Welcome to This Day in Yankees History. The 2020 baseball season has come to an end, so let’s dig into the history books. 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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79 Years Ago
The most notable transaction in New York-Boston history is, obviously, the acquisition of Babe Ruth. The entire city of Boston will never live it down. There have been other trades, however, that the Yankees definitively lost. Although clearly a lower stakes swap, on this day in 1941, the Yankees sent outfielder Tommy Holmes to the Boston Braves for two players to be named later.
If the Yankees consummated a trade that went this poorly during modern times, some would call for Brian Cashman’s head. The Yankees got next to nothing from the PTBNL’s, while Holmes put together an All-Star career almost exclusively in Boston. The lefty-swinger compiled a 122 OPS+ in 10 seasons with the Braves, running over 35 WAR per Baseball Reference. He finished second in NL MVP voting in 1945 thanks to an eight-win campaign.
32 Years Ago
In a landmark deal that may have changed the way sports are broadcast, the Yankees agreed with the Madison Square Garden Network on a 12-year contract to broadcast Yankee games, one that reportedly paid the Yankees $55 million a season. Of course, the Yankees would go on to start their own regional cable channel, the YES Network, choosing to leave their partnership with MSG in 2002.
28 Years Ago
Greg Maddux spurned the Yankees to sign a five-year, $28 million contract with the Atlanta Braves. As the New York Times reported at the time, the Yankees offered $6 million more than Atlanta, not to mention a $9 million signing bonus. This marked a failed winter for the Yankees, who had hoped make significant moves on the free agent market to shore up their starting pitching situation (sound familiar?).
Maddux’s decision had far-ranging impacts on the next decade of baseball. The right-hander was the best pitcher in the game during the term of his contract, winning the NL Cy Young Award in 1993, ‘94, and ‘95. Across the five-year deal, Maddux pitched over 1,100 innings with a stunning 197 ERA+. The Yankees, meanwhile, fielded competitive but unspectacular squads from ‘93-’95, teams with pitching that profiled far more as “serviceable” than “stellar.” The Bombers put things together in 1996 and beyond, but it’s fun to wonder what the dynasty could have looked like if New York had acquired one of history’s best hurlers.
11 Years Ago
The Yankees re-signed Andy Pettitte, with the beloved lefty having just played an enormous role in the team’s run to the 2009 championship. Pettitte won the clinching game in each of the Yankees’ three playoff series, and would continue his excellent work in 2010. Though he managed only 21 starts at age 38, Pettitte maintained a 132 ERA+ in 2010 and ran an 11-3 record, helping steady the rotation for a 95-win Yankee squad.
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We have a few miscellaneous Yankee birthdays today. It’s the 72nd birthday of Doc Medich, who pitched four seasons for the Yankees in the 1970’s, winning 49 games and posting a 3.40 ERA. Former outfielder Tony Tarasco also turns 50; he played 14 games for the 1999 Yankees. Of course, his most famous moment at Yankee Stadium came not in pinstripes, but wearing an Orioles uniform in the 1996 ALCS opener. Tarasco was the unlucky right fielder who had a chance at a late-game defensive highlight robbed from him when young fan Jeffrey Maier reached over the short porch fence to catch a drive from Derek Jeter:
Umpire Rich Garcia incorrectly called it a homer, and the Yankees tied the game. Tarasco and the Orioles were livid, and it didn’t help when Bernie Williams blasted a walk-off in extra innings. Maier became an overnight sensation and the Yankees won the ALCS in five games en route to their 1996 World Series title. Tarasco was understandably icy about the subject for a few years, but he and Maier did meet up in 2002 to bury the hatchet at a youth baseball camp.
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We thank Baseball Reference and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.