November 2012

November 19 – Happy Birthday Everett Scott

In the five years after World War I ended, the Yankees and Red Sox made nine major player transactions. The Yankees came out of most of those deals so far ahead of the Red Sox that many Boston fans and sports writers were sure Red Sox owner Harry Frazee also had an ownership stake in New York’s franchise. Just before Christmas in 1921, Frazee made yet another deal with New York. A total of seven players were involved in the transaction including each team’s starting shortstop. Boston got New York’s Roger Peckinpaugh and then quickly traded him to Washington for another future Yankee, Jumpin Joe Dugan. New York got Everett Scott from the Red Sox who at the time of the trade had played in a then Major League record of 830 consecutive games. That streak would not end until May 5 1925, during Scott’s fourth and final season with New York, when Yankee Manager, Miller Huggins decided his shortstop needed to rest a sore back. At the time he had played in 1,307 consecutive games. Just a couple weeks later, Scott’s Yankee teammate, a young first baseman named Lou Gehrig began a consecutive game playing streak that would eventually overwhelm Scott’s achievement.

The player they called “Deacon” was not much of a hitter but he was one of baseball’s best defensive shortstops during his day. And although he didn’t hit for average, Scott barely struck out, making him a valuable hit-and-run weapon. He was also very smart and worked very hard at his craft. That’s probably why Miller Huggins made the guy a Yankee Captain. Old Everett won three World Series with Boston and was a key member of the first-ever Yankee team to win the Fall Classic in 1923. In all he played thirteen big league seasons in five different uniforms and hit .249 lifetime. He was born on November 19, 1892 in Bluffton, IN and died almost 68 years later, in nearby Ft Wayne.

Scott shares a birthday with this former Yankee catcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1922 NYY 154 612 557 64 150 23 5 3 45 2 23 22 .269 .304 .345 .649
1923 NYY 152 568 533 48 131 16 4 6 60 1 13 19 .246 .266 .325 .591
1924 NYY 153 589 548 56 137 12 6 4 64 3 21 15 .250 .278 .316 .593
1925 NYY 22 65 60 3 13 0 0 0 4 0 2 2 .217 .242 .217 .459
13 Yrs 1654 6375 5837 552 1455 208 58 20 551 69 243 282 .249 .281 .315 .596
BOS (8 yrs) 1096 4268 3887 355 956 141 41 7 346 61 171 212 .246 .280 .309 .588
NYY (4 yrs) 481 1834 1698 171 431 51 15 13 173 6 59 58 .254 .282 .324 .606
WSH (1 yr) 33 110 103 10 28 6 1 0 18 1 4 4 .272 .299 .350 .649
CIN (1 yr) 4 6 6 1 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 .667 .667 .667 1.333
CHW (1 yr) 40 157 143 15 36 10 1 0 13 1 9 8 .252 .296 .336 .632
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/19/2013.

November 18 – Happy Birthday Tom “Flash” Gordon

Up until Phil Hughes filled the role during the 2009 season, the Yankees had not had an effective eighth inning relief specialist since the man they called “Flash” handled that responsibility in the New York bullpens of 2004 and 2005. Gordon had been a long-time starter for the Kansas City Royals who was converted into a closer one year after signing as a free agent with the Red Sox in 1996. He saved 46 games for Boston in 1998 but then was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery when he blew out his right elbow the following season. If that injury hadn’t happened, Gordon might still be saving games in Beantown. Instead he was forced to sit out the entire 2000 season and then spent the next three years pitching for three different teams while recovering his arm strength. The Yankees signed him at exactly the right time and he and Rivera successfully shortened many Yankee games to seven innings during their two years of partnership in the Bronx. I absolutely loved  watching Flash take the ball in the eighth inning and completely dominate three hitters from the opposing lineup. When he had his fantastic curveball working, which was most of the time he wore the pinstripes, Gordon really was near unhittable. He was 14-8 as a Yankee and gave up less than one combined walk and hit per inning during his stay in the Big Apple. That success earned him a handsome three year deal from the Phillies after the 2005 season and forced the Yankees to spend the next three plus seasons looking for a new bridge to Mo.

Gary Sheffield was Gordon’s teammate on those 2004 and ’05 Yankee teams and also the most productive bat in New York’s lineup during that time. He also celebrates a birthday today.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2004 NYY 9 4 .692 2.21 80 0 15 0 0 4 89.2 56 23 22 5 23 96 0.881
2005 NYY 5 4 .556 2.57 79 0 17 0 0 2 80.2 59 25 23 8 29 69 1.091
21 Yrs 138 126 .523 3.96 890 203 347 18 4 158 2108.0 1889 1016 927 176 977 1928 1.360
KCR (8 yrs) 79 71 .527 4.02 274 144 58 12 2 3 1149.2 1040 572 514 91 587 999 1.415
BOS (4 yrs) 25 25 .500 4.45 170 59 100 6 2 68 495.1 476 263 245 42 220 432 1.405
PHI (3 yrs) 11 10 .524 4.19 137 0 71 0 0 42 129.0 124 63 60 19 52 126 1.364
CHC (2 yrs) 2 3 .400 3.39 66 0 47 0 0 27 69.0 59 30 26 5 26 98 1.232
NYY (2 yrs) 14 8 .636 2.38 159 0 32 0 0 6 170.1 115 48 45 13 52 165 0.980
ARI (1 yr) 0 1 .000 21.60 3 0 1 0 0 0 1.2 3 4 4 0 3 0 3.600
HOU (1 yr) 0 2 .000 3.32 15 0 3 0 0 0 19.0 15 7 7 2 6 17 1.105
CHW (1 yr) 7 6 .538 3.16 66 0 35 0 0 12 74.0 57 29 26 4 31 91 1.189
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/18/2013.

November 17 – Happy Birthday George Stallings

Today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant succeeded two Hall-of-Famers when he became the third manager in Yankee franchise history. John McGraw skippered the club during its first two seasons in existence while it was still located in Baltimore and known as the Orioles. “Little Napoleon” was followed by Clark Griffith, “the Old Fox,” who would later bring baseball to our Nation’s Capitol and join McGraw in Cooperstown. Unlike McGraw and Griffith, Gentleman George Stallings hardly played any Major League ball, getting just a couple of hits in 20 at bats in the Big Dance. He learned what he knew about the game while spending thirteen years toiling in the minors, at one time or another playing every position on the baseball field except the hot corner.

Stallings started managing in the minors in 1893 for a team located in his home town of Augusta, Georgia. He eventually took over as field boss of the Detroit Tigers, before that team became an AL franchise. He was then hired to manage the Philadelphia Phillies in 1898. He lost that job  two months into his second season and then returned to Detroit where he remained skipper when the Tigers were admitted as a franchise in Ban Johnson’s newly formed American League. Johnson owned a large share of the Detroit ball club and when he suspected Stallings of conspiring to jump the team to the rival National League, he fired him as skipper.

Stallings then returned to manage in the minors and when no minor league team wanted him, he went back to farming in his native Georgia for a spell. He finally got another skipper’s job in Newark, NJ in 1908, so he was just across the river when the New York Highlanders finished the 1908 season, dead last in the AL and Clark Griffith threw his hands up and walked away from his job as the New York’s Manager. Highlander owner, Frank Farrell asked Stallings if he wanted the job and he accepted. He then led the team back to respectability in 1909 as they finished with a 74-79 record. It looked as if Gentleman George had found a home but the incorrigible and highly talented Yankee first baseman, Hal Chase, had other ideas.

Chase had become the regular New York Highlander first baseman in 1905 and remained in that position for a little more than eight seasons and over 1,000 games.  “Prince Hal” was a smart and gifted athlete who immediately became a fan favorite in New York.  It was Chase who first began the now accepted defensive strategy of charging the plate in likely sacrifice situations.  He also pioneered the practice of moving into the outfield to receive and relay cut-off throws.  In addition to being an excellent and innovative fielder, Chase was also a strong hitter and a great base runner.  He had a .291 lifetime batting average and his 248 stolen bases made him the all-time Yankee base stealer until Willie Randolph and Ricky Henderson passed him seven decades later.

Chase, however, had one passion greater than his love for baseball and that was money.  Perhaps, if he lived in today’s era of free agency and multi-million dollar contracts, his story and career would have had a different ending. But at the turn of the century, professional baseball players were not paid royally.  As a result, many of them were forced to earn a living doing other things.

Before the 1908 season, Chase tried holding out on the Yankees, to force team management to pay him more money.  Even though the tactic was successful, Chase still jumped to the outlawed California league and played for the San Jose franchise using a fake name.  Caught in this charade, Chase was suspended by the Highlanders but his immense popularity with New York fans quickly got him reinstated.

It was at that point that George Stallings began to suspect Chase of throwing games.  The skipper’s suspicions grew so strong during the 1910 season, he leveled the charges publicly.  But Chase’s popularity on the field helped him earn enough support with Yankee owner Farrell and League President Ban Johnson to beat back Stallings’ charges and actually get the manager fired.  Adding insult to injury, Chase got himself named to replace Stallings as the team’s field boss.

Although he didn’t realize it at the time, getting double-crossed by Chase and Farrell actually was a career blessing for the fired manager. Stallings went back to managing in the minors for the next two years and then was hired by the Boston Braves, who were one of the worst teams in the National League. That Braves team had finished in last place the previous four seasons in a row, so when Stallings got them to a fifth place finish in 1913, it was considered a minor miracle. But the real miracle took place the following season, when the Braves won the NL Pennant by 10.5 games and then shocked the mighty Philadelphia A’s by sweeping them in the 1914 World Series. It was certainly Stallings finest hour in the big leagues and he continued to manage the Braves through the 1920 season, but he never again led them to a Pennant.

Stallings shares his birthday with this former Yankee reliever and this one-time Yankee broadcast booth partner of Phil Rizzuto.

Rk Year Tm W L W-L% G Finish
4 1909 New York Highlanders 74 77 .490 153 5
5 1910 New York Highlanders 1st of 2 78 59 .569 142 2
Philadelphia Phillies 2 years 74 104 .416 180 8.0
Detroit Tigers 1 year 74 61 .548 136 3.0
New York Highlanders 2 years 152 136 .528 295 3.5
Boston Braves 8 years 579 597 .492 1202 4.6 1 Pennant and 1 World Series Title
13 years 879 898 .495 1813 4.8 1 Pennant and 1 World Series Title
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/18/2013.

November 14 – Happy Birthday Ruben Rivera

In 1995, you’re the number 2 rated Minor League prospect in all of America, you’re in the farm system of the Yankees who are about to win the next four of five World Series and you’re the cousin of a guy named Mariano Rivera who is on the threshold of becoming MLB’s greatest closer. The sky certainly seemed to be the limit for twenty-one-year-old Ruben Rivera at the time, but that sky turned gray and cloudy for the young Panamanian very quickly. At first he did OK in the big leagues, hitting .284 in a 48-game stint during New York’s 1996 World Championship season. He even made the Yankee’s postseason roster that year.

But New York’s front office was looking for starting pitching and at the time there was an All Star hurler from Japan named Hideki Irabu refusing to sign with the San Diego Padres who had purchased his signing rights from his team in Japan. The Yankees packaged Rivera with one of their top Minor League pitching prospects named Rafael Medina and $3 million dollars and bought Irabu’s signing rights at the beginning of the 1997 regular season. By 1999, Ruben was starting in the Padres outfield and although he showed signs of good big league power, he struggled to get his average above .200. His finest moment was hitting .800 against his former Yankee teammates in the 2000 World Series but after the Padres lost to New York in four straight, San Diego released Rivera. He then played for the Reds in 2001 before rejoining the Yankee organization and his famous closing cousin in 2002. That’s when a bizarre spring training incident took place. Rivera allegedly stole and sold Derek Jeter’s baseball glove to a nostalgia dealer for $2,500 and his Yankee teammates actually voted him off the team. He then played a bit for the Rangers and Giants before ending up in the Mexican League for several more years.

Also born on this same date is this  former Yankee outfielder and this long-ago pitcher.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1995 21 NYY AL 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
1996 22 NYY AL 46 106 88 17 25 6 1 2 16 6 13 26 .284 .381 .443 .824
9 Yrs 662 1818 1586 237 343 67 11 64 203 50 185 510 .216 .307 .393 .701
SDP (4 yrs) 394 1180 1026 160 209 42 9 46 135 33 129 341 .204 .301 .397 .698
NYY (2 yrs) 51 107 89 17 25 6 1 2 16 6 13 27 .281 .377 .438 .816
SFG (1 yr) 31 55 50 6 9 2 0 2 4 1 5 14 .180 .255 .340 .595
TEX (1 yr) 69 186 158 17 33 4 0 4 14 4 17 45 .209 .302 .310 .612
CIN (1 yr) 117 290 263 37 67 13 1 10 34 6 21 83 .255 .321 .426 .747
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/14/2013.

November 12 – Happy Birthday Homer Bush

The best year I ever saw any Yankee team have was the 1998 squad. With Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter and Scott Brosius leading the offense and David Cone, David Wells, Andy Pettitte and Mo Rivera the pitching corps, Joe Torre’s team won an incredible 114 regular season games and then put together an 11-2 postseason which included a four-game sweep of the shell shocked Padres in the World Series. That team had everything including a bullpen filled with specialists of every kind and a bench packed with guys who knew their roles and filled them brilliantly. One of the subs was the super-quick Homer Bush. He was used as a pinch runner, pinch hitter and once in a great while, a spare infielder. His job was to get on first base, disrupt the opposing pitcher’s rhythm and score runs. In just 78 plate appearances that season, Bush had 27 hits and walked five times for an on-base-percentage of .420. He also scored 17 runs for the Bomber’s high powered offense. The following February, New York traded Bush along with Wells and reliever Graeme Lloyd to the Blue Jays for Roger Clemens. Given a chance to play regularly, Homer hit .320 for Toronto in 1999 and stole 32 bases. That performance got him a three-year $7.5 million contract from the Jays following the season. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there for the native of East St Louis, IL. Bush hurt his hip and was never again an everyday player and in 2002 he was released by both the Jays and the Marlins. He tried a comeback unsuccessfully with the Yankees in 2004.

Also born on November 12, this native of Kentucky proceeded to become a two-time twenty game winner for the Yankees. This former Yankee pitcher was also born on November 12th.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1997 NYY 10 11 11 2 4 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 .364 .364 .364 .727
1998 NYY 45 78 71 17 27 3 0 1 5 6 5 19 .380 .421 .465 .886
2004 NYY 9 8 7 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 .000 .125 .000 .125
7 Yrs 409 1377 1274 176 363 50 5 11 115 65 57 238 .285 .324 .358 .682
TOR (4 yrs) 305 1222 1131 148 320 47 5 10 102 56 49 204 .283 .321 .360 .681
NYY (3 yrs) 64 97 89 21 31 3 0 1 8 7 5 21 .348 .389 .416 .805
FLA (1 yr) 40 58 54 7 12 0 0 0 5 2 3 13 .222 .263 .222 .485
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/12/2013.

November 11 – Happy Birthday Ownie Carroll

Slim pickings as far as Yankees born on Veterans Day are concerned. In fact the first member of the team’s all-time roster I found to be born on 11-11 came into this world before that date was even officially recognized as Veterans’ Day. His name was Ownie Carroll and he was born in 1902, in Kearney, NJ. Before he pitched in the big leagues, Carroll became a legend at Holy Cross, compiling a 50-2 collegiate record. He then signed with Detroit and evolved into a pretty successful pitcher for the Tigers during the late twenties. He was 10-6  in 1927 and then 16-12 the following year. He slumped to 9-17 in 1929. That’s probably why he was traded to the Yankees, who offered Detroit pitcher Waite Hoyt and New York’s starting shortstop, Mark Koenig in exchange for Carroll, outfielder Harry Rice and one other nondescript Tiger player. Ownie’s career in New York was brief and unsuccessful. He appeared in just ten games for the Yankees during the 1930 season, mostly in relief, losing his only decision. The Reds purchased him after that season and he ended his career with Brooklyn, in 1934. He went onto become a very successful varsity baseball coach for Seton Hall University for 24 years. That school renamed its baseball stadium Owen T. Carroll Field in his honor. Carroll died in 1975.

The only other Yankee born on November 11th is this seldom used former reliever.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB WHIP
1930 NYY 0 1 .000 6.61 10 1 4 0 0 0 32.2 49 32 24 2 18 2.051
9 Yrs 64 90 .416 4.43 248 153 60 71 2 5 1330.2 1532 808 655 61 486 1.517
DET (5 yrs) 37 42 .468 4.12 115 76 26 40 2 3 666.0 730 386 305 25 283 1.521
CIN (3 yrs) 13 29 .310 4.84 64 40 17 20 0 1 331.1 397 209 178 16 98 1.494
BRO (2 yrs) 14 18 .438 4.43 59 36 13 11 0 1 300.2 356 181 148 18 87 1.473
NYY (1 yr) 0 1 .000 6.61 10 1 4 0 0 0 32.2 49 32 24 2 18 2.051
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/11/2013.

November 10 – Happy Birthday Jack Clark

Jack Clark loved being a Cardinal and after hitting 35 home runs and driving in 106 for Manager Whitey Herzog’s 1987 Pennant-winners, the New Brighton, PA native had every reason to believe he’d be staying in St Louis for the next few seasons. One word explains why that didn’t happen, collusion. That was the off season when big league owners decided to band together to reverse the upward spiral of salaries during the free agency era and star players in their prime, like Clark, paid the price.  The Cardinals actually asked their All Star first baseman to take a cut in pay so instead, his agent got him an offer from George Steinbrenner and Clark came to New York for the 1988 season after playing thirteen seasons in the National League, including the first ten with the Giants. He belted 27 home runs and drove in 93 during his single season in Pinstripes. He then signed with the Padres. During his eighteen-year big league career, Clark hit 340 home runs. Since leaving the game, Clark has become a vociferous critic of players who took steroids. He has said that players like Mark McGuire, A-Rod, Bobby Bonds and Roger Clemens are all “cheaters” who belong in a “Hall of Shame” but “not baseball’s Hall of Fame. Clark has also experienced personal financial setbacks since leaving the game. According to accounts I’ve read, his addiction to expensive cars forced him into personal bankruptcy, in 1992.

Also born on this date was this Yankee starting pitcher who tied Jimmy Key for second in most regular season wins on the team’s 1996 pitching staff and this long-ago outfielder, who hit the second home run in Yankee postseason history.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1988 NYY 150 616 496 81 120 14 0 27 93 3 113 141 .242 .381 .433 .815
18 Yrs 1994 8230 6847 1118 1826 332 39 340 1180 77 1262 1441 .267 .379 .476 .854
SFG (10 yrs) 1044 4300 3731 597 1034 197 30 163 595 60 497 556 .277 .359 .477 .836
STL (3 yrs) 322 1371 1093 198 299 61 6 66 216 3 264 288 .274 .413 .522 .935
BOS (2 yrs) 221 907 738 107 174 29 1 33 120 1 152 220 .236 .366 .412 .778
SDP (2 yrs) 257 1036 789 135 199 31 2 51 156 10 236 236 .252 .423 .490 .914
NYY (1 yr) 150 616 496 81 120 14 0 27 93 3 113 141 .242 .381 .433 .815
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/9/2013.

November 9 – Happy Birthday Jerry Priddy

Robinson Cano is the latest in a long and illustrious line of great New York Yankee second basemen. The first was Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri and then Joe Gordon. Later on, both Billy Martin and Bobby Richardson became All Stars for New York at that position, as did the great Willie Randolph. One name not on that list is Jerry Priddy and the late, great Phil Rizzuto was always astonished by that omission. Why? Because Scooter was Priddy’s teammate and double-play partner during their climb through the Yankee’s Minor League organization. During his days in the broadcast booth, Rizzuto would often tell listeners that Priddy had been a much better all-around player than he was and that he could not believe his Los Angeles-born former teammate did not make it big in pinstripes.

Priddy and Rizzuto were so good that when they joined the Yankees in 1941, Manager Joe McCarthy moved Gordon from second base to first so that the two rookies could take over the middle of New York’s infield. Rizzuto held his own at short but Priddy struggled to hit big league pitching. The Yankees might have been more patient with a less cocky rookie, but Priddy was anything but. He told Gordon in spring training that he was a better second baseman than the future Hall of Famer so when he got off to a slow start, his veteran teammates offered no assistance, shed no tears and spared no criticism of the outspoken rookie.

Priddy hit just .213 in 56 games during that rookie season. He did better the following year, hitting .280 as Gordon’s backup but when he complained about a lack of playing time, the Yankees decided to give up on their loud-mouthed prospect and traded him to Washington. He had a good year there and then spent the next three seasons in military service. When he returned, Jerry did evolve into one of the league’s better second baseman, playing eleven seasons in all and averaging .265 lifetime. In the mean time, Scooter played himself into the Hall of Fame and was left wondering why his old teammate wasn’t in there with him.

This former Yankee outfielder and this one too were also born on November 9.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1941 21 NYY AL 56 194 174 18 37 7 0 1 26 4 18 16 .213 .290 .270 .560
1942 22 NYY AL 59 222 189 23 53 9 2 2 28 0 31 27 .280 .385 .381 .766
11 Yrs 1296 5427 4720 612 1252 232 46 61 541 44 624 639 .265 .353 .373 .725
DET (4 yrs) 451 1933 1677 228 448 77 17 26 176 8 223 216 .267 .355 .380 .735
WSH (3 yrs) 434 1787 1576 164 390 73 14 13 169 21 186 228 .247 .328 .336 .665
NYY (2 yrs) 115 416 363 41 90 16 2 3 54 4 49 43 .248 .341 .328 .668
SLB (2 yrs) 296 1291 1104 179 324 66 13 19 142 11 166 152 .293 .387 .428 .815
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/9/2013.

November 8 – Happy Birthday Henry Rodriguez

The Yankee front office was a busy place after New York won the 2000 World Series. For the most part, the team wasn’t looking to add new players as much as they were focusing on keeping the ones they already had, which was not a surprising priority for a franchise that had just won its fourth Fall Classic in the last five years. Mariano Rivera’s agent was pushing hard for a three year deal for “the Sandman” and Derek Jeter wanted the Yankees to commit to him as their starting shortstop for the next decade. The Yankees were also looking to avoid arbitration with catcher Jorge Posada. So amongst all these negotiations with their existing players, reporters covering the team were a bit surprised to learn the Yankees were also trying to sign outfielder Henry Rodriguez.

The 33-year-old Rodriguez had by then put together a rather impressive big league resume. He had come up with the Dodgers in 1992, but didn’t become an everyday player until he was traded to the Expos during the 1995 season. In his first full year north of the border, the Dominican native belted 36 home runs, drove in 103 and made his only All Star team. Expo broadcaster Rodger Broulette began shouting “Oh Henry” whenever Rodriguez homered and Montreal fans took to tossing Oh Henry candy bars on the field whenever Rodriguez went into one of his frequent home run trots. After his power numbers dropped off in 1996, he was traded to the Cubs and became Chicago’s cleanup hitter, batting behind the prodigious chemically and cork enhanced home run factory named Sammy Sosa. The power duo’s combined 91 home runs propelled the Cubbies into the 1998 postseason. Once again however, Rodriguez’s power numbers would shrink during his second year with a new team and once again, he would be traded before he could complete a third season. This time, the destination was Florida, where he played out the final year of his contract in 2000, becoming a free agent.

What made the Yankees interest in Rodriguez surprising was the fact that they already had a bunch of outfielders under contract. They included Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, Shane Spencer, David Justice and Glenallen Hill. All these guys had comparable power to Rodriguez and all but Hill were better than he was defensively. Since Rodriguez hit from the left side, the Yankee front office was thinking he’d be a better fourth outfielder option than the righty-swinging Hill. Whatever the rationale, the Yankees gave him a guaranteed two year deal worth $1.5 million. He then failed to make the Yankee roster in spring training and began the ’01 season in Columbus. He was called up in May and saw action in five games, going hitless in eight plate appearances. That June, the Yankees released Rodriguez explaining at the time that they needed to replace him with an outfielder who could play center. That turned out to be Darren Bragg. “Oh Henry ” took his 1.5 million Yankee dollars and ended up back in Montreal, where he appeared in the last 20 games of his big league career in 2002.

The only other former Yankee born on this date is this Hall of Famer who managed the Yankees to a World Championship.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2001 NYY 5 8 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 .000 .000 .000 .000
11 Yrs 950 3343 3031 389 784 176 9 160 523 10 276 803 .259 .321 .481 .802
LAD (4 yrs) 254 759 708 70 174 35 3 20 96 1 41 144 .246 .287 .388 .675
MON (4 yrs) 321 1189 1086 144 276 70 4 63 194 5 89 328 .254 .311 .500 .811
CHC (3 yrs) 334 1264 1121 165 305 65 2 75 223 4 132 302 .272 .348 .534 .882
NYY (1 yr) 5 8 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 .000 .000 .000 .000
FLA (1 yr) 36 123 108 10 29 6 0 2 10 0 14 23 .269 .358 .380 .737
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/7/2013.

November 7 – Happy Birthday Joe Niekro

The Yankee organization of the mid 1980′s had not yet completely given up home-growing their own pitchers. One of them, a quickly aging Ron Guidry was still their ace starter and another, Dave Righetti had become the master closer in the team’s bullpen. When the 1985 season opened, New York’s front office was still counting heavily on prospects like Bob Tewksbury and Doug Drabek. While they were waiting for those prospects to fully develop however, New York patched their starting rotation with veteran pitchers like Phil Niekro and Ed Whitson. The knuckle-balling Niekro had been a particularly successful pickup. He was a 16-game winner for the Yankees in both 1984 and ’85 and his final win of that ’85 season was also his 300th career victory.

It was the success his older sibling was enjoying in New York and the opportunity to continue pitching on the same team as him that had convinced Joe Niekro to sign a two-year deal to keep pitching in pinstripes. The Yankees had acquired the younger Niekro from Houston the previous September and he had won two of his three year-end decisions for New York. Though he had spent the first ten years of his career pitching deep in the shadow of his older brother, he had found his own groove with the Houston Astros in 1977. Not coincidentally, it was right around that same time that Joe decided to join Phil and begin using the knuckleball their Dad had taught them both as kids, as his primary pitch. For the next ten years he was one of the most effective starters in the National League. He won 20 games twice during that span and helped the Astros reach the franchise’s first two postseasons.

I can distinctly remember thinking (more accurately hoping) as the Yankee 1986 spring training camp opened, that the Niekro boys were going to make a big contribution to that year’s team. Instead, in what was a bitter disappointment for both brothers, Yankee skipper Lou Piniella waited till the very end of that exhibition season to inform Phil Niekro he was being released. New York had decided to go with the youngsters Tewksbury and Drabek in their season opening rotation, leaving Joe’s brother as the odd man out. A violently angry Joe Niekro demanded to be traded and when his request was not fulfilled, he spent the next-season-and-a-half pitching unhappily in pinstripes. He went 9-10 in 1986 and was 3-4 for New York, in June of 1987, when he was traded to the Twins for catcher Mark Salas.

Joe Niekro retired after the 1988 season with a lifetime record of 221 – 204. When added to Phil’s 318 career wins, the Niekro brothers’ combined victory total of 539 set the record for big-league siblings (10 more than the Perry brothers won.) Joe Niekro died of a brain aneurism at the age of 61 in 2006.

This former Yankee catcher and this one-time Yankee relief pitcher and YES game announcer share Niekro’s November 7th birthday.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1985 NYY 2 1 .667 5.84 3 3 0 0 0 0 12.1 14 8 8 3 8 4 1.784
1986 NYY 9 10 .474 4.87 25 25 0 0 0 0 125.2 139 84 68 15 63 59 1.607
1987 NYY 3 4 .429 3.55 8 8 0 1 0 0 50.2 40 25 20 4 19 30 1.164
22 Yrs 221 204 .520 3.59 702 500 93 107 29 16 3584.1 3466 1620 1431 276 1262 1747 1.319
HOU (11 yrs) 144 116 .554 3.22 397 301 41 82 21 9 2270.0 2052 934 811 139 818 1178 1.264
CHC (3 yrs) 24 18 .571 3.83 74 54 13 9 3 2 366.1 399 170 156 36 97 149 1.354
NYY (3 yrs) 14 15 .483 4.58 36 36 0 1 0 0 188.2 193 117 96 22 90 93 1.500
DET (3 yrs) 21 22 .488 4.17 87 56 11 7 2 2 382.1 419 189 177 44 129 168 1.433
MIN (2 yrs) 5 10 .333 6.67 24 20 2 0 0 0 108.0 131 89 80 13 54 61 1.713
ATL (2 yrs) 5 6 .455 3.76 47 2 20 0 0 3 67.0 59 30 28 7 29 43 1.313
SDP (1 yr) 8 17 .320 3.70 37 31 6 8 3 0 202.0 213 91 83 15 45 55 1.277
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/7/2013.