Roger Maris blasted his 59th home run of the 1961 season off Milt Pappas on September 20 in a 4-2 win over Baltimore. Because this was the Yanks’ 154th game of the year, AL Commissioner Ford Frick had determined that Roger neither tied nor broke Babe Ruth‘s single-season home run record of 60, because Roger would hit numbers 60 and 61 in the eight games that were to come, while Ruth had hit his during a season composed of just 154 tilts. It is worth adding, I think, that Rajah came close to no. 60 in this tilt, and that he lost a tater earlier that season in a Baltimore four-inning-plus rainout. The Yankees, meanwhile, clinched their 26th AL pennant with the win.
The Yankee Stadium Monument Park plaque inscription dedicated to Thurman Munson says it all:
With a 1-0 early lead, a three-run rally featuring Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres rbi singles and a Giancarlo Stanton sac fly was just enough to overcome visiting Texas’s three-run rally in the fifth, and the Yankees beat the Rangers 4-3 in the Stadium on September 20, 2021.
Chasen Shreve, who failed to record three outs in a mop-up role four days earlier, went three innings in relief of Luis Severino for the win as the Yanks pounded Minnesota 11-3 in the Stadium on September 20, 2017. Three-run home runs by Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius did most of the damage, with the first one coming off the apparently ageless Bartolo Colon. The mood in the ballpark was subdued despite the home team hitfest, as a Todd Frazier foul ball in the fifth struck and severely injured a young fan seated in the moat behind the third-base dugout.
On September 20, 2021, the Yankees optioned righthander Clarke Schmidt to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders; activated righty Luis Severino; and released righthander Sal Romano.
The Red Sox had their hitting shoes on all day in the Bronx on September 20, 2018, scoring four early and six late in an 11-6 victory. The lone good news was a fourth-inning Giancarlo Stanton grand slam.
There have been many times where ex-Yankees have returned to the fold and had good days and, unfortunately, also days where ex-Yanks have returned to the Bronx to wreak some havoc in enemy unis. Neither was the case for one-time pinstriped reliever Chris Kontos. On September 20, 2013, San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum and CC Sabathia battled to a 1-1 tie into the seventh. But the Giants righty was lifted with one out after having loaded the bases on a single, a hit by pitch, and a walk, and Kontos came on and surrendered a grand slam home run to Alex Rodriguez, one of Arod’s few good days that year. It was also Roberto Clemente Day, the Latino Hall of Fame was honored, broadcaster John Sterling was acknowledged for his 25th anniversary game, and Ichiro Suzuki was feted for having stroked his 4,000th professional hit a month earlier. The Yanks cashed in a 5-1 win on Alex’s blast.
The Yankees kept the pressure on the trailing second-place Orioles by completing a sweep of the Blue Jays on September 20, 2012, 10-7, largely achieved when they got a seven-run fourth inning against one-time pinstriper Aaron Laffey and the Toronto bullpen. The winner in a not particularly effective outing, Phil Hughes did make Yankee history when he became the second pitcher on the team all-time to record four strike outs in one inning, when he whiffed all four batters in the top of the fourth around a wild pitch.
In light of the highlight that follows this one, Yankee righty Ivan Nova had one of his better starts in a 5-0 blanking of the Tampa Rays in Yankee Stadium on September 20, 2011. Removed after a two-out walk in the top of the eighth, Nova allowed just five singles and a double, and was never in trouble. Curtis Granderson led the offense, including a bases-loaded double among three hits and a walk good for four rbi’s.
First-year righty Ivan Nova had mid-inning trouble yet again in a game vs. Tampa in Yankee Stadium on September 20, 2010. Throwing a two-hit, 4-0 shutout through five innings, he allowed a four-run rally with help from a catcher’s interference call on Francisco Cervelli, and less than effective relief help from Boone Logan. But an rbi single from Derek Jeter and a three-run Curtis Granderson homer in the bottom half carried the Yanks to an 8-6 victory.
On September 20, 2009, the Yankees activated catcher Jorge Posada from the 15-day disabled List.
The most significant offensive stat perhaps in Roger Clemens‘s 5-1 win over rookie Andy Van Hekking and the Tigers on September 20, 2002, was that Alfonso Soriano collected his 100th rbi of the season on a fifth-inning sac fly that plated Raul Mondesi.
Yankee rookie second baseman Pedro Gonzalez successfully pulled the hidden-ball trick on A’s outfielder Ken Harrelson in the 11th inning of a game on September 20, 1963. The Yanks went on to win the game in 13, 5-4. The putout by Gonzalez was one of just 17 that season, 20 over two years in Pinstripes, and 805 in a five-year career.
It was a typical Bronx Bomber day on September 20, 1931. Both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig drove in four runs in a Yankee doubleheader sweep over the Indians, with the latter breaking his old rbi mark of 175, which this year would eventually reach 184. Gehrig slugged his 45th homer in the 7-1 first-game win, and Ruth propelled his 44th as the Yanks won the nightcap, 10-4, in seven innings. The significance of Gehrig’s big rbi mark is perhaps heightened when one realizes he was reclaiming the all-time one-season lead after Hack Wilson had notched 176 just the year before.
In 2003, six Houston Astros collaborated to no-hit the Yankees, a feat that hadn’t been managed since Orioles knuckler Hoyt Wilhelm pulled it off on September 20, 1958, in a 1-0 Baltimore win. Don Larsen allowed only one hit through six, but the Birds broke through on a Gus Triandos homer off reliever Bobby Shantz. In a weird twist, Wilhelm began his big day with an 0-6 mark as a starter. The Hall of Fame reliever started only 52 games in a 21-year career.
Four other no-hitters were recorded on September 20. The only one of somewhat recent vintage was when Pittsburgh’s Bob Moose held the Mets hitless in a 4-0 shutout win in 1969. Many, many moons ago, to say the least, Frank Smith of the White Sox threw a 1-0 no-no at the A’s back in 1908, a game that was scoreless until Chicago won it in the bottom of the ninth. Pirates rookie Nick Maddox allowed no safeties to the Brooklyn Superbas in a 2-1 Pittsburgh win on this day in 1907. And Chicago White Stockings outfielder/pitcher James “Nixey” Callahan retired the Tigers throughout a 3-0 win without allowing a hit on September 20, 1902.
On their way to their first World Series victory, the Yanks clinched their third consecutive pennant when they beat the St. Louis Browns 4-3 on September 20, 1923.
Babe Ruth was giving the baseball world a preview of what the second half of his career would look like when he tied Ned Williamson‘s major-league home run record with his 27th on September 20 of the 1919 season, his last in Beantown. He would break the record in four days in a split in the Polo Grounds, a 4-0 Red Sox win, followed by a 2-1 decision in favor of the Yankees.
David Cone and Chris Carpenter were long gone when the Yankees finally beat the Blue Jays 4-3 in 11 in the Bronx on September 20, 1997. Willie Banks pitched the extra frames for the home win, with the deciding tally crossing when ex-Yankee prospect Marty Janzen walked in pinch running Andy Fox. After filling the bases on a single and two free passes, Janzen missed with four straight pitches to Derek Jeter.
On September 20, 2016, the Yankees activated outfielder Aaron Hicks from the 15-day disabled list.
The Yankees signed free agent righthander Ysrael Abreu to a minor league contract on September 13, 2013.
On September 20, 2010, the Yankees signed free agent catcher Eduardo de Oleo to a contract.
On this day in 1911, the Highlanders split another pair despite committing eight errors in the two contests. They beat Cleveland 5-4 in the nightcap after falling in the opener, 12-9.
The White Sox cut the Yankees’ American League lead to one game when they outpointed New York 4-3 on September 20, 1928.
September 20 was the day in 1998 when Cal Ripken, Jr., finally decided to call it a streak, and sat out the contest against the Yanks in Camden Yards. The Bombers won the ensuing game, 5-4.
When Babe Ruth scored the game-winner in the 11th inning of a 4-3 game vs. the Browns on September 20, 1920, he broke the AL record for runs scored with 148. Carl Mays pitched the Yanks out of their four-game losing streak.
Lefty Mike Willis managed a rare 1978 feat when he outdueled Ron Guidry and sent the Yankee portsider to his third loss of the season, 8-1, in the first of two in Toronto on September 20. The Yanks prevailed in the nightcap 3-2, with Goose Gossage getting the win.
The Phillies lost to the Pirates 3-2 in 13 innings on September 22, 1992, but the big news was that Phillies second baseman Mickey Morandini became the ninth player in major league history to turn an unassisted triple play, retiring batter Jeff King and baserunners Andy Van Slyke and Barry Bonds.
Babe Ruth was ready to return to the Yankee lineup on September 20, 1932, after missing 12 days due to an abdominal attack.
In a highlight most Bronx Bombers fans would just as soon not hear, 2004-2005 Yankee righty starter Kevin Brown registered his first major league win in a 9-5 Rangers victory over the A’s on September 20, 1986.
Some nice round numbers were recorded in the 3-1 Detroit win over Cleveland on September 20, 1988. After Darrell Evans blasted his 400th career tater on a John Farrell pitch in the fifth inning, Chet Lemon hit his 200th in the bottom of the ninth off Scott Bailes. Sixty-four years earlier, Pete (Grover Cleveland) Alexander of the Cubs beat the Giants 7-3 for his 300th career victory on September 20, 1924.
The 1933 Yankees kept their slim pennant hopes alive by beating the White Sox 5-3 on September 20, while the Senators clinched at least a tie for first place in the AL behind Alvin Crowder‘s 24th win in a 13-5 drubbing of the Browns.
Other September 20 wins that netted hurlers their 20th (or better) in a season include Lefty Grove nabbing his 23rd in an A’s 2-1 win over Detroit on that same 1933 day. By a 6-3 score, Bob Lemon won no. 21 in a Cleveland sweep of two over the Red Sox on this day in 1950. Yankee fans groaned when Jim Palmer became the third Orioles hurler to win 20 1970 games on September 20; the next season Baltimore would add a fourth 20-win starter.
When Brooklyn’s Jackie Robinson stole home in a 5-0 win over the Cubbies on September 20, 1949, it was his fifth of the year and 13 in the last three campaigns. Former Yankee Ben Chapman stole 15 in his career, the last for Cleveland in 1940.
Wade Boggs authored one September 20 highlight while playing with the Red Sox in 1988 when he became the first player in the 20th Century to collect 200 hits in six consecutive seasons with three safeties in a 13-2 rout of the Blue Jays. Ironically, this mark was last reached from 1894 through 1901 by another eventual Yankee, “Wee” Willie Keeler.
“Our captain and leader has not left us
Today, tomorrow, this year, next.
Our endeavours will reflect our
Love and admiration for him.”
Erected by the New York Yankees
September 20, 1980.
Righty thrower Steve Peek (1991), whose 17 appearances (eight starts) for the 1941 Yankees was his only big-league action, is the lone Yankee player to have died on September 20. He won four, lost two, and saved none. But we’ll add righthander Cloyd Boyer (2021) here, in light of his years (1975 and 1977) serving as Yankee pitching coach. The older brother of both Yankee Clete Boyer and Cardinal Ken Boyer. Cloyd pitched for St. Louis from 1949-1952, and with the 1955 Kansas City A’s, to a 20-23 record with two saves, in 112 games, 48 of them starts.
Outfielder Tilly Walker (1959) is the only position player among four noteworthy nonYankee players to die this day. Walker hit 118 home runs and drove in 679 runs from 1911-1923 with the Senators, the Browns, the Red Sox, and the A’s. Lefty Wiley Piatt (1946) posted most of his 86-79-1 mark with the Phillies and the White Sox from 1898-1903; righty Ed Crane (1896) won 72, lost 96, and saved two from 1884-1893, mostly with the Giants; which he shares with fellow righthander Cy Seymour (1919), a 61-56-1 pitcher from 1896-1902, also with the New York Giants.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Only a handful of September 20 birthdays to share today, three of them belonging to Yankees. The 1962 American League Rookie of the Year, Tom Tresh, (1937) accounted for almost 500 rbi’s and 140 homers in the Bronx from 1961 through 1969. He played about 1,100 games with the Yanks, and finished up his last year playing 94 games with Detroit. A switch-hitter, his biggest home run was perhaps the three-run shot that won Game Five of the 1962 World Series with the Giants. Tresh was a Yankee amateur free agent selection in 1958, and he was traded to the Tigers for Ron Woods in June 1969.
Infielder Mickey Klutts (1976) debuted with the Yanks, notching one homer, four rbi’s, and six hits during 20 at bats in eight games with the 1976 through 1978 clubs, but he did the bulk of his playing for Oakland from 1979 through 1983. Klutts’s early career track aped that of Tresh, as he was drafted by the Bombers in June 1972 in the fourth round of the amateur draft. Six Junes later the Yanks packaged Mickey with Dell Alston and cash to the Athletics for Gary Thomasson.
Another Yankee draft choice (in 1963), lefty thrower Mike Jurewicz (1945) tossed 2.3 innings over two games for the 1965 Bombers in his only major league service. He gave up one run on five hits and a walk, while notching two strike outs.
Other birthdays: third baseman and manager Charlie Dressen (1898); Zeke Bonura (1908); Dave Gallagher (1960); Chris Snopek (1970); Kevin Walker (1976); Jason Bay (1978); Jordan Tata (1981); Angel Sanchez (1983); Ian Desmond (1985); A.J. Ramos (1986); Steve Lombardozzi (1988); Scott Snodgress (1989); Ken Giles (1990); Jeffrey Springs (1992); Joe Dunand (1995); Cory Abbott (1995); and Zach Pop (1996).
Players Born This Day