October 2012

October 28 – Happy Birthday Joe Page

Before there could be a Rivera or Gossage or Lyle, there had to be a Joe Page. One of seven children, Page was born on October 28, 1917, the son of a Cherry Valley, Pennsylvania coal-miner. Page began his Yankee career as a starter in 1944 when he won five of his first six decisions and made the AL All Star team as a 27-year-old rookie. Page then hurt his shoulder in a fall while running the bases, kept the injury quiet from Yankee skipper Joe McCarthy and proceeded to lose his final six decisions that season. He was used mostly as a starter the next two seasons with mostly unspectacular results which is why he ended up in the place most under-performing starters ended up back in the forties, the bullpen. But instead of treating his new status as a bullpen pitcher as a demotion, Page seemed to relish it. By 1947 he had evolved the role into one of baseball’s first great closers, leading the league in games finished for three straight seasons while winning 34 games in the process. When the “save” became an official Major League stat in 1969, baseball historians reviewed old box scores to apply it retroactively and found that Page led the league in saves in both 1947 and ’49, while saving 60 games over that three-season period. Page also appeared in two World Series, winning and saving a game in each Classic, both Yankee victories. After slumping to a 3-7 record in 1950 with an ERA that ballooned to over 5 runs per game, the Yankees released their first-ever ace closer. He tried an unsuccessful comeback with the Pirates a few years later before hanging it up for good. Page was the first Yankee and first Major League reliever to reach the 20-save mark when he accumulated 27 in 1949. Sparky Lyle was the first Yankee to reach the 30-save mark when he had 35 in 1972. Dave Righetti became the first Yankee to break the 40-save barrier with his 46 in 1986 and the great Mariano Rivera is the only Yankee reliever to save 50 or more games and he’s done it twice, the first time in 2001.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1944 ★ NYY 5 7 .417 4.56 19 16 2 4 0 0 102.2 100 65 52 3 52 63 1.481
1945 NYY 6 3 .667 2.82 20 9 5 4 0 0 102.0 95 43 32 1 46 50 1.382
1946 NYY 9 8 .529 3.57 31 17 8 6 1 3 136.0 126 66 54 7 72 77 1.456
1947 ★ NYY 14 8 .636 2.48 56 2 44 0 0 17 141.1 105 41 39 5 72 116 1.252
1948 ★ NYY 7 8 .467 4.26 55 1 38 0 0 16 107.2 116 59 51 6 66 77 1.690
1949 NYY 13 8 .619 2.59 60 0 48 0 0 27 135.1 103 44 39 8 75 99 1.315
1950 NYY 3 7 .300 5.04 37 0 33 0 0 13 55.1 66 34 31 8 31 33 1.753
8 Yrs 57 49 .538 3.53 285 45 182 14 1 76 790.0 727 369 310 42 421 519 1.453
NYY (7 yrs) 57 49 .538 3.44 278 45 178 14 1 76 780.1 711 352 298 38 414 515 1.442
PIT (1 yr) 0 0 11.17 7 0 4 0 0 0 9.2 16 17 12 4 7 4 2.379
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/22/2014.

October 27 – Happy Birthday Patsy Dougherty

You couldn’t blame the Yankee fans back in June of 1904 for getting real excited when they heard the news that their favorite team, then known as the Highlanders, had just traded a rookie named Bob Unglaub for Boston’s star left fielder, Patsy Dougherty. After all, Unglaub had barely played for New York during the first half of that season, while Dougherty had led the American League in both runs and hits the season before, averaged .331 and became the first player ever to hit two home runs in one World Series game the previous postseason against Pittsburgh. Patsy also held the distinction of being the first AL hitter ever to get an at bat in a regular season baseball game in the Big Apple when he led off for Boston in their 1903 season opener against New York in Hilltop Park.

Dougherty had a strong first season for New York, hitting .283 and leading the league in runs scored for the second straight year. But that turned out to be the apex of his Big Apple playing performance. During the next two seasons his batting average plummeted and as a result, so did his playing time. He was sold to the White Sox in June of 1906. The change of scenery revived him and  he played five more years in the Windy City before retiring in 1911. Dougherty was born in Andover, NY in 1876 and passed away in 1940. He is the only member of the Yankee all-time roster who celebrates his birthday on October 26th.

Counting Patsy Dougherty, seventeen different Yankees have led the American League in runs scored during at least one of the past 111 big league seasons. Here they are in chronological order. Note multiple winners have the number of times they led league in scoring as a Yankee, in parenthesis following their names: Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez (2), Alfonso Soriano, Derek Jeter, Ricky Henderson (2), Roy White, Bobby Murcer, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle (5), Tommy Henrich, Snuffy Stirnweiss (2), Red Rolfe, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig (4), Babe Ruth (7), Patsy Dougherty.

Dougherty shares his birthday with this former Yankee catching coach.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1904 NYY 106 478 452 80 128 13 10 6 22 11 19 44 .283 .316 .396 .712
1905 NYY 116 459 418 56 110 9 6 3 29 17 28 40 .263 .319 .335 .654
1906 NYY 12 52 52 3 10 2 0 0 4 0 0 4 .192 .192 .231 .423
10 Yrs 1233 5109 4558 678 1294 138 78 17 413 261 378 460 .284 .346 .360 .705
CHW (6 yrs) 703 2761 2413 322 648 78 40 4 261 168 231 249 .269 .341 .339 .680
BOS (3 yrs) 296 1359 1223 217 398 36 22 4 97 65 100 123 .325 .382 .401 .783
NYY (3 yrs) 234 989 922 139 248 24 16 9 55 28 47 88 .269 .311 .359 .670
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/27/2013.

October 26 – Happy Birthday Toby Harrah

By the end of the 1983 season, the great Yankee third baseman, Graig Nettles was 38 years old and in addition to losing some of his skills to age, he had worn out his relationship with team owner George Steinbrenner. The following February, New York traded reliever George Frazier and outfield prospect Otis Nixon to Cleveland for the third baseman they hoped would replace Nettles. His name was Toby Harrah. I remember being optimistic about the trade. At the time of the deal, Harrah had already enjoyed a solid, fourteen-year Major League career with Texas and Cleveland and was a four-time AL All Star. He wasn’t as good a fielder as Nettles had been in his prime but hardly anyone was. Like Nettles, he could hit the long ball, having reached the 20-homer mark five times and unlike Nettles, Harrah had good speed on the base paths. But this was the early eighties when every deal the Yankees attempted seemed to backfire and the Harrah acquisition was no different. After one terrible season in pinstripes during which he hit just .217 in 84 games, Toby was back in a Ranger uniform the following year.  He was born October 26, 1948, in Sissonville, WI.

Harrah shares his birthday with this former Yankee infielder and this one-time Yankee pitching prospect.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1984 NYY 88 299 253 40 55 9 4 1 26 3 42 28 .217 .331 .296 .628
17 Yrs 2155 8767 7402 1115 1954 307 40 195 918 238 1153 868 .264 .365 .395 .760
TEX (11 yrs) 1355 5408 4572 631 1174 187 22 124 568 153 708 575 .257 .357 .389 .745
CLE (5 yrs) 712 3060 2577 444 725 111 14 70 324 82 403 265 .281 .383 .417 .799
NYY (1 yr) 88 299 253 40 55 9 4 1 26 3 42 28 .217 .331 .296 .628
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/27/2013.