Babe Ruth | Ultimate Grand Slam | Yankees vs. White Sox | 9/24/1925
The Yankees were mired in a horrific season sitting in 7th place in the American League, trailing the first place Washington Senators by 30 games. The 5th place team, the Chicago White Sox, were in town and in the bottom of the 10th inning the Yanks trailed 5-2, three outs away from yet another defeat. However, one glimmer of hope remained for the men in pinstripes. With one out and the bases loaded the game’s most prolific hitter approached the batter’s box. With only 1,000 people in the stands of Yankee Stadium Ruth connected with a pitch from Sarge Connally and won the game on a walk-off grand slam, one of only two home runs Connally gave up in 1925 in 104.2 innings pitched. It was only the 2nd time ever that a game had ended on a grand slam with a team trailing by 3 runs. The first occured on 9/10/1881 when Roger Connor of the National League Troy Trojans single-handedly beat the Worcester Ruby Legs 8-7 (Team names today are so boring!). Connor’s shot also has the distinction of being the first grand slam in Major League History. The feat of an “Ultimate Grand Slam” is so rare that when Ruth passed away in 1948 only 3 men had accomplished it and since then only 19 others have joined ranks.
Dave Righetti was named the American League Rookie of the Year, earning 91% of the vote over Boston’s Rich Gedman. On November 10, 1978 Righetti was traded to the Yankees from Texas, who had drafted him as their 10th overall pick the year before. In January 1979 he was very close to being sent to Minnesota as part of a deal that would have brought Rod Carew to the Bronx in exchange for Chris Chambliss, Juan Beniquez, Dámaso García and Righetti. The deal fell threw and Righetti returned to the minor leagues before being brought up in 1981 as a permanent starter. In 1981 he led the American League in ERA, hits per 9 innings, home runs per 9 innings and strikeouts per 9 innings while helping the Yankees reach the World Series.
Dave Righetti’s 1981 Statistics:
8-4 | 2.05 ERA | 2 CG | 24 ER | 1 HR | 38 BB | 89 SO | 1.073 WHIP | 6.4 H/9 | .1 HR/9 | 7.6 SO/9
The highest season batting average by a Yankee was Babe Ruth’s .393 in 1923. Though the “Sultan of Swat” unanimously won the MVP award that season over Chicago’s Eddie Collins, he did not have the highest batting average in the league, falling short of Detroit’s Harry Heilmann who batted .403. Ruth would win the batting title the following year with .378.
“All I ever wanted to be was a Yankee. When I was a kid, I was always hoping there’d be a jersey left for me to wear with a single digit.” — Derek Jeter
The Yankees signed free agent outfielder Reggie Jackson to a 5-year, $2.96 million contract. The number 9 he had worn in Oakland and Baltimore was already being used by Graig Nettles so he requested #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, but Art Howler, the recently hired pitching coach had already taken the number. Jackson finally settled on #44 in honor of the recently retired Hank Aaron. Jackson arrived amid controversy when he was quoted as saying he was “the straw that stirs the drink” during a conversation with SPORT magazine writer Robert Ward during spring training, implying that he was now the most integral part of the Yankees. It was hard to argue with that statement when in the last game of the 1977 season Jackson homered on three consecutive pitches to seal a World Series clinching victory in Game 6 vs. the Dodgers. Jackson’s #44 was retired by the Yankees in 1993, the same year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Reggie Jackson’s Yankee Statistics 1977-1981:
380 R | 661 H | 115 2B | 14 3B | 144 HR | 461 RBI | 41 SB | 326 BB | .281 BA | .371 OBP | .526 SLG