June 2011

June 15 – Happy Birthday Wade Boggs

I’ve been a Yankee fan for fifty one years and I’ve seen a lot of unexpected things happen with and to my favorite team during those five decades. But if somebody told me in the late 1980s that Wade Boggs, the Red Sox hitting machine and five-time AL batting champion would one day be a Yankee, I would have called that person crazy. After all, from 1983 through 1989 Boggs had hit a phenomenal .352 for Boston and averaged 110 runs scored and 211 hits per season. He was a certain Hall-of-Famer, an outstanding defensive third baseman and although he had some notorious extra marital exploits off the field, nobody was more focused or more driven on a baseball field than Boggs. Plus the Yankees and Red Sox were bitter rivals and the Boston and New York players genuinely disliked each other. The thought of Boggs in a Yankee uniform was literally beyond the realm of my imagination. But in 1992, Boggs hit just .259 in the final year of his Red Sox contract. That was the first time in the eleven seasons he’d been in the big leagues that he failed to hit .300. The fall-off was just enough to dissuade the Red Sox front office from going all-out to re-sign their All Star third baseman. The angry Boggs signed with the Yankees instead.

He played the next five seasons in pinstripes and averaged .313 during that span. He teamed with Don Mattingly to give the Yankees veteran leadership and outstanding defense at both corners of their infield. In 1996, he was instrumental in helping the Yankees reach and win the World Series. The image of Boggs, sitting behind a New York City cop riding a police horse around the field of Yankee Stadium after the sixth and final game of that Series has become a visual hallmark in Yankee franchise history. I hated Boggs when he was a Red Sox but once he put on the pinstripes, I quickly learned to love the guy. He retired in 1999 with 3010 hits and a .328 lifetime batting average. Five years later he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Most Yankee fans think this recently retired pitcher, who shares Boggs’ June 15th birthday, also belongs in Cooperstown. Also born on this date is this Yankee utility infielder and this former Yankee first baseman.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1993 NYY 143 644 560 83 169 26 1 2 59 0 74 49 .302 .378 .363 .740
1994 NYY 97 434 366 61 125 19 1 11 55 2 61 29 .342 .433 .489 .922
1995 NYY 126 541 460 76 149 22 4 5 63 1 74 50 .324 .412 .422 .834
1996 NYY 132 574 501 80 156 29 2 2 41 1 67 32 .311 .389 .389 .778
1997 NYY 104 407 353 55 103 23 1 4 28 0 48 38 .292 .373 .397 .769
18 Yrs 2440 10740 9180 1513 3010 578 61 118 1014 24 1412 745 .328 .415 .443 .858
BOS (11 yrs) 1625 7323 6213 1067 2098 422 47 85 687 16 1004 470 .338 .428 .462 .890
NYY (5 yrs) 602 2600 2240 355 702 119 9 24 246 4 324 198 .313 .396 .407 .803
TBD (2 yrs) 213 817 727 91 210 37 5 9 81 4 84 77 .289 .360 .391 .750
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/15/2013.

June 2 – Happy Birthday Horace Clarke

For long-time Yankee fans it was the “Dark Ages.” It was the interval of time that lasted from the day CBS fired Yogi Berra after the Yankees lost the 1964 series to the Cardinals, until the very final day of 1974, when George Steinbrenner signed Catfish Hunter as a free agent. It also happened to be pretty much the same exact period of time that Horace Clarke played second base for the New York Yankees.

We called him “Hoss” back then and I can remember screaming at him through my TV set during the early part of his career, “You stink Hoss!” He really didn’t though. He just had the misfortune of being a Yankee leadoff man in front of young hitters named Bill Robinson, Frank Tepedino and Steve Whitaker instead of young hitters named Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Elston Howard. Clarke amassed over 1200 career hits and 140 stolen bases while with the Yankees. I saw him recently at a Yankee old-timer game with that familiar number 20 on his pinstriped back. I’ve now come to the conclusion that those Dark Age days of rooting for the Yankees would have been even darker if it wasn’t for Hoss. Clarke was born in the Virgin Islands on today’s date in 1940. He shares his June 2nd birthday with his old double play partner with the Yankees, this effective Yankee reliever from the late 1990′s, and this more recent Yankee postseason hero.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1965 NYY 51 115 108 13 28 1 0 1 9 2 6 6 .259 .296 .296 .592
1966 NYY 96 344 312 37 83 10 4 6 28 5 27 24 .266 .324 .381 .705
1967 NYY 143 633 588 74 160 17 0 3 29 21 42 64 .272 .321 .316 .637
1968 NYY 148 607 579 52 133 6 1 2 26 20 23 46 .230 .258 .254 .512
1969 NYY 156 700 641 82 183 26 7 4 48 33 53 41 .285 .339 .367 .706
1970 NYY 158 732 686 81 172 24 2 4 46 23 35 35 .251 .286 .309 .595
1971 NYY 159 696 625 76 156 23 7 2 41 17 64 43 .250 .321 .318 .639
1972 NYY 147 613 547 65 132 20 2 3 37 18 56 44 .241 .315 .302 .616
1973 NYY 148 650 590 60 155 21 0 2 35 11 47 48 .263 .317 .308 .625
1974 TOT 66 152 137 8 28 2 0 0 5 1 12 11 .204 .268 .219 .487
1974 NYY 24 53 47 3 11 1 0 0 1 1 4 5 .234 .294 .255 .549
10 Yrs 1272 5242 4813 548 1230 150 23 27 304 151 365 362 .256 .308 .313 .621
NYY (10 yrs) 1230 5143 4723 543 1213 149 23 27 300 151 357 356 .257 .309 .315 .624
SDP (1 yr) 42 99 90 5 17 1 0 0 4 0 8 6 .189 .255 .200 .455
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/1/2013.