December 10 – Happy Birthday Paul Assenmacher
By July of the 1993 season, the Yankee bullpen had the highest earned run average in the American League. Closer Steve Farr was in the final year of his three-year Yankee contract and his ERA had skyrocketed to over four. There wasn’t a middle reliever or set-up guy who was doing much better. Steve Howe and Paul Gibson, the team’s two left-handed relievers, couldn’t seem to get anyone out. That’s why the Yankees felt it was imperative to acquire southpaw Paul Assenmacher from the Chicago Cubs at the All Star break. The Detroit native had spent his first seven-and-a-half big league seasons pitching out of the NL bullpens of the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs, compiling a 39-30 record with 41 saves and a 3.41 ERA. He was also a workhorse, having pitched in more than 70 games in each of his three previous seasons.
Second year Yankee manager, Buck Showalter put his new bullpen acquisition to work immediately and the results were not instantly encouraging. Assenmacher blew a save opportunity in his first pinstriped appearance. But than he got hot. In his next 12 games he gave up just one run while winning both of his decisions and being credited with five holds. He got lit up pretty good in his first appearance in September versus the White Sox but pitched well from there on out. He finished his half year as a Yankee with a 2-2 record and an ERA of 3.12. I thought those numbers were good enough to earn him a spot on New York’s 1994 roster but he was instead traded to the White Sox for right-hander Brian Boehringer about two weeks before the new season started. The Yanks would have done better keeping Assenmacher. During the next four years he went 11-6 with two saves and an ERA in the low threes while Boehringer was going 5-9 with no saves for New York.
Big Paul would continue pitching until 1999, retiring with a 61-44 record, 56 saves and a lifetime ERA of 3.53. No pitcher in baseball appeared in more than the 644 games Assemacher pitched in during the 1990s. He later became a baseball coach at a Catholic High School in Atlanta. He shares his birthday with this former Yankee outfielder and this one-time Yankee backup receiver.