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This Day in Yankee History: The Rivalry Begins

The Yankees and the Red Sox play their first game ever on this date in 1903 — but they weren’t called the Yankees and Red Sox yet!

Playoff Between Boston and New York
Background: A playoff game between the American League’s Boston Pilgrims and the National’s New York Highlanders takes place on October 8, 1904. The Pilgrims eventually won the playoff series, which gave them the AL pennant. No World Series was played that year, however, because the NL winners, the New York Giants, refused to play the Pilgrims.
Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG 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 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

117 Years Ago

The American League team from Boston, known wrongly to posterity as the “Pilgrims,” downs the Highlanders at the Huntington Ave. Grounds by a score of 6-2. Why does that matter? It is the first game between the franchises that will eventually become the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. And so the fiercest rivalry in sports began.

*Note: Bill Nowlin writes that the team never had the official nickname “Pilgrims,” although it is a very commonly-held belief. Until the 1908 season, no actual designation was formally used; instead, a bunch of informal names, such as the “Americans,” were used by the media. In any case, it’s such a confusing story that not even the Red Sox media guide apparently has a coherent narrative.

61 Years Ago

The Yankees and Dodgers played an exhibition game at the Los Angeles Coliseum in front of a crowd of 93,103 to honor Roy Campanella, the paralyzed former Dodger catcher. A pregame ceremony saw Campanella brought onto a candlelit field. The game would hold the record for largest game attendance until 2008, when the Dodgers played another exhibition match at the Coliseum.

21 Years Ago

Hideki Irabu gets the start for the Yankees and Mac Suzuki for the Seattle Mariners in the first matchup of Japanese starters in Major League history. The Yankees won 10-1, with Irabu giving up only four hits in seven innings of work.

20 Years Ago

The Yankees dedicate a plaque in Monument Park to Bob Sheppard, the Voice of the Yankees, in honor of his fifty years as the public address announcer at Yankee Stadium.

3 Years Ago

The longest interleague game in history ends with a Yankees victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. After Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman blew a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth, with the third run scoring after he hit Anthony Rizzo with the bases loaded, the game would go 18 innings and would set a record for most total strikeouts in a game with 48. Aaron Hicks, who struck out four times, scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 18th, while Chasen Shreve tossed three scoreless frames to earn the win. Starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks, pinch hitting for Pedro Strop with runners on first and second, struck out to end it.

Oh, yeah, one more thing: it was the Sunday Night Baseball game.

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