January 2011

January 31 – Happy Birthday Rafael Santana

Santana.jpgIf you asked most Yankee fans if the shortstop Rafael Santana played for the Yankees their likely response would be, “No, he played for the Mets.” That’s because the native of the Dominican Republic did spend the vast majority of his six-season big league career with the Amazin’s and he was the starting shortstop on their 1986 World Championship team. What most of us forget is that the Yankees traded for Santana before the 1988 spring training season and he became the team’s starting shortstop for then Manager, Billy Martin. Martin, as usual got fired during the 1988 season and was replaced by Lou Piniella, who stuck with Santana at short for the rest of that year. Rafael hit just .240 for that season and his on base percentage was a putrid .289. He also played very mediocre defense. He then suffered an elbow injury that caused him to miss the entire 1989 season, making it an even easier decision for the Yankee front-office to release him when his contract expired at the end of that year. That explains why Yankee fans have a hard time remembering Santana played in pinstripes.

This hardly remembered but very effective Yankee pitcher from the late 1950s, this long ago outfielder and this more recent Yankee outfielder prospect were all also born on January 31.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1988 NYY 148 521 480 50 115 12 1 4 38 1 33 61 .240 .289 .294 .583
7 Yrs 668 2183 2021 188 497 74 5 13 156 3 138 234 .246 .295 .307 .601
NYM (4 yrs) 483 1632 1514 134 376 62 4 8 113 2 103 171 .248 .296 .310 .607
STL (1 yr) 30 17 14 1 3 0 0 0 2 0 2 2 .214 .353 .214 .567
CLE (1 yr) 7 13 13 3 3 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 .231 .231 .462 .692
NYY (1 yr) 148 521 480 50 115 12 1 4 38 1 33 61 .240 .289 .294 .583
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/11/2014.

January 27- Happy Birthday Angel Berroa

Berroa was awful during his 21-game, early-part-of-the-season tenure with the Yankees in 2009. This Dominican’s best years were spent with the Royals. In fact, he was the 2003 AL Rookie of the Year with Kansas City, when he hit .287, smacked 17 home runs, stole 21 bases and drove in 87 runs as the team’s first-year starting shortstop. With New York during their championship season, he was hitting just .136 when he was released that July. He was quickly picked up by the Mets, enabling him to finish his 2009 season in the same city it began.

Berroa shares his birthday with this former Yankee pitcher and this one and this one too.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2009 NYY 21 24 22 6 3 1 0 0 1 0 0 6 .136 .174 .182 .356
9 Yrs 746 2807 2575 329 665 118 21 46 254 50 117 460 .258 .303 .374 .677
KCR (7 yrs) 627 2496 2300 293 606 103 20 45 235 50 94 407 .263 .305 .384 .689
NYM (1 yr) 14 31 27 4 4 1 0 0 2 0 3 6 .148 .233 .185 .419
LAD (1 yr) 84 256 226 26 52 13 1 1 16 0 20 41 .230 .304 .310 .614
NYY (1 yr) 21 24 22 6 3 1 0 0 1 0 0 6 .136 .174 .182 .356
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/29/2014.

January 18 – Happy Birthday to a Number 5

pinstripe.5.jpgThe Yankees began wearing numbers on their uniforms during the 1929 season. At the time, the numbers were assigned based on the player’s batting position in the lineup. This explains how Babe Ruth got the number three and how Yankee cleanup hitter, Lou Gehrig secured number 4. The first Yankee to wear number 5 during that 1929 season was the talented but very moody outfielder, Bob Meusel. In 1930, it was assigned to the great second baseman, Tony “Poosh em Up” Lazzeri. Frank Crosetti was then given the number in 1932 and Lazzeri was switched to number 6. Crosetti wore number 5 for the next four seasons except for a short time, during the 1935 season, when the Crow got hurt and couldn’t play. The Yankees called up Nolen Richardson to take Crosetti’s spot. Richardson was a middle infielder who had played a bit of big league ball for the Tigers before he joined the Yankee organization. Since he was replacing Crosetti, the Yankees gave him uniform number 5. The 32-year-old native of Chattanooga, TN did not see much action in that uniform, appearing in just 12 games that season before getting sent down to New York’s Newark Bears farm club. He became a popular member of the Bears and was the Captain of the 1937 team that is still considered to be one of the greatest teams in minor league history, winning the International League’s pennant that season by 25 1/2 games.

Joe DiMaggio did not get number 5 until 1937, his second season in pinstripes. Crosetti kept the number until 1936. Joltin Joe wore number 9 as a rookie in 1936. Incredibly, the Yankees didn’t even keep number 5 in mothballs during the WWII when Joe D served in the military. Instead, New York’s wartime first baseman, Nick Etten got the number in 1943 and kept it until the Yankee Clipper returned for the 1946 season.

The only other Yankee born on this date was still waiting to make his debut in pinstripes as the 2014 regular season approaches.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1935 NYY 12 49 46 3 10 1 1 0 5 0 3 1 .217 .265 .283 .548
6 Yrs 168 509 473 39 117 19 5 0 45 8 23 22 .247 .282 .309 .591
DET (3 yrs) 120 351 324 28 78 14 4 0 30 8 17 17 .241 .279 .309 .587
CIN (2 yrs) 36 109 103 8 29 4 0 0 10 0 3 4 .282 .302 .320 .622
NYY (1 yr) 12 49 46 3 10 1 1 0 5 0 3 1 .217 .265 .283 .548
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/22/2014.

January 16 – Happy Birthday Jack McDowell

jack-mcdowell-ny-daily-news.jpg.gifThe New York Yankee team of 1994 was 6.5 games ahead of second place Baltimore in early August of that season, when Major League baseball players walked off the job to begin what would become the longest strike in League history. That Yankee team had a starting pitching staff of Jimmy Key, Jim Abbott, Melido Perez, Terry Mulholland and Scott Kamieniecki. So even though I was disgusted with both the players and the owners at that time, I do remember being slightly excited when I learned the Yankees had acquired the 1993 AL Cy Young Award recipient and two-time twenty-game winner, Jack McDowell, from the White Sox in December of 1994.

They called the lanky right-hander “Black Jack” and he was one of those free spirits that graces the game every now and then. He was a grunge musician. He was never happy about his contract and he could care less what anybody said about him and that included Yankee fans and the cannibalistic Big Apple Sports Media. This explains why, when he was lifted after getting bombed in the second game of a mid July double-header against his old team the White Sox, McDowell flipped the bird to booing Yankee Stadium fans as he walked back to the dugout. He actually had a decent season in New York, leading the staff in victories with 15 and shutouts with 2. But his pinstripe future was sort of sealed when he gave up the walk-off two-run double to Edgar Martinez that knocked New York out of the 1995 playoffs. His middle finger and his lack of postseason success convinced the Yankee front-office that they could afford not to offer McDowell another contract and he ended up signing with the Indians.

Also born on January 16 is this former Yankee with the nickname of “Bye-Bye,”  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
1995 NYY 15 10 .600 3.93 30 30 0 8 2 0 217.2 211 106 95 25 78 157 1.328
12 Yrs 127 87 .593 3.85 277 275 0 62 13 0 1889.0 1854 874 809 173 606 1311 1.302
CHW (7 yrs) 91 58 .611 3.50 191 191 0 49 10 0 1343.2 1258 562 522 105 419 918 1.248
ANA (2 yrs) 5 7 .417 5.68 18 18 0 0 0 0 95.0 127 62 60 15 24 57 1.589
CLE (2 yrs) 16 12 .571 5.11 38 36 0 5 1 0 232.2 258 144 132 28 85 179 1.474
NYY (1 yr) 15 10 .600 3.93 30 30 0 8 2 0 217.2 211 106 95 25 78 157 1.328
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/16/2014.

January 9 – Happy Birthday Stan Javier

sjavierThe son of long-time Cardinal second baseman Julian Javier, Stan Javier was named after his dad’s storied St. Louis teammate, Stan Musial. Originally signed by the Cardinals in 1981, when he was just 17-years-old, he and Bobby Meacham were traded to New York the following year. The younger Javier was an outfielder who played well enough at each level of the organization’s farm system to advance quickly up the ladder. Invited to the Yankees 1984 spring training camp, Manager Yogi Berra announced Javier would be on the team’s Opening Day roster, but would remain in the Bronx only until Oscar Gamble recovered from an injury.

He appeared in seven games for New York during that first month of the 1984 season, mostly as a late-inning outfield replacement. He only managed seven plate appearances but he got his first big league hit off of Cleveland’s George Frazier and scored his first big league run. He was sent back down to the minors at the end of April and then the following December, he was included in the five-player package the Yankees used to get Ricky Henderson from Oakland. Javier went on to put together a very decent 17-year big league career. He played for seven big league teams collected 1,358 hits and finished with a .269 lifetime batting average and a .345 on base percentage.

Javier shares his January 9th birthday with this other former Yankee prospect who enjoyed a long and successful big league career as a non-Yankee, with this long-ago co-owner of the Yankee franchise and with this former 20-game-winning Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1984 NYY 7 7 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .143 .143 .143 .286
17 Yrs 1763 5755 5047 781 1358 225 40 57 503 246 578 839 .269 .345 .363 .708
OAK (7 yrs) 635 2115 1866 286 475 79 11 23 183 103 199 313 .255 .328 .346 .673
SFG (4 yrs) 460 1677 1464 225 413 69 10 17 151 73 175 239 .282 .360 .378 .738
LAD (3 yrs) 281 584 510 83 131 17 7 5 40 23 59 91 .257 .333 .347 .680
SEA (2 yrs) 194 715 623 105 176 32 6 9 73 15 78 111 .283 .362 .396 .758
PHI (1 yr) 74 313 276 36 72 14 1 0 24 17 31 43 .261 .338 .319 .656
CAL (1 yr) 92 269 237 33 69 10 4 3 28 12 27 33 .291 .362 .405 .767
NYY (1 yr) 7 7 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .143 .143 .143 .286
HOU (1 yr) 20 75 64 12 21 4 1 0 4 3 9 8 .328 .405 .422 .827
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/10/2014.

January 7 – Happy Birthday Johnny Mize

Known as “the Big Cat,” Mize was an outstanding hitter and first baseman in the National League with the Giants and Cardinals for a decade, before joining the Yankees in 1949 and helping Casey Stengel win five straight World Championships. Mize had that rare ability to hit for power without striking out a lot. His career on base pecentage as a National Leaguer exceeded .400. He won a batting title with St. Louis in 1939 along with four NL home run titles and three NL RBI crowns. He was also a very good defensive first baseman and an outstanding base runner. The Yankees purchased Mize from the Giants during the 1949 season for $40,000. He became the team’s best pinch hitter. The highlight of his Yankee career was the 1952 Series against the Dodgers, when Johnny hit three home runs, batted .400 and was named MVP in New York’s seven-game victory. He retired after the 1953 season. His career Slugging Average of .592 places him 17th on the All-Time List. It took a while after he retired, but in 1981, the Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee finally recognized just how good this guy’s numbers were and put him in Cooperstown.

This former Yankee, also born on January 7, is the only player in the franchise’s history to have more than 30 home runs, 100 RBIs, 40 stolen bases and bat .300 in the same season. This catcher on the great 1927 Yankee team was also born on January 7th.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1949 NYY 13 28 23 4 6 1 0 1 2 0 4 2 .261 .393 .435 .828
1950 NYY 90 305 274 43 76 12 0 25 72 0 29 24 .277 .351 .595 .946
1951 NYY 113 373 332 37 86 14 1 10 49 1 36 24 .259 .339 .398 .736
1952 NYY 78 150 137 9 36 9 0 4 29 0 11 15 .263 .327 .416 .743
1953 NYY 81 118 104 6 26 3 0 4 27 0 12 17 .250 .339 .394 .733
15 Yrs 1884 7370 6443 1118 2011 367 83 359 1337 28 856 524 .312 .397 .562 .959
STL (6 yrs) 854 3581 3121 546 1048 218 66 158 653 14 424 279 .336 .419 .600 1.018
NYG (5 yrs) 655 2815 2452 473 733 110 16 157 505 13 340 163 .299 .389 .549 .938
NYY (5 yrs) 375 974 870 99 230 39 1 44 179 1 92 82 .264 .342 .463 .805
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/8/2014.

January 6 – Happy Birthday Ralph Branca

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No this is not a misprint. The same Ralph Branca who was a twenty-game winner and mainstay of those Boys of Summer Brooklyn Dodger teams of the late forties and early fifties and the same Ralph Branca who gave up Bobby Thomson’s shot heard round the world in 1951, was once a Yankee. It happened after the Dodgers put the Mount Vernon, NY native on waivers during the 1953 season and after the Detroit Tigers did the same, the following season. The Yankees then signed the right-hander nicknamed “Hawk” to a contract and he made five appearances including three starts in pinstripes during the second half of the 1954 season. He won his only decision as a Yankee against the Red Sox. That turned out to be the eighty-eighth and final victory of Branca’s big league career.

Ralph was born on this date in 1926 This former Yankee pitcher, this one-time Yankee shortstop, this long-ago Highlander starter and this other reliever were also born on January 6th.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1954 NYY 1 0 1.000 2.84 5 3 1 0 0 0 12.2 9 5 4 0 13 7 1.737
12 Yrs 88 68 .564 3.79 322 188 74 71 12 19 1484.0 1372 702 625 149 663 829 1.371
BRO (11 yrs) 80 58 .580 3.70 283 166 66 64 12 18 1324.0 1202 609 545 132 589 757 1.353
DET (2 yrs) 7 10 .412 4.64 34 19 7 7 0 1 147.1 161 88 76 17 61 65 1.507
NYY (1 yr) 1 0 1.000 2.84 5 3 1 0 0 0 12.2 9 5 4 0 13 7 1.737
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/7/2014.

January 4 – Happy Birthday Ted Lilly

The Yankees obtained pitcher Ted Lilly as a player to be named later in a 2000 trade that sent Hideki Irabu to Montreal. Although he was just 8-12 during his one and a half seasons in pinstripes, I remember liking the way the young left hander conducted himself on the mound. In one of his final starts as a Yankee, Lilly threw a complete game, three-hit shutout against the Padres and I was certain he was about to become a solid winner in the Yankee rotation. Shows you how astute I was about Yankee baseball. Just two weeks after that shutout, New York traded away Lilly in a three-team deal that put pitcher Jeff Weaver in Pinstripes. Irabu left baseball in 2003. Weaver never became the big winner experts thought he would. Meanwhile, Lilly won 130 games after leaving the Bronx with his best year coming in 2008, when he went 17-9  for the Cubs. Lilly was born January 4, 1976, in Torrance, CA. He announced his retirement after the 2013 postseason.

Another Yankee who celebrated his birthday on January 4 was this right-fielder who took the place of Babe Ruth in New York’s lineup, in 1935. This former Yankee GM and this former Yankee reliever were also born on January 4th.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2000 NYY 0 0 5.63 7 0 1 0 0 0 8.0 8 6 5 1 5 11 1.625
2001 NYY 5 6 .455 5.37 26 21 2 0 0 0 120.2 126 81 72 20 51 112 1.467
2002 NYY 3 6 .333 3.40 16 11 1 2 1 0 76.2 57 31 29 10 24 59 1.057
15 Yrs 130 113 .535 4.14 356 331 5 5 3 0 1982.2 1827 974 913 293 661 1681 1.255
LAD (4 yrs) 24 21 .533 3.83 58 58 0 1 1 0 341.0 296 157 145 48 95 284 1.147
CHC (4 yrs) 47 34 .580 3.70 113 113 0 0 0 0 705.2 623 306 290 101 184 598 1.144
NYY (3 yrs) 8 12 .400 4.65 49 32 4 2 1 0 205.1 191 118 106 31 80 182 1.320
TOR (3 yrs) 37 34 .521 4.52 89 89 0 2 1 0 505.1 485 269 254 77 228 424 1.411
OAK (2 yrs) 14 11 .560 4.37 38 36 0 0 0 0 201.2 202 104 98 29 65 165 1.324
MON (1 yr) 0 1 .000 7.61 9 3 1 0 0 0 23.2 30 20 20 7 9 28 1.648
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/4/2014.