15 years ago today: Ernie Young hits three homers for A’s

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It was May 10, 1996.

Ernie Young, a 26-year-old center fielder getting his first real shot in the majors, blasted three homers as the A’s beat the Twins 15-5. He had entered the game with three homers in 164 career at-bats, the lowest previous homer total for anyone who has ever had a three-homer game.

(The last of those homers came off LaTroy Hawkins, one of two players from the game still active today. The other, Jason Giambi, started at third base for Oakland. Steve Wojciechowski and Frankie Rodriguez were the starters.)

Young went on to hit 19 homers that season, but he finished with a mediocre .242/.326/.424 line.  The A’s kept him around in 1997, but as he continued to struggle, they went to Damon Mashore in center field instead.

Aside from a year in Japan in 2002, Young spent most of the rest of his career tearing up Triple-A pitching.  At 31, he was the oldest player on the 2000 U.S. Olympic baseball team that took home gold in Sydney.  He made his final major league appearance with the Tigers in 2004, but he played until he was 37 and hit 319 minor league homers in all.  In parts of 13 seasons in Triple-A, he hit .282/.371/.502 with 245 homers.  He hit .225/.310/.378 with 27 homers in 908 at-bats as a major leaguer.

Today, Young is managing in the Tigers system with the West Michican Whitecaps of the Midwest League.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Free-agent ace Jacob deGrom and the Texas Rangers agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner leaves the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened by injuries.

After making his first start last season in early August, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then opted out of his contract to become a free agent.

Texas announced the signing Friday night after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

“We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger,” executive vice president and general manager Chris Young said in a statement. “Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout major league pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this offseason is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best.”

Texas went 68-94 last season and then hired Bruce Bochy as its new manager. The Rangers’ six straight losing seasons are their worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

The Rangers were big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).