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This Day in Yankees History: “Mr. October” signs on the dotted line

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Reggie Jackson officially donned the pinstripes, and a Yankees legend was born on this day in history.

Reggie Jackson Putting on Yankee Hat

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!

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54 Years Ago

The Yankees trade longtime third baseman Clete Boyer to the Braves for pitcher Chi-Chi Olivo and outfielder Bill Robinson.

Boyer had manned the hot corner for the Yankees since 1959 after coming over in a trade with the A’s. He helped the Yankees to World Series titles in 1961 and ‘62. However, with the team coming off their first last-place finish since 1912, new general manager Lee MacPhail decided to make some changes to an aging roster.

This particular move didn’t go great, as Olivo never played for the Yankees. Robinson, who would’ve been the prize of that deal after he put up excellent numbers in the minors the previous year, had three disappointing seasons in New York. (That said, he would develop into a good major league hitter later in his career, helping the Pirates to the 1979 World Series.)

Boyer had his career best offensive season in Atlanta, and posted a couple other good years with them. On that basis, the Yankees probably lost the trade, although he probably wouldn’t have helped the middling late-‘60s/early-‘70s Yankees teams that much.

44 Years Ago

What a fun number for the anniversary of this event. This day 44 year ago, Reggie Jackson officially signed a contract and joined the Yankees. In the first winter of free agency, George Steinbrenner and the Yankees went out and made a big splash, signing the biggest name on the market, beating the Expos and Orioles for his signature.

Jackson would play five years in New York, hitting 144 home runs with a .897 OPS in that time. However, he is most famous for his postseason contributions with the Yankees. He was named World Series in MVP in 1977, hitting five home runs in the series. Three of those came in the clinching Game Six win, a performance that has gone down in Yankees lore. For that and his general playoff heroics over his career, he got the nickname “Mr. October,” and has become a beloved Yankees’ legend.

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Happy birthday to the legend, Mariano Rivera.

The man who would become the greatest closer ever came up through the Yankees’ system as a starter, making his debut in 1995. He put up mediocre numbers that year, and switched to the bullpen the following season. The rest is history.

Rivera would go on to win five World Series titles with the Yankees, and was the man on the mound to finish off four of them. He is the all-time leader in saves, and also became the first player ever to be elected to the Hall of Fame with 100 percent of the vote. He was pretty good at baseball.

Other Yankees with birthdays today include Mike Easler, Jack Enright, Tom Hughes, Irv Noren, Otto Velez, and Jack Wanner.

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