November 2013

November 27 – Happy Birthday Bill Short

ShortBorn in Kingston, NY and raised in nearby Newburgh, Bill Short was a five foot nine inch southpaw signed by the Yankees right out of high school in 1955. He spent the next five years climbing up the alphabetized ladder of New York’s farm system. At triple A Richmond in 1959, he became a genuine top prospect when he put together a 17-6 record, a 2.48 ERA and captured the league’s pitcher of the year honors.

By the time the Yankees 1960 spring training camp opened, Casey Stengel was ready for Short to prove he had good enough stuff to crack the parent club’s starting rotation. Short pitched well enough to make the team and after his first four regular season starts, he had a 2-1 record and despite an alarming number of bases on balls, a sparkling ERA of just 2.25. But he couldn’t keep it up.

Ironically as his walks went down his ERA went up and he lost his next three starts. He also lost his spot in both the rotation and on the Yankee roster, getting sent back down to the minors to try and get it back together. He spent the rest of his only Yankee season bouncing back and forth between Richmond and the Bronx and he was left off New York’s 1960 World Series roster.

Short then spent the entire 1961 season in Richmond and when the Yankees did not protect him, Baltimore claimed him in the Rule 5 Draft. He did get back to the big leagues, first with the Orioles and later with the Red Sox, Pirates, Mets and Reds, making his final big league appearance in 1969. Never a star at the top-level, Short won 120 games in the minors and is a member of the International League Hall of Fame.

He shares a birthday with this long-ago Yankee pitcher and this much more recent Yankee catcher.

Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1960 22 NYY AL 3 5 .375 4.79 10 10 0 2 0 0 47.0 49 25 25 5 30 14 1.681
6 Yrs 5 11 .313 4.73 73 16 16 3 1 2 131.1 130 75 69 8 64 71 1.477
BAL (2 yrs) 2 3 .400 4.10 11 6 1 1 1 0 41.2 42 22 19 2 16 30 1.392
NYM (1 yr) 0 3 .000 4.85 34 0 13 0 0 1 29.2 24 17 16 0 14 24 1.281
PIT (1 yr) 0 0 3.86 6 0 1 0 0 1 2.1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0.857
BOS (1 yr) 0 0 4.32 8 0 0 0 0 0 8.1 10 6 4 1 2 2 1.440
CIN (1 yr) 0 0 15.43 4 0 1 0 0 0 2.1 4 4 4 0 1 0 2.143
NYY (1 yr) 3 5 .375 4.79 10 10 0 2 0 0 47.0 49 25 25 5 30 14 1.681
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/26/2013.

November 26 – Happy Birthday Sam Militello

MilitelloBy 1992, even the most loyal and optimistic Yankee fans were wondering if our favorite baseball team would ever be winners again. George Steinbrenner had gotten himself suspended for life but not before he presided over the disembowelment of his ball club. The Stump Merrill era had just ended and somebody named Buck Showalter was now skippering the club.

Melido Perez was the ace of Buck’s pitching staff that year,which should tell you just how bad that staff was. It was clear to me that if the Yankees were ever going to be contenders again, the team had to find some special arms.

That’s why we all got pretty excited when today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant showed up in the Bronx during the dog days of August that year. A native of Tampa, Sam Militello was a tall fireballing right-hander  who had just won two consecutive pitcher of the year awards in the Yankee farm system. When he won his first three big league decisions the immediate reaction of Yankee Universe was not just joy but also “where the hell have they been hiding this kid and why?”

Unfortunately, Militello’s brilliance did not last. He lost his next three decisions and was then shelved for the remainder of the ’92 season with a tired arm. He bounced back with a strong spring training performance and the Yanks brought him north to start the ’93 season. After his first three regular season appearances however, his ERA was near seven and he couldn’t get the ball over the plate. The Yanks sent him down at the end of April. It was his inability to throw strikes and a series of arm injuries that prevented Militello from ever again throwing a pitch in the big leagues.

He shares his birthday with this Yankee Hall of Famer, this former starting pitcher and 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
1992 NYY 3 3 .500 3.45 9 9 0 0 0 0 60.0 43 24 23 6 32 42 1.250
1993 NYY 1 1 .500 6.75 3 2 0 0 0 0 9.1 10 8 7 1 7 5 1.821
2 Yrs 4 4 .500 3.89 12 11 0 0 0 0 69.1 53 32 30 7 39 47 1.327
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/25/2013.

November 25 – Happy Birthday Mark Whiten

MWhiten“Hard Hittin” Mark Whiten had his career year in 1993. On the final day of spring training that season, this then, 25-year-old, switch-hitting native of Pensacola, FL was traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Cardinals. He joined a starting outfield in St.Louis that included Bernard Gilkey and Ray Lankford and he led that team with 25 home runs and 99 RBIs. On September 7, 1993 he made baseball history by smashing 4 home runs and driving in 12 runs in a single game.

The Players Strike disrupted Whiten’s second season with the Cards and there would be no third. He was traded to Boston at the start of the ’95 season, which began an odyssey that would put the outfielder in six different big league uniforms over the next four years. The fifth of those uniforms was pinstriped. The Yankees signed Whiten as a free agent in January of 1997. In New York, he was reunited with Joe Torre, the same guy who managed him during his career year with the Cardinals.

Torre began the season by platooning Whiten and Darryl Strawberry in left field. Big Mark got off to a great start at the plate and was still hitting over .300 the first week of June. But when Strawberry went down with a bad knee, it would be Tim Raines who took over as the team’s starter in left. Whiten was left to battle Chad Curtis for the fourth outfielder’s slot and when Curtis won that battle, the Yanks released Whiten that August. He then signed on with Cleveland and appeared in his last big league game as an Indian in 2000.

Whiten shares his November 25th birthday with this former Yankee infielder, this recent Yankee outfielder and  this Hall-of-Fame Yankee center fielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1997 NYY 69 248 215 34 57 11 0 5 24 4 30 47 .265 .360 .386 .746
11 Yrs 940 3523 3104 465 804 129 20 105 423 78 378 712 .259 .341 .415 .756
CLE (5 yrs) 320 1167 1024 142 265 49 8 23 103 22 126 218 .259 .343 .390 .732
PHI (2 yrs) 120 461 394 71 100 18 1 18 58 20 64 125 .254 .361 .442 .802
STL (2 yrs) 244 1000 896 138 240 31 6 39 152 25 95 185 .268 .338 .446 .784
TOR (2 yrs) 79 260 237 24 57 5 4 4 26 2 18 49 .241 .292 .346 .638
ATL (1 yr) 36 107 90 12 23 5 1 3 17 2 16 25 .256 .364 .433 .798
BOS (1 yr) 32 117 108 13 20 3 0 1 10 1 8 23 .185 .239 .241 .480
NYY (1 yr) 69 248 215 34 57 11 0 5 24 4 30 47 .265 .360 .386 .746
SEA (1 yr) 40 163 140 31 42 7 0 12 33 2 21 40 .300 .399 .607 1.006
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/24/2013.