September 17 – Happy Birthday Al Gettel
It took Al Gettel ten years to climb the rungs of the Yankees’ farm system ladder and make it to the Bronx. A big, good-looking farm boy from Kempsville, Virginia, he had been signed by New York in 1936, out of high school. That was right about the time Joe McCarthy had put together an outstanding Yankee pitching staff that would end up leading the Bronx Bombers to four straight World Championships. That great pitching at the big league level created a bottleneck for the organization’s good pitchers in the minors and Gettel found himself right in the middle of it.
He finally got called up in 1945 and McCarthy used him regularly as both a starter and reliever. He went 9-8 in his rookie season with 3 saves and a 3.90 ERA. He actually pitched better in his sophomore season for New York, lowering his ERA below three and hurling his first two big league shutouts. That was the same year the Yankees were sold to the triumvirate of Dan Topping, Del Webb and the unpredictable Lee MacPhail. McCarthy hated MacPhail and quit as Yankee skipper. Anxious to put his personal stamp on his new team, MacPhail was eager to make trades and Gettel’s lackluster 6-7 record in the just completed 1946 season had put a target on the pitcher’s back. A few weeks before Christmas that year, MacPhail completed a five player transaction that sent Gettel to Cleveland.
The six-foot-three-inch, two-hundred-pound right-hander then had the best season of his Major League career, going 11-10 for the Tribe in ’47 with a 3.20 ERA and two more shutouts. After a horrible start the following season, he was traded to the White Sox but did little to distinguish himself during the balance of his days in the big leagues.
He did, however become a star in the Pacific Coast League, where he continied to pitch until 1956. He also became a movie actor, scoring several minor roles in Hollywood westerns, thanks to his good looks and ability to ride a horse. It was during his movie days as a cowboy that he picked up the nickname of “Two Gun.” Gettel also made headlines in 2001 when he told a Wall Street Journal reporter that the 1951 New York Giants had concocted an elaborate scheme to steal the pitching signs of opposing teams. He had pitched out of the bullpen for that Giant team until he had been sold to the Oakland Oaks in the PCL in July of that ’51 season. Gettel lived until 2005, passing away at the age of 87.
|CLE (2 yrs)||11||11||.500||3.91||36||23||6||9||2||0||156.2||137||69||68||14||72||68||1.334|
|NYY (2 yrs)||15||15||.500||3.53||53||28||15||14||2||3||257.2||230||110||101||17||93||121||1.254|
|CHW (2 yrs)||10||15||.400||4.73||41||26||8||8||1||2||211.0||223||124||111||19||86||71||1.464|
|WSH (1 yr)||0||2||.000||5.45||16||1||8||0||0||1||34.2||43||24||21||4||24||7||1.933|
|NYG (1 yr)||1||2||.333||4.87||30||1||11||0||0||0||57.1||52||37||31||12||25||36||1.343|
|STL (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||9.00||8||0||4||0||0||0||17.0||26||18||17||6||10||7||2.118|