July 1 – Happy Birthday Jack Quinn

The July 1st Pinstripe Birthday celebrant was no stranger to controversy. When Major League Baseball abolished the spit ball just before the 1919 season got under way, exemptions were granted that permitted eighteen pitchers to continue throwing the wet one until the end of their careers. Jack Quinn was one of those 18 pitchers and at the time he was granted the exemption, he was already 36 years old and had pitched four seasons of ball with the Highlanders, one with the Braves and two more in the upstart Federal League. When his Federal League franchise folded, Quinn played in the Pacific Coast League for three seasons until the PCL halted play during the 1918 season due to America’s participation in WWI.  Quinn then signed a contract to pitch for the White Sox and finished that year by winning 5 of 6 decisions for Chicago.

But the Yankees pulled a fast one on Chicago by purchasing Quinn’s contract from his former PCL team. When American League President Ban Johnson (along with his National league counterpart) ruled that New York did indeed have the rights to Quinn, the White Sox owner Charlie Comiskey, went ballistic. He had quarreled with Johnson numerous times before but losing Quinn caused Comiskey to attack Johnson’s honor repeatedly and threaten him in very public ways. Johnson was so angry at the White Sox owner that when Comiskey asked the AL President to investigate his early suspicions that his Chicago players were throwing the 1919 World Series, Johnson not only ignored him, he blamed the assertions on Comiskey being a sore loser. Many baseball researchers feel the League’s failure to follow up on Comiskey’s concerns permitted the infamous Black Sox scandal to play out and almost ruin baseball. So Jack Quinn ended up playing a huge role in baseball’s decision to create a Commissioner’s office.

In 1919, the already 35-year-old Quinn began the second phase of his Yankee career, spending his next three big league seasons pitching for New York and compiling a 51-31 record. The Yankees then traded him to Boston, where he won 46 more games as a Red Sox during the next four seasons. By then, Quinn was 41 years-old and still throwing a spitball pitch that had been outlawed for almost everyone else eight years previously. The Red Sox figured Quinn’s best days were behind him and put him on waivers in 1925. Connie Mack needed pitching so the A’s picked up Quinn and he won 69 names for Philadelphia over the next half-dozen seasons. If you’re keeping track, that brings us up to 1930, at which point this ageless right-hander was now 46 years-old. Quinn kept going, pitching until he was fifty years-old and accumulating a lifetime record of 247-218 with 57 saves. He also holds the distinction of being the oldest player (45 yrs old) in American League history to hit a home run. (Julio Franco (46yrs-old) now holds the big league record) When Quinn retired in 1943, only Burleigh Grimes was left as one of the 18 pitchers still throwing a “legal” spitball thanks to that 1918 exemption.

Quinn shares his July 1 birthday with this former Yankee outfielder and this former Yankee front-office executive.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1909 NYY 9 5 .643 1.97 23 11 12 8 0 1 118.2 110 45 26 1 24 36 1.129
1910 NYY 18 12 .600 2.37 35 31 4 20 0 0 235.2 214 88 62 2 58 82 1.154
1911 NYY 8 10 .444 3.76 40 16 19 7 0 2 174.2 203 111 73 2 41 71 1.397
1912 NYY 5 7 .417 5.79 18 11 4 7 0 0 102.2 139 89 66 4 23 47 1.578
1919 NYY 15 14 .517 2.61 38 31 6 18 4 0 266.0 242 96 77 8 65 97 1.154
1920 NYY 18 10 .643 3.20 41 32 9 17 2 3 253.1 271 110 90 8 48 101 1.259
1921 NYY 8 7 .533 3.78 33 13 7 6 0 0 119.0 158 61 50 2 32 44 1.597
23 Yrs 247 218 .531 3.29 756 443 217 243 28 57 3920.1 4238 1837 1433 103 860 1329 1.300
NYY (7 yrs) 81 65 .555 3.15 228 145 61 83 6 6 1270.0 1337 600 444 27 291 478 1.282
PHA (6 yrs) 69 47 .595 3.51 184 112 39 48 10 11 926.2 1051 442 361 33 184 232 1.333
BOS (4 yrs) 45 54 .455 3.65 145 100 30 53 7 14 832.2 946 421 338 28 190 226 1.364
BRO (2 yrs) 8 11 .421 3.03 81 1 60 0 0 23 151.2 167 64 51 2 48 53 1.418
BAL (2 yrs) 35 36 .493 2.98 90 73 16 48 4 2 616.1 624 266 204 12 128 282 1.220
BSN (1 yr) 4 3 .571 2.40 8 7 1 6 1 0 56.1 55 22 15 1 7 33 1.101
CIN (1 yr) 0 1 .000 4.02 14 0 9 0 0 1 15.2 20 9 7 0 5 3 1.596
CHW (1 yr) 5 1 .833 2.29 6 5 1 5 0 0 51.0 38 13 13 0 7 22 0.882
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/1/2013.

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.