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This Day in Yankees History: Happy birthday, Charlie Keller

One of the best hitters in Yankees history was born on this day.

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Photo by: Diamond Images/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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88 Years Ago

Thanks to an 8-3 win over Cleveland, the Yankees officially clinch the 1932 AL pennant. Their 100th win puts with 12.5 games ahead of the Athletics, who only have 12 games to play. The pennant is Joe McCarthy’s first with the Yankees, also making him the first manager to win one in both the AL and NL. The Yankees would go on to sweep McCarthy’s former team, the Cubs, in the World Series, with game three featuring Babe Ruth’s famous “called shot.”

24 Years Ago

Bernie Williams was on fire, driving home eight runs in a 12-3 victory over the Tigers. He recorded three hits (two home runs and a single) in the performance. Four of the RBI came on an ninth inning grand slam off Jose Lima. Several other Yankees have also had eight RBI games, but there are only three who have put up more in a game.

7 Years Ago

The 2013 season was weird and dumb and apparently this day featured the most 2013 game possible. In a game against the Orioles, the Yankees scored the go ahead and eventually winning run thanks to the following things: a Brendan Ryan single, an error made on a Chris Stewart bunt, and a wild pitch allowing Ryan to score. Other 2013 legends to feature in this game include Mark Reynolds, Vernon Wells, and Lyle Overbay.

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Happy birthday Charlie “King Kong” Keller!

The outfielder, known for his strength, made his debut in 1939 and would spend the next decade as one of the best hitters for the Yankees, helping them to three World Series titles. From ‘39 to ‘47, he put up a 158 OPS+, even showing no rust when he missed the ‘44 and part of the ‘45 season while serving in the military. In that time, he had four seasons of over six WAR according to Baseball Reference. He fell off a bit in the ‘48 and ‘49 seasons, leading the Yankees to let him go.

The Tigers picked him up and he bounced back in a part-time role, helping Detroit run his former team close for the pennant. After leaving Detroit, he returned to the Yankees in ‘52, playing two games before finally retiring. For his career in pinstripes, Keller put up a 153 OPS+ in 4466 plate appearances. Of players with at least that many PAs, only Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Joe DiMaggio have a higher OPS+.

Other Yankees with birthdays today include Spud Chandler, Steve Garrison, and Keith Hughes.

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