January 3, 1973: Quote of the Day – George Steinbrenner: “We plan absentee ownership as far as running the Yankees is concerned. We’re not going to pretend we’re something we aren’t. I’ll stick to building ships.” If only.
This is at the beginning of the new book by Gabriel Schechter called “This BAD Day In Yankees History.” As you leaf through this daily “Calendar of Calamities,” you quickly find that, even though the Yankees lead Mother Earth in World Championships, they might also lead in bad luck, bad quotes, and bad players.
January 20, 1999: He Coulda Been A Contender – Brien Taylor’s contract finally runs out, ending the sorriest non-career in Yankees history. The “can’t-miss” left-handed pitcher was drafted in 1991 and signed for a $1.55 million bonus, but injured his shoulder in a senseless fight in 1993 (see Dec. 18), underwent surgery, struggled in the minors, and never pitched in the majors.
Fans of any other team could probably say they’ve had it the worst. The Phillies have lost more games than any other franchise in history. The Expos/Nationals have never made it to the World Series. The Mets… Well, does 7 games up with 17 to play ring a bell? But none of these franchises are the Yankees. Anybody can shave their head and go clubbing, but when Britney Spears does it, we’ve got real news. Same with baseball and same with the New York Yankees.
March 7, 1998: Now He’s A Yankee! – Hideki Irabu, a bust as a Yankees pitcher, confronts critical Japanese reporters outside the clubhouse. Someone is filming them, so Irabu charges at him and wrestles him for the camera. Then he demands that still photographers hand over their film. He exposes it to ruin their shots, then throws the videotape on the floor and stomps on it.
Bill Lee, famous as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and infamous for hurting his left (pitching) arm in an on-field brawl with the Yankees (and being interviewed here last summer), wrote a Foreword for “This BAD Day In Yankees History” that is one of the most humorous forewards I have ever read. Bill Lee on Hank Steinbrenner: “He only opens his mouth to change feet.”
See what I mean?
Arranged like a calendar, “This BAD Day In Yankees History” is not like one of those large wall calendars you see at Barnes & Noble beginning every October. You know what I’m talking about. When you start seeing the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit calendar, or the High School Musical XXIII calendar, or a calendar of your favorite baseball team featuring a player on the front who was traded three weeks ago for a pack of gum and salary dump to be named later. No, “This BAD Day In Yankees History” is a perfect 6″ x 6″ square, not bound, but presented in a ring binder. And the cover features an illustration of the old Yankee Stadium crumbling as if Armageddon had come about. Or they just didn’t make the playoffs again.
July 18, 1995: After a nine-run, 13-hit bombing, Jack McDowell finally gets the hook in the fifth inning. The Yankee Stadium crowd boos him, and he responds by giving them the finger. The Yankees fine him $5,000.
To say author Gabriel Schechter did quite a bit of research compiling this is more than an understatement. It’s an absolute truth. It’s a 365-page book/calendar with multiple entries per day; perfect for your coffee table or bathroom. Just pick it up, pick a day, and read away. Got three minutes? Go to June 5 to read about the latest injury to Mickey Mantle in 1963. Or check out September 18th for another Quote of the Day, this time by former manager Clyde King in 1982. You’d be silly not to read June 1, where an entry about that date in 1972 shows just how a team can fall apart when they lose a game by walking in a run.
This I stole from the press release around the book: “A full-time researcher at the National Baseball Hall of Fame library in Cooperstown, Gabriel Schechter has held his dream job since 2002. He has written four baseball history books, including VICTORY FAUST: The Rube Who Saved McGraw’s Giants (2000), UNHITTABLE! Baseball’s Greatest Pitching Seasons (2002), and America’s Pastime: Treasures of the Baseball Hall of Fame (2005). Gabriel grew up a Mets fan in Northern New Jersey (“Yankee Country”), graduated from Colgate, and has been a member of SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) since 1991.” In other words, Gabriel knows a thing or two about baseball.
July 23, 1978: Quote of the Day – Manager Billy Martin passes judgment on his star, Reggie Jackson, and his boss, George Steinbrenner: “The two of them deserve each other. One’s a born liar, the other’s convicted.” With this pronouncement, he takes a giant leap toward being forced to resign.
Ahh, the good old days. With “This BAD Day In Yankees History,” you’ve got 365 of them. Enjoy.
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