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History Highlights for May 20

Eleven years passed between the two games in which Joe DiMaggio hit for the cycle, and he accomplished it for the second time on May 20, 1948. Not only did he single, double, triple, and homer in the 13-2 Yankee win over Chicago, he threw in an extra home run and almost another extra base hit, but he was robbed on a fine play by left fielder Ralph Hodgin.

With all the home runs from both sides of the plate, one can forget that Mickey Mantle was a good hitter aside from all the power. In a 1952 victory over the White Sox on this day, Mickey singled twice from each side of the plate, helping Johnny Sain post a 3-1 win.

Of an impressive group of Yankee May 20 birthdayers, Bobby Murcer (1946); and David Wells (1963), comprise the most modern Yanks. Murcer is still much beloved in the Bronx and he did broadcasts for the Yankee network until he died in 2008, but he also provides a link to the glory days, as he was once regarded as the heir apparent to Mickey Mantle in center field. Bobby stroked 175 homers with 687 rbi’s over two tours of duty with the Yanks, the first of which came to an end when he was traded to the Giants for Bobby Bonds in October 1974. Happily (for all involved) the Yanks reacquired him from the Chicago Cubs in June 1979 for minor leaguer Paul Semall.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Yankee performance of “Boomer,” as Mr. Wells is referred to affectionately by his fans, is that he posted a 34-14 record in each of his two-year stints in the Bronx. Although he originally arrived as as a free agent on Christmas Eve in 1996, he was in effect traded for Jimmy Key, who signed with the Orioles before David signed with the Yanks. Wells’s first tour ended in February 1999, when he was traded with Homer Bush and Graeme Lloyd to Toronto for Roger Clemens. He returned for the 2002 campaign as a free agent, and signed with the Padres in that capacity in 2004. He toed the mound for the rival Boston Red Sox in 2005-2006.

Outfielder Jimmy Lyttle (1946) and righthander Tom Morgan (1930) will be familiar to more experienced Yankee fans. Lyttle contributed four homers with 25 rbi’s and four steals in a backup capacity for the ’69-’71 teams once he was drafted in the first round of the 1966 amateur draft. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Rich Hinton in October 1971, and then increased his career numbers to nine dingers with 70 rbi’s. Morgan recorded a fine 38-22 mark with 26 saves for the Yanks from 1951-1956, and continued to pitch in the AL through the 1963 season with Kansas City, Detroit, Washington, and LA.

Read more history for May 20 on TakeHimDowntown.com

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