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This Day in Yankees History: Ted Williams manages against the Yanks

The Yankees beat the Senators on Williams’ debut for the Washington, D.C. club.

New York Yankees v Washington Senators Photo by John Olson/The LIFE Picture Collection via 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 7)

51 Years Ago

The legendary Ted Williams made his managerial debut, helming the Washington Senators against Ralph Houk and the New York Yankees. The game, which the Yankees won 8-4, was held in front of 45,113 fans at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., the largest Opening Day crowd in franchise history. President Richard Nixon was on hand to throw out the first pitch, which, in retrospect, was probably a bad omen for the Splendid Splinter’s Washington career.

Though the team finished a respectable 86-76 in 1969, Williams’ three-year tenure as the Senators’ skipper never approached the storied heights he reached as a player. He followed his maiden season with two successive losing campaigns, and finished his time in Washington with a .453 winning percentage — 29 points lower than his career OBP, the best in Major League history.

8 Years Ago

39-year-old Detroit reliever and one-time Yankees pitcher Octavio Dotel threw 1.1 scoreless innings against the Red Sox, breaking a Major League record in the process. The Tigers were Dotel’s 13th team, elevating him above Mike Morgan, Matt Stairs, and Ron Villone as the player with appearances for the most teams in MLB history.

In addition to the Tigers and Yankees, Dotel also played for the Mets, Astros, Athletics, Royals, Braves, White Sox, Pirates, Dodgers, Rockies, Blue Jays, and Cardinals. Among his thirteen stops, his time in the Bronx was one of the least successful. Dotel threw just 10 innings for the Bombers back in 2006, allowing 18 hits, 11 walks, and 12 earned runs.

Dotel’s record was surpassed in May of last year, when veteran reliever Edwin Jackson — who never appeared for the Yankees, for what it’s worth — pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays, the 14th different team of his big league career.

6 Years Ago

The Yankees traded utility man Eduardo Nunez to the Minnesota Twins for left-handed pitcher Miguel Sulbaran, who last pitched for the Yankees in 2015 with the Trenton Thunder. Though Nunez never lit the world on fire with the Bombers — he produced an 88 OPS+ in four seasons in the Bronx — he did become the best player in the history of the world in an alternate, virtual timeline.

Nunez saw time with the Red Sox last season, and was a non-roster invitee with the Mets during spring training in 2020. Unfortunately for Nunez, his original big league team hasn’t been kind to him; the infielder has struck out 29 times in his career versus the Yankees, more than he had against any other club.

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Birthdays

Happy birthday to Oral Hildebrand, the Yankees pitcher born on this day in 1907, who passed away at age 70 in 1977. The righty spent the final two seasons of his decade-long career with the Yankees, winning the World Series in 1939. That year, Hildebrand posted an excellent 143 ERA+ and 1.129 WHIP, while registering just 50 strikeouts in 126.2 innings pitched. And in case we need another reminder how much baseball has changed in the last 80 years, he also logged seven complete games while compiling a 10-4 record in only 15 starts.

Happy birthday to Mr. Hildebrand, a Yankee and a World Series champion!

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