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Thursday, July 24, 2003
Yanks for the memories

By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

Henry Ford founded his auto company, the Wright Brothers made the first airplane flight and the American League played the National League in the first World Series in 1903, but that year wasn't all good. The New York Yankees were also born in 1903.

Jesse Orosco
Jesse Orosco is applauded for his service in the Spanish-American War.
If you weren't aware of their birthday, you're not alone. Thanks to the notorious midwest media, the Yankees have never gotten their full due over the years. In fact, they've received so little coverage that you might not remember these important dates from the first century in New York history ...

Jan. 9, 1903: Businessmen Frank Farrell and Bill Devery purchase the defunct Baltimore Orioles and relocate the team to New York and rename them the Highlanders. In their first official move as owners, they sign left-handed relief specialist Jesse Orosco.

Jan. 10, 1903: Columnists and small market owners accuse New York of trying to buy the pennant.

April 1913: New York officially renames the team the Yankees, forcing Boston vendors to sell their entire stock of "Highlanders Suck!" T-shirts at a huge loss.

Jan. 3, 1920: In the most infamous and lopsided deal in American sports, the Red Sox sell Babe Ruth and their immortal soul to New York for $24 worth of beads.

April-Sept. 1920: Ruth hits 54 home runs to shatter the single-season record and earn two dozen nicknames, including the Bambino, The Sultan of Swat, the Consigliore of Crunch, the Lieutenant Governor of Lumber, the Chief Operating Officer of Bash, the Senior Vice-President in Charge of Purchasing and Slugging Percentage, the Right Honorable Ensign of Clout and the Notary Public of Horsehide.

April 18, 1923: Affectionately known as the House That Ruth Built, Yankee Stadium opens, setting the stage for many additional structures such as the Apartment That Rizzuto Built, the Townhome That Skowron Erected, the Duplex That Horace Clarke Leased and the Low Income Housing Complex That Pepitone Gutted And Sold Off As Luxury Condominiums.

Oct. 15, 1923: After the Yankees beat the Giants to win their first world championship, columnists and small market owners complain that there needs to be better revenue sharing, because the Yankees win the World Series every year.

April 1925: Ruth misses the first two months of the season when he accidentally eats a hot dog from the Yankee Stadium concession stand.

June 1, 1925: In a very poor career decision, Wally Pipp calls in sick and stays home laying on the couch and watching TV.

May 16, 1928: Billy Martin is born. He is bottle-fed by Ballantine.

July 4, 1930: The unsuspecting victim of a witches' coven, Rosemary Woodhouse, gives birth to the son of Satan, George M. Steinbrenner III.

George Steinbrenner
Boss Steinbrenner decries 'hugging players who struggle'.
August 12, 1931: Steinbrenner utters his first words, telling his nanny, "You're fired."

Oct. 1, 1932: In one of the most dramatic moments in World Series history, the Babe steps to the plate, points to center field and orders two dozen hot dogs.

May 30, 1939: Lou Gehrig ends his playing streak at 2,130 games, and Mayo Clinic doctors deliver the most obvious diagnosis in medical history, telling him that he has Lou Gehrig's Disease. It is only one of the many ailments named in honor of a Yankees superstar. Others include Epstein-Berra Syndrome, Non-Knoblauch's Lymphoma and of course, Mickey Pox.

July 17, 1941: Joe DiMaggio's amazing record streak finally ends when he signs an autograph without attorney Morris Engleberg charging for it.

May 28, 1944: Rudy Giuliani is born, guaranteeing profitable Yankees souvenir sales for the next 60 years.

Oct. 5, 1951: Mickey Mantle suffers the first of several debilitating knee injuries in Game 2 of the World Series when he trips over his empties.

January 14, 1954: DiMaggio marries Marilyn Monroe and, upon consummating the marriage, delivers the most famous line in baseball history: "Tonight, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

Oct. 8, 1954: The Giants sweep Cleveland in four games when the Yankees vote to not win the pennant, "just to see what it's like."

Oct. 1, 1961: After a long, emotionally ravaging summer, Roger Maris endures another indignity when he hits his record-breaking 61st home run and his family hugs Mark McGwire instead.

Dec. 8, 1972: Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich swap wives but are unable to complete the entire trade when Luis Polonia claims their daughters on waivers.

Jan. 3, 1973: The Lamb breaks the seventh seal, the Angel blows the seventh trumpet, earthquakes ravage the globe, California sinks into the Pacific, the sun disappears from the sky, the moon runs crimson, zombies roam the earth and Steinbrenner buys the Yankees.

April 16, 1976: Renovated Yankee Stadium opens with Rudy May throwing out the first pitch and bleacher fan Mark Rooney throwing out the first battery.

Oct. 18, 1977: Reggie Jackson slams three home runs in Game 6 of the World Series and headline writers dub him "Mr. October," adding him to the pantheon of Yankees greats such as "Mr. February" Hank Bauer, "Mr. December" Elston Howard and "Miss April" Ed Whitson.

Oct. 2, 1978: Bucky Dent officially becomes the leading cause of clinical depression, schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorders in Boston.

Oct. 20, 1981: After losing the final game of the World Series, the Yankees won't reach the postseason for 14 years, leaving columnists and small market owners nothing to complain about.

July 24, 1983: Umpires nullify George Brett's home run after Billy Martin protests that he was using Sammy Sosa's bat. It was 20 years ago today.

May 14,1987: Steinbrenner hires Howard Spira to call up Dave Winfield and ask if his refrigerator is running.

June 6, 1990: Six months after the death of Billy Martin, Steinbrenner orders the body dug up and hires him as manager for the sixth time. There is no apparent difference between the dead Martin and the manager he replaces, Stump Merrill.

John Belushi
The Yankees introduce their new chief counsel while on double-secret probation.
August 10, 1990: After investigating the Spira-Winfield affair, baseball places Steinbrenner on double-secret probation.

Oct. 26, 1996: The Yankees celebrate their first world championship in 18 years by voting Jeffrey Maier a full World Series share.

May 17, 1998: In the finest performance of his career, David Wells retires 27 consecutive beers without spilling a drop.

Nov. 15, 1998: After a very sick DiMaggio enters the hospital's intensive care unit, Morris Engleberg instructs reporters that he is to be referred to as "The Greatest Dying Ballplayer" in their stories.

Feb. 18, 1999: The Yankees acquire five-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens. Boston responds by changing the greeting on the club's phone lines from "Home of the 1918 World Series champions" to "Yankees Suck!"

Oct. 12, 2001: In Game 3 of the division series with Oakland, Derek Jeter astounds fans across the country by putting his pants on two legs at a time.

April 2, 2002: After a year of hype and anticipation, the 24-hour YES Network debuts in well over a dozen homes.

April 1, 2003: The Yankees celebrate their 100th anniversary by unveiling the commemorative shoulder patches they'll wear throughout the upcoming season: "2003 World Champions."

July 31, 2003: Steinbrenner gears up for the stretch drive by trading Drew Henson for the entire National League.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.