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. Continue reading
“We play today; we win today.” The Yanks signed free agent infielder Mariano Duncan on December 11, 1995. That’s not the day’s biggest news, but he was a key contributor in the glorious 1996 season.
Joe DiMaggio officially retired on this day in 1951. The streak in 1941, the great center field defense, the .325 career batting average. And as a righty batter, he hit 361 home runs playing half his games in a ballpark where the fences in left center were virtually unreachable. Continue reading
The Yankee trade for one-handed lefty starter Jim Abbott from California on December 6, 1992, was good for both teams. Although Jim would only post a 20-22 mark in the Bronx the next two years, his presence was welcome on a team transforming itself from struggling to competitive, and his no-hitter vs. Cleveland was a boost and an inspiration. Looking at what the Yanks sent to Anaheim, reliever Russ Springer didn’t excel for the Angels (4-12 from ’93 to ’95), but J.T. Snow gave them solid play at first base, with 65 homers and 256 rbi’s from 1993-1996. Continue reading