If I managed a Dick’s Sporting Goods store in an area with a high demographic of Yankee fans, at the end of the aisle in which the store’s baseball equipment was sold, I’d have a life-sized cutout of Yankee first base coach, Mick Kelleher. Why? Yankee hitters use today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant as their on-the-field locker. Excuse me, I need to elaborate on that statement. I should have started it with “Successful Yankee hitters.” In fact, when I tune into a Yankee game in progress now-a-days, I can sometimes tell how the Yankee offense is doing when a camera shot of Kelleher performing his first base coaching duties comes up on my big screen. If things are going good for NY hitters in that particular inning, Kelleher will be adorned with the hitting accessories of those Yankee players who successfully reached base that inning. He might have A-Rod’s or Cano’s elbow pad on one arm and Mark Teixeira’s ankle guard on the other. Or it could be Jeter’s wrap-around hitting gloves coming out of Mick’s back pocket and Curtis Granderson’s sun glasses resting on top of his hat. Its a good thing for Kelleher that Yankee hitters can run the bases with their jock straps on, huh? In any event, if I managed a Dick’s Sporting Goods store, I’d load up my Kelleher cutout display with every piece of hitting accessory we had in stock.
The ironic thing about that would be that when Kelleher was a big league player himself, he was a horrible hitter. In fact, during his 11-season big league playing career that began in 1972 with the Cardinals and ended in 1982 with the Angels, this native of Seattle averaged just .213 and remains the last big league player who had over 1,000 career at bats without ever hitting a home run. Kelleher made it to the Majors because he was an exceptional defensive infielder, who could play a solid second, short or third. It was also those same defensive skills and Kelleher’s ability to help others learn them that first got Kelleher hired as the Yankees roving minor league infielders coach. His job was to help Yankee prospects like Robbie Cano, Ramiro Pena and Eduardo Nunez become better defensive infielders. His ability to teach defense was also the primary reason the Yankees hired him to replace Tony Pena as the Yankee first base coach in 2009. Its Kelleher who runs all Yankee infield drills for New York including hitting thousands of practice ground balls to Jeter and Cano when the two superstars feel they need the extra work.
Today is the 49th birthday of Major League Baseball’s controversial career home run leader and son of a former-Yankee, Barry Bonds. Exactly one year after Bonds came into this world, today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Joe Oliver played just 12 games of his 13-year big league career in a Yankee uniform as a backup catcher during the 2001 season. He spent his most productive big league seasons with the Reds and started behind the plate for Lou Piniella’s 1990 World Champion Cincinnati team. He caught 1,033 games in thirteen big league seasons. He hit the last of his 102 big league home runs in a Yankee uniform against the great Greg Maddux. The only other member of the Yankee family to be born on this date is this former Yankee pitcher.
|CIN (8 yrs)||769||2648||2408||210||593||120||2||72||342||6||178||437||.246||.298||.387||.686|
|SEA (2 yrs)||98||316||285||45||72||16||1||12||45||3||24||53||.253||.311||.442||.753|
|PIT (1 yr)||45||146||134||10||27||8||0||1||13||2||10||33||.201||.253||.284||.537|
|BOS (1 yr)||5||13||12||1||3||1||0||0||1||0||1||3||.250||.308||.333||.641|
|NYY (1 yr)||12||40||36||3||9||1||0||1||2||0||1||12||.250||.263||.361||.624|
|DET (1 yr)||50||166||155||8||35||8||0||4||22||0||7||33||.226||.253||.355||.608|
|MIL (1 yr)||97||369||337||43||92||20||0||12||51||2||27||66||.273||.332||.439||.772|
Yankee GM, George Weiss was again on the prowl for some pennant insurance for the last month of the 1952 season. He approached the Red Sox who were willing to sell veteran hurler, Ray Scarborough’s contract to New York. At the time the deal was made, the right-hander was 1-5 for Boston with an ERA near five. Six weeks later, the Yankees were again headed to a World Series, after holding off a very good Cleveland Indians team by two games, thanks in large part to Scarborough, who went 5-1 for Casey Stengel and posted a Yankee ERA of just 2.91.
If Scarborough got the chance to pitch his entire big league career in pinstripes he may have been much more remembered than he is now. He would get to spend parts of just his last two big league seasons with the Yankees in 1952 and ’53. He spent most of his time in the Majors with the lowly Senators, from 1942, his rookie season, until 1950 when he got traded to the White Sox. He lost two of those seasons to service during WWII. Here’s a hint as to how good a pitcher Ray must have been in his earlier years. In 1948, Washington won just 56 games and finished in seventh place in the then-eight-team American League. There were five starters on that squad. The won-lost records and ERA of the other four were: 8-19, 5.82; 8-15, 3.83; 4-16, 5.88; and 5-13, 4.02. Ray’s record that season was 15-8 with a 2.82 ERA. He finished 80-85 lifetime during his decade-long career.
This other not well-known Yankee pitcher was also born on July 23rd and had two first names in his signature. His Pinstripe Birthday post includes my all-time lineup of Yankees who had last names that are also commonly used as first names. Scarborough also shares a birthday with this long-ago Yankee/Oriole utility player.
|WSH (7 yrs)||50||53||.485||3.69||179||110||36||41||7||5||909.1||934||449||373||39||401||349||1.468|
|BOS (2 yrs)||13||14||.481||5.01||65||30||19||9||1||4||260.2||280||153||145||29||96||100||1.442|
|NYY (2 yrs)||7||3||.700||3.15||34||5||12||1||0||2||88.2||79||34||31||8||41||33||1.353|
|DET (1 yr)||0||2||.000||8.27||13||0||5||0||0||2||20.2||34||24||19||3||11||12||2.177|
|CHW (1 yr)||10||13||.435||5.30||27||23||3||8||1||1||149.1||160||95||88||10||62||70||1.487|