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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This Day in Yankees History (March 6th):
16 Years Ago
Suzyn Waldman makes history as she makes her debut as the Yankees’ radio color commentator. She had long been a reporter covering the team and had called some games on TV, but in becoming a full-time radio voice, she added to her legacy. With her taking over the role, she became just the third woman in major league history to be a full-time color commentator for a big league team, and the first since the ’80s.
Whereas the first two women to do it weren’t afforded much of a chance and were removed from their roles not long after getting them, Waldman is still going strong all these years later. While some aren’t fans of her and John Sterling’s game-calling style, there is no doubting that she is a pioneer and legend.
8 Years Ago
While preparing to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, Mark Teixeira injures his wrist in batting practice, causing him to start the 2013 season on the DL. It would only be the beginning of an injury-plagued season for the first baseman, who would only appear in just 15 games for the Yankees all year. It was a crushing blow for Teixeira, who had averaged 150 games played per season since debuting in 2003. Even after returning to the Yankees in 2014, his body continued to break down, and he averaged 117 games per season until retiring after the 2016 campaign.
It would also be the start of a cursed season for the Yankees, as all of Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Álex Rodríguez, Kevin Youkilis, and Francisco Cervelli would miss significant time with injury. They still somehow finished above .500, but they missed the playoffs for the first time in five years and went down as one of the most bizarre teams in franchise history.
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Speaking of Cervelli, it’s his birthday! The catcher spent seven seasons with the Yankees, mostly as a perfectly good backup. He was set to take over the starting role in 2013 and performed admirably to start the season, but eventually went down with injuries, causing him to miss most of the year. Cervelli was relegated back to a lesser role when the Yankees signed Brian McCann ahead of 2014. After that season, the Yankees traded him to the Pirates, where he went on to have a solid career. He officially retired after the 2020 season, ending a 13-year career.
The only other Yankee with a birthday today is also a fairly notable one as it’s current hitting coach Marcus Thames! As a player, Thames had two stints in pinstripes. He came up with the team in 2002 and debuted with a bang, crushing the first pitch he ever saw in the majors for a home run — off future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, no less. Despite the fireworks, Thames was only filling in and played just seven games before returning to the minors.
Thames was traded to the Rangers for Rubén Sierra the following year before embarking on a successful six-year stint with the rebuilding Tigers in 2004. He belted 99 homers in 485 games, including a career-high 26 during Detroit’s improbable run to the 2006 AL pennant. Thames ultimately returned to the Yankees as a bench bat in 2010, and had a fairly notable moment when he hit a walk-off home run against the Red Sox.
The other run he drove in on the homer was, amusingly enough, Cervelli.
Thames played one more year out in L.A. for the Dodgers before calling it a career. He re-joined the Yankees once more as a minor league hitting instructor in 2013 and gradually worked his way up to the top job. As mentioned, Thames is now currently the Yankees’ hitting coach and has been since 2018, helping create what has been one of the best offenses in baseballs in the years since.
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We thank WFAN, SABR.org, Baseball Reference, and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.