November 2010

November 29 – Happy Birthday Irv Noren

Irv Noren was the fourth Yankee outfielder for five seasons beginning in 1952 and he won three World Series rings in that role during his stay in the Bronx. The Yankees got Noren from the Senators during the 1952 season, giving up top prospect Jackie Jensen and pitcher Spec Shea as part of that deal. Born on this date in 1924, the Jamestown, NY native’s best season in pinstripes was, ironically, the only season the team did not win the AL pennant with Noren on the roster. That was 1954, when Irv hit .319 and drove in 66 runs and was named to the AL All Star team, while backing up starters Mickey Mantle, Hank Bauer and Gene Woodling in the Yankee outfield. During the winter of 1957, the Yankees included Noren in a huge trade with Kansas City that brought Art Ditmar, Bobby Shantz and Clete Boyer to New York. Noren played sparingly for four more seasons for four different teams before retiring. He played his entire career handicapped by chronically sore knees.

Also born on this same date is a former Yankee DH nicknamed “Hit Man”  the best closer in baseball history and this former Yankee phee-nom.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1952 NYY 93 306 272 36 64 13 2 5 21 4 26 34 .235 .316 .353 .669
1953 NYY 109 392 345 55 92 12 6 6 46 3 42 39 .267 .350 .388 .738
1954 NYY 125 480 426 70 136 21 6 12 66 4 43 38 .319 .377 .481 .859
1955 NYY 132 422 371 49 94 19 1 8 59 5 43 33 .253 .331 .375 .706
1956 NYY 29 49 37 4 8 1 0 0 6 0 12 7 .216 .408 .243 .651
11 Yrs 1093 3505 3119 443 857 157 35 65 453 34 335 350 .275 .348 .410 .758
NYY (5 yrs) 488 1649 1451 214 394 66 15 31 198 16 166 151 .272 .348 .402 .750
WSH (3 yrs) 279 1233 1100 166 314 63 16 22 186 16 124 115 .285 .359 .432 .791
STL (3 yrs) 142 239 216 27 59 14 2 5 32 0 17 29 .273 .335 .426 .761
CHC (2 yrs) 77 186 167 27 51 6 2 4 20 2 16 28 .305 .376 .437 .813
KCA (1 yr) 81 172 160 8 34 8 0 2 16 0 11 19 .213 .267 .300 .567
LAD (1 yr) 26 26 25 1 5 0 0 1 1 0 1 8 .200 .231 .320 .551
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/28/2013.

November 26 – Happy Birthday Larry Gura

I still remember Larry Gura’s 1974 initial season with the New York Yankees. The young left-hander went 5-1 as a starter on that squad and two of his victories were impressive complete game shutouts. I thought he was destined to become the next great Yankee southpaw but I was sadly mistaken. After Gura posted a 7-8 record in 1975, the Yankees traded the Joliet, IL native to the Royals for catcher Fran Healy. Kansas City brought him along slowly and by 1978, he was ready to become a regular part of the team’s starting rotation. He went 16-4 that year and achieved double digits in victories for the Royals for seven straight seasons. He would have been a great Yankee starter during that time.

Like Gura, this Yankee starter was born on November 26th but unlike Larry, he was not traded by New York early in his career and instead went on to become one of the franchise’s all-time great pitchers. This former Yankee reliever and this one-time phee-nom right-hander also share Gura’s birthday.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1974 NYY 5 1 .833 2.41 8 8 0 4 2 0 56.0 54 17 15 2 12 17 1.179
1975 NYY 7 8 .467 3.51 26 20 3 5 0 0 151.1 173 65 59 13 41 65 1.414
16 Yrs 126 97 .565 3.76 403 261 60 71 16 14 2047.0 2020 958 855 204 600 801 1.280
KCR (10 yrs) 111 78 .587 3.72 310 219 37 61 14 12 1701.1 1628 792 704 166 503 633 1.253
CHC (5 yrs) 3 10 .231 5.01 59 14 20 1 0 2 138.1 165 84 77 23 44 86 1.511
NYY (2 yrs) 12 9 .571 3.21 34 28 3 9 2 0 207.1 227 82 74 15 53 82 1.350
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/25/2013.

November 25 – Happy Birthday Bucky Dent

Russell Earl Dent was a very good defensive shortstop who helped solidify the middle of the Yankee infield when New York acquired him from the White Sox in an April, 1977 trade. Bucky was one of those players who never seemed to be featured in the headlines or a post game report. He just gave his team solid and steady play both in the field and at the plate, game after game. But in one brief shining moment, Bucky Dent became a pinstripe legend, and gave all Yankee fans a thrill that will forever be cited as one of the top moments in franchise history. His home run against Red Sox starter Mike Torrez in the 1978 playoff game to decide the AL East division race, just cleared the top of Fenway’s Green Monster, simultaneously bringing Boston’s dejected left fielder, Carl Yastrzemski to his knees and millions of Yankee fans, screaming in sheer ecstasy, to their feet. Dent’s blast gave the Yankees a lead they never relinquished and they went on to capture their second consecutive World Championship that season. Bucky remained hot in that Fall Classic against the Dodgers, hitting .417, driving in 7 runs and winning the Series MVP award.

He continued to start at shortstop for New York for the next three and a half years before getting traded to Texas for outfielder, Lee Mazzilli, during the 1982 season. In all, the Savannah, Georgia native played for twelve seasons in the big leagues, retiring in 1984 with 1,114 career hits and a .247 lifetime batting average. He then got into coaching, started a very successful baseball instructional school and actually piloted the Yankees for parts of the 1988 and ’89 seasons. I personally will never forget sitting in front of my television set on that early October afternoon in 1978 and hearing Yankee announcer Bill White call out the words “Deep to left…”

Bucky shares his November 25th birthday with this guy, this guy and this guy too.

Here are Dent’s Yankee and career playing stats:

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1977 NYY 158 540 477 54 118 18 4 8 49 1 39 28 .247 .300 .352 .653
1978 NYY 123 415 379 40 92 11 1 5 40 3 23 24 .243 .286 .317 .603
1979 NYY 141 490 431 47 99 14 2 2 32 0 37 30 .230 .287 .285 .573
1980 NYY 141 553 489 57 128 26 2 5 52 0 48 37 .262 .327 .354 .681
1981 NYY 73 258 227 20 54 11 0 7 27 0 19 17 .238 .300 .379 .679
1982 NYY 59 173 160 11 27 1 1 0 9 0 8 11 .169 .207 .188 .395
12 Yrs 1392 5026 4512 451 1114 169 23 40 423 17 328 349 .247 .297 .321 .618
NYY (6 yrs) 695 2429 2163 229 518 81 10 27 209 4 174 147 .239 .295 .324 .618
CHW (4 yrs) 509 1973 1777 168 462 64 11 10 165 10 117 159 .260 .305 .325 .631
TEX (2 yrs) 177 614 563 52 131 24 2 3 48 3 36 41 .233 .278 .298 .577
KCR (1 yr) 11 10 9 2 3 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 .333 .400 .333 .733
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/24/2013.

Here are Dent’s stats as Yankee manager:

Rk Year Tm Lg W L W-L% G Finish
1 1989 New York Yankees AL 2nd of 2 18 22 .450 40 5
2 1990 New York Yankees AL 1st of 2 18 31 .367 49 7
2 years 36 53 .404 89 6.0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/24/2013.

November 23 – Happy Birthday Aaron Small

As the 2005 season began, Brian Cashman thought he had assembled the starting pitching staff New York would need to recapture the AL pennant from Boston and help Yankee fans forget the horror of the Bronx Bombers’ ALCS collapse to the hated Red Sox, the previous postseason. The Yankee GM had traded for Randy Johnson and signed Carl Pavano during that offseason and was hoping those two veterans would combine with Mike Mussina and Kevin Brown to give New York the type of overpowering rotation a team needed to make it to the World Series. That did not happen. Johnson was good but not great, ditto for Mussina and both Brown and Pavano missed most of that season due to injuries. The Yankees were forced to improvise with their starting pitching and they did so by bringing up Chien-Ming Wang from their farm system, trading for a Pittsburgh starter named Shawn Chacon and using a free agent pitcher they had signed the previous January named Aaron Small. Wang and Chacon won 15 games between them but it was Small’s performance that year that won the AL East Division flag for Joe Torre’s squad. The tall right hander won all ten of his decisions including five big wins in September, giving up just 3.2 runs every nine innings he pitched. Small was a high school teammate of Jason Giambi in Covina, CA. That great performance in 2005 earned him a million dollar contract from New York in 2006 but he would never win another big league game. After losing his third straight decision in 2006, he was sent down to Columbus, where he spent the rest of that year. He ended up retiring after that season with a 25-13 record and four saves during his nine years of big league pitching.

Today is also the birthday of this former Yankee pitcher, this former Yankee first baseman and this one-time Yankee first base prospect.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2005 NYY 10 0 1.000 3.20 15 9 1 1 1 0 76.0 71 27 27 4 24 37 1.250
2006 NYY 0 3 .000 8.46 11 3 2 0 0 0 27.2 42 29 26 9 12 12 1.952
9 Yrs 25 13 .658 5.20 172 15 45 1 1 4 321.2 380 202 186 37 137 170 1.607
OAK (3 yrs) 11 9 .550 5.63 107 3 30 0 0 4 161.1 197 112 101 12 76 93 1.692
NYY (2 yrs) 10 3 .769 4.60 26 12 3 1 1 0 103.2 113 56 53 13 36 49 1.437
FLA (2 yrs) 1 0 1.000 6.35 14 0 1 0 0 0 22.2 31 17 16 6 13 13 1.941
ARI (1 yr) 3 1 .750 3.69 23 0 9 0 0 0 31.2 32 14 13 5 8 14 1.263
ATL (1 yr) 0 0 27.00 1 0 1 0 0 0 0.1 2 1 1 0 2 1 12.000
TOR (1 yr) 0 0 9.00 1 0 1 0 0 0 2.0 5 2 2 1 2 0 3.500
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/22/2013.

November 22 – Happy Birthday Austin Romine

romineI remember not too long ago when Austin Romine was being labeled the second best minor league catching prospect in all of baseball. His problem at the time however, was that the one guy in front of him, Jesus Montero was also the property of the Yankee organization. Now at least Montero’s out of the picture but Romine still has a long way to go if he’s going to figure prominently in the Yankee’s future behind the plate plans.

This California-born son and brother of big leaguers, finally got his chance to dance in the big show in 2013, when Francisco Cervelli was again injured and lost for the season. He did OK defensively but got off to an absolutely horrible start with his bat. He was hitting just .103 for the Yankees at the end of May and you could tell he looked absolutely lost at the plate.

By July, however, Romine was a much more confident hitter and he was able too get his average up to as high as .227 by September of the 2013 season. Does he have the potential to become a .300 hitter, a 20-homer guy or drive in 100 runs in a season? I don’t think so and evidently, neither do the Yankees any more. New York’s front office made it clear that they will be pursuing free agent catcher Brian McCann this offseason, which means they see Romine as a backup catcher in the years ahead.

This hitting star of the 1998 World Seriesthis former Yankee shortstopthis long-ago Yankee pitching prospect and this former Yankee third baseman all share Romine’s November 22nd birthday.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2011 NYY 9 20 19 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 .158 .200 .158 .358
2013 NYY 60 148 135 15 28 9 0 1 10 1 8 37 .207 .255 .296 .551
2 Yrs 69 168 154 17 31 9 0 1 10 1 9 42 .201 .248 .279 .528
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/22/2013.

November 9 – Happy Birthday Dion James

This Philadelphia native who was born November 9, 1962, had his best big league season as a Yankee in 1993, when he took over New York’s left field starting position and responded with a career-high .332 batting average. James then opted to become a free agent but nobody signed him. He ended up sitting out the entire strike-shortened 1994 season and when he rejoined the Yankees a season later, Gerald Williams had been given his old left field spot. Dion appeared in six games for New York during their 1996 World Championship season, the final six games of his 11-season big league career.

Dion shares his November 9th birthday with this former Yankee second baseman from the 1940s and this one-time Yankee outfielder.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1992 29 NYY AL 67 170 145 24 38 8 0 3 17 1 22 15 .262 .359 .379 .738
1993 30 NYY AL 115 378 343 62 114 21 2 7 36 0 31 31 .332 .390 .466 .856
1995 32 NYY AL 85 231 209 22 60 6 1 2 26 4 20 16 .287 .346 .354 .700
1996 33 NYY AL 6 13 12 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 .167 .231 .167 .397
11 Yrs 917 3074 2708 362 781 142 21 32 266 43 318 307 .288 .364 .392 .755
NYY (4 yrs) 273 792 709 109 214 35 3 12 79 6 74 64 .302 .368 .410 .778
ATL (3 yrs) 329 1223 1050 141 297 61 11 14 102 20 153 145 .283 .374 .402 .776
MIL (3 yrs) 157 508 456 58 127 20 5 1 34 11 40 49 .279 .339 .351 .690
CLE (2 yrs) 158 551 493 54 143 26 2 5 51 6 51 49 .290 .357 .381 .738
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/9/2013.

November 3 – Happy Birthday Ken Holtzman

I do still remember when Ken Holtzman was a young and brilliant starting pitcher with the woeful Chicago Cubs. He was actually the first player drafted in a Major League Amateur Draft to make it to the big leagues and because he was Jewish and a southpaw, sportswriters were calling him the next Sandy Koufax. Talk about pressure, huh? In 1968, Holtzman was joined by Fergie Jenkins and Bill Hands to form the core of a very talented starting rotation for manager Leo Durocher’s Cubs. The trio won 47 games that season and then 58 more in 1969, when they lost the NL East pennant to the Mets in heart breaking fashion.

Chicago traded Holtzman to Oakland in 1971 for outfielder Rick Monday. The St. Louis native won 77 games and three rings in his four seasons with the A’s. He then fell victim to Charley O’Finley’s historic housecleaning when he was traded to the Orioles with Reggie Jackson a week before Opening Day in 1976. In June of that same season he was made part of a ten-player blockbuster deal between the Yankees and Baltimore.

I honestly expected Holtzman to then become a big winner and popular Yankee. That didn’t happen. He went just 12-10 over the next three seasons. It has been reported that Yankee Manager Billy Martin despised the veteran pitcher and refused to use him. I’ve also read that George Steinbrenner wasn’t fond of him either. Whatever the real reason, Holtzman was a veteran 165 game-winner in the prime of his career with two no-hitters, thirty shutouts, with a great post season record and three World Championships. He had a healthy arm and was on the roster of a team that had one of the best run-scoring attacks in all of baseball. The Yankees just let him rot on the vine. In fact the only good thing Holtzman produced for New York was the player he was finally traded for. In June of 1978, he was sent back to the Cubs for reliever Ron Davis.

Holtzman shares his November 3rd birthday with this former Yankee manager, this former Yankee reliever, and this one too.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1976 NYY 9 7 .563 4.17 21 21 0 10 2 0 149.0 165 74 69 14 35 41 1.342
1977 NYY 2 3 .400 5.78 18 11 4 0 0 0 71.2 105 55 46 7 24 14 1.800
1978 NYY 1 0 1.000 4.08 5 3 1 0 0 0 17.2 21 8 8 2 9 3 1.698
15 Yrs 174 150 .537 3.49 451 410 18 127 31 3 2867.1 2787 1273 1111 249 910 1601 1.289
CHC (9 yrs) 80 81 .497 3.76 237 209 13 57 15 3 1447.0 1399 688 605 147 530 988 1.333
OAK (4 yrs) 77 55 .583 2.92 157 153 0 54 13 0 1084.1 997 414 352 75 277 530 1.175
NYY (3 yrs) 12 10 .545 4.64 44 35 5 10 2 0 238.1 291 137 123 23 68 58 1.506
BAL (1 yr) 5 4 .556 2.86 13 13 0 6 1 0 97.2 100 34 31 4 35 25 1.382
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/3/2013.