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This Day in Yankees History: Andy Pettitte comes out of retirement

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One of the most surprising comebacks in franchise history started on March 16. 2012

Cincinnati Reds v New York Yankees

Welcome to the relaunched This Day in Yankees History. Various iterations of this series have existed on Pinstripe Alley since its opening in 2005. You may be most familiar with the version Andrew Mearns popularized in the mid-2010s.

With the start of the 2020 season delayed for the foreseeable future, I decided to revive the program in a slightly different 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. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane with us!

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This Day in Yankees History (March 16)

88 years ago

Babe Ruth supposedly signed a blank contract with the Yankees on this day in 1932. The actual deal paid him $75,000 for the year, a $5,000 pay cut from 1931. While Ruth had a monstrous campaign the previous season, hitting .373/.495/.700 with 46 home runs (206 wRC+), the country was reeling from Great Depression. Adjusted for inflation, Ruth’s 1931 salary equates to roughly $1.2 million, or the amount the club paid Greg Bird last year.

43 year ago

On this day in 1977, Yankees right-hander Andy Messersmith suffered a major injury, separating his shoulder in collision at first base. The longtime ace with the Angels and Dodgers joined the Bombers ahead of the ‘77 season, after a disappointing stint with the Braves. The injury robbed him of all effectiveness, as he pitched a meager 22.1 innings with the Yanks, registering a 5.64 ERA (7.38 FIP). The club released him in the offseason, where he latched back on with the Dodgers for a year before hanging up his spikes.

8 years ago

In one of my favorite moments in Yankees history, Andy Pettitte made a surprise return to the team on this day in 2012. The southpaw had a brilliant season, stabilizing a rotation in flux due to injuries (Michael Pineda) and ineffectiveness (Freddy Garcia). He pitched to a 2.87 ERA (3.48 FIP) over 75.1 innings, then came back for another round in 2013.

I wrote about the comeback and what it meant to fans a few years ago. You can read the feature-length piece here.

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Happy Birthday

Stephen Drew, who served as the team’s second baseman during the bleak runs of 2014 and 2015, turns 37 today. We’ll always remember this pinch-hit grand slam and how he served as the inspiration for the #Refsnyder4NYY campaign.

Curtis Granderson, a Yankees outfielder from 2010-2013, is celebrating his 39th birthday. Always the fan favorite, the Grandy Man hit .245/.335/.495 with 115 home runs (122 wRC+) during his stint in pinstripes. Once Kevin Long tweaked Granderson’s stance in 2010, he became one of the game’s biggest power threats almost overnight. It was pretty darn cool. Granderson retired after the 2019 season.

We also extend happy birthday wishes to Charles Hudson, Juan Espino, and Clint Courtney.

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