November 2013

November 20 – Happy Birthday Rugger Ardizoia

ardizoiaOnly seven Major League Baseball players have been born in Italy and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant is the only former Yankee on that list. Of course, Rinaldo “Rugger” Ardizoia did not get much of a chance to wear his pinstriped uniform. The right-handed pitcher’s entire Bronx Bomber and big league career consisted of just a single two-inning appearance against the Browns, on April 30, 1947.

The Yanks were getting pasted at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis that afternoon and were already behind 13-4, when Manager Bucky Harris inserted this native of Oleggio, Italy into the game to start the seventh inning. He surrendered four hits and two runs in his two innings of work. Though New York would rebound to win the 1947 AL Pennant and World Series, the team struggled early in the season and after going 2-4 on that late April road trip, Harris reacted by shaking up the Yankee batting order and releasing two pitchers, one of whom was Ardizoia.

He had originally been signed by New York in 1941 and after two seasons in their farm system, he did three years of military service during WWII. He kept pitching in the Pacific Coast League after being released, until1950. Born on November 20, 1919, he turns 94 today, making him the oldest living ex-Yankee.

He shares his birthday with this long-ago Yankee pitcher and manager and this flaky former Yankee outfielder.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1947 NYY 0 0 9.00 1 0 1 0 0 0 2.0 4 2 2 1 1 0 2.500
1 Yr 0 0 9.00 1 0 1 0 0 0 2.0 4 2 2 1 1 0 2.500
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/20/2013.

November 19 – Happy Birthday Joe Glenn

GlennJoe Glenn took the Yankees second string catcher’s job away from longtime Bill Dickey understudy, Arndt Jorgens in 1937, by being much more aggressive than his Norwegian-born predecessor both behind and at the plate. Though the Dickson City, PA native had little power, he was a tough bird who was known for not backing down from any pitcher or opposing base runner.

His Yankee career started with two brief call-ups from the minors in 1932 and 33. He was then called up to stay in 1935 and gave Manager Joe McCarthy three solid seasons as Dickey’s backup. He was also Lou Gehrig’s frequent roommate on Yankee road trips and he holds the unusual distinction of catching the last games pitched by both Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.

After their 1938 World Series victory, New York traded Glenn and outfielder Myril Hoag to the Browns for pitcher Oral Hildebrand and outfielder Buster Mills. Nicknamed Gabby, Glenn spent a year with the Browns and one final big league season with the Red Sox in 1940, before becoming a minor league manager in the Cubs organization.

He shares his birthday with this long-ago Yankee shortstop.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1932 NYY 6 18 16 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 .125 .222 .125 .347
1933 NYY 5 21 21 1 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 .143 .143 .143 .286
1935 NYY 17 49 43 7 10 4 0 0 6 0 4 1 .233 .298 .326 .623
1936 NYY 44 150 129 21 35 7 0 1 20 1 20 10 .271 .373 .349 .722
1937 NYY 25 64 53 6 15 2 2 0 4 0 10 11 .283 .397 .396 .793
1938 NYY 41 133 123 10 32 7 2 0 25 1 10 14 .260 .316 .350 .665
8 Yrs 248 808 718 77 181 34 5 5 89 6 81 91 .252 .330 .334 .664
NYY (6 yrs) 138 435 385 45 97 20 4 1 56 2 45 44 .252 .333 .332 .666
BOS (1 yr) 22 53 47 3 6 1 0 0 4 0 5 7 .128 .212 .149 .360
SLB (1 yr) 88 320 286 29 78 13 1 4 29 4 31 40 .273 .344 .367 .711
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/19/2013.

November 18 – Happy Birthday Clay Bellinger

bellingerClay Bellinger was an all-around utility man for the Yankees from the time he was first called up to the Bronx in April of 1999 until he was released by New York right after the 2001 postseason. During those three years, he played every position on the field for manager Joe Torre, except catcher and pitcher, but he hit just .194 in the 311 at bats he got while doing so.

Born in Oneonta, NY on November 18, 1968, this six feet three inch right-handed hitter played his collegiate baseball for Rollins College in Winter Park, Fl. He was good enough to get selected in the second round of the 1989 MLB amateur draft by San Francisco. He spent the next decade playing his way upwards in the farm systems of three different big league organizations. He was a decent fielder at every position but third base and his career highlight play as a Yankee was appropriately one he made with his glove and not his bat.

Inserted as a late-inning defensive replacement for David Justice in Game 2 of the 2000 World Series, Bellinger leapt in front of Yankee Stadium’s left field wall to rob the Mets’ Todd Zeile of a go-ahead two-run home run in the ninth inning of a 6-5 Yankee victory. He then took his two Yankee World Series rings and signed with the Angels in 2002 but couldn’t stay on their big league roster. He later became a pitching teacher at a Queens, NY baseball school and coached his son Cody in the 2007 Little League World Series.

Patterson shares his birthday with this former Yankee outfielder and this former Yankee relief pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1999 NYY 32 46 45 12 9 2 0 1 2 1 1 10 .200 .217 .311 .529
2000 NYY 98 209 184 33 38 8 2 6 21 5 17 48 .207 .288 .370 .658
2001 NYY 51 88 81 12 13 1 1 5 12 1 4 23 .160 .207 .383 .590
4 Yrs 183 344 311 57 60 11 3 12 35 7 22 82 .193 .257 .363 .621
NYY (3 yrs) 181 343 310 57 60 11 3 12 35 7 22 81 .194 .258 .365 .623
ANA (1 yr) 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/18/2013.

November 17 – Happy Birthday Tom Seaver

seaverOriginally the very first genuine “Amazin” Met, today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant almost single-handedly turned Shea Stadium’s tenants from a running joke into a bonafide professional baseball team. Then, beginning in 1975, Met President M. Donald Grant committed three of the dumbest mistakes in Major League front office history.

First he enraged Tom Seaver by penny pinching him during the Mets last pre-free-agent era negotiation with their Ace in 1975. Then when baseball’s age of free agency began the following year, Grant refused to go after any of the newly available superstars who could have rejuvenated a Mets’ roster that had grown very mediocre.

Grants final error, the biggest of them all, was trading Seaver to the Reds in the first half of the 1977 regular season for four pretty  ordinary big league players. Seaver would go on to win 20 games that year and the NL Cy Young Award. He would continue to pitch for another decade and on August 4, 1985, while pitching for the White Sox against the Yankees on Phil Rizzuto Day at Yankee Stadium, Tom Terrific won his 300th big league game.

The Yankee crowd that day adored Seaver and Yankee boss George Steinbrenner noticed. He would spend the next year trying to put the future Hall of Famer in pinstripes but could never quite reach an agreement with Chicago. At first, the Boss refused to give up any of his young stud pitchers for the aging right-hander and then it was Chicago GM Ken Harrelson’s turn to balk when Steinbrenner offered him disgruntled Yankee DH Don Baylor for Seaver.

So Seaver went to the Red Sox instead and finished his playing career in Beantown with a 5-7 record during the 1986 season. Two years later, Steinbrenner finally brought the Fresno, California native to Yankee Stadium as Phil Rizzuto’s broadcasting partner. He and the former Yankee shortstop remained a pair for the next five seasons and Yankee fans who were around to witness how extremely well these two Big Apple baseball legends got along in the booth, loved them.

In 1990, just as Steinbrenner was about to begin serving his “Howie Spira induced” lifetime ban from the game, the Boss was considering removing Seaver from the booth and making him the Yankees’ GM. That never happened. Seaver now spends his days overseeing his California vineyards. He turns 69 years old today and shares a birthday with this former Yankee reliever and this long-ago Yankee skipper.

November 16 – Happy Birthday Dwight Gooden

For those first initial glorious years of “Doc’s” career, he was the best pitcher in all of baseball. He won the Rookie of the Year award his first season with the Mets, the Cy Young Award his second, and a World Championship in his third. He won 24 games, led the National League in strikeouts and ERA, and threw eight shutouts when he was just 20 years of age. Unfortunately for Gooden and the Mets, he couldn’t handle his immense success. He gave it all up for cocaine.

George Steinbrenner made Doc a Yankee in 1996 and Gooden responded with 11 wins and that glorious no-hitter against Seattle. But the Gooden-pitched Yankee game I’ll remember most is the fourth game of the 1997 ALDS against Cleveland. Even though New York was leading that series two games to one at the time, the Indians had hit both a hurting David Cone and a healthy Andy Pettitte hard in earlier games. Doc was Torre’s surprise choice to start the next game at Jacobs Field. When he took the mound, it had been ten days since he last pitched and Gooden probably surmised that New York was not going to re-sign him for ’98.  He had gone a lackluster 9-7 that regular season and Yankee fans like me would not have been surprised if the hard-hitting Indians got to him early. Instead, Gooden was masterful for about as long as he could be. The only blemish had been a David Justice home run and when Torre came to the mound to take him out of the game with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees were leading 2-1.

Of course, New York went on to lose that game and that series but Doc had certainly impressed the heck out of me. He must have impressed the Indians quite a bit as well because less than two months later, Cleveland signed him to a two year deal for over $5.5 million. It seemed Gooden had conquered his demons at last, but of course we have found out since that he had not. What could have been.

Today is also my beautiful wife Rosemary’s birthday and my lovely sister-in-law Maria’s birthday too. Happy with love birthday ladies.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1996 NYY 11 7 .611 5.01 29 29 0 1 1 0 170.2 169 101 95 19 88 126 1.506
1997 NYY 9 5 .643 4.91 20 19 0 0 0 0 106.1 116 61 58 14 53 66 1.589
2000 NYY 4 2 .667 3.36 18 5 3 0 0 2 64.1 66 28 24 8 21 31 1.352
16 Yrs 194 112 .634 3.51 430 410 4 68 24 3 2800.2 2564 1198 1091 210 954 2293 1.256
NYM (11 yrs) 157 85 .649 3.10 305 303 1 67 23 1 2169.2 1898 823 747 123 651 1875 1.175
NYY (3 yrs) 24 14 .632 4.67 67 53 3 1 1 2 341.1 351 190 177 41 162 223 1.503
CLE (2 yrs) 11 10 .524 4.92 49 45 0 0 0 0 249.0 262 149 136 31 118 171 1.526
TBD (1 yr) 2 3 .400 6.63 8 8 0 0 0 0 36.2 47 32 27 14 20 23 1.827
HOU (1 yr) 0 0 9.00 1 1 0 0 0 0 4.0 6 4 4 1 3 1 2.250
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/18/2013.