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. We hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane with us!
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62 Years Ago
In a rare case of 1950s player empowerment, Mickey Mantle ended his holdout with the Yankees and reported to camp with a new deal. Mantle only held out for one day, seeking a salary of $85,000 but settling for $72,000 with a $2,000 bonus. This was a raise over Mantle’s previous $65,000 salary. Mantle was in his prime at age 26 and had just slashed .304/.443/.592, led the league with 42 home runs and won his fifth World Series. I’d say the man was due for a raise.
21 Years Ago
Darryl Strawberry’s MLB career comes to an unfortunate end when commissioner Bud Selig suspends Strawberry for the 2000 season after a positive test for cocaine. Strawberry was a member of three World Series Yankees teams to that point and had overcome previous drug issues and a cancer diagnosis, but ultimately succumbed to addiction again. Strawberry never played again, but eventually got his life back on track – he got sober and is a born-again Christian who works in ministry, preaching about his faith. He also runs a rehab center, and has remained on good terms with the Yankees.
Two Years Ago
Fill-in shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hits his second spring training home run in his second game as a Yankee. The lifelong Bombers fan began his brief Yankees career with bombs in his first two exhibition games, subsequently made it through a healthy camp, but only lasted five regular-season games in pinstripes. He hit a home run in one of those games, but strained his calf and ultimately retired in July after a rehab stint proved fruitless. He finished his career with a .290/.361/.495 slash line and could have been even better if only he had better injury luck.
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Happy birthday to Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman! The flamethrowing reliever has now spent almost half his career as a Yankee, over two stints. He’s made two All-Star games for the Bombers, while ranking among the bullpen leaders in strikeouts, WAR and saves since he was first acquired. Chapman is actually fifth all-time among Yankees with 114 saves, behind only Yankees relief legends Mariano Rivera (652), Dave Righetti (224), Goose Gossage (151) and Sparky Lyle (141).
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We thank Baseball Reference and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.