Back when there was only one Cy Young Award for both leagues, Yankee lefthander Whitey Ford defeated Warren Spahn of the Braves in the vote, with the results announced on November 8, 1961. “The Chairman of the Board” had posted a 25-4 record with a 3.21 era.
On November 8, 1951, Yankee catcher Yogi Berra won the first of his three AL Most Valuable Player Awards. Fellow Yankees Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi, and Gil McDougald also finished in the Top Ten, with Phil Rizzuto and Eddie Lopat taking 11th and 12th in the vote, respectively.
The Yankees declined the club option on first baseman Tino Martinez on November 8, 2005, making him a free agent and, in effect, ending his playing career. Tino hit 192 of 339 career home runs for the Yanks, and delivered 739 of 1,231 rbi’s.
Scoring well in their fourth straight re-entry draft, the Yankees signed free agents Bob Watson and Rudy May to long-term contracts on November 8, 1979. Watson hit 19 home runs with 80 rbi’s the next two seasons, while May enjoyed a 15-5 1980 campaign. But as the Yanks’ fortunes dipped, so did May’s, as he slipped to a 13-22 mark over the next three years, his last in the bigs. May had pitched to a 26-19 record in his first Yankee tour of duty from June 1974 through June 1976.
American League Founder Ban Johnson had another in a series of bad days on November 8, 1920, as five AL teams joined with their NL brethren in threatening to depose him. It’s important to remember, I think, that American League baseball might never have been established in New York City without the support, the encouragement, and the insistence of Johnson.
Although he never played for the Yanks, we’ll credit one-time Yankee Manager Bucky Harris (1977) as the first of four Yankees to have died on November 8, and in Bucky’s case, it’s also the day he was born (see below). Outfielder Birdie Cree (1942), with some decent numbers for a guy you never hear about, played 742 games for the Highlanders (and Yankees) only from 1908-1915, clearing 11 fences good for 332 rbi’s on 761-for 2,603 hitting. Catcher Joe Connor (1957) played five games with the 1905 Highlanders, notching two rbi’s in New York on 5-for-22 hitting. Finally, lefthanded first baseman Earl Torgeson (1990) ended a 1947-1961 career by playing 22 games for the Yanks in ’61. He added nothing to his totals of 149 long balls and 740 runs driven in while getting two hits in 18 at bats.
Hall of Fame player and manager Bucky Harris (1896), “The Boy Wonder,” is one of three Yankees who celebrate November 8 as their birthday. He had led the hapless Washington Senators to the World Series title in his first of 29 years managing at the age of 27 (as a player/manager) back in 1924 (thus the nickname), and skippered the 1947 World Champion Yankees as well. DH Henry Rodriguez (1967) went 0-for-8 in five games for the 2001 Yankees, and struck out in six of those at bats.
Outfielder/DH and 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton (1989) became the newest Yankee birthdayer when New York sent second baseman Starlin Castro and two minor leaguers to Miami for him. Giancarlo had hit 267 home runs with 672 rbi’s in Florida from 2010 through 2017, numbers he increased by 38 and 100 respectively in the Bronx in 2018. His 2019 season was almost entirely lost to injury, and it is true that the huge contract New York inherited when they traded for Stanton ties up a chunk of resources. But although his 2020 season was again largely derailed by injury, he proved his value in the postseason, with six home runs and 13 rbi’s vs Cleveland and Houston.