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 (December 10)
12 years ago
The Yankees and CC Sabathia agree on a $161 million, seven-year contract, the fourth richest deal in Major League history and the most ever for a pitcher at the time. He went on to play 11 years in New York with a career 3.81 ERA there. Sabathia was a three-time All-Star in pinstripes, helped the team earn eight playoff appearances, and led the league in wins in 2010. The ace also led the Yankees to a World Series title in 2009, notching ALCS MVP honors along the way.
One year ago
The Yankees sign Gerrit Cole to the most expensive contract ever for a pitcher, a nine-year deal worth $324 million. Cole, who just finished his first season in pinstripes, was just as advertised. The flamethrower threw 73 innings with a 2.84 ERA and an 11.6 K/9. Cole led the American League in complete games with two, finished fourth in voting for the AL Cy Young, and was named to the All-MLB Second Team.
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Happy birthday to Luis Polonia, who played 12 years in the majors, five of which were with the Yankees. The left fielder hit .296/.357/.389 while in the Bronx and stole 44 bases. After the 2000 season in which he won the World Series with the Yankees, he retired with a career 9.0 bWAR and 97 OPS+.
Like Tony Tarasco yesterday, Polonia is probably most well-known to Yankees fans for a moment that came against New York, as he was the final batter for the Braves during the tense 1-0 win in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series. Atlanta had both the tying and winning runs on base with Polonia at the plate needing a mere single to keep the game alive, or perhaps a double to knot the series up at two games apiece. He fell behind 0-2 but battled for seven pitches until smoking a sharp drive to right-center field, where a hobbling Paul O’Neill made a great running catch to end it. The 1996 World Series film did a delightful job of adding dramatic music to the at-bat to make it sound even better:
With a potential disaster averted, the Yankees won the next game back home at Yankee Stadium to finish off their shocking upset of the Braves for their 23rd World Series title.
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We thank Baseball Reference and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.