Welcome to the relaunched This Day in Yankees History. The New Year is upon us, and the winter hot stove continues to percolate. 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 26)
59 years ago
Yankees superstars Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle sign contracts with Columbia Pictures to appear in Safe at Home! The movie starred Maris and Mantle as themselves, while Whitey Ford and skipper Ralph Houk filmed cameos. They were able to shoot the film by doing it during spring training. The SparkNotes version of it is that a kid named Russell convinces his Little League teammates that he knows Mantle and Maris and will bring them to a team banquet. Naturally, he does not actually know them, and shenanigans ensue when he tries to meet them by sneaking into their spring training stadium and hotel rooms.
12 years ago
The Yankees re-sign Andy Pettitte to a one-year, $5.5 million deal. It was no guarantee, as the two sides haggled throughout the offseason after a so-so season from Pettitte in ‘08, and he ended up taking an $10.5 million pay cut.
Pettitte was more than worth it, as the 36-year-old southpaw threw 194.2 innings with a 4.16 ERA. He began the 2009 season as the Yankees’ fourth starter, behind incumbent ace Chien-Ming Wang and the recently-acquired CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, but he ended up being the winning pitcher in the decisive game of all three Yankees playoff series that year. The Yankees hoisted their 27th World Series title after another vintage postseason performance by the veteran lefty against the Phillies in Game 6.
10 years ago
Thanks to a tip from bench coach Tony Peña, the Yankees signed veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon, who spent the previous year out of baseball at age 37 after being released by the White Sox in September 2009. Peña saw Colon pitch well in the Dominican Winter League, and that was good enough for a non-roster invitation to spring training.
Colon made the cut, and he got a crack at returning to the starting rotation when Phil Hughes got hurt in April. In a year where the most reliable Yankees starter behind Sabathia was either fellow veteran Freddy García or rookie Ivan Nova, Colon’s renaissance proved to be pivotal in the team’s run to another AL East crown. “Big Sexy” was a gem of a find, pitching 164 1⁄3 innings with a 4.00 ERA (107 ERA+), a 3.83 FIP, and 135 strikeouts.
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Happy birthday to Branden Pinder!
Pinder was a pitcher for the Yankees from 2015-2016. On April 15, 2015, Pinder made his major league debut, going one inning and allowing one hit against the Baltimore Orioles. He threw 28 2⁄3 innings with a career 3.45 ERA. Pinder only played in the majors for those two seasons and retired from professional baseball in 2018.
Fun fact about Pinder? He’s the last Yankees pitcher to notch an extra-base hit, slapping a double off normal outfielder Jonny Gomes during a 20-6 rout of the Braves in Atlanta.
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We thank Baseball Reference and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.