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.

June 27 – Happy Birthday Wayne Terwilliger

I could find no former or current Yankee player, manager, coach, front office member or broadcaster born on this date but I did find one “unofficial Yankee.” Back in the late fifties and early sixties, the Yankees and Kansas City Athletics were accused of conducting an unholy alliance in which mighty New York would treat the lowly A’s like one of their farm teams instead of as an American League competitor.

The A’s, who had always called Philadelphia home, had been purchased and relocated to Kansas City in 1954, by a KC real estate magnate named Arnold Johnson. At the time, Johnson was actively involved in a lot of real estate partnerships with then Yankee co-owner, Del Webb. With Johnson now at the helm of the A’s, the two clubs would regularly play deal-making ping pong, sending players and (usually Yankee) cash back and forth whenever a special on-the-field need or off-the-field contract squabble arose. In addition to the reserve clause, it has been rumored that then Yankee GM, George Weiss was not averse to using the threat of a trade to Kansas City, to get hesitant players to accept his usually stingy annual offerings.

The relationship between the two teams was so incestuous that on occasion, they would not even bother to officially trade players, they’d just let the other team borrow the guy for awhile. This is exactly how a journeyman infielder named Wayne Terwilliger, became an unofficial Yankee during the early part of the 1960 season.”Twig” never got to play a single game in pinstripes. Instead, the Yankees sent him to their International League Triple A farm team. The accompanying photo is of Terwilliger, cropped from the 1960 photo of the Yankees’ Richmond Virginians farm team. He retired as a player at the end of that year and in 1961 was named the Manager of the Yankee’s Carolina League affiliate in Greensboro, NC. That began what would become a half-century-long career as a baseball manager and coach.

Let’s take a look at an all-time Yankee lineup of players who at one time also played for the Kansas City A’s:

1B Irv Noren
2B Billy Martin
3B Clete Boyer
SS Dick Howser
C Johnny Blanchard
OF Roger Maris
OF Bob Cerv
OF Reggie Jackson
P Catfish Hunter
P Vic Raschi
P Ralph Terry
P Bob Grim
CL Bobby Shantz
RP Bud Daley

June 26 – Happy Birthday Derek Jeter

derek-jeterThe great Derek Jeter’s playing career ended in 2014, after his twentieth season as a Yankee. The Bronx Bomber teams he was a member of made postseason play seventeen times. Jeter played in seven World Series and New York won five of them. He passed Lou Gehrig as the all-time leader in career hits as a Yankee during the 2009 season and in 2011 became the first player in franchise history to reach 3,000 hits while wearing the pinstripes. I consider the five-for-five game he put together to reach and then surpass that magical plateau one of the greatest all-time individual game performances in Yankee franchise history. He is among the top ten Yankees lifetime in just about every offensive category and in most cases among the top five. He finished his illustrious career in sixth place on MLB’s all-time career hit list.

He was an extremely gifted player and team leader who somehow coped perfectly with the stresses of being a star athlete in the Big Apple. There are those who claimed Jeter was over-rated. Those of us who followed the Yankees on a game-by-game and season-by-season basis ignore such ignorance. I’m the first to admit that age impacted Jeter’s overall abilities on the baseball field, especially in his final season. But he was still good enough to lead all of baseball in hits during the 2012 season with 216 and if not for the horrendous ankle injury he suffered in that year’s postseason I believe he might have played another season before retiring. Regardless, this guy is the greatest Yankee shortstop ever and one of the top two or three to ever play the game. Its hard to describe the positive impact this man has had on the game of baseball for the past two decades. He was my favorite player, my children’s favorite player and my grandchildren’s favorite player.

Though his numbers were down significantly during the 2014 season, this remarkable Yankee ended his career on a high note by hitting close to .370 during the last ten games of his career and reminding everyone again why he was nicknamed Captain Clutch, with his poignant game-winning hit in his last ever Yankee Stadium at bat.  No one will ever again wear his number “2” jersey and in 2019, he will be honored with an induction ceremony in Cooperstown. Watching him earn that ceremony has been one of the great pleasures I’ve experienced as a fifty-four-year fan of the Bombers. Thank You 2!

The predictions that Jeter was destined to become a great Yankee that were made at the beginning of his career turned out to be correct. Similar predictions made for this former Yankee outfielder who shares “The Captain’s” June 26th birthday would turn out to be far less accurate. This one-time Yankee LOOGY was also born on this date.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1995 NYY 15 51 48 5 12 4 1 0 7 0 3 11 .250 .294 .375 .669
1996 NYY 157 654 582 104 183 25 6 10 78 14 48 102 .314 .370 .430 .800
1997 NYY 159 748 654 116 190 31 7 10 70 23 74 125 .291 .370 .405 .775
1998 ★ NYY 149 694 626 127 203 25 8 19 84 30 57 119 .324 .384 .481 .864
1999 ★ NYY 158 739 627 134 219 37 9 24 102 19 91 116 .349 .438 .552 .989
2000 ★ NYY 148 679 593 119 201 31 4 15 73 22 68 99 .339 .416 .481 .896
2001 ★ NYY 150 686 614 110 191 35 3 21 74 27 56 99 .311 .377 .480 .858
2002 ★ NYY 157 730 644 124 191 26 0 18 75 32 73 114 .297 .373 .421 .794
2003 NYY 119 542 482 87 156 25 3 10 52 11 43 88 .324 .393 .450 .844
2004 ★ NYY 154 721 643 111 188 44 1 23 78 23 46 99 .292 .352 .471 .823
2005 NYY 159 752 654 122 202 25 5 19 70 14 77 117 .309 .389 .450 .839
2006 ★ NYY 154 715 623 118 214 39 3 14 97 34 69 102 .343 .417 .483 .900
2007 ★ NYY 156 714 639 102 206 39 4 12 73 15 56 100 .322 .388 .452 .840
2008 ★ NYY 150 668 596 88 179 25 3 11 69 11 52 85 .300 .363 .408 .771
2009 ★ NYY 153 716 634 107 212 27 1 18 66 30 72 90 .334 .406 .465 .871
2010 ★ NYY 157 739 663 111 179 30 3 10 67 18 63 106 .270 .340 .370 .710
2011 ★ NYY 131 607 546 84 162 24 4 6 61 16 46 81 .297 .355 .388 .743
2012 ★ NYY 159 740 683 99 216 32 0 15 58 9 45 90 .316 .362 .429 .791
2013 NYY 17 73 63 8 12 1 0 1 7 0 8 10 .190 .288 .254 .542
2014 ★ NYY 145 634 581 47 149 19 1 4 50 10 35 87 .256 .304 .313 .617
20 Yrs 2747 12602 11195 1923 3465 544 66 260 1311 358 1082 1840 .310 .377 .440 .817
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table Generated 9/30/2014.