The red-letter days…
1998: The largest regular season crowd ever at the post-renovation
original Stadium (56,717) look on as Tino Martinez leads the Yankees to
an historic 17-13 win over the A’s. Martinez had 3 hits‚ including a
double and HR‚ 5 RBI‚ and 4 runs. The teams combine for a Yankee
Stadium record with 30 runs‚ topping the old record of 28 set on June
3‚ 1933. The Yankees’ 17 runs are the most in a home opener since 1955.
1913: President Woodrow Wilson‚ who receives a gold pass from Ban
Johnson‚ throws out the first ball at Washington’s home opener at
National Park against New York. Under new manager Frank Chance‚ the New
Yorkers are playing their first regular season game as Yankees.
New York starter George McConnell‚ 8-12 last year as a 35-year-old
rookie‚ allows just 6 hits but loses to Walter Johnson 2-1. Danny
Moeller drives in both Nat runs with a single. After giving up an
unearned run in the first‚ Johnson begins a string of shutout innings
that will reach a record 55 2/3 before the St. Louis Browns score in
the 4th on May 14th. Johnson scatters 8 hits today‚ including one by 1B
Charlie Sterrett. Regular first sacker Hal Chase‚ though left-handed‚
fills in at second base for injured player/manager Frank Chance.
On other 10ths of April…
1982: The Yankees trade relief pitcher Ron Davis and minor leaguers
Paul Boris and Greg Gagne to the Twins for veteran infielder Roy
Smalley. Gagne hit .270 and .297 over the past two seasons at
1980: At Arlington Stadium‚ Jon Matlack and Ron Guidry both pitch
shutout ball for 9 innings before being lifted. In the 12th‚ Goose
Gossage relieves with Mickey Rivers on 3rd and Richie Zisk at the
plate. His first pitch is wild, allowing Rivers to score the game’s
only run. Gossage also lost the ’78 Opener when Zisk took him deep in
the 9th. Each team manages just 4 hits in the contest with Bob Watson
and Bob Sundberg each collecting three of them
1969: Frank Howard bangs a pair of homers‚ giving him 4 in 3 games‚ in
the Senators 9-6 win over the Yankees. Fritz Peterson gives up 10 hits
and 6 runs in taking the loss. For the Yanks‚ Frank Fernandez hits a pair of
homers‚ one a grand slam.
1968: In New York‚ just 15‚744 Yankee faithful show up for the home opener with California. Poet Marianne Moore tosses out the
first ball and rookie catcher Frank Fernandez catches it.
then belts a home run off George Brunet for the margin of victory, as
Mel Stottlemyre gets the win‚ 1-0. Fernandez has one of three hits off
Brunet‚ while Stottlemyre allows just four hits. This is one of four
shutouts (out of ten games) pitched on Opening Day.
1963: The Yankees follow an 8-2 opening day victory yesterday with a
5-3 victory today at Kansas City. The 45*F weather takes its toll‚ as
Yankee starter Bill Stafford leaves in the 7th inning with a twinge in
his right arm‚ and will never be quite the same. Mickey Mantle homers
but pulls a muscle in his last at bat that he will re-injure on the
13th‚ sidelining him for 2 weeks.
1962: At the Stadium‚ Mickey Mantle‚ Roger Maris‚ and Moose Skowron‚
the three Yankees who combined for 143 homers last season‚ hit Opening
Day blasts to propel New York to a come-from-behind 7-6 win over
Baltimore. Moose’s shot is a two-run job to dead center that he legs
out for an inside-the -park homer‚ while Mantle hits his in the 8th
inning to tie the game‚ Maris hits a 3-run shot in the 5th. Johnny
Temple‚ in his first game for the O’s‚ has three hits‚ including a
homer. Starters Billy Hoeft and Whitey Ford are gone after six innings‚
and the win goes to Ralph Terry‚ while Hal Brown takes the loss.
1946: Bob Watson, 1b-DH for the 1980-81 Yankees, and general manager of the team in 1996-97, is born. Happy 64th, Bob!
1940: In an exhibition game in Ashland‚ KY‚ the Yankees collect only 2
hits off Max Macon and Newt Kimball but beat the Dodgers‚ 7-6. The
scoring comes in the 4th on a Red Rolfe single‚ 4 walks‚ and 2 errors‚
and in the 6th on Babe Dahlgren’s solo home run. The Yanks do lose Jake
Powell‚ who suffers a cerebral concussion in an outfield collision.
Powell will play just 12 games this season.
1934: Author and historian David Halberstam is born. Halberstam was
also a Yankee fan who penned excellent accounts of the 1949 pennant
race (‘Summer of ’49) and the 1964 World Series (October, 1964). He
died in 2007, age 73.
1928: The Brooklyn Robins beat the Yankees‚ 7-2‚ to earn a split in
their 4 game series. The World Champions end their exhibition season
with a 6-14 record‚ going 3-10 against major-league competition.
1996: Before an estimated crowd of 50‚000
at Kansas City‚ the Yankees snowball the Royals‚ 7-3‚ behind Andy
Pettitte. The final tally is 7 runs‚ 10 hits‚ and 2 inches – of snow.
1989: Rickey Henderson steals his 800th career base, though the Yankees fall 4-3 to the the Indians.
1981: Before 55‚123 at the Stadium‚ the Yankees gun down the Rangers‚
10-3. Bucky Dent and Bobby Murcer hit homers‚ with Randolph following
Murcer’s blow with a triple. Dave Winfield‚ in his New York debut‚ has
two hits and two walks‚ and Tommy John scatters 7 hits in 8 innings to
win over Jon Matlack.
1971: The A’s trade outfielder/first baseman Felipe Alou to the Yankees
for pitchers Rob Gardner and Ron Klimkowski. Klimkowski will come back
to the Yankees next year and Gardner will return in 6 weeks.
1965: President Lyndon B. Johnson joins 47‚878 fans for the opening of
Harris County Domed Stadium (better known as the Astrodome). The Astros
win an exhibition with the Yankees 2-1 in 12 innings on a Nellie Fox
single. Mickey Mantle hits the first home run in the new park.
1963: In the Opener at Kansas City‚ Ralph Terry pitches a complete game
8-2 win for the Yankees. Led by Joe Pepitone’s two homers and a double‚
New York collect 13 hits. Elston Howard adds a homer off A’s starter
1953: In an exhibition game at Forbes Field‚ Mickey Mantle gets all of
a Bill MacDonald curve and hits it over the right field roof‚ joining
Babe Ruth and Ted Beard as the only hitters to accomplish that since
the upper deck was added in 1925. Ruth’s homer over the structure was
the 714th and last of his career.
1947: Commissioner Happy Chandler suspends manager Leo Durocher of the
Brooklyn Dodgers for the entire season for incidents detrimental to
baseball. Larry MacPhail and the Dodger organization are fined $2‚000
each‚ and Yankee coach Charley Dressen is sent down for 30 days. A feud
involving Durocher‚ MacPhail‚ and Dodger officials rocked the training
season. The Yankees’ signing of Dressen and Red Corriden‚ longtime
Brooklyn coaches‚ charges of consorting with Cuban gamblers against
MacPhail‚ and charges and counter charges that Durocher had sought-or
been offered-the Yankee managerial post were included in the hearing
1916: The Yankees turn down an offer by the Red Sox to trade Tris
Speaker for cash and Fritz Maisel. Boston will ultimately swap the star
outfielder, who did not take to the notion of his salary being cut‚ to
Cleveland, for Sam Jones, Fred Thomas and $50‚000. Speaker will hold
out for $10‚000 of the purchase price: Ban Johnson will finally
intervene and Speaker will collect.
The red-letter days:
2003: Hideki Matsui makes a spectacular debut in pinstripes.
After delaying their home opener by a day because of impending snow‚
the Yankees beat the Twins‚ 7-3‚ with a Matsui grand slam the key blow
in the game. The new arrival from Japan becomes the first Yankee in
history to hit a slam in his first game in the Stadium. He also becomes
the first to hit his first Yankee homer with the bases loaded since
Horace Clarke did so in 1965. The loss puts the Twins below .500 for
the first time since the end of the 2000 season‚ a club-record span of
328 consecutive games.
1985: At Fenway‚ 46-year-old Phil Niekro gets the ball for the Yankees‚
making him the oldest pitcher in American league history to start an
Opener (Jack Quinn of the Brooklyn Dodgers set the MLB record, for
Brooklyn in 1931, at age 47). Boston chase Niekro after 4 innings and
behind the pitching of Oil Can Boyd coast to a 9-2 win. Niekro walks 4
in the 3rd inning‚ including two with the bases loaded‚ to lose his 7th
Opener in a row (6 with Atlanta)‚ the worst opening day record ever.
Tony Armas‚ Dwight Evans‚ and Jim Rice stroke homers for Boston.
On other 8ths of April…
2002: The Yankees pound out 22 hits in clobbering the Blue Jays‚ 16-3.
Alfonso Soriano collects 5 hits for NY‚ including a double and a
three-run homer‚ while Robin Ventura drives across 6 runs.
2001: In the Yankees 16-5 win over Toronto‚ Yankee pinch hitter Scott
Seabol becomes the lowest-drafted player (88th round in 1996) to ever
appear in a major league game. Former Royals star Al Cowens‚ picked on
the 75th round in 1969‚ was the previous record holder. This
distinction will last just 11 days before Travis Phelps – the Tampa Bay
Devil Rays’ selection in the 89th round‚ also in 1996 – makes his debut
on April 19. Roger Clemens is the winner as batterymate Jorge Posada
belts his first grand slam‚ one of 20 Yankee hits.
1993: The Yanks are on the losing end of an historic event when Indians
second sacker Carlos Baerga becomes the first player in major league
annals to homer from both sides of the plate in the same inning‚
connecting in the 7th frame (off Steve Howe and Steve Barr,
respectively) of Cleveland’s 15-5 win over the visiting New Yorkers.
1986: The Kansas City Royals are the first defending champions – other
than the Bronx Bombers themselves – in 61 years to open at Yankee
Stadium‚ and they start the season on the wrong foot by losing‚ 4-2.
New York score all 4 runs off starter Bud Black‚ who gives up a
three-run homer to Butch Wynegar in the 2nd. Hal McRae accounts for
both KC runs with a two-run homer off starter Ron Guidry‚ one of two
hits Guidry gives up in 5 innings. Guidry wins his first Opener with
relief help from Rod Scurry and Dave Righetti.
1978: Highly touted off season acquisition Goose Gossage gets off to a
rocky start with the Yankees.
At the Opener in Arlington‚ the Rangers
edge the Yanks 2-1 behind newcomers Richie Zisk and Jon Matlack.
Matlack scatters 8 hits in winning‚ while Zisk delivers a 9th inning
solo walkoff shot against the Goose. Ron Guidry goes 7 innings for New
York, scattering six singles – after this no-decision‚ he will win 13
1976: At County Stadium‚ the Brewers open against the Yankees with Hank
Aaron driving in 3 runs to back Jim Slaton’s 4-hit 5-0 win.
later‚ Slaton will shut out the Tigers. Catfish Hunter is the loser‚
allowing 5 runs in 7 innings. Later‚ both he and reliever Sparky Lyle‚
complain about the flatness of the mound.
1975: The Yankees are participants in history again as they take the
field in Cleveland. After Rachel Robinson‚ widow of Jackie‚ tosses out
the first ball, Frank Robinson‚ in his opening game as the first black
manager in the majors, adds a dramatic touch by homering in his first
at bat (as a DH).
The blow will be the catalyst for a 5-3 win over the
visiting Bombers. For player-manager Robinson‚ it is his 8th Opening
Day homer, setting an MLB record. Starter Doc Medich is the loser‚
going 5 innings and giving up all 5 runs. Gaylord Perry goes all the
way to win for the Tribe‚ while Boog Powell backs him with a 3-for-3
outing, including a double and homer.
1946: Catfish Hunter is born.
Hunter was the highest paid pitcher in baseball when he signed with the
Yankees in 1975. He got off to a rough start, going 0-3 in his first
four outings. He settled down after that, ultimately winning more than
20 games and was also named to the All-Star team for the seventh time.
In 1976 Hunter won 17 games, led the Yankeees in complete games and
innings pitched, and was again named to the All-Star team. The Yankees
won three straight pennants with Hunter from 1976 to 1978. However, the
years of arm strain and the effects of diabetes had begun to toll on
the pitcher and in 1979, Hunter retired from baseball. Hunter was an
effective pitcher, not because he overpowered batters with his speed,
but because of the precision of his pitching. He was inducted into the
National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987. At the time a player was
allowed to choose which cap would be memorialized on his Hall of Fame
Plaque. Before and after his induction, Hunter spoke highly of his
experiences with both the A’s and Yankees and his appreciation for both
team owners, Charlie Finley and George Steinbrenner. For this reason,
he refused to choose a team and thus the plaque depicts him without an
insignia on his cap.
Hunter died at his home in Hertford, North Carolina in 1999 after he
took a fall down the stairs at his home. He had been suffering from
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in
an advanced stage at the time.
1930: In Memphis‚ the Chicks beat the Yankees in an exhibtion game‚
3-1. Babe Ruth‚ hobbling from an injury incurred 2 days ago in Dallas‚
bashes a homer for the vistors’ only run. In his next at bat he hits
the top of the signboard at Russwood Park as Ruth ambles to 1B for
single. Sam Byrd pinch runs.
1909: While at spring training in Hialeah, FL‚ Hal Chase contracts
smallpox. The entire Highlander team is vaccinated and will be
quarantined while travelling back to New York.
1977: Before a crowd of 43‚785 in the season opener at the Stadium‚
Reggie Jackson makes his first start as a Yankee.
Catfish Hunter holds the Brewers to five hits‚ three by Von Joshua‚ as
the Yankees win 3-0.
Von’s last hit strikes Catfish in the instep and
the hurler leaves after 7 innings of work. Sparky Lyle pitches the last
two innings. Jim Wynn has two hits for New York‚ including a homer in
his first Yankee at-bat. Reggie Jackson‚ in his first start as a
Yankee‚ also has two hits and two runs‚ one on a suicide squeeze by
Willie Randolph. With the recent addition of Bucky Dent to the lineup‚
the Yankees start an all-star at every position (Catfish Hunter‚
Thurman Munson‚ Chris Chambliss‚ Willie Randolph‚ Dent‚ Graig Nettles‚
Roy White‚ Mickey Rivers‚ Reggie Jackson and Jimmy Wynn). They will
duplicate this on Opening Day 2005.
1970: At the Stadium‚ Mel Stottlemyre makes his 4th straight Opening
Day start‚ joining Lefty Gomez and Jack Chesbro as the only Yankee
pitchers to do so. The Red Sox counter with newly acquired Gary Peters‚
who allowed no earned runs in 32 spring training innings. Boston jump
out to a 4-0 lead by the fifth inning‚ but the Yanks score 3 in the 6th
to chase Peters. That’s all the scoring, though, as Boston win‚ 4-3.
(In the ‘How times have changed’ department, the game took 2:19 to play, with 21,379 in attendance… Can you imagine a game against the Red Sox taking less than 3 hours to play, or the Stadium less than half full on opening day?…)
The red-letter day:
1973: At Fenway Park, the Yankees’ Ron Blomberg becomes the first major league designated hitter.
The first ball is thrown out by Ed Folger‚ a Red Sox farm
hand who had his legs amputated last September following a farm
In the top of the first, Blomberg takes his place in history when
he faces righthander Luis Tiant. Blomberg walks with the bases loaded
and winds up 1-for-3 in the 15-5 loss to Boston. Sox DH Orlando
Cepeda goes 0-for-6‚ but Carlton Fisk strokes two homers‚ one a grand
slam‚ in the 20-hit Boston barrage. 2nd baseman Doug Griffin notches
four hits for Boston‚ who overcome a 3-0 deficit by scoring eight runs
to chase Mel Stottlemyre by the third inning. The Yanks record eight
hits off Tiant‚ five by the Alou brothers, Matty and Felipe.
* * * * *
On other 6ths of April…
2003: Alfonso Soriano and Nick Johnson hit back-to-back homers to start
the game as the Yanks beat Tampa Bay‚ 10-5. Rogers Clemens notches
career victory No. 295.
1982: A foot of snow cancels the Yankees opener with the Rangers at the
Stadium. Tomorrow’s game with Texas and the first two with the White
Sox will also be canceled because of snow and ice. With 2 games snowed
out in Chicago‚ the Red Sox will return tomorrow to Winter Haven‚ FL.
1974: The Yankees open their two-year stay at Shea Stadium before a
crowd of 20‚744. 12-year-old Teddy Kennedy‚ Jr.‚ flanked by his father
and Mayor Abe Beame‚ tosses out the first ball. Missing from the
ceremony is George Steinbrenner‚ indicted two days ago for illegal
campaign contributions. Graig Nettles’ two-run homer in the 4th off the
Indians’ Gaylord Perry opens the scoring and the Yanks score 4 more
times to win‚ 6-1. Charlie Spikes scores the only Cleveland run in the
9th following a triple off starter and winner Mel Stottlemyre. Perry‚
who is warned once for an illegal pitch‚ is the loser today‚ but he
will win his next 15 decisions.
The red-letter day:
1913: The Yankees play for the first time under their new name (from 1903 to 1912, the franchise was known as the New York Highlanders). 25,000 fans are on hand in Flatbush to watch them play an exhibition game with the Brooklyn Dodgers (who are also christening Ebbets Field on this day). Brooklyn beat the Yankees, 3-2, with Dodger outfielder Casey Stengel hitting the venue’s first home run, an inside-the-parker.
On other 5ths of April…
1995: The Yankees acquire closer John Wetteland from the Montreal Expos for Fernando Seguignol and cash. Wetteland will help the Bombers to their first World Championship in 18 years in 1996.
1979: At the Stadium, 52,719 fans see Milwaukee jump on Ron Guidry for four runs in the sixth inning en route to beating the Yankees 5-1. It’s the most runs the Cy Young Award winner has allowed in a game since 1977. New York get singles from their first three hitters, but manage to score just one run, in the first inning off Mike Caldwell.
1977: Over the objections of manager Billy Martin, the Yankees acquire shortstop Bucky Dent from the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Oscar Gamble, pitcher La Marr Hoyt, Bob Polinsky and an estimated $200,000. Dent will solidify New York’s middle infield and help the Yanks reach the World Series in 1977 and ’78.
1972: For the first time in MLB history, the regular season fails to open due to the player strike which started on April 1st. 86 games will be lost before the labor dispute is settled.
1934: Babe Ruth, sponsored by Quaker Oats, agrees to do three 15-minute broadcasts a week over NBC. The total of $39,000 for 13 weeks is $4,000 more than his Yankees contract.
1925: ‘The bellyache heard round the world’. At spring training, the Yankees whip the Dodgers, 16-9, but all the headlines are about Babe Ruth. The Bambino collapses in the railroad station in Asheville, NC, and winds up in an NYC hospital. Ruth will undergo an operation for an ulcer on April 17 and will be bedridden until May 26.
1994: 56,706 fans attend Opening Day at the Stadium, making it the largest crowd ever at the venue since its mid-70s renovation
1989: On Opening Day, Yankees pitcher Tommy John ties a major league record by playing in his 26th season. John beats the Minnesota Twins, 4 – 2, for his 287th win, putting him 19th on the overall career win list.
This trade would turn out to be the first of many cost-cutting moves by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee. The most famous of these would be the sale of Babe Ruth to the same Yankees at the end of the season. American League President Ban Johnson attempted to void the trade, however, and demanded Mays be suspended for walking out on his team. The Yankees and Red Sox refused to comply. The case threatened to split the League in half, with Chicago siding with the Red Sox and Yankees, and the other five teams supporting Johnson. However, the three minority teams held control over the League’s board of directors and threatened to leave the league and join the National League. Ban Johnson was forced to step back in a move that marked his first major defeat since the creation of the American League in 1901, and Mays was allowed to join the Yankees.
Mays posted an excellent 1.65 ERA for the Yankees over the remainder of the 1919 season, collecting 9 wins in 13 starts, then stepped up as the team’s ace in 1920, winning 26 games. This is when the unfortunate beaning of the Indians’ Ray Chapman occured, in the fifth inning of a dark, overcast game at the Polo Grounds on August 16. Eye-witnesses say that Chapman probably never saw the pitch that hit him, as he never moved his head. Mays claimed that the ball was wet and scuffed, causing it to sail inside and high. Opponents blamed Mays for the accident, with a number of teams petitioning Ban Johnson to have Mays banned from baseball. Mays spent a week in seclusion, the returned to the mound on August 23. He pitched a shutout on his return, and Cleveland went on to win the pennant and the World Series with rookie Joe Sewell taking Chapman’s place in the line-up.
In 1921, Mays went 27-9 in 49 games for the Yankees, as the team won the first American League pennant in its history. He pitched three complete games in the World Series against the cross-town New York Giants, but he was charged with two losses. There were doubts expressed about Mays’ performance in these games, with speculation that he may deliberately have lost these. Similar questions surfaced after Game 4 of the 1922 World Series, in which Mays was on the losing end of a 4-3 decision to Hugh McQuillan of the Giants when the Yankees won a second consecutive pennant in 1922. Mays had fallen to a 13-14 record in 1922, and following his questionable World Series performance, manager Miller Huggins tried unsuccessfully to dump him. When that failed, he stopped using him in 1923 as Mays only went 5-2 with an awful 6.20 ERA in 23 games. The Yankees and the Giants faced each other for the third consecutive year in the World Series, but this time, Mays was left on the bench as the Yankees won their first-ever World Championship. He was sold to the Cincinnati Reds after the season.
After his playing days, Mays was a scout for the Cleveland Indians for many years, as well as with the Kansas City A’s and the Milwaukee Braves.
The red-letter day:
2009: Yankee Stadium II opens for business with an exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs.
On other 3rds of April…
2005: In his first outing in pinstripes, Randy Johnson allows a run and
five hits in six innings as New York open the 2005 MLB season with a
9-2 triumph over the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox at Yankee
1984: After rain washed out yesterday’s opener at Royals Stadium, Yul
Brynner tosses out the first ball and Kansas City open with a 4-2 win
over the Yankees. The threat of snow holds the crowd to just 10,006.
Starter Bud Black, with relief help from Dan Quisenberry, tops Ron
Guidry, still winless in Openers. Onix Concepción hits Guidry’s first
pitch of the year for a home run, while Dave Winfield has a two-run
blast for the Yankees.
1969: Charley Stanceu (3rd from the right in the top row), a spot
starter on the Yankees’ 1941 championship club, dies of a heart attack
at the age of 53.
1923: One of the most bizarre off-the-field incidents in the history of
the Yankees (or any other club) occurs in Jacksonville, Florida. New
York outfielder Ping Bodie competes against an ostrich named Percy in a
spaghetti-eating contest. Bodie wins the competition when Percy passes
out after his 11th plate of pasta.
2001: On Opening Day, Roger Clemens becomes the all-time American
League career strike out leader, passing Walter Johnson. Kansas City
Royals infielder Joe Randa is his 3,509 Junior circuit victim. In
overtaking Johnson, Clemens now moves into the seventh spot on the
all-time major league list.
On other 2nds of April…
2003: Todd Zeile hits a home run in his first at-bat for the Yankees,
becoming the only major leaguer to hit a home run for ten different
teams. In addition to homering with the Yanks, Zeile had also gone deep
for the Cardinals, Cubs, Phillies, Orioles, Dodgers, Marlins, Rangers,
Mets, and Rockies. In the game, Mike Mussina gets the 9-7 win for the Bombers.
Having the first 23 days of this major league season canceled and 252
games of the last season lost, the owners accept the players’ March 31
unconditional offer to return to work. The players’ decision to return
to work is made after a US District Court issues an injunction
restoring terms and conditions of the expired agreement. Teams will
play 144-game schedules. The strike had begun on August 12, 1994.
out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game. The 17-year-old
girl, a member of the Chattanooga Lookouts roster, also walks Tony
Lazzeri in Chattanooga’s 14-4 loss Yankees. In 1933 Mitchell will pitch
for the House of David team.