Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sample Calendar Pages

JANUARY 13

PAGING THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST
1939: Jacob Ruppert, brewing magnate and Yankees owner since 1915, dies at the age of 71. Yankees fans know him for building Yankee Stadium and presiding over the team’s first seven championships. Yankees haters should remember him as the man who amassed a huge fortune during the Great Depression but used everyone else’s struggles as an excuse to shortchange his greatest players. Ruppert had ready cash when the stock market crashed in 1929 and bought up huge chunks of Manhattan property cheaply. After Prohibition ended, he multiplied his brewery holdings. When he died, his estate was worth $40-45 million. His philosophy was best summed up by his stance in 1933 when Babe Ruth (who made $75,000 in 1932) rejected a salary offer of $50,000 and asked for $60,000. “He asked me if I was going to let a matter of $10,000 stand between him and the club,” Ruppert explained. “I told him I had no alternative, pointing out that it was not a matter of $10,000 but one of $60,000, involving a club that lost money last year. . .Do you think I would be going through this situation if it was not necessary?” Well, the Yankees lost exactly $4,703.04 in 1932, and have I mentioned Ruppert’s $40 million estate?

Quote of the Day: 1939. Ruth, after visiting Ruppert on his deathbed: “It was the only time in his life he ever called me Babe to my face.”


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DECEMBER 4

HOW COLONEL RUPPERT DID THINGS
1931: Here’s Jacob Ruppert in a nutshell. He makes a blustery declaration that Babe Ruth will never get another $80,000 salary. “Baseball—no, not even the Yankee management—cannot afford to pay such a salary.” He insists that Ruth “isn’t the big drawing power” of the Yankees and snorts, “I suppose Gehrig didn’t help draw all those big crowds last summer?” Okay then. Does this mean that Gehrig will be rewarded for surpassing The Bambino as the big drawing card? Are you kidding? Ruppert signs Gehrig for the same $25,000 he got in 1931, when he set an American League record with 184 runs batted in. No doubt Ruppert told Gehrig, “They don’t come to the park to see you, they come to see the big guy.” Ruth, meanwhile, has to take a cut to $75,000 after hitting .373, driving in 163 runs, and tying Gehrig for the league title with 46 home runs. So it goes in the Bronx, while Ruppert continues to pocket millions in real estate deals.


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MARCH 5

PLUS A GOLDFISH TO BE NAMED AT A LATER DATE
1973: In the most bizarre trade in baseball history, Yankees pitchers and best friends Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich announce that in October they exchanged families. Peterson got Susanne Kekich and two daughters, and Kekich got Marilyn Peterson and two sons. This was after they discussed having the two older children (five and four years old) go with their fathers and the younger ones (both two years old) stay with their mothers. They also traded dogs. “It wasn’t a wife swap,” says Kekich. “It was a life swap.” Peterson adds, “It wasn’t a sex thing. It was not a cheap swap.” Fritz and Susanne are planning to get married, but Mike and Marilyn aren’t getting along so well.

COMPARED TO TODD HOLLANDSWORTH!
1997: Derek Jeter, the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, rejects a salary offer of $450,000, and the Yankees threaten to renew his contract at a lower salary. He wants $550,000, the same amount that the NL Rookie of the Year, Todd Hollandsworth just signed for. GM Bob Watson scolds Jeter for comparing himself to a player who has an extra year of service time in the majors, ignoring the fact that the extra “year” (1995) consisted of a whopping 103 at-bats compared to 48 for Jeter.

Quote of the Day: 1973. Kekich: “I would like it to work out with Marilyn and me, but I’m dubious.” So were the rest of us.


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MAY 15

WHAT COLAVITO WANTED TO DO (see May 12)
1912: After three days of enduring unprintable abuse from fans at Hilltop Park, Ty Cobb snaps, racing into the stands to administer a thorough beating to one fan, pummeling his face until teammates pull him away. The problem is that the bloodied fan is defenseless, having lost eight of his fingers in an industrial accident. The Yankees fan must have realized he was out of line, because he didn’t press charges against Cobb.

FUN AT THE COPA
1957: A half-dozen Yankees and their wives go out for a night on the town to celebrate Billy Martin’s birthday. At the Copacabana nightclub at 2:30 A.M., an argument with hecklers leads to Hank Bauer breaking some lummox’s nose and knocking him out. All the Yankees, including future Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford, are fined $1,000 for being out so late the night before a game, and when GM George Weiss assumes that it was Martin who threw the punch, he uses it as an excuse to trade him.

Quote of the Day: 1957. Hank Bauer, sporting a .203 batting average the night of the fight, denying that he participated: “Hit him? Why, I haven’t hit anybody all year.”

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JULY 8

WELCOME TO LAST PLACE
1908: In the first inning, Hal Chase drops a popup and Ty Cobb belts a two-run home run, setting the stage for the Tigers to win 6-3 and knock the Yankees into last place. Their fourth loss in a row is only a small part of the longest sustained stretch of putrid baseball in franchise history. Between June 9 and August 18, they lose 52 of 62 games, including losing streaks of 7, 6, 6, 7, 12, and 7 games. They finish the season 51-103, seventeen games behind the seventh-place team.

FORGET THOSE LITTLE BUGS IN CLEVELAND IN 2007
1939: Tormented by a swarm of Japanese beetles, the Yankees succumb to the Red Sox, losing 3-1 and 3-2. Three Yankees are ejected in the nightcap, which Jimmie Foxx wins with a ninth-inning home run.

TURNING OVER IN HIS GRAVE
1969: On Babe Ruth Day in Baltimore, with his widow watching on, the Orioles score a franchise-record ten runs in one inning as they romp twice over the Yankees, 10-3 and 4-1.

Quote of the Day: 1982. VP Bill Bergesch, ripping Doyle Alexander, who missed two months and then got drilled in his return after refusing to make a second rehab start: “Here is a man earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to pitch and then flat refuses to get himself ready.”

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SEPTEMBER 23

JOE DiMAGGIO PROBABLY PUKED WHEN HE HEARD THIS
1970: Champagne flows and spills in the Yankees clubhouse in a post-game celebration after a 6-4 victory over the Senators—which clinches second place! That’s what passes for glory these days at Yankee Stadium. After finishing tenth, ninth, fifth and fifth the previous four seasons, they finish second! Manager Ralph Houk is all smiles in his office, flanked by equally gleeful GM Lee MacPhail and club president Mike Burke, when players douse them with three buckets of cold water. Who can blame them—we’re talking second place, folks! Oh boy!

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OCTOBER 5

ENTERING THE TWILIGHT ZONE
1960: The most surreal, incomprehensible World Series for the Yankees begins with a 6-4 loss to the Pirates at Forbes Field. Art Ditmar can’t get out of the first inning as the Pirates score three runs, and Bill Mazeroski’s two-run home run in the fourth inning is the key hit for the huge underdogs from Pittsburgh.

THAT’S THE WAY THE BALL BOUNCES
1963: Two tough hops cost the Yankees as the Dodgers win 1-0 to get within one game of a sweep. Don Drysdale and Jim Bouton combine to yield only seven crummy singles, but in the first inning Bouton’s two-out sinker just eludes catcher Elston Howard for a wild pitch, sending Jim Gilliam to second. Tommy Davis follows with a hard grounder to second, and a bad hop sends the ball skittering off Bobby Richardson’s shin into the outfield, scoring Gilliam with the only run of the game.

THE FAT LADY SINGS
1942: Whitey Kurowski’s two-run home run in the ninth inning breaks a 2-2 tie as the Cardinals win 4-2 to take the title in five games.

Quote of the Day: 1963. Howard: “They’re good all right, but we’re just not hitting. When it’s like that, it doesn’t matter who pitches.” Right. It’s just a coincidence that they’ve faced Koufax and Drysdale.


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OCTOBER 9

WHY PEOPLE HATE THE YANKEES
1996: The Orioles lead the Yankees 4-3 in the eighth of Game 1 of the AL Championship Series when Derek Jeter lofts a fly ball to right field. Tony Tarasco camps under it. “It was a magic trick,” Tarasco says later, “because the ball just disappeared out of midair.” It disappears because 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reaches over the fence and swats the ball into the stands. Umpire Richie Garcia, nearby on the warning track, doesn’t see Maier and rules it a home run. The Yankees, rescued by the botched call, win in extra innings and go on to take the series. Maier, instead of being punished for interfering, becomes a New York hero. He appears on two morning talk shows, and The Daily News gives him box seats behind the Yankees dugout for Game 2.

OL’ PETE DOES IT AGAIN
1926: Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander, a 39-year-old midseason acquisition by the Cardinals, pitches his second complete game of the World Series, winning 10-2 to set up a deciding seventh game.

Quotes of the Day: 1996. #1: Maier: “I hope it didn’t affect the game that much [duh], but I am a Yankee fan, and I do want them to win the game. I can see why Baltimore is mad.” #2: Orioles outfielder Bobby Bonilla, on Maier: “If one of the Orioles had hit it, the kid would have been strung up on the Throgs Neck Bridge.”

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OCTOBER 23

OOPS, HE DID IT AGAIN1979: Billy Martin and a friend are in a bar in Bloomington, Minnesota. According to Martin biographer Peter Golenbock, after six scotches Martin gets into a baseball argument with marshmallow salesman Joseph Cooper, prompting Martin to toss three $100 bills on the table and say, “Here’s three hundred dollars to your penny I can knock you on your ass and you won’t get up.” Cooper puts up his penny and they head for the lobby, where Martin sucker-punches him, putting a 20-stitch cut in his lip and collecting the penny. Martin’s version is that after he left the bar alone, Cooper “must have followed me out of the bar, because as I was walking in the lobby I turned around and saw this guy laying on the floor. He fell and cut his lip.” Soon enough, the truth emerges, and Martin is fired by George Steinbrenner, ending his second stint as Yankees manager.

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AUGUST 31

I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE DVD TO COME OUT
2004: Yankee Stadium is sold out, and George Steinbrenner is there, too, as the Yankees suffer the worst defeat in franchise history. The carnage begins with Travis Hafner’s bases-loaded triple in the first inning. Javier Vazquez is knocked out in the second inning, but three relievers don’t do any better. The Indians are already routing the Yankees before they score six runs in the fifth and add six more in the ninth. Omar Vizquel leads the 22-hit attack with four singles, two doubles, and four runs batted in. The final score (fanfare!): 22-0.

Quote of the Day, and Understatement of the Year: 2004. Joe Torre: “There’s a certain level of embarrassment there, no question."


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FEBRUARY 14

A HEARTWARMING VALENTINE’S DAY STORY
1963: Relief pitcher Marshall Bridges is at spring training in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, while his wife and three children are at home in Mississippi. He’s spending the evening at the Negro Elks Club when, according to manager Ralph Houk’s statement the next morning, “This woman came in and after a few words he said he hardly knew what happened.” Here’s what the woman, aptly named Carrie Raysor, told police: Bridges “tried to pick me up. . .and when he kept bothering me, I took out my gun and shot him.” The bullet hits him below the knee and lodges in his calf, fracturing his fibula and tearing a muscle. Bridges pitches only 23 more games for the Yankees, who exile him to Washington after the season.

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THIS. . .
2003: Not surprisingly, David Wells takes Derek Jeter’s side against George Steinbrenner (see February 13), saying the owner’s criticisms are unfair. Wells, who was involved in a pre-dawn fight in 2002, maintains that “you can’t live a sheltered life,” and says Jeter isn’t in his class as a late-night adventurer.

Quote of the Day: 2003. Wells: “Derek is not a party guy. I’ve tried to get him to go out and he said, no, he’s just going to chill. He goes out a lot, but to the movies.” Marshall Bridges turns over in his grave.


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NOVEMBER 8

ASTUTE JUDGMENT
1984: In the free agent draft, the Yankees select defending NL Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe and relief superstar Bruce Sutter, but George Steinbrenner insists that their first priority is free agent Ed Whitson, a 14-game winner in San Diego. “He’s an outstanding competitor,” says Steinbrenner, “and he’s mentally tough. I don’t need any guys faint of heart.” They sign Whitson at $800,000 a year, more than double his San Diego salary, but his season and a half with the Yankees is a disaster. His ERA is 5.38, he is viciously booed and traumatized at Yankee Stadium, and the place where he shows the most heart is a Baltimore bar where he pummels his manager (see Sept. 21).

FOR ONCE, THE TRUTH
1979: After the Yankees sign free agents Bob Watson and Rudy May, George Steinbrenner admits that he’s trying to buy another pennant, bankrolled by “the people who gave us their hard-earned money” at Yankee Stadium this season. He adds, “I didn’t cause free agency. I wasn’t around when it all started [actually, he was, in 1975]. But I’m not going to be a hypocrite. If it’s there, I use it.” And then some.

Quote of the Day: 1964. Yogi Berra, shortly after being fired by the Yankees, when asked if he has made up his mind yet about accepting the Mets’ offer of a coaching job: “Not that I know of.” Think about it.


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JUNE 6

DRAFT DISASTERS, Part 4
1967: Here’s another all-star team—of players the Yankees bypassed while squandering the first overall pick on Ron Blomberg, a nice guy but a first baseman with only 52 career home runs. We have Vida Blue, Jerry Reuss, Ted Simmons, Don Baylor, Bobby Grich, John Mayberry (a first baseman who hit 255 home runs), Dusty Baker, Darrell Evans, Davey Lopes, Al Hrabosky, and more.

1978: With three first-round picks, the Yankees take Rex Hudler, Matt Winters, and Brian Ryder, choosing not to draft Cal Ripken Jr., Ryne Sandberg, Kent Hrbek, Mike Boddicker, Steve Bedrosian, Kirk Gibson, Bob Horner, and Dave Stieb.

YOU CAN’T REPLACE BUCKY #&@#!%$ DENT!
1990: With the Yankees floundering in last place with an 18-31 record, manager Bucky Dent is fired and replaced by Carl “Stump” Merrill. It doesn’t matter. They still wind up finishing last.

Quote of the Day: 1967. General Manager Lee MacPhail: “I feel Ronnie [Blomberg] is the best prep prospect to come along in several years. We had six of our scouts watch Ronnie and they unanimously agreed that he was the one we should sign.” No wonder it took them another decade to win a title.


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APRIL 3

BRING ON THE NATHAN’S HOT DOGS
1919: In a battle promoted by the Jacksonville (Florida) Chamber of Commerce, Yankees outfielder Ping Bodie wins a spaghetti-eating contest—from an ostrich! Bodie never lets up over the course of the eleven platters of pasta it takes to defeat the overmatched bird.

NAP TIME
1956: Pitcher Don Larsen rams his car into a post, losing the cap on a front tooth and doing $800 damage to the car. Larsen explains that he fell asleep at the wheel on his way back to the hotel—at 5 A.M.

STANDING UP TO THE BOSS
1999: Interim manager Don Zimmer is steamed at George Steinbrenner’s handling of the Hideki Irabu crisis (see April 1). Steinbrenner bad-mouthed Irabu and held him back from a road trip, but now orders Zimmer to start Irabu the next day. Zimmer refuses, fuming, “When he said, ‘I am the one Yankee who is in Irabu’s corner,’ like nobody else is, I think that stunk. . .I can’t sit here and be a little wimp and scared of something.”

Quote of the Day: 1919. W. O. McGeehan, in the New York Tribune: “ROUND 10—The ostrich staggered out of his corner with his beak sagging. It was plain that he had little further to go. Bodie grinned.

1 comment:

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