August 14 – Happy Birthday Jim Mason

1974 was a good year for the New York Yankees. After falling eight games back in their Division race by that season’s All Star break, Manager Bill Virdon’s team got hot in the second half and battled Boston and Baltimore for first place, finishing in second, just two games behind the Birds. I remember going absolutely crazy when the Yankees swept Cleveland in a four-game series in late September and climbed into first place. Two days later, their time at the top ended when they lost a double header to the Red Sox. This marked the first time since 1964 that New York had been in first place during the month of September. The starting shortstop on that 1974 Yankee team was today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant. Born in Mobile, AL, in 1950, Mason was one of the last draft choices of the old Washington Senator franchise before they moved to Texas. He played 152 games for New York in 1974, batting .250 but committing 26 errors. He played quite a bit of shortstop for the Yankees the next two seasons as well and he pinch-hit the only Yankee home run in the disastrous 1976 World Series against the Big Red Machine.

Mason had succeeded “The Stick,” Gene Michael as New York’s starting shortstop. Fred Stanley then succeeded Mason. When I see New York sportswriters disparage an aging Derek Jeter’s supposed offensive shortcomings I just laugh. These pundits must have not been around when Michael, Stanley and Mason were around. This trio wrote the book on the offensive shortcomings of Yankee shortstops.

Mason shares his birthday with this long ago Yankee first baseman and  this former Yankee infielder and one-time Florida Marlins’ Manager.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1974 NYY 152 487 440 41 110 18 6 5 37 1 35 87 .250 .302 .352 .654
1975 NYY 94 251 223 17 34 3 2 2 16 0 22 49 .152 .228 .211 .438
1976 NYY 93 236 217 17 39 7 1 1 14 0 9 37 .180 .210 .235 .445
9 Yrs 633 1756 1584 140 322 53 12 12 114 2 124 316 .203 .259 .275 .534
TEX (5 yrs) 232 616 554 52 113 17 2 4 39 0 44 117 .204 .262 .264 .525
NYY (3 yrs) 339 974 880 75 183 28 9 8 67 1 66 173 .208 .261 .288 .548
MON (1 yr) 40 78 71 3 13 5 1 0 6 0 7 16 .183 .256 .282 .538
TOR (1 yr) 22 88 79 10 13 3 0 0 2 1 7 10 .165 .233 .203 .435
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/14/2013.

1 Comment

The greater significance of Mason’s home run in the ’76 World Series is that he hit it in his only World Series at bat. (Only other player to accomplish that feat is Geoff Blum of 2005 Chicago White Sox.)

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