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Birthday Baseball (An Occasional Series): Game 11 – July 12, 1983

By now our readers know the story… I am looking back to see how the Yankees performed on my birthday each year since I’ve been born and then telling the story of what took place on that summer day each season through my research of the various games.

As always, whenever I do research like this, my first two stops are always Retrosheet and Baseball-Reference.

Let’s head back to 1983, July 12 to see what took place in the Yankees game that day. This would be the last time Graig Nettles, my favorite player, would ever suit up in a Yankees uniform on my birthday.


On Tuesday, July 12, 1983, the Yankees found themselves in Minnesota playing the twins at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. This was the second game of a three-game series the Yankees were playing against the Twins. They had lost the previous night 4-2.

The Yankees came into this game with a record of 43-37. The Twins were 36-49.

The pitching match-up would see Matt Keough with a 3-5 record pitching for the Yankees taking on future Cy Young Award winner Frank Viola (4-6).

The Yankees sent out the following line-up:

Willie Randolph – 2b

Graig Nettles – 3b

Dave Winfield – rf

Lou Piniella – lf

Don Baylor – dh

Steve Balboni – 1b

Jerry Mumphyrey – cf

Rick Cerone – c

Andre Robertson – ss

The Twins countered with the following:

Bobby Mitchell – cf

John Castino – 2b

Gary Ward – lf (a future Yankee)

Kent Hrbek – 1b

Randy Bush – dh

Gary Gaetti – 3b

Tom Brunansky – rf

Ron Washington – ss

Ray Smith – c


To begin the game, Frank Viola made easy work of the Yankees retiring them in order. Willie Randolph grounded out and then Graig Nettles and Dave Winfield both struck out.

Matt Keough, who did not have a long or distinguished Yankees career, matched Viola by retiring the Twins on order recording one strikeout (Bobby Mitchell) of his own.

Lou Piniella began the second inning with a double, but the next three batters were not able to move him up or drive him home.

In the bottom of the second inning, Randy Bush walked with one out, but the Twins also couldn’t do any more than that.

The Yankees were able to push across a run in the top of the third inning. With one out, Andre Robertson doubled. Willie Randolph then walked bringing up Graig Nettles who prompty struck out for the second time that game. With two outs, Dave Winfield singled home Robertson to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Lou Piniella then struck out to end the inning.

The Twins went down in order in the bottom of the third inning.

To begin the fourth, Don Baylor did what he did so often and so well…he got hit my a pitch. Alas! The next three batters were retired.

Matt Keough, though, was staying masterful. He retired the Twins in order in the fourth. The score remained 1-0 in favor of the visiting Yankees.

The Yankees threatened to score with one out in the top of the fifth inning. Willie Randolph singled and then Graig Nettles walked. The Yankees had something going, but Big Dave Winfield did what he did a lot of in those days, he grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

The Twins responded by going down one, two, three.

Neither team scored in the sixth inning and the Yankees failed to score in the top of the seventh inning, but in the bottom of the seventh, the wheels came off a bit. Gary Ward reached on an error from Andre Robertson. Kent Hrbek then reached on an error by Willie Randolph. Randy Bush then singled home Ward with an unearned run to tie the game at one. Gary Gaetti then singled home Hrbek with the second unearned run of the inning. The Twins now had the lead. They had two runner on and no outs. Tom Brunansky lumbered to the plate…and he grounded into a force out With runners on the corners, Mickey Hatcher pinch hit and drove home the Twins’ third run of the inning. That ended Keough’s night Intro the game, out of the bullpen, came George Frazier. Ray Snmith then reached base on a second error from Wil;lie Randolph and the Yankees’ third error of the inning. George Frazier and the Yankees were in toruble, they were down 3-1 and the bases were loaded with only one out. Booby Mitchell and John Castino both struck out (I can hear Phil Rizzuto as I type this, “OH! Holy Cow! I gotta tell you, that Frazier came up big in that spot for the Yankees.”)

Now in the eighth inning, the Yankees seemed to want to enact some revenge. Willie Randolph led off with a walk. Graig Nettles singled him to second. The tying runners were on base for Dave Winfield. The Twins brought in Rick Lysander to face Winfield ending Viola’s night. Winfield greeted Lysander with an RBI single that moved Nettles to second, still with no outs. Len Whitehoue then came in for the Twins. The Yankees countered with Oscar Gamble pinch hitting. Gamble flew out, but the chess match continued. With Don Baylor up, the Twins again went to the bullpen to bring in former Yankee Ron Davis a big righty to face Don Baylor. Davis won the match-up striking out Baylor. Right-handed Steve Balboni was the next hitter due up, but the Yankees sent up Steve Kemp, a lefty, to pinch hit. kemp worked out a walk to load the bases for Jerry Mumphrey who singled home Nettles and Winfield to give the Yankees the lead at 4-3. Rick Cerone then flew out to end the inning.

The plethora of changes then continued before the Twins had their at bats in the bottom of the eighth inning. Don Mattingly took over at first base. Bert Campaneris went to second base to replace Willie Randolph. Dave Winfield moved from right field to left field and Oscar Gamble went to play right. After all of that, the Twins went down in order. Gary Ward and Randy Bush both by striking out.

The Yankees failed to get an insurance runs in their half of the ninth inning (Andre Robertson was hit by a pitch to start the frame, to no avail. In the bottom of the ninth, George Frazier retired Gary Gaetti and Tom Brunansky by strikeouts. Dave Engle then pinch-hit and walked before Ray Smith grounded out to shortstop to end the game.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Yankees held off winning 4-3. George Frazier earned the victory in relief raising his record to 3-1. Rick Lysander (2-8) took the loss.

The next night, the Twins would win the series by defeating Ron Guidry 6-1.


The next installment of this series will bring us to 1984 when Phil Niekro would toe the rubber at Yankee Stadium against the Kansas City Royals and Yankee killer Larry Gura.


Yankees Record on July 12 (in this series – since 1968): 10-1

(There were no games played on July 12 in 1971, 1976, 1978, 1981, and 1982.)

Graig Nettles (as a Yankee on July 12): 33 AB, 7 hits (.212), 1 run, 5 strikeouts, 4 walks. 1 RBI (I had hoped that my favorite player would have done better on my birthday.)

Don Mattingly on July 12: 0 for 0 (we shall see what is to come…)


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