After the 1994 postseason, the Yankees signed this four-time Gold Glove winner as a free agent to become their starting shortstop. He did not have a very good 1995 season, hitting just .245, although he did become the first Yankee to hit for the cycle since Bobby Murcer pulled it off in 1972. But the Yankees thought Fernandez would provide more offense and when he failed to do so, Bucky Showalter started giving Randy Velarde some starts at short. Then Fernandez got hurt late in the year and while he was on the DL, he watched a young prospect named Derek Jeter fill in at his position. New Yankee manager, Joe Torre decided Jeter would be his starting shortstop in 1996 but his plan was to make Fernandez his starting second baseman. That went up in smoke when Tony broke his elbow during spring training and missed the entire 1996 season. The Yankees let him go after his two-year contract expired and he signed with Cleveland. Fernandez played until 2001 and retired with a .288 lifetime batting average and 2,276 hits.
In 1995, this veteran starter turned reliever joined the Yankees appearing in three games out of the bullpen. He gave up three runs during his one cumulative inning of work and then never pitched again in pinstripes. Honeycutt pitched in the big leagues for 21 seasons, with six different teams. He retired in 1997 with a 109-143 lifetime record.
In 1903, the Baltimore Orioles became the New York Highlanders. The Orioles Manager and starting catcher in 1902, was Wilbert “Uncle Robbie” Robinson. He had succeeded John McGraw as skipper in Baltimore after “Little Napoleon” got the Managerial position for the New York Giants. Robinson was in line to become the first Yankee skipper when the team was moved but he instead accepted an offer from McGraw to join the Giants’ coaching staff. In 1914, Robinson became manager of the Brooklyn Robins where he remained for the next 19 seasons. Why am I bringing this up? Because Uncle Robbie is technically part of the Yankee’s All-time franchise roster and he too was born on June 29, way back in 1863, in Bolton, MA.
Sharing Honeycutt’s and Robinson’s June 29th birthday is the only Yankee to ever pinch hit for Babe Ruth.
It was June of 1966 and the New York Yankees were dissolving faster than an Alka Seltzer. Two season’s earlier, the team had fallen three runs short of winning a World Series, but here they were, just twenty month’s later, floundering in seventh place in the AL standings. Everybody knew they needed major help immediately and that included their competition. It was fun for the other AL teams to watch the once mighty Yankees get their comeuppance. Even if their own ball clubs were in need of players, no other AL franchise was willing to help much with New York’s retooling effort via a trade except of course the good old Kansas City A’s. But unlike in years past when the A’s would serve up outstanding talent like Roger Maris, Clete Boyer and Hector Lopez to their Big Apple brethren, Kansas City’s front office had been taken over by the eccentric and extremely stingy Charley Finley in the early sixties. Well aware that the Yankees had exploited the A’s in previous player transactions, Finley refused to even deal with New York for years and when he finally did, the trades were no longer one-sided affairs.
So when a deal between the Yankees and A’s was made in June of 1966, instead of being announced with a bold back page headline in the New York City tabloids, it received a paragraph at the end of that day’s Yankee game recap. “The Yankees traded their former starting pitcher Bill Stafford, outfielder Roger Repoz and reliever Gil Blanco to Kansas City today in exchange for A’s catcher Bill Bryan and starting pitcher Fred Talbot.”
As things turned out, it was one of those trades that had little impact on either team. Talbot was immediately inserted into the Yankees’ starting rotation. He would go 7-7 for the Yankees during the balance of the 1966 season and then 6-8 the following year. But his ERA was north of four both those seasons and in 1968 he was demoted to the Yankee bullpen. He did worse as a reliever, finishing the year at 1-9. The Yankees traded him to the Pilots in 1969, getting Jack Aker in return, who turned out to be a great closer for New York during the next three seasons. Talbot, on the other hand did little for the Pilots except become fodder for Jim Bouton’s best-selling “Ball Four” chronology of the Pilot’s 1969 season. He then found himself back pitching with the A’s in 1970 and ’71, his final two big league seasons. He finished his 8-year career with a 38-56 record.
There are a few days during the calendar year for which I can find no
current or former Yankee player, manager, coach, front office exec,
announcer etc. celebrating a birthday. June 27 happens to be one of
those dates. So instead, let’s look at the all-time best starting
lineup of Yankees who celebrate their birthday in June:
1B – Lou Gehrig – June 19
2B – Horace Clarke – June 2
3B – Phil Linz – June 19
SS – Derek Jeter – June 26
C – Bill Dickey – June 6
OF – Hideki Matsui
OF – Don Baylor – June 28
OF – Vic Mata – June 17
DH – Thurman Munson – June 7
P – Andy Pettitte – June 15
RP – Eddie Lopat
This month’s All-Pinstripe-Birthday team is strong at catcher. In
addition to Dickey and Munson, Mike Stanley and Jose Molina were also
June-born babies. The team is weak at third. I could have used “the
Stick,” Gene Michael, Fernando Gonzalez or Gary Templeton at the hot
corner but in the end went with Linz. The June-born Bronx Babies was
also one player short of having a great outfield and I was forced to
use the crafty starter, Eddie Lopat in this team’s bullpen for lack of
George Weiss was not an easy guy to get along with. Even his wife agreed with that, once complaining after he was let go by the Yankees that she didn’t like having him at home too much. The reason George did not make friends easily could be summed up by his business philosophy, which was to never be satisfied with anything. He always felt things could be better and to him, better meant winning more world championships and becoming more profitable. That’s the philosophy he used when he designed and built the Yankee farm system during the thirties and forties and also exactly how he ran the organization when he was named General Manager of the parent club in January of 1948. Weiss managed every detail at every level of the Yankee organization, regardless how small and that usually meant saving or making every penny possible.
My favorite story about “Lonesome George” took place in 1957. Mickey Mantle had won the triple crown in 1956 and finished the ’57 season with a .365 batting average, 34 home runs and 94 RBIs. Weiss sent him a contract with a $17,000 pay cut. Mantle asked why. Weiss pointed out that Mantle had failed to repeat as triple crown winner. Weiss was GM of the Yankees from 1948 until 1961. During that time, New York won ten AL Pennants and seven Fall Classics. His greatest move as GM was hiring Casey Stengel. His biggest failure and the stain on his otherwise brilliant career was his refusal to sign black ballplayers.
They called him Dutch. He was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1928 and a quarter century later he was a 6’4″ slugging outfield prospect of the New York Yankees. The problem for Schult was the Yankees’s system was loaded with great outfielders, so after a very short 7-game trial with the 1953 New York team, he never again wore the pinstripes. He did eventually play parts of four more seasons in the big leagues.
According to a Baseball Digest article from March, 1957, Schult’s most famous moment as a Yankee minor leaguer took place during a home game for Kansas City against the Indian’s Indianapolis affiliate. He hit a home run and was loudly booed by his own fans as he circled the bases. Why? The blast came with two outs in the final inning and was the first and only hit given up by a young phee-nom fireballer named Herb Score. That day’s Kansas City crowd evidently was really hoping to see Score complete the feat.
This Jersey native started his seven-season big league career appearing in 24 games with the 1947 Yankees. Most of those appearances were as a first baseman. He was one of the last Yankees to wear uniform number 3 before it was retired upon Babe Ruth’s death in 1948. The highlight of Clarke’s short stay in pinstripes had to be his participation in the 1947 World Series. He appeared in three games against the Dodgers in that Fall Classic, came to the plate three times, getting a walk a base hit, scoring a run and delivering an RBI. He was then traded to the Indians for pitcher Red Embree and appeared in his second straight Series that year, when the Indians captured the AL Pennant. He played three plus seasons in Cleveland and then joined the A’s in Philadelphia for a while. He played his last big league game in 1953.
Clarke played briefly for the Amsterdam Rugmakers in 1941. The team was based in my hometown of Amsterdam, NY and was the Yankees’ C-level affiliate in the old Canadian-American League. He wowed our town’s local sports press by averaging .368 during his 20 games with the team.
|CLE (4 yrs)||178||562||518||73||135||17||3||17||71||0||39||32||.261||.312||.403||.716|
|PHA (3 yrs)||147||456||421||49||106||26||1||14||64||2||28||31||.252||.303||.418||.721|
|NYY (1 yr)||24||73||67||9||25||5||0||1||14||0||5||2||.373||.417||.493||.909|
|CHW (1 yr)||9||15||15||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||5||.067||.067||.067||.133|
When this big lefthander admitted he’d taken a human growth hormone and then went 14-14 during his second season back with the Yankees in 2008, I thought we’d seen the last of Andy Pettitte. But instead, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana native persevered and his 14-8 regular-season performance in 2009 and his absolutely amazing 4-0 run in that year’s postseason cemented his place as one of the great starters in Yankee team history. He then got off to a great start in 2010 and became just the third Yankee pitcher ever to win 200 games for the franchise. He was already 11-2 when he took the mound on July 18, 2010 against Tampa Bay. In the third inning, Pettitte pulled a groin muscle while pitching to the Ray’s catcher, Kelly Shoppach. He did not pitch another game until September 19th and finished what would become his final season in pinstripes with an 11-3 record. Yankee fans were praying Andy would come back in 2011, especially after New York did not sign Cliff Lee but Pettitte announced instead that he was retiring. Personally, I think he should get into Cooperstown some day but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
|NYY (15 yrs)||213||120||.640||3.95||428||419||2||23||3||0||2679.1||2823||1302||1176||225||860||1944||1.375|
|HOU (3 yrs)||37||26||.587||3.38||84||83||1||2||1||0||519.2||497||217||195||52||142||428||1.230|