Welcome to This Day in Yankees History. The 2020 baseball season has come to an end, so let’s dig into the history books. 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!
★ ★ ★
43 Years Ago
The Yankees bolstered their bullpen on this day in 1977 by signing reliever Goose Gossage to a six-year, $2.75-million contract after the Yanks had won the World Series. Gossage had just come off a strong season with the Pirates, posting a 1.26 ERA with 26 saves. He joined Cy Young award winner Spark Lyle in New York’s bullpen, and made an immediate impact by leading the league with 27 saves and pitching to a 2.01 ERA in 134.1 innings. He was named an All-Star and helped the Bombers win their second straight World Series.
Gossage logged a 2.59 FIP with a 183 ERA+ through his six years of that contract.
32 Years Ago
The Yankees signed a free agent second baseman on this day in 1988, in the form of Steve Sax. the terms of the contract came in at three-year deal worth $3.75 million. Sax, a former National League Rookie of the Year award winner, had seen his OPS drop from .830 in an All-Star 1986 season to .668 in 1988.
Sax went on to be an league-average performer for the Yanks during his contract, posting a 102 OPS+ and earning an All-Star nod in both 1989 and 1990. Sax had taken over for the beloved Willie Randolph, who wound up taking Sax’s spot with the Dodgers.
7 Years Ago
Following a 2013 season where the Yankees wound up using traffic cones at some infield spots due to endless injuries, the front office continued what would be a very busy offseason by signing catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85-million deal on this day in 2013. McCann, a seven-time All-Star with the Braves prior to coming to New York, had posted a solid 2013 season, recording a .796 OPS just before turning 30.
McCann took a step back in 2014, logging a .692 OPS, though he did play in 140 games. He was a productive-if-not-overpowering bat for the Yankees, belting 69 homers with a 99 OPS+ over three seasons while maintaining a strong defensive presence behind the plate. However, McCann didn’t finish out that contract in pinstripes, as he was traded to the Astros following the 2016 campaign due to the emergence of Gary Sánchez.
★ ★ ★
Happy Birthday to Tyler Wade! The current Yankee speedster turns 26 today. A pair of former Yankee pitchers were also born on this day in Luis Tiant and Aaron Small, the latter a legend of 2005. After spending three of the past five seasons outside of the majors, the previously unremarkable 33-year-old was called up with the Yankees desperate to find pitching to stay in the AL East race. Out of nowhere, Small went 10-0 with a 133 ERA+ and 2.7 WAR in just 15 games, helping the team narrowly clinch its eighth consecutive division title. After a dismal start to his 2006, Small vanished just as quickly as he arrived, never to pitch again.
★ ★ ★
We thank Baseball-Reference, Thisdayinbaseball.com and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.