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This Day in Yankees History: the Yankees play at Shea

The Yankees use the first DH, the team opens its 1974 season at Shea Stadium, and the 2003 Yankees flex their depth

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees

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 (April 6)

47 years ago

A new era was born in baseball 47 years ago today, when the Yankees’ Ron Blomberg became the first designated hitter in MLB history vs. the Red Sox. He went 1-3 and collected an RBI on a bases-loaded walk. Blomberg slashed an impressive .329/.395/.498 that season, splitting time between DH and first base. His success and comfort in the role may well have played a large part in the DH becoming a permanent part of the American League.

Also, in news that would eventually frustrate George Costanza, the Yankees officially switched from flannel to polyester uniforms this same day, becoming the final team in the American League to make this switch.

46 years ago

While the old Yankee Stadium was being renovated, the Yankees kicked off their two-year stint playing home games at Shea Stadium on this day 46 years ago with a 6-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians. The game featured a home run from Graig Nettles, a warning to Gaylord Perry for an alleged spitball, and the absence of George Steinbrenner, who had just been indicted for illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon.

17 years ago

The 2003 Yankees are one of the best teams that didn’t win the World Series. Eight of the nine regular offensive starters posted an OPS+ of over 100, the rotation included Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina and David Wells, and Mariano Rivera had one of his best seasons.

The depth on the roster was so incredible that on this day in 2003, the Yankees beat the Devil Rays 10-5 without Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams in the lineup. Alfonso Soriano and Nick Johnson hit back-to-back home runs to open the game, and Clemens picked up the 295th victory of his career.

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Birthdays

Happy birthday to former Yankees first baseman Andy Phillips, who turns 43 today. Phillips was a late bloomer, who toiled in the minors for parts of seven seasons before finally earning a full-time gig with the Yankees in 2006, which he spent playing first base while Jason Giambi primarily acted as the designated hitter. He endured several ups and downs on the field, which Pinstripe Alley alum Jason Cohen profiled quite well in 2013.

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