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This Day in Yankees History: David Wells is perfect

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Roger Maris starts his home run binge, David Wells achieves baseball immortality, Jason Giambi has his signature moment, Johnny Damon completes Walk-Off Weekend

Photo File Photo by Photo File/MLB Photos via Getty Images

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 (May 17)

59 years ago

Roger Maris had already played 28 games to this point in 1961 — slashing a weak .208/.345/.323 with just three home runs — but that changed today, when Maris popped his first dinger of the season at Yankee Stadium. From this day on, Maris slashed .281/.378/.678 with an incredible 58 home runs and 130 RBI in 133 games en route to his second straight MVP, the single-season home run record and a World Series championship.

22 years ago

David Wells may have partied hard on May 16, 1998, but he could do no wrong on the diamond the next day. Wells sat down all 27 Twins batters he faced, pitching the second perfect game in Yankees history. It was quite a prolific period for Yankees pitching – Dwight Gooden pitched a no-hitter in 1996, Wells was perfect in 1998, David Cone was perfect in 1999, and Mike Mussina was one batter away from another perfecto in 2001. Wells struck out 11 Twins and held future Hall of Famer Paul Molitor to an 0-for-3 performance in the 4-0 Yankees win.

18 years ago

Jason Giambi authored his “Signature Yankees Moment” on this day versus the Twins in 2002. The Yankees were down by three in the 14th inning, but loaded the bases for the team’s pricey acquisition. Giambi promptly delivered the “Ultimate Grand Slam,” unloading the bases and giving the Yankees a come-from-behind 13-12 win. The teams combined for 40 hits in the game, but Giambi’s was undoubtedly the loudest.

11 years ago

“Walk-off Weekend” ended for the Yankees on this date in 2009, when Johnny Damon delivered a walk-off home run in the 10th inning against the Twins (what is it about May 17 and debilitating losses to the Yankees for the Twins?). Melky Cabrera walked things off on Friday, Alex Rodriguez followed on Saturday and Damon kept the good vibes rolling on a weekend that got the 2009 Yankees on a run they’d never look back from.

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Birthdays

A few Yankees have May 17 birthdays, including Ben Gamel, a former outfield prospect who has gone on to a respectable career for the Mariners and Brewers. Early 1990s pitcher Pascual Perez and mid-1970s outfielder Carlos May also celebrate birthdays today.

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