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.
|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|
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.
|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|
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.
|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|