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This Day in Yankees History: Yanks get in a spring training brawl

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A future Yankees manager might have stirred up some trouble in an otherwise meaningless spring training game on March 20, 1975

Chicago White Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Welcome to the relaunched This Day in Yankees History. With the start of the 2020 season delayed for the foreseeable future, the Pinstripe Alley team 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. Hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane with us!

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This Day in Yankees History (March 20)

62 Years Ago

The Yankees sold veteran first baseman Joe Collins, who opted to retire instead of join his new team, the Phillies. Collins had been a decent to really good bat on five World Series winning teams from 1950-’53 and ‘56. However, he had struggled the two previous seasons and was quickly falling behind Bill “Moose” Skowron on the depth chart. There was no real spot open for him with the Phillies either, as they had 24-year old Ed Bouchee, coming off a second place Rookie of the Year finish, at first. Collins decided not to report to Philadelphia and just retired, cancelling the deal.

59 Years Ago

The Yankees announced that they would oppose the new National League expansion franchise in New York using Yankee Stadium as a home when they began play. That would lead the team eventually called the Mets, who began play the following year in 1962, to call the Polo Grounds home for two seasons before Shea Stadium was built.

45 Years Ago

A spring training brawl broke out between the Yankees and Rangers. Tempers spilled over in the seventh inning when the Rangers’ Dave Nelson hit the ground to avoid a pitch thrown at his head by the Yankees’ Mike Wallace, however, things had been brewing all game. The tension started when the Yankees’ Elliott Maddox was hit by a pitch in the first inning. While both teams claimed no intentions after the game, anger was in the air thanks to an offseason interview by Maddox. He had played for the Rangers before coming to New York, and he said that his former manager in Texas was a liar. That manager was none other than Billy Martin, who would end up at the helm of the Yankees later that very same season. Maddox had gotten injured by the time Martin took over, and played just 18 games for the Yankees the following season before getting traded.

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Not of ton of big names of the Yankees’ birthday front, but let’s highlight Paul Mirabella. The pitcher came over in the 1978 trade that also brought Dave Righetti to New York. Mirabella only threw 14.1 career major league innings with the Yankees, but somehow did so while wearing three different numbers, which has to be a record. It’s also the birthday of Steve Blateric and Paddy Greene, who both had very short stints with the Yankees and played just five major league seasons combined.

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We thank Baseball-Reference, Nationalpastime.com, and the New York Times for providing background information for these posts.