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This Day in Yankees History: A-Rod makes his 2009 return

Alex Rodriguez comes back from hip surgery to start a magical season.

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/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 8)

59 Years Ago

The Yankees shipped outfielder/first baseman Lee Thomas, reliever Johnny James, and hard-throwing hurler Ryne Duren to the Angels in exchange for righty bullpen arm Tex Clevenger and outfielder Bob Cerv, who would don the pinstripes for the third time in his career.

Cerv had a quiet, though respectable, 1961 season with the Yankees. In 131 plate appearances he had only 6 home runs, but perhaps he had his own special influence on the team’s long ball exploits that year.

After joining the team, Bob Cerv shared an apartment in New York with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Cerv’s roomies combined for 115 home runs, with Maris breaking Babe Ruth’s magical home run record in the final game of the season.

52 Years Ago

Hall-of-Fame righty Catfish Hunter threw a perfect game, the first in the American League since 1922. Hunter’s performance helped the Oakland A’s defeat the Minnesota Twins, though just 6,298 fans were on hand to see it.

Hunter would go on to win three consecutive World Series with the A’s from 1972-1974, before bringing his championship pedigree to the Yankees in 1975. Coming off a Cy Young Award in his final campaign with Oakland, Hunter tossed a staggering 51 complete games and 626.2 innings combined in his first two seasons in pinstripes.

Though his production declined steeply in the ensuing years, he did bag two more World Series rings with the Bombers in the following two seasons.

11 Years Ago

Alex Rodriguez made a triumphant return to the Yankees lineup after undergoing hip surgery in March. Rodriguez belted the first pitch he saw, a 98-mph Jeremy Guthrie fastball, out of Camden Yards for a home run. The three-run shot helped the Yankees snap a five-game skid, and was a portent of things to come in 2009.

After clobbering 30 home runs in 124 regular season games, Rodriguez finally broke out of his postseason doldrums for the Yankees that October, finishing the playoffs with a .365 average, six home runs, and a brand new World Series ring.

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Birthdays

Happy birthday to former Yankees Todd Greene, Orestes Destrade, Art Lopez, and Red Hoff. Among the birthday boys, only Red Hoff appeared for the Bombers in more than a single season.

Born in 1891, Hoff last played for the organization in 1913, the year the New York Highlanders became the Yankees. He passed away on September 17th, 1998 at the ripe old age of 107, eight days after the juggernaut Yankees clinched the American League East en route to a World Series victory and one of the most dominant seasons of all time.

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