This veteran reliever was acquired by the Yankees from Texas in a trade for fellow reliever Cecilio Guante, late in the 1988 regular season. Guante had begun that season as a favorite and frequent late-inning pitching choice of Yankee skipper Billy Martin. But Martin had gotten fired in late June of that year and replaced by Lou Piniella. Sweet Lou was not as sweet on Guante as Billy had been and quickly lost faith in him. Mohorcic had been a closer with Texas and the big right-hander had just put together his best year in 1987 with 16 saves and 7 victories. He had however, gotten off to a horrible start during the ’88 season and it was obvious that both teams were hoping simple changes of scenery would be the elixir these two right-handers needed to once again get late-inning outs. Unfortunately for both clubs and both players, that did not happen.
A native of Cleveland, Mohorcic won two games and lost two more for New York that September and then appeared in 32 games for the Yanks the following season, going 2-1 with two more saves. But his ERA went sky-high that second season in the Bronx and the Yanks released him. He than finished his career with Montreal in 1990.
With spring training just around the corner, I’m getting Yankee fever. The answers to all of the following questions are former New York Yankees who were born on January 21.
Player number one led the Yankee pitching staff with 15 victories in 1989. Who is player number one?
Player number two finished second behind closer Mo Rivera in most appearances for the 2003 AL Champion Yankees.
Player number three backed up Yankee starting catcher, Rick Cerone during both the 1980 and 1981 seasons before retiring and eventually becoming a big league manager. He managed against New York in both the 1998 and ’99 playoffs, losing each time. Who is player number three?
Although player number four has never played for the Yankees, he gave up three of the most dramatic home runs in pinstripe history. Who is player number four?
You’ll find the answers below:
Player number one is Andy Hawkins. Unfortunately, Andy also led that year’s Yankee pitching staff with 15 losses. He had signed a $3.6 million, three-year free-agent contract with New York before that 1989 season and finished his stay in pinstripes with a mediocre 20-29 record. Andy was born on January 21, 1960, in Waco, TX.
Player number two is Chris Hammond. He was born in Cleveland, OH, on January 21, 1966. He had already pitched for four different clubs when New York signed him as a free agent before the 2003 season. The left-hander finished that season with a 3-2 record, 1 save and a 2.68 ERA. After the Yankees lost to the Marlins in the 2003 World Series, Hammond was traded to the A’s.
Player number three is Johnny Oates. He was a nine-year veteran when the Yankees signed him to back up Cerone. He managed for both Baltimore and Texas and his Ranger teams were swept twice by New York in postseason play. Johnny was born in Sylva, NC on January 21, 1946. He died in December of 2004.
Player number four is Byung-Hyun Kim. No Yankee fan who witnessed the fourth and fifth games of the 2001 World Series will ever forget the home runs Kim gave up to Tino Martinez, Derek Jeter and Scott Brosius in games 4-5 at Yankee Stadium. Kim was born on January 21, 1979, in Gwagju, South Korea.
I remember being pretty happy hearing the news that Andy Fox had made the Yankee’s big league roster coming out of spring training in 1996. Living just a half-hour outside of Albany, I had become a big fan of the Albany Colonie Yankees, New York’s Double A franchise at that time. It was fun watching Fox and teammates like Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mo Rivera play for Albany and having all four of them playing in the Bronx in 1996, made rooting for that Yankee team not just easy, but special. Manager Joe Torre gave Fox quite a bit of playing time that first year, mostly at second base. The guy just loved to play the game and his hustle and enthusiasm was impossible to ignore. Unfortunately, he could not get his average above the .200 mark. At the same time, teammate and fellow second baseman Mariano Duncan was having a career year at the plate relegating Andy to a strict utility role. When he got traded to the Diamondbacks after the 1997 season and hit .277 his first year in Arizona, I thought he was on his way to a solid career. That turned out to be the best year of an otherwise mediocre nine season big league stay that ended when Texas released him in 2004. Andy was born on this date in Sacramento in 1971.
Don Gullett was just nineteen years old when he made his Major League debut in 1970 as a relief pitcher for Cincinnati. The Lynn, Kentucky native struck out Willie Mays to end his first inning of work in the big leagues. He got his first win a few days later when Reds ace Jim Maloney tore his achilles tendon in a game against the Dodgers and Gullett was called in to replace him. Willie Stargell called the hard-throwing rookie’s stuff “wall-to-wall heat” and for the next seven seasons, this left-hander was one of the most dominating pitchers in the National League and became the ace of the Big Red Machine’s pitching staff. After Cincinnati swept the Yankees in the 1976 World Series, Gullett became one of George Steinbrenner’s earliest free-agent acquisitions. He paid immediate dividends, going 14-4 for the 1977 World Championship Yankee team. The following year he won four of his first six decisions before a sore arm shut him down. The diagnosis was a double tear of the rotator cuff in his left shoulder. He worked like crazy to rehab the damage but never again pitched in the big leagues. His nine-year career resulted in 109 lifetime victories and an amazing .686 winning percentage.