November 20 is a great day for me, and a certain set of Yankee fans who trace their most ardent fanhood to the following two players. On this day back in 1962, Mickey Mantle was named American League Most Valuable Player for the third time. And on November 20, 1985, Donnie Baseball, Don Mattingly, received that year’s AL MVP Award. Congratulations, Donnie and Mick. It couldn’t have happened to two better guys.
On November 20, 2019, the Yankees released center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury; and designated first baseman Greg Bird and lefthander Nestor Cortes Jr. for assignment. The team also selected the contracts of Estevan Florial and Luis Gil from the Tampa Tarpons; the contracts of Miguel Yajure and Brooks Kriske from the AA Trenton Thunder; and the contracts of Nick Nelson and Deivi Garcia from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
On November 20, 2017, the Yankees traded lefthander Caleb Smith and first baseman Garrett Cooper to the Marlins for future considerations and righty Michael King. Next the team selected the contract of righthander Jonathan Loaisiga from the Staten Island Yankees; the contract of righty Albert Abreu from the Tampa Yankees; the contracts of righthander Domingo Acevedo and infielder Thairo Estrada from the Trenton Thunder; and the contracts of infielder Gleyber Torres and outfielder Billy McKinney from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
It was a good trade for both teams when the Yankees shipped 1992 lower-round draft choice Mike Dejean to the Rockies for catcher Joe Girardi on November 20, 1995. On the Yanks’ end, Joe would hit the game-winning triple in the Championship-deciding Game Six in the World Series 11 months later, and he tutored the raw Jorge Posada until the latter could take the number-one catching job. Girardi managed the Marlins in 2006, was a broadcaster of Yankee games on YES in 2007, and served as Yankee manager from 2008 through 2017, garnering the Yanks’ 27th Championship in 2009.
There is a statistical anomaly in numbers achieved by one-time Yankee player Billy Martin, all tied in with the fact that he was traded on November 20 in back-to-back years. Once he was traded by Detroit to Cleveland on that day in 1958, he delivered nine home runs and 24 rbi’s in that season. Kansas City had traded him to Detroit exactly one year earlier after they (the A’s) had gotten him from the Yankees during the 1957 campaign. He managed the same number of home runs (9) with three more rbi’s (27) for the A’s in ’57 as he did with the Indians in ’59, and he did it while playing the exact same amount of games (73). And speaking of Billy Martin, he won the 1980 AL Manager of the Year Award for his work with the A’s on November 20 as well.
A team of touring American All Stars defeated a Japanese team in the Land of the Rising Sun on November 20, 1934, despite the fact that 17-year-old Eiji Sawamura held them to one hit. At one point the youngster struck out Charlie Gehringer, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, and Lou Gehrig in succession. But the one hit was a long ball off the bat of the Yanks’ Iron Horse, and the visitors won the game, 1-0.
Second baseman Paddy Baumann (1969) is the only Yankee player to have died on November 20. He ended his career by playing 204 games with the 1915-1917 teams, collecting three home runs with 61 rbi’s on 156 hits in 566 at bats.
Of the seven guys who played for the Yankees and who were born on November 20, we’ll lead off with Hall of Fame pitcher, player/manager and manager Clark Griffith (1869), who posted a 32-34 record with three saves for the Highlanders from 1903 through 1907, and as the Yankees’ first manager in New York, led the team from 1903 through 1908 to a 419-370 mark. He and the Highlanders achieved two second-place finishes, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, and an eighth. Lefty-hitting outfielder Jay Johnstone‘s (1945) 59 games in the Bronx in 1978 and 1979, on the other hand, easily outnumber the total games played by the five who will follow. Jay hit two homers and knocked in 13 runs for the Yanks.
Lefty hitter Andy Coakley (1882) went 0-for-1 in two games for the 1911 team to cap the nine-year career he had fashioned in Philly, Cincinnati, and Chicago. Righty Rugger Ardizoia (1919) gave up two runs in two innings in his only major-league game, which he pitched for the 1947 Bombers. Infielder Alex Arias (1967) walked once and struck out twice in seven at bats during six games for the 2002 club. Lefty-batting catcher Lou Berberet (1929) managed five rbi’s in 10 games at the beginning of a seven-year major-league stint with two years with the Yankees (1954-1955). And failed lefty specialist Gabe White (1971) went 2-1 in 12 games for the Yanks in 2003 in his ninth year in the bigs, most of which he had spent with Cincinnati after he debuted in Montreal. He went 0-1 in 24 games with New York in 2004 before the Yanks let him loose.