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Cole Figueroa, Brian Johnson could have made Gators history in Red Sox-Yankees rivalry

A pair of call-ups had two Gators poised to make history, but another roster move dashed it.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Update, 7:23 p.m.: About an hour after this article was published, the Yankees optioned Figueroa back to Triple-A to make room for Rob Refsnyder. We can't have nice things. Original article follows.

On Thursday, the New York Yankees called up Cole Figueroa to their active roster to fill in for injured third baseman Chase Headley. On Saturday, the Boston Red Sox called up Brian Johnson to their active roster to take the spot vacated by the injured Clay Bucholtz.

And so the Gators could make history today or tomorrow, as the two teams continue their ancient rivalry: If they play in the same game, it will be the first time in Major League Baseball history that two Florida products have played in the same Red Sox-Yankees clash.

According to Florida's 2015 media guide (PDF), there have only been three seasons in MLB history in which former Gators have played for both the Red Sox and Yankees: 1989, 1990, and 1997. And 1997 doesn't really count: Mike Stanley began the year with the Red Sox, but was traded to the Yankees in August, so there were never Florida players on both rosters at the same time.

In 1989 and 1990, though, the Red Sox had reliever Rob Murphy, and the Yankees had starter Dave Eiland, and both were unquestionably on the teams' respective rosters at the same time. But Eiland was still a minor-leaguer at the time, and started six games as a midseason call-up in 1989 and five more in September 1990, only once — on Saturday, July 8, 1989 — facing the Sox. He and Murphy were ships passing in the night on that weekend almost exactly 26 years ago: Murphy threw for the Sox on Friday, July 7, and Sunday, July 9, but didn't enter Saturday's game.

The next two games would seem to be the best chance ever for Gators to face off in this rivalry. Figueroa figures (sorry) to start at third and hit ninth for the Yankees, as he has over his first two games in pinstripes; while Johnson isn't likely to start, he could see work in relief, as Over the Monster's Ben Buchanan writes:

With the All-Star break coming up, don't be surprised if the Red Sox use Johnson out of the bullpen at some point in the last two games of their series against New York. Unless the front office has gone completely off the rails, Johnson has to be up was a member of the rotation, but with the long layoff ahead, the Sox will probably want to get him some amount of game action.

And if the two players play in the same game — or, better yet, meet for an at-bat — it will be the first time two Gators have done so in baseball's most ballyhooed rivalry.