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 21)
90 years ago
On this day 90 years ago, Babe Ruth hit three home runs vs. the Philadelphia Athletics in the first game of a doubleheader. Feeling confident, the famous left-handed slugger strode to the plate in the ninth inning batting ... right-handed? Ruth fell behind two strikes, switched back to his familiar southpaw stance, and ultimately struck out. Amazingly, the Yankees lost this game 15-7 despite four team home runs, thanks to a nine-run seventh inning from the A’s.
16 years ago
Alex Rodriguez returned to Texas on this day in 2004, receiving loud boos from the crowd. After committing more than $250 million to Rodriguez, the Rangers traded him to the Yankees three years into the deal. A-Rod hit a homer in his first appearance at his old ballpark, but the Yankees fell 9-7 to the Rangers.
6 years ago
The Yankees defeated the Cubs six years ago with one of the most bizarre rallies you’ll see. After Jeff Samardzija shut the Yankees out over seven innings, the Yankees rallied in the ninth to tie the game thanks to an RBI force out from Ichiro Suzuki and a throwing error from Darwin Barney. Matt Daley, Matt Thornton and Preston Claiborne held the score for four innings, and the Yankees eventually won it in the 14th inning on a wild pitch that scored Brendan Ryan and an RBI single from John Ryan Murphy. Derek Jeter went just 1-7 in the unusual win.
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There are three significant Yankees birthdays today, including Andrew Miller, who won the AL Reliever of the Year award (named after Mariano Rivera) with the Yankees in 2015. Miller was excellent for the Yankees, but traded less than two years into his tenure for a package centered around Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield, the latter of which was eventually dealt for James Paxton.
Hall of Fame Braves manager Bobby Cox turns 79 today, but not everyone may know that he played third base for the Yankees from 1968-69 in his only MLB action. Cox also started his managerial career in the Yankees’ minor league system before his big break with Atlanta.
Finally, Hank Johnson, who pitched more than 150 games for the Yankees from 1925-1932, was born on this day in 1906. Johnson never pitched in the playoffs for those clubs, but was around two World Series champion teams. He was also a good hitter for a pitcher, hitting .215 and driving in 32 runs while scoring 48 over his career.
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We thank Baseball-Reference, Nationalpastime.com, and FanGraphs for providing background information for these posts.