October 2011

October 2 – Happy Birthday Spec Shea

I was born, raised and still live in a small Upstate New York city named Amsterdam. Back in the first half of the twentieth century, our town was the center of this country’s carpet industry and the gigantic looms in the factories of Amsterdam-based companies named Mohawk and Sanford turned out more rugs than any city in the world. We also had our own Minor League baseball team, a C-level Yankee franchise in the old Canadian American League. They were called the Amsterdam Rugmakers.

Today’s birthday celebrant, Frank “Spec” Shea spent his first season of organized ball in our City, playing for the old Rugmakers and living in the old Amsterdam Hotel. The year was 1940 and Shea finished the Rugmaker season with an 11-4 record. He spent the next two seasons climbing up New York’s minor league ladder and the three after that serving his country in WWII. He then went 15-5 for the Yankee’s Triple A team in Oakland, finally making the big club in 1947.

Spec went 14-5 as a rookie for the Yankees and won the AL All Star game plus beat the Dodgers twice in the 1947 World Series. He would have been AL Rookie of the Year as well but back then only one player in all of baseball got that award and Shea finished behind Jackie Robinson. Spec never again achieved the level of success he had during his first year in pinstripes and was finally traded to the Senators in 1952.

He pitched very well during his first two seasons in Washington winning 23 games and losing just 14 times for a very bad team. He called it quits after the 1955 season. He was 29-21 as a Yankee and 56-46 for his eight-season big league career.

Also born on this date was this former Yankee shortstop, a former Yankee player who bought and sold 83 minor league teams during his lifetime and this former Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1947 NYY 14 5 .737 3.07 27 23 3 13 3 1 178.2 127 63 61 10 89 89 1.209
1948 NYY 9 10 .474 3.41 28 22 4 8 3 1 155.2 117 66 59 10 87 71 1.310
1949 NYY 1 1 .500 5.33 20 3 10 0 0 1 52.1 48 36 31 5 43 22 1.739
1951 NYY 5 5 .500 4.33 25 11 7 2 2 0 95.2 112 59 46 11 50 38 1.693
8 Yrs 56 46 .549 3.80 195 118 50 48 12 5 943.2 849 453 398 66 497 361 1.426
WSH (4 yrs) 27 25 .519 3.92 95 59 26 25 4 2 461.1 445 229 201 30 228 141 1.459
NYY (4 yrs) 29 21 .580 3.68 100 59 24 23 8 3 482.1 404 224 197 36 269 220 1.395
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/2/2013.

October 1 – Happy Birthday Roberto Kelly

Although it turned out to be one of the great trades in Yankee history, I remember not getting too excited when the Yankees traded their center fielder, Roberto Kelly for the Reds right fielder, Paul O’Neill during the 1992 off-season. Kelly, who was born on October 1, 1964 in Panama City, Panama, had been one of the better players on four years worth of mediocre Yankee teams that had produced a cumulative 286-361 won-loss record. The good-fielding speedster had hit .278 during his 648-game tenure in Pinstripes while O’Neill was hitting just .259 during his 799 games with Cincinnati. O’Neill had more power, hitting 96 home runs as a Red but Kelly had some pop in his bat too, hitting 57 home runs for New York, including a 20-homer season in 1991 during which Roberto had appeared in just 123 games. Kelly was also very quick. He stole 151 bases for New York, which still places him in the top ten for lifetime steals as a Yankee and he was fast enough to cover the cow pasture-like center field of the old Yankee Stadium. At the time, I thought Kelly would have had a lot better numbers if he had played for a lot better team so I remember being sort of skeptical about the trade.

This explains why I’m writing this blog instead of making personnel decisions for a big league team. Paul O’Neil’s left handed stroke was perfect for Yankee Stadium and since Kelly hit right-handed, his stroke never would be. O’Neill’s combative personality put some much-needed spark in the Yankee clubhouse and by trading Kelly, the Yankees made room for a young center-fielder named Bernie Williams to get some playing time. In the mean time, Kelly went on to play 14 seasons in the Majors, with eight different teams. He was named to two All Star teams and participated in four different postseasons as a player. His last big league game was back in a Yankee uniform during the 2000 season, after New York had signed him as a free agent to add some depth to their bench. When his playing days ended, Kelly got into coaching and in 2007 became a member of the Giants’ big league staff. He joined his former New York teammates, Dave Righetti and Hensley Muelens on that staff and all three ex-Yankees won their first World Series rings when San Francisco captured the 2010 World Series.

Kelly shares his October 1st birthday with a remarkable ex-Yankee second baseman and this one time Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1987 NYY 23 59 52 12 14 3 0 1 7 9 5 15 .269 .328 .385 .712
1988 NYY 38 84 77 9 19 4 1 1 7 5 3 15 .247 .272 .364 .635
1989 NYY 137 498 441 65 133 18 3 9 48 35 41 89 .302 .369 .417 .786
1990 NYY 162 687 641 85 183 32 4 15 61 42 33 148 .285 .323 .418 .741
1991 NYY 126 543 486 68 130 22 2 20 69 32 45 77 .267 .333 .444 .777
1992 NYY 152 640 580 81 158 31 2 10 66 28 41 96 .272 .322 .384 .706
2000 NYY 10 27 25 4 3 1 0 1 1 0 1 6 .120 .185 .280 .465
14 Yrs 1337 5243 4797 687 1390 241 30 124 585 235 317 862 .290 .337 .430 .767
NYY (7 yrs) 648 2538 2302 324 640 111 12 57 259 151 169 446 .278 .331 .411 .741
MIN (2 yrs) 173 628 569 80 175 36 6 11 84 17 40 103 .308 .358 .450 .808
TEX (2 yrs) 162 589 547 89 170 24 4 24 83 6 29 103 .311 .353 .501 .854
CIN (2 yrs) 125 538 499 73 156 25 3 12 56 30 28 78 .313 .353 .447 .800
ATL (1 yr) 63 281 255 44 73 15 3 6 24 10 24 36 .286 .345 .439 .784
LAD (1 yr) 112 436 409 47 114 19 2 6 48 15 15 65 .279 .306 .379 .685
MON (1 yr) 24 104 95 11 26 4 0 1 9 4 7 14 .274 .337 .347 .684
SEA (1 yr) 30 129 121 19 36 7 0 7 22 2 5 17 .298 .328 .529 .857
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/1/2013.