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This Day in Yankees History: Yogi makes the Hall

Though it took two tries, Yogi Berra earned his place in the sport’s most sacred shrine.

Yogi Berra Holding Home Run Record Setting Baseball

Welcome to the relaunched This Day in Yankees History. The New Year is upon us, and the winter hot stove continues to percolate. That being said, the Yankees seem to have made their big moves in DJ LeMahieu and Corey Kluber, so that gives us more time to 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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This Day in Yankees History (January 19)

58 Years Ago

Former Yankees outfielder Hank Bauer earns a promotion from first base coach to full-time skipper for the Orioles. As a Yankee, Bauer made three All-Star games and nine World Series in 12 years with the team, including seven titles. He also received MVP votes in every season between 1952 and ’56, across which he posted almost 20 WAR.

Though Bauer had previously managed the A’s, his finest work at a club’s helm came in Baltimore, as he led the Birds to the franchise’s first pennant and World Series championship in 1966. That year, the 70-89 Yankees finished in last place while trotting out a roster of past-their-prime franchise icons, including Elston Howard, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Whitey Ford. Mantle was still quite good offensively, even at 34, and Ford had some success in a limited role mostly out of the bullpen, but they still made up the best few talents on a team that peaked with back-to-back titles in ’61 and ’62.

49 Years Ago

After his second year on the ballot, Yogi Berra is elected into the Hall of Fame. Although on first blush, it might seem like a slight to deny one of baseball’s all-time greats a first-ballot entry into the Hall, first-ballot entries were actually extremely rare in Berra’s era. After the inaugural class of Hall of Famers, and before 1972, only four players had ever been elected into the Hall on their first try: Bob Feller, Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, and Stan Musial. Irregular voting and a backlog of historically great players prevented the “first-ballot” designation from gathering its current meaning until an influx of early admissions over the past three decades.

In fact, Berra actually received the greatest share of the vote in 1971 (67.2 percent), which of course meant no player cleared the 75 percent threshold necessary for entry. However, in 1972, concurrent with Berra’s admission, Sandy Koufax became the youngest player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame, at age 36, and just the fifth first-ballot honoree.

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Of the 53 major leaguers born on January 19, only three ever suited up for the Yankees. Fernando Seguignol, the owner of a -0.6 career WAR who turns 46 today, appeared in five games for the 2003 Yanks, including four pinch-hit appearances and one start at first base. That was actually his second stint with the organization, as his first ended when he became the Expos’ paltry return for closer John Wetteland in an infamous April 1995 trade. Following the 2003 season, Seguignol spent a successful several seasons in the Japanese leagues, before finishing out his professional career in the Atlantic League, the most prominent American independent baseball league.

Pat Maloney, born in 1888, and died in 1979, would be 133 today. He posted -0.4 WAR over 25 games for the 1912 New York Highlanders, so he is almost sort of, kind of, technically a Yankee. Happy 133rd, but also rest in peace, king.

The biggest Yankee contributor born on the 19th of January, Jeff Juden, turning 50 today, owns a career WAR of -0.2. At the very end of eight years spent bouncing around the majors, Juden pitched 5 23 innings across three games including one start, striking out nine and giving up a single earned run. Listed at 6’7”, 240 pounds, the big fella lasted a couple more years in the Atlantic League before hanging ‘em up.

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