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This Day in Yankees History: Yanks, Sox play a REALLY long game

Also, a New York sports editor learned a hard lesson about speculating on epidemics

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Game 2 Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The start of the 2020 season is finally underway! The Pinstripe Alley team is going to continue to keep these daily posts that highlight a few key moments in Yankees history on a given date, as well as recognize players born on the day. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

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This Day in Yankees History (August 18)

80 Years Ago

It’s never a good idea to speculate on health issues surrounding players and that’s doubly so when one of them is actually ill. New York Daily News sports editor Jimmy Powers found that out the hard way when he theorized that the Yankees substandard play in the 1940 season was due to a “mass polio epidemic” with Lou Gehrig as patient zero. The former Yankees first baseman, who had to retire the previous season because of a terminal illness that would claim his life in 1941, joined Bill Dickey in filing suit against the paper, which ended up retracting the story and apologizing.

Who knew that spreading epidemic-related misinformation to the public was so dicey?

31 Years Ago

The George Steinbrenner managerial carousel was in full swing in 1989, as the Boss canned manager Dallas Green in his first season with the club in favor of former shortstop and folk hero Bucky Dent. At the time of Green’s firing, the Yanks sat in fifth place with a 56-65 record. Dent, best known for his go-ahead three-run homer against the Boston Red Sox in 1978’s tiebreaker game, would occupy the manager’s office for just 89 games before being fired in the middle of the 1990 season. He compiled a 36-53 record.

Changing managers was Steinbrenner’s game within the game. Before Green, it was Lou Piniella, and before Piniella it was Billy Martin, and before Martin it was Piniella, and before Piniella it was Martin. You get the idea.

14 Years Ago

A favorite pastime of fans, and especially baseball journalists (and baseball commissioners), is complaining about the length of games. They’d have been howling on this date in 2006, when the Yankees and the Red Sox took a record four hours and 45 minutes to complete nine innings. The Yankees came out on top in this 14-11 slugfest at Fenway Park, which saw the two rivals combine for 34 hits.

It was actually the second game of a split doubleheader, which the Yankees swept. Even for the most ardent fans, that’s a lot of baseball.

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Happy birthday to former Yankees reliever Justin Wilson, who pitched one season in the Bronx in 2015 before being traded to the Detroit Tigers for current relievers Chad Green and Luis Cessa. I’d say that trade has worked out. Wilson, now 33, is currently pitching out of the bullpen in Queens.

Also born on this day are former Yankees Marcus Lawton, whose brief major league career spanned just 10 games in 1989; Jim Magnuson, who made eight relief appearances for the Yankees in 1973; Mike Ferraro, who had cups of coffee with the Yanks in 1966 and 1968; and Burleigh Grimes, a Hall of Fame pitcher who spent 10 games in his final season in 1934 in pinstripes.

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