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This Day in Yankees History: The “Rocket” blasts off

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The Yankees win the pennant, Clemens dominates, and a backstop celebrates his born day.

BBA-ROYALS-YANKEES-CLEMENS REACTS Photo by STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to the relaunched This Day in Yankees History. Even though the 2020 season is over for New York, the Pinstripe Alley team has decided to continue the revived program in its new format. These daily posts will highlight two or three key moments in Yankees history on a given date, as well as recognize players born on the day. Hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane with us!

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This Day in Yankees History (October 14)

44 Years Ago

Capping a charmed 1976 season in which he made his only All-Star team and finished fifth in MVP voting, Yankees first-baseman Chris Chambliss walks it off in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Royals in the decisive, winner-take-all, Game Five of the American League Championship Series.

In their 7-6 victory, the Yankees secured their 30th American League Pennant and subsequent World Series appearance against the Reds. However, Cincinnati’s star-studded Big Red Machine, which featured four Hall of Famers, made easy work of the Bronx Bombers, pulling off the four-game sweep. The Yankees held only one lead during the course of the series—of just one run—spanning from the bottom of Game Three’s first inning until the top of the third. Yankee catcher Thurman Munson recorded a .529 batting average on nine singles, only to be outdone by the Reds catcher and World Series MVP, Johnny Bench. Bench paced all batters, hitting .533 with two homers and six runs batted in.

20 Years Ago

Roger Clemens strikes out 15 batters, one-hitting the Mariners in Game Four of the 2000 ALCS, leading to a 5-0 Yankee victory and a 3-1 lead in the series.

The Rocket’s strikeout total still stands as the greatest-single game tally ever recorded in the ALCS. The Yankees needed two more games to knock out a Mariners squad that was a year away from matching the all-time American League single season wins record with 116 victories to 46 losses. New York went on to beat their crosstown rival Mets in five games, despite outscoring them by just three total runs.

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Happy 56th birthday to former Yankee player and manager, Joe Girardi. Girardi came up with the Cubs, catching for them twice, between ’89 and ’95, and ‘00 and ’02. In betwixt, he had a stint with the Yanks, during which he won two World Series as the Yankees’ everyday catcher, and another as Jorge Posada’s backup. After his playing career, Girardi first managed the Marlins in 2006 before taking over for Joe Torre in 2008. Girardi remained in New York until 2017, leading those teams to a World Series win in ’09 and a .562 win-loss percentage over nine years. Girardi missed the playoffs this year, his first with the Phillies, finishing their disappointing shortened season with 28 wins against 32 losses.

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We thank Baseball-Reference and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.