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This Day in Yankees History: Graig Nettles comes to the Bronx

The Yanks got a lot for a little when they acquired the most talented third baseman of the 1970s.

World Series: New York Yankees v Los Angeles Dodgers, October, 1981

Welcome to This Day in Yankees History. We hope everybody had a good Thanksgiving, no matter how you spent the day. There hasn’t been much movement on the Yankees’ front as of yet, so in the meantime, let’s dig into the history books. These daily posts will highlight a handful of 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 27)

48 Years Ago

On this day in 1972, the Yankees made one of the more lopsided trades in MLB history when they acquired third baseman Graig Nettles and catcher Jerry Moses from the Cleveland Indians for a couple of players you’ve probably never heard of. The deal is widely considered to be among the best trades the Yankees ever made. As for Cleveland, well, they got the short end of the stick.

The Yankees needed a cleanup batter in their lineup and Nettles, a lefty slugger, was the key piece they had been missing. Indeed, Nettles was one of the best players in the Bronx for the next eleven years. From 1973 to 1983, Nettles appeared in five All-Star Games and helped the Yanks win four American League pennants. He also played a crucial role in leading the Yankees to back-to-back World Series titles in 1977 and 1978.

Of those rambunctious, team drama-filled “Bronx Zoo” teams, Nettles famously said, “Some little boys dream about running away to join the circus, and others fantasize about becoming big leaguers. Those Yankees teams had it both ways.”

The third baseman’s tight, lefty swing was also tailor-made for Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right field. From 1973 to 1979, Nettles hit 20 or more homers each season, leading the AL with 32 in 1976. He also brought leadership to the clubhouse; though he was past his playing prime, George Steinbrenner named Nettles the Yankees’ captain during his final two seasons with the club in 1982 and 1983. The team had been without a captain since Thurman Munson’s tragic death in 1979.

Fun fact: Nettles expressed how impressed he was with Gio Urshela at the hot corner during the Yankees’ playoff run this year. Considering the source (the best third baseman ever to wear pinstripes), that’s high praise.

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YANKEES-RANGERS Photo by Sharon M. Steinman/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A very happy birthday to Hall of Fame catcher Iván “Pudge” Rodríguez! Pudge turns 49 years old today. Do you remember when Rodríguez wore the pinstripes? Many fans forget about Pudge’s brief stint in the Bronx and it is easy to understand why. While Rodríguez is one of the best catchers to ever play the game, his mediocre half-season on the Yankees is a blip in what was otherwise an extraordinary 21-year career.

In 2008, Pudge was actively seeking a way out of Detroit, where he was unhappy with manager Jim Leyland’s platooning behind the plate. On July 30, the Yankees traded relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth to the Tigers for Rodríguez, who was slated to become a free agent at the end of the season. The Yankees needed some help with Jorge Posada out for the season with a shoulder injury.

Rodríguez would share catching duties with José Molina, appearing in only 33 games with the club. His time in pinstripes was marked by hitting struggles and a two-game suspension for getting into a shoving match with Torii Hunter in Anaheim. Rodríguez finished his brief stint with the Yankees with a .219 batting average, two home runs and 3 RBI.