June 21 – Happy Birthday Eddie Lopat

As I observe Joe Girardi’s recent efforts to patch together a five man starting rotation for the 2011 Yankees, today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant makes me think about how easy Casey Stengel’s starting pitching decisions were during his five straight World Series victory run with the team. Take 1950 as an example. The Ol Perfessor could hand the ball to Vic Raschi (21-8), Allie Reynolds (16-12), Tommy Byrne (15-9), a young Whitey Ford (9-1) or today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant, Eddie Lopat (18-8).

Eddie had started his big league career with the White Sox in 1944, putting together four consecutive seasons of double digit victories and almost matching double digit losses in the Windy City. In February of 1948, the Yankees traded three players to Chicago including their starting catcher, Aaron Robinson in exchange for the southpaw Lopat, who had been born and grew up on the upper east side of New York City. Not only did the trade bring New York a great pitcher, this same deal also cleared the way for Yogi Berra to take over as the team’s starting backstop.

Unlike his Yankee co-aces, Reynolds and Raschi, who both threw lots of heat, Lopat had a repertoire of pitches all thrown at various speeds with great control. That assortment of stuff earned him the nickname, “The Junkman. He was especially known for his screwball, which became his signature pitch. From 1948 through 1954, the southpaw Lopat won double digits for the Yankees with his best year coming in 1951 when he went 21-9. He was also 4-1 in five World Series with New York and compiled a 113-59 regular-season career record in pinstripes.

When Lopat got off to a slow start in 1954, Yankee GM George Weiss traded him to Baltimore and Lopat hung up his glove after that season. He later went onto become a big league coach and manager (Kansas City A’s.)

Steady Eddie shares his June 21st birthday with another former Yankee left-handed starting pitcher and the first Mormon to ever play in Yankee pinstripes.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1948 NYY 17 11 .607 3.65 33 31 1 13 3 0 226.2 246 106 92 16 66 83 1.376
1949 NYY 15 10 .600 3.26 31 30 1 14 4 1 215.1 222 93 78 19 69 70 1.351
1950 NYY 18 8 .692 3.47 35 32 2 15 3 1 236.1 244 110 91 19 65 72 1.307
1951 NYY 21 9 .700 2.91 31 31 0 20 4 0 234.2 209 86 76 12 71 93 1.193
1952 NYY 10 5 .667 2.53 20 19 1 10 2 0 149.1 127 47 42 11 53 56 1.205
1953 NYY 16 4 .800 2.42 25 24 1 9 3 0 178.1 169 58 48 13 32 50 1.127
1954 NYY 12 4 .750 3.55 26 23 0 7 0 0 170.0 189 74 67 14 33 54 1.306
1955 NYY 4 8 .333 3.74 16 12 2 3 1 0 86.2 101 45 36 12 16 24 1.350
12 Yrs 166 112 .597 3.21 340 318 14 164 27 3 2439.1 2464 1008 869 179 650 859 1.277
NYY (8 yrs) 113 59 .657 3.19 217 202 8 91 20 2 1497.1 1507 619 530 116 405 502 1.277
CHW (4 yrs) 50 49 .505 3.18 113 109 4 72 7 1 893.0 900 365 316 55 236 347 1.272
BAL (1 yr) 3 4 .429 4.22 10 7 2 1 0 0 49.0 57 24 23 8 9 10 1.347
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/21/2013.

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