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 13)
19 years ago
I don’t know how it’s been almost two decades since this day, but it was Dec. 13th that news trickled out that Jason Giambi would indeed be signing with the Yankees. The team had long coveted the lefty-swinging A’s slugger to ply his trade at Yankee Stadium in place of the departing Tino Martinez, and they inked Giambi to a seven-year, $120 million contract. The deal for the former MVP became official on Dec. 18th.
Giambi’s father had adored Mickey Mantle and long wanted his son to play in pinstripes. I loved the man’s seven seasons as a Yankee, but to others, he was a decidedly mixed bag. Giambi’s subpar defense quickly made him a preferred DH despite his frequent time at first, and outside of his first season, he never hit for average in New York the way he did in Oakland. He also later admitted to steroid use, which might have led to the benign tumor he developed in his pituitary gland and battled throughout a dismal 2004.
Nonetheless, Giambi was a constant menace in the Yankees’ lineup, posting staggering OBP totals year after year; his career OBP as a Yankee was .404, including a .440 mark during a 2005 season that saw him earn AL Comeback Player of the Year honors. Giambi also crushed more homers (209) than all but 11 Yankees in franchise history. That’s no small feat, and the Yankees don’t win the unbelievable Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS without his two dingers off Pedro Martínez. Despite notching six playoff berths, they never won a World Series with the “Giambino,” but he was not the problem during that mini-championship drought.
17 years ago
Jumping from one somewhat-controversial Yankees player to another, Brian Cashman worked out a trade to bring intimidating right-hander Kevin Brown to New York from the Dodgers in exchange for the team’s own beleaguered starter, Jeff Weaver. The Yankees needed a rotation boost with the apparent retirement of Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte signing with the Astros, so in came Brown to try to right the ship.
Brown was a six-time All-Star with a near-Hall of Fame résumé throughout his travels, and he even had a good year in 2003 with the Dodgers. Unfortunately, his ornery attitude and balky back made him a difficult presence both on and off the field for the Yankees. He was fine when healthy in 2004, but missed a month and a half in the summer and then was out for most of September after punching a wall in the clubhouse. The Red Sox crushed him in the ALCS, and he pitched terribly in 2005 before back injuries ended his career.
Shoulda just made a better effort to re-sign Andy.
13 years ago
Remember that brief mention of Mr. Clemens? Well on this day in 2007, he lashed out at the Mitchell Report allegations of his PED usage. Lawyer Rusty Hardin released a statement on his behalf:
“Roger Clemens adamantly, vehemently or whatever adjective can be used, denies he has ever used steroids or whatever the word is for improper substance ... There has never been one shred of tangible evidence that he ever used these substances and yet he is being slandered today.”
Clemens fought the allegations but ultimately subjected himself to perjury and obstruction of justice charges. A mistrial was eventually declared and he was acquitted, though he also later made a settlement on the defamation lawsuit with former trainer Brian McNamee. Either way, the Mitchell Report allegations have stuck with the BBWAA electorate, as despite obvious Hall of Fame numbers Clemens has yet to top even 65 percent of the vote (let alone the 75 needed for induction).
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Happy 24th birthday to Gleyber Torres! The budding superstar might have had a tough campaign in 2020, but he still compares well to the best of the best in terms of talented young shortstops in franchise history. Prior to his age-24 season, Derek Jeter had hit .300/.368/.415 with a 101 OPS+ and 7.9 WAR in 331 games. In the same timespan, Torres has hit .271/.340/.493 with a 122 OPS+ and 6.6 WAR in 309 games.
The next season will be telling, as Jeter’s 1998 at age 24 was an absolutely staggering near-MVP performance. Does Torres have a ‘98 Jeter in him? We can only hope, but he sure as hell has the power to hit 30 homers from the shortstop position, something even the Captain never managed to accomplish.
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We thank Baseball Reference and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.