Welcome to the relaunched This Day in Yankees History. With the offseason well underway, 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 (November 20)
58 Years Ago
Yankees center fielder Mickey Mantle collects his third Most Valuable Player Award. Despite playing in only 123 games, Mantle led the league in walks with 122, while also hitting 30 home runs, good enough for a.321/.486/.605 slash line and a 195 OPS+. During that season, he also won his only Gold Glove Award and was named to the All-Star Game (technically speaking, he received two All-Star nods, as two games were played annually between 1959 and 1962).
35 Years Ago
In his second full season, Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly caps off a year in which he hit 35 home runs and drove in 145 RBI on the back of a .321/.486/.605 slash by winning the 1985 AL MVP Award. Additionally, he added a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove to his trophy case.
Oddly enough, this was only his second-best season: the following year, he posted a 161 OPS+ (compared to a 156 mark in his MVP season); however, the award went to Red Sox ace Roger Clemens for the latter’s 24-4 record with a 2.48 ERA and 0.969 WHIP.
25 Years Ago
The Yankees trade minor league pitcher Mike DeJean for catcher (and future manager!) Joe Girardi. He would play four seasons for the Yankees, winning three World Series titles, originally as the starting catcher but slowly ceding playing time to Jorge Posada. He would later return to the Yankees organization for a 10-year stint as the team’s manager.
12 Years Ago
Two big announcements came on this day in 2008. For starters, MLB owners unanimously approved transferring direct control of the team from George Steinbrenner to his son and current owner, Hal. The Boss, who was 78 at the time, had gradually been yielding control of the team to Hal and Hank, who were appointed co-chairs at the start of the season; George had been in charge for 35 seasons.
Additionally, Hall of Fame pitcher Mike Mussina announced his retirement, capping off an 18-year career, all of which was spent in the intense and high-profile American League East (eight seasons with the Yankees). “Moose” went out following a great season in which he won 20 games for the first time in his career (becoming the oldest first-time 20-game winner in history at the age of 39), posting a 3.37 ERA in 200 1⁄3 innings. Furthermore, he won his seventh Gold Glove Award and came in second in the Comeback Player of the Year vote. With his final season, he extended his AL record of most consecutive seasons with at least ten wins to 17 (only failing to meet that figure in his 12-start rookie campaign), and became only the second pitcher to retire after a 20-win season, behind Sandy Koufax.
8 Years Ago
The Yankees re-sign pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $16M contract. Kuroda, who had been the team’s most consistent starter in 2012, would play with the Yankees for three seasons (2012-2014), posting a 3.44 ERA and never throwing fewer than 199 innings. He would be light- out for the Yankees in 2013, and to this day I am still angry that he did not go to the 2013 All-Star Game despite a 2.65 ERA in the first half of the season; manager Jim Leyritz opted to go with Chris Tillman and his 3.95 ERA because of the latter’s 11-3 record.
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We thank Baseball-Reference, Nationalpastime.com, and FanGraphs for providing background information for these posts.