In a game that made his name for being a postseason ace, Cliff Lee of the Phillies outdueled a game CC Sabathia in Game 1 of the 2009 World Series in Yankee Stadium on October 28. The 6-1 final score is deceiving, as Philly reached relievers David Robertson, Brian Bruney, and Phil Coke for four runs the last two frames. Bruney, wearing the number 99 that may have represented the place he now held on the Yankee bullpen depth chart, and outfielder Eric Hinske were activated and added to the World Series roster earlier that day. Yogi Berra, Michelle Obama, and Jill Biden threw out ceremonial first pitches before the game.
October 28 is not the best of Yankee days. Randy Johnson prevailed over Andy Pettitte, 4-0, and the Diamondbacks took a two games to none lead in the 2001 World Series on October 28. Johnson allowed only three hits and Matt Williams hit a three-run bomb. Arizona outfielder Danny Bautista drove in the first D’back run and scored the third.
Even worse, the Yanks suffered a postseason-series-clinching loss in Yankee Stadium on this day in 1981. The Dodgers followed three straight wins in L.A. by beating the Yanks, 9-2, in New York. Yankee skipper Bob Lemon pinch hit for starter Tommy John in a tie game, and everything went wrong thereafter. Reliever George Frazier got his third loss of the six-game Series, and the 1-for-21 Dave Winfield earned his owner’s scorn and the title, “Mr. May.”
Red Barber, the “Old Redhead,” was coaxed into leaving his position broadcasting for the Dodgers on October 28, 1953, and signed to cover Yankees games once his resignation was official.
The Yankees signed free agent lefthander Eduardo Polanco to a minor league contract on October 28, 2013.
David Justice was still a few years removed from joining the Yankees, and before his stint with the Indians even, when he hit a home run for the Braves in the sixth inning of Game Six of the 1995 Fall Classic on October 28, clinching the Atlanta club’s only World Series victory of the nineties, over the Cleveland Indians, by a 1-0 score.
On October 28, 1976, Billy Martin was named Manager of the Year for his work piloting the Yankee club that year.
But Billy Martin was fired yet again on October 28, 1979, the result of a much-publicized barroom fight. Dick Howser was signed to take his place.
The first time a number of baseball fans heard the word “contraction” in reference to decreasing the leagues’ team rosters by one was when Bud Selig hinted about mlb’s 2002 strategy on this day in 2001.
The A’s beat the Giants 9-6 (in a game in which they raced to an 8-0 lead) to sweep the 1989 World Series on October 28. The Series was interrupted for 10 days after the West Coast was hit by an earthquake after two of the games.
St. Louis’ Bob Gibson won his first of two Cy Young Awards on October 28, 1964. It was the only season in which he topped 300 innings pitched, but his 2.18 era was almost double the minuscule figure he posted the year before. He would win the National League MVP Award as well.
It wasn’t one of the best days in Ed Barrow‘s early management career in baseball when the Cleveland Blues released Manager Bill Armour in favor of Nap Lajoie on October 28, 1904. Armour would land behind the Detroit Tiger’s bench, replacing Barrow, who left baseball. But he would return, and manage the Red Sox for three years. He made his name as the business manager of the Yankees once signed in 1921. By the time he left in 1945, the Pinstripers had won 14 AL Pennants and 10 world titles.
Ground was broken on Shea Stadium, the new Flushing, New York home of the expansion Mets, on October 28, 1961.
In an early attempt to plant the baseball seed abroad that didn’t go as well as hoped, only 20 fans or so showed to watch the Chicago White Sox beat the New York Giants 8-4 in an exhibition game in Dublin, Ireland, on October 28, 1924.
Outfielder Bob Seeds (1993) had the longer stint with New York of the two Yankee players to have died on October 28 by virtue of his 13 games played with the 1936 club. The four home runs and 10 rbi’s he accumulated via 11-for-42 hitting is part of the 28 long balls and 233 runs he collected from 1930-1940, playing four years for the Indians, three with the Giants, and two with the Red Sox. Righthander Bob Lawson (1952) makes this list because the last three games (two starts) of his career were thrown for the 1902 AL Baltimore Orioles team that would be moved to New York as the Highlanders in 1903. Lawson, 0-2-0 in Baltimore, went 2-4-0 overall, including the six games he pitched for the 1901 Beaneaters.
The list of noteworthy nonYankee players who have died on October 28 includes a righthanded pitcher, a lefty-htting first baseman and a shortstop. Cal Koonce (1993) won 47, lost 49, and saved 24 games from 1962 through 1971 pitching with the Cubs, the Mets, and the Red Sox; first sacker Ray Sanders (1983) hit 42 home runs and drove in 329 runs with the 1942-1945 Cardinals and the 1946-1949 Braves; and shortstop Andujar Cedeno (2000) cleared 47 fences and delivered 223 rbi’s to the Astros and Padres from 1990-1996.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Once you read the lowdown on the five Yankees who call October 28 their birthday, you would demand a recount if I didn’t lead off with lefty reliever (primarily) Joe Page (1917). I had heard Phil Rizzuto wax poetic on the great job Joe did, but the stats speak for themselves. Playing in New York, he fashioned a 57-49 mark with 178 saves from 1944 through 1950. He did not add to any of those numbers when he pitched a couple of games for Pittsburgh in 1954.
And credit is due Bob Melvin (1961), who smashed a homer with three rbi’s despite playing only nine games for the 1994 club, four at catcher, four at first base, and one as DH. An April 1994 free agent signing by the Yanks, Melvin had a busy day in July of that year. He was selected off waivers by the California Angels and then traded to the White Sox for Jeff Schwarz, both moves on the same day. Melvin has managed the last six years, two with Seattle, then with the D’backs. He managed Arizona to the 2007 NL West Championship.
The weird thing about Ed Levy (1916), who played exclusively for the Yanks after going 0-for-1 in one game for the 1940 Philadelphia Phillies, is that he played 13 games at first base for the 1942 club, and 36 games in the outfield in 1944, but never played a part of an inning at the alternate position in either of those campaigns. He contributed four homers and 32 rbi’s over all.
And Liz Funk (1904) not only had the gender-bending name, he is listed as having played one game for the 1929 Yanks. He recorded no plate appearances and is listed at no defensive position. I assume he pinch-ran.
As a Spring Training attendee, it was good to see second baseman Corban Joseph (1988) join the Yankee October 28 birthday club via two games in 2013, because we had seen him in Tampa pretty regularly since a couple of years after he signed with the Yankees in 2008. Joseph’s opportunities were limited by the fact that he is not looked on as a multi-position infielder; he would have gotten more opportunities with the uber-injured club. Joseph stroked one hit and scored one run in seven at bats. Then, after being signed then released by Atlanta, Baltimore, and Washington in the ensuing years, Joseph finally got back to the bigs, with the Orioles, for whom he scored one run and drove in three while playing 14 games in 2018.
Other birthdays: Bob Veale (1935); Sammy Stewart (1954); Lenny Harris (1964); Larry Casian (1965); Juan Guzman (1966); Tim Bogar (1966); Braden Looper (1974); Bobby Cramer (1979); Jeremy Bonderman (1982); Nate McLouth (1981); Anthony Lerew (1982); Esmailin Caridad (1983); Josh Thole (1986); Casey Lawrence (1987); Justin Hancock (1990); and Daniel Palka (1991).
Players Born This Day