Jim Leyritz went yard off Mark Wohlers in what may have been the most famous game of the amazing, 13-year, in-the-playoffs string that came to an end for the Yankees in 2008. With Kenny Rogers pitching, the Bombers fell 6-0 behind the Braves early, but The King’s shot capped the second three-run inning the team posted to get even; they scored two in the 10th for the 8-6 win on October 23, 1996.
Even though “el duque” Hernandez was throwing a one-hitter in Atlanta on October 23, 1999, he was behind 1-0. But the Yanks busted through for four in the eighth to win the World Series opener over the Braves, 4-1. Derek Jeter and Paul O’Neill singles pushed across three of the four runs.
Neither Dave Righetti nor Fernando Valenzuela distinguished themselves, but the Dodgers prevailed over the Yanks 5-4 on October 23, 1981, in the Fall Classic. Yankee reliever George Frazier took the loss and Ron Cey hit a three-run tater.
Yankee fans were dumbfounded and crestfallen on October 23, 2003, when David Wells was forced from World Series Game Five by a bad back after one inning. Jose Contreras responded poorly to the sudden assignment by allowing three runs right off the bat in the second, and the Marlins coasted to a 6-4 victory, giving Florida a three to two lead in games.
The Yanks replaced Gene Michael in the GM position on October 23, 1995, with Bob Watson, though they kept the former Yankee shortstop around too, as a special scout. Good move.
Players routinely barnstormed and played exhibition games after the World Series in the early years of the last century. On October 23, 1923, Babe Ruth played with the NL New York team and wore a Giants uni in a benefit game vs. Baltimore in the Polo Grounds.
Billy Martin had the infamous run-in with the marshmallow salesman in Minnesota on this day in 1979.
Super Yankee fan and star baritone of New York’s Metropolitan Opera Robert Merrill passed away on October 23, 2004. He wore a number 1-1/2 Pinstriped uni and sang at Old Timers’ Games for years. Merrill is joined on the list of Yankee lights to pass on on October 23 by two righthanded pitchers, Monk Dubiel (1969), and Bob Grim (1996). Dubiel debuted with the 1944-1945 Yanks by winning 23 and losing 22 in 56 games (48 starts). Grim also debuted in New York, winning an impressive 45 while losing 21 and saving 28 games from 1954-1958 in 136 games (37 starts).
Although he anchored the Mets staff for years, lefty starter Al Leiter, who was born on October 23, 1965, actually made his major league debut in the Yankee Pinstripes. A June 1984 free agent signing, he posted a 7-8 mark with a not very good team from 1987 through 1989 before playing with the Blue Jays, with the Marlins, and then with the Mets. The Yanks sent Leiter to Toronto for Jesse Barfield in April 1989. Al made a brief 2005 return to the Bronx, before retiring early in 2006. Also born this day, Ewell Blackwell (1922) finished his career by going 3-0 with two saves for the 1952-1953 Yanks.