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This Day in Yankees History: Alfonso Soriano joins elite company

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The pivot man turned outfielder was prolific in both the AL and NL.

New York Yankees v New York Mets Photo by Mike Stobe/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 (May 12)

42 Years Ago

With two down in the bottom of the ninth, Reggie Jackson and Mickey Rivers collided in right-center field while chasing down a routine fly ball struck by the Royals’ Amos Otis. The error turned an easy Goose Gossage save into a walk-off inside-the-park home run for Kansas City, who the Yankees had vanquished in the ALCS the year before on the way to a World Series win.

The Yankees would have the last laugh that season. Gossage recovered to lead the American League in saves, he and Jackson secured All-Star appearances, and the team would again beat the Royals in the ALCS en route to a second consecutive World Series win.

Six Years Ago

In his swan song with the Yankees, 38-year-old right fielder Alfonso Soriano became the seventh MLB player to collect 1,000 hits in both the National League and the American League. The milestone came on a single off Mets starter Bartolo Colon, no stranger to feats of longevity himself.

The achievement placed Soriano in impressive company. Frank Robinson, Dave Winfield, Vladimir Guerrero, Fred McGriff, Orlando Cabrera, and Carlos Lee all pulled off the same trick. Soriano could also boast a unique accomplishment: he was the first player to record 100 home runs, 500 RBI, 500 runs, and 100 stolen bases in both the Junior and Senior Circuits.

Of his career 2,095 hits, a league-leading 209 of them came in the 2002 season for the Yankees. That same year, Soriano stole an AL-best 41 bags, earned a Silver Slugger Award, and made the first of seven All-Star appearances.

Five Years Ago

Giancarlo Stanton became the fourth player to hit a home run all the way out of Dodger Stadium. Mark McGwire accomplished the feat in 1999, Mike Piazza in 1997, and Willie Stargell did it twice, once in 1969 and again in 1973. Stanton’s homer was estimated to have traveled 475 feet.

Unbeknownst to fans in attendance, his mammoth shot was a preview of the prodigious power he would one day flash with the Yankees. In August of 2018, the Herculean outfielder mashed a 449-foot home run to left in the Bronx, setting a Statcast-era record with an exit velocity of 121.7 mph.

Stanton would flex his long ball muscles again that October, when he blasted a big fly down the left field line in a Wild Card matchup against the A’s. The solo shot set the Statcast-era record for the fastest home run exit velocity in postseason play, at 117.3 mph.

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Birthdays

Happy birthday to former Yankees Lance Lynn, Josh Phelps, Felipe Alou, Hank Borowy, Joe Dugan, Al Schulz, and the incomparable Yogi Berra. Berra, a three-time American League MVP and beloved font of folk wisdom, would have turned 95 today.

In addition to his sparkling resume as a player, Berra also managed the Yankees to 99 wins in 1964, the first of two stints he spent at the helm of the Bombers. In the World Series that year, the Yankees lost a seven-game thriller to Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals. It would be the last Yankees World Series appearance until they resurfaced as contenders in 1976.

Berra was the skipper for the crosstown Mets as well. He took the job in 1972, the same year fellow birthday celebrant Felipe Alou collected 90 hits in 120 games for the Yankees.

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