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!
★ ★ ★
This Day in Yankees History (December 26)
101 Years Ago
When researching this day in history, I entered with the assumption that nothing much of note could have happened on the day after Christmas. While MLB teams occasionally drop significant transactions on holidays, typically, they take it easy on days like Christmas just like the rest of us.
And yet, 101 years ago today, perhaps the most important move in the game’s history came to pass, as the Yankees agreed to send $100,000 to the Red Sox in exchange for Babe Ruth. There’s little that needs to be said about the divergent paths of these two teams after the sale of Ruth, though it’s certainly fun to note that Ruth posted a 209 OPS+ with the Yankees, winning four titles while Boston obviously went without a championship for 86 years.
More interesting at this point are the circumstances surrounding the Yankees and Red Sox that culminated with the momentous deal that put Ruth in the Bronx. Yet even over a century later, much of what caused the Red Sox to send the game’s best player to their direct rivals remains a mystery.
Reports suggest Red Sox owner Harry Frazee was under financial pressure after the 1919 season. Some say Frazee, also an owner of multiple theaters and a producer of several stage productions, needed cash to finance his theatrical projects. Also possibly coming into play was Ruth’s knowledge of his own worth; the star two-way player was the face of the game, and the sport was gaining popularity around the country thanks in no small part to Ruth’s greatness. Ruth reportedly asked for his salary to be doubled entering 1920.
The parallel has been drawn before, but the Red Sox ridding themselves of a star outfielder, sending him to a fellow big market team that quickly wins a pennant, all because said star was about to see a salary jump is just a tale that does not get old, and one that repeated itself when they traded Mookie Betts almost a year ago.
★ ★ ★
Today is Chris Chambliss’s 72nd birthday. The former first baseman is probably best known for stroking the home run that won the deciding Game Five of the 1976 ALCS over the Royals. Let’s relive it, shall we:
Chambliss played seven seasons with the Yankees, won two World Series, and accumulated over 15 WAR per Baseball Reference. He later served as hitting coach under Joe Torre during the 1996-2000 dynasty years.
★ ★ ★
We thank Baseball Reference and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.