Tag Archives: Yankees

JAN 3 IN BASEBALL HISTORY-STEINBRENNER ERA BEGINS

JANUARY 3, 1973 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK  George Steinbrenner bought the New York Yankees for $10-million on this date in 1973.  This is the date the Steinbrenner era begins. He put together a group that bought the team from the  CBS television network, but Steinbrenner was clearly the boss.

George Steinbrenner would prove to be the most domineering owner since Connie Mack. Where would the Yankees be without him? Where would Seinfeld be without him? He was more famous, or infamous, than many of his players. He was not one to sit back and let the baseball people run the team, although that’s what he said was his intention in 1973. As time went on he assumed more and more control of the daily operations, and grew more and more impatient, going through a slew of managers in a short time.

He was also loyal. He hired former Yankee second baseman Billy Martin as manager five times, which of course means he fired him five times.

George Steinbrenner was born July 4, 1930. He grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, the son of a Great Lakes shipping tycoon. He did well enough in the family business to have enough money to pursue the Yankees. Despite having little experience in baseball, he made a successful bid on the Yankees at the age of 42.

Prior to purchasing the Yankees, Steinbrenner’s experience was in other sports. He ran track and played football in college. He was an assistant football coach at Northwestern University and later at Purdue.

Steinbrenner got into sports ownership in 1960 when he bought the Cleveland Pipers of the National Industrial Basketball League.

As owner of the New York Yankees, Steinbrenner found himself in the baseball commissioner’s dog house more than once. He was suspended from baseball for two years in 1974 after making illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon’s presidential re-election campaign. He was suspended again in 1990 after making payments to a confessed gambler who had some dirt on one of his former players, Dave Winfield.

But you can’t argue with success. During the Steinbrenner era the Yankees went to the World Series ten times and won seven of them. And that $10 Million investment in 1973 is now estimated to be worth $3.7 Billion, that’s “Billion” with a “B.” George Steinbrenner died in 2010 at the age of 80.

Contributing sources:
More on George Steinbrenner
MLB Team values

Did Ruth call his shot? I say no.

OCTOBER 1, 1932 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – What did or didn’t happen in Wrigley Field on this date is debated to this day. Some believe Babe Ruth called his shot while batting in game-3 of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees – that is, pointed toward the bleachers, indicating he was going to hit a home run there, and then hitting one there. So did Ruth call his shot? I say no.

Ruth definitely gestured, as film from that day shows, but was he calling his shot? [I don’t have the rights to show a still frame from that film, but you can see it by Google-ing “called shot copyright Kirk Kandle”.]

The Yankees were up 2 games to none against the Cubs in the ’32 series. New York took an early lead in game three on a home run by Ruth, only to be tied by the Cubs.

It was the 5th inning and Ruth came to bat again. He and the Cubs were jawing back and forth at each other. It’s obvious from the film that Ruth was gesturing with the count 2-balls and 2-strikes. On the next pitch, he hit a mammoth home run about 450 feet.

Did Ruth call his shot? Sportswriter Joe Williams of Scripps-Howard newspapers started it with this headline in the next day’s paper:

“Ruth calls shot as he puts home run no. 2 in side pocket”

Cubs pitcher Charlie Root, who gave up the home run, insisted Ruth did not call his shot. “If he had made a gesture like that I’d have put one in his ear and knocked him on his (backside).” Ruth did not initially acknowledge that he called his shot, but embraced the story more and more as time went on.

What may be most definitive is the typed play-by-play from Retrosheet, data gathered by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) for virtually every MLB game ever played.

Below is how Ruth’s 5th inning at-bat appears, including the bold type:

YANKEES 5TH: Sewell grounded out (shortstop to first); the Cubs bench players were riding Babe Ruth mercilessly and Ruth yelled and gestured back; Ruth homered;

Whoever wrote that does not believe he called his shot. And if you look at Ruth’s gesture it appears to be straight ahead. When a left-handed batter stands in the box straight ahead is toward the 3rd base dugout, which is the Cubs dugout. My belief is Ruth was gesturing toward the Cubs, not center-field. Did Ruth call his shot? I say no.

Contributing sources:
October 1, 1932 Box score/play-by-play
Charlie Root quote, USATODAY, September 27, 2007
Sports Illustrated Greatest Teams, by Tim Crothers, 1998

Thurman Munson was indestructible, until this day in 1979

August 2, 1979 | AKRON, OHIO Thurman Munson was a rock, a catcher, the face of the New York Yankees in the 1970s. Thurman Munson was indestructible, until this day in 1979.

Thursday, August 2, 1979 was a rare day off for Yankee captain. The Yankees played in Chicago against the White Sox the night before and wouldn’t play again until Friday night in New York. Chicago’s game would be Munson’s last.

He headed home to Canton, Ohio after Wednesday night’s game. Thursday afternoon Munson was practicing take-offs and landings at the Akron-Canton airport. He’d recently bought a twin engine Cessna Citation plane so he could get home to his wife and three children more easily.

At 4:02pm, while making an approach to the runway the plane crashed about 1,000 short. An investigation determined the crash was due to pilot error.

Thurman Munson played 11 years for the Yankees. He was the starting catcher for ten of those. He was a seven-time all-star who led the Yankees to three World Series – winning two of them. Munson finished his career with a .292 batting average, 113 home runs and 701 RBI. Three times he drove in over 100 runs. His leadership was immeasurable.

Thurman Munson was indestructible, until this day in 1979. Pilot error? It doesn’t compute.

Contributing Sources:
Thurman Munson Bio 

Most hits in a 9-inning game

July 22, 1962 | BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTSFloyd Robinson of the Chicago White Sox went 6 for 6, all singles, on this date in 1962. That tied him with about two dozen other American Leaguers for the most hits in a 9-inning game.

The National League record is 7 held by Rennie Stennett of the 1975 Pittsburgh Pirates.

Floyd Robinson had a great year in 1962. He hit .312, drove in 109 runs (on just 11 home runs) and led the league in doubles with 45. But he played for a team that was anemic offensively.

The White Sox team batting average was .257. Robinson was the only regular to hit over .300. The team leader in home runs was Al Smith with 16.

Three years removed from playing the Dodgers in the 1959 World Series, the Sox finished 5th, 11 games out in 1962. Despite their lousy hitting, the Sox contended for the next few years behind the pitching of Gary PetersJoel Horlen, Juan Pizzaro and others:

1963
Peters            19-8
Pizzaro          16-8
Horlen           11-7

1964
Peters            20-8
Pizzaro          19-8
Horlen           13-9

1965
Fisher             15-7
John                10-7
Horlen           13-13

Despite 90+ wins the Sox finished second to the New York Yankees each year (this was before divisional play).

Year   Wins
1963  94
1964  98
1965  95

When a team’s key offensive statistic is 6-singles by the same player in a game, over-taking the Bronx Bombers becomes a tall order.

JULY 17 IN BASEBALL HISTORY – DIMAGGIO’S HIT STREAK ENDS

JULY 17, 1941 | CLEVELAND, OHIO – Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak ends in Cleveland, and 56 becomes an iconic number in the world of sports. “Joltin Joe” got at least one hit in 56 consecutive games – until tonight.

The streak captivated the nation for weeks. A record-breaking 67,468 fans came to Cleveland Municipal Stadium on a Thursday night to watch the Yankee slugger try to extend his streak,

The streak started quietly at Comiskey Park in Chicago on May 15th. Interest intensified as DiMaggio reached 30 consecutive games with at least one hit. It grew into an obsession when DiMaggio surpassed Wee Willie Keeler‘s 45 game hit streak record on July 2nd and kept on going. Now DiMaggio was setting a new record every game.

It was stopped at the hands of two relatively unknown Cleveland pitchers, left-hander Al Smith and right-hander Jim Bagby. All-star third baseman Ken Keltner made two dazzling plays to rob DiMaggio of hits.

DiMaggio didn’t just break Keeler’s record, he smashed it by 11 games. Had 56 not been where DiMaggio’s hit streak ends, we could very well be talking about a 73-game hitting streak. After going hitless on July 17th, DiMaggio went on hitting in 16 more consecutive games.

How remarkable is DiMaggio’s display of hitting consistency? To this day no one has surpassed Wee Willie Keeler’s mark of 45 consecutive games with at least one hit – except Joe DiMaggio.

Top 10 Consecutive game hit leaders and year accomplished:
Joe DiMaggio 56 (1941)
Wee Willie Keeler 45 (1897)
Pete Rose 44 (1978)
Bill Dahlen 42 (1894)
George Sisler 41 (1922)
Ty Cobb 40 (1911)
Paul Molitor 39 (1987)
Jimmy Rollins 38 (2006)
Tommy Holmes 37 (1945)
Gene DeMontreville 36 (1897)

Contributing sources: 
The Associated Press
, July 18, 1941
Longest Hitting Streaks