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This Day in Yankees History: Mantle makes his mark

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The 19-year-old rookie sends a home run an estimated 650 feet.

Mickey Mantle Holding Baseball Bat

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 26)

84 Years Ago

Yankees righty Red Ruffing signed a new $12,000 contract with the Yankees for the 1936 season, equivalent to $223,440 today. Ruffing’s career followed in the tradition of Babe Ruth, finding acclaim in the Bronx after leaving Boston. After an early record of 39-96 with the Red Sox, he went 231-124 in 15 seasons with the Yankees, garnering six All-Star nods, six World Series titles, and a home in the Hall of Fame.

And for those who accuse the Yankees of buying their success, Ruffing’s contract wasn’t even the biggest signed that day; Tigers legend Hank Greenberg inked a deal with Detroit for $20,000 on the very same date.

69 Years Ago

A 19-year-old Yankees rookie named Mickey Mantle stepped to the plate in a spring exhibition game, and batting left-handed, clubbed a home run whose distance was estimated (generously, perhaps, but what are legends for?) at 650 feet.

The mammoth shot came off of pitcher Tom Lovrich versus the University of Southern California at Bovard Field, during the Yankees’ first ever west coast trip. And in case the rest of his storied career wouldn’t be enough, Mantle proved the dinger that day wasn’t a fluke, adding a single, a triple, and another home run in the same game.

63 Years Ago

Yankees manager Casey Stengel was arrested for allegedly cursing at and kicking a newspaper photographer during an exhibition game in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was released on $50 bail.

The incident calls to mind a classic and self-aware Stengel quote: “The secret of successful managing is to keep the five guys who hate you away from the four guys who haven’t made up their minds.”

Suddenly, Aaron Boone’s “savages in the box” rant seems downright family-friendly.

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Birthdays

Happy 52nd birthday to 2000 World Series champion Jose Vizcaino, the second baseman who played 73 regular-season games for the Yankees after arriving in a trade from the Dodgers. Vizcaino appeared in four of the team’s five World Series games against the Mets, including a four-hit performance in the opener.

Rounding out our birthday crew are the delightfully named Bill Zuber, Roger Hambright, Rob Refsnyder, and Ramon Flores — as well as utility infielder and man-with-two-first-names Brendan Ryan.

Though Ryan’s bat never took off in the Bronx, he did make the only pitching appearance of his career for the Yankees, throwing two scoreless innings back in August of 2015. Best wishes to Brendan Ryan and all the former Yankees celebrating today!

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