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This Day in Yankees History: Rocket comes in for a landing

Yankees agree to terms with Bernie; Yankees acquire Clemens; A former Yankees home is demolished

Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees

Welcome to This Day in Yankees History. Now that spring training is officially open, it’s time to get amped for the upcoming season. 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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23 Years Ago

Contract negotiations with Bernie Williams got a little testy in the winter of 1997-98, but ultimately ended happily with both sides agreeing to a one-year, $8.5 million contract on this day 23 years ago. Williams requested a salary of $9 million, while the Yankees countered at $7.5 million. The saga also included an accusation from George Steinbrenner that the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks tampered in the process. The contract agreement came one day before the slated arbitration hearing, and kept Williams in town for one more year. Although negotiations again grew tense the following winter, Williams ultimately stayed in New York on a seven-year, $87.5 million deal and became a lifelong Yankee, enshrined in Monument Park.

22 Years Ago

One year later, the Yankees had much bigger news to announce – the team had acquired back-to-back Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens for David Wells, Graeme Lloyd and Homer Bush. Although he was 36 years old when he was acquired, Clemens was still at the top of his game, winning the 2001 Cy Young Award, making two All-Star teams and winning two World Series in pinstripes. His tenure was marred in retrospect by steroid accusations and an incident involving Mike Piazza and a bat, but Clemens delivered for the Yankees even as he pitched into his 40s.

12 Years Ago

A chapter of New York baseball history closes when Shea Stadium is officially demolished on this day in 2009. Although Shea was the Mets’ home, the Yankees were intrinsically tied to the building – they played their home games in Queens during 1974 and 1975 when Yankee Stadium was being renovated, and won the 2000 World Series at Shea over the Mets. Shea Stadium and the original Yankee Stadium both closed in 2008, with Citi Field and the current Yankee Stadium each opening their doors in 2009.

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MLB Hall of Famer Joe Gordon was born on this day in 1915. The five-time World Series champion, nine-time All-Star and 1942 MVP spent seven years as the Yankees’ second baseman split around a stint in the military during World War II.

The other most prominent Yankees birthday today belongs to Didi Gregorius, who turns 31 years old today. Sir Didi took the reins at shortstop after Derek Jeter as well as anyone could have expected, slashing .269/.313/.446 as a Yankee over five years and authoring some clutch postseason dingers. Other Yankees birthdays include 1910s pitcher George Mogridge, former All-Star relief pitcher Luis Arroyo, and frequent fill-in catcher Chad Moeller.

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