January 18 in Yankee History

  • The Yankees signed infielder Wilson Betemit to a one-year contract on January 18, 2008. Betemit’s switch-hit power intrigued the club, but it wasn’t much in evidence in the coming campaign. Unfortunately, his less than stellar defense around the infield was. Eventually, however, Wilson was one of the chips the Yanks used to pry Nick Swisher from the Chisox, and Nick had a great year for the 2009 Yankee champs.
  • On January 18, 2020, the Yankees signed free agent righthander Stephen Ridings to a minor league contract.
  • The only other January 18 transaction to have a direct effect on former or future Yankee players was the four-team trade that took place on that day in 1985. The Mets received pitcher Frank Wills from Kansas City, who in turn got catcher Jim Sundberg from Milwaukee. The Brewers received catcher Bill Hance and hurler Danny Darwin from Texas, and also pitcher Tim Leary from the Mets. And the Royals shipped backstop Don Slaught to Texas. The last two guys mentioned had Yankee Pinstripes in their futures. “Sluggo” Slaught actually had two pretty good years in the Bronx, where he blasted 14 homers, while driving in 81 runs, and stealing two bases in 1988 and 1989. But Leary’s 1990-1992 stint with the Yankees featured nobody’s highlight reel. He arrived with a career record slightly below .500, but he slipped to a horrendous 18-35 mark in the Bronx.
  • On January 18, 2018, the Yankees signed free agent righthanders Carlos Santana and Elvin Serrano; and free agent catcher Carlos Rodriguez, to minor league contracts.
  • On January 16, 2016, the Yankees signed free agent righthander Wellington Caceres to a minor league contract.
  • A small piece of the 2009 Yankee Championship team was officially separated from the team when the Padres signed free agent utility player Jerry Hairston Jr. on January 18, 2010.
  • On January 18, 2011, a 2010 Yank went elsewhere, and the Yanks signed a 2010 Ray. The Dodgers signed free agent left fielder Marcus Thames, while free agent righty reliever Rafael Soriano agreed to terms to pitch in the Bronx.
  • On January 18, 2013, the Yankees signed free agent left fielder Thomas Neal after plucking him from the roster of the Cleveland Indians. Neal would play in four games with the ’13 Yankees, collecting two hits and scoring a run.
  • On January 18, 1938, legendary starter Grover Cleveland Alexander became the only player elevated to the Hall of Fame on this January day.
  • Five people were injured on January 18, 1999, when a fiberglass panel from the roof of Montreal’s Olympic Stadium fell during an auto show.
  • When Orlando Cepeda was inked to a free-agent deal with the Red Sox on January 18, 1973, he became the first player specifically signed as a designated hitter.
  • Baseball owners in both leagues agreed to implement interleague play on January 18, 1996.
  • Some of his movies are better than others, and it’s certainly a matter of personal preference and taste. But it’s clear that Kevin Costner, who was born on January 18, 1955, is sincere in his love of baseball. Witness his three efforts filmed with the game on the diamond a major star: Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and For the Love of the Game, the latter filmed largely in Yankee Stadium.
    Players Who Have Died This Day

  • Two players with Yankees on their resumes have passed away on January 18. Outfielder Justin Fitzgerald (1945) had 10 hits in 36 at bats good for six rbi’s for the 1911 Highlanders. He played for the Phillies in 1918 and drove in six runs there too. Righthander Pete Appleton (1974) pitched to a 57-66 record with 26 saves from 1927-1942 and in 1945, mostly with the Senators and the White Sox. But he did pitch one game for the 1933 Yankees, allowing a walk and three hits but no runs in two innings.
  • There are also three noteworthy nonYankee players who died this day. Portsided outfielder Cliff Heathcote (1939) hit most of his 42 home runs with 448 runs driven in from 1918-1932 with the Cubs and the Cardinals; and southpaw Leo Kiely (1984) pitched to a 26-27-29 record, mostly with the Red Sox, from 1951-1960. Lefty hitting, righty throwing catcher Vic Roznovsky (2022) played with the 1964-1965 Cubs, the 1966-1967 Orioles, and the 1969 Phillies; he hit four long balls with 38 rbi’s in 205 games.
    Players Born This Day

  • Until 2012, infielder Nolen Richardson (1903) was the only player born on January 18 who actually played for the Yankees, though there are a couple of more who were involved with the organization. After three seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Richardson managed to knock in five runs in 46 at bats playing 12 games for the 1935 Yankees. He finished his career by playing for the Cincinnati Reds in 1938 and 1939.
  • And Scott McGregor (1954) was actually a first-round draft choice of the Bombers in the June phase of the 1972 amateur draft. But the Yanks rarely did well dealing with the Orioles in those days, as evidenced by the way they stocked the Baltimore team on June 15, 1976, when they shipped McGregor, Rudy May, Dave Pagan, reliever Tippy Martinez, and catcher Rick Dempsey south while receiving starters Ken Holtzman and Doyle Alexander, relievers Grant Jackson and Jimmy Freeman, and receiver Ellie Hendricks. McGregor would pitch in Baltimore only from 1976 through 1988, to a 138-108 win/loss record.
  • Lefty Mike Bertotti (1970) was actually pitching in the Independent Atlantic League a few years back when the Yanks signed him to a minor league deal and took a long look at him. Mike pitched from 1995-1997 in the bigs for the White Sox to a 3-1 record in 28 games, six of them starts.
  • The Yankee birthday group grew by one when the Yankees sent Jesus Montero to Seattle for righthander Michael Pineda (1989) just five days after his 23rd birthday in January 2012. Pineda unfortunately had shoulder surgery a few months later, and finally make a frustrating Yankee debut in 2014, after missing the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Michael, who pitched to a 9-10 record in 28 starts with the 2011 Mariners, started well in ’14, but was penalized for doctoring the ball with pine tar, then was injured. Still, he came back strong down the stretch, going 5-5 with a sub-2.00 era. He pitched brilliantly early in 2015, then struggled with inconsistency down the stretch, to a 12-10 record. His strike out to walks ratio, 156/21, was startlingly good. The great pitching/horrible results continued in 2016, when he went 6-12, but was great in early 2017. But he began experiencing some failure, then went down to Tommy John surgery after going 8-4. He was signed to a free agent contract by Minnesota in December ’17 and again in ’19. Michael has gone 22-13 in 53 games, all starts, with the Twins.
  • And yet another pitcher, this one a southpaw, joined the Yankee January 18 birthday family in 2012 when the Bombers selected Justin Thomas (1984) off waivers from the Red Sox that May. Justin, who has since been released and signed by the A’s, pitched in four games for the Yankees to no record. He has pitched to an 0-2 mark in 31 games for the 2008 Mariners, the 2010 Pirates and the 2012 Red Sox and Yankees.
  • Other birthdays: St. Louis center fielder Curt Flood (1938), who battled the reserve clause; Carl Morton (1944); Billy Grabarkewitz (1946); Brady Anderson (1964); Philly All Star catcher Mike Lieberthal (1972); Franklin Nunez (1977); Brian Falkenburg (1978); Wandy Rodriguez (1979); Brandon Fahey (1981); Luis Jimenez (1988); Brett Lawrie (1990); Anthony Bemboom (1990); Gift Gnoepe (1990); Kyle Martin (1991); Alex Mejia (1991); Jaycob Grubman (1992); Jarlin Garcia (1993); Max Fried (1994); and Diego Castillo (1994).