Rather than leading off October 20 Yankee history with tales of tense or stress-free postseason battles for all the marbles, we’ll feature the birthday of the best Yankee ever, or one of them. Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle was born on this day in 1931, and to our delight, found his way to the roster of the Yankees. He thrilled Yankee fans of all ages with 536 homers and 1,509 rbi’s in the Bronx from 1951 through 1968, but sadly experienced his superb career batting average dip below .300 to.298 in his final years. A three-time AL MVP, Mickey was proud of his plaque in Monument Park indicating that he was “a great teammate.”
After three scoreless innings in Anaheim the night of October 20, 2009, the Yanks restored order to the ALCS with a 10-1 hurting on the Angels to go ahead 3-1 in games. AlexRodriguez‘s leadoff fourth-inning single off Scott Kazmir started a three-run rally, and A-Rod homered for two more in the fifth. CC Sabathia allowed one run and five hits through eight. And more poignantly than we knew at the time, the Yanks brought about this crushing victory on emcee Bob Sheppard‘s 99th birthday.
If there was any doubt who was the best closer in baseball in 1998, the debate was settled on October 20, as Yankee third baseman Scott Brosius got his second home run of the game and three of his four rbi’s as he went yard off San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman in the top of the eighth, to lead the Yankees to a 5-3 win. Winner by a Brosius knockout: Mariano Rivera.
It was the Yankees’ last good 2010 postseason moment on October 20, as they pounded Texas 7-2 in the ALCS in Yankee Stadium. Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson‘s second-inning rbi’s backed by Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano homers the next frame were the highlights.
Those who think disaster struck on October 20, 2004, in the Bronx don’t really know unless they were there. Kevin Brown cemented his horrible Yankee stint with a brief start, and Javier Vazquez followed by allowing Johnny Damon‘s first-pitch grand slam that all but ended the night. Yankee fans enjoyed a brief “Who’s Your Daddy?” moment against Pedro Martinez during a two-run seventh, but the Red Sox completed their comeback from three to none down in games to win the ALCS, 10-3.
The Braves were on the top of the world after blasting the home-standing Bombers, 12-1, in the opener of the Classic in Yankee Stadium on October 20, 1996. A very young Andruw Jones homered twice and John Smoltz got the win. Stay tuned.
Yankee Coach Ralph Houk was elevated to the job of manager, replacing the “retired” Casey Stengel, on October 20, 1960.
The Kansas City Monarchs defeated the Hilldales in the final game of the first ever Negro Leagues World Series on October 20, 1924. Jose Mendez, manager of the Monarchs, pitched for the winners, and he threw a three-hit 5-0 shutout.