February 25 in Yankee History

  • The Yankees got their first win of the Florida branch of their 2020 Spring Training on February 25 with a 4-1 win in Dunedin over the Blue Jays. It was our first look at the redone facility in the West Coast Florida city, where Toronto is scheduled to play their early season games in 2021. The hitting stars were Chris Ianetta, who doubled and scored in the second, and who contributed a single to the three-run Yankee rally in the seventh; and surprising swingman Rosell Herrera, who stroked a two-run pinch-hit single to cap that outburst while taking over for Miguel Andujar at third. But there was bad news as well, as it was during this contest that Brian Cashman announced that righthander Luis Severino would be missing the season (and more) with Tommy John surgery.
  • On February 25, 2019, the Yankees had a successful opening to their Spring Training season with a 3-0 win over the visiting Blue Jays. Home runs by Troy Tulowitzki (leading off the home first) and Kyle Higashioka gave the Bombers a quick lead, and James Paxton, Domimgo German, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, and Philip Diehl made it stand up.
  • It’s All Good! Just one of those days, so you might as well sit back and enjoy it: The Ultimate Yankee Baseball Warrior, our own beloved Paul O’Neill (1963), was born this day; as was Hall of Famer Monte Irvin (1919). As to the many superlatives of Paulie’s career, the highlights are too many: I like http://www.pauloneill21.com, but take your pick. We’ll give his Yankee stats below.
  • On February 25, 2023, outfielders Brandon Lockridge and Max Pita; third basemen Max Burt and Beau Brewer; shortstops Benjamin Cowles and Trey Sweeney; catcher Rafael Flores; and righthanders Leonardo Pestano, Tanner Myatt, Drew Thorpe, Alex Mauiricio, and Richard Fitts were assigned to the Yankees.
  • On February 25, 2022, the Yankees signed free agent righthander Jordy Luciano to a minor league contract.
  • On February 25, 2020, righthander Roansy Contreras was assigned to New York Yankees.
  • Other birthdays of note: recently deceased Beatle George Harrison (1943), very good Cub third baseman Ron Santo (1940), who unfortunately passed away in late 2010.
  • On February 25, 2019, shortstop Wilkerman Garcia was assigned to the Yankees.
  • On February 25, 2018, infielder Gosuke Katoh, first baseman Ryan McBroom, and outfielder Rashad Crawford were assigned to the Yankees. The club also signed free agent righthander Leonardo Pestana to a minor league contract.
  • Yes, oh happy day: Phil Rizzuto and Leo Durocher were finally voted into the Hall of Fame today in 1994, after a long, painful wait for Yankee fans; Buddy Holly & the Crickets recorded That’ll be the Day (1957); the Beatles released their first single in the U.S., Please Please Me (1963) and began recording Abbey Road (1969); Cassius Clay (as named at the time; Muhammad Ali, of course) beat Sonny Liston in the seventh round as a 7-1 underdog for the heavyweight crown (1964); the 1986 Grammy Awards were all about We Are the World; and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band began their Tunnel of Love tour (1988). As for the Scooter, he amassed 38 long balls, 563 rbi’s, and 149 stolen bases in his Yankee playing career before his long service behind a mike. Phil won the 1950 AL MVP Award; and he led the League for four years running (1949-1952) in sac bunts in a playing career that lasted from 1941-1956. Ironically, fellow inductee Durocher got his big-leagues start playing for the Yankees in the same position, shortstop. Of course, there is one thing that isn’t so good this day; it’s the memory that we lost The Scooter in 2007.
  • The Yankees wasted no time visiting the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla, on February 25, 2018, as second baseman Danny Espinosa followed three first-inning singles with a three-run double. Jordan Montgomery went two perfect innings, but Justus Sheffield was reached for a Maikel Franco two-run homer in the 8-3 Yankee vistory. Filling in for Austin Romine in the late innings, Kyle Higashioka went 3-for-3 and scored twice.
  • The final score was 6-5 Phillies in their Spring Training Opening Day win over the Yankees on February 25, 2017, but while the good play by the pinstripers that would continue all Spring was in evidence as two late rallies tied the game, a less happy aspect of the Yankees prepping for the season was the work of free agent Joe Mantiply. The portsider would promptly let the Phillies plate the game winner in the bottom of the ninth, with Brock Stassi — a good story as he would make their club after toiling in the minors for seven years — singling for the decider. The Yanks would win game after game in the coming days, until March 3 in Dunedin, when Mantiply would surrender a walkoff home run to Toronto minor leaguer Ryan McBroom, who ironically would be traded to the Yanks for Rob Refsnyder four months later. So the 7-2 Yanks would have just one pitcher who tasted defeat in the opening weeks: Mantiply. On a positive note, Gleyber Torres would go 2-for-2 and score twice, and Miguel Andujar would collect a hit and a run scored as well.
  • It’s even good with things a little less lofty, like maybe the worst baseball trade ever. The Cardinals traded Steve Carlton to the Phils for Rick Wise on February 25, 1972. “Lefty” won 241 for the Phils; Wise 32 for the Cards. But to me, it just serves as a reminder of the way the Yanks used Danny Cater (born this day in 1940) to pry Sparky Lyle out of Boston in 1972 (see below).
  • On February 25, 2012, the Yankees outrighted left fielder Chris Dickerson to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Injured in the minors much of the year, Chris missed an opportunity for some play with Brett Gardner hurt much of the year, and in 2013 Dickerson’s ties with the team were severed.
  • Which Babe Dahlgren would you have wanted to be? The one who backed up the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, for the Yanks at first base in 1937 and 1938 and got into a grand total of 28 games; or the one who took Lou’s place on first base on May 2, 1939, played 299 games in that season and the next? They were tough shoes to fill, and Babe was sold to the Braves on February 25, 1941, after having compiled 27 homers, 163 rbi’s, and three steals during his four years (two as a sub, two as a starter) in the Bronx.
  • If you consider the number of people who have played first base for the Yanks since this day in 2004, combined with all the names of guys who were mentioned as potential replacements if the Yanks had voided Jason Giambi‘s contract in light of the steroids controversy, it’s almost impossible to remember that once the Yanks signed Travis Lee to fill the spot on February 25, 2004, he was considered a lock to be the starter. As it turned out, Giambi got significant playing time at first in the ’04 campaign, as did Tony Clark, and eventually John Olerud. And Tino Martinez returned to field the position often in 2005. Lee, on the other hand, hurt his shoulder in Spring Training in ’04 trying to throw from the outfield in a bid to enhance his value with the team. He played but seven games with the big club, with two hits (one double) in 19 at bat’s, scoring one run and knocking in two. He did manage to make a game-saving play in a heated battle in Fenway Park early in the year, but he was back with the Devil Rays in 2005. Of course, the recent signing of switch-hitter Mark Teixeira to play first should solidify the position in the Bronx for the next 10 years.
  • February 25 player moves affecting future and former Yankees include Jack McDowell signing a one-year deal with the Angels in 1998; the Reds’ trade of Dave Revering to the A’s for Doug Bair in 1978; and the O’s throwing righty Don Hood into the swap of Boog Powell to the Indians for backstop Dave Duncan in 1975. McDowell went 15-10 for the 1995 Yanks, first baseman Revering reached two fences for nine rbi’s in part-time duty in 1981-1982, and Hood posted a 3-1 mark with the 1979 Yanks.
  • Similarly, two other players with Pinstripes on their resumes were in the news February 25, though one never played a game with the Pinstripers, and the other’s one-year stay is best forgotten. A Yankee draft pick, starter LaMarr Hoyt put up some good numbers with the White Sox and the Padres, but he was banned from the game on this day in 1987 due to three drug-policy violations; and 2005 second baseman-for-a-while Tony Womack was traded to Arizona by Pittsburgh on this day in 1999.


Players Who Have Died This Day

  • Major League Baseball, and baseball in New York in particular, took a big hit on February 25, 1934, when Hall of Fame Manager John McGraw passed away. McGraw got his start as a player (third base)/manager with Baltimore clubs in the National and then American Leagues in 1899-1902, then won 10 NL pennants and three World Series crowns piloting the New York Giants from 1902-1933. Yankee fans have reason to both honor and revile McGraw. He is technically listed on the team’s all-time roster by virtue of his association with the 1901-1902 Baltimore clubs, the team that was shifted to New York as the Highlanders in 1903. On the other hand, he was largely responsible for there having been no World Series in 1904 as he managed the NL Giants, because he could not countenance the idea of playing the crosstown Highlanders, who were in the thick of the AL pennant race until the very last week of the season. McGraw would have driven the Highlanders/Yankees from New York if he could have. There are two other Yankee players who have died February 25. Righthander Garland Braxton (1966) won six, lost two, and saved two in 40 games (three starts) for the 1925-1926 Yankees in a career that spanned 1921-1933. After spending much of the remainder with Washington, Braxton’s overall numbers became 50-53-32. Outfielder Joe Gallagher (1998) debuted by playing 14 games for the 1939 Yankees, for whom he stroked two home runs with nine rbi’s. He finished that season with the Browns and played for St. Louis and Brooklyn in 1940, raising his overall numbers to 16 long balls with 73 runs knocked in.
  • A lefthanded pitcher an infielder, and an outfielder comprise the list of noteworthy nonYankee players who have died on February 25. Otto Hess (1926) won 70 games, lost 90, and saved five with the 1902-1904 Blues, the 1905-1908 Indians, and the 1912-1915 Braves; and infielder Russ Wrightstone (1969) hit most of his 60 home runs with 425 rbi’s from 1920-1928 with the Philadelphia Phillies. Outfielder Dave Nicholson played 538 games with the 1960,1962 Orioles, the 1963-1966 White Sox, and in two other stops through 1967. He hit 61 home runs with 179 rbi’s.

Players Born This Day

  • You can see above that this is the birthday of the Yankee Warrior, Paul O’Neill (1963). With 281 career long balls and 1,269 rbi’s, Paul earned 186/858 of those numbers in the Bronx from 1993-2001 once he was acquired from the Reds in a trade for outfielder Roberto Kelly in November 1992. The 1994 AL batting champion, O’Neill also stole 80 of his career total 141 bases with the Yankees. He earned one Championship Ring with the Reds, and four more with the Bombers.
  • Other Yankee birthdays include Manager Stump Merrill (1944) and lefthanded-hitting outfielder Roy Weatherly (1915). Stump led the Yanks to seventh- and then fifth-place finishes in the seven-team AL East in 1990 and 1991. And after seven seasons in Cleveland, Weatherly hit seven taters and 28 rbi’s, with four steals, in 79 games for the 1943 and 1946 Yankees, all but two in the former year; he finished up his play with the 1950 New York Giants.
  • First baseman Danny Cater (1940) hit 10 taters with 126 rbi’s and four steals for the Yanks in 1970-1971, and hit .300 in the latter season, which prompted the Red Sox to ship southpaw and eventual AL Cy Young Award winner Sparky Lyle to the Yanks for him and shortstop Mario Guerrero in March 1972. Cater had arrived in the Bronx with Ossie Chavarria in a December 1969 trade with the Oakland Athletics for Al Downing and Frank Fernandez. Lyle manages the Independent Atlantic League Somerset (NJ) Patriots now.
  • Drafted by the Yankees in the 24th round in 2010, Conor Mullee (1988) finally made it to “the Show” with them in 2016, pitching to no record and a 3.00 era in three games. He was selected off waivers by the Cubs in November 2016, released, and then re-signed by them in December.
  • We finish the birthdays with two major league players who spent time with the team but did not play here. Lefty reliever Kevin Hickey (1956) arrived in New York with Doug Drabek via an August 1984 trade with the White Sox for Roy Smalley. Unfortunately, the Yanks didn’t retain Drabek for long, dispatching him in a disastrous trade I won’t detail here. Hickey, who was released the following May, retired with a 9-14 record with 17 saves.
  • Fellow lefty Al Hollingsworth (1908) posted most of his 70-104 mark (with 15 saves) with the Reds and the Browns from 1935-1946. He became a Yankee by virtue of a July 1939 trade with the Phillies that cost New York Roy Hughes. Al’s contract was purchased from the Yankees by the Brooklyn Dodgers one month later.
  • Other baseball birthdays of note: Andy Pafko (1921), who blasted 213 taters, with 976 rbi’s and 38 steals from 1943-1959, mostly with the Cubs, and with the Braves in Milwaukee; Denny Lemaster (1939); Cesar Cedeno (1951); Bob Brenly (1954); Ed Lynch (1956); Ken Dayley (1959); Rich Rowland (1964); David Hulse (1968); Huck Flener (1969); Shannon Stewart (1974); Jay Marshall (1983); Xavier Paul (1985); Erik Cordier (1986); Henry Rodriguez (1987), the pitcher for Oakland, not the lefty hitter who played with the Expos and very briefly the Yankees around 2000; Andrew Werner (1987); Phil Irwin (1987); Nathan Adcock (1988); Felix Pena (1990); Jorge Soler (1992); Erick Castillo (1993); Erick Fedde (1993); Aaron Fletcher (1996); and Rafael Marchan (1999).