September 9 – Happy Birthday Jerry Mumphrey
Jerry Mumphrey was a speedy, singles-hitting outfielder with the Cardinals during the first six years of his big league career. He got traded to San Diego in 1980 and had his best big league season for Manager Jerry Coleman’s Padres, hitting .298 and stealing 52 bases for a team that led the NL in thefts that season. George Steinbrenner had become convinced that his Yankee team needed to employ more of a small-ball strategy so his front office engineered a six-player swap that exchanged New York’s 1980 starting center-fielder, Ruppert Jones for Mumphrey. Mumphrey hit .307 for the Yankees in the strike shortened season of 1981 but played poorly in the postseason. In fact, his failure to hit got him benched for the fourth game of that year’s Fall Classic with the Yankees holding a two games to one lead over LA. With New York leading by three runs, Manager Bob Lemon had the opportunity to insert Jerry Mumphrey in center when Bobby Brown pinch ran for Oscar Gamble late in the game. Instead, Lemon put Brown out there and he misplayed a ball that led to three Dodger runs and an eventual Yankee defeat that changed the momentum of the Series to the Dodgers’ favor. Jerry had his best season in pinstripes in 1982, leading the team with a .300 batting average and driving in what was then his career high of 68 runs. But when he slumped at the plate during the first half of 1983, the Yankees sent him to Houston for the Astros’ center fielder, Omar Moreno. Mumphrey finished his fifteen year big league career with two good years in Houston and three more with the Cubs.