What a birthday present today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant gave himself, his teammates and Yankee fans last evening at the Stadium. David Huff turns 29-years-old today and last night Joe Girardi called on him to relieve spot starter Adam Warren in the fourth inning of New York’s game against Toronto. All he did was huff and puff and close the Blue Jays offense down for five innings allowing the Yankee offense to rally and win the game. I got to admit, I wondered why New York put this left-handed reliever on their roster earlier this month and even wondered why Girardi went to him in that game last night, but I’m not wondering any more.
Originally a first round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2006, Huff went 11-9 during his 2009 rookie season with the Tribe but his ERA that year was too high at 5.61. It got even higher in his sophomore year, climbing to 6.21 and this time he paid for it with an abysmal 2-11 record. Cleveland kept him around in their organization for three more years, before giving up on the native of San Diego and placing him on waivers earlier this season.
The Yankees grabbed him and sent him to their triple A team in Scranton/Wilkes Barre. He didn’t pitch very well there, going 1-6 with an ERA just under four so no one was probably more surprised than Huff himself when he was told he was headed to the Bronx.. In fact, that conversation never would have taken place if Dellin Betances, one of the original Killer B’s, who was called just before Huff had not been abused in his only appearance against the Angels. When the Yanks sent Betances back down they replaced him with Huff,
Truth is that its way too early to tell if Huff can stick in the Yankee bullpen for the rest of this season, but if he can put together a few more outings like the one he had last night against the Jays, he won’t be going anywhere for at least a while. Huff shares his birthday with this former Yankee catcher and this former starting pitcher.
|CLE (5 yrs)||18||26||.409||5.40||58||52||2||1||0||0||288.1||352||197||173||41||98||162||1.561|
|NYY (1 yr)||0||0||6.75||2||0||2||0||0||0||1.1||1||1||1||0||2||1||2.250|
He was the guy who signed Elston Howard, Hank Bauer, Gil Hodges, Clete Boyer, Ralph Terry, and Bobby Murcer to their first professional contracts. Those signings alone represented a solid career for any MLB scout, but he’s also the guy who convinced the Dodgers to sign Jackie Robinson and made Mickey Mantle a Yankee and for good measure, convinced Yankee GM George Weiss to trade for an outfielder named Roger Maris. That’s why there are quite a few very astute baseball people who feel today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. They’d get no argument from me.
Tom Greenwade was born in Willard, Missouri on August 21, 1904 and lived there all his life. From that base, he would get into his late model Cadillac and search the baseball diamonds of midwestern America for young baseball players who could run fast, had good arms and hit baseballs hard. He had been a pretty good minor league pitcher himself until a serious bout of typhoid fever destroyed that dream. When he managed his local American Legion team to a Missouri State championship in 1937, he got noticed by the front office of the old St. Louis Browns and was offered a scouting job with that organization. He jumped at the opportunity and a couple of years later accepted an offer to scout for the Dodgers and work for” the Mahatma,” Branch Rickey. Though Clyde Sukeforth often mistakenly gets the credit for doing so, it was Greenwade who got the assignment to scout Jackie Robinson and urged Rickey to make him the chosen one.
When the Yankees came calling and offered him a job, the loyal scout discussed it with Rickey before accepting it. The Dodgers were paying Greenwade $3,000 per year at the time and the Yanks were offering $11,000. Rickey knew he didn’t have the bucks to compete with the behemoths in the Bronx and told Greenwade he’d be crazy not to make the move.
Though he was very good at what he did, Greenwade was far from perfect. When he first saw Mantle play as a teenager he failed to realize the kid was a switch-hitter. After realizing his mistake, he moved quickly to seal the deal with the Commerce Comet. Since the rules prevented teams from negotiating with players still in high school, Greenwade drove to Mantle’s house hours before the evening graduation ceremony was to take place and convinced his parents to let Mickey skip the event and play in his semi pro team’s scheduled game instead. Once that game was over, Greenwade got Mantle and his dad Mutt into his car and negotiated the contract that would keep the Yankee Dynasty going for another fifteen years.
Greenwade quit scouting in 1964 and returned to Willard where he lived the retirement life until he passed in 1986 at the age of 81. Greenwade shares his birthday with this former Yankee closer and this former first baseman.
There were no “Joba Rules” when today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant made his big league debut as an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher for the 1914 Cincinnati Reds. The team he joined at such a young age was horrible, finishing dead last in the National League, with a 60-94 record. Though Pete Schneider could only manage a 5-13 record that season, his 2.81 rookie year ERA was a better indicator of just how talented and advanced this Los Angeles native was on a pitching mound. During the next three seasons, he averaged close to 300 innings pitched per year and achieved an overall ERA of 2,40. Unfortunately, the Cincinnati offense provided him with pretty tepid run support and Schneider lost 19 games in each of those three seasons.
But he had also been able to win 20 games in 1917, after future Hall of Fame hurler Christy Matthewson had taken over as Reds’ skipper and Schneider’s future was looking much brighter. But those 300 innings pitched per year had taken a toll on the kid’s right arm and he went just 10-15 with a 3.83 ERA during the 1918 regular season. Yankee skipper, Miller Huggins was obviously hoping a change of scenery would revive Schneider when he had his Yankee front office purchase the pitcher’s contract from the Reds. Determined to pitch his sore arm back into shape, Schneider decided to pitch winter ball that offseason. It was a fateful decision. In his first winter ball start he blew out his arm. He would end up appearing in just seven games in pinstripes in 1919 and then would never again play in another big league game.
Instead he and his lame arm returned to his native California, where he decided to convert himself into a full-time outfielder. He actually did pretty darn good with that effort. During his first four years as a Pacific Coast League position player he hit in the mid .330′s and he averaged 16 home runs per season. On May 11, 1923 he gained national attention by putting on one of the greatest offensive performances in the history of professional baseball. In a game against the Salt Lake City Bees, Schneider belted five home runs and a double and drove in 14 runs. He continued playing minor league ball until 1928. Unfortunately, his life after baseball took a tragic turn. In 1935, he got into a bar fight, allegedly defending his wife’s honor and killed a guy. He was found guilty of manslaughter and served prison time in San Quentin, where he would become manager of the famed penal institution’s baseball team. He died in 1957 at the age of 61.
|CIN (5 yrs)||59||85||.410||2.65||200||153||35||84||10||4||1245.0||1180||527||366||15||476||476||1.330|
|NYY (1 yr)||0||1||.000||3.41||7||4||1||0||0||0||29.0||19||14||11||1||22||11||1.414|