February 13th, 2014

February 13 – Happy Birthday Jim Brideweser

brideweserAs the 1953 season approached, New York’s veteran shortstop, Phil Rizzuto was not enjoying his offseason. Two years removed from his MVP year of 1950, Scooter was getting on in years and slumping at the plate. Yankee GM George Weiss had sent Rizzuto a contract for the ’53 season that included a significant pay cut and to make matters worse, the future Hall of Famer had spent time in the hospital that winter, being treated for some sort of stomach disorder.

Observing all this from his home in California, Yankee skipper Casey Stengel was making plans just in case he did not have the services of Rizzuto on Opening Day of that ’53 season. The Ol Perfessor had two young Yankee shortstop prospects attend his baseball school in Glendale that winter. The first was Andy Carey, who was considered number one in line to succeed Scooter. The second was a University of Southern California graduate by the name of Jim Brideweser.

Brideweser had put himself into contention for the job with a solid 1951 season with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. Then in 1952, he saw significant action with the parent club as Rizzuto’s backup. When Carey showed up at the Yanks 1953 spring training camp with a sore arm, Stengel told the Yankee press he was going to start Bridweser at short and give him a “thorough trial” that spring.

Casey was true to his word and as late as March 22nd of that year, he was still telling anyone who’d listen that he was thrilled with Brideweser’s effort that spring.  As the situation played out however, Rizzuto was finally signed and got healthy enough to play 134 games that season and put together a fine bounce-back performance. Carey was switched over to third, where he’d play the rest of his career. Brideweser started the year on the Opening Day roster but spent most of that ’53 season in Syracuse playing for the Yanks Triple A team there. New York GM George Weiss purchased switch-hitting utility infielder Willy Miranda from the Browns that June and he became Rizzuto’s primary backup.

The following May, Brideweser was traded to the Orioles. He would get big league at bats with Baltimore, the White Sox and the Tigers before retiring as a player in 1957 and becoming a high school math teacher and baseball coach.

This long-ago Highlander outfielderthis former University of Michigan quarterback and this first great Yankee first baseman were each also born on February 13th.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1951 NYY 2 8 8 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .375 .375 .375 .750
1952 NYY 42 41 38 12 10 0 0 0 2 0 3 5 .263 .317 .263 .580
1953 NYY 7 4 3 3 3 0 1 0 3 0 1 0 1.000 1.000 1.667 2.667
7 Yrs 329 700 620 79 156 22 6 1 50 6 63 78 .252 .322 .311 .633
NYY (3 yrs) 51 53 49 16 16 0 1 0 5 0 4 6 .327 .377 .367 .745
BAL (2 yrs) 164 392 346 34 92 14 3 1 30 3 36 43 .266 .336 .332 .668
CHW (2 yrs) 44 75 69 6 14 4 2 0 5 0 3 10 .203 .247 .319 .565
DET (1 yr) 70 180 156 23 34 4 0 0 10 3 20 19 .218 .307 .244 .550
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/23/2014.