Welcome to This Day in Yankees History. If we were writing about the Padres, we probably would have just cancelled this post for today and written about the impact moves being made by our club, but we don’t have that luxury here today. These daily post will highlight a handful of key moments in Yankees and baseball 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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142 Years ago
The first games of what will become the Cuban League are played in Havana, Cuba. Managed by Esteban Enrique Bellan, Havana squeaks by Almendares, 21-20. Bellan will become the first Latino player to appear in the major leagues playing for the Troy (NY) Haymakers and the New York Mutuals of the National Association from 1871 to 1873. These days, high-level baseball is happening all over Latin America in the various winter leagues and players from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Curaçao, Mexico, Panama and the Bahamas are well-represented across the levels of professional baseball in the United States.
87 Years ago
Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert blocks Babe Ruth from a possible opportunity to become player-manager of the Cincinnati Reds. As his playing days came to a close, Ruth openly spoke of his desire to remain in baseball as a manager and was miffed that Ruppert chose to hire Joe McCarthy instead of him in 1931. So Ruth was certainly intrigued by managerial possibilities elsewhere. The only problem was that he was still an incredibly good hitter in 1933, batting .301/.442/.582 with 34 homers and a 176 OPS+ at age 38.
The Yankees were not ready to lose Ruth’s productive bat in their lineup. The Babe would play one more season with the Yankees in 1934, hitting just .288/.448/.537 with 22 dingers in 125 games. He did depart the Yankees for a player/assistant manager role with the Boston Braves in 1935, but the latter was a mostly ceremonial position that he walked away from by the end of May. He never reached his goal of becoming a major league manager.
51 Years ago
Reports begin to surface that Curt Flood will challenge the reserve clause by suing Major League Baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals attempted to trade Flood to the Phillies in October of 1969, but he refused to report after 12 years in the majors with one organization. Flood demanded that he be declared a free-agent to commissioner Bowie Kuhn, writing “I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes.”
The veteran was ultimately unsuccessful in his attempt to become a free agent, but this case became a rallying point for MLB players, who strengthened their union under Marvin Miller and earned free agency several years later. Flood paid an unfortunate price for his brave stance, though. His career was essentially over after sitting out 1970, and he played just a few games with the Washington Senators in 1971 before retiring.
43 Years ago
Major League Baseball, the Yankees and New York City are named in a lawsuit filed by female Sports Illustrated sportswriter Melissa Ludtke, who had been denied access to the locker room during the World Series. The suit will lead to a Federal Judge ruling that the Yankees can no longer enforce the MLB policy that bans female reports from locker rooms. The ban was deemed to be in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which provides an unfair advantage to males. Watching and listening to Suzyn Waldman or Meredith Marakovits today, it is hard to imagine a time not that long ago when they would have been extremely restricted in their ability to do their jobs due to their gender.
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Happy birthday to Dustin Fowler, who turns 26 today. Drafted in the 18th round in 2013, he eventually became one of baseball’s top 100 prospects and earned a call-up with the Yankees on June 29, 2017. During his very first inning in right field though, he collided with a poorly placed and padded utility box in Chicago doing extensive damage to his knee, abruptly ending his season. Fowler still has an outstanding lawsuit against the White Sox and Guaranteed Rate Field.
Fowler was traded later that summer to the A’s for Sonny Gray and received more substantial MLB playing time in 2018, when he appeared in 69 games. He has yet to return to the majors since then.
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We thank Baseball Reference and National Pastime for providing background information for these posts.