April 2011

April 29 – Happy Birthday Sterling Hitchcock

hitchcock.jpgAt one time the Yankees expected this left-hander to some day take over the top spot in their starting rotation. That never happened. Hitchcock advanced through the Yankee farm system pretty rapidly and after just three years in the organization was getting late-season call ups to the Bronx by the early 1990’s to see if he could bolster what was a pretty poor Yankee pitching staff. By 1995 he was the fifth starter for Manager, Bucky Showalter and finished that season with an 11-10 record.

Against Seattle in that year’s postseason, Hitchcock did not pitch well in his two appearances. His failure to do so helped get him traded to that same Mariner team as part of the deal that brought Tino Martinez to New York. Hitchcock then enjoyed his finest big league season with Seattle in1996, with a record of 13-9. He was then traded to San Diego, where he was paid about $19 million over the next five seasons in return for a 34-42 cumulative record. After being released by the Padres, the Yankees re-signed Hitchcock as a free agent in 2001 but he pitched poorly and was dealt to St Louis. He retired after the 2004 season with a 74-76 record for his 13-year big league career.

Hitchcock shares his April 29th birthday with this long-ago utility infielder,  this hard-partying former Yankee pitcher and this other Yankee pitcher who was also a civil engineer.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1992 NYY 0 2 .000 8.31 3 3 0 0 0 0 13.0 23 12 12 2 6 6 2.231
1993 NYY 1 2 .333 4.65 6 6 0 0 0 0 31.0 32 18 16 4 14 26 1.484
1994 NYY 4 1 .800 4.20 23 5 4 1 0 2 49.1 48 24 23 3 29 37 1.561
1995 NYY 11 10 .524 4.70 27 27 0 4 1 0 168.1 155 91 88 22 68 121 1.325
2001 NYY 4 4 .500 6.49 10 9 0 1 0 0 51.1 67 37 37 5 18 28 1.656
2002 NYY 1 2 .333 5.49 20 2 11 0 0 0 39.1 57 29 24 4 15 31 1.831
2003 NYY 1 3 .250 5.44 27 1 8 0 0 0 49.2 57 33 30 6 18 36 1.510
13 Yrs 74 76 .493 4.80 281 200 27 10 2 3 1285.2 1374 738 685 181 471 997 1.435
NYY (7 yrs) 22 24 .478 5.15 116 53 23 6 1 2 402.0 439 244 230 46 168 285 1.510
SDP (6 yrs) 34 42 .447 4.47 122 106 4 4 1 1 649.0 656 346 322 100 216 548 1.344
STL (1 yr) 5 1 .833 3.79 8 6 0 0 0 0 38.0 34 17 16 8 14 32 1.263
SEA (1 yr) 13 9 .591 5.35 35 35 0 0 0 0 196.2 245 131 117 27 73 132 1.617
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/29/2013.


April 26 – Happy Birthday Sal Maglie

maglie.jpgBaseball pundits knew this right-hander was something special when he made his big league debut with the Giants in 1945 and three of his five wins were complete game shutouts. But instead of returning to the Polo Grounds, Maglie went south of the border for more money to pitch in the Mexican League. That move got him banned from the Majors until 1949. Nicknamed “the Barber” because he had a tendency to throw up and in close shaves at opposing batters, Maglie rejoined the Giants in 1950 and during the next three seasons was one of the very best pitchers on the League. When he turned 38, the Giants released him and after some time with the Indians, he joined Brooklyn in 1956, went 13-5 and finished second in that year’s Cy Young and MVP votes.

He didn’t put on the pinstripes until 1957, when he was 40 years of age. He still had enough in that right arm to pitch his 25th career shutout as a Yankee. He retired after the 1958 season and passed away in 1992 at the age of 75.

The Yankees ended up releasing the 41-year-old Maglie on June 14 of 1958 and the next day acquired another 41-year-old pitcher named Virgil Trucks. Trucks, like Maglie was one of baseballs better right-handers in the 1950’s with both Detroit and the White Sox. Trucks and Maglie were also both born on April 26, 1917. Maglie went on to become a big league pitching coach who was featured prominently in Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four” book, which chronicles Bouton’s 1969 season as a pitcher with the old Seattle Pilots. Suffice it to say that the “Bulldog” was not a fan of the “Barber’s” coaching methodology.

This current Yankee reliever also was born on April 26th as was this long ago hard-partying pitcher and this guy, who like Maglie gained most of his fame pitching for another team.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1957 NYY 2 0 1.000 1.73 6 3 3 1 1 3 26.0 22 6 5 1 7 9 1.115
1958 NYY 1 1 .500 4.63 7 3 4 0 0 0 23.1 27 12 12 3 9 7 1.543
10 Yrs 119 62 .657 3.15 303 232 35 93 25 14 1723.0 1591 684 603 169 562 862 1.250
NYG (7 yrs) 95 42 .693 3.13 221 171 23 77 20 8 1297.2 1216 512 451 117 434 654 1.272
BRO (2 yrs) 19 11 .633 2.89 47 43 1 13 4 1 292.1 248 107 94 33 78 158 1.115
CLE (2 yrs) 0 2 .000 3.82 12 2 4 0 0 2 30.2 32 16 13 1 9 13 1.337
NYY (2 yrs) 3 1 .750 3.10 13 6 7 1 1 3 49.1 49 18 17 4 16 16 1.318
STL (1 yr) 2 6 .250 4.75 10 10 0 2 0 0 53.0 46 31 28 14 25 21 1.340
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/25/2013.


April 24 – Happy Birthday Mike Blowers

blowers.jpegMike Pagliarullo had worn out his welcome as the Yankees’ starting third baseman by the end of the 1980’s. Although everybody loved Pags’ desire and hustle, his batting average had declined every year he wore the pinstripes. When it fell to .197 in 1989, the Yankees shipped him to the Padres and used Tom Brookens, Randy Velarde and today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant to fill the hole the trade had left at the hot corner. Blowers had been a prospect in the Expos’ organization. The Yankees sent pitcher John Candalaria to Montreal for the young infielder in August of 1989 and Yankee Manager, Bucky Dent played him at third in thirteen September games that season. The following year, Stump Merrill gave the kid a bonafide shot at winning the job but in 42 starts at the position, Blowers hit just .188. The following year, New York traded him to the Mariners. Though he was born in Germany, Blowers had been raised in the State of Washington, played baseball for the University of Washington and getting sent back home turned out to be a great move for his career. He became the Mariners starting third baseman in 1993 and hit .280 with 15 home runs. In 1995, his 23 home runs and 96 RBIs helped Seattle make the playoffs where they beat Buck Showalter’s New York Yankees in that year’s ALDS. His stats in Seattle were good enough to get him a $2.3 million contract from the Dodgers in 1996. He did not play well in Tinseltown and ended up finishing his career back with the Mariners. He eventually became a member of the Mariners’ TV broadcasting crew.

Also born on this date is this Yankee relief pitcher who played in pinstripes during the late sixties, this Yankee outfielder, and this Yankee starting pitcher from the roaring 1920s.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1989 NYY 13 41 38 2 10 0 0 0 3 0 0 3 13 .263 .317 .263 .580
1990 NYY 48 157 144 16 27 4 0 5 21 1 0 12 50 .188 .255 .319 .574
1991 NYY 15 40 35 3 7 0 0 1 1 0 0 4 3 .200 .282 .286 .568
11 Yrs 761 2585 2300 290 591 116 8 78 365 7 8 248 610 .257 .329 .416 .745
SEA (6 yrs) 464 1534 1357 182 366 69 4 55 231 5 8 153 351 .270 .343 .448 .791
NYY (3 yrs) 76 238 217 21 44 4 0 6 25 1 0 19 66 .203 .270 .304 .574
OAK (1 yr) 129 455 409 56 97 24 2 11 71 1 0 39 116 .237 .302 .386 .689
LAD (1 yr) 92 358 317 31 84 19 2 6 38 0 0 37 77 .265 .341 .394 .735

April 18 – Happy Birthday Dennis Rasmussen

DennisRasmussen.jpgWhen long-time baseball fans think of the 1986 season, the New York team that made the biggest impression that year was the Mets. Thanks in no small part to Bill Buchner’s defensive deficiencies, that Davey Johnson led squad won the Amazin’s second-ever world championship. But the Buchner miscue would have never had the opportunity to happen if it were not for the performance of the Mets superb pitching staff during the 1986 regular season. With all five starters winning in double digits, a lefty and righty closer each saving over 20 games and a staff ERA of just 3.11, that year’s Met offense usually only needed to score just three runs to win most games. The result was an incredible 108-win season for the tenants of Shea Stadium.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, only one Big Apple baseball team had a richness of pitching that year. Over in the Bronx, the Yankees were battling the Red Sox for the AL East Pennant with a starting staff that included a quickly aging Ron Guidry, an ancient and disgruntled Joe Neikro and youngsters Doug Drabek and Bob Tewksbury. Not one of the four won more than nine games that year, so how on earth did that team amass 90 victories and at least give Boston a fight for the Pennant? The answer was the two DRs and l don’t mean doctors. Dave Righetti was the best closer in baseball that season, leading the AL with 46 saves while being asked to pitch more than an inning over thirty times. The other DR was Dennis Rasmussen. He went 18-6 as a starter, becoming the ace of a staff that was in desperate need of an ace to emerge.

The Yankees had acquired Rasmussen in the 1984 trade that sent All Star third baseman Graig Nettles to the Padres. Dennis was a huge left-hander, 6’7″ tall and 230 pounds. He went a combined 12-11 for New York during his first two seasons in pinstripes. In ’86 he started strong and stayed strong the entire season. He was 8-2 at the All Star break and then went 10-4 the second half. The Yankees would have been horrible that year without him. So what happened to Dennis? Remember, this was the mid eighties when the Yankee front office was making pitching decisions with a Ouija Board. They traded their big southpaw to the Reds in August of the following season, for starter Bill Gullickson. Rasmussen won four of his five decisions with Cincinnati and went 16-10 the following year. Gullickson went 4-2 for his new team but then migrated to Japan the following season. Rasmussen pitched in the big leagues until 1995, retiring with a 91-77 record. He was 39-24 as a Yankee. He was born on April 18, 1959 in LA.

Rasmussen shares his birthday with this former teammate from his Yankee daysthis long-ago Yankee outfielder. Today would have also been the 90th birthday of the original Yankee Stadium.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP WHIP
1984 NYY 9 6 .600 4.57 24 24 0 1 0 0 147.2 127 79 75 16 60 0 110 4 1.266
1985 NYY 3 5 .375 3.98 22 16 1 2 0 0 101.2 97 56 45 10 42 1 63 1 1.367
1986 NYY 18 6 .750 3.88 31 31 0 3 1 0 202.0 160 91 87 28 74 0 131 2 1.158
1987 NYY 9 7 .563 4.75 26 25 0 2 0 0 146.0 145 78 77 31 55 1 89 4 1.370
12 Yrs 91 77 .542 4.15 256 235 7 21 5 0 1460.2 1424 747 673 175 522 23 835 26 1.332
W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP WHIP
SDP (5 yrs) 41 42 .494 3.80 113 110 1 11 2 0 680.0 703 337 287 68 227 13 346 10 1.368
NYY (4 yrs) 39 24 .619 4.28 103 96 1 8 1 0 597.1 529 304 284 85 231 2 393 11 1.272
KCR (3 yrs) 5 4 .556 4.70 19 10 4 1 1 0 76.2 78 42 40 7 28 3 30 1 1.383
CIN (2 yrs) 6 7 .462 4.96 18 18 0 1 1 0 101.2 107 58 56 13 34 4 66 3 1.387
CHC (1 yr) 0 0 10.80 3 1 1 0 0 0 5.0 7 6 6 2 2 1 0 1 1.800
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/18/2013.

April 17 – An Early Yankee Report Card for 2011

Hall of Famer, Cap Anson is the most famous baseball player to be born on April 17th. For all those professional wrestling fans out there, today is also the birthday of the legendary Rowdy Roddy Piper, but no current or former member of the New York Yankee family celebrates a birthday on this date. So instead, I’ll take this opportunity to share my opinions of the Yankees’ performance thus far this season.

After yesterday’s 5-2 win over a very good Rangers team, the Yankees’ record is 8-5 (compared to 10-3 at this same point last season) and they find themselves a game-and-a-half ahead of the Blue Jays in the AL East race. They’ve lost just one series thus far this season (to Boston), and as a team they are hitting .257, good for sixth place in the AL. Their pitchers have given up 4.54 runs per game, which lands them in tenth place in their league. Power and Mariano Rivera have been their strengths thus far and a failure of their leadoff hitters to get on base and Phil Hughes have hurt them the most.
Their best offensive player has been A-Rod followed closely by Cano. Russell Martin’s overall performance has been a huge boost for this team. Teixeira, Posada, Granderson, and Swisher are all swinging the bat well. The Captain is struggling but he is going to be OK. I don’t know if I can say the same thing about Brett Gardner, who has been awful. I like the bench this year. Both Jones and Chavez look like solid additions so far.
CC has pitched well but the pen has let him down. AJ is 3-0 but I still get nervous every time he takes the mound. Nova is not quite ready. I wish the team’s success was not so dependent on the aging arms of Garcia and Colon but at this point in the season, both have done well. If I were Cashman, I’d sell the farm for King Felix but I’m not Cashman. I do wish the Yankees would hire the Texas Ranger pitching scouts and development gurus. After watching both Joba and Phil Hughes for a few years now, it seems clear to me that New York could use lots of help finding and developing young arms.
As mentioned earlier, Rivera has been masterful. David Robertson has been real good too.
I don’t enjoy watching Soriano pitch because on the mound, he acts like he doesn’t enjoy pitching. Chamberlain has mostly pitched fine, but just as I do when AJ takes the mound, I get nervous when I see Joba enter a game.
You know Boston is going to get hot but I don’t see any other AL East team really challenging the Yankees, especially if they can make a deal for a top starter before or at the All Star break. If Rivera and A-Rod can stay healthy, this team should make the postseason. Winning there will require excellent starting pitching. If by that time the Yankees are still depending only on, Burnett, Garcia and Colon to provide it, I’ll be greatly surprised.

What was good about yesterday’s victory over the Rangers:
Freddy was ready! – Cano is playing really well right now – Teixeira is proving he can hit with power to the opposite field – Swisher had a great game – Joba did the job – Rivera is the best there ever will be! 

What was not so good:
The weather – Soriano did not pitch well – News that A-Rod had some lower back pain.

April 7 – Happy Birthday Oral Hildebrand

hildebrand.jpegThe 1939 season was an historic year for the New York Yankee franchise. It is probably best remembered as the season Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game playing streak and remarkable Yankee career both came to a tragic end. It was also the year that the team, under manager Joe McCarthy, captured a record fourth straight World Series crown. The 1939 Yankees were also the only team in franchise history to have seven pitchers achieve at least ten wins during the same regular season. Hall of Famer, Red Ruffing led the staff with 21 victories. Atley Donald was next with 13. Another Hall of Famer, Lefty Gomez won a dozen as did Bump Hadley and Monte Pearson. Reliever, Steve “Smokey” Sundra chipped in with 11. All six of these guys had also pitched for New York the year before. In ’39 they were joined by today’s Birthday Celebrant, Oral Hildebrand. The Yankees had picked the big right hander up in a trade with the St Louis Browns after winning the 1938 World Series.  At the time of the trade, Hildebrand was a 31-year-old eight-year veteran and one-time All Star, who had led the American League with six shutouts in 1933, while pitching for Cleveland. He became the sixth Yankee pitcher to achieve 15 starts during the 1939 season. He ended up winning 10 of his 14 decisions.

That Yankee staff was so deep with arms that Hildebrand was pulled in his only World Series start that year despite pitching four innings of shutout baseball against the Reds. Too much pitching was also part of the reason Oral’s Yankee career ended on a sour note. In 1940, the Yankees tried to assign him to their Kansas City farm team but he refused to report, claiming he had pitched well enough to earn a spot on the team’s big league roster. He ended up sitting out half the season rather than accept the demotion. The following year, the Yankees sold him to St. Paul in the American Association. He hung on for two more years in that league and then retired for good.

Like Hildebrand, this former Yankee pitcher was a well traveled veteran by the time he pitched in pinstripes and like old Oral, he joined a Yankee team that ended up winning the World Series. And like Hildebrand, he was born on April 7th as was this first manager in Yankee franchise history and this long-ago first baseman.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1939 NYY 10 4 .714 3.06 21 15 5 7 1 2 126.2 102 44 43 11 41 50 1.129
1940 NYY 1 1 .500 1.86 13 0 8 0 0 0 19.1 19 7 4 1 14 5 1.707
10 Yrs 83 78 .516 4.35 258 182 52 80 9 14 1430.2 1490 781 692 99 623 527 1.477
CLE (6 yrs) 56 46 .549 4.18 171 117 37 51 7 11 920.1 947 499 427 51 408 331 1.472
NYY (2 yrs) 11 5 .688 2.90 34 15 13 7 1 2 146.0 121 51 47 12 55 55 1.205
SLB (2 yrs) 16 27 .372 5.39 53 50 2 22 1 1 364.1 422 231 218 36 160 141 1.597
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/23/2014.