October 2011

October 26 – Happy Birthday Snuffy Stirnweiss

A Big Apple native and the son of a New York City policeman, Stirnweiss was a superb athlete who became an All-American running back at North Carolina but chose baseball as his career when he signed with the Yankees in 1940. By 1943 he was New York’s starting second baseman and the following year he led the AL in runs, hits, triples and stolen bases. He did even better in 1945, repeating as league leader in all those categories while adding the AL batting crown to his portfolio. But when WWII ended and the Major League rosters were replenished with returning players who had served their country, Snuffy’s production suffered. He was never again the offensive force he had been during the War years but he did evolve into one of baseball’s best defensive second baseman.

He eventually lost the starting second base job to Jerry Coleman. In 1950, the Yankees traded Stirnweiss to the Browns who in turn traded him to Cleveland. When his playing career ended after the 1952 season, Snuffy tried his hand at managing in the minor leagues. When an opportunity in banking opened up in New York City, Snuffy jumped into the new career. He was on his way to a Manhattan luncheon meeting on September 15, 1958 when he was killed in a commuter train wreck in Bayonne, NJ. He was just 40 years old and the father of six young children at the time of the tragedy.

Snuffy shares his birthday with this former Yankee infielder and this one-time Yankee pitching prospect.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1943 NYY 83 325 274 34 60 8 4 1 25 11 47 37 .219 .333 .288 .622
1944 NYY 154 723 643 125 205 35 16 8 43 55 73 87 .319 .389 .460 .849
1945 NYY 152 718 632 107 195 32 22 10 64 33 78 62 .309 .385 .476 .862
1946 NYY 129 560 487 75 122 19 7 0 37 18 66 58 .251 .340 .318 .658
1947 NYY 148 673 571 102 146 18 8 5 41 5 89 47 .256 .358 .342 .700
1948 NYY 141 609 515 90 130 20 7 3 32 5 86 62 .252 .360 .336 .696
1949 NYY 70 190 157 29 41 8 2 0 11 3 29 20 .261 .380 .338 .717
1950 NYY 7 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
10 Yrs 1028 4292 3695 604 989 157 68 29 281 134 541 447 .268 .362 .371 .733
NYY (8 yrs) 884 3800 3281 562 899 140 66 27 253 130 468 373 .274 .366 .382 .747
CLE (2 yrs) 51 111 88 10 19 1 0 1 4 1 22 25 .216 .373 .261 .634
SLB (1 yr) 93 381 326 32 71 16 2 1 24 3 51 49 .218 .324 .288 .612
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/27/2013.

October 25 – Happy Birthday Roy Smalley

The story goes that George Steinbrenner loved the Twins switch-hitting starting shortstop, Roy Smalley. So even though New York already had Bucky Dent and the promising Andre Robertson at that position for the 1982 season, the Yankees sent reliever Ron Davis and a young shortstop prospect named Greg Gagne to the Twins in April of that year to get Smalley in pinstripes. Roy had the bloodlines for baseball. His Dad had been a pretty good infielder for the Cubs in the 40s and his Mom’s brother was long-time big league player and manager, Gene Mauch. But ancestry and being good in Minnesota did not assure success in the Big Apple and Smalley was never comfortable as a Yankee. He did hit 20 home runs his first season in the Bronx and 18 during his second, but by 1984 Steinbrenner had tired of him and he was dealt to the White Sox. In the mean time, Ron Davis never turned into the closer the Twins needed, but Greg Gagne became a popular leader and starting shortstop on the great Twins teams of the 1980s. Roy was born on October 24, 1952, in Los Angeles. In the baseball card pictured with today’s post, doesn’t the larger image of Smalley look a lot like comedian Ray Romano? Also notice on the card that Smalley’s positions are listed as shortstop, third and first base. This is indicative of the early-eighties chaos with the New York lineup. It seemed hardly any Yankee back then knew what position he’d be playing game-to-game.

Smalley shares his October 25th birthday with this former Yankee GM,  this former Yankee reliever , this former Yankee turned medical doctor and this Yankee bullpen coach.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1982 NYY 142 565 486 55 125 14 2 20 67 0 68 100 .257 .346 .418 .764
1983 NYY 130 520 451 70 124 24 1 18 62 3 58 68 .275 .357 .452 .810
1984 NYY 67 227 209 17 50 8 1 7 26 2 15 35 .239 .286 .388 .674
13 Yrs 1653 6595 5657 745 1454 244 25 163 694 27 771 908 .257 .345 .395 .740
MIN (10 yrs) 1148 4676 3997 551 1046 184 21 110 485 15 549 606 .262 .350 .401 .750
NYY (3 yrs) 339 1312 1146 142 299 46 4 45 155 5 141 203 .261 .340 .426 .766
TEX (2 yrs) 119 449 379 37 86 10 0 4 41 6 59 69 .227 .328 .285 .613
CHW (1 yr) 47 158 135 15 23 4 0 4 13 1 22 30 .170 .285 .289 .574
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2013.

October 24 – Happy Birthday Omar Moreno

The starting center field position for the New York Yankees became one of the most glamorous posts in all of sports during the middle of the twentieth century, when it was filled by Earl Combs, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle who all ended up in Cooperstown. They were followed by Bobby Murcer and then Mickey Rivers, neither of whom made the Hall of Fame but were both very good All Star players in their day. When Rivers slumped in 1979 and the Yankees traded him to Texas, it started a game of musical chair centerfielders in Yankee Stadium that did not end until Bernie Williams was given the job in 1992 and kept it for the next fifteen seasons.

Rupert Jones took over in center in 1980. He was followed by Jerry Mumphrey who did OK his first two seasons in pinstripes but was slumping during the first half of the 1983 season. The Yankee front office responded by trading Mumphrey to Houston for Omar Moreno. Moreno had been the NL stolen base champ for two consecutive seasons with the Pirates and had stolen 96 bases for Pittsburgh in 1980. The problem this Panamanian had was getting on first base. He struck out a lot and did not like to walk. He was only a .250 lifetime hitter and despite all those stolen bases, he scored more than 100 runs in a season only once in his 12-season big league career. In his only full season with the Yankees in 1984, Moreno hit just .259 and scored only 37 runs. Convinced Omar would not be their answer in center field, the Yankee front office made a huge deal in December of 1984 that put another future Hall of Famer in the middle position of New York’s outfield. His name of course was Ricky Henderson. Without a regular spot in the lineup, Moreno struggled to get his average over the .200 mark at the beginning of the 1985 season. New York released him in August of that season and he signed with the Royals. Moreno was born on October 24, 1952.

Henderson started in center for the Yankees for just two seasons. Then came Claudell Washington and Roberto Kelly. Bern Baby Bern shared the position with Kelly for a couple of seasons before taking it over for good in ’92.

Moreno shares his October 24th birthday with this long-ago Yankee outfielder and this much more recent Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1983 NYY 48 163 152 17 38 9 1 1 17 7 8 31 .250 .288 .342 .630
1984 NYY 117 382 355 37 92 12 6 4 38 20 18 48 .259 .294 .361 .654
1985 NYY 34 68 66 12 13 4 1 1 4 1 1 16 .197 .209 .333 .542
12 Yrs 1382 5481 4992 699 1257 171 87 37 386 487 387 885 .252 .306 .343 .649
PIT (8 yrs) 944 3978 3585 530 915 115 59 25 263 412 314 633 .255 .315 .341 .657
NYY (3 yrs) 199 613 573 66 143 25 8 6 59 28 27 95 .250 .283 .353 .635
KCR (1 yr) 24 75 70 9 17 1 3 2 12 0 3 8 .243 .280 .429 .709
ATL (1 yr) 118 386 359 46 84 18 6 4 27 17 21 77 .234 .276 .351 .627
HOU (1 yr) 97 429 405 48 98 12 11 0 25 30 22 72 .242 .282 .326 .608
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/24/2013.