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This Day in Yankees History: Two legends pass away

Owners of retired numbers ten and seven pass almost exactly thirteen years apart, and a former Yankee still in the Show celebrates his 29th.

Yankee Legend Phil ‘The Scooter’ Rizzuto Dies at 89 Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

Welcome to This Day in Yankees History. The season may be underway, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a trip into the past. 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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25 Years Ago

Mickey Mantle’s death the previous night in Dallas at age 63 makes front page news around the country. The “All American Boy” died with a liver wrought by hepatitis, cirrhosis, and cancer, all resulting from his legendary penchant for imbibition. Mantle lived by an off-day regiment of a “Breakfast of Champions,” which he described as, “a big glass filled with a shot or more of brandy, some Kahlúa and cream.” As the day continued, he’d “often keep on drinking until I couldn’t drink anymore,” Mantle regularly followed his “Breakfast” by drinking three or four bottles of wine over the course of an afternoon. The Mantle family had a prolific history of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as five male Mantles succumbed to the disease including Mickey’s father and son. It was his father’s death when Mantle was only 19 that drove him to drink, “I was devastated, and that’s when I started drinking. I guess alcohol helped me escape the pain of losing him.” For much of his life, Mantle presumed his early demise to Hodgkins lymphoma would preempt any long-term damage his self-destructive drinking might cause. Though he eventually reversed course, as detailed in Sports Illustrated, his liver was long-shot even by the time he retired.

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13 Years Ago

The rightful owner of number ten in Monument Park, Phil Rizzuto, dies of pneumonia after spending several years in declining condition. A one-time MVP and seven-time World Series champion, “The Scooter” was noted for his exquisite glove and ability to set the table for the stacked lineup behind him; a lineup that at times included Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, and Mickey Mantle. After the conclusion of his playing career, the five-foot, six-inch, 150 pound spark-plug shared his infectious energy with Yankee fans at-large, punctuating nearly four decades of Yankee games on radio and television with his signature, “Holy Cow!”

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Current Cardinals reliever Giovanny Gallegos turns 29. After coming up through the Bombers’ farm system and a middling stint at the back end of the rotation (playing only 22 innings in pinstripes), the Yankees traded Gallegos to the Cards in 2018 along with Chasen Shreve for Luke Voit. In a rare win-win move, Gallegos has improved as a Cardinal, posting a 2.31 ERA and 185 ERA+ for the Redbirds last season, while the Yankees took Voit’s history as a replacement-level first baseman and turned him into one of the most consistent sluggers in the American League whilst healthy.