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 16)
37 Years Ago
For the third time in his career, Billy Martin is removed as the Yankees manager, as George Steinbrenner places him in a front office job. Hired for the 1983 season, the Yankees won 91 games but couldn’t play well enough down the stretch to catch the eventual World Series champions, the Orioles. Replacing Martin is Yogi Berra, beginning his second stint as the team’s manager, which culminated in him being fired 16 games into the 1985 season and sparking the legend’s self-imposed exile from Yankee Stadium.
Who took over for Berra in ‘85? The very man he replaced: Martin. Yes, the ‘80s Yankees were very much an “Aristocrats” joke.
Three Years Ago
Former Yankee outfielder Dustin Fowler sues the Chicago White Sox and Guaranteed Rate Field for negligence after tearing his knee while making his Major League debut on June 29th of that year. The case, which cites an improperly-padded electrical box as a “hidden and undetectable hazard,” appears to still be pending, with the latest information released dating back to February 2019.
Fowler was removed before he got the chance to hit, but did eventually get his long-awaited at-bat in 2018. Dealt to the A’s in the Sonny Gray trade, Fowler played 68 games for Oakland and actually ended up notching his first MLB hit at Yankee Stadium (though he has yet to return to the majors).
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Only three former Yankees are celebrating birthdays today. None of them are particularly memorable, but a quick look at each:
1) Ted Wilborn was an outfielder for the AL East-winning Yankees of 1980, but only made it into eight games (and none in the playoffs). Wilborn never made it back to the majors, though he continued playing for various organizations through the ‘80s. He turns 60.
2) After five years with the Mariners, Charles Gipson was supposed to be Joe Torre’s pinch-running specialist in 2003, but a series of embarrassing pick-offs in pinch-running attempts meant that his Yankees tenure would be a short one: 18 games. Whoops. He turns 47.
3) Happy birthday to Not-That-Britton! Chris Britton was drafted by the Orioles and reached the majors with Baltimore in 2006. The Yankees snapped him up in a Jaret Wright salary dump in the offseason, and he was decent enough in limited action in ‘07 (11 games, 3.55 ERA), but got rocked in ‘08 and never pitched in the majors again. Due to the success of Zack Britton, Chris can’t even say that he was the most famous Britton to go from the O’s to the Yankees. Tough break. He turns 37.
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We thank Baseball Reference, Nationalpastime.com, and FanGraphs for providing background information for these posts.