February 2014

February 25 – Happy Birthday Roy Weatherly

58091-942FrToday’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant was the fourth outfielder on Joe McCarthy’s last pinstriped World Championship team, the 1943 New York Yankees. Roy Weatherly was a short and speedy native of Warren, Texas, who had made his big league debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1936 and had worked his way into the Tribe’s starting center-fielder’s job by 1940. A good contact hitter with a bit of power, he had his best big league season that year, when he averaged .303 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs. He was considered to be a solid defensive outfielder.

The Yankees got Weatherly in December of the 1942 season along with infielder Oscar Grimes in a trade that sent spare outfielder Roy Cullenbine and a decent-hitting backup catcher named Buddy Rosar to Cleveland. Some Yankee historians felt the deal was triggered by McCarthy’s anger at Rosar for leaving the Yankee ball club without permission during the ’42 regular season to take a civil service exam for a policeman’s job in Buffalo, NY. All four players involved in this trade were married and had children, which meant none of them were in danger of being drafted to serve in WWII, which was raging in both Europe and the Pacific at the time.

Both Joe DiMaggio and Tommy Henrich were lost to military service following the ’43 season, leaving the Yanks with a starting outfield of Charlie Keller, a former pitcher named Johnny Lindell and 28-year-old rookie, Bud Metheny. Weatherly, who hit from the left side of the plate, saw action in 77 games that season, as McCarthy platooned him with the right-hand hitting Lindell in center field.

He had a solid year for the Yankees, helping them get to their second straight World Series against the Cardinals that fall, but he only got one at bat in New York’s five-game victory over the defending champions. He then volunteered to serve his country in April of 1944 and spent the next two years in the US Army. When he was discharged in 1946, he tried to re-start his Yankee career but could not win a permanent spot on a Yankees outfield depth chart that had been replenished with returning soldier/athletes.

Instead of hanging up his cleats, Weatherly returned to minor league ball and continued playing into his forties. In 1950, his perseverance paid off when the NY Giants brought him up to be their team’s fourth outfielder that season, at the age of 35.

Weatherly passed away in 1991 back in his native Texas, at the age of 75. He shares his birthday with this former great Yankee outfielderthis one-time Yankee first baseman and this former Yankee skipper.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1943 NYY 77 307 280 37 74 8 3 7 28 4 18 9 .264 .311 .389 .700
1946 NYY 2 2 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000
10 Yrs 811 3007 2781 415 794 152 44 43 290 42 180 170 .286 .331 .418 .749
CLE (7 yrs) 680 2616 2430 368 701 141 38 36 251 38 149 151 .288 .331 .422 .753
NYY (2 yrs) 79 309 282 37 75 8 3 7 28 4 18 9 .266 .312 .390 .702
NYG (1 yr) 52 82 69 10 18 3 3 0 11 0 13 10 .261 .378 .391 .769
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/2/2014.

February 24 – Happy Birthday Mike Lowell

lowellbow.jpgI remember being upset when the Yankees traded third base prospect Mike Lowell to the Marlins, after New York picked up Scott Brosius in 1998. I had been following Lowell’s progress at Columbus at the time and he looked like the real deal. Brosius of course went on to have a super 1998 season and postseason and worked his butt off during his four years in pinstripes.

But Mike Lowell turned out to be a very good ballplayer and a class act in the clubhouse. And he would come back and haunt his former franchise for dealing him. He spent seven solid seasons with the Marlins and in 2003, he led them to the World Series where the Fish pulled off an upset 4-games-to-2 victory against the Yankees. That regular season, Lowell set career highs with 32 home runs and 105 RBIs.

Then in November of 2005, Red Sox GM Brian Epstein pulled off a stunning trade with Florida, getting both Lowell and starting pitcher Josh Beckett for a package of four prospects that included both Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez. That deal brought the one-time Yankee prospect back to the AL East Division. During the next five seasons, Lowell appeared in 76 Red Sox-Yankee games and hit .314 in those contests including 12 home runs and 56 RBIs. Even worse, in 2007, he set new career highs in RBIs (120) and batting average (.324) and led Boston to an AL East Division title. He then averaged .352, smashed 18 hits and drove in 15 runs in the Red Sox’ 14-game ’07 postseason, which culminated with a second ring and a World Series MVP award for Lowell.

That ’07 playoff run would turn out to be the high point of Lowell’s career in Beantown. During the next three seasons, he was afflicted with an A-Rod like hip injury that would eventually force him into retirement after the 2010 season.

Its interesting to think about what would have happened if New York started Lowell at third in 1998. Would they have gone for A-Rod when they did if they had a young and productive Lowell at third? Would that mean Soriano might still be a Yankee today? I of course get to ask these questions while Cashman earns his salary by answering them.

Lowell shares his birthday with this former Yankee utility outfielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1998 NYY 8 15 15 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .267 .267 .267 .533
13 Yrs 1601 6500 5813 771 1619 394 7 223 952 30 548 817 .279 .342 .464 .805
FLA (7 yrs) 981 4005 3554 477 965 241 3 143 578 21 354 528 .272 .339 .462 .801
BOS (5 yrs) 612 2480 2244 293 650 153 4 80 374 9 194 288 .290 .346 .468 .814
NYY (1 yr) 8 15 15 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .267 .267 .267 .533
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/1/2014.

February 23 – Happy Birthday Rondell White

I personally remember three instances when Yankee television broadcast crews actively promoted the acquisition of a player on a competing team. The first was Scott Brosius. It seemed as if whenever New York played the A’s during the 1997 season, somebody in the New York booth would make it a point of commenting how Brosius, then Oakland’s starting third baseman, would be a perfect fit on the Yankee team. The next time I remember it happening was that same season when the Royals were in town and somebody in the booth talking about how Kansas City ‘s switch-hitting DH, Chili Davis would be a great addition to the Yankee lineup. The last time I remember the booth chatting about who would be a great addition for the Yankees, the subject was a Chicago Cub and former Expo outfielder, Rondell White.

I’m sure there have been several other instances when somebody with a Yankee microphone made statements about acquiring players from other teams but either I wasn’t listening or the conversation centered on a superstar that every team coveted at the time. Brosius, Davis and White were all considered good solid players in their day but not superstars. That’s why it is so easy for me to remember thinking the booth chatter about each was odd. It almost seemed as if somebody in New York’s front office asked the game announcers to talk about each player as a way of making the team’s interest in them public but I couldn’t think of any real good reasons why they would want to do so.

In any event, the announcers were spot on about Brosius. The Yankees got him in a trade for Kenny Rogers after the ’97 season. The TV guys were also right about Davis. After a year of bad health, he became a key cog as the full-time DH of New York’s 1999 World Championship team. Unfortunately, their good feelings about Rondell White as a Yankee proved to be unfounded. The Milledgeville, GA native was signed as a free agent after the 2001 season and the hope was that he would fill the huge outfield hole left by the retiring Paul O’Neill. That didn’t happen. His batting average, slugging percentage and on base percentage fell of the cliff as soon as he put on the pinstripes and after just one season in the Yankee outfield, he was traded off to the Padres. White played well just about everywhere else, ending a fifteen year big league career in 2007 with a .284 lifetime batting average and 198 home runs. He was born on February 23, 1972.

This great Yankee catcher and this one-time Yankee outfielder also celebrate birthdays on today’s date.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP
2002 NYY 126 494 455 59 109 21 0 14 62 1 25 86 .240 .288
15 Yrs 1474 5852 5357 756 1519 296 34 198 768 94 360 925 .284 .336
MON (8 yrs) 742 3021 2756 420 808 165 23 101 384 88 200 494 .293 .348
MIN (2 yrs) 137 474 446 40 102 21 1 11 58 1 17 73 .229 .266
CHC (2 yrs) 114 431 390 50 121 21 1 19 57 1 31 68 .310 .374
DET (2 yrs) 218 898 822 125 238 45 5 31 120 2 56 125 .290 .342
KCR (1 yr) 22 85 75 13 26 6 1 4 21 0 6 8 .347 .400
SDP (1 yr) 115 449 413 49 115 17 3 18 66 1 25 71 .278 .330
NYY (1 yr) 126 494 455 59 109 21 0 14 62 1 25 86 .240 .288
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/1/2014.