May 2011

May 29 – Happy Birthday Jerry Hairston

I will always be a Jerry Hairston fan. You know why? After the Yankees beat the Phillies in the 2009 World Series, they did not try to re-sign the utility player and he ended up playing with the Padres in 2010. The Yankees had announced they would hand out the team’s 2009 World Series rings during a ceremony before their April 12th afternoon home game against the California Angels. That happened to be an off day for the Padres. Hairston flew all the way from San Diego to New York, paid for his own airline ticket, just so he could get his 2009 World Series ring with the teammates he had won it with. When Jorge Posada saw Hairston come out of the dugout in his street clothes, he asked his ex teammate what he was doing there. When Hairston told him he came to get his ring, Posada asked him “Why?”

Here’s the reason. Up until he joined the Yankees, Hairston had been playing Major League baseball for a dozen seasons and had never even been on a team that reached the postseason. His grandfather, dad, uncle and brother all played big league baseball and only his father, Jerry Sr. ever participated in fall ball and that was just two games worth for a 1983 White Sox team that got knocked out of the ALCS that year by the Orioles. And Jerry Jr. had done more than just play. His pinch-hit single to lead off the bottom of the thirteenth inning in Game 2 against the Angels led to him scoring the winning run in that contest.

So there he was, six months later in his street clothes, back in Yankee Stadium with the Angels again occupying the visitors dugout, patiently waiting to receive the sacred souvenir that no other Hairston had ever claimed. And when Joe Girardi handed him his ring case on that Tuesday afternoon in the Bronx, he opened it up, smiled, said good bye to his ex teammates and took a cab to the airport and got back on a plane for the cross country trip to San Diego, where his new team was playing the following evening. In my opinion, Posada asked Hairston a stupid question that day. He was there to pick up that ring because he had worked all his life to earn the right to be there. Maybe Posada has won too many rings and made too many millions to understand that but I sure do.

Hairston was born on May 29, 1976, in Des Moines, IA. He now plays for the Nationals. 2011 is his 14th big league season and Washington is his seventh big league ball club. He has a .256 lifetime batting average and he currently needs 41 more base hits to reach the 1,000 mark, lifetime. He will again be the first of the five Hairston’s who played Major League ball to accomplish that feat.

Jerry shares today as a birthday with this former Yankee outfielderthis third baseman and this first baseman.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2009 NYY 45 93 76 15 18 5 0 2 12 0 11 8 .237 .352 .382 .733
16 Yrs 1367 4803 4238 568 1097 228 22 69 404 147 362 555 .259 .327 .372 .699
BAL (7 yrs) 530 2086 1825 241 477 98 12 26 160 94 162 229 .261 .334 .371 .705
TEX (2 yrs) 136 284 247 39 48 10 1 3 22 7 20 44 .194 .262 .279 .541
LAD (2 yrs) 99 329 293 24 79 15 1 5 32 1 26 32 .270 .334 .379 .713
CHC (2 yrs) 152 522 462 59 116 28 2 4 34 11 35 60 .251 .322 .346 .668
CIN (2 yrs) 166 637 568 94 163 38 3 14 63 22 44 82 .287 .342 .438 .780
SDP (1 yr) 119 476 430 53 105 13 2 10 50 9 31 54 .244 .299 .353 .652
WSN (1 yr) 75 238 213 25 57 11 1 4 24 2 22 30 .268 .342 .385 .727
NYY (1 yr) 45 93 76 15 18 5 0 2 12 0 11 8 .237 .352 .382 .733
MIL (1 yr) 45 138 124 18 34 10 0 1 7 1 11 16 .274 .348 .379 .727
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/29/2013.

May 27 – Pinstripe Birthdays’ All-Time Yankee Team

Not one member of the Yankee family celebrates a birthday on today’s date. I even searched the current rosters of New York’s Minor League affiliates and did not find one player, manager or coach in the entire organization who was born on May 27th. In fact the only person I discovered with any ties whatsoever to the Yankee franchise who was born on today’s date is Debbie Clemens, the wife of former Yankee Cy Young Award winner and accused HGH user, Roger Clemens. Needless to say, Mrs. Clemens has probably not had too many happy days of any kind in her life for a while so we wish her peace and better days ahead on her birthday.

Since we have no Yankee birthdays to celebrate, how about I present my all-time greatest Yankee team, instead? See if you agree with the 25 players I put on my roster:
Starters
1B – Lou Gehrig
2B – Tony Lazzeri
3B – Alex Rodriguez
SS – Derek Jeter
C – Yogi Berra
OF – Babe Ruth
OF – Joe DiMaggio
OF – Mickey Mantle
Bench
Don Mattingly
Willie Randolph
Graig Nettles
Phil Rizzuto
Bill Dickey
Earle Combs
Dave Winfield
Bernie Williams
Starting Rotation
Whitey Ford
Red Ruffing
Lefty Gomez
Ron Guidry
Allie Reynolds
Bullpen
Mo Rivera
Goose Gossage
Sparky Lyle
Johnny Murphy
Use the form below to give me your opinion of who should and shouldn’t be on the All Time Yankee Team.

May 23 – Happy Birthday Bill Drescher

Most Yankee fans have never heard of today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant but if you happened to have loved the Bronx Bombers and also lived in my hometown of Amsterdam, New York back in 1942, you remember him well. That’s because that was the year Bill Drescher was the starting catcher for the Amsterdam Rugmakers, the Yankee affiliate in the old Class C Canadian American League. It was the 21-year-old Drescher’s first season of professional baseball and according to his Rugmaker Manager at the time, a guy named Tom Kain, the native of Congers, NY seemed like a natural both at the plate and behind it. Dresher hit .301 in 100 games for Amsterdam that season and was featured in a New York Times article that described him as “a carbon copy” of the Yankees’ Hall-of-Fame receiver, Bill Dickey. In fact, that same article went on to say that if Dickey, who was nearing the end of his outstanding career at the time, could hang on for two or three more seasons it would be Drescher who would take his place as the Yankee starting catcher.

Dickey did his part but when the time came to replace him, Drescher was not ready. He did make his first appearance behind the plate in the Bronx during the 1944 season and then got his real shot the following year, when he caught 48 games for what would be Manager Joe McCarthy’s final full season as Yankee Manager. He hit .270 and fielded adequately but the following year WWII ended and all of the Yankees’ catchers returned to the game. Drescher ended up getting lost in that crowd and spending the rest of his professional playing career catching in the Yankee farm system. He died in 1968 at the very young age of 47.

May 23rd is also the birthday of this first voice of the Yankees, this former Yankee Manager and this other former Yankee manager.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1944 NYY 4 7 7 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .143 .143 .143 .286
1945 NYY 48 138 126 10 34 3 1 0 15 0 8 5 .270 .313 .310 .623
1946 NYY 5 6 6 0 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 .333 .333 .500 .833
3 Yrs 57 151 139 10 37 4 1 0 16 0 8 5 .266 .306 .309 .615
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/23/2013.