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History Highlights for December 25

Unfortunately the first Yankee Christmas Day reference we’ll make is to the death, this day in 1989, of former Yankee manager and player Billy Martin. Billy played with the Yanks from 1950-1957, during which time he stroked 30 home runs with 178 rbi’s and 19 stolen bases; he also made at least one memorable World Series catch. As a manager, Billy led the Minnesota Twins to a pennant win in 1969, won a pennant in three years with the Tigers (finishing second and third the other two seasons), coached a second- and third-place team in two full years with the Rangers. And in his four years piloting Oakland after his first two stays with the Yanks, he notched a first and two second places. But it was in New York that Billy posted a 1,252-1,013 win/loss record, won two pennants and a World Title, had a hand in one more of each, and otherwise led the club to a second, two thirds, a fourth and a fifth-place finish.

On December 25, 1922, a group of mlb All Stars cruised to a 12-5 win over American servicemen in Manila. The team’s stars included Yankee hurler Waite Hoyt and Casey Stengel, the second legendary Yankee manager mentioned herein, though at the time he was still playing outfield for the New York Giants.

Hall of Fame Yankee Manager Joe McCarthy was born on December 5, 1881. Joe piloted the Bombers to a 2,348-1,460 record from 1931-1946, won eight American League pennants in that time, and cashed seven of them in for World Titles, four of them in a row. He played in one game for the 1905 Yanks, getting no hits in two at bats, and played in St. Louis in 1906.

All of which forces me to give short shrift to birthdaying Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson (1958), the all-time stolen base and base on balls leader (among other things). Rickey blasted 78 homers, with 305 rbi’s and 326 stolen bases in the Bronx from 1985 through 1989; spent almost 13 years with the A’s over four tours of duty there on the West Coast; and played for Toronto, San Diego, Anaheim, the Mets, Seattle, Boston, and the Dodgers too. And also a Christmas baby is outfielder Ben Chapman (1908), a mainstay of the early teams that Joe McCarthy managed, getting his major league baptism with the Yanks from 1930-1936. He smacked 60 dingers for the Bombers, knocking in 489 runs here, and he stole 154 bases too.

Read more history for December 25 on TakeHimDowntown.com

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