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This Day in Yankees History: Lou Gehrig makes his debut

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The Iron Horse made his first appearance, as a defensive replacement, nearly a century ago today,

Lou Gehrig Photo by Hulton Archive/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 (June 11)

97 years ago

In a blowout win over the St. Louis Browns, Lou Gehrig makes his major-league debut as a defensive replacement, taking over first base for Wally Pipp. Gehrig ended up recording the final out of the 10-0 victory, retiring Jack Tobin on a groundout to first. Gehrig wouldn’t take his first turn at the plate until later in the week. He only managed 29 plate appearances during his debut campaign, but did hit .423/.464/.769, a brief sign of things to come.

44 years ago

The Orioles and Yankees engaged in a monumental trade, at least in terms of sheer size. The O’s sent pitchers Ken Holtzman, Jimmy Freeman, Grant Jackson and Doyle Alexander, as well as catcher Elrod Hendricks to New York. The Yankees sent pitchers Tippy Martinez, Scott McGregor, Rudy May, and Dave Pagan, and catcher Rick Dempsey. The five players sent New York’s way ended up having little impact. Jackson probably fared best, managing a 1.69 ERA in 21 appearances and 58.2 innings in the 1976 season before heading to the Mariners the next year in an expansion draft.

1 year ago

I can’t tell if this one feels like it happened just yesterday, or much longer than one year ago. The Yankees acquired Edwin Encarnacion, then leading the AL with 21 homers, in exchange for minor-league pitcher Juan Then. Encarnacion dealt with occasional slumps and injuries during his half-season in the Bronx, but still managed to contribute a robust 123 OPS+, to go along with 13 more dingers in 44 games.

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Today, we wish a happy 33rd birthday to Eduardo Nunez. If you missed our series in which we turned Nunez into the greatest player of all time using Out of the Park Baseball, check it out here. It’s also Andy Pettitte’s 48th birthday, and Wade Boggs’ 62nd birthday. Boggs hit .312 in five seasons with the Yankees, helping win the 1996 World Series. Finally, it’s Ramiro Mendoza’s 48th birthday. Mendoza produced a 112 ERA+ across eight seasons with the New York, contributing to all four of the team’s titles between 1996 and 2000. Regrettably, he also was a member of the 2004 Red Sox team.

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