee players whose deaths occurred this day. Alston appeared in one game at first base for the 1936 Cardinals, when he subbed for Johnny Mize, who was tossed and who 13 years later would join the Yanks for five memorable years. Alston, who struck out in his only official at bat, skippered the Brooklyn and L.A. Dodgers to seven NL pennants and three World Championships in 23 years. Lefthander Lee Richmond (1929), tossing mostly for the Ruby Legs from 1979-1986, won 75 games, lost 100, and saved three. And, lefty-hitting infielder Billy Goodman (1984) hit 19 home runs and drove in 591 runs from 1947-1962 playing mostly with the Dodgers (11 years) and the White Sox (four). The most recent addition to this group is catcher Cal Neeman (2015), who played from 1957 through 1963, most of the time with the Phillies and the Cubs. Cal hit 30 homers and drove in 97 runs.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Roberto Kelly (1964) stands out among the seven Yankee October 1 birthdays. His Yank home run and rbi totals of 56 and 258 from 1987 through 1992, when he was traded for Paul O’Neill, were each augmented by one when he returned in an injury-shortened 2000 season. He spent most of the years in between with Cinncy, Minnesota, and Texas.
Young righty Brandon Knight (1975) threw in 11 games with no record for the 2001 and 2002 Yanks, with a 10.72 era. A Texas draft choice, Knight came over in a December 1999 trade with minor-leaguer Sam Marsonek (who finally made the bigs in the Bronx in 2004) for Chad Curtis. Oddly, although it would be six years before Knight reappeared in the bigs, it would be in the same city, as he won one game in four appearances (two starts) with the 2008 Mets.
Jeff Reardon (1955) pitched for the Yanks in 11 games too, as he posted a 1-0 mark with two saves for the 1994 team, after productive years with the Mets, the Expos, the Twins, and the Red Sox. Jeff was signed as a free agent in February 1994, and was released three months later.
Lefty Fred Kipp (1931) crowned his 6-6 record with the Brooklyn and L.A. Dodgers from 1957 through 1959 with an 0-1 mark in four games in the Bronx in 1960. Kipp arrived from Los Angeles in an April 1960 trade for Gordie Windhorn and minor-leaguer Dick Sanders.
Lefty-hitting third baseman Jimmie Reese (1901) debuted in New York and stroked six homers with 44 rbi’s in 1930 and 1931 before playing his final season with the ’32 St. Louis Cards. The Yanks lost Reese off waivers to the Cardinals in May 1932. And the two-year career (1912-1913) of first baseman/outfielder Dutch Sterrett (1889), also a lefty batter, was spent entirely in the Bronx, where he contributed one home run and 35 rbi’s.
Also Jeff Patterson (1968) allowed three hits, three walks, and one run while striking out three in 3.3 innings during three New York games in 1995, his only big-league in-game service. Patterson arrived in February 1994 from Philadelphia with Terry Mulholland for Bobby Munoz, Ryan Karp, and Kevin Jordan.
Other birthdays: Chuck Hiller (1934); Hall of Famer Rod Carew (1945), who maintained a .328 career batting average over 19 seasons with Minnesota and California, where he amassed 1,424 runs scored; Vance Law (1956); Mark McGwire (1963), whose feat of surpassing Roger Maris‘s season home run record hangs under a steroids cloud; Chuck McElroy (1967); John Thomson (1973); Chad Orvella (1980); Matt Cain (1984); Chris Johnson (1984); Mitch Atkins (1985); Jeremy Horst (1985); Aaron Poreda (1986); Erik Komatsu (1987); Robbie Ray (1991); Xander Bogaerts (1992); and Colin Moran (1992).
Players Born This Day