December 3 – Happy Birthday Harry Simpson
It was a pinstripe birthday celebration that made today’s Pinstripe Birthday Blog posting possible. On May 16, 1957, Yankee second baseman, Billy Martin turned 29-years-old. A bunch of Yankees went out on the town that evening to celebrate with their fiery teammate and they ended up at the late show of Manhattan’s Copacabana Nightclub. That’s where Martin and his pals got into a brawl in the famous nightspot’s men’s room and when it was over, a supposedly belligerent patron was on his way to the hospital and Martin was on his way out of his beloved Yankee uniform. New York’s ultra conservative GM, George Weiss had enough of Martin’s continuous forays into controversial events and in July of that season, he sent the future Yankee manager to Kansas City as part of a seven player transaction that netted New York reliever Ryne Duren and outfielder Harry Simpson. Harry was coming off the best year of his career in 1955, when he hit 21 home runs, drove in 105, led the league in triples and made his one and only AL All Star team. But he was joining a Yankee team that was loaded with good outfielders and the reduced playing time was not helpful to Simpson’s rhythm at the plate. When the Atlanta, Georgia native hit just .083 during New York’s seven-game loss to the Braves in that year’s World Series, Harry’s days in the Bronx were numbered. Exactly one year to the day he was acquired from the A’s, Weiss traded Simpson back to Kansas City. He was then traded three more times in the next year earning him the nickname “Suitcase.” He played his last big league ball game in September of 1959. He passed away in 1979, when he was just 53 years old.