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This Day in Yankee History: A-Rod saves a life

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Gehrig’s final four-baggers; Reggie makes it rain; Maris makes a deal; the infamous Stadium roof collapse; A-Rod turns lifesaver; Swisher shows his versatility

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

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 several 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 (April 13)

81 Years Ago

In a spring exhibition game, a noticeably diminished Lou Gehrig still manages to slug two home runs, one in the second and one in the ninth. The Yankees would go on to lose the game 14-12 to the Brooklyn Dodgers. ALS was taking its toll on the Iron Horse, as these were the last home runs he would hit in his career.

42 Years Ago

Carrying over his streak from the previous year’s World Series game six, Reggie Jackson launches his fourth home run in four at-bats. The three-run shot in the top of the first inning set the table for the Yankees’ 4-2 home-opener win over the White Sox. The game would be delayed as fans rained Reggie! Bars down onto the field. The short-lived candy bar commemorated his Mr. October performance, and was handed out to every fan as they entered the stadium.

42 Years Ago

During a pre-game ceremony for that game, Roger Maris made his first return to Yankee Stadium after his trade to the Cardinals following the 1966 season. He was invited to the stadium to help Mickey Mantle hoist the team’s 1977 World Series banner. Maris was reluctant to revisit Yankee Stadium, and only did so after securing a promise from George Steinbrenner to install grass and lights at his children’s school baseball field in Gainesville, Florida.

22 Years Ago

Prior to a night game against the Angels, “A 500-pound concrete and steel beam suspended beneath the upper deck of Yankee Stadium came loose and crashed into the empty seats below.” The collapse, which occurred around 3 P.M. that afternoon, caused that night’s game as well as the following game to be postponed, one of which was rescheduled across town at Shea Stadium.

There had long been grumblings about the integrity of the infrastructure of the 75-year-old stadium. George Steinbrenner had been recently lobbying for funding for a new stadium, and the fact that the fallen beam was an original part of the stadium’s 1923 construction gave credence to his view that old Yankee Stadium was “unsuited for modern sports and entertainment.” David Cone echoed these sentiments in his belief that “Yankee Stadium is crumbling.”

15 Years Ago

Along a busy street in Boston, Alex Rodriguez went from superstar to superhero. Eight-year-old Patrick McCarthy was about to run into Newbury Street traffic when he was saved by Rodriguez. A-Rod prevented him from darting in front of an approaching truck, holding out his arm while saying “Whoa, watch out, buddy.” And the icing on the cake: A-Rod was the young boy’s favorite player.

11 Years Ago

Nick Swisher becomes the first Yankees position player since Wade Boggs in 1997 to pitch in a game. During a 15-5 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field in which Chien-Ming Wang only went one inning, Swisher volunteered to take the mound to preserve the bullpen. He pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth, throwing 22 pitches, allowing a hit and a walk, as well as striking out Gabe Kapler.

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Birthdays

Today is Steve Pearce’s 37th birthday. The first baseman had an entirely unmemorable tenure with the Yankees, only playing twelve game with the team in 2012 before being designated for assignment. He is most well-known for winning the 2018 World Series MVP with the Red Sox. His other distinctions of note include being the only player in history to hit two walk-off grand slams in a single week, as well as being one of two players in history to have played for every AL East team.

Also born on this day in 1915 was Oscar Grimes. The third baseman played for the Yankees from 1943 to 1946, and put up his best numbers between 1945 and 1946, averaging 118 OPS+ and 125 wRC+. He had the misfortune of playing in a brief lull in the Yankees stretch of championships, as they won the World Series in the seasons directly before and after his Yankees career.

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