March 25th, 2014

March 25 – Happy Birthday Woodie Held

One of the Yankees most impacted by the infamous Copa Cabana Nightclub incident wasn’t even there celebrating that night. I’m referring to Woodie Held, a rather free spirited middle infield prospect for New York in the fifties who along with alleged troublemaker Billy Martin, pitcher Ralph Terry and an outfielder named Bob Martyn were traded to Kansas City for reliever Ryne Duren and outfielders Jim Pisoni and Harry “Suitcase” Simpson. Both Martin and Terry would get a chance to return to New York and capture glory in pinstripes. Bob Martyn would never enjoy much success in the big leagues. But Held would go on to play fourteen years in the big leagues and belt 179 home runs.

Back when I was a kid, I collected baseball cards, which in addition to the annual Street & Smith’s Baseball Preview issue were my primary information conduit for the performances and stats of non-Yankee players. I remember checking the backs of cards of every player to find out what teams they played for. It was most likely on the back of the 1961 Woodie Held card pictured with this post that I found out he used to be a Yankee. Once you were a Yankee, I continued to root for your success except when your team happened to be playing the Yankees. That is how and why I became a fan of Woodie Held. I loved his name and I loved the fact that he played in the middle of the infield but could still hit for power. I remember the year I got this card, Maris and Mantle were chasing Ruth but Skowren, Berra, Howard and Blanchard all had more than 20 home runs that season while Clete Boyer (11), Bobby Richardson (3) and Tony Kubek (8) didn’t reach that milestone. I remember looking at Held’s card and seeing he had hit 21 home runs as a shortstop for the Indians in 1960 and 27 the season before. He would hit 23 during the ’61 season. I remember hoping some day he’d return to New York and hit all those home runs as a Yankee shortstop. Of course back then, I didn’t realize that would have been pretty difficult for Held to do since he was a right-handed pull hitter and probably, just like Clete Boyer ended up doing, many of Woodie’s blasts would have been turned into outs by Yankee Stadium’s cavernous left field.

In any event, Held never did come back to the Yankees. He hung on in the big leagues until 1969, quitting when he was 37 years old. He then enjoyed one of the most erratic retirements of any big league player in history. He opened a pizza parlor, ran a lumber yard, he raced snowmobiles, became an iron worker, he worked as a bartender and an electrician. Woodson George Held died in June of 2009 in his adopted home of DuBois Wyoming at the age of 77. He shares his March 25th birthday with this former Yankee outfielder and coach.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1954 NYY 4 5 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 .000 .400 .000 .400
1957 NYY 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
14 Yrs 1390 4647 4019 524 963 150 22 179 559 14 508 944 .240 .331 .421 .753
CLE (7 yrs) 855 3227 2800 372 698 105 16 130 401 10 351 629 .249 .339 .438 .777
KCA (2 yrs) 139 518 457 61 106 16 3 24 66 4 47 109 .232 .308 .438 .746
CAL (2 yrs) 91 219 186 19 36 4 0 4 17 0 23 56 .194 .296 .280 .575
NYY (2 yrs) 5 6 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 .000 .333 .000 .333
BAL (2 yrs) 82 145 123 10 23 6 1 2 13 0 18 42 .187 .301 .301 .602
CHW (2 yrs) 96 141 117 14 18 3 0 3 8 0 18 33 .154 .275 .256 .532
WSA (1 yr) 122 391 332 46 82 16 2 16 54 0 49 74 .247 .345 .452 .797
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/13/2014.

March 24 – Happy Birthday Chad Gaudin

Talk about a lousy birthday present, New York announced they were releasing this right-hander on his 27th birthday. He had been competing in Spring Training for the fifth starter’s spot in Manager Joe Girardi’s 2010 rotation but was beaten out by Phil Hughes. If the Yankees kept him on the roster and put him in the bullpen, they would have had to pay his full $2.7 million salary so they released him instead. Gaudin landed a job on the A’s staff a few days later but when Oakland released him in May of 2010, he again joined the Yankee bullpen. He originally had impressed me during his first 11 appearances in pinstripes in 2009 but he did little for New York upon his return in 2010. He pitched a bit for the Washington Nationals in 2011 and then caught on with the Marlins in 2012, followed up by a strong season out of the Giants’ bullpen in 2013. The Phillies brought him to their 2014 spring training camp but he was cut from their roster early on.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2009 NYY 2 0 1.000 3.43 11 6 4 0 0 0 42.0 41 16 16 7 20 34 1.452
2010 NYY 1 2 .333 4.50 30 0 17 0 0 0 48.0 46 27 24 11 20 33 1.375
11 Yrs 45 44 .506 4.44 344 87 80 1 0 2 836.1 859 459 413 92 382 673 1.484
OAK (4 yrs) 20 20 .500 4.25 127 40 28 1 0 2 343.1 346 179 162 35 164 254 1.485
TBD (2 yrs) 3 2 .600 4.25 41 7 10 0 0 0 82.2 96 45 39 8 32 53 1.548
NYY (2 yrs) 3 2 .600 4.00 41 6 21 0 0 0 90.0 87 43 40 18 40 67 1.411
SDP (1 yr) 4 10 .286 5.13 20 19 0 0 0 0 105.1 105 69 60 7 56 105 1.528
WSN (1 yr) 1 1 .500 6.48 10 0 1 0 0 0 8.1 12 10 6 1 8 10 2.400
CHC (1 yr) 4 2 .667 6.26 24 0 5 0 0 0 27.1 29 21 19 5 10 27 1.427
SFG (1 yr) 5 2 .714 3.06 30 12 4 0 0 0 97.0 81 34 33 6 40 88 1.247
MIA (1 yr) 4 2 .667 4.54 46 0 11 0 0 0 69.1 72 39 35 6 26 57 1.413
TOR (1 yr) 1 3 .250 13.15 5 3 0 0 0 0 13.0 31 19 19 6 6 12 2.846
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/13/2014.