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.

June 25 – Happy Birthday Bob Shirley

Most Yankee fans around my age can clearly remember the famous shower-room scuffle between Goose Gossage and Cliff Johnson in 1979 but how many of you can recall a similar incident between Don Mattingly and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant that took place eight years later, during the 1987 season? At the time, the southpaw Shirley was in his fifth year as a Yankee pitcher. He had been signed by New York as a free agent after the 1982 season and went 5-8 as a member of Billy Martin’s starting rotation in ’83. After that inauspicious beginning, he was demoted to the bullpen and became the Yankees’ primary left-handed long reliever. He thrived in that role for the next two seasons and had his best year in pinstripes in ’85 when he appeared in 48 games and posted a career-low ERA of 2.64. He then had a horrible year in 1986, going 0-4 with an ERA that exploded to over five runs for every nine innings he pitched. So Shirley was already on pretty thin ice when according to published reports in June of 1987, he and Donnie Baseball engaged in a playful wrestling match in the visitors’ locker room of Milwaukee’s County Stadium, where the Yankees were playing a series against the Brewers. Mattingly ended up on the DL with two ruptured discs in his back. Though both players and their teammates denied the wrestling had taken place, George Steinbrenner was reportedly livid and ordered that Shirley be released the next day. Mattingly continued to insist that his former teammate was not the cause of his injury, explaining to reporters that Shirley was now looking for a job and he did not want other teams to think that the pitcher was some kind of locker room trouble maker.

Mattingly’s chronic back trouble would of course end up stunting the glorious start he had put together as a Yankee. Shirley would sign on with the Royals one week after being let go but pitched horribly during his only three appearances with Kansas City and was quickly released. He never again pitched in a big league game. He finished his 165-game Yankee career with a 14-20 record, 5 saves and a 4.05 ERA. Lifetime, he was 67-94 during his 11 big league seasons with 18 saves and a 3.82 ERA. Shirley shares his June 25th birthday with this former Yankee catcher. Besides George “Babe” Ruth and Shirley, can you think of any other Yankees who have a girl’s first name as their surname?

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1983 NYY 5 8 .385 5.08 25 17 3 1 1 0 108.0 122 71 61 10 36 53 1.463
1984 NYY 3 3 .500 3.38 41 7 11 1 0 0 114.1 119 47 43 8 38 48 1.373
1985 NYY 5 5 .500 2.64 48 8 9 2 0 2 109.0 103 34 32 5 26 55 1.183
1986 NYY 0 4 .000 5.04 39 6 9 0 0 3 105.1 108 60 59 13 40 64 1.405
1987 NYY 1 0 1.000 4.50 12 1 6 0 0 0 34.0 36 20 17 4 16 12 1.529
11 Yrs 67 94 .416 3.82 434 162 105 16 2 18 1432.0 1432 689 608 127 543 790 1.379
NYY (5 yrs) 14 20 .412 4.05 165 39 38 4 1 5 470.2 488 232 212 40 156 232 1.368
SDP (4 yrs) 39 57 .406 3.58 197 92 55 10 1 12 722.0 718 329 287 59 274 432 1.374
KCR (1 yr) 0 0 14.73 3 0 1 0 0 0 7.1 10 12 12 5 6 1 2.182
STL (1 yr) 6 4 .600 4.08 28 11 5 1 0 1 79.1 78 42 36 6 34 36 1.412
CIN (1 yr) 8 13 .381 3.60 41 20 6 1 0 0 152.2 138 74 61 17 73 89 1.382
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/25/2013.