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This Day in Yankees History: The Copacabana Incident, a crazy comeback win

Several notable Yankees got in a tussle on this day in 1957.

New York Yankees

Welcome to This Day in Yankees History. With the start of the 2020 season delayed for the foreseeable future, the Pinstripe Alley team decided to take a look back through history. 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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88 Years Ago

Lefty Gomez throws nine scoreless frames against Cleveland to give the Yankees their fourth-consecutive shutout win. Johnny Allen, George Pipgras, and Red Ruffing had kept the Browns, White Sox, and Indians respectively off the board in the three prior games. The streak was snapped the following day, leaving the Yankees two games short of the 1903 Pirates’ record of six-consecutive shutouts.

63 Years Ago

Billy Martin, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and Hank Bauer go to the Copacabana night club to celebrate Martin’s birthday in a night that ends in a brawl.

The players and their wives went out to the club to see Sammy Davis Jr. when they encountered some other patrons heckling Davis. After a back-and-forth, a fight broke out, leaving one person with a concussion and broken jaw. The Yankees’ players were fined and a lawsuit was brought against Bauer, but later dropped for lack of evidence.

The incident would become one of the main reasons the Yankees would trade Martin later that season.

14 Years Ago

After trailing by nine runs following the top of the second, the Yankees came all the way back to beat the Rangers 14-13.

Yankees’ starter Shawn Chacon would last just 1.1 innings, allowing six runs. Aaron Small came in for him, and allowed a three-run home run, leaving the Yankees with just a 3% chance at victory, according to win expectancy. The offense slowly chipped away, scoring one in the second, two in the third, two in the fifth, and then six in the sixth, giving the Yankees an 11-10 lead.

Scott Proctor would give that lead back in the top of the seventh, but the Yankees again rallied to tie the game. Then in the ninth, after all that, it appear things would still go against the Yankees as Texas again took the lead in the top of the ninth. However, Johnny Damon led off the bottom of the inning with a single, and a few batters later, Jorge Posada hit a two-out home run to give the Yankees one of the wildest wins in recent memory.

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As you could guess considering one of the above stories, today is Billy Martin’s birthday.

Martin won four World Series titles as a player and one as a manager with the Yankees. While he was a contributor and regular starter as a player on those championship teams (including a potential series saving catch of a Jackie Robinson popup in 1952), he was far more known for his time in the dugout.

He was first hired as Yankees manager in 1975 after previous stints as skipper for the Twins, Tigers, and Rangers. He led them back to the World Series in 1976 and then to a championship the following season. After a slow start to the 1978 campaign, George Steinbrenner fired Martin, which would become a theme. Martin would have four further stints as Yankees’ manager. However, thanks to his fiery personality and Steinbrenner being extremely trigger happy, none of his other tenures lasted longer than a season.

In December 1989, he reportedly began getting in contact with former coaches, telling them to get ready for him to take over again. Steinbrenner was supposedly going to turn to Martin for a sixth stint should Bucky Dent’s 1990 team get off to a slow start. That would never end up happening as Martin died in a car accident on December 25, 1989 at 61 years-old.

Other Yankees with birthdays today include Jim Mecir, Rick Rhoden, Rick Reuschel, and Stubby Overmire.

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We thank Baseball-Reference, SABR, and for providing background information for these posts.