On January 22, 1997, baseball officially lost its most faithful and worthy practitioner, when Don Mattingly retired. He said it best himself: “I never felt I was as talented as some other players, but I was willing to try some things other players weren’t willing to do. I played from the heart.” Yankee fans everywhere welcomed him back as hitting coach in 2004. He filled that same role through 2006, served as Joe Torre‘s bench coach in 2007, and sadly headed to Los Angeles with Torre for the 2008 season after being passed over in favor of Joe Girardi as the new Yankee manager. He has moved on to manage the Marlins in Miami, and won the Manager of the Year Award after their postseason run in 2020. He was let go, and will be bench coach in Toronto in 2023.
Leading the way as they so often have, the Yankees announced on January 22, 1929, that they would be putting numbers on their uniforms. Initially the numbers reflected the batting order, which explains Babe Ruth‘s No. 3, and Lou Gehrig‘s No. 4.
On this day in 1982, free agent outfielder Reggie Jackson made it official: He ended his stay with the Yanks when he signed a four-year deal with the Angels.
Finalizing what had become the inevitable end of his Yankee career, lefthander J.A. Happ was signed by the Twins to a contract on January 22, 2021.
On January 22, 2016, the Yankees signed free agent righthander Tyler Cloyd to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Yankee lefthander David Huff‘s roster spot was needed on January 22, 2014, so initially he was designated for assignment. The reason a spot needed to be cleared? The club signed free agent righthander Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year deal that day. Despite some shoulder issues in 2014 adjusting to American baseball, the pinstripers are counting on Tanaka to lead the club for years to come.
On January 21, 2013, the Yankees signed two free agents, lefthander Josh Romanski and shortstop Leugim Barroso.
New Manager Miller Huggins received a lot of heat for including starter Urban Shocker in a package (pitcher Nick Cullop, catcher Les Nunamaker, third sacker Fritz Maisel, and infielder Joe Gedeon) to the Browns for slick-fielding second baseman Del Pratt and hurler Eddie Plank on January 22, 1918, but Huggins stuck to his guns. Although 300-game winner Plank would retire before ever playing in New York, Pratt contributed 10 homers, 208 rbi’s, and 46 stolen bases to his solid glove work for the team from 1918-1920. And in that latter year, he became one of the chips sent to Boston for future Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt.
Robin Roberts and Bob Lemon were voted into the Hall of Fame on January 22, 1976. Bob did all his pitching for Cleveland, but he served as Yankee manager twice, and guided a volatile bunch from way behind to the World Crown in 1978.
January 22 player moves that affected former and/or future Yankee players include Rickey Henderson signing for his fourth tour of duty with the A’s in 1998; the Tigers’ trade of reliever Paul Gibson with Randy Marshall to the Mets for outfielder Mark Carreon and pitcher Tony Castillo in 1992; Jackie Jensen‘s retiring from the game on January 22, 1962; and the Senators’ swap of Bump Hadley to the Browns for Luke Sewell in 1935.
In a pairing that started somewhat amicably but did not remain that way, the Giants gave the Yankees permission to share the Polo Grounds as home field for the 1913 season only on January 22 of that year, after the lease on Hilltop Park had expired. Ten years later, after overstaying their invite by nine seasons, the up-and-coming Yankees would open their own baseball palace in view of the Giants’ park, right across the Harlem River in the South Bronx.
The National Association of Baseball Players was formed on January 22, 1857, in New York. This aggregation of amateur teams foreshadowed the National Association of Professional Baseball Players in 1870, which eventually morphed into the National League.
On January 22, 1988, an arbitrator ruling on the collusion suit brought against the owners in 1985 made seven players free agents until March 1 (a 36-day window). Of the seven, Butch Wynegar was with the Yankees when the case was originated, Joe Niekro had played with them during the time covered in the suit, Juan Beniquez had played in Pinstripes nine years earlier, and Tom Brookens would sign with the Yanks in 1989.
Future Cuban President Fidel Castro was ejected from a winter league baseball game on January 22, 1951, after beaning a batter.
On January 22, no Yankees have died.
Until 2022, it was easy to lead off a report on nonYankees to have died on January 22 with Mets 1969 World Series hero Tommie Agee (2001), who passed away several decades ago this day, but an all-time legend closes this graph now. Agee hit 130 home runs and drove in 433 runs from 1962-1973, mostly with the Mets, the White Sox, and the Indians. Also lost this day was lefty-hitting outfielder Ken Williams (1959), who hit 196 home runs with 913 rbi’s from 1915-1929 with the Reds, the Browns, and the Red Sox. Lefty-hitting middle infielder Sam Wise (1910) cleared 49 fences good for 672 rbi’s from 1881-1893, mostly with the Beaneaters; also a lefty hitter, outfielder Orator Shafer (1922) hit 10 long balls and knocked in 308 tallies from 1877-1890, mostly with the Blues and the A’s; and righthander Bob Wicker (1955) won 64 games, lost 52, and saved one with the Cardinals, the Cubs, and the Reds from 1901-1906. Two new members to this fraternity passed away in 2017: outfielder Andy Marte, who while playing mostly with Cleveland from 2005 through 2010, and in 2014, hit 21 long balls and drove in 99; and hard-throwing Kansas City righthander Yordanny Ventura, who from 2013-16 won 38 games and lost 31, before dying in a tragic offseason car crash. But the surpasser of Babe Ruth‘s home run total and right fielder Hank Aaron (2021), who played with the Braves in Milwaukee from 1954-1965, and in Atlanta from 1966 through 1974, will always be the star of this list going forward. Hammerin’ Hank, who also played with the 1975-1976 Brewers, hit 755 career home runs and drove in 2,297 runs.
Players Who Have Died This Day
There are only three Yankee players who share January 22 as a birthday, and the most recognizable one to today’s fan would be outfielder Brian Dayett (1957), who was a Yankee draft choice in 1978. Making his major-league debut in Pinstripes, Brian hit four home runs and knocked in 28 runs in 1983-1984, before being sent to the Chicago Cubs with Ray Fontenot in a 1984 trade for Porfi Altamirano, Rich Bordi, Henry Cotto, and Ron Hassey. Dayett finished his playing in the major leagues from 1984-1987 with the Cubs, who sold his contract to Japan’s Nippon Ham Fighters after the ’87 season. Dayett totalled 14 homers and 68 rbi’s in his mlb career.
Catcher Ira Thomas (1889) also debuted with the Yankees, as he stroked one homer, collected 39 rbi’s, and stole seven bases in 1906-1907, before ending his brief career with the 1908 Tigers. The Highlanders sold Thomas’s contract to Detroit in December 1907. His overall mark: three taters, 155 rbi’s, 20 stolen bases.
First baseman Tom Jones (1877) makes the Yankee list too, with a bit of a stretch, as he made his big-league start playing for the 1902 Baltimore Orioles, the franchise that failed and was then moved to New York for a new start in the 1903 season. Tom drove in 14 runs and stole a base in 37 games; then he played for the St. Louis Browns from 1904-1909, and finished up in Detroit in 1909 and 1910. Tom’s career numbers come in at four long balls, 336 rbi’s, and 135 stolen bases.
Other birthdays: Lefthanded hitter Amos Strunk (1889) played a number of positions from 1908-1924, primarily with the Philadelphia Athletics; he hit 15 taters, drove in 530 runs, and stole 185 bases. Others: Mike Caldwell (1949); Leon Roberts (1951); Jeff Treadway (1963); Wayne Kirby (1964); Keith Gordon (1969); Jimmy Anderson (1976); Aaron Rakers (1977); Chone Figgins (1978); Carlos Ruiz (1979); Jose Valdez (1983); Ubaldo Jimenez (1984); Scott Cousins (1985); Josh Spence (1988); Mike Hauschild (1990); John Berti (1990); Ramon Torres (1993); and Tyrone Taylor (1994).
Players Born This Day