At 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.
|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|
Baseball 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.
|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|
The last name of today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant is Ford. He was a two-time twenty game winner as a starter for the Yankee franchise and he was famous for scuffing the baseball with a tiny piece of sandpaper. He admitted to that doctoring after his playing days were over. What was this pitcher’s first name?
You’re wrong if you guessed Whitey. You’re also wrong if you guessed Edward, which was the real first name of one-time Yankee ace Whitey Ford. Whitey was also a two-time twenty-game winner for New York and after he retired in 1967, he also admitted to doctoring the baseball with a small strip of sandpaper attached to his wedding ring. But Whitey Ford wasn’t born on April 25th.
Today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant is instead, “Russ” Ford, who was born in Canada on April 25, 1883. He was a right handed pitcher for the New York Highlanders from 1909 until he jumped to the Federal League in 1914. This Ford won 26 games for New York in 1910 and then 22 the following year. According to his New York Times obituary, he invented the “Emory ball” by accident when one of his warm up pitches went flying by the catcher and bounced off a grating. When he got that ball back in his glove, he noticed a scuff mark. He then noticed that every pitch he threw with that scuffed baseball moved much more sharply than even his spitball did. That’s when Ford began concealing and carrying sandpaper with him to the mound.
After his two straight 20-win seasons, Ford lost 21 games for the 1912 Highlanders and then went 12-18 for the 1913 team that by then had officially changed its name to the New York Yankees. Those two bad years helped make Ford’s jump to the upstart Federal League in 1914 much easier for the Yankees to swallow. In fact, when AL President Ban Johnson offered to go to court to protect the Yankee’s contractual rights to the pitcher, Frank Chance, the New York Manager at the time told Johnson not to even bother.
|NYY (5 yrs)||73||56||.566||2.54||143||129||14||100||10||3||1112.2||1010||458||314||27||287||553||1.166|
|BUF (2 yrs)||26||15||.634||2.74||56||41||14||26||5||6||374.2||330||137||114||18||89||157||1.118|
Mike 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.
|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|
When this Michigan native went 10-7 as a starter for the 1993 Yankees I thought it was the beginning of what would become a very good pinstripe pitching career for the right hander. Instead, he got fewer and fewer starts over the next two seasons and actually was sent back down to the minors in 1996, when he was 32 years-old. During the 1995 ALDS, with the Yankees up two games to one over the Mariners, Buck Showalter had pegged Kamieniecki to start Game 4 in Seattle. The night before the game, he and his wife received a call from the baby sitter watching their two kids back home in Michigan telling them that their two children were in the hospital being treated for smoke inhalation, victims of a house fire. Scott and his wife decided that he would stay in Seattle and pitch while she returned home to be with the couple’s two young sons, who both ended up being fine.
He did not pitch well the next night, giving up three runs in the first inning as Seattle evened the series. To make a bad off season even worse, doctors found bone chips in his pitching elbow and he underwent surgery to have them removed. In the mean time, Joe Torre had taken over as Yankee skipper and Kamieniecki would soon became part of a small but vocal group of ex-Yankees who did not like the way they were treated by him.
According to the pitcher, he had fully recovered from the elbow surgery and the new Yankee manager had promised him he’d be given an equal shot at one of the starting spots in the Yankees’ 1996 rotation. Just a day later, Torre told the media that Kamieniecki’s off season surgery had put him behind the other candidates. Even though Torre apologized to him, the episode left a bitter taste in Kamieniecki’s mouth. He started the 1996 season on the DL and later claimed the Yankees forced him to fake the injury to avoid an assignment back to the minors. He ended up spending much of the ’96 season back in the Triple A anyway, contributing just one regular-season win to the Yankees’ championship. He was then released after the season. The Orioles evidently saw enough of Kamieniecki to give him a 3-year free agent contract just shy of $8 million in 1997. He went 10-6 for Baltimore that year, helping the Birds make the playoffs. Old wounds were also reopened when an embarrassed Yankee front office admitted they had not ordered World Championship rings for many of the players who had been part of the 1996 squad, including Kamieniecki. He was then measured for the valuable keepsake but never actually received one.
After his 10-6 1997 performance, Scott’s career faded quickly, as he went a combined 4-10 in ’98 and ’99. He was out of the Majors for good after the 2000 season. He shares his birthday with another pitcher who had problems with a manager and this former Yankee shortstop.
|NYY (6 yrs)||36||39||.480||4.33||113||94||7||8||0||1||627.1||644||323||302||65||282||323||1.476|
|BAL (3 yrs)||14||16||.467||4.71||85||44||19||0||0||2||290.1||298||156||152||31||122||173||1.447|
|CLE (1 yr)||1||3||.250||5.67||26||0||7||0||0||0||33.1||42||22||21||6||20||29||1.860|
|ATL (1 yr)||2||1||.667||5.47||26||0||4||0||0||2||24.2||22||18||15||3||22||17||1.784|
When 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.
|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|
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.
Today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant was a back up catcher during his days in pinstripes. Many have served in that role through the ages. The current guy in that position, Chris Stewart, was a surprise choice at the very end of the 2012 spring training season, a move that ended the popular Francisco Cervelli’s two-year hold on the same job. The first backup catcher in franchise history was Jack O’Connor. Known as Rowdy Jack, he was already 37 years old when he spent the 1903 season backing up Monte Beville behind home plate. O’Connor batted just .203 that season but that was nine points better than Beville hit. Benny Bengough was the Yankees’ first long-term second catcher. He started his pinstripe career in 1923 behind Wally Schang on the depth chart and finished it eight seasons later behind Hall-of-Famer, Bill Dickey. Dickey’s longtime backup was the Norwegian receiver, Arndt Jorgens, who spent all eleven of his big league seasons in that role. Yogi Berra’s backup during the first half of his Yankee careeer was Charley Silvera. Elston Howard took over from him and gradually took over the starting catcher’s job from Berra. During the fabled 1961 Yankee season, the Yankees had three catchers, Howard, Berra and Johnny Blanchard all hit more than 20 home runs in the same season. Former Yankee Manager, Ralph Houk had been a backup catcher for New York during his playing days and the team’s current Manager, Joe Girardi, ended his Yankee playing days in that supporting role behind Jorge Posada. Some of the better known Yankee backup catchers included Rick Dempsey, Fran Healy, and Ivan Rodriguez.
I can clearly recall when today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant took over as the Yankee backup receiver. It was during the 1967 season. Elston Howard had broke completely down physically that year and the Yankees inserted his backup, Jake Gibbs as starting catcher and brought up Frank Fernandez from their farm system to become the new number two receiver. The native of Staten Island held onto that backup role for three seasons until Thurman Munson arrived in the Bronx in 1969. Fernandez was then traded to the A’s. He was decent defensively and had some power in his bat, hitting 12 home runs for New York in 1969 and then 15 for the A’s a season later. He also had a keen batting eye. His biggest problem was that when he did swing the bat he usually missed the ball. Frank averaged about one strikeout every three times at bat during his Yankee career and averaged just .199 during the six seasons he played in the big leagues.
|OAK (2 yrs)||98||304||261||31||55||6||0||15||45||1||0||41||79||.211||.322||.406||.728|
|NYY (3 yrs)||149||501||392||50||80||14||2||20||63||3||4||102||125||.204||.372||.403||.775|
|CHC (2 yrs)||20||61||44||11||7||1||0||4||4||0||0||17||17||.159||.393||.455||.848|
|WSA (1 yr)||18||37||30||0||3||0||0||0||4||0||0||4||10||.100||.194||.100||.294|
His real name was Norman Arthur Elberfeld and back when he played professional baseball at the turn of the twentieth century, he was considered to be one of the meanest players in uniform. He was so hot-tempered that he was given the nickname “The Tabasco Kid.” Elberfeld’s meanness was not limited to the ball field. He also owned a farm in Tennessee. He was accused of stealing a calf from a neighboring farm. The case ended up in a local court and the ruling went against “The Kid” and he was forced to let his neighbor have the calf. A week later the animal was found poisoned to death.
As far as we know, Elberfeld never poisoned a human being but he did do a tap dance on an opposing player’s back wearing his razor-sharp baseball cleats. He also once threw a handful of mud INSIDE the mouth of an umpire he happened to be arguing with. He poked another ump in the stomach with his finger so many times that the guy started beating Elberfeld over the head with his mask. He would actually get so mad at umpires that he was known to chase men-in-blue around baseball diamonds trying to physically assault them.
This maniac was the first starting shortstop in Yankee (Highlander) history. He played that position from 1903 until he was sold to the Washington Senators after the 1909 season. As hot-tempered as he was, Elberfeld evidently was a pretty skilled player who knew how to get on base. During his seven seasons playing for New York, he batted .268 and had a .340 on base percentage.
At the beginning of the 1908 season, New York Manager, Clark Griffith got into a dispute with the team’s owners and was dismissed. Elberfeld happened to be injured at the time so since he was being paid anyway, the Highlander brain trust made him the team’s Manager. The results were disastrous. The umpires hated him and so did his own players. He piloted the team to an almost comical 27-71 record during the rest of that 1908 season and his big league managerial days were over forever. He played one more season for New York before getting sold to Washington where he was reunited with Clark Griffith.
|NYY (7 yrs)||667||2743||2412||330||647||89||28||4||257||117||182||94||.268||.340||.333||.674|
|DET (3 yrs)||286||1219||1052||175||305||43||20||4||159||48||123||33||.290||.376||.380||.757|
|WSH (2 yrs)||254||1022||859||111||224||28||6||2||89||43||100||23||.261||.363||.314||.677|
|BRO (1 yr)||30||70||62||7||14||1||0||0||1||0||2||4||.226||.304||.242||.546|
|CIN (1 yr)||41||166||138||23||36||4||2||0||22||5||15||6||.261||.378||.319||.697|
|PHI (1 yr)||14||52||38||1||9||4||0||0||7||0||5||5||.237||.420||.342||.762|
I am currently reading a book entitled “The Big Bam,” which is a biography of Babe Ruth, written by Leigh Montville. In it, the author goes into great detail about the transaction that made Ruth a Yankee, in January of 1920. At the time the deal was made, Ruth was coming off a season in which he hit the then unheard of total of 29 home runs. He had almost convinced Red Sox Manager, Ed Barrow, that he was too good a hitter to continue pitching. He was quickly becoming the most famous man in America and was about to embark on a career in pinstripes that would in effect, make him the God of baseball. So imagine for a moment that you are today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant, Sammy Vick. You’ve been a Yankee for three seasons and in 1919, you finally became the team’s starting right fielder. You’re only 24 years old and the Yankees, under second-year Manager Miller Huggins, were an improving baseball team, finishing in third place in the American League the past season. So you wake up on January 4, 1920 and you pour yourself a cup of coffee and grab the morning newspaper. You unfold it and there on the top of the front page, you’re suddenly staring at your own obituary. Actually, the headline reads “Yankees Purchase Ruth From Boston” but to your eyes it says “Sammy Vick’s Days as Yankees’ Starting Right Fielder Are Over Forever.” When he got to the part of the article where Huggins is quoted as saying Babe’s pitching days are over for good, Vick probably put down his coffee and the newspaper and went back to bed hoping against hope that everything that had just transpired was nothing but a bad dream.
Ruth went on to hit 59 home runs during his first season in New York. Vick only got to play when “The Big Bam” was hurt, tired, hung over or finished hitting for the day. That meant Vick, who was a native of Batesville, Mississippi, appeared in just 51 games in 1920. The following season he was traded to Boston as part of a nine-player swap between the two teams. He floundered as a Red Sox and was back in the minors by 1922. He played until 1930 but never got back to the big leagues. Sammy lived to be 91, passing away in 1986. I bet at the time, he was still telling anyone who would listen that he was the guy who lost his job to Babe Ruth.
Joining Vick as a former Yankee who celebrates his birthday on April 12 is this reliever who came to New York in a trade for El Duque and this outfielder the Yankees picked up from Detroit just as the 2013 season was about to begin.
|NYY (4 yrs)||169||621||564||85||139||25||10||2||41||12||1||50||81||.246||.310||.337||.647|
|BOS (1 yr)||44||81||77||5||20||3||1||0||9||0||1||1||10||.260||.269||.325||.594|