September 2012

September 19 – Happy Birthday Bob Turley

This hard-throwing right-hander nicknamed Bullet-Bob, made his big league debut with the St Louis Browns in 1951, but he was supposed to have made that debut as a Yankee. Back in 1948, when Turley was graduating from high school in East St Louis, Illinois, a Yankee scout was sent to sign the young pitcher but made a mistake and instead signed Turley’s two-year-older uncle named Ralph Turley. The Browns took advantage of New York’s carelessness and snatched up the fire-balling nephew.

By 1954, the Browns had relocated to Baltimore and become the Orioles and Turley had evolved into a key member of that team’s starting rotation. He went 14-15 for a terrible O’s squad that finished that season with just 50 victories. Turley also led the AL that same year with 185 strikeouts. His problem was control. He had basically one pitch back then, a blazing fastball that he could only throw for strikes about fifty percent of the time. As a result, he also led the AL with 181 walks during the ’54 season, which helps explain why Baltimore was willing to include him in the record 17-player transaction they made with the Yankees in November of 1954.

Turley had a decent first year in pinstripes, putting together a 17-13 record for Casey Stengel’s 1955 AL Pennant winners, but the wildness continued. He again led the AL in bases on balls with 171 and then got hammered in his only start against Brooklyn in that year’s World Series. It was the Yankees’ legendary pitching coach, Jim Turner, who got Turley to begin working on a no-wind-up delivery with the hope that less motion would result in more control and the results proved Turner right. His command of the strike zone improved and his bases on balls per nine innings went from a high of 7.0 in 1956 to just 4.3 the following year.

In 1958, Turley put everything together and went 21-7 for the Yankees with a 2.97 ERA and 6 shutouts. He won the Cy Young Award and finished second to Boston’s Jackie Jensen in that year’s AL MVP Award voting. He then went on to win the 1958 World Series MVP Award even though he was hammered and lost his first start against the Braves in Game 2 of that Fall Classic. He came back in Game 5 to pitch a five-hit shutout and then relieved Ryne Duren in the bottom of the tenth inning in Game 6 to get the last out and his first World Series save. The gambling Stengel called on Turley yet again to relieve his old Baltimore pitching mate, Don Larsen in the third inning of Game 7. Bullet Bob pitched the final six innings to earn his second win of the Series and clinch the World Championship for New York.

Turley’s performance that year brought him nationwide fame and the prestigious Hickcock Belt, awarded annually to our nation’s top athlete. Still just 27-years-old, he seemed destined to take his place among the great Yankee pitchers of all time. But that did not happen. In 1959, Turley’s fastball became much more hittable and his record dropped to just 8-11. He had pitched 245 innings during his Cy Young season but would never again exceed 175 for the rest of his career. He remained with the Yankees through 1962 and then was sold to the Angels. He retired after the 1963 season with a lifetime record of 101-85 (82-52 as a Yankee.)

Turley was one of baseball’s all-time best sign stealers. He is credited with helping Mickey Mantle hit several of his home runs by whistle-signalling what pitch was coming for the legendary Yankee slugger. After Turley retired, he began selling stocks and securities and became a millionaire. Oh and by the way, Bob’s Uncle Ralph ended up playing two seasons in the Yankee organization but never made it past D league ball. Bob Turley shares his September 19th birthday with this Yankee first baseman named Nick, this other Yankee first baseman named Nick, this WWII era left-fielder 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
1955 NYY 17 13 .567 3.06 36 34 2 13 6 1 246.2 168 92 84 16 177 210 1.399
1956 NYY 8 4 .667 5.05 27 21 3 5 1 1 132.0 138 76 74 13 103 91 1.826
1957 NYY 13 6 .684 2.71 32 23 7 9 4 3 176.1 120 59 53 17 85 152 1.163
1958 NYY 21 7 .750 2.97 33 31 1 19 6 1 245.1 178 82 81 24 128 168 1.247
1959 NYY 8 11 .421 4.32 33 22 6 7 3 0 154.1 141 80 74 15 83 111 1.451
1960 NYY 9 3 .750 3.27 34 24 6 4 1 5 173.1 138 67 63 14 87 87 1.298
1961 NYY 3 5 .375 5.75 15 12 1 1 0 0 72.0 74 47 46 11 51 48 1.736
1962 NYY 3 3 .500 4.57 24 8 7 0 0 1 69.0 68 45 35 8 47 42 1.667
12 Yrs 101 85 .543 3.64 310 237 38 78 24 12 1712.2 1366 753 693 140 1068 1265 1.421
NYY (8 yrs) 82 52 .612 3.62 234 175 33 58 21 12 1269.0 1025 548 510 118 761 909 1.407
BAL (3 yrs) 16 22 .421 3.51 46 43 3 17 1 0 315.0 228 136 123 11 228 251 1.448
BOS (1 yr) 1 4 .200 6.10 11 7 2 0 0 0 41.1 42 28 28 6 28 35 1.694
LAA (1 yr) 2 7 .222 3.30 19 12 0 3 2 0 87.1 71 41 32 5 51 70 1.397
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/21/2013.

September 18 – Happy Birthday George Uhle

After fourteen seasons as one of the upper tier starting pitchers in the Major Leagues, George “The Bull” Uhle had just about reached the end of the line as the 1933 season reached the halfway point. He was only 34 years old at the time but his right arm had already thrown 3,000 big league innings and the New York Giants had just released him. He had been a three-time twenty-game winner with the Indians during the 1920s, leading the league in victories twice and throwing a total of 25 shutouts. The Yankees were the defending 1932 World Champions but they would not be able to catch the upstart Senators who would eventually win the AL Pennant that year. New York picked up Uhle off waivers and Manager Joe McCarthy pitched him exclusively out of the bullpen at first before giving him a semi-regular spot in the starting rotation. Old George responded well by winning six of his seven decisions that year in pinstripes including four complete games. That effort earned him an invitation back the following year but he could not maintain that level of effectiveness. After a comeback try with the Indians failed in 1936, George Uhle retired for good with an even 200 career victories.

The less famous Brett brother is another former Yankee who celebrates his birthday on September 18. You’ll find Ken Brett’s PBB post here. This short-term Yankee third baseman also shares Uhle’s birthday.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1933 NYY 6 1 .857 5.16 12 6 4 4 0 0 61.0 63 42 35 4 20 26 1.361
1934 NYY 2 4 .333 9.92 10 2 8 0 0 0 16.1 30 19 18 3 7 10 2.265
17 Yrs 200 166 .546 3.99 513 368 114 232 21 25 3119.2 3417 1635 1384 119 966 1135 1.405
CLE (11 yrs) 147 119 .553 3.92 357 267 65 166 16 15 2200.1 2442 1137 959 58 709 763 1.432
DET (5 yrs) 44 41 .518 3.91 128 92 34 62 5 10 828.1 866 425 360 53 224 332 1.316
NYY (2 yrs) 8 5 .615 6.17 22 8 12 4 0 0 77.1 93 61 53 7 27 36 1.552
NYG (1 yr) 1 1 .500 7.90 6 1 3 0 0 0 13.2 16 12 12 1 6 4 1.610
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/20/2013.

September 17 – Happy Birthday Greg Golson

This year, it is Chris Dickerson. In the past decade, its been easy-to-forget names like Kevin Thompson, Kevin Reese, Charlie Gipson, Marcus Thames and Michael Coleman. All of these guys were in their mid-to-late twenties, playing in the outfields of Yankee triple A farm teams when they got their late-season call-ups to the Bronx. It usually happened in September, when big league rosters expanded to forty slots and the parent club was looking to rest their regular outfielders or keep them healthy for the postseason. For most of these Yankee “utility” outfielders with the exception of Thames, those September moments became the extent of their big league careers and just about every one of them made a memorable play or had key at bats that would become their contributions to Yankee history and nostalgia.

That moment for today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, Greg Golson, came during a crucial three-game mid September series against the Rays during the 2010 season. In game 3 of that set, Golson caught a pop fly to medium right field near the foul line and then gunned down speedster Carl Crawford who tried to tag on the catch and reach third base. It was a dramatic, bang-bang type of play and it ended the game and gave New York their only win in the critical series.

Originally a first round draft choice of the Phillies, Golson’s bounced around the minors for five seasons, striking out a bit too much to catch on with a big league team. The Yankees got him from Texas in January of 2010. He’s spent most of the following season in Scranton, where he averaged .263 and poked ten home runs. Golson was gifted with above average speed and was also a good base-stealer. He ended up appearing in 23 games and hitting .261 during his 2010 Yankee season. I thought he might have had a chance to make the roster the following spring as New York’s fourth outfielder but the Yankees signed Andruw Jones instead. Golson did get back to the Bronx in September of 2011 for another eight-game look see but was released by the Yankees following last-year’s postseason. He played in the White Sox organization in 2012. The Austin, TX native was born on this date in 1985.

The Texas Rangers became Golson’s second big league organization when the Phillies traded him for John Mayberry Jr, the son of former big league slugger and former Yankee, John Mayberry. Coincidentally, this only other member of the Yankee all-time roster to be born on September 17th was a prime candidate to replace the elder Mayberry as the Yankee starting first baseman when John Sr called it quits in 1982.

September 15 – Happy Birthday Gaylord Perry

Gaylord Perry turns 72-years-old today. He and his older brother Jim were born in Williamston, NC. Their Dad was a farmer but he was also a semi-pro baseball player so when his two sons weren’t helping him plow fields, he made sure they were playing ball. It really didn’t matter what kind of ball they played because the Perry boys were good at football basketball and especially baseball.  In fact, with the two of them alternating between the mound and third base when the other was pitching, their high school team won a state championship. During one stretch, the brothers threw nine consecutive shutouts that season. Even though Gaylord had numerous scholarship offers to play college basketball, he followed his brother into baseball and when the Giants gave him a $60,000 bonus to sign with their organization in 1958, Gaylord gave half of it to his Dad. The rest his history.

Perry went on to win 318 games during a 22-season big league career that began with ten years in San Fancisco and ended with 12 years of nomadic pitching for six different organizations. He won 20 games for thee different teams and he was the AL Cy Young Award winner for the Indians in 1972 and the NL Cy Young Award winner eight seasons later, with the Padres. The story line of Perry’s career was always underscored by rumors that he threw a spitball. In fact, Perry even wrote a book while he was still pitching in which he confessed to throwing the doctored pitch early in his career but had since stopped doing so. Many baseball pundits felt Perry’s admission was part of a masterful con game to unsettle and distract opposing lineups.

In August of 1980 the Yankees were locked in a close pennant race with the Orioles and they traded pitcher Ken Clay to the Texas Rangers for Perry. The Yankees won that pennant but without much help from Gaylord. He went 4-4 for New York down the stretch and Yankee manager Dick Howser did not use him in the postseason. Perry signed to play with Atlanta the following year. His short stay in the Big Apple did make Perry one of the four 300-game-winning-pitchers to wear Yankee pinstripes. The other three one-time Yankee hurlers who accomplished the feat are Phil Niekro, Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson.

Jim Perry ended up winning 215 games during a 17 year career which gave the Perry brothers 533 big league wins between them. The record for lifetime sibling victories however, is held by Phil and Joe Niekro, who won 539 games during their combined careers.

Gaylord shares his birthday with this former Yankee third baseman and this long-ago Highlander pitcher.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1980 NYY 4 4 .500 4.44 10 8 2 0 0 0 50.2 65 33 25 2 18 28 1.638
22 Yrs 314 265 .542 3.11 777 690 33 303 53 11 5350.0 4938 2128 1846 399 1379 3534 1.181
SFG (10 yrs) 134 109 .551 2.96 367 283 30 125 21 10 2294.1 2061 892 755 165 581 1606 1.152
TEX (4 yrs) 48 43 .527 3.26 112 112 0 55 12 0 827.1 787 345 300 59 190 575 1.181
CLE (4 yrs) 70 57 .551 2.71 134 133 1 96 17 1 1130.2 918 377 340 92 330 773 1.104
SDP (2 yrs) 33 17 .660 2.88 69 69 0 15 2 0 493.1 466 186 158 21 133 294 1.214
SEA (2 yrs) 13 22 .371 4.58 48 48 0 8 0 0 318.2 361 177 162 45 77 158 1.374
KCR (1 yr) 4 4 .500 4.27 14 14 0 1 1 0 84.1 98 48 40 6 26 40 1.470
ATL (1 yr) 8 9 .471 3.94 23 23 0 3 0 0 150.2 182 70 66 9 24 60 1.367
NYY (1 yr) 4 4 .500 4.44 10 8 2 0 0 0 50.2 65 33 25 2 18 28 1.638
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/21/2013.

September 14 – Happy Birthday Jerry Coleman

Oh Doctor! True baseball fans know these words as the signature phrase of long-time San Diego Padre play-by-play announcer, Jerry Coleman. Only very long-time baseball fans, however, can remember when that same Jerry Coleman was the starting second baseman for the first three of Casey Stengel’s five straight New York Yankee championship teams from 1949 through 1951. Where was Coleman when the Yankees won the ’52 and ’53 titles? He was in the Marines flying a fighter jet during the Korean War while his starting Yankee position was taken over by Billy Martin. Coleman had also spent the three years before beginning his Yankee career as a Marine aviator during WWII, making him the only big league baseball player in history to see combat action in two different wars.

He spent a total of nine seasons in Pinstripes. His best year was 1950, when Stengel used him in 153 games and he batted .287. Coleman also had a .275 lifetime batting average in six World Series.

When I was a kid, I would have to pilfer my older brother’s GE transistor radio to listen to radio broadcasts of Yankee games on the front porch of our house on Guy Park Avenue. That was my first encounter with Coleman, who was doing New York’s games on the radio back then.

The older I get the more respect and awe I have for athletes like Coleman, who excelled at their sport, served their country in an active combat position during what would have been their peak performance years and then excelled in the careers they entered, when their playing days were over. Coleman was born September 14, 1924, in San Jose, CA. Update: Coleman passed away on January 5, 2014, at the age of 89.

Coleman shares his birthday with this former Yankee starting pitcher who was acquired by New York in exchange for the great first baseman, Moose Skowren.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1949 NYY 128 523 447 54 123 21 5 2 42 8 63 44 .275 .367 .358 .725
1950 NYY 153 602 522 69 150 19 6 6 69 3 67 38 .287 .372 .381 .753
1951 NYY 121 404 362 48 90 11 2 3 43 6 31 36 .249 .315 .315 .630
1952 NYY 11 47 42 6 17 2 1 0 4 0 5 4 .405 .468 .500 .968
1953 NYY 8 11 10 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .200 .200 .200 .400
1954 NYY 107 333 300 39 65 7 1 3 21 3 26 29 .217 .278 .277 .555
1955 NYY 43 112 96 12 22 5 0 0 8 0 11 11 .229 .321 .281 .602
1956 NYY 80 203 183 15 47 5 1 0 18 1 12 33 .257 .305 .295 .600
1957 NYY 72 180 157 23 42 7 2 2 12 1 20 21 .268 .354 .376 .730
9 Yrs 723 2415 2119 267 558 77 18 16 217 22 235 218 .263 .340 .339 .680
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/19/2013.

September 13 – Happy Birthday Denny Neagle

This 2012 Yankee season reminds me a bit of the team’s 2000 campaign. That year was the only year a Joe Torre Yankee-managed team failed to win 90 games in a regular season. They were well on their way to doing so. On September 13th of that season they were in first place in the AL East with a nine game lead and an 84-59 record. That July, New York had made two acquisitions they hoped would help fuel the team’s second-half drive. First they got David Justice from Cleveland and two weeks later they sent a package of four “good” minor league prospects, which included Drew Henson and pitcher Ed Yarnall, to Cincinnati for today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, the southpaw Denny Neagle.

After making his big league debut with the Twins in 1991, Neagle had spent the next eight seasons pitching in the National League for Pittsburgh, Atlanta and the Reds. He had won 20-games for the Braves in 1997 and made two NL All Star teams and at the time of the deal, was just a few months short of becoming a free agent.

Both these new Yankees paid immediate dividends to their new team. Justice went on a tear at the plate and literally put the Yankee offense on his back and carried it to the postseason. Neagle won his first two starts in pinstripes in impressive fashion to bring his cumulative 2000 season record to 10-2.

I remember after those first couple of starts, everyone, including me was thinking that New York would be signing Neagle to a long term deal at any minute. Even after the six foot four inch native of Gambrills, Maryland lost his next three starts, I still thought ESPN would soon be announcing his Yankee contract extension, especially after he righted himself and won five of his next six decisions. But his September 12th victory over Toronto would prove to be his final win ever in pinstripes. He got hammered in his next three starts and finished his half-season as a Yankee with a 7-7 record. From September 13th until the end of the year, the Yankees went 3-15, crawling to the AL East Pennant by two-and-a-half-games over second place Boston. Even then, most Big Apple Yankee pundits thought it was a better than even-money bet that Neagle would end up with a new Yankee contract.

He most likely blew that deal with his shaky performance in the 2000 postseason. He lost both his starts against the Mariners and Torre coldly pulled him with two-outs in the fifth inning in his Game-4 World Series start against the Mets. In that contest, Neagle had let the Mets close a three-run Yankee lead to a single digit in the third inning when he surrendered a two-run home run to the Mets’ Mike Piazza. With Piazza about to hit again two innings later, Torre decided he was not going to risk history repeating itself. When a manager doesn’t give his starting pitcher the opportunity to get one more out so that he can qualify for a World Series win, you surmise there might be a lack of trust in their relationship. Torre would later tell the press that when he told Neagle he was through for the night he could see the look of shock in his pitcher’s eyes. Neagle was not only shocked, he was bitterly disappointed. That December, he ended up signing with Colorado, where he would close out his 13-season big-league career with three horrible seasons. His final big league record was 124-92.

Neagle shares his birthday with this great Yankee outfielderthis former Yankee catcher and this catcher too.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2000 NYY 7 7 .500 5.81 16 15 0 1 0 0 91.1 99 61 59 16 31 58 1.423
13 Yrs 124 92 .574 4.24 392 286 23 20 7 3 1890.1 1887 948 891 250 594 1415 1.312
PIT (5 yrs) 43 35 .551 4.02 187 95 21 8 1 3 697.0 705 333 311 78 208 553 1.310
COL (3 yrs) 19 23 .452 5.57 72 65 0 1 0 0 370.1 409 239 229 67 135 271 1.469
ATL (3 yrs) 38 19 .667 3.43 72 71 0 10 6 0 482.1 440 204 184 48 123 355 1.167
CIN (2 yrs) 17 7 .708 3.89 38 37 0 0 0 0 229.1 206 102 99 38 90 164 1.291
MIN (1 yr) 0 1 .000 4.05 7 3 2 0 0 0 20.0 28 9 9 3 7 14 1.750
NYY (1 yr) 7 7 .500 5.81 16 15 0 1 0 0 91.1 99 61 59 16 31 58 1.423
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/19/2013.

September 12 – Happy Birthday Charley “King Kong” Keller

Many Yankee historians believe New York’s 1939-1943 outfield of Keller in left, Joe DiMaggio in center and Tommy Henrich in right was the greatest in pinstripe history. Keller was built like a fire hydrant and with his thick bushy eyebrows atop a set of piercing eyes, he was sort of intimidating to look at. He was even more intimidating with a bat in his hand. Lifetime he had a .286 batting average with 189 home runs and an impressive .518 slugging percentage.

He appeared in five AL All Star games and four World Series as a Yankee and he retired with three championship rings. More than anything else, Keller was an old country boy who loved horses and shied away from life in the big city. He didn’t like to fly in airplanes, he never boasted about himself or his team and he treated the game and his opponents with respect. He just put on his uniform and gave his best effort every inning of every game and when he took that uniform off for the last time, he returned to his Maryland countryside to raise horses.

Also born on today’s date in 1907, nine years earlier than Keller, was this former Yankee pitcher and AL MVP.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1939 NYY 111 490 398 87 133 21 6 11 83 6 81 49 .334 .447 .500 .947
1940 NYY 138 609 500 102 143 18 15 21 93 8 106 65 .286 .411 .508 .919
1941 NYY 140 610 507 102 151 24 10 33 122 6 102 65 .298 .416 .580 .996
1942 NYY 152 661 544 106 159 24 9 26 108 14 114 61 .292 .417 .513 .930
1943 NYY 141 620 512 97 139 15 11 31 86 7 106 60 .271 .396 .525 .922
1945 NYY 44 194 163 26 49 7 4 10 34 0 31 21 .301 .412 .577 .989
1946 NYY 150 655 538 98 148 29 10 30 101 1 113 101 .275 .405 .533 .938
1947 NYY 45 193 151 36 36 6 1 13 36 0 41 18 .238 .404 .550 .954
1948 NYY 83 289 247 41 66 15 2 6 44 1 41 25 .267 .372 .417 .789
1949 NYY 60 144 116 17 29 4 1 3 16 2 25 15 .250 .392 .379 .771
1952 NYY 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
13 Yrs 1170 4604 3790 725 1085 166 72 189 760 45 784 499 .286 .410 .518 .928
NYY (11 yrs) 1066 4466 3677 712 1053 163 69 184 723 45 760 481 .286 .410 .518 .928
DET (2 yrs) 104 138 113 13 32 3 3 5 37 0 24 18 .283 .409 .496 .904
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/18/2013.

September 11 – Happy Birthday Don Slaught

It was certainly no fun being a Yankee fan in the late eighties. Not only was my favorite Yankee player, Don Mattingly, beginning to lose his home run power thanks to a back injury, it seemed as if every prospect, trade, and free agent signing turned out to be a bust. I can remember, for example, when the New York front office was telling us fans that Joel Skinner was going to be the Yankee catcher of the future. That notion died quickly when after two seasons, it became apparent that Skinner would have problems keeping his batting average over .220. That’s when the Yankees made a trade with the Rangers for today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant. Texas was grooming a young Mike Stanley as their starting catcher and no longer wanted Slaught. The Yankees sent pitcher Brad Arnsberg to the Rangers, who was another of those late eighties can’t miss Pinstripe prospects who ended up missing.

Slaught had a phenomenal start with the Yankees in 1988 and made GM Lou Piniella look like a genius by reaching that season’s All Star break with a .340 batting average. But after he hit just .236 the second half and .251 the following year, New York realized Slaught was not going to make Yankee fans forget Thurman Munson and traded the Long Beach, CA native to Pittsburgh where he thrived as a part-time receiver for the next six years. Bob Geren took over for Slaught as the Yankee’s starting catcher followed by Matt Nokes, Mike Stanley, Joe Girardi, Hip Hip Jorge, and currently Russell Martin!

Slaught shares his September 11th birthday with this former Yankee third base prospect and this long ago starting pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1988 NYY 97 358 322 33 91 25 1 9 43 1 24 54 .283 .334 .450 .785
1989 NYY 117 392 350 34 88 21 3 5 38 1 30 57 .251 .315 .371 .687
16 Yrs 1327 4503 4063 415 1151 235 28 77 476 18 311 559 .283 .338 .412 .749
PIT (6 yrs) 475 1624 1434 140 438 84 9 21 184 5 137 177 .305 .370 .421 .790
KCR (3 yrs) 250 863 800 83 226 46 8 7 78 3 40 94 .283 .315 .386 .701
TEX (3 yrs) 292 977 894 98 232 49 7 29 97 8 60 151 .260 .314 .427 .741
NYY (2 yrs) 214 750 672 67 179 46 4 14 81 2 54 111 .266 .324 .409 .734
SDP (1 yr) 20 26 20 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 4 .000 .200 .000 .200
CAL (1 yr) 62 224 207 23 67 9 0 6 32 0 13 20 .324 .366 .454 .820
CHW (1 yr) 14 39 36 2 9 1 0 0 4 0 2 2 .250 .289 .278 .567
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/18/2013.

September 10 – Happy Birthday Randy Johnson

After the Yankees gave up a three-game lead and lost the ALCS to the Red Sox in 2004, New York’s front office made the decision to go and get Randy Johnson from the Diamondbacks. The Big Unit’s former Arizona pitching partner, Curt Schilling had just helped Boston win their first World Championship in almost a century and Brian Cashman decided the Yankees needed to add a dominant number 1 starter to compete with their arch-rivals in the AL East.

Johnson had certainly been a dominant number 1 guy with both Seattle and the Diamondbacks during most of his career, winning five Cy Young’s including four straight with Arizona. But by the time he got to the Bronx, he was already 41-years-old and battling a chronically sore back. He was good enough to win 17 games in each of his two regular seasons in pinstripes, but he pitched poorly in the postseason as the Yankees got bounced from the playoffs in the first round in both 2005 and ’06. Few Yankee fans shed any tears when the often ornery left-hander was traded back to Arizona in January of 2007. Johnson finally retired in 2009 with 303 lifetime victories and 4,135 strikeouts during a 22-year career that will certainly end up getting him into Cooperstown.

Johnson’s career in New York got off to a rough start public relations wise when the 6’10” pitcher allegedly shoved a reporter who got too close to him on a Manhattan street. Forty-four years earlier, another Yankee star who celebrates his birthday on this same date had also struggled with his relationship with the very tough Big Apple sports press. You’ll find his PBB post here. This former Yankee utility infielder was also born on September 10th.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2005 NYY 17 8 .680 3.79 34 34 0 4 0 0 225.2 207 102 95 32 47 211 1.126
2006 NYY 17 11 .607 5.00 33 33 0 2 0 0 205.0 194 125 114 28 60 172 1.239
22 Yrs 303 166 .646 3.29 618 603 7 100 37 2 4135.1 3346 1703 1513 411 1497 4875 1.171
SEA (10 yrs) 130 74 .637 3.42 274 266 3 51 19 2 1838.1 1414 782 698 160 884 2162 1.250
ARI (8 yrs) 118 62 .656 2.83 233 232 1 38 14 0 1630.1 1325 594 513 163 416 2077 1.068
MON (2 yrs) 3 4 .429 4.69 11 10 1 1 0 0 55.2 52 33 29 5 33 51 1.527
NYY (2 yrs) 34 19 .642 4.37 67 67 0 6 0 0 430.2 401 227 209 60 107 383 1.180
SFG (1 yr) 8 6 .571 4.88 22 17 2 0 0 0 96.0 97 55 52 19 31 86 1.333
HOU (1 yr) 10 1 .909 1.28 11 11 0 4 4 0 84.1 57 12 12 4 26 116 0.984
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/18/2013.

September 9 – Happy Birthday Frank Chance

These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

Known as “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon,” this verse was written by a newspaper reporter who had been born in Chicago but later moved to the Big Apple. He wrote it in 1902, when he was on his way to the Polo Grounds to watch his original hometown’s Cubs play his adopted home town’s Giants. The poem wasn’t published until eight years later, in 1910, inside a New York newspaper. It became an instant nationwide hit; think “Take me Out to the Ballgame” level of popularity without the music.

Tinker, Evers and Chance were respectively the starting shortstop, second baseman and first baseman for Chicago from 1902, when they were still known as the Chicago Orphans, until 1911 (they switched to “Cubs” in 1903). That remains the golden decade of the franchise till this day.Their full names were Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance. All three ended up in Cooperstown but it was Chance, today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, who was the best all-around player of the three and it was Chance who would also become the most successful Manager in the team’s history.

He took over as Skipper during the 1905 season and continued starting at first base. During the next eight seasons, he led the Cubs to a cumulative won-lost record of 768-389, while capturing four NL Pennants and consecutive World Series victories in 1907 and ’08, the latter of which remains the last world championship in that franchise’s history.

No modern ballplayer would have stomached playing for Chance. Why? Put it this way, if Chance were in Joe Girardi’s shoes today, he’d probably have gotten into at least one fistfight with Derek Jeter by now. Why? Because he had a strict rule against “fraternizing” with the opposing team’s players before, during or after a game and if he caught one of his players violating that rule he’d fine him. He was known to go after frequent offenders physically in the clubhouse. Chance was also accused of inciting on-the-field riots to get his players pumped up and on occasion, he was known to throw beer bottles at heckling fans in the stands.

As his record as Cubs’ manager indicates, Chance’s tactics were effective. His players may have hated him but they also respected him. That’s probably because as player manager, Chance was able to prove he was only asking his teammates to play the game the same hard-nosed, take no prisoners way he played it himself. One of the toughest brawlers in baseball, Chance actually took off-season boxing lessons from former heavyweight champion John Corbett. As a hitter, he would famously crowd the plate and dare opposing pitchers to try and back him off it. Many of the National League’s  mounds-men certainly tried, because he was hit by pitches 137 times during his playing career and was a victim of head beanings so frequently that blood clots formed in his brain and he was forced to undergo emergency surgery during the 1912 season to save his life. It was while he was in the hospital recovering from that surgery that he was dismissed as Cubs manager for arguing with the owner about player trades being contemplated.

That’s when the Yankees hired the man who by then had become known as “the Peerless Leader.” Still considered a player manager, Chance would only appear in 13 games during his almost two full seasons in New York. He was relatively successful during his tenure. By the second year, his 1914 Yankee team had won 20 more regular season games than the 1912 Yankee team had won just before he became the team’s skipper. The problem was that 1912 Yankee team had only won 50 games. He was replaced as skipper by his shortstop, Roger Peckinpaugh during the final month of his second season. He would later manage the Red Sox and be hired to skipper the White Sox as well. But before he managed his first game for Chicago’s southside team, he came down with pneumonia and died at the age of 48.

I found much of the information used in this post in Frank Ryhal’s article on Frank Chance, published by the Society for American Baseball Research.

Chance shares his birthday with this Yankee Hall-of-Fame pitcherthis former Yankee center fielder and this one-time New York third baseman.

Here’s Chance’s limited player stats as a Yankee plus his more impressive lifetime totals:

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1913 NYY 12 33 24 3 5 0 0 0 6 1 8 1 .208 .406 .208 .615
1914 NYY 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
17 Yrs 1288 5103 4299 798 1274 200 79 20 596 403 556 320 .296 .394 .394 .788
G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
CHC (15 yrs) 1275 5070 4275 795 1269 200 79 20 590 402 548 319 .297 .394 .395 .789
NYY (2 yrs) 13 33 24 3 5 0 0 0 6 1 8 1 .208 .406 .208 .615
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/17/2013.

Here’s Chance’s managerial record:

Rk Year Age Tm Lg G W L W-L% Finish
9 1913 36 New York Yankees AL 153 57 94 .377 7 Player/Manager
10 1914 37 New York Yankees AL 1st of 2 137 60 74 .448 6 Player/Manager
Chicago Cubs 8 years 1178 768 389 .664 1.8 4 Pennants and 2 World Series Titles
New York Yankees 2 years 290 117 168 .411 6.5
Boston Red Sox 1 year 154 61 91 .401 8.0
11 years 1622 946 648 .593 3.2 4 Pennants and 2 World Series Titles
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/17/2013.