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This Day in Yankees History: A Ruthian era ends

The Yankees officially grant Babe Ruth his release; Tony Lazzeri named to Hall of Fame by Veterans Committee; Clint Frazier suffers concussion

Babe Ruth And Mel Ott In Fulllength Phot

Welcome to the relaunched This Day in Yankees History. 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 (February 26th)

86 Years Ago

The Yankees officially grant the release of long-time superstar outfielder Babe Ruth, permitting him to sign with the Boston Braves for his age-40 season. The relationship between Ruth and the Yankees had been rocky by the end, as the team did not want to give in to Ruth’s managerial ambitions and felt that he was on the decline — after all, he posted a .288/.448/.537 slash line with only 22 home runs in 1934, his worst full season at the plate and good for “only” a 160 OPS+.

The Braves, struggling to draw a crowd in Boston, negotiated a deal with the Yankees to grant Ruth his release. As the Yankees refused to let Ruth leave to be only a player, the Braves named him assistant general manager and team vice president, and the owner offered him a share of the team’s profits as a stepping stone into co-ownership. However, these promises were a deception meant to try to get Ruth to invest money into the Braves, prompting Ruth to retire on June 2nd. He played in only 28 games as a Brave, hitting only 6 home runs and posting a career-worst .181/.359/.431 that was somehow good for a 119 OPS+; the Braves would finish the season with a 38–115 record and .248 winning percentage, the worst in National League history.

30 Years Ago

The Hall of Fame Veterans Committee posthumously names Yankees infielder Tony Lazzeri to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Lazzeri, who played for the Yankees from 1926 to 1937, won five World Series with the Yankees and played in the inaugural All-Star Game in 1933, his only appearance in one.

Three Years Ago

The Yankees announce that outfielder Clint Frazier had suffered a concussion after colliding with the wall during a spring training game the day before. Although manager Aaron Boone optimistically said that it should only keep him out for a couple of days, the injury turned the 2018 season into essentially a lost year for the young outfielder, and it continued to hamper his play — most notably his defense — during the 2019 season.

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Birthdays

Happy 33rd birthday to 2015 Yankees legend Dustin Ackley! Originally drafted with the second overall pick by the Seattle Mariners in 2009, Ackley bounced between positions in the minor leagues before eventually settling in at second base, although he was moved back to the outfield (where he had primarily played in college) following the signing of Robinson Canó.

During the 2015 season, desperate for an upgrade from Stephen Drew and Brendan Ryan at second base, the Yankees traded for Ackley at the deadline, sending Ramón Flores and José Ramírez to Seattle. After missing five weeks due to an injury after only three plate appearances, he settled into a utility role, playing nine games at second base and four apiece at first base and in the outfield down the stretch, with a 162 OPS+. Unfortunately, he could not continue that production in 2016 before being shut down with a torn labrum. After being released by the Yankees that November, he spent time in the Los Angeles Angels and Mariners farm systems, but never returned to the majors.

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We thank Baseball Reference, SABR, and FanGraphs for providing background information for these posts.