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This Day in Yankees History: Matsui pulls a fast one

Matsui tricked his teammates to win a bet on this day in 2008.

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Yankees, Game 6 Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/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 a few key moments in Yankees history on a given date, as well as recognize players born on the day. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

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This Day in Yankees History (March 27)

79 years ago:

One-hit wonders happened back in the ‘40s, too! The Yankees traded pitcher Steve Sundra to the Washington Senators on this day 79 years ago for cash. After going 11-1 with a 2.76 ERA at age 29 in 1939 (and winning a World Series), Sundra slipped to 4-6 with a 5.53 ERA in 1940 and was booted off the team. He never reached the peaks of his 1939 season again, but was integral in helping the Yankees win their eighth world championship.

Think of him as the first Aaron Small, who infamously went 10-0 at age 33 for the 2005 Yankees, but was off the team less than a year later.

34 years ago:

It’s not explicitly Yankees history, but it definitely impacted the Bombers – on this day 34 years ago, MLB ruled that the designated hitter could be used in American League parks during the World Series. The DH had been around for 13 years prior, but was only used in the World Series in even-numbered years, but in both parks. This hamstrung the Yankees in 1977 and 1981, when they made the Fall Classic but could not use the DH, a position they had used all year. Although the team won in ‘77, they lost in ‘81.

Had this strange rule stayed in place, Hideki Matsui (who was exclusively a DH in 2009) may have never played in the 2009 World Series, the year in which he won World Series MVP. Speaking of “Godzilla”...

12 years ago:

Matsui is one of the most beloved Yankees of recent memory, but he may not have been so revered among his teammates after this gag 12 years ago. Matsui had made a bet in spring training with Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu regarding which one of the three would get married first. Turns out, Matsui had been planning to be married for six months (unbeknownst to his teammates) and promptly cashed in on his bet on this day in history. When asked if he got married merely to win the bet, Matsui said, “Maybe.”

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Birthdays

141 years ago today, legendary Yankees manager Miller Huggins was born. Huggins managed the Yankees from 1918-1929 and made six World Series, winning three. Huggins is one of four managers in Yankees history to win over 1,000 games with the club. He is one of six Yankees to be posthumously immortalized with a physical monument in Monument Park, and a Hall of Famer.

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