The Yankees signed Johnny Lindell in 1936 as a pitcher and during the next six seasons he developed really well in the New York farm system, culminating with an outstanding 23-4 record with the 1941 Newark Bears. He deserved a shot at the big show but the only problem was that Yankee Manager Joe McCarthy’s team was already loaded with good pitchers at the time and he simply didn’t need another one. So instead, he asked Lindell if he’d like to try the outfield. Johnny had always been a good hitter, averaging close to .300 in the minors, so the 6’5″ native of Greely, CO gave it a shot. By 1943, with WWII raging and the regular Yankee outfield disrupted by military service, Lindell became New York’s regular center fielder. He had his best big league season in 1944 when he averaged .300, poked 18 home runs, drove in 103 and led the AL in triples for the second straight year.
Off the field, Lindell was a party animal. It was rumored that Yankee GM George Weiss spent more money on private detectives he hired to keep night-time tabs on his outfielder than he paid Lindell in salary. By 1945, it was Lindell’s turn to serve his country. When he returned to the Yankees in 1946, New York’s regular outfielders and prospects had all returned from military service and Lindell gradually moved into the role of the team’s fourth outfielder.
Johnny had some great moments as a Yankee. He hit .500 and drove in seven runs during the Yankees 1947 World Series victory over the Dodgers. In 1949, he hit a huge home run in New York’s final regular season series against Boston, enabling the Yankees to move into a tie with the Red Sox. But as each year passed, Lindell found himself playing less and less and during the 1950 season, Weiss sold him to the Cardinals. When St. Louis released him at the end of that season, Lindell decided to go back to pitching and returned to the minors to work on his knuckle ball. He put together an amazing 24-9 season in the Pacific Coast League in 1952 and the Pirates promoted him to their starting rotation the following year. But Lindell couldn’t throw his knuckle ball over the plate for strikes and the more patient big league hitters simply waited him out. He finished the ’53 season with a 5-16 record and led the NL in walks. By the following year he was out of the big leagues for good.
|NYY (10 yrs)||742||2850||2568||371||707||112||45||63||369||17||250||322||.275||.343||.428||.770|
|PHI (2 yrs)||18||31||23||3||8||1||0||0||4||0||8||5||.348||.516||.391||.907|
|PIT (1 yr)||58||109||91||11||26||6||1||4||15||0||16||15||.286||.404||.505||.909|
|STL (1 yr)||36||131||113||16||21||5||2||5||16||0||15||24||.186||.287||.398||.685|
If you’ve watched televised Yankee broadcasts over the years you’ve probably heard Kenny Singleton and Michael Kay talk about “the worst trade in Montreal Expo history.” It took place a few weeks before Christmas in 1974 with the Baltimore Orioles. The Expos received Baltimore’s veteran starting pitcher, Dave McNally and the Birds’ outfielder Rich Coggins in exchange for Singleton, who was then a young up and coming outfielder and today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant. Mike Torrez was a nibbler, a big young right-hander who tried to keep the ball away from the middle of the plate. As a result, he typically threw lots of pitches and walked lots of hitters when he was on the mound but he also won more games than he lost.
Neither McNally or Coggins was still playing for Montreal by the second half of the 1975 season. Singleton became one of the great outfielders in Baltimore franchise history. Torrez became the ace of Baltimore’s staff in ’75 going 20-9. He then got traded again but only because Oakland A’s owner Charley Finley had decided to unload his superstar free-agent-to-be, Reggie Jackson before Mr. October walked away on his own. Baltimore thought Reggie could get them back to the World Series so they were willing to sacrifice Torrez to get him.
The native of Topeka, Kansas continued his winning ways in Oakland, going 16-12 in 1976. He then won three of his first four starts the following season but like Reggie a year earlier, Torrez was in the final year of his contract and any good player in his option year playing for a Charley Finley owned team automatically received a new nickname; Trade Bait!
That’s how the Yankees were able to secure Torrez’ services at the end of April in 1977. Finley accepted Doc Ellis, Larry Murray and Marty Perez in exchange for big Mike. With Catfish Hunter’s shoulder ailing at the time, Torrez immediately became a key ingredient to the Yankees’ drive to their 1977 World Championship. He won 14 games that year, joining Ron Guidry (16) Ed Fiqueroa (16) and Don Gullett (14) as double digit winners. Then after losing Game 3 in the ’77 ALCS to Kansas City, Torrez won both Game 3 and the Series-clinching Game 6 for New York in the World Series. It was without a doubt, his finest moment in pinstripes but not his most important moment in franchise history.
That happened less than a year later, after the Yankees let Torrez sign as a free agent with the Red Sox and after he won 16 games for Boston and helped them tie New York for the 1978 AL East Division title. More specifically, it took place on October 2, 1978 in the late afternoon in Boston’s Fenway Park, with two outs in the seventh inning of the playoff game between the Red Sox and the Yankees to determine who would advance to the ALCS against the Royals that year. Torrez had shutout the Yankees thus far that afternoon and was ahead 2-0 when Bucky Dent walked to the plate with Chris Chambliss and Roy White on base. Torrez third pitch to the light-hitting shortstop was inside and Dent pulled it just high enough to clear the top of the Green Monster.
Torrez went on to pitch four more seasons for the Red Sox and a total of six more in his big league career. When he retired in 1984, he had won 185 regular-season games and lost 160.
Today is also the birthday of the Yankee starting pitcher who opposed Mike on that fateful afternoon in Boston and the Yankee right fielder who made the famous play that saved that victory for New York. This starting second baseman on the Yankees’ first championship team and this former Yankee reliever were both also born on August 28th.
|STL (5 yrs)||21||18||.538||4.12||71||52||5||8||1||0||347.2||330||179||159||22||208||15||180||1.547|
|BOS (5 yrs)||60||54||.526||4.51||161||157||1||36||4||0||1012.2||1108||558||507||87||420||31||480||1.509|
|MON (4 yrs)||40||32||.556||3.75||102||97||2||22||2||0||640.2||610||303||267||42||303||19||296||1.425|
|OAK (3 yrs)||19||13||.594||2.87||45||43||0||15||4||0||295.0||263||114||94||18||101||2||129||1.234|
|NYM (2 yrs)||11||22||.333||4.47||48||42||5||5||0||0||260.0||282||145||129||19||131||11||110||1.588|
|NYY (1 yr)||14||12||.538||3.82||31||31||0||15||2||0||217.0||212||99||92||20||75||1||90||1.323|
|BAL (1 yr)||20||9||.690||3.06||36||36||0||16||2||0||270.2||238||103||92||15||133||5||119||1.371|
The Yankees were hoping Ensberg could replicate some of the offensive magic he exhibited during his 2005 breakout year with the Astros, when they signed that season’s NL Silver Slugger Award winner in 2008 to play some first base. Unfortunately, the Redondo Beach, CA native could not produce and the Yankees released him after he appeared in just 28 games. He shares his birthday with this Yankee utility infielder.
Today is a good time to share my All-Time Lineup of Yankee players with August birthdays:
1B Johnny Ellis 8/21/48
2B Bobby Richardson 8/19/35
3B Graig Nettles 8/20/44
SS Bobby Meacham 8/25/60
C Jorge Posada 8/17/71
OF Gene Woodling 8/16/83
OF Brett Gardner 8/24/83
OF Melky Cabrera 8/11/84
DH Ron Blomberg 8/23/48
SP Ron Guidry 8/28/50
RP Ron Davis 8/6/55
CL John Wetteland 8/21/66
MGR Ralph Houk 8/9/19
OWN Jake Ruppert 8/5/1867
Here are Ensberg’s Yankee and lifetime stats:
|HOU (7 yrs)||673||2435||2072||323||551||99||10||105||335||22||319||395||.266||.367||.475||.843|
|SDP (1 yr)||30||65||58||11||13||3||0||4||8||0||7||19||.224||.308||.483||.790|
|NYY (1 yr)||28||80||74||6||15||0||0||1||4||0||6||22||.203||.263||.243||.506|
Dooley Womack was one of the best relief pitchers on two of the worst Yankee teams in the franchise’s fabled history. He made his pinstripe debut in April of 1966, as a seldom used member of Manager Johnny Keane’s Yankee bullpen. When that team proceeded to win just four of its first twenty games that season, Ralph Houk took over for Keane and the “Major” took a liking to Womack. The right-handed native of Columbia, SC appeared in 42 games during his rookie season and compiled a 7-3 record with 4 saves in 75 innings of work. He joined Fritz Peterson and Steve Hamilton as the only members of that year’s Yankee pitching staff to compile a winning record and Womack’s 2.64 ERA was the lowest of any New York pitcher with a minimum of ten decisions. That Yankee team became the first to finish in last place since the 1912 Highlanders accomplished the dreaded feat fifty-four seasons earlier.
Womack was even better the following year but the Yankees, unfortunately were not. He led the ’67 squad with 18 saves and 65 appearances plus lowered his ERA to 2.41. The Yankees as a team, in the mean time, won just two more games than they did the season before and finished in ninth place in the ten-team American League. Womack got off to a slower start in ’68 and his Yankee days became numbered that July, when New York acquired the veteran, Lindy McDaniel. The born-again reliever took the struggling Womack’s role as the Yankee bullpen’s right-handed saver and filled it superbly. Dooley found himself demoted to middle inning relief assignments. The Yankees traded Womack to the Astros after the 1968 season for an outfielder named Dick Simpson. Within the next 12 months, Dooley was traded to Seattle, Cincinnati and finally Oakland. In his last big league appearance, while pitching for the A’s in September of 1970, Womack tore his rotator cuff.
Dooley was actually a nickname given to him as a child. His real first name was Horace. Womack became much more famous after Jim Bouton’s best selling book “Ball Four” was published. In it the Bulldog wrote this reaction after learning he’d been traded by the Seattle Pilots for Womack; “Maybe it’s me for a hundred thousand and Dooley Womack is just a throw-in. I’d hate to think at this stage of my career I was being traded even-up for Dooley Womack.” I was an avid card collector as a kid and I bet I had at least ten of the 1967 Topps Womack Card pictured with today’s post.
On April 6, 1973, Ron Blomberg came to the plate in the top of the first inning at Fenway Park with two outs and bases loaded during that year’s Yankee season opener and he was walked by the Red Sox’ Luis Tiant. “Boomer” thus became the very first designated hitter in Major League history. Blomberg, who was born on this date in 1948 in Atlanta, GA, might have been in the Hall of Fame today if there were no left handed pitchers in baseball. He hit over .300 against righties during his eight-year big league career and just .215 against southpaws. Unfortunately, a string of injuries limited him to one game of action during the Yankee’s 1976 AL Championship year and he was released by New York the following season.
On his Website, RonBlomberg.com, Boomer informs visitors that it was his boyhood dream to play baseball for the New York Yankees. He certainly had lot’s of options back then. According to his Wikipedia article, Blomberg is the only high school athlete ever selected to Parade Magazine’s High School All American Teams for the sports of baseball, football and basketball. When he graduated from high school in 1967, the Yankees made him their number 1 draft choice. Two years later, he was in the Bronx wearing pinstripes.
A dependable clutch hitter, I’ll always be convinced that Boomer would have been a key cog in the Yankee championship teams of the late seventies if he could have stayed healthy. He had a great eye at the plate and he didn’t strike out a lot. Being such a great athlete, you have to believe that given the opportunity, this guy could have learned to hit left-handers.
But Boomer just couldn’t stay off the DL. He had the knees of Mickey Mantle with chronically sore shoulders thrown in for good measure. Still, after the Yankees released him, he was able to secure a three-year , half-million dollar deal with the White Sox. His final big league season was 1978.
|NYY (7 yrs)||400||1324||1177||168||355||60||8||47||202||6||129||117||.302||.370||.486||.856|
|CHW (1 yr)||61||169||156||16||36||7||0||5||22||0||11||17||.231||.280||.372||.652|