It was a bittersweet day in the Bronx on September 29, 2016, as the Yankee 5-1 victory over Boston both completed a three-game sweep, and prevented the Red Sox from celebrating clinching the AL East crown on our team’s field for the second straight day. On the down side (at least from my perspective, but apparently not Mariano Rivera‘s, as he spoke for the retiring DH), David Ortiz was honored, with some giving him a standing ovation. But more to the point, at 9:45 (39 minutes before our game would be completed) the scoreboard flashed the update that Baltimore had won their game, making certain that the Yankees would not be participating in postseason play. Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks doubles knocked in two of the runs, and CC Sabathia pitched into the eighth to get the win.
Over the years, the Yanks have backed into a few pennants when they were idle and a challenger lost, and some even when they lost on the clinching day, but not many could have been more drastic than the 2000 season when the Bronx-based team coasted into the postseason while being bashed and beaten 13-2 in Baltimore on September 29. We witnessed the carnage from good club-level seats on the first base side in Camden Yards as Andy Pettitte failed to survive the 10-run second inning. Chris Richard (later traded for Jack Cust) went yard twice, and Cal Ripken once. But we spent the rest of the evening watching their rotating scoreboard, where they finally admitted at 10:06 pm that the Red Sox had lost to Tampa Bay, 8-6. The Yanks were AL East Champs.
Finishing strong in another bad year, the Red Sox came to the Bronx and thumped the soon-to-be Wild Card Yankees in September 2015, reaching Michael Pineda for six first-inning runs, topped off by a Blake Swihart three-run jolt, on the 29th. The home team responded with four quick scores off Rick Porcello, with Dustin Ackley‘s home run accounting for the last two. But Yankee bats fell quiet then, while the visitors added on four more in the late innings, in a 10-4 Boston win.
The Yankees fell 4-3 to Kansas City in Yankee Stadium on September 29, 2009, despite a leadoff home run from Derek Jeter and a two-run shot from Nick Swisher. Because he followed a strike out starting the top of seventh by issuing a walk, Damaso Marte took the loss when Sergio Mitre surrendered a triple to John Buck. It was the regular season finale in the new Stadium, and Yankee players thanked the fans fom the big board all night.
Don Mattingly broke the major league record when he smashed his sixth grand slam home run of the 1987 season on September 29 in a 6-0 win over Bruce Hurst and the Red Sox.
September 29, 2004, was a strange day in the Bronx for at least two reasons. First the Yanks hosted the Twins in the rarest of Stadium events these days, a single-entry doubleheader. Second, the two teams were meeting for just the second time that season, and just short of a week before they would face each other in the American League Division Series. Minnesota jumped Mike Mussina for three first-inning tallies in the opener, but New York would respond with four off J.C. Romero and Juan Rincon once Johan Santana left after five. Hideki Matsui homered for one, Derek Jeter‘s single plated one more, and Alex Rodriguez tripled in the final two in a 5-3 Yankee win. The Yanks copped their 100th win of the season by completing the sweep 5-4 on Matsui’s three-run first-inning bomb in Game Two.
The Bombers opened their ALDS with the Texas Rangers with a 2-0, five-hit David Wells shutout on September 29, 1998. It comes as no surprise, I’m sure, that Mariano Rivera earned the save.
The Yanks maintained their one-game lead over the Red Sox on September 29, 1978, by coming from behind with three runs in the eighth to beat the Indians, 3-1. It was a costly win, as Willie Randolph keyed the rally on an infield single on which he pulled his hamstring muscle. Paging Brian Doyle.
Boston beat the Yanks at the Stadium on September 29, 1956, but Mickey Mantle hit home run no. 52. Mantle likewise overcame Ted Williams in the batting average race by going 7-for-14 in the series to Ted’s 3-for-20, giving The Mick the Triple Crown. Complementing the home run total was his .353 batting average and 130 rbi’s.
There are two September 29, 1920 Yankee highlights. The one that happened on the field of play came with Babe Ruth‘s new season home run record when he smashed his 54th as the Yanks took two in Philly, 7-3 and 9-4. Off-the-field in what would prove to be much bigger news really, New York signed business manager Ed Barrow out from under the Red Sox.
Whitey Ford completed the 1961 regular season with no successful stolen bases against him, a record, and Johnny Blanchard knocked in both runs in a 2-1 win over the Bosox on September 29, with a homer and a single.
Oakland’s Mike Warren held the White Sox hitless in a 3-0 shutout on September 29, in 1983. And John “The Count” Montefusco shut out the hitless Braves for the Giants, 9-0, on the same day in 1976. Montefusco would close out his career pitching to a 10-3 record with the Yanks.
The Yanks finally broke through with a five-run fifth inning against Brooklyn’s Ralph Branca in Game One of the 1947 World Series on September 29, posting a 5-3 win before 73,000-plus at the Stadium.
The Bombers lost both ends of a double dip to the lowly St. Louis Browns on September 29, 1944. After falling to Jack Kramer 4-1 in the opener, Nels Potter bested Hank Borowy in the 1-0 nightcap despite the fact that Borowy held the Browns to just two hits.
The Yankees went two games up in the World Series when lefty Tommy Byrne defeated Billy Loes of the Dodgers 4-2 on September 29, 1955. The southpaw hurler’s two-run single keyed the four-run Yankee fourth inning.
The Senators rushed to a 5-0 lead over the Yankees in New York on September 29, 1933, and held on for the 8-5 win, as the Giants awaited the Yanks in the Series. Heinie Manush had a double, a homer, and three rbi’s for the visitors. Babe Ruth tripled, and Lou Gehrig extended his games-played streak after getting married earlier in the day.
The Yankees snapped Ray Culp‘s string of 39 scoreless innings with a first-inning tally, and beat the Red Sox 4-3 on September 29, 1968. In the game, Carl Yastrzemski maintained a .3005 batting average despite going hitless in five trips, and won his second consecutive batting title with the lowest average that had ever garnered that honor.
With the Yankees and the Tigers combining for 45 hits between them, the Tigers prevailed in a 19-10 slugfest on September 29, 1928. Four different Detroit players collected four hits apiece for a record. And the Yanks finished the season with the three top rbi totals in the league, with Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth tied with 142, and Bob Meusel following with 113.
Babe Ruth tied his 1921 home run total of 59 with two bombs in a 15-4 thrashing of the Senators on September 29, 1927.
Pitching for the Red Sox, Babe Ruth topped the Yankees 3-0 for his 23rd win and ninth shutout on September 29, 1916. That would stand as the shutout record for lefties until Ron Guidry tied it in 1978.
Waite Hoyt earned the victory in relief of Jack Quinn on September 29, 1921, as the Yanks came from behind for a 5-4 win over Cleveland. Babe Ruth homered in the first, stroked an rbi double in the third, and homered for two more in the fifth. Carl Mays nailed down the victory with a strike out of Steve O’Neill with two on in the ninth.
Boston beat the Orioles 9-5 in Oriole Park in Baltimore on September 29, 1902. The losing franchise would be packed up and shipped north, reappearing as the New York Highlanders the following season.
On September 29, 1934, the Bombers split two games with Washington, falling 8-5 and winning 9-6, as Babe Ruth hit his last home run as a New York Yankee.
The idle Yankees clinched their second consecutive pennant under Casey Stengel on September 29, 1950, as Cleveland’s Bob Lemon won his 23rd in a 12-2 decision over the Tigers.
When the 1901 American League season came to an end on September 29, Jimmy Williams of the Baltimore Orioles led the league in triples with 21. As mentioned above, this franchise would become the New York Highlanders in 1903.
On September 29, 2015, the Yankees signed free agent outfielder Jhon Moronta to a minor league contract.
Taking care of paperwork on some pretty valuable minor league players on September 29, 2014, the Yankees recalled righthander Jose Campos from the A Tampa Yankees; catcher Gary Sanchez from the AA Trenton Thunder; and oufielder Ramon Flores, righthander Jose Ramirez, and lefthander Manny Banuelos from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
The Blue Jays’ Pat Hentgen won his 20th on September 29, 1996. Other 20-, and better-, game winners: Ray Sadecki of the Cards in 1964; Giants rookie Cliff Melton in 1937; and Don Newcombe of the Dodgers in 1951. On that same day, Sal Maglie of the Giants won his 23rd in 1951; Babe Ruth earned his 23rd for the Sox in 1916 (mentioned above); the Giants’ Jack Sanford compiled his 24th in 1962; Dolf Luque of the Reds won his 27th in 1923; Robin Roberts came through with his 28th for the Phils in 1952; and Walter Johnson won his 36th in 1913. And Dick Ellsworth of the Cubs lost his 20th on September 29, 1962; an ugly mark that matched Brooklyn’s Walter Beck, who lost no. 20 this day to the Braves in 1933.
A Baltimore syndicate bought Bill Veeck‘s interest in the Browns on September 29, 1953, in preparation for that franchise reappearing in Baltimore.
Legendary ex-Yankee Manager Casey Stengel relented and agreed to come out of retirement to pilot the New York Mets the following season on September 29, 1961. Ironically, this was the same day in 1947 that former Yankee Skipper Joe McCarthy agreed to manage the Red Sox.
One more September 29 highlight involving a one-time Yankee was brought to the fore when Ichiro Suzuki tied Wade Boggs‘s season record for singles when the Seattle outfielder stroked his 187th on this day in 2001.
It was on September 29, 1975, that beloved ex-Yankee Manager (and famed character) Casey Stengel passed away. Long before winning 10 pennants and seven World Series in 12 years managing the Yanks, the lefty-hitting outfielder had 60 home runs with 535 runs driven in playing with the Dodgers, the Pirates, the Phillies and the Giants from 1912-1925.
Because he was the subject of a big studio movie starring Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson, White Sox hurler Monty Stratton (1982) is the first of six noteworthy nonYankee baseball people to pass this day. Stratton posted a 36-23-2 record from 1934-1938 in a career shortened by his tragic loss of a leg in a hunting accident. Also on the list is another pitcher, a position player, two outfielders, and a guy who did a little of both. You can guess what hand Lefty Tyler (1953) threw with; he posted a 127-116-7 record from 1910-1921 mostly throwing for the Braves and the Cubs. Third baseman/outfielder Tommy Leach (1969) hit 63 home runs and knocked in 810 from 1898-1910 mostly with the Pirates; and outfielder George Shuba, a lefty hitter but righty thrower, played only for Brooklyn, for whom he hit 24 home runs and drove in 125 from 1948 through 1955. Outfielder George Van Haltren (1945) not only hit 69 long balls good for 1,014 rbi’s with the White Stockings, the Wonder, the Orioles, the Pirates, and the Giants from 1887-1903, he pitched to a 40-31-4 mark too. Finally, St Louis Cardinals owner Augie Busch died on September 29 too, passing in 1989. Most recent addition to the group is George Shuba (2014), a lefty batting, righty throwing outfielder who played exclusively with Brooklyn from 1948 through 1955. George homered 24 times and knocked in 125 runs.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Yankee fans eagerly welcomed the most recent addition to the team’s September 29 birthday list, particularly after Shelley Duncan (1979) homered twice in his first three games. Shelley’s father Dave Duncan is a long-time major league pitching coach currently serving with the St. Louis Cardinals, the team for which Shelley’s brother Chris Duncan played as well. Shelley had blasted seven homers with 17 rbi’s doing part-time duty in the outfield, at first base, and at DH, but after a hot 2008 spring he struggled out of the gate, was demoted, then injured for much of the year. He was a September callup in 2009 after winning the International League MVP Award. Shelley played for Cleveland in 2010.
There is some symmetry among the other six Yankee September 29 birthdays, with two righty pitchers, two southpaws, and two position players. Catcher Tony Rensa (1901) got no homers and three rbi’s for the 1933 team; and infielder Dave Silvestri (1967) debuted with the Yanks and managed three homers and 11 rbi’s in spot duty from ’92 through ’95, before stints in Montreal, Texas, Tampa Bay, and Anaheim. Sivestri arrived in New York with minor leaguer Daven Bond in a March 1990 trade with the Houston Astros for Orlando Miller. Dave was traded to the Montreal Expos for minor leaguer Tyrone Horne in July 1995.
Jake Westbrook (1977) posted an 0-2 record for the Yanks in three games in 2000, but he is known more for the trade that brought him (and others), which sent Hideki Irabu to Montreal, and the one that sent him away, as he was part of a package (Westbrook, Zach Day, and Ricky Ledee in June 2000) to the Cleveland Indians for David Justice. Righty Cy Pieh (1886) played only for the Yanks, to a 9-9 mark in 43 games from 1913 through 1915.
The two lefties: Mike McCormick (1938) closed out a successful 15-year career with a 2-0 record in nine games for the 1970 Yanks after 11 years with the Giants during two stints in San Fran. The Bombers got Mike from the Giants in July 1970 for John Cumberland. Johnny Johnson (1914) threw to an 0-2 mark with three saves in 22 games for the 1944 Pinstripers and pitched in Chicago, Detroit, and Philly too. The Yanks shipped him to the Chicago White Sox for Jake Wade in December 1944.
We add second baseman Joe Thurston (1979) to the “sort of” Yankee list in 2006 because the Yanks got him from the Dodgers in July 2005. Thurston, who was drafted by L.A. in 1999, scratched 11 hits with two rbi’s for them in a handful of games in 2002-2004. Short stops in Philly in 2006 and in Boston in 2008 added neither long balls nor rbi’s.
Other birthdays: Rich Reese (1941); Steve Busby (1949); Ken Macha (1950); Carlos Tosca (1953); Warren Cromartie (1953); Craig Lefferts (1957); Tim Flannery (1957); Rob Deer (1960), who stroked 230 homers with 600 rbi’s mostly for Milwaukee; Calvin Pickering (1976); Heath Bell (1977); Miguel Asencio (1980); Ali Solis (1987); Tyler Thornburg (1988); T.J. House (1989); and Tyler Mahle (1994).
Players Born This Day