November 2012

November 30 – Happy Birthday Bob Tewksberry

In the late eighties, the Yankee starting rotation included promising prospects, Doug Drabek and Bob Tewksbury. Although scouts predicted both would become solid Major League starters, the ever impatient George Steinbrenner dealt them both. Drabek went on to win a Cy Young Award with the Pirates and Bob Tewksbury, who was born on today’s date in 1960, in Concord, NH, won 66 games during a five-season span with the Cardinals. “Tewks” is now a sports psychologist working for the Boston Red Sox. He had a chronically sore pitching arm throughout his big league career forcing him to experiment with different pitches and deliveries that he could use without stressing his right arm. These experiments included an eephus pitch he threw twice to Mark McGuire in a 1997, getting the slugger out each time.

Today also happens to be the birthday of another Yankee pitcher who used the eephus pitch successfully during his career and also this one-time Yankee outfielder.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1986 NYY 9 5 .643 3.31 23 20 0 2 0 0 130.1 144 58 48 8 31 49 1.343
1987 NYY 1 4 .200 6.75 8 6 1 0 0 0 33.1 47 26 25 5 7 12 1.620
13 Yrs 110 102 .519 3.92 302 277 8 31 7 1 1807.0 2043 884 787 142 292 812 1.292
STL (6 yrs) 67 46 .593 3.48 154 142 4 18 4 1 968.2 1047 424 375 71 125 409 1.210
MIN (2 yrs) 15 26 .366 4.49 52 51 0 6 2 0 317.0 374 165 158 31 51 152 1.341
CHC (2 yrs) 0 4 .000 6.75 8 4 3 0 0 0 21.1 38 20 16 2 15 11 2.484
NYY (2 yrs) 10 9 .526 4.01 31 26 1 2 0 0 163.2 191 84 73 13 38 61 1.399
TEX (1 yr) 8 7 .533 4.58 21 21 0 4 1 0 129.2 169 75 66 8 20 53 1.458
SDP (1 yr) 10 10 .500 4.31 36 33 0 1 0 0 206.2 224 116 99 17 43 126 1.292
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/30/2013.

November 29 – Happy Birthday Otto Velez

Dick Williams had just won his second straight World Series as Oakland A’s manager in 1973, when he abruptly quit the job, angered over Charley Finley’s embarrassing attempt to get Mike Andrews kicked off the team’s World Series roster after the second baseman had made two errors in Game 2. George Steinbrenner immediately signed Williams to become the Yankees’ new field boss but Finley screamed foul and demanded New York give him their organization’s best pitching and hitting prospects as compensation for stealing his team’s disgruntled skipper. Those prospects respectively were southpaw Scott MacGregor and today’s Puerto Rican born Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, outfielder Otto Velez.

Steinbrenner refused to do so and Velez was returned to the roster of the Yankees Triple A farm team back then, the Syracuse Chiefs. Velez had belted 29 home runs and driven in 98 for Syracuse the season before and he had also walked 130 times, so the Yankees were justified in not giving him up. He would fail to make a memorable impression in three straight cup of coffee call ups to the Bronx in 1973, ’74 and ’75, but by 1976, Billy Martin had become Yankee manager and he put Velez on his team’s season-opening roster. Velez responded with a .266 batting average in 49 games that year and an impressive .410 on base percentage. He became a favorite of the fiery Martin, which explains why the Yankee manager fought fiercely to keep Velez’s name off the unprotected list for the 1976 American League expansion draft. He lost that argument and a few weeks later the Yankees lost Velez, when “Otto the Swatto” became the 53rd player selected in that draft and was headed to Toronto.

Velez would spend the next six years playing first base, the outfield, and doing some DH-ing for the Blue Jays. His best year was probably 1980, when he reached the 20-homer mark for the only time in his 11-year big-league career. His final season in the Majors was spent in Cleveland in 1983. He than played in Mexico. He hit 78 home runs during his career, with a lifetime batting average of .251.

Velez shares his birthday with the Sand Man, the Hit Man and this former Yankee outfielder from the early fifties.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1973 NYY 23 92 77 9 15 4 0 2 7 0 15 24 .195 .326 .325 .651
1974 NYY 27 84 67 9 14 1 1 2 10 0 15 24 .209 .345 .343 .689
1975 NYY 6 10 8 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 .250 .400 .250 .650
1976 NYY 49 117 94 11 25 6 0 2 10 0 23 26 .266 .410 .394 .804
11 Yrs 637 2174 1802 244 452 87 11 78 272 6 336 414 .251 .369 .441 .810
TOR (6 yrs) 522 1843 1531 214 394 76 10 72 243 6 278 334 .257 .372 .461 .834
NYY (4 yrs) 105 303 246 29 56 11 1 6 28 0 55 74 .228 .366 .354 .720
CLE (1 yr) 10 28 25 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 3 6 .080 .179 .080 .259
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/28/2013.

November 28 – Happy Birthday Dave Righetti

When Dave Righetti went 8-4  and was named AL Rookie of the Year during the Yankees’ strike-shortened 1981 season, the Big Apple media was ready to anoint the tall Californian the best New York lefty starter since Whitey Ford. “Rags” was no Ford but he was very good. His brilliant no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox on July 4, 1983 was an unforgettable moment in Pinstripe history and is still being rebroadcast as part of the Yankee Classics series on the YES Network.

When Goose Gossage left in 1984, New York needed a closer and they turned to Righetti. His biggest apprehension about going to the bullpen was that he sometimes struggled with his control and had a tendency to give up walks in streaks, a nightmare situation for a closer. As it turned out, Righetti made the transition from starter to stopper smoothly. He set the AL record, since broken, for most saves in a season in 1986, with 46. When he left New York to sign a free agent contract with San Francisco after the 1990 season, he was the Yankees all-time saves leader with 224.

Unfortunately for Rags, 1981 would be the last postseason appearance for New York for the next fourteen years. After he retired in 1994, he got into coaching and eventually landed the pitching coach position with the San Francisco Giants. He’s now won two rings in that role and is getting much deserved praise for his ability to get the most out of the Giant rotation and bullpen, despite injuries to key members of his staff and significant performance slumps by others. Dave was born in San Jose, CA on November 28, 1958.

Rags shares his November 28th birthday with this one-time Yankee phew-nom and this long-ago fly-fishing Highlander shortstop.

Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1979 20 NYY AL 0 1 .000 3.63 3 3 0 0 0 0 17.1 10 7 7 2 10 13 1.154
1981 22 NYY AL 8 4 .667 2.05 15 15 0 2 0 0 105.1 75 25 24 1 38 89 1.073
1982 23 NYY AL 11 10 .524 3.79 33 27 3 4 0 1 183.0 155 88 77 11 108 163 1.437
1983 24 NYY AL 14 8 .636 3.44 31 31 0 7 2 0 217.0 194 96 83 12 67 169 1.203
1984 25 NYY AL 5 6 .455 2.34 64 0 53 0 0 31 96.1 79 29 25 5 37 90 1.204
1985 26 NYY AL 12 7 .632 2.78 74 0 60 0 0 29 107.0 96 36 33 5 45 92 1.318
1986 27 NYY AL 8 8 .500 2.45 74 0 68 0 0 46 106.2 88 31 29 4 35 83 1.153
1987 28 NYY AL 8 6 .571 3.51 60 0 54 0 0 31 95.0 95 45 37 9 44 77 1.463
1988 29 NYY AL 5 4 .556 3.52 60 0 41 0 0 25 87.0 86 35 34 5 37 70 1.414
1989 30 NYY AL 2 6 .250 3.00 55 0 53 0 0 25 69.0 73 32 23 3 26 51 1.435
1990 31 NYY AL 1 1 .500 3.57 53 0 47 0 0 36 53.0 48 24 21 8 26 43 1.396
16 Yrs 82 79 .509 3.46 718 89 474 13 2 252 1403.2 1287 602 540 95 591 1112 1.338
NYY (11 yrs) 74 61 .548 3.11 522 76 379 13 2 224 1136.2 999 448 393 65 473 940 1.295
SFG (3 yrs) 5 15 .250 4.61 166 4 87 0 0 28 197.1 201 107 101 19 81 129 1.429
OAK (1 yr) 0 0 16.71 7 0 1 0 0 0 7.0 13 13 13 3 9 4 3.143
CHW (1 yr) 3 2 .600 4.20 10 9 1 0 0 0 49.1 65 24 23 6 18 29 1.682
TOR (1 yr) 0 1 .000 6.75 13 0 6 0 0 0 13.1 9 10 10 2 10 10 1.425
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/28/2013.

November 27 – Happy Birthday Bullet Joe Bush

His real name was Leslie Ambrose Bush and he won 196 regular season games during his seventeen-year big league career that began in 1912. He pitched for seven different Major League teams during that time including the Yankees for three seasons, from 1921 through 1924. During his first year in pinstripes. he won 26 games and lost 7, marking the first and only time the right-hander reached the 20-victory plateau. His performance propelled New York to the team’s second straight AL Pennant that year, but he lost both his starts in the 1922 World Series as the Yankees were swept by the Giants. The following season Bush went 19-15 and earned a victory in that year’s Fall Classic, helping New York to finally beat their inter-city rivals from the Polo Grounds in the third straight postseason match-up of the two teams. When New York failed to make it back to the Series in 1924 and Bush went 17-16, the Yankees then traded this native of Ehime, MN to the Browns for pitcher Urban Shocker. After winning 14 games in his first season in St. Louis the bullets were gone from Bush’s right arm and he won just 11 more games during the final three seasons of his career. Bush died in 1974 at the age of 81.

Other former Yankees who celebrate birthday on November 27th include this catcher and this pitcher.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1922 NYY 26 7 .788 3.31 39 30 8 20 0 3 255.1 240 109 94 16 85 92 1.273
1923 NYY 19 15 .559 3.43 37 30 6 22 3 0 275.2 263 115 105 7 117 125 1.378
1924 NYY 17 16 .515 3.57 39 31 6 19 3 1 252.0 262 117 100 9 109 80 1.472
17 Yrs 196 184 .516 3.51 488 370 93 225 35 19 3085.1 2990 1439 1203 96 1263 1318 1.378
PHA (7 yrs) 65 76 .461 3.19 191 124 52 71 15 8 1115.1 1002 506 395 15 499 575 1.346
BOS (4 yrs) 46 39 .541 3.25 110 97 11 65 10 4 777.2 781 340 281 16 282 311 1.367
NYY (3 yrs) 62 38 .620 3.44 115 91 20 61 6 4 783.0 765 341 299 32 311 297 1.374
PIT (2 yrs) 7 8 .467 3.61 24 15 5 9 2 3 117.1 111 59 47 8 40 39 1.287
WSH (1 yr) 1 8 .111 6.69 12 11 1 3 0 0 71.1 83 54 53 6 35 27 1.654
NYG (1 yr) 1 1 .500 7.50 3 2 1 1 0 0 12.0 18 10 10 1 5 6 1.917
SLB (1 yr) 14 14 .500 5.09 33 30 3 15 2 0 208.2 230 129 118 18 91 63 1.538
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/26/2013.

November 26 – Happy Birthday Jay Howell

howell2After the Yankees acquired Jay Howell in a nondescript player-to-be-named-later transaction with the Cubs in 1982, they converted him  into a full-time reliever and over the next three seasons, he evolved into the primary set-up guy for closer Dave Righetti. By 1984, he had mastered that role, going 9-4 with a 2.69 ERA that year and even getting 7 saves in situations when “Rags” needed a break. He also loved the intensity of pitching in Yankee Stadium and living in New York. I expected him to be a Yankee for quite awhile and remember even wondering if the organization might consider turning him back into a starter down the road.

That option became moot during the 1984 offseason, when New York traded Howell along with Jose Rijo, Tim Birtsas, Stan Javier, and Eric Plunk to the A’s for superstar Ricky Henderson. I absolutely loved the deal when it was made because at the time, the Yankees had failed to make postseason play for three consecutive years and putting Henderson in front of Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield in the Yankee lineup seemed like a certain recipe for success offensively and it was. But even though Henderson had some great years in pinstripes, he couldn’t put the team over the top. Meanwhile, the loss of Howell and Rijo would come back to bite New York in the rear end by the late 1980’s, when the Yankees pitching quality had plummeted and both these guys became All Stars and won rings with new teams.

Howell was the closer for the 1988 Dodger team that won the World Series over the A’s. In that same year’s NLCS versus the Mets, the Miami, FL native was forced to serve an embarrassing two-game suspension after the umps found pine tar inside his glove during a Game 3 inspection. Howell pitched in the big leagues until 1994, finishing his fifteen-year career with a 58-53 record and 155 saves. He then coached at the college level for the next ten years.

Howell shares his November 26th birthday with this Hall-of-Fame Yankee pitcher, this almost-a-phee-nom and another hurler who became a star after being traded  by New York to the the Kansas City Royals.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1982 NYY 2 3 .400 7.71 6 6 0 0 0 0 28.0 42 25 24 1 13 21 1.964
1983 NYY 1 5 .167 5.38 19 12 3 2 0 0 82.0 89 53 49 7 35 61 1.512
1984 NYY 9 4 .692 2.69 61 1 23 0 0 7 103.2 86 33 31 5 34 109 1.158
15 Yrs 58 53 .523 3.34 568 21 360 2 0 155 844.2 782 335 313 57 291 666 1.270
LAD (5 yrs) 22 19 .537 2.07 236 0 175 0 0 85 308.1 243 76 71 14 92 260 1.086
OAK (3 yrs) 15 18 .455 3.68 137 0 118 0 0 61 195.2 199 85 80 14 75 145 1.400
NYY (3 yrs) 12 12 .500 4.38 86 19 26 2 0 7 213.2 217 111 104 13 82 191 1.399
ATL (1 yr) 3 3 .500 2.31 54 0 22 0 0 0 58.1 48 16 15 3 16 37 1.097
TEX (1 yr) 4 1 .800 5.44 40 0 17 0 0 2 43.0 44 29 26 10 16 22 1.395
CHC (1 yr) 2 0 1.000 4.84 10 2 1 0 0 0 22.1 23 13 12 3 10 10 1.478
CIN (1 yr) 0 0 13.50 5 0 1 0 0 0 3.1 8 5 5 0 0 1 2.400
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/25/2013.