August 2011

August 4 – Happy Birthday Dallas Green

Dallas Green became the 16th Yankee Manager hired by George Steinbrenner, when he was named to that position prior to the 1989 season. Before that year was over, Green had become the 17th Yankee Skipper to be fired by “The Boss.”

He had replaced Lou Piniella in New York’s dugout and was himself replaced by Bucky Dent. What I remember most about Green is that he lived by Steinbrenner’s sword and then was banished by it. When he first joined the Yankee organization in an advisory role, Steinbrenner suddenly had a soul mate who shared George’s favorite hobby of publicly criticizing Yankee players and staff. Green got what he wished for when he was handed the reins to that 1989 team but part of that wish included perhaps the worst Yankee starting rotation in the history of the franchise. The frustrated new Skipper quickly started blaming the team’s inability to win consistently on the Yankee front office’s inability to get him some decent arms. Steinbrenner did not agree. The soon-to-be-suspended owner would conduct impromptu press conferences during which he would compare his existing team. position-by-position with AL East opponents who were then ahead of New York in the standings and conclude that his current roster was better than its current record. Naturally, that translated into a Manager and coaching staff that was not doing its job.

The Boss also started taking public pot shots at Green’s coaches. When Green reacted angrily, George had his beleaguered field boss right where he wanted him. After a few more weeks of exchanging insults in the sports pages of Big Apple’s tabloids, Steinbrenner put Green out of his misery on August 17, 1989. At the time of his firing, the Yankees were in sixth place in their division with a 56-65 record.

Leaving quietly was not in Green’s nature of course. Instead he blasted Steinbrenner and all the “parasites” and “yes men” the Yankee owner surrounded himself with. I guess that sort of explains why Dallas was never called back to manage a Yankee’s Old Timers’ Day squad.

I was ambivalent about Green when he managed in the Bronx but my eventual dislike for the guy was sparked by his decision to fire Mel Stottlemyre as the Mets’ pitching coach when Green became that team’s manager in 1993. We of course all felt horribly sad for him when his beautiful granddaughter was murdered during the assassination attempt of Gabby Gifford in Tucson, in January of 2011.

Green had a mediocre eight-season career as a big league pitcher, mostly with the Phillies. When his playing days ended in 1968, he went into coaching. He got his first managerial gig with the Phillies at the end of the 1979 season and then led that team to a World Series title the following year. His career record as a big league manager was 454 – 478.

Green shares his birthday with this former Yankee pitcher and this one too and this one as well.

Rk Year Age Tm Lg G W L W-L% Finish
5 1989 54 New York Yankees AL 1st of 2 121 56 65 .463 5
Philadelphia Phillies 3 years 299 169 130 .565 2.3 1 Pennant and 1 World Series Title
New York Yankees 1 year 121 56 65 .463 5.0
New York Mets 4 years 512 229 283 .447 4.0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/4/2013.

August 3 – Happy Birthday Roger Repoz

1965 was the year the music died if you were a Yankee fan. Actually, nobody really died but dependable All Stars like Mickey Mantle, Elston Howard, Roger Maris, Tony Kubek and Bobby Richardson each seemed to become too old to play the game all at the same exact time. Tom Tresh won the team’s triple crown that year with just a .279 average, 26 home runs and only 79 RBIs. One year earlier, this same exact team had taken the St Louis Cardinals to seven games in the 1964 World Series. But they’d fallen off a cliff since October and it would be more than a decade before a Yankee pinstriped uniform would appear in another Fall Classic.

If you’re an old enough Yankee fan to remember that ’65 season, you don’t forget Mel Stottlemyre’s amazing 20-9, 2.63 ERA performance. You also don’t forget the first ten days a kid named Roger Repoz had as a Yankee. Repoz was being hailed as Mickey Mantle’s successor back then. He was 24 years old at the time, a native of Bellingham Washington, who was putting up pretty impressive power numbers in the upper levels of the Yankee farm system. Although taller than Mickey at 6’3″, the youngster’s muscular build and great speed had fans like me hoping we were welcoming Mantle’s successor to the Bronx. And after his first week and a half with the team, we really thought that was the case. Although it was close to fifty years ago, I can still remember loving the fact that he had the same first name as Maris and matching first and last name initials like the Mick.

Repoz started his first game of the ’65 season against the Orioles on July 1st and homered in his final at bat against Steve Barber. Ten days later, he had already hit his fifth Yankee home run, went 4-5 in the game against Minnesota and was hitting over .300. Could it be? Had the Yankees pulled another rabbit out of their hat? Would Repoz not only save the Yankee season but lead them to a whole new generation of post season play? Unfortunately not. After that great game against the Twins, Roger began an 0-29 streak. Though he did manage to hit a total of 12 home runs during his half season with the team, he also struck out too much and batted just .220. By the following June, New York’s front office had already given up on their left-hand hitting prospect and traded him to the A’s for reliever Fred Talbot and backup catcher, Bill Bryan.

Repoz ended up playing nine seasons of big league baseball which included four straight years of starting in the California Angel outfield. He also played in Japan after his Major League career ended in 1972. He ended up with 82 home runs in the big leagues but the final 77 of those HRs were not nearly as exciting as his first 5.

Roger shares his birthday with this former Yankee and Met infielder and this long-time Yankee coach.

1964 NYY 11 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .500 .000 .500
1965 NYY 79 245 218 34 48 7 4 12 28 1 25 57 .220 .298 .454 .752
1966 NYY 37 48 43 4 15 4 1 0 9 0 4 8 .349 .396 .488 .884
9 Yrs 831 2470 2145 257 480 73 19 82 260 26 280 499 .224 .314 .390 .704
CAL (6 yrs) 563 1705 1477 169 327 46 10 57 181 18 194 333 .221 .312 .382 .694
NYY (3 yrs) 127 295 262 39 63 11 5 12 37 1 30 66 .240 .315 .458 .773
KCA (2 yrs) 141 470 406 49 90 16 4 13 42 7 56 100 .222 .320 .377 .697
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/3/2013.