May 2010

May 29 – Happy Birthday Charlie Hayes

HayesCFate shined kindly on this fourteen-year veteran when he found himself catching the final out pop-up of the 1996 World Series as the Yankee’s third baseman. New York had picked him up late that same season to serve as a late-inning defensive replacement for Wade Boggs. Hayes had also been the Yankee starting third baseman in 1992 but was left unprotected in the MLB Expansion Draft and was selected by Colorado.

After he caught the last out of the ’96 Series, he actually started more games at third for the Yankees the following season than Boggs did. But after the Indians bounced the Yankees out of postseason play in the first round of the 1997 playoffs, Charlie was traded to San Francisco and the Yankees went out and got Scott Brosius from Oakland to be their new third baseman.

Born in Hattiesburg, MS in 1965, Charlie retired after the 2001 season with 144 home runs and 1,379 career hits during his 14-season big league career.

Charley shares his May 29th birthday with long-ago Yankee outfielderthis utility player and  this first baseman

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1992 NYY 142 549 509 52 131 19 2 18 66 3 28 100 .257 .297 .409 .705
1996 NYY 20 69 67 7 19 3 0 2 13 0 1 12 .284 .294 .418 .712
1997 NYY 100 398 353 39 91 16 0 11 53 3 40 66 .258 .332 .397 .728
14 Yrs 1547 5766 5262 580 1379 251 16 144 740 47 420 918 .262 .316 .398 .714
SFG (4 yrs) 216 683 609 72 150 17 1 18 110 5 67 106 .246 .320 .366 .686
PHI (4 yrs) 519 1981 1849 174 474 88 5 41 238 15 105 303 .256 .296 .376 .672
NYY (3 yrs) 262 1016 929 98 241 38 2 31 132 6 69 178 .259 .310 .405 .715
COL (2 yrs) 270 1093 996 135 297 68 6 35 148 14 79 153 .298 .352 .484 .836
PIT (1 yr) 128 500 459 51 114 21 2 10 62 6 36 78 .248 .301 .368 .669
HOU (1 yr) 31 58 50 4 10 2 0 0 4 0 7 16 .200 .293 .240 .533
MIL (1 yr) 121 435 370 46 93 17 0 9 46 1 57 84 .251 .348 .370 .718
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/29/2013.

May 24 – A Tree grew in Brooklyn and so did some great Yankees

With the exception of starting pitcher, catching is baseball’s most physically demanding position. That’s true today and it was true when the Yankees, then known as the Highlanders, played their first game in the Big Apple during the first decade of the twentieth century. Even back then, most teams carried backup catchers on their roster. The only member of the Yankee’s all-time roster to celebrate his birthday on this date was Fred Jacklitsch, a Brooklyn-born back-up catcher who played close to 500 games in the big leagues but only one of them in a New York uniform and that was during the 1905 season. Jacklitsch may have been the only Yankee born on May 24th but he’s one of several to have been born in Brooklyn. Here’s my list of the five most famous Brooklyn natives to have ever worn the pinstripes:

1 – Phil Rizzuto
2 – Waite Hoyt
3 – Wee Willie Keeler
4 – Joe Torre
5 – Joe Pepitone

May 20 – Happy Birthday Bobby Murcer

It is still hard to believe Bobby is gone. He became my favorite Yankee when he was brought up in 1969 to replace my previous favorite Yankee, the great Mickey Mantle. Even though he developed into a very good big league player, he was no Mantle. He was instead, the very best player on a very bad string of Yankee teams and I loved the guy. I remember being very upset when Bobby was traded to the Giants for Bobby Bonds right after the 1974 season. I remember being overjoyed when the Yankees put him back in pinstripes during the 1979 season. I hated to see him retire during the 1983 season but I enjoyed listening to him and learning more about him during his many years in the Yankees’ broadcast booth. When he died from a brain tumor in July of 2008, Yankee fans around the world mourned him. Had he lived he would have turned 67 years-old today.

Bobby shares his birthday with the first closer in Yankee history, this one-time Yankee pitcher and this one too.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1965 NYY 11 42 37 2 9 0 1 1 4 0 5 12 .243 .333 .378 .712
1966 NYY 21 73 69 3 12 1 1 0 5 2 4 5 .174 .219 .217 .437
1969 NYY 152 625 564 82 146 24 4 26 82 7 50 103 .259 .319 .454 .773
1970 NYY 159 680 581 95 146 23 3 23 78 15 87 100 .251 .348 .420 .768
1971 NYY 146 624 529 94 175 25 6 25 94 14 91 60 .331 .427 .543 .969
1972 NYY 153 654 585 102 171 30 7 33 96 11 63 67 .292 .361 .537 .898
1973 NYY 160 672 616 83 187 29 2 22 95 6 50 67 .304 .357 .464 .821
1974 NYY 156 679 606 69 166 25 4 10 88 14 57 59 .274 .332 .378 .710
1979 NYY 74 294 264 42 72 12 0 8 33 1 25 32 .273 .339 .409 .748
1980 NYY 100 345 297 41 80 9 1 13 57 2 34 28 .269 .339 .438 .777
1981 NYY 50 130 117 14 31 6 0 6 24 0 12 15 .265 .331 .470 .801
1982 NYY 65 156 141 12 32 6 0 7 30 2 12 15 .227 .288 .418 .707
1983 NYY 9 23 22 2 4 2 0 1 1 0 1 1 .182 .217 .409 .626
17 Yrs 1908 7718 6730 972 1862 285 45 252 1043 127 862 841 .277 .357 .445 .802
G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
NYY (13 yrs) 1256 4997 4428 641 1231 192 29 175 687 74 491 564 .278 .349 .453 .802
CHC (3 yrs) 358 1465 1243 178 336 44 10 43 175 32 196 154 .270 .367 .426 .792
SFG (2 yrs) 294 1256 1059 153 295 49 6 34 181 21 175 123 .279 .379 .432 .812
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/20/2013.

May 16 – Happy Birthday Billy Martin

I never was a big fan of Billy Martin. I was too young to remember his playing days with the Yankees in the fifties. When he started managing in the American League, first for the Twins in 1969 and then the Tigers in 1971, I remember trying to learn more about him. Everything I read seemed to indicate he had a great will to win, a strong knowledge of the game but an extremely bad temper. This helped explain why he was fired from his first three managerial positions even after he helped turn losing teams into winners.

When George Steinbrenner became managing partner of the Yankees the perfect storm necessary to bring these two unpredictable forces together in the Bronx had been formed. In the beginning, it worked marvelously. The Yankees got back to the World Series and fans filled the Stadium like never before. It didn’t last long, however. Martin’s dependence on alcohol worsened under the pressure of Steinbrenner’s meddling and the glare of the New York media. Once these fault lines became public during and after the 1977 season, Martin would never again be able to command the respect or support of his players necessary to lead them to championships.

As more and more Yankees and ex-Yankees began talking and writing about their experiences while playing for Martin, a clearer picture of his addiction to alcohol, his emotional insecurity, and his inhumane behavior emerged. What respect I had for his past achievements was quickly replaced by pity for what he had become.

Having written all this it is only fair to point out that there are many people who knew Martin personally and who played with him and for him on a baseball field who loved and deeply respected the guy. My opinions of him were formed from the far-away focus of a typical baseball fan.

He died on Christmas day in 1989 when his truck was driven into a ditch by a friend who was driving intoxicated at the time. The driver and Martin had been drinking all day. May he now be resting in peace.

During his final season as Yankee skipper in 1989, Martin had this right-handed veteran starter who shares his May 16th birthday, on his pitching staff. Martin was not the Yankee manager when this other May 16th born right-hander pitched in pinstripes, during the 1981 season. This former Yankee reliever was also born on that day.

Martin’s record as a Yankee player:

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1950 NYY 34 39 36 10 9 1 0 1 8 0 3 3 .250 .308 .361 .669
1951 NYY 51 65 58 10 15 1 2 0 2 0 4 9 .259 .328 .345 .673
1952 NYY 109 401 363 32 97 13 3 3 33 3 22 31 .267 .323 .344 .668
1953 NYY 149 644 587 72 151 24 6 15 75 6 43 56 .257 .314 .395 .710
1954 Did not play in major leagues (Military Service)
1955 NYY 20 80 70 8 21 2 0 1 9 1 7 9 .300 .354 .371 .726
1956 NYY 121 504 458 76 121 24 5 9 49 7 30 56 .264 .310 .397 .708
1957 NYY 43 154 145 12 35 5 2 1 12 2 3 14 .241 .257 .324 .581
11 Yrs 1021 3716 3419 425 877 137 28 64 333 34 188 355 .257 .300 .369 .669
NYY (7 yrs) 527 1887 1717 220 449 70 18 30 188 19 112 178 .262 .313 .376 .688
MIN (1 yr) 108 398 374 44 92 15 5 6 36 3 13 42 .246 .275 .361 .636
MLN (1 yr) 6 6 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
KCA (1 yr) 73 285 265 33 68 9 3 9 27 7 12 20 .257 .295 .415 .710
CIN (1 yr) 103 346 317 34 78 17 1 3 16 0 27 34 .246 .304 .334 .639
CLE (1 yr) 73 258 242 37 63 7 0 9 24 0 8 18 .260 .290 .401 .691
DET (1 yr) 131 536 498 56 127 19 1 7 42 5 16 62 .255 .279 .339 .619
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/15/2013.

Martin’s record as a Yankee manager:

Rk Year Age Tm Lg G W L W-L% Finish
8 1975 47 New York Yankees AL 2nd of 2 56 30 26 .536 3
9 1976 48 New York Yankees AL 159 97 62 .610 1 AL Pennant
10 1977 49 New York Yankees AL 162 100 62 .617 1 WS Champs
11 1978 50 New York Yankees AL 1st of 3 94 52 42 .553 1
12 1979 51 New York Yankees AL 2nd of 2 95 55 40 .579 4
17 1983 55 New York Yankees AL 162 91 71 .562 3
18 1985 57 New York Yankees AL 2nd of 2 145 91 54 .628 2
19 1988 60 New York Yankees AL 1st of 2 68 40 28 .588 5
Minnesota Twins 1 year 162 97 65 .599 1.0
Detroit Tigers 3 years 452 248 204 .549 2.0
Texas Rangers 3 years 279 137 141 .493 3.7
Oakland Athletics 3 years 433 215 218 .497 2.5
New York Yankees 8 years 941 556 385 .591 2.5 2 Pennants and 1 World Series Title
16 years 2267 1253 1013 .553 2.5 2 Pennants and 1 World Series Title
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/15/2013.

May 14 – Happy Birthday Earle Combs

Earle Combs was born on May 14, 1899, in Pebworth, KY. Nicknamed the “”Kentucky Colonel”” he was the first great Yankee center fielder. When he left his parents’ farm at the age of seventeen, his career goal was to become a school teacher.  He attended what is now Eastern Kentucky University to pursue a teaching degree. He got involved in a baseball game between the students and the faculty of the college. The guy pitching for the teachers that day had some big league experience and was impressed enough by Combs’ ability that he urged him to try out for the school’s baseball team. He did and quickly became an elite player on that team. Soon he was playing semi pro and minor league ball.

In 1924, he signed a contract to play for the Kentucky Colonels of the American Association. The team’s manager was future Yankee skipper, Joe McCarthy, who converted Combs from a shortstop to a center fielder. After two outstanding seasons with the Colonels, the Yankees outbid a slew of other big league teams and purchased his contract for $50,000. He than began his twelve-season career in Pinstripes in 1924.

He batted .325, lifetime. That mark places Combs third on the list of highest Yankee lifetime batting averages with a minimum of 1,500 plate appearances. Combs scored at least 113 runs for eight straight seasons hitting in front of Ruth and Gehrig. During the 1934 season, he ran into an outfield wall in Sportsmen’s Park in St Louis, chasing a fly ball at top speed. He broke his skull and almost died from the resulting injuries. He attempted a comeback in 1935 but after crashing into another wall, he called it quits for good.  Combs was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1970.

Combs shares his May 14th birthday with this former Yankee Manager and this former Yankee reliever and this other former Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1924 NYY 24 39 35 10 14 5 0 0 2 0 4 2 .400 .462 .543 1.004
1925 NYY 150 674 593 117 203 36 13 3 61 12 65 43 .342 .411 .462 .873
1926 NYY 145 670 606 113 181 31 12 8 55 8 47 23 .299 .352 .429 .781
1927 NYY 152 725 648 137 231 36 23 6 64 15 62 31 .356 .414 .511 .925
1928 NYY 149 709 626 118 194 33 21 7 56 11 77 33 .310 .387 .463 .850
1929 NYY 142 666 586 119 202 33 15 3 65 12 69 32 .345 .414 .468 .881
1930 NYY 137 617 532 129 183 30 22 7 82 16 74 26 .344 .424 .523 .947
1931 NYY 138 636 563 120 179 31 13 5 58 11 68 34 .318 .394 .446 .840
1932 NYY 144 675 591 143 190 32 10 9 65 3 81 16 .321 .405 .455 .860
1933 NYY 122 472 417 86 125 22 16 5 64 6 47 19 .300 .372 .465 .837
1934 NYY 63 295 251 47 80 13 5 2 25 3 40 9 .319 .412 .434 .847
1935 NYY 89 335 298 47 84 7 4 3 35 1 36 10 .282 .359 .362 .722
12 Yrs 1455 6513 5746 1186 1866 309 154 58 632 98 670 278 .325 .397 .462 .859
162 Game Avg. 162 725 640 132 208 34 17 6 70 11 75 31 .325 .397 .462 .859
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/13/2013.

May 12 – Happy Birthday Yogi Berra

My personal memory of this great Yankee took place during a game I attended at Yankee Stadium sometime during the early 1960s, probably 1962. My Uncle always got us field box seats when he took us to the Stadium, somewhere between first base and the right field foul pole. Berra came to the plate and I vividly remember several things about the at bat. The pitch he hit was very high, especially for the short 5’8″ Berra. He hit the ball on a line. It went by me, my Uncle and my older brother like a comet, right at our eye level but still rising. When it hit the drab green painted metal facing of the Stadium’s mezzanine level in right field, it hit it so hard that the clang it made actually echoed throughout the Stadium. I did not see anyone hit a ball as hard as that one until over thirty years later when Jose Canseco hit one out of Fenway that may still have not landed. Of course Jose used steroids and the only juice a urine test might have discovered in Berra’s body was the kind you squeezed out of oranges.

Yogi Berra was a marvelous Yankee catcher who won ten championship rings. He had supreme offensive and defensive skills and his teammates loved him. He was also under appreciated as a manager, being the only field boss to win pennants for both the Yankees and Mets.

There are so many things I cherish about the game of baseball and having had the opportunity to watch number 8 play the game is high on that list. Happy 86th birthday Yogi.

Yogi shares his May 12th birthday with this former Yankee third baseman,  this war-time starting pitcher and this famous older brother.

Berra’s Yankee career record as a player:

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1946 NYY 7 23 22 3 8 1 0 2 4 0 1 1 .364 .391 .682 1.073
1947 NYY 83 306 293 41 82 15 3 11 54 0 13 12 .280 .310 .464 .775
1948 NYY 125 497 469 70 143 24 10 14 98 3 25 24 .305 .341 .488 .830
1949 NYY 116 443 415 59 115 20 2 20 91 2 22 25 .277 .323 .480 .802
1950 NYY 151 656 597 116 192 30 6 28 124 4 55 12 .322 .383 .533 .915
1951 NYY 141 594 547 92 161 19 4 27 88 5 44 20 .294 .350 .492 .842
1952 NYY 142 603 534 97 146 17 1 30 98 2 66 24 .273 .358 .478 .835
1953 NYY 137 557 503 80 149 23 5 27 108 0 50 32 .296 .363 .523 .886
1954 NYY 151 651 584 88 179 28 6 22 125 0 56 29 .307 .367 .488 .855
1955 NYY 147 615 541 84 147 20 3 27 108 1 60 20 .272 .349 .470 .819
1956 NYY 140 596 521 93 155 29 2 30 105 3 65 29 .298 .378 .534 .911
1957 NYY 134 545 482 74 121 14 2 24 82 1 57 24 .251 .329 .438 .767
1958 NYY 122 476 433 60 115 17 3 22 90 3 35 35 .266 .319 .471 .790
1959 NYY 131 521 472 64 134 25 1 19 69 1 43 38 .284 .347 .462 .809
1960 NYY 120 404 359 46 99 14 1 15 62 2 38 23 .276 .347 .446 .792
1961 NYY 119 436 395 62 107 11 0 22 61 2 35 28 .271 .330 .466 .795
1962 NYY 86 263 232 25 52 8 0 10 35 0 24 18 .224 .297 .388 .685
1963 NYY 64 164 147 20 43 6 0 8 28 1 15 17 .293 .360 .497 .856
19 Yrs 2120 8359 7555 1175 2150 321 49 358 1430 30 704 414 .285 .348 .482 .830
G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
NYY (18 yrs) 2116 8350 7546 1174 2148 321 49 358 1430 30 704 411 .285 .348 .483 .830
NYM (1 yr) 4 9 9 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .222 .222 .222 .444
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/12/2013.
Berra’s Yankee career record as a manager:
Rk Year Age Tm Lg G W L W-L% Finish
1 1964 39 New York Yankees AL 164 99 63 .611 1 AL Pennant
6 1984 59 New York Yankees AL 162 87 75 .537 3
7 1985 60 New York Yankees AL 1st of 2 16 6 10 .375 2
New York Mets 4 years 588 292 296 .497 3.0 1 Pennant
New York Yankees 3 years 342 192 148 .565 2.0 1 Pennant
7 years 930 484 444 .522 2.6 2 Pennants
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/12/2013.