It was Moose Skowron‘s big day on July 14, 1957. The Yanks had already lost the first game to the White Sox, 3-1, and things were bleak as they entered the ninth inning of Game Two trailing 4-0. But Moose supplied the highlight of the Yankee rally as his pinch-hit grand slam home run keyed the winning rally and the 6-4 victory. It was his second pinch-hit grand slam of the season, a record at the time. Yankee fans were suitably distraught when Moose passed away in April 2011.
It was hard not to crack a smile at the umpires’ expense, although it became a very serious matter, as it was on this day in 1999 that Union head Richie Phillips hatched his ill-advised strategy in their labor war with baseball: They’d all resign as a group.
I suppose Yankee fans can consider themselves lucky that Billy Martin was not yet managing in New York on July 14, 1974. In a doubleheader split on that day between Billy’s Texas Rangers and the Milwaukee Brewers, he became the first American League field boss to be tossed by the umpires from two games on the same day.
We’ll list lefty-hitting outfielder and shortstop Whitey Witt (1988) first among Yankees to have died on July 14 because he alone did most of his baseball work in the Bronx, having hit 11 home runs and driven in 132 runs for the Yanks in 464 games from 1922-1925, numbers that grow to 18 and 302 when six years with the A’s and one with the Dodgers are added in; but also because Witt played center field in the first game played in old Yankee Stadium in 1923. A one-time AL MVP with Boston, outfielder Jackie Jensen (1982) cleared nine fences good for 32 rbi’s in debuting with the 1950-1952 Yanks, but retired with 199 roundtrippers and 929 runs knocked in after two years with the Senators and six with the Red Sox. Outfielder and utility player Cesar Tovar (1994) drove in two runs in New York in ending his career with the 1976 Yankees.
Johnny Murphy (1908), who would have been birthdaying today, was a Yankee bullpen star who played 15 of his 16 years with the Yanks, won 53 of 93 decisions, and amassed 104 saves from 1932 through 1946. Johnny also served as the general manager of the 1969 Miracle Mets World Champions before succumbing to a heart attack. Also born this day, lefty old-timer Jesse Tannehill (1874) threw most of his innings for Pittsburgh and Boston in a career that spanned 1894-1911, and compiled a 197-116 record during that time. But he went 15-15 for the 1903 Highlanders. And lastly, a guy whom some of you will actually remember: Robin Ventura (1967).
Read more history for July 14 on TakeHimDowntown.com