Results tagged ‘ amsterdam rugmakers ’

October 2 – Happy Birthday Spec Shea

I was born, raised and still live in a small Upstate New York city named Amsterdam. Back in the first half of the twentieth century, our town was the center of this country’s carpet industry and the gigantic looms in the factories of Amsterdam-based companies named Mohawk and Sanford turned out more rugs than any city in the world. We also had our own Minor League baseball team, a C-level Yankee franchise in the old Canadian American League. They were called the Amsterdam Rugmakers.

Today’s birthday celebrant, Frank “Spec” Shea spent his first season of organized ball in our City, playing for the old Rugmakers and living in the old Amsterdam Hotel. The year was 1940 and Shea finished the Rugmaker season with an 11-4 record. He spent the next two seasons climbing up New York’s minor league ladder and the three after that serving his country in WWII. He then went 15-5 for the Yankee’s Triple A team in Oakland, finally making the big club in 1947.

Spec went 14-5 as a rookie for the Yankees and won the AL All Star game plus beat the Dodgers twice in the 1947 World Series. He would have been AL Rookie of the Year as well but back then only one player in all of baseball got that award and Shea finished behind Jackie Robinson. Spec never again achieved the level of success he had during his first year in pinstripes and was finally traded to the Senators in 1952.

He pitched very well during his first two seasons in Washington winning 23 games and losing just 14 times for a very bad team. He called it quits after the 1955 season. He was 29-21 as a Yankee and 56-46 for his eight-season big league career.

Also born on this date was this former Yankee shortstop, a former Yankee player who bought and sold 83 minor league teams during his lifetime and this former Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1947 NYY 14 5 .737 3.07 27 23 3 13 3 1 178.2 127 63 61 10 89 89 1.209
1948 NYY 9 10 .474 3.41 28 22 4 8 3 1 155.2 117 66 59 10 87 71 1.310
1949 NYY 1 1 .500 5.33 20 3 10 0 0 1 52.1 48 36 31 5 43 22 1.739
1951 NYY 5 5 .500 4.33 25 11 7 2 2 0 95.2 112 59 46 11 50 38 1.693
8 Yrs 56 46 .549 3.80 195 118 50 48 12 5 943.2 849 453 398 66 497 361 1.426
WSH (4 yrs) 27 25 .519 3.92 95 59 26 25 4 2 461.1 445 229 201 30 228 141 1.459
NYY (4 yrs) 29 21 .580 3.68 100 59 24 23 8 3 482.1 404 224 197 36 269 220 1.395
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/2/2013.

May 23 – Happy Birthday Bill Drescher

Most Yankee fans have never heard of today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant but if you happened to have loved the Bronx Bombers and also lived in my hometown of Amsterdam, New York back in 1942, you remember him well. That’s because that was the year Bill Drescher was the starting catcher for the Amsterdam Rugmakers, the Yankee affiliate in the old Class C Canadian American League. It was the 21-year-old Drescher’s first season of professional baseball and according to his Rugmaker Manager at the time, a guy named Tom Kain, the native of Congers, NY seemed like a natural both at the plate and behind it. Dresher hit .301 in 100 games for Amsterdam that season and was featured in a New York Times article that described him as “a carbon copy” of the Yankees’ Hall-of-Fame receiver, Bill Dickey. In fact, that same article went on to say that if Dickey, who was nearing the end of his outstanding career at the time, could hang on for two or three more seasons it would be Drescher who would take his place as the Yankee starting catcher.

Dickey did his part but when the time came to replace him, Drescher was not ready. He did make his first appearance behind the plate in the Bronx during the 1944 season and then got his real shot the following year, when he caught 48 games for what would be Manager Joe McCarthy’s final full season as Yankee Manager. He hit .270 and fielded adequately but the following year WWII ended and all of the Yankees’ catchers returned to the game. Drescher ended up getting lost in that crowd and spending the rest of his professional playing career catching in the Yankee farm system. He died in 1968 at the very young age of 47.

May 23rd is also the birthday of this former Yankee Manager and this other former Yankee manager.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1944 NYY 4 7 7 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .143 .143 .143 .286
1945 NYY 48 138 126 10 34 3 1 0 15 0 8 5 .270 .313 .310 .623
1946 NYY 5 6 6 0 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 .333 .333 .500 .833
3 Yrs 57 151 139 10 37 4 1 0 16 0 8 5 .266 .306 .309 .615
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/23/2013.

March 8 – Happy Birthday Bob Grim

No Yankee pitcher has had a more impressive rookie season than the one Bob Grim put together in 1954. Not only did he win 20 games in his debut year, he did it while pitching just 199.0 innings, which is the fewest of any 20-game winner in history. Seven of those victories came in relief roles, which helps explain the low number of total innings. For his effort, Grim won that year’s Rookie of the Year Award and led New York to a 103 victory season, the most wins in the six seasons Casey Stengel had been managing the club. Ironically, that Yankee team failed to win the AL Pennant for the first time since Stengel was hired, finishing eight games behind Cleveland. Still, all of Yankeedom was thrilled to have this new young right-hander and Big Apple native on a Yankee starting staff that was then transitioning from the Reynolds, Raschi, Lopat era to a new rotation generation led by Whitey Ford and Grim.

The problem turned out to be that even though 199 innings was extremely low for a twenty game winner, it was a pretty big load for a 24-year-old rookie pitcher and the following season, Grim developed a sore arm. He won just 7 games in 1955 and then just 6 in 1956. By 1957, Stengel was using him exclusively out of the Yankee bullpen. That suited Grim, who won 12 games in relief that season and led the AL with 19 saves.

What might have contributed most to the end of Grim’s career in pinstripes was his failure to pitch well in October. In both the World Series he appeared in, 1955 and ’57, Grim pitched poorly in key situations contributing to New York’s disappointing losses in these two seven-game Fall Classics. In June of 1958, Grim was traded to Kansas City. After two decent seasons of relief pitching for a very bad A’s ballclub, he faded quickly. His big league career ended in 1962 with a 61-41 record and 37 career saves. Born on March 8, 1930, Grim passed away in 1996.

Today is also the birthday of this other one-time Yankee twenty-game winner and this former Yankee reliever.

June 16 – Happy Birthday Allie Clarke

This Jersey native started his seven-season big league career appearing in 24 games with the 1947 Yankees. Most of those appearances were as a first baseman. He was one of the last Yankees to wear uniform number 3 before it was retired upon Babe Ruth’s death in 1948. The highlight of Clarke’s short stay in pinstripes had to be his participation in the 1947 World Series. He appeared in three games against the Dodgers in that Fall Classic, came to the plate three times, getting a walk a base hit, scoring a run and delivering an RBI. He was then traded to the Indians for pitcher Red Embree and appeared in his second straight Series that year, when the Indians captured the AL Pennant. He played three plus seasons in Cleveland and then joined the A’s in Philadelphia for a while. He played his last big league game in 1953.

Clarke played briefly for the Amsterdam Rugmakers in 1941. The team was based in my hometown of Amsterdam, NY and was the Yankees’ C-level affiliate in the old Canadian-American League. He wowed our town’s local sports press by averaging .368 during his 20 games with the team. 

He shares his June 16th birthday with this former Yankee reliever and this one too.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1947 NYY 24 73 67 9 25 5 0 1 14 0 5 2 .373 .417 .493 .909
7 Yrs 358 1106 1021 131 267 48 4 32 149 2 72 70 .262 .312 .410 .722
CLE (4 yrs) 178 562 518 73 135 17 3 17 71 0 39 32 .261 .312 .403 .716
PHA (3 yrs) 147 456 421 49 106 26 1 14 64 2 28 31 .252 .303 .418 .721
NYY (1 yr) 24 73 67 9 25 5 0 1 14 0 5 2 .373 .417 .493 .909
CHW (1 yr) 9 15 15 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 .067 .067 .067 .133
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/16/2013.