July 2010

July 30 – Happy Birthday Casey Stengel

caseySince Stengel managed the Yankees over a half century ago, it would be helpful to younger fans to compare his achievements as New York’s skipper to the much more recent tenure of Joe Torre. Casey and Torre each managed the Yankees for a dozen seasons. Both men had losing records managing other teams. Stengel’s Yankee teams won 1,149 ball games and Torre’s squads won 1,173. Stengel, managing during the era of 154-game seasons, achieved a winning percentage with New York of .623 compared to Torre’s .605. Stengel’s teams won 10 AL Pennants and 7 World Series titles while Torre’s Yankees won 6 and 4 respectively. Torre’s teams made the postseason in each of his dozen seasons as skipper under baseball’s current divisional structure that didn’t exist in Stengel’s era.

Both Managers left the Yankees reluctantly, with bitter tastes in their mouths. Stengel was let go after the Yankees lost the 1960 World Series to the Pirates during which some of his managerial decisions were questioned. Stengel insisted he was fired for “being too old.” Torre, on the other hand, turned down a one-year incentive laden contract to continue managing New York, after the team again failed to make it to the World Series in 2007. I don’t think Stengel, who was definitely the highest paid manager in the game in his day, probably averaging $75 to $100 thousand in salary per season, would have turned down the $5 million offer Torre refused.

Charles Dillon Stengel  was born in Kansas City, MO on this date in 1890. His nickname is derived from the name of his hometown.

Casey shares his July 30th birthday with this one-time Yankee DH and first baseman, this catcher who briefly played for him and this former Yankee pitcher.

Rk Year Age Tm Lg G W L W-L% Finish
10 1949 58 New York Yankees AL 155 97 57 .630 1 WS Champs
11 1950 59 New York Yankees AL 155 98 56 .636 1 WS Champs
12 1951 60 New York Yankees AL 154 98 56 .636 1 WS Champs
13 1952 61 New York Yankees AL 154 95 59 .617 1 WS Champs
14 1953 62 New York Yankees AL 151 99 52 .656 1 WS Champs
15 1954 63 New York Yankees AL 155 103 51 .669 2
16 1955 64 New York Yankees AL 154 96 58 .623 1 AL Pennant
17 1956 65 New York Yankees AL 154 97 57 .630 1 WS Champs
18 1957 66 New York Yankees AL 154 98 56 .636 1 AL Pennant
19 1958 67 New York Yankees AL 155 92 62 .597 1 WS Champs
20 1959 68 New York Yankees AL 155 79 75 .513 3
21 1960 69 New York Yankees AL 155 97 57 .630 1 AL Pennant
Brooklyn Dodgers 3 years 463 208 251 .453 6.0
Boston Braves 6 years 870 373 491 .432 6.5
New York Yankees 12 years 1851 1149 696 .623 1.3 10 Pennants and 7 World Series Titles
New York Mets 4 years 582 175 404 .302 10.0
25 years 3766 1905 1842 .508 4.5 10 Pennants and 7 World Series Titles
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/30/2013.

July 27 – Happy Birthday Alex Rodriguez

Update: This original post was written during the 2010 season. I’ve added the first paragraph in August of 2013.

As a student of Yankee history, I find myself wondering how will Yankee fans fifty years from now look back at the behavior of A-Rod from the 2012 postseason onward.  Ryan Dempster did  something I didn’t think was possible. He made me root for Alex Rodriguez again. Don’t get me wrong, I still wish the greedy and self-absorbed A-Rod had never been a member of my favorite team’s roster but what Dempster did when he threw at Rodriguez was gutless. It was also stupid. In fact, from this point forward, I will be referring to the Boston pitcher as Ryan Dumb-ster.

As A-Rod celebrates his 38th birthday and continues his now-sputtering quest to become Baseball’s all-time home run king, you would think he is a lot more at peace with himself than he was just two years ago at this time. I believe the key is that he has finally stopped trying to portray himself one way to the public while living his private life in a completely different way.

I did not become a true fan of A-Rod the player until 2007, when two things happened simultaneously. First, he had the most incredible year on the field of any Yankee I’ve ever seen play the game. Secondly, he learned how to say “no comment” whenever the New York media asked him questions that were not about his play on the field.

Then, A-Rod and his agent, Scott Boras orchestrated that tasteless and clueless announcement during the 2007 World Series that A-Rod was opting out of his Yankee contract. Even though the move did end up making millions more Yankee dollars for Rodriguez, it was a public relations disaster for him at the same time.

By the time 2008 rolled around, A-Rod was still saying no comment to the reporters but the papparazzi photos of his extra marital actions started speaking a lot louder than his words. With the Yankees struggling with injuries under then new manager, Joe Girardi, the sports pages of the New York tabloids were filled with photos of Rodriguez in night time action. Unfortunately, none of those photos showed A-Rod with a baseball uniform on.

Then during the spring of 2009 we learned that A-Rod did take steroids. So in the space of just two and a half pinstripe seasons, Rodriguez’s actions verified his greed, his marital infidelity and his cheating on the field, a sort of modern day ballplayer’s triple crown. But then came the Yankees’ glorious ’09 post season run, with Alex leading the way with some of the most impressive clutch hitting I’ve seen during my fifty years as an avid fan of MLB. He had reversed his reputation as a perennial goat of October, captured his elusive World Championship ring and gained the somewhat begrudging adoration of Big Apple fans all at the same time. It seemed too good to be true and perhaps it was. This past year we learned that Rodriguez visited, Dr Anthony Galea, the recently convicted Canadian “blood doctor” without telling the Yankee front-office.

So like many Yankee fans, I’m still wondering who this superstar is. The one good thing is that the newest version of A-Rod no longer attempts to profusely deny his faults. Instead, he just refuses to discuss them with the media, which is perfectly OK by me. The one I’ve watched play in pinstripes these past eight seasons is certainly one of the most talented baseball players I’ve seen in the last half-century and I guess I’m hoping that is how he will be remembered.

Ironically, this Yankee who stopped talking about himself shares his birthday with another Yankee who never could. This utility-infielder and this Yankee starting pitcher from the 1950’s were also born on July 27th.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2004 NYY 155 698 601 112 172 24 2 36 106 28 80 131 .286 .375 .512 .888
2005 NYY 162 715 605 124 194 29 1 48 130 21 91 139 .321 .421 .610 1.031
2006 NYY 154 674 572 113 166 26 1 35 121 15 90 139 .290 .392 .523 .914
2007 NYY 158 708 583 143 183 31 0 54 156 24 95 120 .314 .422 .645 1.067
2008 NYY 138 594 510 104 154 33 0 35 103 18 65 117 .302 .392 .573 .965
2009 NYY 124 535 444 78 127 17 1 30 100 14 80 97 .286 .402 .532 .933
2010 NYY 137 595 522 74 141 29 2 30 125 4 59 98 .270 .341 .506 .847
2011 NYY 99 428 373 67 103 21 0 16 62 4 47 80 .276 .362 .461 .823
2012 NYY 122 529 463 74 126 17 1 18 57 13 51 116 .272 .353 .430 .783
19 Yrs 2524 11163 9662 1898 2901 512 30 647 1950 318 1217 2032 .300 .384 .560 .945
NYY (9 yrs) 1249 5476 4673 889 1366 227 8 302 960 141 658 1037 .292 .387 .538 .925
SEA (7 yrs) 790 3515 3126 627 966 194 13 189 595 133 310 616 .309 .374 .561 .934
TEX (3 yrs) 485 2172 1863 382 569 91 9 156 395 44 249 379 .305 .395 .615 1.011
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2013.

July 26 – Happy Birthday “Sad Sam” Jones

The last Boston Red Sox team to win a World Series during the 20th century was the 1918 squad. Their starting rotation consisted of Carl Mays, Bullet Joe Bush, Babe Ruth and today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant, “Sad Sam” Jones. By 1922, three of the four were pitching for the Yankees and the fourth was on his way to becoming New York’s and all of baseball’s most famous home-run hitter of all time.

During Sad Sam’s four years as a starter in Beantown, he won 64 games including 23 in 1921. He then won 67 games during his five seasons in pinstripes, including a 21-victory season in 1923. He remained in the big leagues until 1935, retiring when he was 42-years-old, with a lifetime record of 229-217 with 36 career shutouts.

An interesting fact about Jones’ career was that opposing runners stole very few bases off of old Sam despite the fact that he almost never attempted a pick-off throw. What was his secret for scaring would-be base-stealers from even trying to run against him? According to a 1954 article in the Baseball Digest, Jones would just stare at runners until they would inevitably walk back to first. As soon as they started their trip back to the bag, Jones would throw the next pitch.

Sad Sam shares his July 26th birthday with this much more recent Yankee pitcherthis pinch-hitter on the 1970 Yankees team and this former Yankee left-fielder.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1922 NYY 13 13 .500 3.67 45 28 15 20 0 8 260.0 270 132 106 16 76 81 1.331
1923 NYY 21 8 .724 3.63 39 27 8 18 3 4 243.0 239 114 98 11 69 68 1.267
1924 NYY 9 6 .600 3.63 36 21 7 8 3 3 178.2 187 85 72 6 76 53 1.472
1925 NYY 15 21 .417 4.63 43 31 8 14 1 2 246.2 267 147 127 14 104 92 1.504
1926 NYY 9 8 .529 4.98 39 23 11 6 1 5 161.0 186 104 89 6 80 69 1.652
22 Yrs 229 217 .513 3.84 647 487 116 250 36 31 3883.0 4084 2008 1656 151 1396 1223 1.411
BOS (6 yrs) 64 59 .520 3.39 157 124 30 83 18 4 1045.0 1069 474 394 16 338 307 1.346
NYY (5 yrs) 67 56 .545 4.06 202 130 49 66 8 22 1089.1 1149 582 492 53 405 363 1.427
WSH (4 yrs) 50 33 .602 3.70 104 100 3 49 7 1 709.2 745 352 292 24 235 217 1.381
CHW (4 yrs) 36 46 .439 4.20 105 98 6 39 3 0 700.1 777 400 327 46 251 222 1.468
CLE (2 yrs) 4 9 .308 3.62 49 9 26 2 0 4 149.0 133 79 60 0 65 42 1.329
SLB (1 yr) 8 14 .364 4.32 30 26 2 11 0 0 189.2 211 121 91 12 102 72 1.650
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/26/2013.