December 7 – Happy Birthday Coggins & Johnson

No, I am not wishing a Happy Birthday to a law firm that represents the Yankees. Before New York made it back to the World Series in 1976, George Steinbrenner was constantly prodding the Yankee front office to acquire and experiment with players that might help the Yankees get there. Usually, these were veterans who at one time or another had done something noteworthy in their careers. Two such players, both outfielders and both born on the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, were Rich Coggins and Alex Johnson. Just two years before New York purchased him from the Expos, Coggins had batted .319 during his rookie season in Baltimore. Although that average plunged by close to seventy points the following year, the speedy Indianapolis native stole 26 bases for the Birds in 1974. He got into 51 games for New York in 1975 but batted just .224. It was evident he had lost the stroke and confidence he exhibited during his rookie season.

A bad stroke or lack of confidence were never problems for Alex Johnson. Born in Helena, Arkansas in 1930 and raised in Detroit, Johnson had been a .300-hitting outfielder on the early version of Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine teams of 1968 and ’69. He had also won the AL batting title when he hit .329 for the 1970 Angels. Alex’s problems were his unfriendly personality and horrible defensive skills. The Yankees purchased his contract from the Rangers in August of 1974. He hit just .214 for New York the rest of that season and then just .261 as a part time DH in 1975. The Yankees let him go after that season.

The most famous Yankee to be born on this infamous date is this first baseman who won four rings during his stay in the Bronx and this six-time Gold Glove winner.

Yankee regular season stats for Alex Johnson:

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1974 NYY 10 28 28 3 6 1 0 1 2 0 0 3 .214 .214 .357 .571
1975 NYY 52 128 119 15 31 5 1 1 15 2 7 21 .261 .297 .345 .641
13 Yrs 1322 4948 4623 550 1331 180 33 78 525 113 244 626 .288 .326 .392 .718
PHI (2 yrs) 140 396 371 45 110 16 4 12 46 5 21 86 .296 .339 .458 .797
STL (2 yrs) 106 280 261 27 55 9 3 3 18 7 14 44 .211 .258 .303 .561
TEX (2 yrs) 272 1149 1077 119 311 40 6 12 109 30 60 141 .289 .329 .370 .699
CAL (2 yrs) 221 920 856 104 265 34 6 16 107 22 50 102 .310 .353 .419 .772
CIN (2 yrs) 288 1206 1126 165 353 50 10 19 146 27 51 140 .313 .346 .426 .772
NYY (2 yrs) 62 156 147 18 37 6 1 2 17 2 7 24 .252 .282 .347 .629
CLE (1 yr) 108 384 356 31 85 10 1 8 37 6 22 40 .239 .283 .340 .623
DET (1 yr) 125 457 429 41 115 15 2 6 45 14 19 49 .268 .298 .354 .653
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/7/2013.
Yankee regular season stats for Rich Coggins:
Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1975 NYY 51 119 107 7 24 1 0 1 6 3 7 16 .224 .272 .262 .534
1976 NYY 7 4 4 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 .250 .250 .250 .500
5 Yrs 342 1191 1083 125 287 42 13 12 90 50 72 100 .265 .312 .361 .673
BAL (3 yrs) 239 924 839 112 237 36 12 11 74 43 58 61 .282 .331 .393 .724
NYY (2 yrs) 58 123 111 8 25 1 0 1 7 4 7 17 .225 .271 .261 .532
MON (1 yr) 13 40 37 1 10 3 1 0 4 0 1 7 .270 .289 .405 .695
CHW (1 yr) 32 104 96 4 15 2 0 0 5 3 6 15 .156 .206 .177 .383
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/7/2013.

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