This is a baseball history column, and more specifically one focused on Yankee history. But being a Yankee is about excelling, so I need to start the May 19 installment with an acknowledgement of the record-smashing Belmont Stakes run by the thoroughbred Secretariat on this day in 1973, some 40 years ago. It was an astounding performance.
The Rays and Yankees divided six home runs equally among them in Yankee Stadium on May 19, 2019, but the offensive weapon that did the most damage in the Yankee 13-5 victory was patience, as the home team, already up 6-5, received five walks in a seven-run sixth inning. Neither Chad Green as the opener, nor a following Nestor Cortez, Jr. were that effective on the mound, but with the big inning that did not matter. DH Kendrys Morales got his second (of five) rbi during his brief Yankee stay; Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, and DJ LeMahieu went yard for the Yanks; and Chance Adams earned his lone Yankee save for three scoreless innings of mop-up work to close it out.
An ugly event occurred in the Bronx on May 19, 1998, as (at the time) Orioles reliever Armando Benitez drilled Tino Martinez in the back for the crime of being the on-deck batter after Bernie Williams humiliated him by blasting an upper-deck, game-winning three-run homer in a 9-5 Yankee victory. The O’s, behind lefty Doug Johns, had jumped to a 5-1 lead over David Cone and the Yanks on Harold Baines‘s three rbi’s. But seventh-inning rbi hits by Paul O’Neill and Tim Raines off Sidney Ponson tightened things a bit, and Ponson, Alan Mills, Norm Charlton, and Benitez failed to stop the Bombers in the eighth. Stadium rage was somewhat mollified when Tim Raines followed Benitez’s cowardly throw by blasting a two-run shot off ex-Yankee Bobby Munoz to close the scoring.
Ivan Nova struck out 12 Reds batters in Yankee Stadium on May 19, 2012, but it was all for naught once Joey Votto reached him for a three-run sixth-inning homer in a 6-5 Yankee loss to Cincinnati. Jayson Nix, subbing for the DH’ing Robinson Cano at second, homered and drove in Yankee run No. 5 with a single in the ninth, but the two-run rally came up short.
The simplicity of a Jon Leiber start was manifest in Anaheim in a 4-2 Yankee win on May 19, 2004, as the quick-working righty allowed the two tallies on eight singles through eight innings, while Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez supplied enough offense. Jason homered and doubled for two rbi’s, and Alex knocked in one and scored one with a triple and a double.
The Yankees teed off on southpaw Casey Fossum for a quick five-spot in the top of the first in a 5-3 win over the Red Sox in Fenway on this day in 2003. Raul Mondesi‘s bases loaded triple was the big blow and David Wells allowed just one run while pitching into the seventh.
Roger Clemens was dominant in a 3-0 blanking of the Twins in Yankee Stadium on May 19, 2002. Not only did he equal Bert Blyleven on the all-time win list at 282, it was his 99th career start with 10 strike outs or more, as he whiffed 13 while allowing five hits over eight. Alfonso Soriano scored from first on a single in the first and Robin Ventura closed the scoring with a two-run bomb in the sixth. Matt Kinney was the hard-luck loser, and Mariano Rivera came on for the save.
The Yanks rallied to beat the Angels 5-4 in 10 innings on May 19, 1992, despite the go-ahead dinger Bobby Rose hit off Steve Howe in the eighth to give the Halos a 4-3 lead. It was young Rose’s last at bat in the majors.
In a bizarre and tragic story, back-to-back homers hit by Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth for a 3-0 lead in the third on this day in 1929 went for naught, as the game was rained out by a sudden downpour in the Bronx in the fifth. Panicked by the cloudburst, the standing-room crowd in the Stadium stampeded the exits, resulting in two deaths and 62 injuries.
All of Seattle, it seemed, was up in arms on May 19, 2001, as Yankee starter Orlando “el duque” Hernandez shook off a tough start to his season and beat the Mariners, 2-1. The crowd was angry because Ichiro Suzuki‘s 23-game hit streak was halted, and he was hit by a pitch in his last chance to keep it going.
Mickey Mantle victimized future Hall of Famer Bob Lemon for his sixth career homer off him on this day in 1957 in a 6-3 Yankee victory over Cleveland.
Another May 19 Mickey Mantle highlight occurred in a 1967 game where unfortunately the Yanks fell to Mickey Lolich and the Tigers, 4-2. Number seven blasted a home run and knocked in both New York tallies.
Former Yankee first baseman and power hitter Joe Pepitone was way past his prime when the Braves sent Andre Thornton to the Cubs for him on this day in 1973. Thornton was on the cusp of stardom while Pepitone finished his career in Atlanta while coming to bat just 11 times.
The Braves had more success with ex-Yankee third baseman Clete Boyer, however, although his big day on May 19, 1971, would be one of his last. The two homers apiece hit by Clete and teammate Mike Lum in a 10-4 victory over Montreal that day brought his season total to six, five of them in the last five games. This would be the last two times Boyer would clear the fences in his career.
Pittsburgh’s Dale Long hit a homer in the first of eight consecutive games to set a record on May 19, 1956. This record would be equaled by Don Mattingly, and then again by Ken Griffey, Jr.
On May 19, 2022, the Yankees signed free agent lefthander Rafaelin Nivar and free agent righthander Ryan Miller to minor league contracts.
On May 19, 2021, the Yankees activated shortstop Gleyber Torres from the 10-day injured list; placed second baseman Rougned Odor on the paternity list; and signed free agent righthander Sal Romano to a minor league contract.
On May 19, 2018, the Yankees signed free agent righthander David Hale to a minor league contract.
On May, 19, 2017, the Yankees sent first baseman Tyler Austin on a rehab assignment to the Tampa Yankees.
On May 19, 2012, the Yankees optioned second baseman Matt Antonelli to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
On May 19, 1960, the Yanks shipped infielder Andy Carey to KC for slugger Bob Cerv, whose contract they had sold to the A’s four years earlier. They would lose Cerv yet again after the 1960 season, to the Angels in the expansion draft, and would send Ryne Duren to reacquire him yet again.
One day after calling him up, the Yankees optioned righthander Jose Ramirez to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on May 19, 2014.
On May 19, 2009, the Yankees activated righty Brian Bruney from the 15-day disabled list, optioning fellow righthander Edwar Ramirez to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre to make roster room. And the club lost a young arm when the Pirates claimed righty Steven Jackson off waivers.
Former Yankee bench player (briefly) Bubba Trammell had perhaps his best day as a pro on May 19, 2001, in a 20-7 Padres victory over the Expos. The San Diego onslaught, capped by three, three, five, three, and three runs scored in the last five innings, was highlighted by Trammell’s three-run homer and six rbi’s.
I give the May 19, 1978 report that Detroit starter Bob Sykes was finally scored upon in a 7-5 Tigers win over the Red Sox after two straight shutouts because Bob never made an appearance with the Yanks once they traded outfielder Willie McGee to St. Louis for him in October 1981. It was just one of a long list of unfortunate Yankee transactions that decade. McGee would go on to a long and successful career for the Cards and he would win the National League MVP Award in 1985.
Unfortunately, the eventual trade to the Yankees came along too late to get Jeff Weaver out of Detroit before the octopus-throwing contest (for hockey playoff tickets) held in the Motor City on May 19, 2002. Jeff and Tigers reliever Matt Anderson competed but lost in the promotion.
Paul Waner, who only played for the Yanks at the distant end of his Hall of Fame career, leads the list of future or former Yanks who achieved memorable May 19 feats. Waner tied the major league record when he stroked four doubles in five at bats in a 5-0 Pirates win over the Cardinals on this day in 1932. He would break the NL record for doubles in a season with his 62 that year.
The infield is paramount when discussing the four Yankee players who have died on May 19. Second baseman Joe Gedeon (1941) knocked in 35 runs while hitting no home runs in 155 games with the 1916-1917 Yankees. He spent the rest of the years between 1913 and 1920 with the Senators and the Browns, and posted overall numbers of one long ball with 171 rbi’s. Third baseman/infielder Oscar Grimes (1993) cleared nine fences and drove in 96 runs during 281 games for the Yanks from 1943-1946. With an earlier five-year stint with Cleveland and a few months afterward with the Philly A’s, his numbers grew to 18 and 200. And third baseman Jim Ray Hart (2016), who ended his career stroking 13 homers and driving in 52 runs playing in 124 games for the 1973 and 1974 Yanks, played for the Giants from 1963 through 1973, and overall hit 170 long balls and collected 578 rbi’s; he stole 17 bases. Lefty hitting, righty throwing first baseman Dave McDonald (2017) had two rbi’s and no homers debuting for the 1969 Yanks in nine games, and finished up in 24 tilts with the 1971 Expos, for whom he homered once, and drove in four runs.
Two righthanders, a catcher and an infielder comprise the list of nonYankee significant player deaths this day. Sam Leever (1953) won all of his 194 victories, with 100 losses and 13 saves, with the Pirates from 1898-1910; while Jim Tobin‘s (1969) 105-112-5 mark was earned mostly with the Braves and the Pirates. Catcher Ray Schalk (1970) reached 11 fences good for 594 runs driven in with the White Sox and the Giants from 1912-1928; and second baseman/infielder Johnny Bernadino (1996) collected most of his 36 long balls with 387 rbi’s with the Browns and the Indians between 1939 and 1952.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Much is hoped in the Bronx for young righthander Deivi García (1999), signed by the Yankees in July 2015 as an amateur free agent. Toiling in AAA as I update this, Deivi went 3-4 in eight games (all starts) with the Yanks in 2020-2021. It was a head shaker when he was replaced in Game Two of the 2020 ALDS vs Tampa with J.A. Happ after one inning in a 7-5 loss. Deivi has struggled somewhat since, but he remains on the periphery of a starting assignment with the Yanks in 2023.
Additional Yankee May 19 birthdays feature 10-year Yankee infielder Gil McDougald (1928), one of the fold who played for the Bronx-based team only. Gil was the 1951 AL Rookie of the Year, and stroked 112 homers with 576 rbi’s and 45 stolen bases for the Yanks from 1951-1960.
Fan favorite and three-time Yankee catcher Rick Cerone (1954) arrived in the Bronx to replace the late Thurman Munson in a November 1979 trade with Toronto. The Yanks received Cerone, Tom Underwood, and Ted Wilborn in exchange for Chris Chambliss, Damaso Garcia, and Paul Mirabella. Cerone was, in turn, traded to the Braves for Brian Fisher in 1984. He also did New York stints after being signed as a Yankee free agent in both 1987 and in 1990, and contributed 31 dingers and 203 rbi’s overall to the New York cause. His 14-tater, 85-rbi 1980 season was his best.
Other Yankees born this day include fan pariah Ed Whitson (1954), whose time with the Bombers in 1985 and 1986 was worse than his 15-10 record would seem to indicate. Ed was signed as a free agent in December 1984, and was traded to San Diego for Tim Stoddard in July 1986. And the last birthday celebrant who actually played for the Yanks was lefty thrower George Clark. Clark’s 11 games (one start) with the 1913 Yankees was his only major-league experience.
And we’ll list three other players with a Yankee connection. Righthander Ben Callahan‘s (1957) only service in the bigs was the 1-2 mark he posted in four games with the 1983 Oakland A’s, but he was drafted by the Yankees in the 31st round of the 1980 amateur draft, and was shipped to Oakland with Marshall Brant and cash for Matt Keough in June 1983. And former Angel Dan Ford (1952) joins this list, not because he played for the Yanks (he didn’t), but because he hit the first homer in the revamped and reopened Yankee Stadium in 1976.
2009 Oakland starter Dan Geise (1977), picked up by the Yanks as a minor league free agent prior to the 2008 season after he had his major league debut with the Giants in 2007, joined this club with that Yankee acquisition. Geise posted a 1-3 record with the 2008 Yankees.
The newest member of the May 19 birthday group, first baseman Ji-Man Choi (1991), hit two home runs and drove in five runs in six games with the Yankees in 2017, a year fraught with trying to fill the position at first once Greg Bird was lost for months coming out of Spring Training. Signed as a free agent first by Seattle and later Baltimore, Choi was a rule-5 selection in 2016 from the Orioles by the Angels, for whom he hit five home runs and drove in 12 in 54 games that year. The Yanks signed him in January 2017, and he saw a lot of action in the Spring Training session that followed; he played well in AAA for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Choi was granted free agency following the season, and was signed by Milwaukee, for whom he played 12 games, and has played with Tampa Bay since after he was traded there for Brad Miller in June 2018. As of this writng, Choi has hit 52 home runs and driven in 183 for Tampa et al into the ’22 season. He homered against both the Yankees and the Astros in a postseason drive to the 2020 World Series.
Other baseball birthdays include Curt Simmons (1929), 193-183 with NL teams in St. Louis and Philly from 1947-1967; Eric Show (1956), most remembered for giving up Pete Rose‘s record-breaking 4,192nd hit; Luis Salazar (1956); Luis Aquino (1964); Turk Wendell (1967); Alan Zinter (1968); Josh Paul (1975); Brandon Inge (1977); Joe Paterson (1986); Brian Anderson (1993); Ronnie Dawson (1995); Connor Wong (1996); Victor Robles (1997); Conner Capel (1997); and Bryce Elder (1999).
Players Born This Day