Birthday Baseball (An Occasional Series): Game 15 – July 12, 1987
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.
As always, whenever I do research like this, my first two stops are always Retrosheet and Baseball-Reference.
Let’s head back to 1987, July 12 to see what took place in the Yankees game that day.
The Sunday afternoon of July 12, 1987 saw the Chicago White Sox (34-50) at Yankee Stadium to face the Yankees (54-34). This was the last game before the All-Star Break and the final game of a four game series. The Whit Sox had won two of the previous three games.
Floyd Banniser (4-7) was the starting pitcher for the ChiSox.
The ageless Tommy John (7-3) took the hill for the Yankees.
The following was the White Sox starting lineup:
Jerry Royster – 3b (future Yankee)
Gary Redus – lf
Harold Baines -dh (future Hall-of-Famer)
Ivan Calderon – rf
Greg Walker – 1b
Carlton Fisk – c (future Hall-of-Famer)
Donnie Hill -2b
Ken Williams – cf
Ozzie Guillen – ss
The Yankees countered with the following nine:
Rickey Henderson – lf (future Hall-of-Famer)
Willie Randolph – 2b
Don Mattingly – 1b
Dave Winfield – dh (future Hall-of-Famer)
Gary Ward – rf
Henry Cotto – cf
Jeff Moronko – 3b
Rick Cerone – c
Wayne Tolleson – ss
This is why activities like this are so fun for me. I consider myself a student of the game and someone who is pretty knowledgeable about Yankees history. It is rare, very rare, when I come across the name of a player I never heard of. That happened today.
I have never heard of him. Ever. I would have never known that he was a Major League Baseball player – especially a Yankee.
Jeff Moronko played seven games for the 1984 Cleveland Indians , and, years later, seven games for the 1987 Yankees. He accumulated 35 at bats and totaled four hits in his career (three singles and a double). As a Yankee, he went 1 for 11. He played games for the Yankees between July 3, 1987 and July 19, 1987. He had 16 calendar days in the big leagues as a Yankee.
Moronko singled in his first at bat as a Yankee, but then never got a hit again. He played short stop, right field, left field, and third base.
His last year as a professional ballplayer came in 1988, playing for the Columbus Clippers where he his .201 over 97 games.
In this game, the White Sox jumped out to an early lead as Jerry Royster homered to lead-off the game. Ivan Calderon had a two-out double, but there were no other hits or runs scored in the top of the first inning.
In the bottom of the first, the Yankees went down in order.
The White Sox failed to score in the top of the second inning, but in the bottom, the Yankees had a long ball of their own. With one out, Gary Ward singled. Henry Cotto followed with two-run homer giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead. That was all of their scoring in the second.
And the game stayed at that score for the next few innings.
No team scored in the third inning.
Or the fourth inning.
Or the fifth inning.
In the top of the sixth inning, the White Sox didn’t score.
But in the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees came alive…
Dave Winfield began the frame with a single. Gary Ward then reached on an error by third sacker Jerry Royster. That brought up Henry Cotto who doubled home Winfield and Ward. He advanced to third on the throw. Jeff Moronko popped out, but Rick Cerone bunted home the Yankees’ fifth run as Cotto scored.
The White Sox came back in the top of the seventh inning. With two outs Donnie Hill singled. Kenny Williams then tripled him home. That made the score 5-2.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, now facing new pitcher Jim Winn, Don Mattingly came up with two outs and no one on. Donnie Baseball deposited one into the right field seats to give the Yankees a 6-2 cushion.
The Yankees brought in Rick Rhoden to relive Tommy John in the eighth. This is interesting because Rhoden was a starting pitcher. He pitched for the Yankees in 1987 and 1988. In that time, he made 59 starts. As a Yankee, Rhoden appeared in 60 games. This was his only relief appearance as a Yankee.
On this sunny afternoon, Rhoden toiled two innings. He allowed one hit, he walked two, and he struck out three. No runs scored off him in the eighth or the ninth. The Yankees sailed to an easy 6-2.
The last Yankee to bat in this game (in the bottom of the 8th) was Jeff Moronko. He flied out.
Due to the All-Star break in 1988 and 1989, the Yankees wouldn’t play again on July 12 until 1990.
Would the Yankees continue their impressive streak of wins on July 12, 1990?
Yankees Record on July 12 (in this series – since 1968): 14-1
(There were no games played on July 12 in 1971, 1976, 1978, 1981, and 1982.)
Don Mattingly on July 12 (through 1986): 8 for 16 (.500), 1 2b, 2 HR, 7 RBI, BB
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.)