Welcome to the relaunched 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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This Day in Yankees History (March 2)
94 Years Ago
On March 2, 1927, Babe Ruth came to terms with Col. Jacob Ruppert’s Yankees on a new three-year contract that would pay him a then-staggering $70,000 per year for the next three seasons. It was about as much of a no-brainer decision as one could make, as Ruth was simply dominating the game. He had rebounded from his abbreviated and illness-riddled 1925 to get back into the shape and hit .372/.516/.737 in 1926 with a league-best 47 homers, 216 wRC+, and 12.0 fWAR.
Although the Cardinals had taken the Yankees out in a seven-game World Series that unceremoniously ended when Ruth was strangely caught stealing to end the classic, the Bambino was still primed for a huge season ahead after inking his new deal. Sure enough, he somehow captivated the game even more than before by breaking his own record with 60 homers. The 1927 Yankees became, well, the 1927 Yankees, and Ruth was worth every damn penny.
72 Years Ago
Years later, another Yankees legend had a memorable day, though for all the wrong reasons. Joe DiMaggio had ended the 1948 season in awful pain. He had finished runner-up for AL MVP and led the junior circuit with 39 homers, but a bone spur in his right heel was troubling him. As the Yankees reported to St. Petersburg for spring training, DiMaggio’s heel continued ache. It was affecting his play and preparation so much that the star finally decided that he couldn’t take it anymore.
On March 2, 1949, DiMaggio departed Florida for the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. It was a bad sign, and though the doctors did not operate, it was still eventually decided that DiMaggio would need time off to let the heel recover. He wouldn’t play his first game of the season until June 28th, and as chronicled by Ryan Chichester a few years ago, the story of his improbable recovery is truly remarkable. He went from agony one day in June to demolishing the Red Sox at Fenway Park just a couple days later.
Three Years Ago
The Yankees caused a bit of a stir in February 2018 when it was announced that they had acquired an infielder named Russell Wilson from the Rangers. This was not a deal made with any baseball implications, as Wilson was well-entrenched as the All-Pro quarterback of the Seattle Seawhaks. Although he had played some minor league ball with the Rockies while in college at Wisconsin, he had no intentions of pulling a Bo Jackson. The Yankees mainly brought him in so that he could visit Yankees camp and make an impression on some of the players.
Wilson did all that, but on March 2, 2018, the Yankees decided to have a little fun with their guest infielder. With Aaron Judge’s day done in the fifth, Aaron Boone had Wilson pinch-hit for him against future Braves ace Max Fried. He hung in there for five pitches and took some respectable hacks before going down swinging.
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Happy 26th birthday to Miguel Andújar! The past couple seasons have obviously been rough for the third baseman, but his impressive ascent through the Yankees’ system shouldn’t be so easily forgotten. Signed for $700,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, Andújar was a regular on the list of top Yankees prospects before stalling a bit in the mid-2010s.
Andújar had to repeat seasons at both High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, but once he really started hitting for the Thunder in May 2017, it was hard to slow him down. He hit .343 in 45 games from then onward, earning a promotion to Triple-A Scranton and even a one-game cameo in the bigs for his three-hit MLB debut on June 28th. Back in Scranton, Andújar continued to rake, batting .317/.364/.502 with a 139 wRC+ in 58 games.
It was an impressive enough showing to earn Andújar near-immediate Yankees roster consideration in 2018. He was called up on April 1st and seized an opportunity when the recently-acquired Brandon Drury hit the then-disabled list due to vicious migraines. Andújar Wally Pipp’d him with a superb display of hitting, batting .297/.328/.527 with 27 homers and a 129 wRC+. Andújar’s 47 doubles were the most ever by a Yankees rookie and second in the AL to only Alex Bregman. He finished runner-up to Shohei Ohtani for AL Rookie of the Year.
Here’s to hoping that Andújar can capture that 2018 form again.
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We thank Baseball Reference and SABR for providing background information for these posts.