March 2013

March 23 – Happy Birthday George Scott

george.scottThe “Boomer” played in over 2000 games during a solid fourteen-year career as a power-hitting American League first baseman. He was an eight-time Gold Glove winner and a three-time AL All Star. Raised dirt poor in Mississippi, Scott was a three-sport star in high school, who chose a baseball career over college scholarship offers to play hoops and football because he didn’t want to wait another four years before he could begin helping his mother live a better life.

He made the big leagues with Boston in 1966 and one year later he was an integral part of the Miracle Sox team that captured the 1967 AL Pennant. Boston traded him to the Brewers after the 1971 season and Scott had his best year in the big leagues for Milwaukee in 1975 when he set  career highs with 36 home runs and 109 RBIs. After slumping the following season, he was traded back to Boston and he blasted 33 home runs in his 1977 return to Fenway. But he had a horrible year in ’78 and then started complaining that the Red Sox front office was mistreating him. In June of 1979, he was traded to the Royals. When he couldn’t get along with manager Whitey Herzog, Kansas City released him and the Yanks picked him up at the end of August. He told the press he had wanted to play for the Yankees’ his entire career and proceeded to average .318 during his brief 16-game tenure in pinstripes. He also hit his 271st and final big league home run while wearing the Yankee uniform. New York released him one month after the ’79 season ended and when no other big league team showed an interest in him, he finished his playing career in Mexico.

George was born on March 23, 1944. This Yankee pitching prospect  and this former Yankee backup catcher both share a March 23rd birthday with Boomer.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1979 NYY 16 47 44 9 14 3 1 1 6 1 2 7 .318 .340 .500 .840
14 Yrs 2034 8269 7433 957 1992 306 60 271 1051 69 699 1418 .268 .333 .435 .767
BOS (9 yrs) 1192 4740 4234 527 1088 158 38 154 562 27 418 850 .257 .326 .421 .747
MIL (5 yrs) 782 3320 3009 402 851 137 19 115 463 40 267 529 .283 .342 .456 .798
KCR (1 yr) 44 162 146 19 39 8 2 1 20 1 12 32 .267 .329 .370 .699
NYY (1 yr) 16 47 44 9 14 3 1 1 6 1 2 7 .318 .340 .500 .840
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/13/2014.

March 22 – Happy Birthday Scott Bradley

bradleyYou have to be a pretty passionate and long-time Yankee fan to remember today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant. Scott Bradley had been New York’s third round draft pick in the 1981 MLB amateur draft. After a decent cup-of-coffee trial with the parent club the previous fall, he showed up at the Yankees 1985 spring training camp with a duffel bag that included five different gloves. He had been a catcher during his days in the New York farm system but he was determined to prove to then Yankee manager Yogi Berra that he could also play first, third and the outfield. He knew that Yankee team already had two catchers, Butch Wynegar and Ron Hassey on its roster. As the Essex Falls, New Jersey native explained to a New York Times reporter who interviewed him during that exhibition season, “The best way for me to make this team is to play three or four different positions.”

Bradley’s strategy worked. Berra loved the kid’s attitude and he ended up winning the James P.Dawson Award as the outstanding rookie in that 1985 spring training camp. When Don Mattingly’s back problems forced him to start the ’85 season on the DL, it was an easy decision for Yogi to carry Bradley on the Yanks’ Opening Day roster.

The problem was that though Bradley could play several different positions, he was the Yankees third string choice at each of them. As a result, he saw action in only three games that April, before he was sent back down to the minors. Bradley reappeared in the Bronx that June, after Billy Martin had replaced Berra as Yankee manager and he made several appearances as a DH. But when his average dropped below .200 in early July, he was sent back down. He got one more opportunity in late July, when Wynegar went on the DL, but he again failed to generate any offense whatsoever.

Despite his .163 average, it appeared as if the Yanks were committing to using Bradley as their second string catcher in 1986, when they traded Hassey to the White Sox in December of ’85. But the New York front office had a change of heart and reacquired Hassey just three months later, sending Bradley to Chicago as part of the deal. He appeared in just 8 games as a White Sox before getting traded to the Mariners in July of 1986. It would be in Seattle where Bradley would become a big league starting catcher for the better part of six seasons.

He stopped playing in 1992 and became a minor league coach. In 1997, he accepted the head baseball coaching job at Princeton University, a position he continues to serve in today. Bradley shares his March 22nd birthday with this former Yankee outfielder, this former Yankee pitcher turned pitching instructor and this Yankee hurler who met a tragic death.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1984 NYY 9 22 21 3 6 1 0 0 2 0 1 1 .286 .318 .333 .652
1985 NYY 19 51 49 4 8 2 1 0 1 0 1 5 .163 .196 .245 .441
9 Yrs 604 1801 1648 149 424 75 6 18 184 3 104 110 .257 .302 .343 .645
SEA (7 yrs) 562 1698 1552 138 402 72 5 18 180 3 100 104 .259 .303 .347 .650
NYY (2 yrs) 28 73 70 7 14 3 1 0 3 0 2 6 .200 .233 .271 .504
CIN (1 yr) 5 6 5 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 .400 .500 .400 .900
CHW (1 yr) 9 24 21 3 6 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .286 .375 .286 .661
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/13/2014.

March 20 – Happy Birthday Joe McGinnity

McGinnity.jpgHe was the first pitcher in the history of the Yankee franchise to win 20 games in a season. He was also the first pitcher in the history of the Yankee franchise to lose 20 games in a season. His name was Joe McGinnity. He had worked in an iron foundry until he was 27-years-old and then started pitching in the minor leagues in 1898. Known as “The Iron Man” because of his pre-baseball career, McGinnity made his big league debut with the 1899 Baltimore Orioles, a team that was then a member of the National League and managed by John McGraw. Joe led the league with 28 wins in his rookie season, which also happened to be the last season the Orioles were part of the NL. In 1900, the ownership of that team merged their club with the Brooklyn franchise and McGinnity pitched the 1900 season for the Brooklyn Superbas. He again won 28 games and again led the NL in wins but his heart was evidently in Baltimore. In 1901, the new American League had formed and awarded a franchise to Baltimore. That team adopted the Orioles name and John McGraw was named their Manager. McGinnity jumped from Brooklyn to Baltimore and went 26-20 for the new AL franchise. The following year, the Orioles had a horrible season, finishing with a record of 50-88. McGinnity did OK himself, going 13-10, but the Orioles had the worst attendance of the eight teams in the league. That contributed to the League decision to move the team to New York in 1903 where they would play first as the Highlanders and eventually, the Yankees.

When Clark Griffith was named manager of the Highlanders, McGraw was out of a job. The Orioles released McGinnity and he signed with the New York Giants, finishing 8-8 in 1902. The following season, McGraw was hired as Manager of the Giants, where he was reunited with McGinnity and a young Giant pitcher named Christy Matthewson. Those three M’s would help turn the Giants into one of the most successful franchises in baseball. McGinnity and Matthewson both won 30 games in 1903 and McGraw’s team went from last place in the NL to second. In 1904, the pitching duo again each won 30 and the Giants captured the NL Pennant. McGinnity pitched in the Polo Grounds until 1908 and finished his big league career with a lifetime record of 246-142. He didn’t stop pitching though. He became a Minor Leaguer again and won 207 more games before he retired for good at the age of 54, in 1925. He was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1946.

Iron Man McGinnity shares his March 20th birthday with this one-time Yankee reliever.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1901 BLA 26 20 .565 3.56 48 43 4 39 1 1 382.0 412 219 151 7 96 75 1.330
1902 BLA 13 10 .565 3.44 25 23 2 19 0 0 198.2 219 100 76 3 46 39 1.334
10 Yrs 246 142 .634 2.66 465 381 73 314 32 24 3441.1 3276 1436 1016 52 812 1068 1.188
NYG (7 yrs) 151 88 .632 2.38 300 237 53 186 26 21 2151.1 1937 774 568 34 464 787 1.116
BLA (2 yrs) 39 30 .565 3.52 73 66 6 58 1 1 580.2 631 319 227 10 142 114 1.331
BLN (1 yr) 28 16 .636 2.68 48 41 7 38 4 2 366.1 358 164 109 3 93 74 1.231
BRO (1 yr) 28 8 .778 2.94 44 37 7 32 1 0 343.0 350 179 112 5 113 93 1.350
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/13/2014.

March 19 – Happy Birthday Clyde “Hack” Engle

engleLong before one-time Yankee Cesar Tovar became baseball’s multi-position man, the honor belonged to Clyde Engle. Engle was only an outfielder when the Dayton, Ohio native broke into the big leagues with the New York Highlanders in 1909. That was also long before the Knick’s Hall of Fame  guard made the name “Clyde” cool again, which explains why Engle was also well-known by his nickname, Hack.

The 25-year-old rookie had an excellent first season for New York, earning a starting berth in manager George Stallings’ outfield and leading the team in hits (137) doubles (20) and RBI’s (71). But those early Highlander rosters were like the diapers of a baby with diarrhea, they were being changed constantly. By the first month of Engle’s second big league season, the team had changed its entire starting outfield and the no-longer-needed Engle was sold to the Red Sox in early May of 1910.

It would be in Beantown where Hack would establish his reputation as one of baseball’s most versatile position players. The Red Sox played him in every position of the field except pitcher and catcher. It was his ability to field them all well that kept him on those very talented pre World War I era Red Sox teams for five and a half seasons, until he jumped to the rival Federal League in 1914.

His most famous moment came when he pinch hit for Boston during the tenth inning of the sixth and final game of the 1912 World Series. It was Engle’s fly ball, hit off of Giants’ legend Christy Matthewson that was dropped by New York outfielder Fred Snodgrass. Engle would eventually score the winning run and Snodgrass’s fielding lapse would be referred to with lament by the New York sports media for years after.

After a season and a half of play in the Federal League, Engle made one final and brief appearance in the big leagues with Cleveland before retiring as a player. He got into college coaching first as the head varsity guy for the University of Vermont and then as the freshman baseball coach at Yale. It was while serving in the latter position that he suffered a heart attack and died on the day after Christmas in 1939, at the age of 55.

He shares his birthday with another Yankee who died at an even younger age.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1909 NYY 135 563 492 66 137 20 5 3 71 18 47 55 .278 .347 .358 .705
1910 NYY 5 15 13 0 3 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 .231 .333 .231 .564
8 Yrs 836 3202 2822 373 748 101 39 12 318 128 271 294 .265 .335 .341 .676
BOS (5 yrs) 512 1921 1680 238 445 55 25 6 163 80 177 172 .265 .341 .338 .679
BUF (2 yrs) 173 675 611 68 159 26 9 3 83 29 45 61 .260 .315 .347 .662
NYY (2 yrs) 140 578 505 66 140 20 5 3 71 19 49 55 .277 .347 .354 .702
CLE (1 yr) 11 28 26 1 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 6 .154 .154 .154 .308
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/13/2014.

March 17 – Happy Birthday Tim Lollar

TimLollar.jpgThis tall southpaw is one of the few members of the New York Yankees to be born on St Pattie’s Day. Lollar had already appeared in 13 games out of the bullpen when Manager Dick Howser gave the then 24-year-old rookie his first and only pinstripe start against the Tigers in the very last game of the 1980 season. Lollar responded by pitching six innings of one-run ball and getting the victory. Then on the last day of the 1981 spring training season, Lollar was included in a package of players sent to the Padres for outfielder Jerry Mumphrey. After a bad 2-8 initial season in San Diego, Lollar broke out with a 16-9 record in 1982 and a 3.13 ERA. That turned out to be his one and only great season. He finished his big league career as a Red Sox in 1986 with a career record of 47-52. Lollar shares his St. Patrick’s Day birthday with this very troubled former Yankee reliever.

Lollar is the only Yankee and only big league ballplayer to have been born in Poplar Bluff, MO. Plenty of Yankees however, have been born in the “Show Me” state. Here’s my top six Pinstriped Missourians of all time:

Yogi Berra – St Louis (in Hall of Fame)
Casey Stengel – Kansas City (in Hall of Fame)
Mel Stottlemyre – Hazelton
Elston Howard – St Louis
Clete Boyer – Cassville
David Cone – Kansas City

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1980 NYY 1 0 1.000 3.34 14 1 5 0 0 2 32.1 33 14 12 3 20 13 1.639
7 Yrs 47 52 .475 4.27 199 131 20 9 4 4 906.0 841 459 430 93 480 600 1.458
SDP (4 yrs) 36 42 .462 4.07 119 106 4 8 4 1 680.2 617 325 308 64 328 454 1.388
BOS (2 yrs) 7 5 .583 5.48 48 11 8 1 0 1 110.0 108 72 67 16 74 72 1.655
NYY (1 yr) 1 0 1.000 3.34 14 1 5 0 0 2 32.1 33 14 12 3 20 13 1.639
CHW (1 yr) 3 5 .375 4.66 18 13 3 0 0 0 83.0 83 48 43 10 58 61 1.699
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/9/2014.