I remember the trade as if it was yesterday. It was an old-fashioned “blockbuster” deal that involved two teams and ten different players. The Yankees got the short-term benefit they needed to win the 1976 AL East pennant, but Baltimore got three players who would help make the Orioles a very tough team to finish ahead of in the standings for the next decade.
The trade took place in June of 1976. New York got pitchers Ken Holtzman, Doyle Alexander, Grant Jackson and Jimmy Freeman along with Baltimore catcher Elrod Hendricks in exchange for catcher Rick Dempsey, pitchers Rudy May, Scott McGregor, Dave Pagan and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, Tippy Martinez. In his excellent biography of George Steinbrenner, author Peter Golenbock told us that Gabe Paul was completely against the deal and tried to talk the Boss out of it. Unbelievably, it had been Steinbrenner’s 12-year-old son Hank, who had convinced his old man that Holtzman would win the Yankees the pennant.
Tippy was a home grown Yankee reliever who had made his debut for New York in 1974 and led the team in saves the following season. He was an excellent complement to ace closer Sparky Lyle and together, those two had transformed the Yankee bullpen into one of the best in the league.
As Paul had predicted, the Yankees eventually regretted parting with Martinez who became a mainstay and workhorse in the Orioles’ pen for a dozen seasons, retiring with 115 lifetime saves. Tippy was born in La Junta, CA in 1950. He shares his May 31 birthday with this former Yankee center-fielder.
|BAL (11 yrs)||52||40||.565||3.46||499||0||298||0||0||105||752.1||665||320||289||49||366||585||1.370|
|NYY (3 yrs)||3||2||.600||2.67||44||2||20||0||0||10||77.2||59||28||23||3||55||44||1.468|
|MIN (1 yr)||0||0||18.00||3||0||2||0||0||0||4.0||8||9||8||1||4||3||3.000|
McQuinn was signed by the Yankees in 1930, as a slick-fielding, solid-hitting first baseman. In 1930, Lou Gehrig averaged .379, hit 41 home runs and drove in 174 runs as the Yankees starting first baseman. Gehrig was also approaching the 1,000 consecutive game mark in what would become his trademark streak. The only person who could have possibly replaced the Iron Horse as the Yankees’ starting first baseman back then walked on water and raised the dead.
That’s why, after five seasons of solid play in the minors, New York traded McQuinn to the Reds. But the 26 year-old native of Arlington, VA couldn’t answer the bell in Cincinnati, averaging just .206 in his first 36-game big league trial. The Reds then sold him back to the Yankees and McQuinn would put together a monster 1937 season for New York’s top farm team in Newark. By then, however, he was 27-years-old. Gehrig was still going strong in the Bronx so the Yankees left McQuinn exposed in the Rule 5 draft and he was selected by the St. Louis Browns. One year later, Gehrig got the tragic news he was dying.
Over the next eight seasons McQuinn became one of the best defensive first basemen in the big leagues. I’m talking Teixeira-level defensive skills without the modern day glove or immaculately groomed infields the Yankee’s current first-baseman enjoys. Since he was 28-years-old during his real rookie season in 1938, McQuinn’s age at the time WWII began made him less desirable for military duty so he was able to continue playing for the Browns through the war years.
Meanwhile, the Yankees had not been successful finding a long-term replacement for Gehrig at first base and that search was still going on eight years later when new Yankee part-owner Larry MacPhail and his manager, Bucky Harris targeted the then 37-year-old McQuinn to play first for New York during the 1947 season. The Browns had traded him to the A’s in 1946 and Philadelphia had released him after just one season.
Finally getting the opportunity to play the position for which he was always destined, McQuinn did not disappoint. He of course fielded it brilliantly but also contributed a .304 batting average, thirteen home runs and 80 RBIs to a Yankee offense that won the AL Pennant. That October, New York beat Brooklyn in a seven-game World Series and McQuinn had his first and only ring. But once again, McQuinn’s timing was bad. He would turn 38-years-old during the 1948 season and the Yankees cupboard of up-and-coming first baseman was getting fully stocked. He was released by New York that October. He completed his twelve-year big league career with 1,588 hits, 135 home runs and a .276 batting average. He passed away on Christmas Eve, 1978 at the age of 68.
|SLB (8 yrs)||1138||4939||4310||663||1220||254||47||108||625||28||520||446||.283||.361||.439||.800|
|NYY (2 yrs)||238||955||819||117||232||35||7||24||121||0||118||104||.283||.374||.431||.805|
|PHA (1 yr)||136||556||484||47||109||23||6||3||35||4||64||62||.225||.317||.316||.633|
|CIN (1 yr)||38||146||134||5||27||3||4||0||13||0||10||22||.201||.262||.284||.546|
No Yankee birthdays to celebrate today. Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell are the two best baseball players to be born on this date but not one Yankee, past or present will have the Happy Birthday song sung to them today. In fact, there is not a single player currently active in the Majors today to be born on May 27th and that hardly ever happens.
In a way, I’m sort of glad that there are no Yankee birthdays to write about this morning because I’ve got an early tee time to play golf with my brother Jerry, Mike Sampone and Angie Verderese. I don’t know why I bother golfing because I really suck at the game. The last time I played, I crushed my drive on the short par four 17th hole at Amsterdam Muny and had a half a wedge into the green for my second shot. I took my time, kept my head down swung easy and proceeded to hit the next shot into the middle of the third fairway.
For those of you who are not familiar with the layout of my hometown’s Muny Golf Course, the best way to describe how impossibly horrible this shot was is to tell you that after I hit it, I looked over at Mike Sampone who was my playing partner that day and he had fallen out of the cart and was on his hands and knees laughing so hard that drool was coming out of one side of his mouth.
Sam Snead’s 100th birthday is today. My goal playing golf at Muny this morning will be to beat Sam Snead’s age. I just wish the guy had been born a couple decades earlier.
Of all the managers George Steinbrenner hired and fired during his tenure as managing owner of the New York Yankees, none were more loyal to the “Boss” than today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, Clyde King. The native of Goldsboro, North Carolina began his big league career in 1944 with the Dodgers. During the first six years of his playing career he pitched out of the Brooklyn bullpen. After getting traded to the Reds, where he played his final big league season in 1953, King became a minor league manager, then a big league pitching coach and eventually a manager for both the San Francisco Giants and the Atlanta Braves. But King disliked managing because he had a tough time communicating with modern day ballplayers. He was big on discipline and felt the players union had made it more difficult than necessary for Major League skippers to exercise control over their teams.
In 1976, King joined the Yankees as an advance scout and Steinbrenner took a liking to him. Like George, King was a pessimist who found it much easier to criticize than praise. The two got along famously and King became the only man in history to serve as the Yankee pitching coach, manager and GM. He got his shot at managing the Yankees during their tumultuous 1982 season. Bob Lemon had started that year as the Yankee field boss but was replaced by Gene Michael just 14 games into the new season. Michael hated the job because Steinbrenner meddled so much and he asked the Boss to put him back in the front office. “The Stick” got his wish and was replaced by King who led the team to a 29-33 finish.
The following year George brought Billy Martin back to the Yankee dugout and returned King to the front office, where he took part in two controversial moments in franchise history. The first occurred in 1985, when Steinbrenner broke his promise to let Yogi Berra manage the entire season. It was King who did the actual firing. Eleven years later, during the Yankees 1996 spring training camp, King convinced the Boss that the Yankees could not win with Derek Jeter starting at shortstop. Fortunately, Gene Michael defended Joe Torre’s desire to start the talented youngster and Steinbrenner reluctantly relented.
King would remain one of the Yankee owner’s most loyal and trusted advisors until the day Steinbrenner died in July of 2010. King would follow his Boss to the grave just four months later, at the age of 86. King shares his birthday with another former Yankee manager , this first voice of the Yankees and this one-time back up catcher.
|5||1982||58||New York Yankees||AL||3rd of 3||62||29||33||.468||5|
|San Francisco Giants||2 years||204||109||95||.534||2.5|
|Atlanta Braves||2 years||198||96||101||.487||4.0|
|New York Yankees||1 year||62||29||33||.468||5.0|
I can remember thinking the 2002 New York Yankees were going to roll to the team’s fifth World Series championship in seven seasons. They finished 103-58 during the regular season and had Mussina, Clemens, Pettitte and Wells in their rotation. They were loaded offensively as well, with Jason Giambi, Alfonso Soriano and Bernie Williams all driving in 100 runs that year and every member of the starting lineup hitting double figures in home runs.
Yankee catcher, Jorge Posada also had a strong regular season, hitting 20 home runs and driving in 99 while catching 131 games. During those rare games when Posada wasn’t behind the plate for New York, the honor went to today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant.
The Yankees signed Chris Widger to a free agent contract in February of 2002. The Wilmington, Delaware native had broken into the big leagues in 1995 with Seattle and had been the Expos’s starting catcher from 1997 until he was traded back to the Mariners in August of 2000. Widger then hurt his shoulder and was forced to sit out the entire 2001 season.
Back then, Posada was hypersensitive about playing time. He had broken in with New York behind Joe Girardi and hated sitting the bench when Torre gave Girardi his share of time behind the plate. After letting Girardi sign with the Cubs after the 1999 season, the Yankee front-office decided to quell Posada’s anxiety by using only journeymen for his back-ups. That’s why they had signed both Widger and former Met reserve catcher Albert Castillo before the ’02 season.
It was Castillo who started the year behind Posada that April, but when he hit just .135 during the first half of the season, the Yankees decided to give Widger a shot. When he started his Yankee career with a six-game hitting streak that July, one had to wonder if Posada started getting edgy. Widger followed that up with a five game streak in August and finished the reason hitting .297. The Yankees kept him on the postseason roster but he saw no action in the team’s bitterly disappointing loss to the Angels in the first round of the playoffs.
He went to spring training in Tampa the following February and in an ungraceful move, the Yankees waited until the first week of April to release him. He did get to play that season with the Cardinals and remained in the big leagues until 2006. Widger shares his birthday with a former Yankee third baseman who was voted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2014. This long-ago Yankee pitcher was also born on May 21.
|MON (4 yrs)||426||1484||1359||139||330||79||7||48||180||10||108||291||.243||.302||.417||.719|
|SEA (3 yrs)||41||73||67||4||12||0||0||2||3||0||4||18||.179||.233||.269||.502|
|CHW (2 yrs)||72||241||217||24||48||11||0||5||18||0||19||42||.221||.285||.341||.626|
|STL (1 yr)||44||112||102||9||24||9||0||0||14||0||6||20||.235||.279||.324||.603|
|NYY (1 yr)||21||68||64||4||19||5||0||0||5||0||2||9||.297||.338||.375||.713|
|BAL (1 yr)||9||20||17||0||2||0||0||0||2||0||2||4||.118||.211||.118||.328|
Few Yankee pitchers if any ever had a better big league rookie season than Wilcy Moore was able to put together. First of all, he broke into the Majors with perhaps the greatest team in league history, the fabled 1927 New York Yankees. That squad won 110 games in their 154-game season and finished 19 games in front of the second place Philadelphia A’s. As a team, the ’27 Yankees averaged .307 and their pitching staff gave up just 3.20 runs per game, both tops in the league. Miller Huggins used his 30-year-old first-year pitcher mostly out of the bullpen that season and when baseball historians applied the modern day save rule retroactively, it was discovered that Moore led the AL in saves in 1927 with 13. He also won nineteen games while losing just seven and posted a league-leading 2.28 ERA that year.
To top it all off, Moore also made the greatest wager of his life during that 1927 season. The great Babe Ruth bet the weak-hitting Moore $15 that the pitcher would not hit a home run during the 1927 season and sweetened the pot by giving the native of Bonita Texas, twenty-to-one odds. Moore won the bet on September 16 1927 when he hit his first and only big league home run against Chicago White Sox pitcher Ted Blankenship. He used the Sultan of Swat’s three hundred dollars to purchase two mules for his farm and named one of the animals “Babe” and the other “Ruth.”
Moore would never again approach the level of pitching success he experienced during his magical 1927 season. His cumulative record during his second and third seasons wearing the Yankee pinstripes was just 10-10 with only ten total saves. He spent the 1930 season back in the minors and then the Red Sox selected him in the 1930 Rule Five draft. After pitching most of the next two seasons in Beantown, the Yankees reacquired Moore in an August 1932 trade. At first, returning to Yankee Stadium was just the elixir Moore’s career needed as he pitched lights out relief for New York during the final two months of the ’32 season. But he faded in ’33 and would spend the next seven years in the minors, trying unsuccessfully to pitch his way back to the big dance.
|NYY (5 yrs)||36||21||.632||3.31||171||15||107||6||1||35||421.1||439||209||155||13||135||139||1.362|
|BOS (2 yrs)||15||23||.395||4.31||90||17||53||8||1||14||269.2||293||147||129||12||97||65||1.446|
Some guys love playing under the brightest of lights. Eddie Lee Whitson definitely wasn’t one of those guys. The native of Johnson City, Tennessee had come up with the Pirates in 1977 and went 39-48 during his first seven seasons in the big leagues while pitching for four different teams. Then in 1984, the right-hander finally put it all together for the San Diego Padres, going 14-8 and helping the team capture the NL West Pennant and advance to the franchise’s first-ever World Series. I happened to be rooting for the Padres that year because the Yankee’s failed to make it to the postseason and ex-Yankees Graig Nettles, Goose Gossage and Bobby Brown all played for that San Diego team. The first time I ever saw Ed Whitson pitch was when he started the second game of that Fall Classic between the Padres and the Tigers. He got hit hard immediately, giving up five singles and three runs and was knocked out of the game in the first inning.
In any event, a few months later when I heard that the Yankees had signed the free agent Whitson to a four year deal, his disastrous start against the Tigers was the first thing that popped in my mind. History was about to repeat itself in the Bronx.
Whitson got off to a horrible start with New York and by the middle of May, his record was 1-6 and his ERA was over six. Yankee fans began booing him unmercifully and Whitson had a tough time dealing with their hostility. He refused to let his wife attend home games and at one point, the Yankees stopped starting him in games at Yankee Stadium. To make matters worse, George Steinbrenner had fired Yogi Berra in April of that season and brought back the mercurial Billy Martin as field boss. Martin immediately started picking on Whitson for his bad performances on the mound, often calling him gutless in front of his teammates. The bewildered pitcher would later tell people he hated every day he was a Yankee.
Somehow, Whitson began pitching much better and he had won nine of his previous ten decisions when Martin started him in a big game against Toronto in mid-September. At the time, New York was trailing the first-place Blue Jays by four-and-a-half games and couldn’t afford to give up any more ground. Whitson got shelled in the third inning as Toronto scored six runs in that frame to put the game away and also cause irreparable damage to the Yankees pennant hopes.
Billy Martin was so mad about the pitcher’s performance, he skipped over Whitson when his next scheduled start came up. That action enraged the pitcher and set the stage for one of the most famous bar fights in Billy Martin’s illustrious history. It happened after a Yankee game in Baltimore on September 22, 1985 in the cocktail lounge of the hotel at which the Yankees were staying. Martin was drinking heavily at the bar while Whitson was downing drinks just as quickly sitting at a table with friends. Reports of the incident indicate it was actually Whitson who started the altercation by getting into it with another customer in the lounge that evening. Martin was trying to act as a peace keeper when Whitson turned on his manager. Before it was over, Whitson had doubled Martin over with a kick to his crotch, broken Billy’s arm and cracked two of his skipper’s ribs.
It wasn’t until July of his second season in pinstripes that the Yankees finally granted Whitson’s desperate wish to get him out of New York. He was traded back to the Padres for reliever Tim Stoddard. He spent the final six of his fifteen big leagues seasons pitching for the Padres, retiring in 1991 with a lifetime record of 126-123 and an ERA of 3.79. During his season and a half with the Yankees he was 15-10 with an ERA of 5.38.
|SDP (8 yrs)||77||72||.517||3.69||227||208||4||22||6||1||1354.1||1314||596||555||148||350||767||1.229|
|SFG (3 yrs)||22||30||.423||3.56||74||73||1||10||3||0||435.0||450||196||172||22||142||217||1.361|
|PIT (3 yrs)||8||9||.471||3.73||67||9||19||0||0||5||147.1||130||73||61||11||82||105||1.439|
|NYY (2 yrs)||15||10||.600||5.38||44||34||6||2||2||0||195.2||255||137||117||24||66||116||1.641|
|CLE (1 yr)||4||2||.667||3.26||40||9||18||1||1||2||107.2||91||43||39||6||58||61||1.384|
You want to know why I was sort of excited when the Yankees signed Pascual Perez to a three year, $5.7 million contract after the 1989 season? I’ll give you five reasons; Andy Hawkins, Dave Lapoint, Chuck Cadaret, Clay Parker and Walt Terrell. They were the Yankee starting rotation during the ’89 regular season and they were also cumulatively, a key reason why that New York team finished in fifth place in the AL East, thirteen games below .500. Perez had been a decent pitcher for the Braves and Expos and based on the ages and pedigrees of the Yankee starters he’d be joining in 1990, Pascual had the opportunity of becoming ace of the staff. That didn’t happen.
The Yankees’ new right hander had started just three games for New York at the beginning of the 1990 season when he hurt his throwing shoulder. He did not pitch again that season and the Yankees finished dead last in the AL East. It was again hoped that a healthy Perez would help rejuvenate the Yankee rotation in 1991 but it was not to be. Injuries sidelined him all of April, half of May, all of June and July and the first part of August. He was able to start fourteen games when he wasn’t on the DL but his 2-4 record was a bitter disappointment for Yankee fans.
With one more year left on his contract, there was hope Perez would be pitching the 1992 season with extra motivation. Instead, this guy violated the Major League drug policy which got him suspended for a full year. He never again pitched in a big league game.
Pascual was one of two brothers to pitch for the Yankees (Melido was the other.) He was one of three Perez brothers to play in the Majors and one of seven siblings to play minor league ball. His trademarks were sprinting to the mound from the dugout and his long curly unkempt hair style. Another former Yankee who had a brother playing in the big leagues shares Pascual’s May 17th birthday, as does this former Yankee co-owner and this long-ago Yankee World Series game-winning pitcher.
UPDATE: Pascual Perez was murdered on October 31, 2012, during a home invasion at his residence on the outskirts of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. He was 55 years-old.
|ATL (4 yrs)||34||33||.507||3.92||101||96||2||11||2||0||601.2||621||291||262||60||176||375||1.325|
|MON (3 yrs)||28||21||.571||2.80||70||65||3||8||2||0||456.2||363||165||142||35||105||341||1.025|
|PIT (2 yrs)||2||8||.200||3.94||19||15||1||2||0||0||98.1||107||56||43||5||36||53||1.454|
|NYY (2 yrs)||3||6||.333||2.87||17||17||0||0||0||0||87.2||76||29||28||7||27||53||1.175|
Rick Reuschel had been the ace of the Chicago Cubs pitching staff for almost a decade when the Yankees acquired him in for a pretty decent reliever named Doug Bird on June 12, 1981. What was especially weird about the deal was the timing. The Yankees’ 1981 season had been halted after the team’s game on June 11th due to a player strike. Although the season would resume a couple of months later, at the time the Reuschel deal was made, few expected Major League Baseball to be played again that year.
Although Reuschel had had several very good seasons with the Cubs, his pre-strike performance during the ’81 season had not been good. When the work stoppage occurred, the record of the right-hander known as “Dig Daddy” was just 4-7. Still, he had won 125 games for Chicago during his first nine seasons with the team and to be able to get him for Bird seemed at the time to be a steal for New York. That’s not how it turned out, unfortunately.
Reuschel did get to pitch in pinstripes the year of the trade, when play resumed in August of ’81. He went 4-4 with a very good ERA of 2.67. He then appeared in three more games during the Yankees 1981 postseason, which included a decently pitched loss against the Brewers in the ALDS and two less than impressive appearances against the Dodgers in that year’s World Series. Yankee fans never again got to see him pitch in a Yankee uniform.
When pitchers reported to the Yankees’ 1982 spring training camp, Reuschel was not one of them. The Yankee front office had discovered that the pitcher’s contract with the Cubs had a deferred payment clause that stretched payments to Reuschel all the way out to the year 2020. Citing the Yankee team owners’ partnership agreement expiration date of 2002, lawyers for the club claimed the organization could not agree to make those payments and needed to restructure the deal. Reuschel protested by not showing up to spring training and eventually the matter was worked out with a two-year contract extension at $280,000 per year. It was the worst $560,000 investment the team ever made.
That’s because when Reuschel did finally show up at spring training, he tore or had already torn his rotator cuff. The injury and the surgery to repair it, kept him from pitching the entire 1982 season and limited his performance in 1983 to just 16 innings of pitching with New York’s Columbus Clippers farm team. The Yankees released him in June of 1984. He worked his way back into shape and once again became a very good big league starter with both the Pirates and Giants.
|CHC (12 yrs)||135||127||.515||3.50||358||343||9||65||17||3||2290.0||2365||1007||891||140||640||1367||1.312|
|SFG (5 yrs)||44||30||.595||3.29||96||90||2||12||3||1||601.0||600||236||220||38||141||283||1.233|
|PIT (3 yrs)||31||30||.508||3.04||91||85||4||22||6||1||586.2||548||227||198||39||144||343||1.180|
|NYY (1 yr)||4||4||.500||2.67||12||11||1||3||0||0||70.2||75||24||21||4||10||22||1.203|
It sort of gets lost in Yankee history, but the April 1974 trade that put Chris Chambliss in pinstripes was one of the best deals a George Steinbrenner-run front-office ever made. Not only did the Yankees obtain the clutch-hitting first baseman in the seven player transaction with the Cleveland Indians, they also got a pitcher named Dick “Dirt” Tidrow. Tidrow was a big, mean-looking right-handed native of San Francisco, who had managed to win 40 games during his first three seasons in the big leagues, pitching for some very mediocre Cleveland teams.
He made an immediate contribution to the Bill Virdon-managed Yankee team of 1974 by going 11-9 as a starter and helping New York finish a surprising second in that year’s AL East Division race. During the next three seasons he evolved into one of the most versatile hurlers in New York’s arsenal, pitching mostly in relief but also starting when necessary. The Yankees would not have won the 1977 East Division pennant without Tidrow. That season he finished with an 11-4 record, with five saves and a 3.16 ERA. The guy was fearless on the mound and he became one of Billy Martin’s favorite go-to choices in crunch time of close games.
In ’78, Tidrow was used mostly as a starter, when both Catfish Hunter and Don Gullett went on the DL. When he won just seven of his eighteen decisions it seemed he fell out of favor with the ungrateful Yankee brass. I remember screaming when they traded Tidrow to the Cubs for reliever Ray Burris. I was certain Tidrow was the much better pitcher of the two and he proved it by giving the Cubbies four solid seasons of versatile and effective mound work before getting traded to the cross-town White Sox and finally slowing down in 1983 at the age of 36. He retired the following year. with 100 career victories (and 94 losses) plus 55 saves.
|NYY (6 yrs)||41||33||.554||3.61||211||59||88||9||0||23||711.1||722||319||285||62||206||366||1.305|
|CHC (4 yrs)||28||23||.549||3.36||263||0||120||0||0||25||397.0||362||169||148||27||154||266||1.300|
|CLE (3 yrs)||29||34||.460||3.78||85||78||4||23||5||0||531.0||510||250||223||56||178||269||1.296|
|NYM (1 yr)||0||0||9.19||11||0||5||0||0||0||15.2||25||19||16||5||7||8||2.043|
|CHW (1 yr)||2||4||.333||4.22||50||1||27||0||0||7||91.2||86||50||43||13||34||66||1.309|