February 24 in Yankee History

  • Given the [exactly] five months that would transpire before the 2020 Yankees played in a game that counted, fans could be forgiven for not remembering that it was in a night game in George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 24 that new ace Gerrit Cole first threw a pitch for the Bombers. On a night when home team pitching notched 14 strike outs against the visiting Pirates, Cole whiffed two around a one-out walk in pitching a scoreless first. And there was good news on young southpaw Jordan Montgomery, returning from Tommy John surgery, as he struck out four retiring six of seven through the third. The Yankees took a 3-2 lead with four singles in the bottom of the seventh, but Glen Otto allowed a single run in the ninth, and the Yanks had to settle for a 3-3 tie.
  • The murmurs started with the early onset of Spring Training games (due to the World Baseball Classic) that fans should not get excited about the tremendous Spring campaign the Yankees put together, starting with a 9-4 demolition of the visiting Phillies on February 24, 2017. Didi Gregorius took the first pitch he saw over the fence in right center in the first, and, yes, Aaron Judge gave the home team a 2-0 lead with a bomb to left center in the fourth. On the pitching side of the ledger, once Brian Mitchell retired the first six Phillies, things that would not be trends in the upcoming season took place, as Tyler Clippard, Tommy Layne, and Luis Cessa pitched well, while Jordan Montgomery and Giovanny Gallegos didn’t. But the promising play of the team right out of the box would continue to play out in the summer and fall in a very enjoyable year.
  • On February 24, 2023, the Yankees signed four players to minor league contracts: righthander Saul Brinez; second baseman Gleyber Blanco; and catchers Luis Puello and Edison Vivas.
  • On February 24, 2020, righthanders Adonis Rosa, Glenn Otto, Matt Wivinis, Carlos Espinal, Daniel Bies, and Braden Bristo; and first baseman Brandon Wagner were assigned to the New York Yankees.
  • On February 24, 2019, the following players were assigned to the Yankees: righthanders Daniel Alvarez and Adonis Rosa; lefthander Anderson Severino; shortstop Diego Castillo; second basemen L.J. Mazzilli and Oswaldo Cabrera; and left fielder Ben Ruta.
  • On February 24, 2018, second baseman Abiatal Avelino; left fielders Trey Amburgey and Mark Payton; and center fielder Jeff Hendrix were assigned to the Yankees.
  • Continuing their early 2018 Spring Training campaign, the Yankees traveled to Bradenton and defeated the home-standing Pirates 4-1 on February 24. Catcher Eric Kratz got the Bombers an early lead with a fourth-inning rbi single, but Gregory Polanco homered off Dillon Tate in the fifth. Yankee fans who may have drifted off to route 75 early for the return trip to Tampa missed out, because Billy McKinney homered for three in the top of the ninth. He did this after Miguel Andujar, in for Brandon Drury at third, set it up with a single following Jace Peterson‘s walk. Domingo German got the start; Jonathan Holder finished up. It was a delightful mid-eighties hot.
  • The Yankees traded catcher Aaron Robinson, lefthander Bill Wight, and righty Fred Bradley to the White Sox on February 24, 1948, for portsider Eddie Lopat. At first look, the deal was a total steal, as Lopat posted a 113-59 mark in the Bronx and won four out of five decisions for five Yankee World Series teams, all of them winners. But the Sox turned around and swiped Billy Pierce from the Tigers for Robinson. Another lefty, Pierce went 186-152 in Chicago, so the original deal was that rare phenomenon: a trade that truly helped both teams, even if the benefits to the Chisox were a bit delayed.
  • As a side-effect of the trade a few years ago for Alex Rodriguez from Texas (mentioned below in Mike Lowell‘s birthday paragraph), the Yanks released infielder Tyler Houston, a non-roster invitee, on February 24, 2004, after he failed to report to Spring Training. Mike Lamb and Houston were both invited to Tampa with the Yanks once it was discovered that incumbent third sacker Aaron Boone would not be able to play in 2004 after an off-season basketball injury. Lamb reported and played well, landing with the Astros; Houston never reported and did not play in the bigs.
  • Dick Williams, who had resigned his managing job in Oakland in an attempt to move to the same position with the Yankees more than 10 years earlier, quit as field boss with the Padres on February 24, 1986, and ended on his feet — in the dugout of the Seattle Mariners.

Players Who Have Died This Day

  • Veteran southpaw Eddie Plank passed away on February 24, 1926. While he never played in Pinstripes, the Yanks did send a package including veteran starter Urban Shocker and “Flash” Fritz Maisel to the Browns for 300-game-winner Plank and second sacker Del Pratt in 1918. Plank, however, opted to retire rather than report. He is the only player with any Yankee history to have died this day.
  • We’ll lead off some 19th Century ballplayer February 24 deaths with the righthander Terry Adonis (1915), who posted most of his 197-196 record with six saves from 1884-1897 with Brooklyn, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. Catcher Charlie Bennett (1927) hit 55 home runs with 533 rbi’s from 1878-1893, a lot of it with the Detroit Wolverines and the Boston Beaneaters; and shortstop Jack Glasscock (1947) hit 27 long balls good for 825 rbi’s from 1879-1895 for teams with nicknames like the Blues, the Maroons, and the Hoosiers. The truly tragic life of Boston outfielder Tony Conigliaro came to an end due to kidney failure and pneumonia on February 24, 1990. A young phenom who became the youngest American League player to reach 100 home runs, Tony was never the same after being struck down by a beanball in 1976. Conigliaro finished with 166 career homers and 516 rbi’s. Lefty-hitting Philadelphia Athletics (most of the time) second baseman Max Bishop (1962) hit 41 homers with 379 rbi’s from 1924-1935; and middle infielder Sparky Adams (1989) only reached nine fences, but knocked in 394 teammates from 1922-1934, almost all of it with the Cubs and the Cardinals. And recently added to the list is righty reliever Terry Mathews (2012), who won 22 games, lost 21, and saved 10 with Texas, Miami, Baltimore, and Kansas City from 1991-1999. More recent still is the death of catcher Johnny Romano (2019), who hit 129 long balls and drove in 417 runs playing from 1958 through 1967, mostly with the White Sox and Indians.

Players Born This Day

  • There is a nice spread of players among the Yankee birthdays today, and none of them stand out too much from the others. One’s a lefty pitcher, one a catcher, one an outfielder, and two played infield. Two have appeared in the game or did as recently as 2007, with one in 2011, while two played in the first Yankee decade, and one stands somewhere in between. Lefthander Randy Keisler (1976) was a second-round 1998 Yankee draft pick, and actually held a spot in the rotation for a while a few years back. Although not a hard thrower, the most frustrating thing about Keisler’s game to many was not that he wasn’t overpowering. No, rather it was that even as a southpaw, he was unable to hold runners close to first base. He tossed his first big-league ball with the 2000-2001 Yanks, to a 2-2 mark, spent some time in the Mets organization, and pitched a year apiece with the San Diego, Cincinnati, Oakland, and St. Louis organizations; he ended the 2007 season with a 4-4 record overall.
  • Although third sacker Mike Lowell (1974) was in the catbird seat, so to speak, with the Champion Marlins in 2003, Yankee fans have until recently had a series of reasons to be OK that the team let this hard-hitting prospect and 1995 Yankee draft pick go. First, he became expendable after his 1998 debut with the club, during which he managed four safeties in 15 at bats during eight games. The reason? Yankee incumbent Scott Brosius had a fabulous 1998 season, capped by the World Series MVP Award, and was rewarded with a three-year contract. Second, the Yanks got three young players from Florida for Mike, including lefty can’t-miss prospect Ed Yarnall (who flopped badly, sad to say). Third, Lowell had to be operated on for testicular cancer a few years back, putting his career in jeopardy. Fourth, even though Mike recovered, and he was one of the NL’s best the last few years, he struggled mightily in 2005, and the Yankee need at third base had been filled with their year-old trade for superstar Alex Rodriguez. That worm has turned somewhat, however, after Lowell has excelled with the rival Red Sox in 2006-2007, where he won the World Series MVP the latter year. The aging infielder ended up on the DL in 2008, and he retired after the 2010 season after playing part time for his last two years.
  • We move on now to the three guys who played years ago, starting with outfielder Bob Seeds (1907), who managed four homers, 10 rbi’s, and three steals for the 1936 club, for which he played 13 games. He performed in the American League with Cleveland (twice), the White Sox, and the Red Sox before his stint in the Bronx, and with the Giants in the National League afterward.
  • Lefty-hitting middle infielder Champ Osteen (1877) notched two bombs and knocked in nine with the 1904 Highlanders after they purchased him from Washington that January. Osteen played in Washington the year before, and then for the Cards in 1908 and 1909, increasing his career rbi total to 31 (but holding at the two homers he had bashed in New York).
  • An Osteen teammate, catcher Monte Beville (1875) drove in 31 tallies and stole four bases in 91 games with the 1903-1904 Highlanders (Yankees), and finished the latter season (and his career) with the Tigers in Detroit once the Yanks traded him there that July for Frank McManus. Beville’s final rbi total was 46.
  • And new to the list in 2011: yet another backstop that shares a famous last name, Gustavo Molina (1982), who after playing 23 games with the White Sox, Orioles, Mets, and Red Sox from 2007 through 2010, joined the Yanks in Spring Training in 2011. And following injury to Francisco Cervelli, Gustavo got into three games with the parent club. He made his 1-for-6 line count, as the lone hit was a double.
  • Outfielder DeWayne Wise (1978) surprised fans when he joined the Yankee list in 2012, as it was expected his invite to Spring Training was thought to be just to eat exhibition innings, but due to Brett Gardner‘s season-long elbow injury, Wise got into games (56), and contributed (three home runs, eight rbi’s). After being released in a roster crunch, he returned to the White Sox, for whom, along with the Blue Jays, the Reds, the Braves, and the Marlins, he has hit 30 long balls and driven in 112 runs from 2000 through 2012.
  • Just yesterday (February 23, 2016), the Yankees signed lefty first baseman and outfielder Chris Parmelee (1988) to a minor league contract, and in an all too brief callup ended by injury, he was dynamite, with two home runs and four rbi’s in just six games. A first-round pick of Minnesota in 2006, Chris had hit 28 homers and knocked in 94 runs playing four years for the Twins and one for the Orioles before donning Pinstripes. He signed a minor league deal with Oakland in November 2016.
  • Recent players and those from the distant past dot the other baseball birthdays too, as Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner (1874), made his name with the Pirates (mostly) from 1897-1917 to the tune of 101 homers, 1,732 rbi’s, and 722 steals; and lefty thrower Wilbur Cooper (1892) also excelled in the Steel City, where he recorded most of his 216-178 mark from 1912-1926. More recent birthdays are led off by another Hall of Famer, switch-hitting first baseman Eddie Murray (1956), who totaled 504 homers and 1,917 rbi’s from 1977-1997. Also: Nick Esasky (1960); Rene Arocha (1966), who signed a free agent contract with the Yankees in August 1997 and retired once he was released two months later; Stubby Clapp (1973); and Bronson Arroyo (1977). And a proliferation of young players have joined the list in the last few years: Dennis Tankersley (1979); Paul McAnulty (1981); Rob Bowen (1981); J.D. Durbin (1982); Nick Blackburn (1982); Miguel Rojas (1989); Jason Coats (1990); Eury De La Rosa (1990); Yefri Perez (1991); Jose Rojas (1993); Robert Stephenson (1993); Chance Sisco (1995); Michael Stefanic (1996); Jose Herrera (1997); and McKenzie Gore (1999).