December 2013

December 28 – Happy Birthday Aurelio Rodriguez

The first A-Rod to play third base for the New York Yankees was born in Cananea, Mexico, in 1947. His 79 games in pinstripes during the 1980 and ’81 seasons, however, were just a blip in this defensive wizard’s seventeen-year big league career. Most of those years were spent playing the hot corner in the uniform of the Detroit Tigers. Lifetime, he was just a .236 hitter but he earned his paycheck with his remarkable glove and accurate arm. He won just one Gold Glove in 1976 but should have won a few more. Back then, American League managers and coaches were enamored with the much more celebrated Brooks Robinson at Gold Glove voting time. A-Rod hit .389 during the Yankee’s 1981 postseason run and was traded to the Blue Jays two months later.

He left the big leagues after the 1983 season and returned to play several more productive years in his native Mexico. He was treated as a National hero in his home country and after he was tragically struck and killed by an out-of-control driver while walking on a sidewalk during a visit to Detroit in September of 2000, thousands of Mexicans attended his funeral.

Rodriguez shares his birthday with this infielder, who signed a free agent contract with the Yankees but didn’t make their big league roster.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1980 NYY 52 182 164 14 36 6 1 3 14 0 7 35 .220 .251 .323 .575
1981 NYY 27 55 52 4 18 2 0 2 8 0 2 10 .346 .370 .500 .870
17 Yrs 2017 7085 6611 612 1570 287 46 124 648 35 324 943 .237 .275 .351 .626
DET (9 yrs) 1241 4649 4352 417 1040 193 31 85 423 13 207 589 .239 .274 .356 .631
CAL (4 yrs) 281 1051 977 81 232 32 6 9 80 6 54 151 .237 .278 .310 .588
NYY (2 yrs) 79 237 216 18 54 8 1 5 22 0 9 45 .250 .280 .366 .646
CHW (2 yrs) 140 298 277 25 66 16 1 4 32 0 11 38 .238 .270 .347 .616
WSA (1 yr) 142 596 547 64 135 31 5 19 76 15 37 81 .247 .300 .426 .726
SDP (1 yr) 89 183 175 7 35 7 2 2 13 1 6 26 .200 .227 .297 .524
BAL (1 yr) 45 71 67 0 8 0 0 0 2 0 0 13 .119 .130 .119 .250
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2013.

December 27 – Happy Birthday Herb Karpel

karpelNormally, a player with as few appearances as Herb Karpel had with the New York Yankees would not be featured on the Pinstripe Birthday Blog. You’re reading about him now only because he happened to have one of the greatest seasons of any pitcher in the history of the Amsterdam, Rugmakers. The Rugmakers were the Yankees’ old Class C affiliate in the Canadian-American League and I happen to have been born in Amsterdam, NY, which of course was the hometown of the Rugmaker team, from 1938 until the CanAm League was shut down after the 1951 season.

Karpel, a southpaw who was born in Brooklyn, NY and signed by the Yankees in 1937, spent the 1939 season with Amsterdam. He went 19-9 that year leading Amsterdam to the regular season pennant. During the next three seasons he climbed the rungs of New York’s farm system ladder, achieving double-digit victory totals at every stop. That’s when the US Army came calling. Karpel spent the next three years serving his country and when he was discharged in 1946, he was invited to New York’s spring training camp and pitched well enough to make the Opening Day roster.

He made his Yankee debut at the Stadium on April 19, 1946, in the eighth inning of the team’s home opener versus the Senators. He retired the only hitter he faced. New York skipper, Joe McCarthy threw him right back into the fire the next day, again against Washington, but this time with the Yankees trailing the Senators by a run. Karpel got hammered, surrendering four hits and two runs in his one-and-a-third innings of work. That turned out to be the last inning and a third he would ever pitch as a Yankee and as a big leaguer. McCarthy sent him to New York’s Triple A affiliate in Newark and Karpel went 14-6 for the Bears during the rest of that ’46 season.

He would keep pitching in the minors until 1951 before finally retiring. His footnote in Yankee history is that he was the last Yankee player to wear uniform number 37 before Casey Stengel put it on his back and made it famous.

He shares his December 27th birthday with this former Yankee postseason herothis great Yankee switch-hitter and this recent Yankee reliever.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1946 NYY 0 0 10.80 2 0 0 0 0 0 1.2 4 2 2 0 0 0 2.400
1 Yr 0 0 10.80 2 0 0 0 0 0 1.2 4 2 2 0 0 0 2.400
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/27/2013.

December 26 – Happy Birthday Dustin Moseley

dustin-moseleyWhile the Yankees had a marvelous season in 2009, winning their 27th World Championship, it was a lost year for Dustin Moseley. The right-handed pitcher from Texarkana, Texas strained his right forearm at the beginning of that year and just as he recovered from that injury he found out he needed surgery on his hip, which ended his season. His contract with the Angels was up that same season, so you know he had to be thrilled when the Yankees offered him a contract that winter.

Moseley had his agent include a clause that made him a free agent again if he wasn’t on New York’s 25-man roster by July 1. Getting him there by that date proved to be an easy decision because the defending champions’ bullpen was a complete mess that season. Both Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson were pitching poorly, Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin were worse and Alfredo Aceves was on the DL.

So when Moseley made his pinstriped debut as a reliever against Toronto on July 3rd of that season and held the Jays hitless in his two-inning stint, Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, his Yankee teammates and plenty of Yankee fans were all simultaneously hoping it was a sign of good things to come. It actually wasn’t. After three more relief stints his ERA was over four. By then however, the Yankee starting pitching situation had fallen upon rough times and Girardi actually inserted Moseley into the rotation.

The 29-year-old stepped up, winning four of his first six decisions as a starter. Even though he lost his last two starts that year, his strong two inning relief stint in Game 1 of the 2010 ALCS against Texas earned him the win and probably was the reason the Yanks tried to re-sign him again following that postseason.Moseley instead decided to take his game to San Diego’s more pitcher-friendly Petco Park.

He pitched well for the Padres in 2011.posting a 3.30 ERA, but poor run support saddled him with a 3-10 record. He also injured his non-throwing shoulder and when he failed to get off to a good start the following year, he was put on waivers.He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since.

Moseley shares his Yankee birthday with this former postseason hero and 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
2010 NYY 4 4 .500 4.96 16 9 2 0 0 0 65.1 66 36 36 13 27 33 1.423
7 Yrs 15 21 .417 4.67 101 53 17 0 0 0 358.1 397 202 186 43 117 199 1.434
LAA (4 yrs) 8 7 .533 5.41 64 23 15 0 0 0 168.0 209 102 101 19 52 98 1.554
SDP (2 yrs) 3 10 .231 3.53 21 21 0 0 0 0 125.0 122 64 49 11 38 68 1.280
NYY (1 yr) 4 4 .500 4.96 16 9 2 0 0 0 65.1 66 36 36 13 27 33 1.423
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/27/2013.

December 25 – Happy Birthday Gene Robertson

RobertsonThis St.Louis native evidently had a tough time leaving home. He went to college at St. Louis University and then after a couple of seasons in the minors, signed with his hometown Browns. It soon looked as if Robertson was on his way to big league stardom when he won the starting third base position for St. Louis in 1924 and averaged .319. The following season, the 5’7″, 152 pound left-handed hitter surprised all of baseball by belting 14 round-trippers and driving in a career high 76 runs.

Then in 1926 he stopped hitting and the Browns let him go. He spent the 1927 season regaining his stroke with the St.Paul Saints. Yankee skipper, Miller Huggins, had become a silent one-third owner of the Saints’ franchise in 1924 and over the next few seasons, the contracts of several St.Paul players were purchased by the Yankees, including Robertson’s in August of 1927.

He made his Yankee debut the following year, sharing third base pretty much evenly with “Jumpin” Joe Dugan and averaging .291 during his first season in pinstripes. That fall, he saw the only World Series action of his career, appearing in three games against the Cardinals, driving in two runs and winning his first and only ring.

When the Yankees struggled early during the 1929 season, Huggins, who had been feeling physically lousy since spring training, inserted Robertson as his every-day third baseman. He again hit for a decent average but once it became clear his team had no chance of catching the Philadelphia A’s in that year’s pennant race, the Yankee skipper decided he needed to begin rebuilding the Yankee lineup for the 1930 season. He made 23-year-old Lyn Lary his new starting third baseman and in his last player personnel move before checking into the hospital, the Huggins sold Robertson to the Boston Braves. One week later Huggins was dead.

Robertson got off to a horrible start for the Braves in 1930 and was hitting just .186 when he was sent to the Pacific Coast League. He passed away in 1981 at the age of 81. He joins this speedy outfielder and this one too as former Yankees who were born on Christmas day.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1928 NYY 83 277 251 29 73 9 0 1 36 2 14 6 .291 .328 .339 .667
1929 NYY 90 347 309 45 92 15 6 0 35 3 28 6 .298 .358 .385 .743
9 Yrs 656 2489 2200 311 615 100 23 20 250 29 205 79 .280 .344 .373 .717
SLB (6 yrs) 454 1767 1553 229 431 75 17 19 166 23 157 64 .278 .347 .384 .732
BSN (2 yrs) 29 98 87 8 19 1 0 0 13 1 6 3 .218 .269 .230 .499
NYY (2 yrs) 173 624 560 74 165 24 6 1 71 5 42 12 .295 .345 .364 .709
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2013.

December 24 – Happy Birthday Bill Otis

You would think that with a last name like Otis, this guy would at least have had an “up and down” career with the Yankees parent club and their farm system. Unfortunately for Bill, his entire big league experience consisted of just four games for the 1912 New York Highlanders (the team’s name before they became the Yankees.) He got just one hit in seventeen at bats that year but that one hit came off the immortal Hall-of-Famer, Walter Johnson. He is the only current or former Yankee to be born on Christmas Eve. He’s also the only native of Scituate, MA to play Major League baseball. When he died in 1990 at the age of 100, he was the oldest living former MLB player on the planet.

The only other member of the Yankee family to be born on Christmas Eve is this former NL All Star pitcher who was signed by New York in 2011 but only pitched for their Triple A team in Scranton.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1912 NYY 4 20 17 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 3 3 .059 .200 .059 .259
1 Yr 4 20 17 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 3 3 .059 .200 .059 .259
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.