February 3 – Happy Birthday Harry Byrd
This well-traveled right-hander came to New York from the Philadelphia A’s as part of an 11-player deal in December of 1953. He had won the AL Rookie of the Year award with the A’s in 1952, when he won fifteen games. The following year he led the league with 20 losses for a Philadelphia team that won just 59 games and finished next to last in the standings. So you can imagine how good Byrd must have felt when he heard the news that he had been traded to a Yankee team that had just captured its fifth straight World Series title that October.
The native of Darlington, SC became the fifth starter in Casey Stengel’s 1954 rotation. That Yankee team ended up winning 103 games that year and Byrd finished the season with a 9-7 record. Unfortunately for New York, Cleveland won 111 games that season and prevented the Bronx Bombers from trying for their sixth straight world championship. That 1954 effort turned out to be Byrd’s only season in pinstripes. That November, he got swallowed up in an unprecedented 18-player transaction that took place between the Orioles and the Yankees that remains the largest trade in MLB history. It was the same deal that made both Bob Turley and Don Larsen members of the Yankees’ starting rotation. Byrd struggled as a Bird and was released in June of 1955. He was picked up by the White Sox and ended his career with one last year in Detroit in 1957.