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This Day in Yankees History: El Duque conquers New York

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A significant baseball rule change; The Yankees sign Orlando Hernandez; “Flash” hangs up his spikes.

World Series - New York Yankess v New York Mets - Game Three

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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128 Years Ago

A significant baseball rule change became official today — the National League eschewed the “pitching box” and added a pitching rubber five feet back from where the box used to stand. The change was apparently done to increase offense and fan interest (where have we heard that before?). The league also banned flattened bats that made bunting easier. These changes seem minor today, but have helped explain why baseball is the way it is over a century later.

23 Years Ago

The Yankees acquired a fan favorite today in 1998 when they announced the signing of Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. He signed a four-year, $6.6 million contract, and eventually pitched for six seasons in pinstripes over two stints. Hernandez was known for his acrobatic delivery and consistency in the playoffs, and went on to finish fourth in rookie of the year voting in his first MLB season at age 32. He won three championships as a Yankee and another with the White Sox in 2005, joining the small club of big leaguers to earn four rings.

15 Years Ago

Former Yankees backup catcher John Flaherty officially retired on this day in 2006. He retired as a member of the Boston Red Sox, the team that drafted him, but played his last MLB game as a Yankee. Flaherty’s best moment as a Yankee was his walk-off hit in 2004 in the “Derek Jeter Dive” game vs. the Red Sox. He eventually joined the YES Network as a broadcaster and continues to provide analysis for Yankees games today.

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March 7th is a pretty barren day for Yankees birthdays. There’s outfielder Jimmie Hall, who turns 83 today and played 80 games in pinstripes in 1969. He made two All-Star teams for the Twins. Former Yankees reliever Mike Armstrong is 67 today; he pitched 52 games for the team from 1984-1986.

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