After a bit of a so-so start on the west coast, returning home was clearly a good thing for the 1998 Yankees. In their three games in the Bronx for the season, the Yankees swept the Athletics, getting above .500 for the first time on the year.
Next up, the Yankees were set to welcome the Anaheim Angels into Yankee Stadium for a series starting on April 13th. However, in the lead up to the series opener, a 500-pound steel beam fell off the upper deck and onto some seats below. It came down with such force that it completely destroyed one seat and put a hole in the concrete below it. Luckily, it happened long before game time and no one was in the seats, otherwise there would’ve been a death.
After an event that potentially dangerous, it was decided that the April 13th game would be postponed. That then stretched into the next day as well, as it was eventually discovered that there was some major issues with the concrete. Eventually, the Yankees got back underway on April 15th. Only, they had to do so in a temporary home venue known as Shea Stadium.
April 15: Yankees 6, Angels 3 (box score)
Record: 7-4, .636 (2.0 GB)
On April 15, 1998, the Yankees and Angels finally opened their series, across the city in Queens. The game was given a start time just after noon eastern as later that night the Mets were supposed to host the Cubs. With two teams in the same city, there’s been a couple times over the years when one of the Yankees and Mets had played a game as the home team in the other’s stadium. However, this was the first time in a long time that four different teams had taken part in a doubleheader at the same stadium.
By accounts, some Yankees players were a little bit dreary, having had woken up a bit earlier than normal, not only for the noon start time, but because they had to make the journey across the city. However, their play on the field did not suggest any tiredness. The got off to a quick start, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first, one in the third, and two more in the fourth. One of those runs in the fourth came on a Paul O’Neill triple, where he got a bit of assistance from Garret Anderson’s “defense” in left field.
For the day, O’Neill would go 3-for-4, falling just a home run short of the cycle.
One of the other big stories on the day was Darryl Strawberry playing his first home game at Shea Stadium in eight years. The Mets legend had left Queens as a free agent after 1990, spending time with the Dodgers and Giants before returning to New York with the Yankees. Thanks to the odd circumstances, he got to return to his former home and rolled back the years when he homered in the fifth inning.
Strawberry’s homer also gave us the visual of the Shea Stadium home run apple being partially raised to celebrate a Yankees’ home run, but stopped before the Mets’ logo was fully revealed.
Meanwhile on the mound, Yankees’ starter David Wells cruised. Despite stating that he was a bit jittery and had only gotten a couple hours of sleep the night before, Wells showed no signs of that. He ended up throwing six shutout innings before the Angels finally got to him in the seventh. In total, Wells went eight innings, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk, striking out eight.
The big lefty initially went for the complete game, but allowed a homer and a walk to start the ninth inning. Eventually, Joe Torre went to Jeff Nelson, who came in and retired the first three batters he faced to finish off the win.
The weird day ended up being a good one for all the New York fans that attended the unusual doubleheader, as the Mets added a win of their own later that night.