New York Yankees Flashback: Neon Deion, Tanaka, Rareties

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The superb Masahiro Tanaka shook off a first-inning unearned run and allowed just four singles while going eight innings in a 3-1 victory over the Twins in Yankee Stadium on May 31, 2014. He retired 10 Minnesota batters on strikes and 10 on ground balls, and probably would have pitched a complete game had rain not caused a delay in the bottom of the eighth.

Two-sport star Deion Sanders made his New York Yankee debut on May 31, 1989, in the Stadium a good one. He threw a Mariner out on the bases, drove in a run, and triggered a five-run, seventh-inning rally with a single. The Yanks won 9-5 behind Andy Hawkins over Steve Trout.

A 4-1 victory over Boston on May 31, 1907, was highlighted by two thefts of home by Kid Elberfeld of the visiting New York Highlanders (Yankees). Kid stole on his own in the sixth, and then on the front end of a double steal with Hal Chase one frame later.

When you consider that the 15 unassisted triple plays in major league history make it a more rare achievement than a Perfect Game, it is truly amazing that Detroit first baseman Johnny Neun recorded one on May 31, 1927, the day after Cubs shortstop Jimmy Cooney pulled the same trick against the Pirates. And Neun did his to end the game in a 1-0 Tigers win over the Indians.

All three Yankee May 31 birthdays made a splash in the game, but most of it with other teams, including Orioles reliever Tippy Martinez (1950), longtime Indians center fielder Kenny Lofton (1967), and righty reliever Andrew Bailey (1984).