July 2012

July 22 – Happy Birthday Scott Sanderson

By the time Scott Sanderson became a Yankee, he was already a thirteen-year veteran of the big leagues. He started his career with the Expos in 1978 and was 56-47 during his six seasons up north. He then pitched another half-dozen seasons for the Cubs, where he won in double figures just once. In 1989, this right-handed native of Dearborn, MI signed a one-year free agent deal with Oakland and proceeded to have a career year. Pitching in a rotation that included 20-game-winners Dave Stewart and Bob Welch, Sanderson finished 17-11 during his first season in the American League, helping the A’s win the AL West flag. The A’s re-signed him that December and then almost immediately sold him to the Yankees.

The Yankee rotation Sanderson joined was in a shambles. Tim Leary had been New York’s biggest winner the previous season with a 9-19 record. Not one Yankee starter had managed to finish the 1990 season with a winning record. Sanderson got off to a great start as a Yankee, taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning of his pinstripe mound debut against Detroit. He finished the 1991 season with a 16-10 record and a 3.81 ERA and was the only pitcher on that horrible club to achieve double-digit victories and a winning record.

Sanderson’s second year in the Bronx was not as noteworthy. He again was the only Yankee starter with a winning record, going 12-11, but his ERA climbed to 4.93. When his contract expired at the end of the 1992 season, the Yankees did not try to re-sign him. Sanderson shares his July 22nd birthday with this former Yankee DH and this one-time Cy Young Award winner.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1991 NYY 16 10 .615 3.81 34 34 0 2 2 0 208.0 200 95 88 22 29 130 1.101
1992 NYY 12 11 .522 4.93 33 33 0 2 1 0 193.1 220 116 106 28 64 104 1.469
19 Yrs 163 143 .533 3.84 472 407 18 43 14 5 2561.2 2590 1209 1093 297 625 1611 1.255
CHC (6 yrs) 42 42 .500 3.81 160 116 12 8 1 3 737.2 729 338 312 79 172 478 1.221
MON (6 yrs) 56 47 .544 3.33 149 136 5 24 8 2 883.0 838 363 327 83 240 603 1.221
CAL (3 yrs) 8 16 .333 4.67 33 32 0 4 1 0 192.2 240 121 100 26 35 96 1.427
NYY (2 yrs) 28 21 .571 4.35 67 67 0 4 3 0 401.1 420 211 194 50 93 234 1.278
SFG (1 yr) 4 2 .667 3.51 11 8 1 0 0 0 48.2 48 20 19 12 7 36 1.130
OAK (1 yr) 17 11 .607 3.88 34 34 0 2 1 0 206.1 205 99 89 27 66 128 1.313
CHW (1 yr) 8 4 .667 5.09 18 14 0 1 0 0 92.0 110 57 52 20 12 36 1.326
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/22/2013.

July 21 – Happy Birthday Mike Hegan

While doing research for today’s post, I had to smile when I came across a comment made by Yankee great Joe DiMaggio about the son of former Cleveland catcher and Yankee coach, Jim Hegan. The elder Hegan made five All Star teams during his 14-year-career with the Indians without ever getting his batting average above the .240s. Never a good hitter, he had built his sterling reputation and earned his salary with his defensive skills behind the plate. Hegan’s son Mike had been signed by the Yankees in 1961.  When he was invited to his first Yankee spring training camp, Joe D was on hand serving as a special hitting instructor. When someone from the press asked the Yankee Clipper what he thought of Mike Hegan, he assured the reporter that the kid would become a better Major League hitter than his old man ever was. Talk about an underhanded compliment.

Mike Hegan did turn out to be a better hitter than his dad, but not that much better. His lifetime batting average would end up 14 points higher than his father’s own .228 figure. But unlike his dad, who spent fourteen of his seventeen big league seasons in the starting lineup of the team that brought him to the big leagues, the son was in the starting lineup for just one of the twelve years he played in the Majors and never as a Yankee.

Like his pop, Mike Hegan was also an excellent defensive player, but he played first base. At the time he was putting together some great seasons for New York’s minor league teams, Moose Skowren and Joe Pepitone were doing the same for the Yankees. By the time he got his first real shot in the Bronx, it was 1967 and Mickey Mantle had been moved to first in an effort to prolong his Yankee career. That same move effectively ended Hegan’s.

He was sent back down to the minors at the beginning of the 1968 season and that June his contract was purchased by the new Seattle Pilots franchise. Finally getting a chance to be number one on a big league team’s depth chart, Hegan prospered, hitting .292 for Seattle in the team’s inaugural 1969 season and making the AL All Star team. When the team was moved to Milwaukee the following year, Hegan continued to start but his batting average dropped by almost fifty points. The Brewers traded him to the A’s during the ’71 season, where he won his first and only World Series ring the following year. He rejoined the Yankees and his dad in 1973. In 37 games that year he had 6 home runs and 14 RBIs, while averaging .275. He might have remained a Yankee for the rest of his career if Ralph Houk and his dad had not left New York after the ’73 season and moved together over to Detroit. The Yankees then sold Hegan to the Brewers during the ’74 season. Mike would spend the final three and a half years of his big league career as a part-time first baseman, outfielder and DH , back in the city made famous by Schlitz Beer. After hanging up his glove in 1977, Hegan picked up a microphone and became a broadcaster for the Brewers for the next 11 seasons. In 1989, he was hired to do Indian games and has been one of Cleveland’s announcers ever since.

Hegan shares his birthday with this Cy Young Award winner and this former Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1964 NYY 5 6 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 .000 .167 .000 .167
1966 NYY 13 48 39 7 8 0 1 0 2 1 7 11 .205 .326 .256 .582
1967 NYY 68 140 118 12 16 4 1 1 3 7 20 40 .136 .266 .212 .478
1973 NYY 37 143 131 12 36 3 2 6 14 0 7 34 .275 .309 .466 .775
1974 NYY 18 62 53 3 12 2 0 2 9 1 5 9 .226 .317 .377 .694
12 Yrs 965 2452 2080 281 504 73 18 53 229 28 311 489 .242 .341 .371 .712
MIL (7 yrs) 586 1823 1529 221 380 56 13 42 188 17 254 343 .249 .355 .385 .739
NYY (5 yrs) 141 399 346 34 72 9 4 9 28 9 40 96 .208 .295 .335 .630
OAK (3 yrs) 238 230 205 26 52 8 1 2 13 2 17 50 .254 .308 .332 .640
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/20/2013.

July 20 – Happy Birthday Red Kleinow

When Hall of Famer Bill Dickey began his sixth consecutive season as the Yankees’ starting catcher in 1934 he broke the 25-year-old record for most consecutive years starting for New York at that position, which was set by today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant. John Peter Kleinow, better known as Red, was born in Milwaukee on this date in 1877. He played baseball in college and then the minor leagues before signing with the Highlanders in 1904. During his first season in New York, he was the team’s back-up backstop to Deacon McGuire. He took over as starter the following year and maintained that status through the 1909 season.

Never a good hitter, Kleinow was instead considered to be an excellent defensive catcher. His lifetime percentage for throwing out base runners attempting to steal was an impressive 44%. But it was a pitch that got over Kleinow’s head in his rookie season that cost New York a shot at the franchise’s first pennant in 1904. Trailing Boston by a game and a half with just two to play, New York’s 41-game winner, Jack Chesbro was pitching against the first place team in the eighth inning of a 2-2 tie game. Chesbro threw one of the dirtiest baseballs in the game and in the later innings, when the sun was low in the sky and shadows covered the Hilltopper Park pitching mound, it was next to impossible for a hitter or catcher to pick up the flight of a “Happy Jack” doctored baseball. With a runner on third, Chesbro let loose a spitball that the hitter never saw. Unfortunately, neither did Kleinow. As the ball sailed over the catcher’s head, the runner on third scampered safely home and Boston won the game and clinched the pennant.

In 1910, Red became a Red Sox when Boston purchased his contract from New York. But by then, the wear and tear on Kleinow’s legs from all those years of catching had caught up with him and he was out of the big leagues after 1911. His batting average during his seven years with New York was only .219 and he drove in an average of just 17 runs per season. He must have been a defensive wizard!

Red shares his July 20th birthday with this pitcher the Yankees acquired in a trade for Dave Winfield. Today is also the 44th anniversary of Man’s first steps on the Moon which also means it is my oldest brother’s birthday. Happy birthday Big J.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1904 NYY 68 230 209 12 43 8 4 0 16 4 15 37 .206 .259 .282 .541
1905 NYY 88 278 253 23 56 6 3 1 24 7 20 34 .221 .284 .281 .564
1906 NYY 96 306 268 30 59 9 3 0 31 8 24 28 .220 .287 .276 .563
1907 NYY 90 301 269 30 71 6 4 0 26 5 24 25 .264 .327 .316 .643
1908 NYY 96 312 279 16 47 3 2 1 13 5 22 31 .168 .237 .204 .441
1909 NYY 78 241 206 24 47 11 4 0 15 7 25 31 .228 .315 .320 .635
1910 NYY 6 13 12 2 5 0 0 0 2 2 1 0 .417 .462 .417 .878
8 Yrs 584 1875 1665 146 354 45 20 3 135 42 153 213 .213 .282 .269 .551
NYY (7 yrs) 522 1681 1496 137 328 43 20 2 127 38 131 186 .219 .286 .279 .564
BOS (2 yrs) 58 186 161 9 25 1 0 1 8 4 22 26 .155 .257 .180 .437
PHI (1 yr) 4 8 8 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .125 .125 .250 .375
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/20/2013.