October 13 – Happy Birthday George Frazier
Even though the 1981 Yankees made it to the World Series, the majority of Yankee fans old enough to remember that team will tell you it was a horrible year to be a Yankee and baseball fan. The regular season was split by a strike and the only reason New York made the postseason was they had their Division’s lead when the players walked off the job on June 12 of that year. When they came back in August, already assured of a postseason spot because of their pre-strike division lead, the Yankees played horribly and finished fifth in their division’s second-half standings.
The Yankees had acquired the 6’5″ Frazier from the Cardinals that year and by the second half of that season, he was pitching a lot of effective baseball for New York and had joined Goose Gossage and Ron Davis to give the team a very strong bullpen. That bullpen pitched very well in both the ALDS and ALCS as the New York advanced to the World Series against the Dodgers. Then, after winning the first two games at Yankee Stadium, the series shifted to Los Angeles, where the Yankees lost three straight one-run games with Frazier on the losing end of the first two of those decisions. He then also got the “L” in the Dodgers’ 9-2 Game-6 blowout victory back in New York.
That disastrous year ended with the Yankees decision not to re-sign Reggie Jackson and George Steinbrenner publicly ridiculing Jackson’s heir apparent, Dave Winfield, for choking in the postseason.
Frazier spent two more seasons in the Yankee bullpen before being traded to Cleveland. He will forever be remembered as the Yankee pitcher who lost three games in the same World Series.