June 2014

June 30 – Happy Birthday Tony Fernandez

After the 1994 postseason, the Yankees signed this four-time Gold Glove winner as a free agent to become their starting shortstop. He did not have a very good 1995 season, hitting just .245, although he did become the first Yankee to hit for the cycle since Bobby Murcer pulled it off in 1972. But the Yankees thought Fernandez would provide more offense and when he failed to do so, Bucky Showalter started giving Randy Velarde some starts at short. Then Fernandez got hurt late in the year and while he was on the DL, he watched a young prospect named Derek Jeter fill in at his position. New Yankee manager, Joe Torre decided Jeter would be his starting shortstop in 1996 but his plan was to make Fernandez his starting second baseman. That went up in smoke when Tony broke his elbow during spring training and missed the entire 1996 season. The Yankees let him go after his two-year contract expired and he signed with Cleveland. Fernandez played until 2001 and retired with a .288 lifetime batting average and 2,276 hits.

Tony shares his June 30th birthday with this former Yankee utility outfielder this one-time Yankee third baseman and this one-time Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1995 NYY 108 438 384 57 94 20 2 5 45 6 42 40 .245 .322 .346 .668
17 Yrs 2158 8793 7911 1057 2276 414 92 94 844 246 690 784 .288 .347 .399 .746
TOR (12 yrs) 1450 5900 5335 704 1583 291 72 60 613 172 439 493 .297 .353 .412 .765
SDP (2 yrs) 300 1315 1180 165 323 59 9 8 75 43 111 136 .274 .337 .359 .697
NYM (1 yr) 48 204 173 20 39 5 2 1 14 6 25 19 .225 .323 .295 .618
CLE (1 yr) 120 442 409 55 117 21 1 11 44 6 22 47 .286 .323 .423 .746
CIN (1 yr) 104 422 366 50 102 18 6 8 50 12 44 40 .279 .361 .426 .787
NYY (1 yr) 108 438 384 57 94 20 2 5 45 6 42 40 .245 .322 .346 .668
MIL (1 yr) 28 72 64 6 18 0 0 1 3 1 7 9 .281 .352 .328 .680
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/30/2013.

June 29 – Happy Birthday Wilbert Robinson

Back in the first part of the twentieth century, managerial changes were pretty much a rarity when it came to Big Apple baseball teams. The Giants had the legendary John McGraw as their skipper for thirty years. For the Yankees, it was Miller Huggins from 1918 until 1929 and it took the death of “Hug” for the Yankees to make a change. In Brooklyn, it was “Uncle Robbie.” Before he got the field skipper’s job with Brooklyn, however, today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant had been a very good catcher with the old Baltimore Orioles teams of the 1890’s, when that franchise was part of the original National League. He was sold to the Cardinals in 1900. Just a year later, the new American League was formed and Baltimore was granted a franchise.  Robinson’s old Oriole teammate, John McGraw was named manager and he convinced Wilbert to return to Baltimore and play for the new team. The catcher did so but when McGraw was later suspended by AL President Ban Johnson, he left the league and took a job as the manager of the New York Giants. Robinson then became the Orioles’ player Manager in 1902. The Orioles finished 24-57 that season prompting Wilbert to accept McGraw’s invitation to become the Giant pitching coach, a job he held for over a decade. That same season, the Orioles AL franchise was relocated to New York and became the Highlanders.

In 1914, Brooklyn hired Robinson to replace Bill Dahlen as Dodger skipper. He stayed in that job for eighteen seasons and helped bring respectability to a franchise that had pretty much become a laughing stock for its ineptness. Under Robinson, Brooklyn won the NL pennant in both 1916 and 1920 and he compiled a 1,375 – 1,341 career record. He shares his birthday with this long-ago Yankee outfielder and this former Yankee reliever who also played in pinstripes.

Robinson’s Yankee(Orioles) seasonal and MLB career playing stats:

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1901 BLA 68 254 239 32 72 12 3 0 26 9 10 16 .301 .335 .377 .711
1902 BLA 91 352 335 38 98 16 7 1 57 11 12 17 .293 .321 .391 .712
17 Yrs 1371 5430 5075 637 1388 212 51 18 722 196 286 323 .273 .316 .346 .662
BLN (10 yrs) 780 3073 2838 361 836 129 27 10 456 81 187 195 .295 .341 .370 .711
PHA (5 yrs) 372 1527 1453 180 330 50 13 7 155 88 66 75 .227 .265 .294 .558
BLA (2 yrs) 159 606 574 70 170 28 10 1 83 20 22 33 .296 .327 .385 .712
STL (1 yr) 60 224 210 26 52 5 1 0 28 7 11 20 .248 .291 .281 .572
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/29/2014.

Robinson’s Yankee(Orioles) seasonal and MLB career managing record:

Rk Year Age Tm W L W-L% G Finish
1 1902 38 Baltimore Orioles 2nd of 2 24 57 .296 83 8
Baltimore Orioles 1 year 24 57 .296 83 8.0
Brooklyn Robins 18 years 1375 1341 .506 2736 4.7
19 years 1399 1398 .500 2819 4.9
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/29/2014.

June 28 – Happy Birthday Fred Talbot

It was June of 1966 and the New York Yankees were dissolving faster than a wet Alka Seltzer. Two season’s earlier, the team had fallen three runs short of winning a World Series, but here they were, just twenty month’s later, floundering in seventh place in the AL standings. Everybody knew they needed major help immediately and that included their competition. It was fun for the other AL teams to watch the once mighty Yankees get their comeuppance. Even if their own ball clubs were in need of players, no other AL franchise was willing to help much with New York’s retooling effort via a trade except of course the good old Kansas City A’s. But unlike in years past when the A’s would serve up outstanding talent like Roger Maris, Clete Boyer and Hector Lopez to their Big Apple brethren, Kansas City’s front office had been taken over by the eccentric and extremely stingy Charley Finley in the early sixties. Well aware that the Yankees had exploited the A’s in previous player transactions, Finley refused to even deal with New York for years and when he finally did, the trades were no longer one-sided affairs.

So when a deal between the Yankees and A’s was made in June of 1966, instead of being announced with a bold back page headline in the New York City tabloids, it received a paragraph at the end of that day’s Yankee game recap. “The Yankees traded their former starting pitcher Bill Stafford, outfielder Roger Repoz and reliever Gil Blanco  to Kansas City today in exchange for A’s catcher Bill Bryan and starting pitcher Fred Talbot.”

As things turned out, it was one of those trades that had little impact on either team. Talbot was immediately inserted into the Yankees’ starting rotation. He would go 7-7 for the Yankees during the balance of the 1966 season and then 6-8 the following year. But his ERA was north of four both those seasons and in 1968 he was demoted to the Yankee bullpen. He did worse as a reliever, finishing the year at 1-9. The Yankees traded him to the Pilots in 1969, getting Jack Aker in return, who turned out to be a great closer for New York during the next three seasons. Talbot, on the other hand did little for the Pilots except become fodder for Jim Bouton’s best-selling “Ball Four” chronology of the Pilot’s 1969 season. He then found himself back pitching with the A’s in 1970 and ’71, his final two big league seasons. He finished his 8-year career with a 38-56 record. Update: Talbot passed away on January 11, 2013, at the age of 71.

Talbot was born on the same exact date as this former AL strikeout leader and also shares a birthday with this former AL MVP and this one-time back-up Yankee first baseman.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1966 NYY 7 7 .500 4.13 23 19 2 3 0 0 124.1 123 59 57 16 45 48 1.351
1967 NYY 6 8 .429 4.22 29 22 3 2 0 0 138.2 132 78 65 20 54 61 1.341
1968 NYY 1 9 .100 3.36 29 11 7 1 0 0 99.0 89 47 37 6 42 67 1.323
1969 NYY 0 0 5.11 8 0 2 0 0 0 12.1 13 9 7 1 6 7 1.541
8 Yrs 38 56 .404 4.12 195 126 26 12 4 1 853.2 844 431 391 96 334 449 1.380
NYY (4 yrs) 14 24 .368 3.99 89 52 14 6 0 0 374.1 357 193 166 43 147 183 1.346
OAK (4 yrs) 15 19 .441 4.40 63 46 10 2 1 1 286.1 277 148 140 34 122 163 1.393
CHW (2 yrs) 4 5 .444 3.68 18 12 0 3 2 0 78.1 85 32 32 7 24 36 1.391
SEP (1 yr) 5 8 .385 4.16 25 16 2 1 1 0 114.2 125 58 53 12 41 67 1.448
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/28/2013.