August 2011

August 25 – Happy Birthday Dooley Womack

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.

Womack was born on August 25, 1939. He shares a birthday with this former switch-hitting Yankee shortstop and this free agent reliever New York signed in 2010.

August 23 – Happy Birthday Ron Blomberg

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.

Blomberg shares his August 23rd birthday with this one-time Yankee catcher and the outfielder the Yanks traded to get Red Ruffing.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1969 NYY 4 7 6 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .571 .500 1.071
1971 NYY 64 216 199 30 64 6 2 7 31 2 14 23 .322 .363 .477 .840
1972 NYY 107 341 299 36 80 22 1 14 49 0 38 26 .268 .355 .488 .843
1973 NYY 100 338 301 45 99 13 1 12 57 2 34 25 .329 .395 .498 .893
1974 NYY 90 301 264 39 82 11 2 10 48 2 29 33 .311 .375 .481 .856
1975 NYY 34 119 106 18 27 8 2 4 17 0 13 10 .255 .336 .481 .817
1976 NYY 1 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
8 Yrs 461 1493 1333 184 391 67 8 52 224 6 140 134 .293 .360 .473 .832
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
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/23/2013.

August 22 – Happy Birthday Jeff Weaver

I was a Ted Lilly fan back when the left-hander was a young Yankee trying to become part of New York’s starting rotation in 2001 and the beginning of  ’02. Then, right around the 2002 All Star break, the Yankees made a complicated and confusing three team trade involving the Oakland A’s and Detroit Tigers. When it was over, Lilly was no longer a Yankee and the flaky Jeff “Dream” Weaver was. All of baseball loved Weaver’s stuff during his three-plus year stay in Motown, but he pitched poorly as a starter in Pinstripes, forcing Joe Torre to use him in the bullpen. After posting a 7-9 record and a 5.99 ERA in 2003, the Yankees sent Weaver to the Dodgers for the infamous Kevin Brown. He won 25 games for LA in 2004 and ’05 and then joined Angels as a free agent in 2006. The Angels than traded Weaver to the Cardinals just before the 2006 All Star break to make room on their roster for Jeff’s younger brother Jered. The deal worked out OK for both siblings because Jeff went onto help the Cardinals win the 2006 World Series and Jered has become the ace of the Angels staff.

In ’07, Jeff signed with Seattle but pitched poorly that year and ended up back in the minors in 2008. Weaver, who was born on August 22, 1976 in Northridge CA, then rejoined the Dodgers and Joe Torre in Los Angeles the following season. He has not pitched in the big leagues since 2010. Ted Lilly, who now also pitches for the Dodgers, went on to achieve double-digit victory totals for nine straight seasons after being dealt by New York.

Weaver shares his birthday with the starting catcher on the Yankees’ very first World Championship team and this current Yankee reliever.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP WHIP
2002 NYY 5 3 .625 4.04 15 8 3 0 0 2 78.0 81 38 35 12 15 57 3 1.231
2003 NYY 7 9 .438 5.99 32 24 3 0 0 0 159.1 211 113 106 16 47 93 11 1.619
11 Yrs 104 119 .466 4.71 355 274 21 16 7 2 1838.0 1997 1023 961 227 516 1214 124 1.367
LAD (4 yrs) 38 29 .567 4.20 139 75 14 3 2 0 567.1 574 278 265 66 163 400 38 1.299
DET (4 yrs) 39 51 .433 4.33 111 109 1 10 3 0 714.2 728 372 344 76 209 477 54 1.311
NYY (2 yrs) 12 12 .500 5.35 47 32 6 0 0 2 237.1 292 151 141 28 62 150 14 1.492
STL (1 yr) 5 4 .556 5.18 15 15 0 0 0 0 83.1 99 49 48 16 26 45 6 1.500
LAA (1 yr) 3 10 .231 6.29 16 16 0 0 0 0 88.2 114 68 62 18 21 62 4 1.523
SEA (1 yr) 7 13 .350 6.20 27 27 0 3 2 0 146.2 190 105 101 23 35 80 8 1.534
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/22/2013.