December 21st, 2013

December 21 – Happy Birthday LaTroy Hawkins

ce118First impressions mean a lot in any field of work and probably even more so for baseball players. LaTroy Hawkins’ brief Yankee career got off to a bad start, even before he threw his first regular season pitch in pinstripes. It was the third game of the season and New York was trailing the Blue Jays, 3-0 when Joe Girardi waved in Hawkins to replace Mike Mussina with two outs and runners on first and second in the top of the sixth inning. As Hawkins emerged from the Yankee bullpen the boos began in the Stadium’s bleacher section. It wasn’t anything the huge right-hander had done that was causing the catcalls. It was what he was wearing.

Hawkins had worn uniform number 32 since he had made his big league debut as a 22-year-old starting pitcher with the Minnesota Twins, way back in 1993. That number wasn’t available when he came to the Yankees because it had been retired in honor of Elston Howard. Pirate Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente had always been the Hawkins’ baseball hero so the Gary,Indiana native chose uniform number 21 instead. The problem with that choice was that it had been the uniform number of Yankee fan favorite Paul O’Neill and even though the team had not retired it, Yankee fans, led by the highly emotional bleacher bums, let Hawkins know they didn’t appreciate any one else wearing 21. He then switched jerseys, to number 22.

The truth is, however,that Hawkins could have been wearing number 80 on his back and he still would have been hearing boos in Yankee Stadium. That’s because after his first ten appearances that year, his ERA was over ten, as the Yanks struggled to play .500 baseball during the first month of Girardi’s first season at the helm.

The shaky start resulted in Girardi losing some trust in Hawkins and calling on him less.The lighter workload seemed to help him pitch more effectively.For the next three months, with the exception of a couple of bad appearances, he gave the Yanks some solid innings and lowered his ERA by five runs in the process. But that didn’t prevent him getting traded to the Astros before the ’08 trading deadline.

He then had perhaps the best half season of his career with the Astros. In 24 appearances with Houston that year, he gave up just one earned run resulting in a microscopic ERA of just 0.42. And this guy is still pitching! In 2013, at the age of 40, he was one of the Mets’ best relief pitchers, appearing in 72 games and posting an ERA of 2.93. That effort got him a one-year $2.25 million deal to pitch for the Rockies in 2014. It will be Hawkins’ 20th big league season.

Hawkins shares his birthday with  this former home run hitter, this former Yankee infielder and a former Yankee outfielder.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2008 NYY 1 1 .500 5.71 33 0 11 0 0 0 41.0 42 26 26 3 17 23 1.439
19 Yrs 68 90 .430 4.37 943 98 309 2 0 101 1374.1 1511 724 668 156 436 917 1.417
MIN (9 yrs) 44 57 .436 5.05 366 98 117 2 0 44 818.0 956 497 459 105 290 532 1.523
CHC (2 yrs) 6 8 .429 2.76 98 0 62 0 0 29 101.0 90 36 31 14 21 82 1.099
HOU (2 yrs) 3 4 .429 1.71 89 0 38 0 0 12 84.1 71 19 16 7 21 70 1.091
MIL (2 yrs) 3 4 .429 3.92 70 0 15 0 0 0 64.1 71 30 28 3 16 46 1.352
NYM (1 yr) 3 2 .600 2.93 72 0 28 0 0 13 70.2 71 27 23 6 10 55 1.146
COL (1 yr) 2 5 .286 3.42 62 0 10 0 0 0 55.1 52 21 21 6 16 29 1.229
SFG (1 yr) 1 4 .200 4.10 45 0 9 0 0 2 37.1 40 18 17 3 17 30 1.527
LAA (1 yr) 2 3 .400 3.64 48 0 7 0 0 1 42.0 45 20 17 5 13 23 1.381
NYY (1 yr) 1 1 .500 5.71 33 0 11 0 0 0 41.0 42 26 26 3 17 23 1.439
BAL (1 yr) 3 2 .600 4.48 60 0 12 0 0 0 60.1 73 30 30 4 15 27 1.459
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/21/2013.