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This Day in Yankees History: Mo reaches milestones on the mound and at the plate

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Plus, the 1939 Yankees put on a power display for the ages during a doubleheader sweep of the Philadelphia A’s

2001 World Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Yankees Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Welcome to the relaunched This Day in Yankees History. With the start of the 2020 season delayed for the foreseeable future for the next few weeks, 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 (June 28)

113 Years Ago

Before he was a pioneering executive, engineering the first modern farm system for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1920s and, most famously and importantly, signing Jackie Robinson for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945 (Robinson would make his MLB debut two years later), Branch Rickey was, well, a pretty crappy baseball player.

On this date in 1907, Rickey was behind the plate for the New York Highlanders (who wouldn’t become the Yankees until 1913) when the Washington Senators stole a mystifying 13 bases over the course of a 16-5 win at Hilltop Park.

Fortunately for him, his greatest successes lay ahead.

81 Years Ago

The Yankees mercilessly walloped the Philadelphia Athletics in a doubleheader on this date in 1939, and in doing so set a handful of records. The Bombers mashed eight home runs in the first game en route to a 23-2 win. The power display set a major league mark for most homers in a single game by one team (the record is currently held by the Toronto Blue Jays, who clubbed 10 round trippers against the Baltimore Orioles on Sept. 14, 1987). Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio (2), George Selkirk, Babe Dahlgren (2), Joe Gordon, and Tommy Henrich all provided fireworks. The team’s 53 total bases also set an American League record.

In the second game of the twin bill, a 10-0 win, the Yanks added five more gopher balls, setting a Major League record for most homers in a doubleheader – a mark that still stands. Frankie Crosetti, Joe Gordon (2), Joe DiMaggio, and Babe Dahlgren were your sluggers.

The festivities also featured a poignant moment when, before Game Two, Lou Gehrig presented the lineup card to the umpires at home plate. The terminally ill Gehrig was forced to give up the game just two months earlier. Even the famously stoic Philadelphia A’s manager Connie Mack, who rarely left the dugout, was moved enough to join Gehrig at home plate and greet him with a handshake.

71 Years Ago

Joe DiMaggio began the 1949 season on the sideline after getting surgery to remove bone spurs on his heels. He missed the first 69 games of the year before returning in style on this date. The Yankee Clipper hit .455 (5-11), with four home runs and nine RBI over the course of a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

11 Years Ago

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera registered his 500th save on this date, sealing a 4-2 victory against the crosstown rival Mets. Rivera joined Trevor Hoffman as the only other pitcher to reach the 500-save mark and they remain alone in that club to this day. Rivera, of course, would go on to set the all-time saves mark with 652 before retiring after the 2013 season. In 2019, he became the first player ever elected unanimously to the Hall of Fame.

But the day was even sweeter for Mo, as he collected the first and only RBI of his career when he drew a bases-loaded walk against Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth inning.

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Celebrating birthdays on this day are Clay Christiansen (who played for the Yankees in 1984), Don Baylor (1983-85), Al Downing (1961-69), Len Boehmer (1969, 1971), and Fred Talbot (1966-69).

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