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This Day in Yankees History: Mickey Mantle sent down

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A legend is demoted and a pair of trades reshape the 2000s Yankees’ bullpen.

Mickey Mantle Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/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 couple 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 (July 16)

69 years ago

Mickey Mantle is demoted to Double-A Kansas City after stumbling out of the gate in his rookie campaign. The Mick, at the time, was wearing #6, and had a terrible initial run in the minors as well, going 0-22 to begin his assignment. The fateful phone call with Mantle’s father followed, and the rookie turned his season around, batting .361 for the Blues and earning a role back with the major league club. The rest, as they say, is history.

Mantle’s early struggle should serve as a good reminder for us all if Jasson Dominguez goes 3-38 to start the 2023 season.

17 years ago

Do you all remember Armando Benítez? The Yankees traded for the troubled Mets closer in 2003, to give Mariano Rivera some reinforcement at the back of the bullpen. Benítez’s surface stats were okay — two runs and 10 strikeouts in 9.1 innings — but he allowed 14 baserunners in that limited action, which isn’t something you want from a guy who is supposed to be a high-leverage reliever. The Yankees dealt him in a waiver deal for Jeff Nelson shortly after.

15 years ago

We have another trade! This time, Al Leiter came back to the Bronx in exchange for a PTBNL. Leiter made an immediate impact on July 17, throwing 6.1 innings of one run ball against the division leading Red Sox. Leiter would eventually move to the bullpen of his own volition by the end of the year, and retired during spring training the following year.

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