As much as we would like to believe that every day is a special day to be fans of the New York Yankees, sometimes that is just not the case. Sometimes even the greatest franchise in sports history have ho-hum days. While events in team history took place, only one causes a chuckle, while most were forgettable to say the least. We hope you enjoy today’s Christmas Week Edition of “This Date In Yankees History-December 24th” with some very minor news and notes from baseball days gone by.
- On this date back in 1978, former Yankees’ first baseman George McQuinn passed away at the age of 68. Having initially started his professional career in the Yankees’ farm system, he wouldn’t reach the bigs with New York due to some guy named Lou Gehrig manning first for the foreseeable future. Making his debut with the Cincinnati Reds, McQuinn was sold back to the Yankees after a lackluster season in 1936. McQuinn spent the next eight years with the St. Louis Browns before returning to the Bombers one more time, and finishing his career with the Philadelphia Athletics. McQuinn would go on to coach and manage throughout the minor leagues.
- Choosing youth over wisdom, the Yankees signed free agent designated hitter Gary Ward on this date back in 1986. The man he replaced, Don Baylor would go on to provide leadership and key at-bats for the American League champion Boston Red Sox. In 145 games for the Yankees, Ward would hit just .255 before the team had seen enough and have him his outright release.
- On this date in 1996, the Yankees continued to stockpile successful pitchers when they agreed to a deal with David “Boomer” Wells. Wells would be an essential piece of the 1998 Yankees team that completed what many consider to be the greatest team season in baseball history, going 125-50 including the playoffs and World Series. Wells would later be traded along with relief pitcher Graeme Lloyd and infielder Homer Bush to the Toronto Blue Jays for “Rocket” Roger Clemens. Wells would join Clemens as a teammate with the Yankees, returning to the Bronx in 2002.
- In a move that stoked the fires of an already bitter rivalry once more, on this date back in 2002, the Yankees signed Cuban defector Jose Contreras. The move prompted an official from the Boston Red Sox to call the Yankees “The Evil Empire.” Both Larry Lucchino and John Henry have been credited with this statement, but no one can verify which of the two men used the term. The Yankees, being good sports, adopted the mantra and play “The Imperial March” during home games at Yankee Stadium when the home team is being introduced.
We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s tidbits with Yanks Go Yard’s Christmas Week Edition of “This Date In Yankees History” December 24th. Have a safe and happy Christmas Eve, and be sure to check back in for the next part of the series, with Wednesday being the Christmas Day edition!