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This day in Yankees history: Baseball honors the Babe and Reggie returns

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The Bambino pays one of his final visits to Yankee Stadium as the entire league celebrates Babe Ruth Day; Reggie Jackson takes Ron Guidry deep as an Angel.

Bucky Harris and Babe Ruth in New York Yankees Dugout

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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73 years ago

An ailing Babe Ruth made one of his final visits to Yankee Stadium on this date in 1947 as Major League Baseball proclaimed Babe Ruth Day all around the league. Ruth, noticeably gaunt, appeared before a crowd of roughly 58,000 people to express his thanks for what “the best game in the world” had given him.

Ruth was suffering from cancer and actually responded well to experimental chemotherapy during the summer of 1947, continuing to travel and make public appearances, but the recovery was only temporary. His health took a turn for the worse in late 1947 and declined further in 1948. His final Yankee Stadium appearance came on June 5 of that year, famously photographed in his old no. 3 uniform as he leaned on a bat for support. He died August 16 at the age of 53 and lay in state at Yankee Stadium as tens of thousands of fans paid their respects.

Babe Ruth Photo by Ralph Morse/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

38 years ago

Reggie Jackson returned to Yankee Stadium in dramatic fashion on this date in 1982, homering off former teammate Ron Guidry to propel his new team, the California Angels, to a 3-1 rain-shortened win.

Jackson, then 35, left New York as a free agent following the 1981 season, which ended with the Yankees losing the World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Yankees’ attempts to re-sign the slugger appeared half-hearted, as Jackson insisted on being guaranteed a regular spot in the outfield. Owner George Steinbrenner refused to make such a commitment.

Jackson was struggling mightily to start the ’82 season and entered the series against the Yankees slashing .173/.279/.173. But in the top of the 7th inning, he crushed a pitch from Guidry into the right field upper deck. The crowd, still smarting over the team’s decision to let him walk, gave Reggie a standing ovation and he responded with a curtain call. Chants of “Reg-gie’ soon gave way to “Steinbrenner sucks.” In later years, Steinbrenner himself would say letting Jackson leave was one of his biggest regrets as owner.

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