Anthony Rizzo made quite the first impression in the first couple games of his Yankees’ career. In the series against the Marlins, he went 5-for-9 with two home runs, three walks, and three RBI. While his reputation as a great player was obviously earned, it was fun and different to see him do it in a Yankee uniform.
It also leads one to wonder: what other Yankees have made the best first impressions in their first series after coming over mid-season?
On the field, Mondesi’s Yankee career was fine but not great. Off the field, it was decidedly not good. His post-baseball life, uh, hasn’t been ideal. However, if you checked out after his first couple days as a Yankee, you’d be forgiven for thinking it had gone pretty well.
After a trade brought him over from the Blue Jays on July 1st, 2002, Mondesi made his Yankee debut the next day. He marked that by getting on base all four times he came to the plate, recording two hits, a walk, and getting hit by a pitch. He reached base another five times over the next two games, as the Yankees swept a three-game series against Cleveland. His final line over those three games was .500/.667/1.000, driving home three runs. The good times didn’t last as Mondesi recorded just two hits over the next six days.
The Yankees acquired Headley on July 22nd, 2014 before their game against the Rangers that day. As we saw with the Joey Gallo trade this year, a player might not necessarily be available the day after a trade is reported as done. That’s usually because trades needing approval means they don’t go through the exact second they’re reported, and that can mean the traded player isn’t technically on the roster at a time a game starts. Besides that, these players sometimes need to travel cross country to join their new team.
The Headley trade going through before the game meant he was an official member of the roster when the first pitch was thrown. However, he was still in transit to New York. He showed up mid-game and joined his new teammates in the dugout as the Yankees were locked in a scoreless battle with the Rangers.
As the game went into the eighth with still no runs on the board, the Yankees broke the glass on their new acquisition and sent him up as a pinch hitter. He struck out in that at-bat, but it wouldn’t be the end of his night.
In the top of the 13th inning, the Rangers took the lead, only for a Jacoby Ellsbury RBI single to even the score in the bottom half. The Yankees kept Texas off the board in the 14th, and then put two runners on as Headley came stepped to the plate. After being a Yankee for just a couple hours, he dropped a single into left-center field, scoring the game-winning run.
If that’s not the quickest amount of time from joining the team to getting a game-winning hit, it can’t be too far from the top spot.
After coming over to the Yankees in July 1995, Cone became the solidifying force for their rotation as they made the playoffs for the first time since 1981. He didn’t particularly need any time to settle in, either.
In his Yankee debut on the road in Minnesota, Cone allowed two runs in the first three innings, but then settled in after that. In total, he threw eight innings, allowing just those two runs, as the Yankees eventually beat the Twins 4-2. Over the course of the rest of the regular season, the Yankees lost only four of the 13 games Cone started after he came to the Bronx.
After 27 less than stellar innings with the Angels in 1974, May’s contract was purchased by the Yankees in June. A little more than a week after the move, he was tasked with making the start as the Yankees took on the Tigers. In his first game as a Yankee, he threw nine innings, allowing just four hits and three walks, while striking out nine.
May in general just seemed to do better as a Yankee. His career ERA+ was 102, but over his two stints when he donned a Yankee uniform it was 120.
There are undoubtedly plenty of other great ones, so don’t get too mad if I missed your favorite. Hopefully, Rizzo and the other Yankee additions will one day make a list of best Yankees mid-season trades.