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This Day in Yankees History: The Yankees acquire Elston Howard

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July 19, 1950 marks the first step that the Yankees made towards integration, as they purchased the contracts of Elston Howard and Frank Barnes from the Kansas City Monarchs.

MLB Photos Archive Photo by Louis Requena/MLB Photos

Welcome to the relaunched This Day in Yankees History. With the start of the 2020 season delayed for the foreseeable future for four more days, 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 19)

100 Years Ago

Babe Ruth becomes the first player in baseball history to hit 30 home runs in one season with a home run off Dickey Kerr of the Chicago White Sox to break the previous MLB record of 29, set by him the previous season. Ruth would finish the season with 54 home runs, and only the Philadelphia Phillies would combine to hit more home runs than him (besides the Yankees, of course).

70 Years Ago

The Yankees purchase the contracts of Elston Howard and Frank Barnes, the first two black players in the Yankees’ organization, from the Kansas City Monarchs, the longest-running team in the Negro Leagues. They were both assigned to the Muskegon Clippers farm team. Howard would later become the first black player to play for the New York Yankees when he made his Major League debut on April 14, 1955.

12 Years Ago

In a minor league matchup between the Staten Island Yankees and the Brooklyn Cyclones, switch-hitting DH Ralph Henriquez Jr. comes up to bat against switch-pitcher Pat Venditte. After both players switched sides multiple times before a pitch was thrown, the umpires and managers are forced to confer to establish rules so that the game could continue. They decide that Henriquez must choose first, and Venditte, pitching right-handed, eventually strikes him out.

Afterward, MLB was forced to implement the Pat Venditte rule, which states that an ambidextrous pitcher must declare which arm he will use in an at-bat; this was the opposite decision made by the umpires during the game.

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Birthdays

Happy 38th birthday to former Yankee reliever Phil Coke! Originally drafted by the Yankees in the 26th round of the 2002 draft, Coke made his Major League debut with the Yankees on September 1, 2008. In his first full season, he filled in as a lefty specialist and middle reliever for the 2009 World Series champions, before being traded to the Detroit Tigers in the three-way deal that brought Curtis Granderson to the Bronx.

He attempted to make a comeback with the Yankees in 2016, but was designated for assignment after three appearances. Coke officially retired in 2018.

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