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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47 Years Ago
A pair of Yankees’ legends are elected to the Hall of Fame in the class of 1974 as Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford both receive over 75% of the vote.
Mantle got in on his first ballot, becoming just the seventh player ever to do so. In a world where Hall of Fame voters in this era were normal, Ford and many other would have as well, but alas it was the pitcher’s second time. He just barely squeaked in too, getting 77.8%. Mantle himself got “only” 88.2% of the vote, to further show how stingy voters were at the time.
They were the only two inductees that year, despite it being a fairly loaded ballot, of which another 13 players would eventually be voted in.
25 Years Ago
Not strictly Yankees history, but another notable event on this day is the advent of interleague play.
On this day in 1996, owners approved tentative plans for regular season games between American League and National League teams to begin play as early as the 1997 season. All the details hadn’t been wrinkled out at this point, but 17 months later, the games kicked off. The Yankees’ first would be on June 13, 1997, when they lost 2-1 to the Marlins.
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Happy 55th birthday to Jack McDowell.
The 1993 AL Cy Young only spent one season with the Yankees after coming to New York in a trade ahead of the 1995 season. On the whole, his stats aren’t bad (3.93 ERA, which equates to a perfectly good 118 ERA+), but a couple incidents ensured that he wouldn’t be back or too fondly remembered.
On July 18, 1995 on the back of a bad start to the season, McDowell was booed off the mound following a start where he allowed nine runs on 13 hits in just 4.2 innings against his former White Sox team. He responded to the boos by telling the fans they were #1....with his middle finger.
McDowell rebounded down the stretch, but then he was also the man on the mound for Edgar Martinez’s game-winning hit in Game Five of the ALDS against the Mariners. After the season, the Yankees let him walk in free agency. McDowell further declined over the next couple seasons, last playing in 1999.
Other Yankees with birthdays today include Steve Balboni, Colter Bean, Ron Villone, Zelous Wheeler, and 2013 legend Reid Brignac.
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We thank the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Baseball Reference, and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.