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This Day in Yankees History: Six games from greatness

The Yankees drop the ‘03 Series in six and win the ‘09 ALCS in six, before winning that year’s title in six.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v New York Yankees, Game 6 Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images

Welcome to the relaunched This Day in Yankees History. As the offseason has begun much sooner than anyone has ever hoped for, 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 26)

81 Years Ago

At age-24, the Yankee Clipper is awarded the first of his three American League Most Valuable Player nominations, receiving 15 of 21 first place votes, while winning his fourth World Series title in as many years. Joe DiMaggio was robbed of the ’37 award, finishing second to Charlie Gehringer, even while leading the American League in slugging (.673), homers (46), WAR (8.3), and ranking behind only his teammate, Lou Gehrig, in OPS (1.085). His victory in ’39 was legitimate, though more closely contested, as he led the AL in only batting average (.381) while placing second behind eventual Hall of Famers Bob Feller in WAR (8.4), Jimmie Foxx in OPS (1.119), and Ted Williams in runs batted in (125). During DiMaggio’s 13-year career, three-years shortened by military service, he never missed an All-Star Game and won nine World Series.

17 Years Ago

Despite being outscored through six games by four runs, the Marlins beat the Yanks on the back of Josh Beckett’s five-hit complete game shutout to win the ’03 Series. Winning their second championship in as many appearances, they still have all of the World Series titles won by franchises located in the state of Florida, despite the other team’s equal number of opportunities.

11 Years Ago

The Yankees beat the Angels 5-2 in Game Six of the 2009 American League Championship Series to reach the World Series for the fourth time that decade. After beating the Mets in 2000, the Yankees dropped series to the Diamondbacks in 2001, and the Marlins in 2003, before reclaiming their place atop baseball’s mountaintop with their six-game victory over the Phillies for the franchise’s 27th World Series title. Undoing his reputation for coming up short in the postseason, Alex Rodriguez finished the series with an OPS of 1.516 and homered thrice, leading both teams in both categories amongst all players who played in all six games.

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Colbert Dale “Toby” Harrah, the only living former Yankee born today, celebrates his 72nd birthday. After making three All-Star Games with the Texas Rangers, and another with Cleveland, Harrah spent just one season, at age-36 no less, with the Bronx Bombers. By WAR, it was the worst of his career, except for those that bookended it as his first and final seasons of his career were his least productive. The ’84 edition of the Yankees featuring Harrah, headlined by Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, and manager Yogi Berra, finished third in the American League East behind the Blue Jays and eventual World Series Champion Tigers.

George Henry “Snuffy” Stirnweiss, the only other noteworthy former Yankee with an October 26th birthday, played for the club from 1943 to part of 1950 until he was traded to the Saint Louis Browns. During his tenure in the Bronx, he made an All-Star Game, finished in the top five for MVP voting twice, and won three World Series as the team’s everyday second baseman, while filling in at third and occasionally, shortstop. His greatest single season coincided with the conclusion of the Second World War in 1945, as he dominated a depleted Major League talent pool, leading the American League in plate appearances, at bats, runs, hits, triples, stolen bases, times caught stealing, batting average, slugging, OPS, OPS+, and total bases. That season, Snuffy finished third in MVP voting behind Detroit Tigers Eddie Mayo and Hall of Famer, Hal Newhouser, winning the second of his back-to-back awards.

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