They’re all emotional events, but Old Timer’s Day on June 20, 2015, in Yankee Stadium was a particularly poignant affair. The retiring of No. 30 and a plaque in Monument Park for Willie Randolph was expected, but the presence, and then addition to that honor, of an ailing Mel Stottlemyre brought many a tear. The Clippers beat the Bombers 3-2 in two innings in the game that followed, then the Yankees blasted the Tigers, 14-3. Driving Alberto Simon from the mound in the third, the offense was led by five rbi’s from Alex Rodriguez, with three more from Carlos Beltran, and two each from Didi Gregorius and Chris Young.
Matt Olson‘s first-inning homer could have carried the A’s to victory in the Bronx on June 20, 2021, because the Yankees would come up with just three hits in this one. But Gary Sanchez doubled in two guys who had walked in the home sixth, the first on a superb 10-pitch at bat by young Clint Frazier. Given the 2-1 final, Jordan Montgomery pitched well as usual, but failed to get the win, again as usual. Jonathan Loaisiga received that honor by retiring the last two Oakland batters in the top of the sixth.
The visiting Astros did well with young lefty Framber Valdez on the mound in the Stadium on June 20, 2019, for a while, and to be fair, it’s not certain that yet another day of wet, dreary conditions in the Bronx played a part in his fourth-inning implosion. Minutes after Stadium personnel reworked the muddy mound, Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres homers had the Yanks up 4-0 in the fourth, and DJ LeMahieu added a two-run jolt against a reliever to close the six-run frame. The Yankee opener and “starter” tandem of Chad Green and Nestor Cortes, Jr. got the Bombers into the sixth up 8-2 in the eventual 10-6 hometown win. Playing first base, Edwin Encarnacion added his second Yankee home run in three days in the seventh.
A comeback 7-5 win over visiting Seattle in the Stadium on June 20, 2018, speaks to that team’s resilience, and to its power. Young Jonathan Loaisiga was lifted down 1-0 with two outs in the fourth, but not only did lefty Chasen Shreve give up a two-run single to the next batter, he surrendered two runs in the fifth as well, putting the team in a 5-0 hole. Rbi’s from Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius got it closer, but the Bombers won this one on two-run jacks from Gary Sanchez (in the eighth) and Giancarlo Stanton (a walkoff, in the ninth).
After the Angels jumped out to a 3-0 lead over Michael Pineda in a game in the Bronx on June 20, 2017, the home team gamely recovered, tying matters on a Chase Headley sac fly and Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez home runs, but this would turn out to be one of the early chapters of the fall from grace of righty Tyler Clippard. Coming on for the seventh, Clippard surrendered a home run, double, and triple to his first four batters. The singleton runs Jonathan Holder gave up in the last two frames hardly mattered, as the Halos cashed in an 8-3 victory.
If you picked the beginning of the bottom of the third inning of the June 20, 2010 interleague game between the Mets and the Yankees to purchase a nosh or take a walk, you missed virtually all the action – and certainly all the scoring – if you did not see the first 14 Johan Santana pitches of that frame. Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, and Nick Swisher singles set the table, and Mark Teixeira‘s grand slam made it it a 4-0 game, the same score the game had six innings later. CC Sabathia went eight innings for the win, and Mariano Rivera finished up.
With the gopher ball, Phil Hughes‘s bete noire, doing him in, the Braves took a 6-1 lead on the Yanks on June 20, 2012, on long balls by Freddie Freeman, Martin Prado, Justin Heyward, and Cody Ross. Home runs by Eric Chavez, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano closed it to 6-5, but four more runs off Corey Wade, Boone Logan, and Freddy Garcia closed out the 10-5 Atlanta win.
Our next “high”light unfortunately features another tough outing by the Yankee bullpen and Boone Logan in an 8-3 loss to the Tampa Rays in the Stadium on June 20, 2013. Rbi’s from Travis Hafner and Robinson Cano brought the Yanks to within 4-3, but two home runs and four late runs off Logan and Joba Chamberlain sealed the Yanks’ fate. Tampa thid baseman Evan Longoria had two home runs and a sac fly.
In light of the next three highlights in this column, all of which feature the Yankees of a century ago, we’ll honor one-time Yankee third baseman Bill Werber, who moved the games-remaining counter in Yankee Stadium from 45 to 44 on June 20, 2008, his 100th birthday. It was a timely honor because Mr. Weber would die in January 2009. There were few Yankee highlights on the field that day, as they succumbed to Edinson Volquez and the Cincinnati Reds 4-2. The game turned when first-year Yankee Manager Joe Girardi ordered veteran righthander Mike Mussina to intentionally walk at-the-time struggling rookie right fielder Jay Bruce with a runner on third and one out in the fifth inning in a 1-1 game, and long-time infielder Jolbert Cabrera doubled in two runs on the next pitch.
Some great old-time Yankee June 20 highlights, three of them during the decade of the 1910′s. On this day in 1913, during a doubleheader sweep of Washington by identical 9-3 scores, a record was set when, in the second game, Washington starter Bert Gallia hit three of the first four Yanks he faced with pitches. And giving a whole new twist to the concept of relief pitcher, Joe Engel (2) and Tom Hughes (1) helped him out by striking a few more New York batters once Bert had left the game. The three combined to hit six Yankees with pitches. Bert Daniels took his leadoff job very seriously that day for the Yanks, as he was hit three times himself.
Two years earlier on June 20, 1911, Yankee first baseman Hal Chase set a major-league record for putouts with 21, in another Yankee win over the Senators, this one by a score of 3-2.
The Red Sox hit one home run in Fenway Park in all of 1916, by Tilly Walker. He hit it on June 20, but the Yanks beat Boston, 4-1.
Next to those events, the two moonshots Mickey Mantle banged off Billy Hoeft into Detroit’s Briggs Stadium right-center field bleachers on June 20, 1956, seem fairly recent. Those were the first two balls hit into those bleachers since they were built 20 years earlier, as the Yanks prevailed, 7-4.
Back-to-back home runs by Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter leading off the third inning provided more offense than Andy Pettitte needed as the Yankees blanked the Mets 5-0 on June 20, 2003.
When Johnny Rigney of the White Sox beat the Yankees 1-0 on June 20, 1940, it marked the first time since 1919 that the Bombers were blanked in extra innings by just one pitcher. The Yanks would protest this 1940 game, and win the ruling, but they would lose the resulting replay of the contest later that season.
Infielder Frank Crosetti‘s eighth-inning homer in the first of two vs. the Indians on June 20 tied the game, and Lou Gehrig‘s ninth-inning dinger sealed the 3-2 victory. Lefty Gomez got the win in relief, and Red Ruffing won the second game, 2-0, surrendering only one hit in the process.
Although his 8-2 win over the Indians on June 20, 1950, was Eddie Lopat‘s 25th (on his 32nd birthday, see below) with only six losses against that team, the big number coming out of the Yankee victory was Joe DiMaggio‘s 2,000th career hit, a seventh-inning single off Chick Pieretti. Fellow Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson got his 2,000th on June 20 too, in 1970, in a 5-4 Orioles win over the Senators.
A former draft choice came back to the haunt the Yankees on June 20, 1999. Matt Luke, Yankee eighth-round selection from the 1992 draft who appeared with the parent club in the Bronx for one game in 1996, hit a two-run home run off David Cone while playing left field for Anaheim, with whom he had signed during the previous offseason, after two tours with the Dodgers. Bernie Williams homered off Tim Belcher the next inning, and the Yanks threatened off Troy Percival in the ninth, but Scott Brosius bounced into a 5-5-3 to end the Yankee threat in a 4-2 loss.
Even though it was Cleveland throwing the party as they retired former Indians hurler Bob Lemon‘s number on June 20, 1998, the Yankees took the prize with a 5-3 win in the game that followed. Which, of course, was not totally unfitting in light of the way Lemon handled his managing duties in the Bronx leading to a 1978 World Championship, 20 years before.
Lefty Yankee prospect Sean Henn couldn’t wait to get a start in the Bronx, but his June 20, 2005, appearance against the Devil Rays proved he wasn’t ready. He walked four of five with one down in the second and put the Yanks down 3-0. Two more walks produced another run in the fifth and ended his day. The Yanks rallied for four in the home eighth, largely on Hideki Matsui‘s three-run tater, but the rally fell short and they lost 5-4.
On June 20, 2020, the Yankees signed free agent righthander Blane Abeyta to a minor league contract.
On June 20, 2018, the Yankees signed righthanded pitcher Sean Boyle.
On June 20, 2016, the Yankees signed free agent center fielder Connor Oliver to a minor league contract, and also signed righthander Jean Peralta.
Taking care of business, the Yankees signed nine draftees on June 20, 2013: righthanded pitchers Eric Ruth, Chad Taylor, Tim Giel, and Alex Polanco; shortstops Kevin Cornelius and Ty Afenir; outfielders Kendall Coleman and Jordan Barnes; and second baseman Gosuke Katoh. Trying to stock their various level teams, they also signed four free agents to minor-league contracts: catcher Luis Torrens; outfielder Corey Patterson; first baseman Andrew Clark; and lefty Mike Zagurski.
The Yankees assigned first baseman Zachary Wilson to the Staten Island Yankees on June 20, 2011.
Both from looking at daily baseball history and from having lived through it at the time, it sometimes seems like the 1984 Tigers won each and every day. On June 11 of that year, Howard Johnson followed home runs by Alan Trammell, Lance Parrish, and Chet Lemon with a three-run shot of his own off young Jose Rijo in the 13th inning of Detroit’s 9-6 win over New York.
On June 20, 2012, the Yankees signed free agent righthander Braudy Perez.
The Yankees traded baseball’s version of the EverReady Bunny, Rickey Henderson, back to the A’s on this day in 1989, getting Greg Cadaret, Eric Plunk, and Luis Polonia in return.
Yankee outfielder (and recent YES broadcaster) Bobby Murcer retired from playing baseball on June 20, 1983. Sadly, Bobby succumbed to cancer a few years ago.
On June 20, 2010, the Yankees signed free agent lefty Matthew Jernsta.
Keeping healthy bodies in the outfield was the 2006 challenge, one the Yanks addressed often with various moves. On June 20 they recalled outfielder Kevin Reese from AAA Columbus.
In reporting many of the Yankees’ losses in the fifties and early sixties, I am at least able to say that the team fell “in spite of” some heroics by one of their beloved stars. But not in Detroit Tiger Jim Bunning‘s 7-1 victory over them on June 11, 1958. Jim struck both Mickey Mantle and Elston Howard out three times each in the process.
I’ll never forget listening to The Scooter, Phil Rizutto, lose it while broadcasting a Yankees game on June 20, 1980. A spunky little shortstop with virtually no power, Phil looked on the diminutive KC shortstop Freddie Patek as being the same kind of player he had been. The Scooter couldn’t get over it when Patek hit three home runs and a double in a California 20-2 rout of the Red Sox that day in Fenway as he relayed the scores to us in New York during a Yankee game broadcast.
Former Yankee outfielder Reggie Jackson moved into 10th place in career home runs when he hit his 513th on this day in 1985.
It’s another of those long-ball marks that may be tainted. But when Sammy Sosa blasted his 21st home run in the last 30 days on June 20, 1998, he surpassed the mark shared by Ralph Kiner of the Pirates in 1947 and Roger Maris of the Bronx Bombers in 1961. Those two sluggers had hit 20 in a 30-day span.
At the time Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo achieved the longest hitting streak by a major league second sacker when he extended his 2002 streak to 34 on June 20.
A bittersweet June 20 item highlighting a former or future Yankee player occurred to Aaron Boone on this day in 1997 as he was promoted by the Reds to play against the Cards. The bitter part comes in the manner in which they made room for Aaron on the squad: They sent his brother Bret Boone down.
On June 20, 1967, Philadelphia Phillies hurler Larry Jackson beat the New York Mets for the 18th time.
The only Yankee player who has died on June 20 is third baseman Billy Johnson (2006), who collected 43 long balls and drove in 388 runs while debuting in New York in 1943, and from 1946-1951. Those numbers grow to 61 and 487 when a 1951-1953 stint with the Cardinals is added in.
There are two righthanded pitchers of note among nonYankee players to have passed this day, along with third baseman/shortstop Ezra Sutton (1907), who did most of his offensive damage to the tune of 21 home runs and 518 rbi’s in Boston, playing mostly for the Red Caps and the Beaneaters from 1876-1888. Cincinnati’s (mostly) Bob Ewing (1947) had a 124-118 record with four saves from 1902-1912; and Bill Dietrich (1978) went 108-128 with 11 saves from 1933-1948, mostly with the White Sox and A’s.
Players Who Have Died This Day
I’m guessing that Art Schult (1928) was a defensive replacement and/or a pinch-runner in three games as a Yankee in 1953. The birthdaying former Yank is listed as appearing in three games in the Yankee outfield, but with no at bats or plate appearances, although he managed to score three runs. Schult stroked six home runs with 56 rbi’s in his career, which continued with the Reds, the Senators, and the Cubs from 1956-1960.
Infielder Billy Werber (1908) joins Art as a Yankee June 20 birthday; he appeared in seven games in 1930 and 1933, getting four hits and two rbi’s in 14 ab’s. Werber, who was honored on his 100th birthday in Yankee Stadium in 2008, when he was also the oldest living major leaguer, would die in January 2009. The Yankees sold Werber’s contract to Boston in May 1933, and he played through the 1942 season for the Red Sox, the Phillies, the Reds, and the Giants, a considerable period of time during which he hit 78 long balls, and accounted for 539 rbi’s.
Outfielder/first baseman Ed Wilkinson (1890) played all 10 of his big league games for the 1911 New York Highlanders. In 13 at bats, he stroked three hits and scored two runs. And earning Honorable Mention is righthander Wally Burnette (1929), who was traded by New York to the Kansas City Athletics for Tommy Lasorda in July 1956. Burnette did all his pitching for the A’s the following two years, with a 14-21 record and one save. Lasorda, by the way, posted his entire big-league record of 0-4 before the trade, and would never play for the Yanks or anyone else after the swap. But he is in the Hall of Fame for managing the Dodgers to three World Championships in 21 years.
A new entrant to the June 20 Yankee birthday list came about due to the overwhelming number of 2019 visits to the Injured List, as DH/first baseman Kendrys Morales (1983) was brought in as an extra body, mostly on offense. With a 13-year career that has delivered more than 200 home runs and an rbi count approaching 750, mostly with Anaheim, Morales was disappointing in 19 games in the Bronx despite an early home run.
Other birthdays: Jim Delahanty (1879), who played all the positions but infield mostly from 1901-1915 with several teams including Washington and Detroit, hitting 19 dingers with 489 rbi’s; Andy Etchebarren (1943), a catcher for 17 years, primarily with the Orioles; Dickie Thon (1958), whose career was shortened once he was the victim of a beaning; Gary Varsho (1961); Mike Grace (1970), who one-hit the Yanks in Philly in 1997; Juan Castro (1972); Paul Bako (1972); Rob Mackowiak (1976); Carlos Lee (1976), who had impressive numbers for the White Sox, then the Brewers, and now blasts homers in Houston; Bobby Seay (1978); Kevin Gregg (1978); Cole Gillespie (1984); Brooks Brown (1985); Jaime Schultz (1991); Rymer Liriano (1991); Adalberto Mejia (1993); Tom Eshelman (1994); Felix Bautista (1995); and Touki Toussaint (1996).
Players Born This Day