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This Day in Yankees History: Brian McCann breaks the bank

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The Crow goes to court; Girardi re-signs; bullpen reinforcements arrive; Ruppert elected to the Hall; McCann gets a record deal

New York Yankees Introduce Brian McCann Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Welcome to This Day in Yankees History. The 2020 baseball season has come to an end, and the offseason is upon us. There has not been much movement on the Yankees’ front as of yet, so in the meantime let’s dig into the history books. These daily posts will highlight a handful of 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 3)

58 Years Ago

Frank Crosetti will always be remembered as having won the most World Series titles in history, winning eight as a shortstop and nine as a third base coach for the Yankees. Less known, however, were his efforts to champion the rights of former players. In 1962 he filed suit against the MLB owners’ pension committee on behalf of over 300 retired players.

The owners and MLBPA secretly agreed to raise monthly pensions on the back of rising television and marketing revenues. However, this increase would not apply to players who had been retired for more than ten years. Crosetti and the players he represented eventually lost the suit, but settled for $750,000.

24 Years Ago

The Yankees decided to retain starting catcher Joe Girardi after a successful first season in pinstripes that saw the team win their first World Series title in 18 years. Girardi was acquired from the Rockies after the 1995 season, and played in 124 games for the Bombers the following year. He caught Dwight Gooden’s no-hitter, and hit an RBI triple off Greg Maddux in the series-clinching Game 6.

Signed to a two-year deal with an option for a third that would later be picked up, Girardi became the backup catcher behind Jorge Posada in 1998, and would play a total of four seasons in pinstripes before rejoining the Cubs in 2000. Girardi took over as manager for the Yankees following Joe Torre’s departure to the Dodgers. In his second year at the helm, the Yankees won their 27th World Series title. Girardi was not brought back after his contract expired following the 2017 season, and after a short stint in broadcasting, the Phillies hired him as their manager for 2020 and beyond.

16 Years Ago

After famously squandering a 3-0 ALCS lead in 2004, the Yankees decided to reinforce one of the many culprits: the bullpen. They attempted to do this via the trade market rather than free agency, targeting two proven veterans. They dealt Kenny Lofton to the Phillies for Félix Rodríguez, and reunited with reliever Mike Stanton after sending Félix Heredia to the Mets.

Neither move paid off for the Yankees. Rodríguez pitched to a 5.01 ERA across 34 appearances in his lone season in the Bronx. Stanton had a much uglier 28 outings, sporting a gaudy 7.07 ERA. His failures led to him being traded midseason to the Nationals, who themselves offloaded the reliever to the Red Sox.

13 Years Ago

Along with umpire Hank O’Day and barehanded catcher Deacon White, longtime Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert was elected into the Hall of Fame by the Pre-Integration Era Committee during the 2012 Winter Meetings. He began his career in the military, eventually rising to the rank of colonel and serving on both David B. Hill and Roswell P. Flower’s New York gubernatorial staffs as an aide-de-camp and senior advisor. He served two terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, serving the 15th district of New York from 1899-1903 and the 16th district from 1903-07.

Ruppert made his fortune in the brewing industry, and purchased the Yankees from Frank J. Farrell and William S. Devery in 1915 alongside Tillinghast L’Hommedieu “Cap” Huston for $480,000. He hired Miller Huggins from the Cardinals to be the team’s manager after the 1917 season, and famously purchased Babe Ruth from the Red Sox in 1919 for $100,000. He oversaw the construction of the first Yankee Stadium after the Giants raised the rent on playing in the Polo Grounds in 1922, and was the first owner to add numbers to players’ uniforms in 1929. The team would win eight World Series titles during Ruppert’s 24-year ownership of the Yankees, and he transformed the franchise from cellar-dwellers into the most iconic sports franchise in the country.

Seven Years Ago

After failing to re-sign Robinson Canó in free agency, the Yankees went on a near-half billion dollar spending spree in the 2013-14 offseason. Although the news was reported a week and a half prior, it was on December 3rd that the Yankees officially handed Brian McCann the richest deal ever for a free agent catcher, signing him to a five-year, $85 million deal. They didn’t stop there though, as they later added Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltrán, and — most successfully — Masahiro Tanaka.

In three seasons in the Bronx, McCann batted .235/.313/.418 with 69 home runs, 227 RBIs, a 99 OPS+ and 101 wRC+. After the emergence of Gary Sánchez, McCann was traded to Astros after the 2016 season for Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzmán. He won* the 2017 World Series with Houston, and continued playing until he retired with the Braves in 2019.

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Birthdays

Happy birthday to Mike Tauchman, who turns 30 today! Tauchman was acquired from the Rockies in exchange for Phil Diehl at the start of the 2019 season, and it appeared that Brian Cashman had uncovered another hidden minor league gem à la Luke Voit and Gio Urshela, Tauchman batted .277/.361/.504 with 13 home runs, 47 RBIs, a 127 OPS+ and a 128 wRC+ in 87 games. However, those results did not carry over into 2020, where he slashed a paltry .242/.342/.305 with no home runs, 14 RBIs, an 83 OPS+ and 79 wRC+ in 43 games. The Yankees will be hoping for a bounce-back season in 2021, as their fourth outfielders tend to get a good bit more playing time than one might expect.

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We thank Baseball Reference, Nationalpastime.com, and FanGraphs for providing background information for these posts.