There is a little boy in me who fell for the game of baseball, the New York Yankees, and Mickey Mantle over 40 years ago, but the white-hot ardor and passion were just like brand-new as the clock approached 12 on the night of October 31, 2001. Just making the experience more wonderful was that I had my niece, in whom I had instilled the same love, with me when Tino Martinez drilled the first pitch he saw from Byung-Hyun Kim for a two-run, two-out, bottom-of-the-ninth, game-tying World Series home run. The sense of the unreal and the impossible was heightened by the fact that Kim had looked untouchable until then. He struck out the side in order in the eighth, retired Derek Jeter on a grounder to start the ninth, and recovered from allowing a six-pitch single the other way to Paul O’Neill by whiffing Bernie Williams on three pitches. The Yanks prevailed, 4-3 when “Mr. November,” Derek Jeter, homered to right on the ninth pitch of a two-out at bat in the 10th inning. Wow!
Andy Pettitte survived a three-run Philly uprising in the second inning in an 8-5 Yankee win in Citizen’s Bank Park in Game 3 of the 2009 World Series on October 31. The Yankees rallied for five runs off Cole Hamels in the fifth and the sixth. The big blow for the Yanks was an Alex Rodriguez two-run home run off a Fox-Sports camera that they hung over the right field fence, a replay call that went in the Bombers’ favor. Nick Swisher doubled and homered, and even in an NL, non-DH city, Hideki Matsui pinch-hit a homer in the top of the eighth.
In one of the most famous off-the-field moments in Yankee history, several Yankees were fined following a brawl at New York’s Copacabana on May 16, 1957. Ostensibly an outing to celebrate Billy Martin‘s birthday, it would eventually cause him to be removed from the team. But at least the out-of-pocket costs were not too bad, as Yogi Berra revealed on October 31 of that year that the Yankees had refunded the fines they had meted out to the players involved.
On October 31, 2014, the Yankees activated four players from the 60-day disabled list: third baseman Martin Prado; righthander Ivan Nova; outfielder Slade Heathcott; and southpaw CC Sabathia.
Adding some finality to the end of a Yankee career that at one point appeared to show much promise, but then led to his release, young and very tall righthander Andrew Brackman elected free agency on October 31, 2011.
The Yankees activated lefty reliever Cesar Cabral from the 60-day disabled list on October 31, 2012. Cesar showed a little down the 2013 stretch and could be a big part of the 2014 Yankee bullpen.
In offseason roster moves, the Yankees purchased the contract of lefthander Wilkins De La Rosa from A level Tampa on October 31, 2008. They also purchased the contract of righty Eric Hacker from AA Trenton, though he has since been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Rómulo Sánchez, a move necessitated when the Yanks needed room on their 40-man roster to promote veteran hurler Brett Tomko.
Just paperwork moves, really, after another disappointing playoff finish, but the Yankees activated the following players from the 60-day DL on October 31, 2007: pitcher Carl Pavano, first baseman Andy Phillips, pitcher Darrell Rasner, and pitcher Humberto Sanchez.
Baltimore Oriole starter Mike Flanagan beat out Yankee Tommy John for the AL Cy Young Award on October 31, 1979. It was John’s second, second-place finish, a fate he suffered in the NL with the Dodgers in 1977.
Tom Seaver of the Mets became the first Cy Young Award winner in either league to be so honored while failing to prevail in 20 games, following his 19-10 campaign in Flushing, when he won the award on October 31, 1973.
One year earlier, 24-game winner Gaylord Perry of the Indians defeated White Sox knuckleballer Wilbur Wood for the AL Cy Young on October 31, 1972.
And Mike McCormick of the San Francisco Giants won the NL Cy Young Award on October 31, 1967, the first year the award was presented to one pitcher from each league.
It seemed a career-ending move when St. Louis released hurler Burleigh Grimes on October 31, 1933, but he would pitch four games for the Cards the following season, followed by 10 appearances for the Yanks and eight for the Pirates. One of his 270 career wins came with the Yankees.
The 1904-1907 Highlanders were just one of several clubs Deacon McGuire (1936), one of four Yankee players who have died on October 31, played for from 1884-1912. McGuire went 160-for-695 in 225 games in New York, good for 67 rbi’s but no home runs. After having played nine years with the Senators, three each with the Phillies and the Superbas, and two with both the Tigers and the Indians, he accumulated 45 home runs and 840 runs driven in. And infinitely more famous for being a founder of the NFL, switch-hitting outfielder George Halas (1983) had two hits in 22 at bats playing 12 games with the 1919 Yankees. That was his only major league baseball experience and it resulted in no homers nor rbi’s. And righthander Johnny Kucks (2013), who debuted in the Bronx by going 42-35 with six saves for the Yanks from 1955 through 1959, completed his major league service throwing for the Kansas City A’s in ’59 and 1960, bringing his overall record to 54-56 with seven saves. The brief tale of lefty Brad Halsey (2014), who debuted with the 2004 Yankees, initially experiencing some success in eight games, seven of them starts, though he dipped to a 1-3 mark with 6.47 era, is a sad one. Included in a trade to Arizona for iconic southpaw Randy Johnson, Halsey pitched there, then in Oakland, through 2006, to an overall record of 14-19 in 88 games (40 starts). But then out of baseball, Brad fell on hard times, and when his body was discovered at the base of a cliff in 2014, his death was ruled likely to be a suicide.
The list of noteworthy nonYankee players who have died on October 31 includes two righthanded pitchers, two second basemen, and a lefthanded first baseman. Hub Perdue (1968) won 51, lost 64, and saved seven games from 1911 through 1915 pitching mostly with the Braves and the Cardinals; and Sheriff Blake (1982), who threw with his right but was a switch hitter, posted an 87-102-8 mark pitching mostly with the Cubs from 1920-1937. Lefty-hitting second baseman Buddy Myer (1974) cleared 38 fences and drove in 850 runs playing two years with the Red Sox and the rest with the Senators between 1925 and 1941; and fellow second sacker Dick Padden (1922) hit 11 home runs and drove in 334 runs from 1896-1905 with the Browns and the Pirates. Finally, portsided first baseman Rocky Nelson (2006) hit 31 roundtrippers from 1949-1961, good for 173 rbi’s, playing mostly with the Cardinals and the Pirates.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Although there are no Hall of Famers or drop-dead stars among the Yankee players who share October 31 as their birthday, they all made memorable contributions, as did near-miss (at least for New York) Fred McGriff (1963), who never played for the Yanks but who was drafted out of high school by the team. “The Crime Dog” was traded, along with outfielder Doug Collins and hurler Mike Morgan, to the Blue Jays in December of 1982 for reliever Dale Murray, who pitched very poorly once he arrived in New York. McGriff has an outside shot at Hall of Fame enshrinement, as the home run total in his recently concluded career is just short of the magic number of 500.
But not all trades are bad, as the Yanks acquired Mickey Rivers (1948), the most noteworthy of the birthdaying group, along with Ed Figueroa, in a trade with the Angels for recently deceased outfielder Bobby Bonds in December 1975. “Mick the Quick,” a left-handed center fielder, played on three pennant winners in the Bronx, and accumulated 34 home runs, 209 rbi’s, and 93 stolen bases in New York from 1976 through 1979. Rivers was traded to Texas with minor leaguers Bob Polinsky, Neal Mersch, and Mark Softy in June 1979 for Oscar Gamble, Ray Fontenot, and Gene Nelson.
Catcher Matt Nokes (1963) hit from the left side and lofted many of his 71 homers (accounting for 222 rbi’s) for the 1990-1994 Yankees over the short wall in right. He arrived in New York from Detroit in a June 1990 trade for Lance McCullers and Clay Parker.
Middle infielder and Nokes teammate Mike Gallego (1960), a January 1992 Yankee free agent signing, collected 19 dingers with 109 rbi’s for the Bombers until he was released in 1994.
Dave Dellucci (1973), who debuted with the 1997 Orioles and played for the D’backs since then until he arrived in New York as part of the 2003 Raul Mondesi deal with Arizona, likes to say his middle name is “Prove It.” Dellucci has a great glove, but his offense (one home run, four rbi’s in 21 games) was much more anemic for the Yanks than what he has shown when playing against the club since they let him go.
Slick field/no hit shortstop Paul Zuvella (1958) lived up to both sides of his reputation, notching 10 hits in 82 at bats for the 1986-1987 Bombers. Zuvella was acquired in a package when the Yanks traded Ken Griffey, Sr., and Andre Robertson to the Braves for Claudell Washington in June 1986. Zuvella was released in October 1987.
Speedy outfielder Bert Daniels (1882) kicked in with five homers and 111 rbi’s, but also managed 145 of his career 159 stolen bases in the Bronx from 1910-1913 until New York sold him to Cincinnati.
Although southpaw Steve Rosenberg (1964) never pitched for the Yanks, they drafted him in the fourth round of the 1986 amateur draft. But he was traded with Dan Pasqua and Mark Salas to the Chicago White Sox for Richard Dotson and Scott Nielsen in November 1987. Rosenberg posted a 6-15 mark with Chicago and San Diego.
Other birthdays: Hall of Fame Umpire Cal Hubbard (1900); Indians infielder Ken Keltner (1916), who was largely responsible for stopping Joe DiMaggio‘s 56-game hitting streak; Ed Spiezio (1941), father of former Cal Angel infielder Scott Spiezio; Dave McNally (1942); Eddie Taubensee (1968); Steve Trachsel (1970); Tim Byrdak (1973) Steve Cox (1974); Mike Napoli (1981); Alex Hinshaw (1982); Luis Mendoza (1983); Anthony Varvaro (1984); Javy Guerra (1985); Andy Parrino (1985); Yamaico Navarro (1987); Scott McGough (1989); and Tony Kemp (1991).
Players Born This Day