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This Day in Yankees History: A-Rod picks a side in the 2006 World Baseball Classic

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Initially, Rodriguez said he wouldn’t play in the tournament, as he didn’t want to offend either the U.S. or Dominican Republic.

WBC: USA v Canada Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/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 we will 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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82 Years Ago

In wake of the recent passing of owner Jacob Ruppert, the Yankees (now owned by his estate), named Ed Barrow team president. The Hall of Fame executive had been the team’s general manager since 1920, coming over from the Red Sox a year after Babe Ruth was acquired and soon leading a staggering march of talent down to the Bronx from Boston with him.

Barrow had won seven World Series as Yankees GM, and he prolonged the team’s great success as president. They won their fourth World Series in a row in 1939, then won championships in 1941 and 1943 before Barrow departed from the position when the Ruppert estate sold the team in 1945.

15 Years Ago

In 2006, a number of elite MLB players were excited to participate in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. Players eligible to represent more than one country had to decide: which country would they represent?

In dramatic A-Rod fashion, Rodriguez took his time when it came to deciding whether he’d participate in the WBC or not. On this day 15 years ago, he announced that he would play in the tournament as a member of the United States team. A-Rod had considered playing on the Dominican team, which he’d be able to do because his parents are from there, but ultimately elected to play for the States, his home country. His fellow Yankees teammates Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, and Al Leiter also played on the U.S. team, as did a who’s who of baseball icons from the ‘90s: Ken Griffey, Jr., Roger Clemens, and Chipper Jones were all on the team, too. Despite all the talent, they were surprisingly eliminated in the second round after losses to South Korea and Mexico (though A-Rod knocked a walk-off hit against Japan, the eventual champions).

Amusingly, A-Rod later decided to switch sides to the Dominican squad for the 2009 edition of the WBC, though hip surgery that spring forced him to withdraw.

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Happy 61st birthday to Charles “Chili” Davis!

Chili Davis

Chili signed with the Yankees as a free agent during the 1997-98 offseason. A solid switch-hitter, Chili came to the Bronx as a veteran DH in the twilight of his career. George Steinbrenner liked Davis’ reputation as both a switch-hitter and a clubhouse presence, and he also felt that Davis could provide guidance and mentorship to Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and other younger Yankees on the team at the time. Though he spent just two seasons in New York, they certainly were memorable ones: 1998 is considered one of the best Yankees teams ever and Chili was able to retire after winning two rings with the ‘98 and ‘99 World Series champions.

Fun fact: Chili is the first Jamaican-American to play in the major leagues.

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