New York Yankees Flashback: Happy Anniversary, Brett!

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

The Yankees purchased the contract of outfielder Brett Gardner from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on June 30, 2008, and started him in center field in his major league debut against Scott Feldman and the Texas Rangers. Mike Mussina was brilliant, but less so than the Texas rookie righthander, who held the Yanks to four hits and one run (an Alex Rodriguez home run) through six. Moose gave up five safeties and two runs and the Yanks fell 2-1. One-time star third baseman Graig Nettles had decreased the games-remaining counter in Yankee Stadium from 42 to 41 the day before, and on this day, one-time Pinstriped hurler and broadcaster Jim Kaat moved it down to 40, marking that there was now less than half a season left to be played in the grand old ballpark.

Of the four Yankees who call June 30 their birthday, the most recent with significant playing time to don the Pinstripes is shortstop Tony Fernandez (1962), the last Yankee to hit for the cycle until Melky Cabrera did it 14 years later. His elbow break in 1996 Spring Training opened the position for Derek Jeter. The Yanks signed Fernandez as a free agent in December 1994, and granted him free agency a month after winning the 1996 World Series with Jeter at short.

Jerry Kenney (1945) played third in some bleak days, at the end of the 1960s, until 1972. From the fans’ perspective, Jerry’s best day was November 27, 1972, when he was traded with Johnny Ellis, Charlie Spikes, and Rusty Torres to the Cleveland Indians for Graig Nettles and Jerry Moses.

Ron Swoboda (1944) was acquired in a June 1971 trade with the Montreal Expos for outfielder Ron Woods. He hit four taters and drove in 34 runs in the Bronx. Ron ended his big-league career with 73 home runs, 344 rbi’s, and at least one great World Series memory, and a ring.

Shortstop Cole Figueroa (1987) went 2-for-8 playing two games for the Yankees that in 2014.

An even more intriguing player on today’s birthday list who spent time with the Yanks but never played a game with the parent club is ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte (1985). Pat was drafted by the Yankees in 2007 and 2008, signing with the club the second time, and pitched in New York’s system until he was declared a free agent in November 2014. He pitched in 26 games with Oakland in 2015, 15 more for Toronto and Seattle in 2016, and five with the Dodgers in ’18. He has an overall 2-2 record, with no saves.