January 6 – Happy Birthday Tom Ferrick
In 1950, long before the two Major Leagues expanded to their current day six-division, thirty-team format, there were only 16 ball clubs competing for just two postseason berths. In the AL that season, the Yankees found themselves in a tight race for that year’s flag with Detroit, Boston and Cleveland. By mid-June it was Detroit who stood in first place with a game and a half lead over the Bronx Bombers. Casey Stengel had one of baseball’s best starting rotations that year but New York’s bullpen had fallen into disarray as both closer Joe Page and Fred Sanford, the team’s best right-handed reliever were experiencing mediocre seasons.
In an effort to shore up the team’s relief corps, GM George Weiss acquired two pitchers from the St. Louis Browns. One of them was a left hander named Joe Ostrowski who would not contribute much during his first half-season in pinstripes but would pitch very well out of Stengel’s bullpen in 1951. The second reliever Weiss got from the Browns was a 35-year-old veteran named Tom Ferrick. This native New Yorker had made his big league debut with the Philadelphia A’s in 1941. His career was interrupted by military service in WWII and since his return from that service, he’d pretty much been living out of his suitcase. The Yankees were to be his fifth different team in five years.
Ferrick’s pinstriped career began with two scoreless appearances but in his next three, he was hit hard and often. He then pitched four innings against the Senators in a July 4th contest and got the save. That began a hot streak for Ferrick that would last two solid months during which he would win seven straight decisions and save seven more. By the end of August, the Yankees had grabbed a two game lead over the second place Tigers. They would go on to win their second straight pennant and successfully defend their World Championship. Tom Ferrick played a huge role in both. He won eight games during his first half-season as a Yankee and saved nine more. He was also the winning pitcher in Game 3 of New York’s four–game sweep of the Phillies in the 1950 World Series.
Though he would only pitch in eight games for the Yanks the following year, Ferrick would play a valuable role in the team’s third straight pennant and third consecutive world championship. That’s because the Yankees used him in a trade with Washington that brought reliever Bob Kuzava to New York. Kuzava would go on to duplicate the eight second half victories Ferrick gave the Yankees a year earlier and then save the sixth and final game of the 1951 World Series.