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This Day in Yankees History: Estrada joins “Next Man Up”

The utility man makes his debut in pinstripes.

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

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 (April 14)

40 Years Ago

Former Yankee reliever Joe Page passed away at the age of 62. Nicknamed “Fireman,” Page occupied the role of closer for the Yankees before such a role was defined or widely recognized. Featuring for the Yankees from 1944 to 1950, Page was a three-time All-Star, twice leading the American League in saves.

Though Page’s performance declined sharply in 1950, leading to his exclusion from that year’s World Series roster, the lefty was a champion in 1947 and 1949, earning the inaugural Babe Ruth Award for his performance in the latter series, given to the player with the best performance in the postseason.

50 years later, fellow Yankees closer Mariano Rivera would win the award for his performance en route to the Bombers’ 25th World Series win.

26 Years Ago

Another Mickey Mantle record fell, this time at the hands of Eddie Murray. The switch-hitter, known as “Steady Eddie” to fans, went yard both left-handed and right-handed as the designated hitter for Cleveland in a 10-6 victory against Minnesota in the Metrodome. The feat made it 11 times in his career Murray had homered from both sides of the plate in the same game, one better than the previous record set by Mantle in 1964.

Murray, who was later inducted into the Hall of Fame, finished with 504 home runs in 21 seasons, nabbing a Rookie of the Year nod, three Gold Gloves and three Silver Slugger Awards as a first baseman, as well as a World Series title with Philadelphia along the way.

One Year Ago

Thairo Estrada played his first game as a New York Yankee. Estrada, a utility man hailing from Venezuela, made his debut as a 23-year-old in a 10-inning victory for the Yankees over the Kansas City Royals.

After Mike Tauchman and Gio Urshela worked leadoff walks to start the 10th, Estrada dropped a sacrifice bunt against former Yankee Ian Kennedy to move both runners into scoring position, setting up Austin Romine to deliver a game-winning single.

Estrada’s debut season produced a modest slash line of .250/.294/.438, but he started strong, contributing to the magical “Next Man Up” spirit that buoyed the team through its injury-riddled 2019. At the end of May, Estrada was slashing .304/.347/.565 in 23 games, good for a sparkling .912 OPS.

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Birthdays

Happy 63rd birthday to former Yankee reliever Jesse Orosco. Orosco came up with the Mets, making his debut in 1979, and was a key bullpen arm for the club in their dramatic 1986 World Series win, earning the save in the deciding Game Seven. His best year came in 1983, when he registered a 1.47 ERA and finished third in National League Cy Young voting.

In a career that spanned 24 years and nine different franchises, Orosco achieved a unique distinction: he pitched in 1252 games, more than any pitcher in the annals of Major League Baseball. Of those games a mere 15 of them were played in a Yankees uniform, as part of his age-46 season in 2003.

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