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!
★ ★ ★
This Day in Yankees History (June 19)
25 Years Ago
The New York Yankees signed former Mets superstar Darryl Strawberry to a one-year contract on this date, despite the fact that Strawberry was in the middle of serving a 60-day suspension for drug abuse. Strawberry had spent the previous four seasons with the Dodgers and Giants, quickly falling from MVP candidate to bench player as he struggled with his vices. Strawberry would spend the next five years in pinstripes, contributing off the bench as a key member of the organization’s 1996, ‘98 and ‘99 championships.
12 Years Ago
Yankees prospect Pat Venditte Jr. made his profesional debut with the Staten Island Yankees, pitching a scoreless inning to close out the game. Venditte’s debut became famous for his ambidextrous pitching abilities, which complicated things when he faced off against a switch hitter. Umpires ruled that the batter had to select which box he would use for the rest of the at-bat, and then Venditte could select which arm he would throw with.
Venditte would eventually reach the majors with the Athletics, where his skill would inspire this silly gaff in a newspaper’s headline.
Five Years Ago
Alex Rodriguez, in a renaissance season after missing an entire year due to suspension, blasted a home run off of Justin Verlander for his 3,000th career hit. A-Rod became the 29th member of the exclusive 3,000 hit club, and joined former teammate Derek Jeter — as well as Wade Boggs — in being the only players to do so with a homer. Rodriguez was purely a designated hitter by this point in his career, but to see him then you might’ve been fooled into thinking he still had years left in the tank.
★ ★ ★
There’s a few former Yankees with birthdays today, none more famous than the Iron Horse — Lou Gehrig. Gehrig’s place in the Hall of Fame is well deserved, after a career that consisted of 493 home runs, 1995 RBI and an overall .340/.447/.632 slash line. He won six World Series in pinstripes, including a three-peat from 1936-8 before his abrupt retirement after playing just eight games in the 1939 season due to his battle with ALS.
★ ★ ★
We thank Baseball-Reference, Nationalpastime.com, and FanGraphs for providing background information for these posts.