The details on the incredible life and career of the larger than life Yankee Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra will be talked about lower in this column where this sad aspect of the game is covered, but there can be no way to start a Yankee history post on September 22 than to share that it was on this day in 2016 that Lawrence Peter Berra passed away.
I’d like to report that all things were good in the Bronx on September 22, 2013, a Sunday afternoon on which the Yanks hosted Mariano Rivera Day in this, his final season. All the expected participants were there at the pregame ceremonies, including Mo’s wife and family, and fellow Core Four member Andy Pettitte pitched a strong game in the contest that followed. But a Mark Reynolds home run in the third did not hold up, with rookie shortstop Ehire Adrianza of the visiting Giants tying it with a long ball of his own in the sixth. Andy’s day ended when he was reached for a Pablo Sandoval double leading off the eighth, a runner who would score and break the tie. Much more frustrating, though, was that the Yanks put runners on second and third with no outs in the bottom half, but failed to score in a frame where two runners were pegged out at the plate in the 2-1 loss.
It was a good day for two young players and one old in a 5-0 Yankee win over Baltimore in the stadium on September 22, 2014. Righthander Michael Pineda was masterful, as he allowed just a harmless single while striking out eight until he was removed with one down in the eighth, after he issued his lone walk of the day. Soon-to-be-retiring Derek Jeter had three rbi’s on a fielder’s choice grounder and a two-run double, but the offense got its spark from the major league debut of second baseman Jose Pirela, who tripled in the team’s first run, went two-for-three on the day, and scored twice.
Don’t cry for Oakland over their second straight extra-inning loss in Yankee Stadium, 10-9 in 13 innings on September 22, 2012, even if they took a four-run lead in the 12th. Handed the ball by Joe Girardi in the 10th inning, veteran Freddy Garcia was strong until he crumbled, turning in one-two-three innings around a bases-loaded 11th, but Johnny Gomes, Yoenis Cespedes, and Chris Carter drove in four on three long balls against Garcia and Justin Thomas in the 12th for a 9-5 lead. But Raul Ibanez‘s two-run homer capped the comeback, and an error allowed the game winner on an Eduardo Nunez grounder in the 13th.
The September 22, 2007 Blue Jays/Yankees tilt in Yankee Stadium played out like two games, three if you want to count the one-hour-plus rain delay at the start. Toronto led 3-2 after five innings, but starters Phil Hughes and Shawn Marcum were long gone when, starting with the bottom of the sixth, consecutive half-inning scores of four runs, then five, then three, then three, and finally two were posted in a nail-biting, five-hour game that the Yanks finally won 12-11 in 10 innings. Every Toronto starter had at least two hits except for leadoff man Reed Johnson, and he reached on an error, walked twice, and scored twice too. It was one of Melky Cabrera‘s finest days, with three hits and five rbi’s, including the game winner. He also started an 8-4-2 that nailed the go-ahead run at the plate in the top of the 10th inning. Alex Rodriguez had four hits, scored twice, and drove in three, and among the three runs Hideki Matsui delivered on three hits was his 100th rbi of the season. President Martin Torrijos of Panama was in attendance, although there’s no word on whether or not he lasted through the almost-all-day marathon battle.
Feeling in a celebratory mood following a doubleheader sweep over the Rays that not only clinched a playoff spot, but in which Mariano Rivera earned his record 603rd save, the Yanks took it on the chin September 22, 2011, against Tampa, a team that posted a 13-0 lead through five innings. Home runs by Andruw Jones and Jesus Montero keyed a mini-comeback that made the final score more respectable, as the home team fell to the Rays, 15-8.
The Yanks lost a crucial game in the AL East race to Tampa in Yankee Stadium on September 22, 2010, when the whole place sat through a two-hour rain delay once play was suspended with the home team down 1-0 after three innings. Tampa followed the delay by using promising first-year man Jeremy Hellickson, while Joe Girardi disappointed those of us who had waited through the delay by sending out a series of mediocre names: Royce Ring, Dustin Moseley, Chad Gaudin, and Jonathan Albaladejo. Tampa pummeled that gang in a 7-2 win. Derek Jeter did score his 1,678th run in the seventh, moving him into third place on the all-time Yankee list in front of Mickey Mantle.
When the Yankees swept two from the Indians on September 22, 1964, 5-3 and 8-1, it was on the strength of home runs from Mickey Mantle, Joe Pepitone, Roger Maris, and Phil Linz.
The Yankees hit seven grounds-rule doubles into the overflow roped-off crowd of 47,627 at Fenway during a doubleheader sweep, 6-4 and 4-0, on September 22, 1935. The Bombers denied Wes Ferrell in a bid for his 25th win in the first game and won behind Walter Brown in the nightcap.
We will start listing guys who have won their 20th games of the season (or better) on September 22 with beloved Yankee lefty Ron Guidry, who became the first in the AL to reach the mark in 1985 when he bested Baltimore, 5-4.
The September 22 list continues with Oakland’s Dave Stewart in 1989; Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers in ’86; L.A.’s Don Sutton in 1976; and Larry Jansen of the Giants in ’51. Better still were the A’s George Earnshaw in 1931, with his 21st; the Senators’ Walter Johnson in 1924, achieving his 23rd; and Dizzy Dean of the Cards with his 28th in 1935. Worst on the day goes to Clyde Wright of the Brewers, who lost his 20th of the 1974 season on that same day. Clyde is the father of 2005-2006 Yankee starter Jaret Wright.
The reeling Yanks managed to recover from an Athletics’ onslaught on September 22, 1932, that included two Jimmie Foxx homers, one a grand slam. Lou Gehrig started the comeback with a two-run, eighth-inning home run, Myril Hoag tied it at seven in the ninth when he went yard, and the Yanks won it 8-7 in 10.
It was a good thing that two home runs from Jorge Posada and one from Gary Sheffield had built a 7-1 Yankee lead over Baltimore in Yankee Stadium on September 22, 2005, because the cushion was enough once Al Leiter had one of his worse outings after relieving Mike Mussina. He gave up two walks, a single, and a double to the first four O’s in the eighth in the Bombers’ 7-6 win.
Perhaps the strangest and only Yankee highlight in the 11-2 loss to the Orioles in Camden Yards on September 22, 2001, was the manner in which the Bombers finally broke through: Chuck Knoblauch singleton homers in the sixth and the eighth. Sean Douglass bested a horrible Sterling Hitchcock. Brandon Knight was ineffective as well.
Tino Martinez, Shane Spencer, and Scott Brosius went yard for four tallies in the second inning of a September 22, 1998 win over Dave Burba and the Cleveland Indians. Ramiro Mendoza got the Yankee start and win and Spencer hit another home run in the fourth as New York cruised to a 10-4 victory. Then the homestanding Bombers made it two of two with a 5-1 win in the nightcap. Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter scores put the Yanks up 2-0 in the first and Ricky Ledee knocked in three for the Hideki Irabu win over Chad Ogea.
Alfonso Soriano homered on Bartolo Colon‘s second pitch of the game on September 22, 2003, again on the first pitch of the third inning, and then walked and scored in the fifth. But the Palehose rallied for the 3-3 tie on Tony Graffanino and Frank Thomas fifth-inning singles. Then Magglio Ordonez homered off Jeff Weaver in the 10th for a 6-3 White Sox win.
The combative Yankee Manager Billy Martin, after having fought with a patron in a Baltimore hotel bar the night before, had his arm broken in an early-morning fight with starter Ed Whitson in the same establishment on September 22, 1985.
The Yanks barely survived the two hits and two rbi’s from Detroit’s Damion Easley in a 4-3 win over Detroit on September 22, 2002. The soon-to-be-released Bengals infielder was struggling to hit .100 against the rest of the league while going 8-for-16 with a homer and three doubles vs. New York. But two doubles apiece by Raul Mondesi and Rondell White off southpaw Mike Maroth carried the Yankees and David Wells to the narrow victory.
Willie Mays became the second major leaguer (after Babe Ruth) to 600 home runs when he hit a blast off San Diego’s Mike Corkins in the Giants’ 4-2 win on September 22, 1969.
The Yanks eked out yet another one-run win as Mariano Rivera earned the 5-4 win over Chicago after striking out Greg Norton, his only batter, with two down in the home ninth on September 22, 1999. Loser Jaime Navarro walked Paul O’Neill on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the ninth. At that time both a former and future Yankee southpaw, David Wells started against Hideki Irabu.
The Yanks were unable to sweep the White Sox on September 22, 1925, falling by a 4-2 score after blasting the visitors 11-6 in the first game, largely on the strength of Ben Paschal‘s two inside-the-park home runs.
The Bombers outlasted the Tigers 8-7 in Yankee Stadium on September 22, 1927, as Earle Combs sparked the offense with three triples.
The Yankees were fortunate that lefty Teddy Higuera, or “Bad Teddy,” as Don Mattingly referred to him, could only pitch the first Brewers/Yankees tilt on September 22, 1987. Robin Yount drove in four during Teddy’s first-game, 7-2 Milwaukee win, and another five in the second game, but the Bombers regrouped in that one to eke out a 10-8 win for the split.
The seven runs Denny Neagle allowed to the Tigers during the fifth and sixth innings of a 9-6 loss to Detroit in Yankee Stadium on September 22, 2000, served to solidify the growing impression by the Bronx faithful. Despite an early win streak, Neagle was not the kind of lefty who would flourish in the House That Ruth Built.
When Yankee broadcaster Red Barber insisted his cameras show the empty seats when the Yankees fell 4-1 to the White Sox in front of 400-plus in the Bronx on September 22, 1966, it would cost him his job with the team and WPIX-TV.
Texas’s Bert Blyleven pitched a no-hitter in subduing the Angels 6-0 on September 22, 1977.
Tim “Rock” Raines had three hits, reached on a walk, and scored twice in an 8-1 Yankee win over the Blue Jays on September 22, 1997. David Wells sprinkled six hits and no runs over eight innings for the victory.
On September 2, 2016, the Yankees traded lefthander Phil Coke to the Pirates for cash.
On September 22, 2014, the Yankees designated lefty reliever Josh Outman for assignment; and also claimed center fielder Eury Perez off waivers from the Washington Nationals.
It happens once a decade or so. When Dickie Noles was sent by the Cubs to the Tigers for a player to be named later on September 22, 1987, he became the player for which he himself was traded a month later.
When Cy Young shut out Pittsburgh 1-0 on September 22, 1911, it was the 511th and last win of his amazing major league career.
The colorfully named Burleigh Grimes stars in the first of two September 22 highlights involving one-time Yanks in other uni’s when he scattered 16 hits in a 3-2 Dodgers loss to the Cubs in 12 innings on this day in 1925. Grimes, who would pitch 10 games for the Yanks in 1934, hurt the team much more with his bat than with his arm, as he bounced into two double plays and one triple play. And it was apt that when Minnesota’s Cesar Tovar played all nine positions in a Twins 2-1 win over the A’s on September 22, 1968, he started the game by pitching to Bert Campaneris, who had pulled off the same stunt three years earlier. Campaneris finished his career playing 60 games for the Yanks in 1983.
How to say all that needs to be said about Yogi Berra, whom we lost this day in 2015? The baseball stats come first, because although stunning, it would be all too easy to eclipse them with all the stories that make it clear that he was not just a great Yankee, but a world-famous American, and human being, for good reason. Berra debuted with the Yankees in 1946, and played with them through the 1963 season, most of the time as their starting catcher, though he played a fair amount of outfield as well. With the Yankees he hit 358 home runs and drove in 1,430 runs, and won three Most Valuable Player awards. As manager in 1964, he led his team to 99 wins, and a berth in the World Series, which the Yanks lost to the Cardinals in seven games. After piloting the crosstown Mets from 1972 into the 1975 season, including a pennant-winning year in 1973, he managed the Yanks again in 1984 (third place) and 1985, when he was ignominiously fired 16 games in. Perhaps that I consider it tragic that he played his last four games for the Mets in 1965, during which he had nine at bats as a player/coach, is unfair, as he did not only belong to the Yankees; he belonged to the world. Yogi received the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously months after his death. It is incredibly difficult to come to grips with the fact that for the guy who said, “It ain’t over til it’s over,” it is over. The only Yankee ballplayer prior to Yogi to have died on September 22 is switch-hitting lefty hurler and original Highlander Jesse Tannehill (1956), who both won and lost 15 games with the 1903 Highlanders in 32 games (31 starts). In an 1894-1911 career spent mostly with the Pirates, but with stops with the Americans, the Senators, and the Reds too, Jesse posted a 197-116-7 mark.
Elton Chamberlain (1929) is the first of two righty hurlers who comprise the list of noteworthy nonYankee player deaths. From 1886-1896, he won 157, lost 120, and saved one mostly with the Colonels, the Browns, and the Reds. “Senor Smoke” Aurelio Lopez (1992) was a hard thrower who posted most of his 62-36-93 record from 1974-1987 with the Tigers.
Players Who Have Died This Day
The 249 games Bob Geren (1961) caught for the Yanks from 1988 through 1991 put him way ahead of the other six September 22 Yankee birthdays in terms of team seniority. Bob hit 19 homers with 70 rbi’s in Pinstripes before finishing out his career playing 58 games for the ’93 Padres. The Yanks signed Geren as a Yankee free agent in November 1985, and he was selected off waivers by the Reds in December 1991. He manages the Oakland A’s now, though another poor year in the bay could cost him his job.
The number of former Yanks (seven) mentioned does not count a guy who never played in the Bronx, Hall of Famer Bob Lemon (1920), who won more than 200 games in 13 years, almost exclusively for Cleveland. But Bob gets a lot of credit for managing the Yanks during parts of four seasons including the climb from 14 back for the 1978 Championship team.
The other six Yankee players served short duty, starting with second baseman/shortstop Matt Howard with a homer and nine rbi’s in 36 games in 1996. He was signed as a free agent with New York in January ’96, and was released the following October. Lefty-hitting outfielder/first baseman Dell Alston (1952) kicked in one homer and four rbi’s in 22 games in 1977 and 1978. An amateur free agent signing with the Yanks in August 1972, Dell was traded with Mickey Klutts and cash to the Oakland Athletics for Gary Thomasson in July 1978.
The list goes on: First baseman/outfielder Harry Bright (1929) added seven homers and 23 rbi’s in 1963 and 1964. Bright was a Yankee amateur free agent selection in 1946 and returned to the team as a free agent in 1963. Another lefty-hitting first baseman/outfielder, Jimmy Walsh (1885) blasted a homer with 11 rbi’s in 43 contests with the 1914 club, and he was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics for Tom Daley in June of that year.
Doc Powers (1870) not only played first and outfield, but caught too; he knocked in two runs while playing 11 games for the 1905 Yankees. And finally, although he never played for the Yankees, outfielder Lou Johnson (1934) signed with them as an amateur free agent in 1953, though they sold him to the minors a year later. Johnson hit 48 home runs while driving in 232 with the Cubs, the Angels, the Braves, the Dodgers, and the Indians from 1960-1969.
Other birthdays: Hall of Fame Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda (1927); Detroit righty and winner of 222 games Hank Dauss (1889); Ken Aspromonte (1931); Larry Dierker (1946); Jeffrey Leonard (1955); Wally Backman (1959); Mark Guthrie (1965); Mike Matheny (1970); Danny Klassen (1977); Charlton Jimerson (1979); Alexei Ramirez (1981); and Chris Schwinden (1986). Schwinden was actually Yankee property for a week in 2011 once they selected him off waivers from Cleveland, then watched the Mets claim him off waivers six days later. And since then, Mauricio Cabrera (1993); Carlos Correa (1994); and Luis Ortiz (1995) have joined the list.
Players Born This Day