I like Yankee radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman and pretty much always have. Yes she’s an unabashed “homer” but so was “Scooter.” Yes she went way overboard on that night in 2007, when Roger Clemons stood there waving alongside George Steinbrenner at the old Yankee Stadium as his return to the Yankees was announced to the crowd. But that’s another reason I like her. She says what she feels and she shows emotion. I absolutely did not mind her crying on air after the Yankees lost the 2007 ALDS to the Indians or when she was verbally and unfairly assaulted by Toronto’s George Bell during a 1987 interview in the Stadium’s visitors’ locker room. She’s certainly not the best play-by-play or color commentator I’ve ever heard but I happily listen to her when radio is my only connection available to my favorite team’s games. There have been rumors spread by certain Big Apple tabloid reporters that Waldman, a former Broadway actress, got her sports announcing gig with the Bombers because she was a par amour of Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. I have no idea how true that is but after listening to the feisty lady talk about the Bronx Bombers for the last two decades, I know she has the knowledge, passion and talent to more than justify her role in Yankee history as the team’s first-ever female play-by-play announcer.
And despite the fact that she’s a female, Ms. Waldman also has proven she carries around a set of balls. In Bill Madden’s great book “Steinbrenner,” the author explains how Waldman was the person who got George Steinbrenner to apologize to Yogi Berra. At one point, as final arrangements for the meeting at Berra’s New Jersey Museum’s grand opening were being worked out, Yogi’s son Dale was worried the Boss would not actually apologize to his father. As Madden tells it in his book, Waldman assured the younger Berra that the Yankee owner was not going to fly all the way up to new Jersey from Tampa to say “F_ _ _ you!”
Waldman was born on this date in 1946. This one time Yankee outfielder was also born on September 7th.
Most of today’s Yankee fans can very easily remember the era of Jason Giambi in pinstripes. He was signed to be New York’s full-time first baseman but during the seven seasons he played in the Bronx, he started as many as 100 games at that position just once, in 2008, his final season as a Yankee. The Great Giambino got all that Yankee money for his hitting prowess because if he was paid based on his ability to defend his position, the guy would have qualified for food stamps. It was during the Giambi years that Yankee fans grew used to a committee approach of starting first basemen. Now of course, we have the great glove of Mark Teixeira patrolling there game in and game out and prior to Giambi, Yankee first basemen tended to be full-time first basemen, like Tino, Mattingly, Chambliss, Pepitone, Moose and of course the guy who epitomized full-time first basemen the great Lou Gehrig.
Most of you (including myself) don’t remember the Yankees of the late 1940’s and early 50’s. That was really the last lengthy era of multiple Yankee starting first basemen. In 1949 for example, six different guys made starts at that position. “Old Reliable,” Tommy Henrich, was one of them. The former outfielder led the team with just 51 starts at first that season. Former Amsterdam Rugmaker, Dick Kryhoski was next with 47 starts and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, Jack Phillips, was Casey Stengel’s starting choice at first base 37 times, before he was sold to the Pirates on August 6th of the 1949 season.
Phillips was very competent defensively and at six feet four inches tall, he provided a big target for the throws of his fellow Yankee infielders. Hence the nickname “Stretch,” which of course was made more famous later by the great Giant first sacker, Willie McCovey. Phillips, a native of Clarence, NY, was a right-handed contact hitter and since both Henrich and Kryhoski batted from the left side, Stengel would frequently start him against southpaws.
Stretch had made his Yankee debut in August of 1947, hitting .278 in fourteen games and impressing then manager, Bucky Harris enough to make New York’s World Series’ roster and get two at bats and his one and only ring against the Dodgers that fall. Two seasons later, Phillips’ was hitting .308 for New York when Pittsburgh made a purchase offer for him that Yankee GM George Weiss did not refuse. He remained with the Pirates for the next three years and in 1950, he hit the first pinch-hit “ultimate” home run in Major League history. What’s an “ultimate” home run? A walk-off blast that occurs when the home-team is down by three runs.
Jack Phillips would later also play a few seasons for the Tigers and then retire in 1957. He would eventually become head baseball coach at Clarkson University in New York State, his alma mater and serve in that capacity for 24 years. That school’s baseball field is named in his honor. Phillips died in 2009 at the age of 87.
|PIT (4 yrs)||158||464||421||43||111||17||10||5||49||3||39||40||.264||.326||.387||.713|
|NYY (3 yrs)||62||147||129||21||38||4||2||2||12||1||15||15||.295||.368||.403||.771|
|DET (3 yrs)||123||379||342||47||103||21||4||2||40||1||31||31||.301||.356||.404||.760|
September 5 is also the birthday of Bill Mazeroski. My first vivid memory of being a Yankee fan was running all the way home from school as a first grader on an October afternoon in 1960 so I could watch the end of the seventh game of the 1960 World Series. I got in front of our family’s black & white Sylvania just in time to see Yogi Berra staring up at the top of the ivy-covered left field wall at Pittsburgh’s old Forbes Field, watching Mazeroski’s series-winning home run fly over it. So I won’t be wishing the former Pirate second baseman a happy birthday, ever.
|BSN (3 yrs)||389||1572||1453||190||409||43||11||3||120||27||90||45||.281||.324||.332||.656|
|BRO (3 yrs)||408||1654||1526||199||464||71||23||4||175||21||87||55||.304||.346||.389||.734|
|NYY (1 yr)||132||581||538||80||153||16||6||5||48||5||32||16||.284||.325||.364||.689|
Plunk was originally drafted by the Yankees in 1981. Before he pitched an inning in the big leagues, he was included in the 1984 trade that made Ricky Henderson a Yankee. Then in 1989, after going 16-16 during his first three and a half seasons in the Majors with the A’s, Plunk was traded back to the Yankees for guess who? Ricky Henderson. Eric then spent three unspectacular seasons in Pinstripes, pitching for some of the worst teams in the franchise’s storied history. He was used as both a starter and long-reliever during his stay in the Bronx and managed to accumulate a 15-13 Yankee record. Plunk had much more success as a valuable member of the Indian bullpen after his Yankee days were over. He had good enough stuff to last for fourteen Major League seasons, retiring in 1999 with 72 wins and 35 career saves. Erik was born on September 3, 1963, in Wilmington, CA.
He shares his birthday with one of the many guys who played 3B for the Yanks during the 2013 season.
|CLE (7 yrs)||36||23||.610||3.25||373||0||140||0||0||26||462.0||393||185||167||42||217||460||1.320|
|OAK (4 yrs)||16||16||.500||4.30||130||26||47||0||0||8||322.0||261||162||154||29||215||291||1.478|
|NYY (3 yrs)||15||13||.536||3.88||117||15||27||0||0||0||260.0||251||132||112||33||157||231||1.569|
|MIL (2 yrs)||5||6||.455||4.63||94||0||20||0||0||1||107.0||104||58||55||18||58||99||1.514|
Before Marvelous Marv Throneberry established his legacy with the Amazin Mets he was a phee-nom prospect in the powerful New York Yankee organization. In fact, from 1955 through 1957, he played first base for Manager, Ralph Houk’s Denver Bears, the Yankees’ Triple A affiliate at the time and averaged 39 home runs and 128 RBIs per season in the thin air of the Mile High City. Throneberry got good long trials with the parent club in both 1958 and ’59 but he couldn’t hit for average (just .238). Besides, the Yankees already had Moose Skowren at first base so they made Throneberry one of four players they sent to Kansas City for Roger Maris in December of 1959. He did OK for the A’s in 1960, hitting 11 home runs, but again failed to hit for average. The A’s traded him to Baltimore during the 1961 season and then Baltimore traded him to the Mets for catcher Hobie Landrith.
Reunited with Casey Stengel, Throneberry became “Marvelous Marv.” He struck out too much and made 17 errors in just 89 games and Met fans instantly fell in love with him. Some of his most memorable moments came during rundowns he was involved in. During one, instead of throwing the ball to a teammate covering home plate, Throneberry chased an aging Stan Musial all the way to home plate without catching him. In another, Marv ran into the runner without the ball causing the umpire to call interference, making the runner safe. My favorite story about Throneberry’s misfortunes as a Met was the time he won a $6,000 sailboat. First of all, he lived in an area of Tennessee in which filled bathtubs were the largest bodies of water available. He had won the boat by hitting a clothing store billboard in the old Polo Grounds. Teammate Richie Ashburn won the same prize when Mets fans selected the outfielder as the teams first MVP. A lawyer for the Mets told Throneberry he had to claim his boat as income because he “earned” it by hitting the sign while Ashburn got his boat as a gift and didn’t have to declare it on his taxes. Throneberry died in 1994, at the age of 60.
|NYY (3 yrs)||141||389||344||58||82||11||2||15||44||2||37||91||.238||.311||.413||.724|
|NYM (2 yrs)||130||411||371||29||89||12||3||16||50||1||35||88||.240||.302||.418||.720|
|KCA (2 yrs)||144||410||366||46||90||11||3||17||65||0||42||90||.246||.323||.432||.754|
|BAL (2 yrs)||65||121||105||10||20||3||0||5||11||0||16||26||.190||.298||.362||.659|