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.