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This Day in Yankees History: Boomer returns to the Bronx

The Yankees reunited with an old friend on this day in 2002.

Houston Astros v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Welcome to This Day in Yankees History. The New Year is upon us, and the winter hot stove continues to percolate. That being said, there has not been much movement on the Yankees’ front as of yet, so in the meantime let’s dig into the history books. 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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37 Years Ago

A judge rules that the Yankees cannot play their first three home games in 1983 in Denver.

Back in November, the Yankees and George Steinbrenner had attempted to move their first home series of the upcoming season to Denver at the Broncos’ Mile High Stadium. There were fears that renovations on Yankee Stadiums overtaken in the offseason would not be ready by Opening Day.

However, the Yankees and New York City had an agreement that the team would play every home game in the stadium through the year 2002. The judge also criticized them attempting to go all the way out to Denver when they potentially could’ve looked to the Mets’ Shea Stadium. In the end, the series was played in the Bronx with a slightly reduced capacity.

18 Years Ago

A little less than three years after trading him away, the Yankees agree to bring back David Wells.

“Boomer” was included in a February 1999 deal with the Blue Jays that sent him and others to Toronto in exchange for Roger Clemens. In Toronto, Wells had a league average-ish season in 1999, followed by a really good campaign in 2000, one that saw him finish third in Cy Young voting. After that season, he was traded to the White Sox, where he had another league-average season, albeit one shortened by back surgery.

Wells hit the free agent market after that year, and the Yankees decided to bring him back on a two-year, $7 million deal. It was a strange saga that saw the lefty initially come toa handshake deal with Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo, only to renege on it four days later after George Steinbrenner convinced him to return over lunch. The second go-around didn’t go as great as his World Series-winning, perfect game-throwing first tenure, although he put up a solid 112 ERA+ in those two years. However, his final appearance as a Yankees would last just one inning, as he had to leave Game Five of the 2003 World Series early with an injury.

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On this day in 1888, Del Pratt was born.

Pratt had a 13-year major league career, playing from 1912-24. He was one of the best second basemen of his era, having some very good seasons early in his career with the St. Louis Browns.

He came to the Yankees in a 1918 trade. Pratt gave the Yankees three good seasons and was called “the man who put the ball club on its feet” by manager Miller Huggins. However, his time in New York was often tumultuous, including one time where he nearly walked away from baseball to coach the University of Alabama football team. In 1920, he signed a contract to coach the University of Michigan baseball team, among reports that he was part of a contingent try to get Huggins fired. The Yankees decided they finally had enough and traded him to the Red Sox after ‘20, among more reports that Pratt himself was trying to get Huggins’ job. The deal most notably landed them future Hall of Fame pitcher Waite Hoyt, who was an ace on the Yankees’ first three World Series winning teams.

Pratt spent two seasons in Boston and two with the Tigers, but never quite reached the same highs from earlier in his career.

Other Yankees with birthdays today are Bob Brower and Richard Dotson.

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We thank SABR, the New York Times, Baseball Reference, and for providing background information for these posts.