I simply can’t help all the times I refer to the 2020 season as “bizarro,” and the titular “Opening Day” (with no fans) in the Bronx vs. Boston on July 31 is no different. Jordan Montgomery pitched into the sixth for the 5-1 win, and Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner clubbed two-run home runs.
Mike Tauchman and Austin Romine two-run homers were enough to carry the Yankees to a 7-5 win over visiting Arizona on July 31, 2019. Didi Gregorius, Gleyber Torres, and Cameron Maybin eighth-inning rbi’s were key to the victory.
On July 31, 2021, the Yankees sent righthander Clarke Schmidt on a rehab assignment to the Tampa Tarpons; activated lefthander Andrew Heaney; and designated righty Sal Romano for assignment.
Righthander Masahiro Tanaka outpitched one-time Yankee farmhand Yefri Ramirez in a 6-3 win over visiting Baltimore on July 31, 2018. Tanaka left up 6-0 after six, largely on a Miguel Andujar three-run jack, and A.J. Cole gave up all three Orioles runs in the eighth inning.
As reported above in the 2020 home opener, lefty Jordan Montgomery was able to make the start because the Yankees recalled him from the team Alternate Training Site on July 31, 2020. In far worse news, the club placed righthander Tommy Kahnle on the 10-day injured list, with a right UCL injury.
Two-rbi, back-to-back hits off Detroit’s Michael Fullmer by Chase Headley and Todd Frazier in the home fourth, and Aaron Judge‘s singleton blast in the fifth, carried Luis Severino to a 7-3 win on July 31, 2017. A Victor Martinez comebacker off Sevy in the fourth raised some concern, and he left after five. But he would prove to be OK.
The Yanks didn’t mount much offense against Jake Arrieta and the Orioles in Yankee Stadium on July 31, 2011, except for the fourth inning, when Brett Gardner followed a walk, error, and single with a three-run triple. Once Brett scored, the Yanks led 4-1, and beat Baltimore 4-2 behind Freddy Garcia.
One of the bad days that led to the eventual demotion of Ivan Nova from the Yankee rotation, and then their roster altogether, came on July 31, 2012, whe the young hard-throwing righty squandered a first-inning 5-0 lead achieved primarily on Robinson Cano‘s three-run bomb. The Orioles pounded Nova for six hits and seven runs in the second, then added single runs in the third and fifth in the eventual 11-5 Orioles win.
The Yankees greeted old friend Jose Contreras back to the Bronx on July 31, 2007, and battered him for eight quick runs on Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, and Robbie Cano home runs in a 16-3 win over the White Sox. Matsui would add a second tater in the sixth, and Melky Cabrera, Jorge Posada, Johnny Damon, and Shelley Duncan would go yard as well.
The Yankees broke out of the 2005 post All-Star Game break with a successful series in Fenway Park. Those same two teams played a real barn burner back on July 31, 1930, as Lou Gehrig chipped in a grand slam in a 14-13 Yankee win over the rivals to the north in Boston.
The Iron Horse led the way six years later too, on July 31, 1936, as the Yankees downed the Indians, 11-7. Fifth-inning home runs from Lou Gehrig and Red Rolfe got the Bombers going, and Johnny Murphy came on for the save once the Tribe came back against Kent Hadley.
Although he only wore the Pinstripes for a week or two, Armando Benitez got the win when the Yanks scored a run on old nemesis Troy Percival and beat the Angels 2-1 in 10 innings on July 31, 2003. Benji Gil knocked in a run in the home second, and Derek Jeter answered with an rbi single in the third. Nick Johnson plated Bernie Williams with the winner seven frames later.
Both Alex Rodriguez and Ivan Rodriguez homered, along with Rafael Palmeiro, in a 6-2 Texas win over the Yanks in the Bronx on July 31, 2001. The Bombers had a short ceremony before the game at which Joe Torre presented Clay Bellinger, recently recalled from the minors, with his 2000 World Series Championship Ring.
On this day in 1963, Ralph Terry used a mere 75 pitches to subdue the Kansas City A’s in a 5-0 Yankee win, allowing five hits and no walks, while striking out five.
In a move that was more addition by subtraction until recently in the 2008 season, the Yankees traded righty reliever Scott Proctor to the Dodgers in exchange for infielder Wilson Betemit on July 31, 2007.
Decades worth of Yankee fans were as relieved as the Scooter, I’m sure, when former Yankee shortstop and longtime broadcaster Phil Rizutto was finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 31, 1994. Steve Carlton and Leo Durocher were honored with Phil that day. Carlton was one of the best lefty starters ever, while Durocher made more headlines as a manager than a player. He did start his playing career with the Yankees, by the way.
The Yanks took their second consecutive 8-7 win, this one in 11 innings, vs. Anaheim on July 31, 2005. Before the game, Ryne Sandberg and Wade Boggs were congratulated on their being voted into the Hall of Fame, and the Yanks announced that that day’s ticket stub would earn fans free entry to the Hall in Cooperstown in 2005. In that the game that followed, after stroking the game-winning double the day before, Hideki Matsui led off the bottom of the 11th with a triple and crossed with the winner on a Tony Womack single. In this one, the team overcame home runs hit by two brothers hitting for the opposition, as both Benjie Molina and Jose Molina went yard off Randy Johnson. Jose, of course, is the backup catcher on the Yankees since mid-2007.
Javier Vazquez outpitched Baltimore’s Eric Bedard in a 6-4 Yankee win on July 31, 2004. Alex Rodriguez was the hitting star, with a home run and two singles.
Moose Skowron hit a grand slam in Washington in a 9-5 Yankee win on July 31, 1962.
On July 31, 2019, the Yankees placed first baseman Luke Voit on the 10-day injured list, with a sports hernia; and also placed righthander David Hale on the 10-day list, retroactive to July 28, with a lumbar spine strain. The team filled the roster spots by recalling Breyvic Valera and righthander Jonathan Holder from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
On July 31, 2018, the Yankees selected the contract of Ryan Bollinger from the AA Trenton Thunder.
On July 31, 2017, Oakland traded Sonny Gray and future considerations to the Yankees for center fielder Dustin Fowler, righthander James Kaprielian, and shortstop Jorge Mateo. New York also traded for lefthander Jaime Garcia, and initially assigned both Gray and Garcia to the minor leagues. The team then optioned righthander Luis Cessa to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, and recalled righty Jonathan Holder from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. And finally, the club traded righthander Yefry Ramirez to Baltimore for future considerations.
On July 31, 2016, the Yankees pulled off their second blockbuster bumping up against the trade deadline when they sent southpaw Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Clint Frazier, righthanders Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen, and lefthander Justus Sheffield.
In a flurry of moves on July 31, 2015, the Yankees optioned center fielder Slade Heathcott to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders; released righthander Esmil Rogers; activated outfielder Dustin Ackley; designated outfielder Garrett Jones for assignment; and sent southpaw Chris Capuano outright to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
In a move that did not work out very well, and which was compounded by a re-signing in the coming offseason, the Yankees traded third baseman Kelly Johnson to the hated Boston Red Sox for shortstop Stephen Drew and cash on July 31, 2014, the trading deadline. In another move that paid only slightly better dividends, once the team cleared a spot by releasing third baseman Scott Sizemore, they claimed righthander Esmil Rogers off waivers from Toronto Blue Jays as well.
The next July 31, 2014, move was much more fortuitous, if for a quite short time. the Yankees traded minor leaguer Peter O’Brien and a player to be named to the Arizona Diamondbacks for infielder/utility player Martin Prado.
The Yankees made some moves to tailor themselves for the stretch run and playoffs on July 31, 2010. They created room on the roster by transferring righty Alfredo Aceves from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list, designating righthander Chan Ho Park for assignment, and optioning outfielder Colin Curtis and first baseman Juan Miranda to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Then they acquired left fielder Austin Kearns from Cleveland, and got Lance Berkman from Houston for minor leaguer Jimmy Paredes and reliever Mark Melancon.
On a busy behind-the-scenes day, the Yankees activated righty reliever Joba Chamberlain from the 60-day disabled list on July 31, 2012, creating room on the 40-man roster by releasing outfielder Dewayne Wise. The club also traded righthander Chad Qualls to Pittsburgh for first baseman Casey McGehee; and also sent Charlie Short to their minors.
The Yankee front office was busy on July 31, 2009, with bad news for two veterans, as two younger players switched places. First the Yankees transferred both right fielder Xavier Nady and righthander Chien-Ming Wang from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. The team then optioned righty Jonathan Albaladejo to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre, and called up right fielder Shelley Duncan from Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
Another flurry of moves to report at the traditional trade deadline. In the recent past, Jim Leyritz was reacquired from San Diego for minor league pitcher Geraldo Padua in 1999, a move that allowed Jim to hit the last home run of the Millennium as he went yard late in the fourth game of the 1999 World Series sweep of the Braves.
The Yanks engineered several moves on July 31, 2003. With 36-year-old Robin Ventura slumping and once-hyped phenom Drew Henson not developing as expected, New York addressed the hot corner and its desire to add a quality bat by sending young pitching prospect Brandon Claussen, minor-league lefty Charlie Manning, and cash to the Reds for Aaron Boone.
But the Yanks and Reds were not done. Once that deal was complete the Yanks got Gabe White from Cincinnati for a player to be named later.
Still the front office wasn’t done. The Yanks made room for Aaron Boone at third base by trading Robin Ventura to the Dodgers for Bubba Crosby and Triple-A righthander Scott Proctor later in the day.
On July 31, 2004, the Yankees and White Sox traded starting righthanders of nearly the same age, straight up for each other. But New York made a few bucks by divesting itself of its Cuban enigma, Jose Contreras, by sending him to the Chicago for Esteban Loaiza. Jose needed to be moved, his tremendous success since notwithstanding, but Loaiza was ineffective down the stretch for the Yankees.
Two big trades in 1996: The first had the Yankees and Tigers swapping unhappy offensive stars who had worn out their welcome(s) as Ruben Sierra was sent to the Motor City for Cecil Fielder. Sierra, who enjoyed a resurgence later in his return to the Bronx a few years ago, was unhappy, after having made a huge contribution in the Wild Card drive in ’95. Fielder, on the other hand, may have been the Yankee offensive MVP of the successful 1996 postseason. The second July 31 transaction was a key to ’96 postseason success too, with David Weathers coming to New York from Florida for Mark Hutton.
And the Yanks made one last trade deadline move in 2006 too, sending an ineffective righthander Shawn Chacon to Pittsburgh for first baseman/outfielder Craig Wilson.
And Mickey Mantle might never have worn the no. 7 had the Yanks not made it available by trading Cliff Mapes to the Browns for Bobbie Hogue, Kermit Wahl, Tom Upton, and Lou Sleater on this day in 1951. Mantle had initially worn no. 6.
Elsewhere, it is the day that Mark McGwire accepted the welcome from St. Louis as the A’s got minor leaguers Eric Ludwig and Blake Stein, along with the 4-4 T.J. Mathews, on July 31, 1997. And Randy Johnson was shipped to the Astros one year later, with Freddy Garcia and Carlos Guillen heading to Seattle.
Cleveland brought Ron Guidry‘s 12-game winning streak to an end on July 31, 1985, as they beat the Yanks 6-5.
The battle that would culminate with Bucky Dent‘s big day in Fenway in 1978 took one more step today, as the Yanks prevailed over the Rangers, 6-1, on July 31, to move within 7.5 games of first place.
And it was the Yanks’ eighth win in nine games, and moved them to within one-half game of first, when Graig Nettles scored three times in a 9-2 win over the A’s on this day in 1977.
Two 11th-inning throwing errors charged to Hector Lopez, utility player and outfielder spending his only 1960 game at third base, led to three 11th-inning runs for the A’s in a 5-2 Yankee loss on July 31.
Joe Adcock of the Braves slugged four home runs, like Mr. Dent using a borrowed bat, in a 15-7 win over the Dodgers on July 31, 1954.
In a minor transaction that signaled yet another failure by the Yanks to fill one of the lefty spots in their bullpen, they traded Buddy Groom to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a player to be named or cash considerations on July 31, 2005.
Athletics’ hurler Cloyd Boyer found out early in a contest with the Yankees on July 31, 1955, that he didn’t have much, as Hank Bauer, Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra homered off his first eight pitches of the day. The Yanks turned six of the nine double plays completed in the game, and Don Larsen got the 5-2 win.
Babe Ruth hit a fungo 447 feet in an unofficial test, beating all trial records, on July 31, 1929.
In a 4-0 Cubs win over St. Louis on July 31, 1910, rookie King Cole threw a seven-inning no-hitter.
In a July 31 highlight affecting a one-time Yankee player, Mike Torrez pitched 11 shutout innings in a 12-inning, 1-0 Mets win over Jose DeLeon and the Pirates on this day in 1983. Similarly, future Yank Pat Dobson notched his eighth victory of that July, and 12th in a row, when he shut out the Royals for the Orioles 4-0 on July 31, 1971.
The only Yankee player to have died on July 31 is catcher Rollie Hemsley (1972), who hit four home runs with 65 rbi’s with the team in 74 games from 1942-1944. This fell within a 1928-1947 career, spent mostly with the Browns, the Pirates, the Indians, the Cubs, and the Phillies, along with the Yanks, with 31 long balls and 391 runs driven in.
Noteworthy nonYankee players to have passed this day include a lefty pitcher, three outfielders and shortstop Eddie Miller (1997), who cleared 97 fences good for 640 runs driven in mosly with the Reds, but with short stops with the Bees, the Braves, and the Phillies too, from 1936-1950. Outfielder Bud Weiser (1961) frankly makes the list on name value; he drove in nine runs playing 41 games with the 1915-1916 Phillies. The other two outfielders are lefties. Doc Miller (1938) hit most of his 12 long balls with 235 rbi’s from 1910-1914 with the Phillies, but with the Cubs, the Doves, the Rustlers, the Braves, and the Reds too; and Max Flack (1975) cleared 35 fences and knocked in 391 runs from 1914-1925 with the (Federal League) Whales, the Cubs, and the Cardinals. And most recently added to this list was very good southpaw pitcher Billy Pierce (2015), who pitched for the White Sox from 1949 through 1961, spending a few years with Detroit beforehand, and with San Francisco after. Billy got a significant number of his 211 career wins, and a few of his 169 losses, against the Yankees; he saved 32 games.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Scott Bankhead (1963) and Mike Figga (1970) are the two (of nine) July 31 birthday Yankees in recent years, as the former crowned a 10-year career with a 1-1 record in 20 games for the 1995 team, and the latter notched one hit in eight at bats for the club from 1997 through 1999 before finishing his career with part of one year in Baltimore. Figga was a Yankee 1989 amateur draftee in the 44th round, and was selected off waivers by the Orioles 10 years later. Bankhead was a free agent the Bombers signed.
Twelve-year Yankee outfielder Hank Bauer (1922) banged 158 homers and 654 rbi’s for the club in the fifties. A 1946 amateur free agent, Hank went to the Kansas City Athletics with Don Larsen, Norm Siebern, and Marv Throneberry for Roger Maris, Joe DeMaestri, and Kent Hadley in December 1959. He added six homers and 49 rbi’s to his career totals in K.C. And he skippered the 1966 Baltimore Orioles to the World Series title as their manager. Hank passed away in February 2007, and was feted with Clete Boyer, a fellow Yankee star who died in the last year, at that year’s Old Timers Game.
Southpaw Rip Coleman (1931), who went 5-6 with one save in 1955 and 1956, was also sent to Kansas City, in 1957 as part of a package for Art Ditmar, Bobby Shantz, and two other players.
Catcher Billy Shantz (1927), Bobby’s brother, followed up one year in Philly and one in K.C. by appearing in one game for the 1960 Yankees. Lefty Tommy Madden (1883) made one appearance for the 1910 Yanks; and infielder Bob Unglaub (1881) got four hits with two rbi’s for the 1904 Highlanders (Yankees). New York shipped Unglaub to the Boston Pilgrims for Patsy Dougherty in June 1904.
Righthander Allan Russell (1893) posted a 26-36 mark with 13 saves for the Yanks from 1915-1919 before he was sent to Boston with Bob McGraw for the notorious Carl Mays in 1919. Lastly, we fete Randy Flores (1975), a 1997 Yankee amateur draft pick who never played for the team. A lefty, Randy lost two and won none for the Rangers and the Rockies in 2002. With St. Louis since, at last look his record stood at 9-4. He was a part of the compensation New York sent to Texas to reacquire Randy Velarde for the 2001 stretch run.
The Yankees also signed righthander Fernando Hernandez (1984) as a free agent in February 2011, but released him the following June. Hernandez pitched in three games for the 2008 A’s, and won one of them.
Other birthdays: long-time baseball broadcaster Curt Gowdy (1919); Giants second baseman Larry Doyle (1886); Boston Braves southpaw Art Nehf (1936), who went 184-120 from 1915-1929; and righty Elmer Riddle (1914), a 65-52 pitcher with the Reds and the Pirates. Also, pinch-hitter extraordinaire Vic Davalillo (1936); John Vukovich (1947); Leon Durham (1957); Mike Bielecki (1959); Gabe Kapler (1975); Randy Flores (1975); Andy Van Hekken (1979); J.J. Furmaniak (1979); Rene Rivera (1983); Kyle McGrath (1992); Jose Fernandez (1992); Nick Plummer (1996); and Luiz Gohara (1996).
Players Born This Day