February 8th, 2014

February 8 – Happy Birthday Don Heffner

heffnerDon “Jeep” Heffner was Tony Lazzeri’s primary back-up at second base during the final years of “Poosh Em Up’s” Hall of Fame career in New York. The only Major League player ever to be born in Rouzerville, PA, Heffner made a decent big league debut with the Yankees in 1934, appearing in 72 games and averaging .261 for a Joe McCarthy-led team that won 94 games that year but still finished second to Mickey Cochrane’s powerful Detroit Tiger ball club.

That turned out to be Heffner’s best offensive season in pinstripes but he stuck around in the Bronx long enough to win championship rings in both 1936 and ’37. When an aging Lazzeri was let go by New York after the ’37 season, Hefner’s weak bat removed him from consideration for the vacant starting job. Instead, he was traded to the Browns for a better hitting second baseman named Bill Knickerbocker.

Heffner spent the next four seasons starting at second for St. Louis while Knickerbocker lost the battle for the Yankees’ starting second base job to rookie Joe Gordon. Heffner continued playing in the big leagues until 1943 and then got into coaching and managing. In 1966, he skippered the Cincinnati Reds for 83 games, his only big league managerial position.

He shares his birthday with this former Yankee pitcher and this one-time Yankee first baseman.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1934 NYY 72 270 241 29 63 8 3 0 25 1 25 18 .261 .331 .320 .650
1935 NYY 10 40 36 3 11 3 1 0 8 0 4 1 .306 .375 .444 .819
1936 NYY 19 55 48 7 11 2 1 0 6 0 6 5 .229 .315 .313 .627
1937 NYY 60 221 201 23 50 6 5 0 21 1 19 19 .249 .314 .328 .642
11 Yrs 743 2847 2526 275 610 99 19 6 248 18 270 218 .241 .317 .303 .620
SLB (6 yrs) 524 2039 1803 196 434 73 9 6 179 13 193 162 .241 .317 .301 .618
NYY (4 yrs) 161 586 526 62 135 19 10 0 60 2 54 43 .257 .326 .331 .657
PHA (1 yr) 52 198 178 17 37 6 0 0 8 3 18 12 .208 .284 .242 .526
DET (1 yr) 6 24 19 0 4 1 0 0 1 0 5 1 .211 .375 .263 .638
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/18/2014.