Was it just me? When Tino Martinez drilled the first pitch he saw from Byung-Hyun Kim for a two-run, two-out, bottom-of-the-ninth, game-tying World Series home run on October 31, 2001, the baseball-loving kid in me felt a lifetime of both dreams and promise had finally been fulfilled. The sense of the unreal and the impossible was heightened by the fact that Kim had looked untouchable until then. He struck out the side in order in the eighth, got a ground out to start the ninth, and recovered from allowing a six-pitch single the other way to Paul O’Neill by whiffing Bernie Williams on three pitches. The Yanks prevailed, 4-3 when “Mr. November,” Derek Jeter, homered to right on the ninth pitch of a two-out at bat in the 10th inning.
Andy Pettitte survived a three-run Philly uprising in the second inning in an 8-5 Yankee win in Citizens Bank Park in Game 3 of the 2009 World Series on October 31. The big blow in the Yankees’ five-run comeback off Cole Hamels was Alex Rodriguez’s two-run home run off a Fox-Sports camera that they had hung over the right field fence, a replay call that went in the Bombers’ favor. And even in an NL, non-DH city, Hideki Matsui pinch-hit a homer in the top of the eighth.
In a big free agency day on October 31, 2019, former Astro hurler Gerrit Cole and still a Yankee outfielder Brett Gardner elected free agency. Players still with the Yankees who would no longer be with the team who elected free agency that day were lefthander CC Sabathia; righthanders Dellin Betances and Cory Gearrin; outfielder Cameron Maybin; catcher Austin Romine; and shortstop Didi Gregorius.
In one of the most famous off-the-field moments in Yankee history, several players were fined following a brawl at New York’s Copacabana on May 16, 1957, the climax of an outing to celebrate Billy Martin‘s birthday. On October 31 of that year, Yogi Berra revealed that the Yankees had refunded the fines they had meted out to the players involved.
When Baltimore Oriole hurler Mike Flanagan beat out Yankee starter Tommy John for the AL Cy Young Award on October 31, 1979, it was the second time John suffered this fate, as he finished second in the NL vote with the Dodgers in 1977.
Infinitely more famous for being a founder of the NFL, the most noteworthy one-time Yankee player to die on October 31 is switch-hitting outfielder George Halas (1983), who had two hits in 22 at bats playing 12 games with the 1919 Yankees. Righthander Johnny Kucks (2013) debuted in the Bronx by going 42-35 with six saves from 1955 through 1959. The brief and sad tale of lefty Brad Halsey, who debuted with the 2004 Yankees to some success but then dipped to a 1-3 mark with a 6.47 era, came to an end when he committed suicide on this day in 2014.
Mickey Rivers (1948), the most memorable of the October 31 Yankee birthdaying group, played on three pennant winners in the Bronx, and accumulated 34 home runs, 209 rbi’s, and 93 stolen bases in New York from 1976 through 1979. While less successful in pinstripes, many fans will remember the names of catcher Matt Nokes (1963), infielder Mike Gallego (1960), outfielder Dave Dellucci (1973), and slick field/no hit shortstop Paul Zuvella (1958).