Results tagged ‘ august 28 ’

August 28 – Happy Birthday Jay Witasick

WitasickThe great Yankee bullpen of the late 1990’s had been disrupted by the departure of right-hander Jeff Nelson after the 2000 season. Brian Cashman had spent the first three weeks of June in 2001 trying to put the finishing touches on a trade with the Expos for Ugueth Urbina but the deal fell apart at the last second.

I remember salivating over the possible addition of Ugie when rumors of the proposed deal became public. Naturally, I was disappointed when  my favorite team ended up with Jay Witasick in their bullpen instead.

At the time of his acquisition, Witasick had already been pitching in the big leagues for five seasons with three different teams. He also had never posted an ERA below 5.64 in any of them. But then suddenly, during the first half of the 2001 season, he was getting everybody out for the San Diego Padres. His fastball was suddenly faster, his control sharper and his ERA was a microscopic 1.86. Cashman was willing to ignore Witasick’s half decade of big league history and sent Yankee infield prospect D’Angelo Jimenez to San Diego in exchange for the six-foot-four-inch, right-handed native of Baltimore.

The newest Yankee then got shelled in his first appearance against Baltimore but settled down and pitched decent ball for New York through August. Then he got hot during the final month of the 2001 season, turning in ten consecutive appearances without surrendering an earned run, earning him a spot on Joe Torre’s postseason roster. That proved to be a bad decision.

He did not pitch well in his only ALDS appearance against Seattle. He pitched even worse in his only ALCS appearance against the Angels and then turned in one of the worst World Series pitching performances in the history of the Yankee franchise.

After Andy Pettitte gave up four runs during the first two innings of Game Six against Arizona, Torre replaced him with Witasick in the top of the third with two Diamondbacks on base. Witasick permitted those two runners to score and then proceeded to give up nine more runs of his own, making his World Series ERA 54.00. You know what’s even more remarkable? Naturally, George Steinbrenner had this guy jettisoned from New York after that Series and he ended up back in the World Series the very next season with San Francisco. How did he do? In two appearances for the Giants in that Fall Classic, he retired just one batter and posted a second consecutive World Series ERA of 54.00.

Witasick shares his birthday with this Yankee second baseman from the 1920’sthis former Cy Young Award winner, this outfielder known for his sweet swing and this one-time Yankee pitcher who also gave up Bucky Dent’s home run.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2001 NYY 3 0 1.000 4.69 32 0 8 0 0 0 40.1 47 27 21 5 18 53 1.612
12 Yrs 32 41 .438 4.64 405 56 101 3 1 5 731.1 775 429 377 97 364 645 1.557
OAK (6 yrs) 5 5 .500 5.26 91 3 25 0 0 1 116.1 127 78 68 22 73 115 1.719
SDP (4 yrs) 11 12 .478 3.96 132 11 43 0 0 4 206.2 199 108 91 26 101 206 1.452
KCR (2 yrs) 12 20 .375 5.71 54 42 4 3 1 0 247.2 300 173 157 38 121 169 1.700
TBD (1 yr) 0 0 6.61 20 0 5 0 0 0 16.1 17 13 12 1 18 8 2.143
COL (1 yr) 0 4 .000 2.52 32 0 7 0 0 0 35.2 27 11 10 2 12 40 1.093
SFG (1 yr) 1 0 1.000 2.37 44 0 9 0 0 0 68.1 58 19 18 3 21 54 1.156
NYY (1 yr) 3 0 1.000 4.69 32 0 8 0 0 0 40.1 47 27 21 5 18 53 1.612
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/28/2013.

August 28 – Happy Birthday Aaron Ward

His Yankee teammates used to call him “Wardie.” He had put on the pinstripes for the first time in 1917, when he was just 20 years-old. A year later, Miller Huggins became Yankee Manager and Ward sat on his bench for two seasons, listening, watching and learning how the game was played. In 1920, the wife of Yankee third baseman, Frank “Home Run” Baker, died suddenly. Baker decided to take a year off from playing baseball to be with his two young children. “Hug” started playing Ward at third that season and the Akansas native did OK, hitting 11 home runs and driving in 54 for an improving Yankee team that also featured newcomer Babe Ruth that year. When Baker decided to return to the game the following year, the Yankees traded their starting second baseman, Del Pratt to the Red Sox and Huggins made Ward the team’s new starting second sacker.

For the next three seasons, he was as valuable a Yankee as any with the exception of Ruth. Ward hit a career high .306 in 1921, helping Huggins and New York reach their first World Series, which they lost to their hometown rivals, the Giants. They lost to them again in the ’22 Fall Classic but the third time proved to be the charm the following year and Ward played a huge roll in the Yankees first-ever World Championship. He hit .284 in the regular season and drove in a career-high 82 runs. Than in the ’23 World Series, Wardie led the Yankees with 10 hits and a .417 batting average, while providing excellent defense at second. Yankee owner, Jacob Rupert told the press that Ward deserved as much credit as Ruth and Huggins, for the Yankees’ first title.

Neither the Yankees or Ward could continue their success in 1924, as the team finished in second place and the second baseman slumped to .253. The bigger problem facing Huggins was Ruth’s outlandish personal behavior and the impact it was having on not only the Bambino’s play but also the attitude of the entire Yankee team. It came to a head in 1925, the year of Ruth’s famous “big bellyache,” which in actuality was a complete physical and mental breakdown. The Yankees fell all the way to seventh place in the final standings.

The Bambino had been scared straight. He worked harder during the 1925 off season than he ever had before and helped the Yankees win another AL Pennant in ’26. But he sure didn’t do it by himself. New York had introduced a whole new right side of their infield that year. Lou Gehrig took over for Wally Pipp at first and Aaron Ward lost his job at second to a kid named Tony Lazzeri. He appeared in just 22 games during his final season in the Bronx and then got traded to the White Sox. He retired two seasons later with a .268 lifetime average and 966 hits during his dozen-year big league career.

Wardie shares his birthday with this former Cy Young Award winner, this outfielder known for his sweet swing,  this one-time Yankee pitcher who also gave up Bucky Dent’s home run and this former Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1917 NYY 8 27 26 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 1 5 .115 .148 .115 .264
1918 NYY 20 36 32 2 4 1 0 0 1 1 2 7 .125 .176 .156 .333
1919 NYY 27 39 34 5 7 2 0 0 2 0 5 6 .206 .308 .265 .572
1920 NYY 127 551 496 62 127 18 7 11 54 7 33 84 .256 .304 .387 .691
1921 NYY 153 634 556 77 170 30 10 5 75 6 42 68 .306 .363 .423 .786
1922 NYY 154 641 558 69 149 19 5 7 68 6 45 64 .267 .328 .357 .685
1923 NYY 152 642 567 79 161 26 11 10 82 8 56 65 .284 .351 .422 .773
1924 NYY 120 476 400 42 101 13 10 8 66 1 40 45 .253 .324 .395 .719
1925 NYY 125 502 439 41 108 22 3 4 38 1 49 49 .246 .326 .337 .663
1926 NYY 22 34 31 5 10 2 0 0 3 0 2 6 .323 .364 .387 .751
12 Yrs 1059 4143 3611 457 966 158 54 50 446 36 339 457 .268 .335 .383 .717
NYY (10 yrs) 908 3582 3139 382 840 133 46 45 390 30 275 399 .268 .331 .382 .713
CLE (1 yr) 6 11 9 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 .111 .200 .111 .311
CHW (1 yr) 145 550 463 75 125 25 8 5 56 6 63 56 .270 .360 .391 .751
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/31/2013.

August 28 – Happy Birthday Lou Piniella

If you’re old enough to remember when Lou Piniella played for the Yankees, you most likely enjoyed watching him do so. He had very little speed and not much power so he mixed every ounce of talent he had with every bit of effort he could muster to play a huge role in helping New York win five pennants and two World Series during his eleven seasons with the team. Oh yeah, he also had a beautiful swing which earned him the nickname “Sweet Lou.” He first donned the pinstripes in 1974, when the Yankees picked up the 1969 AL Rookie of the Year winner from the Royals in a trade for veteran reliever Lindy McDaniel. It turned out to be one of the best transactions in Yankee history. He hit .305 as manager Bill Virdon’s everyday right-fielder during his first year in the Bronx but then he went through a horrible season in 1975, averaging just .186 and helping to get Virdon fired and replaced by the fiery Billy Martin. Billy began playing Piniella a little bit in right field, a little bit in left and a little bit at DH. Lou simply thrived in this semi-utility role, averaging over .300 for the rest of his Yankee career. The play he will always be remembered for in the Big Apple was his famous feint on the Jerry Remy liner that he lost in the sun during the 1978 playoff game against the Red Sox. If he doesn’t make believe he sees that ball, Rick Burleson, who was on first at the time, easily gets to third and might have scored. Then Lou spears the ball on one hop and again prevents Burleson from getting past second.

George Steinbrenner loved players born in his adopted home-town of Tampa and Lou was the first native of that city to play for The Boss. That helps explain why George gave Lou his first manager and general manager jobs with the Yankees. Piniella’s temper and Steinbrenner’s famous impatience with anyone placed in either of those positions ended any chance Lou might have had to retire from baseball as a Yankee. Instead he went on to win three Manager of the Year titles, the 1991 World Series and finally ended his 43-year big league career this month when he walked away from the Wrigley Field dugout to spend time with his ailing Mom and go fishing.

Lou turns 68 years-old today. The guy who gave up the home run to Bucky Dent in that 1978 playoff game, the pitcher who started that playoff game for New Yorkthis former Yankee second baseman and this former Yankee reliever were all also born on August 28th.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1974 NYY 140 567 518 71 158 26 0 9 70 1 32 58 .305 .341 .407 .748
1975 NYY 74 221 199 7 39 4 1 0 22 0 16 22 .196 .262 .226 .489
1976 NYY 100 351 327 36 92 16 6 3 38 0 18 34 .281 .322 .394 .716
1977 NYY 103 369 339 47 112 19 3 12 45 2 20 31 .330 .365 .510 .876
1978 NYY 130 513 472 67 148 34 5 6 69 3 34 36 .314 .361 .445 .806
1979 NYY 130 491 461 49 137 22 2 11 69 3 17 31 .297 .320 .425 .745
1980 NYY 116 355 321 39 92 18 0 2 27 0 29 20 .287 .343 .361 .704
1981 NYY 60 174 159 16 44 9 0 5 18 0 13 9 .277 .331 .428 .759
1982 NYY 102 283 261 33 80 17 1 6 37 0 18 18 .307 .352 .448 .801
1983 NYY 53 160 148 19 43 9 1 2 16 1 11 12 .291 .344 .405 .749
1984 NYY 29 93 86 8 26 4 1 1 6 0 7 5 .302 .355 .407 .762
18 Yrs 1747 6362 5867 651 1705 305 41 102 766 32 368 541 .291 .333 .409 .741
NYY (11 yrs) 1037 3577 3291 392 971 178 20 57 417 10 215 276 .295 .338 .413 .751
KCR (5 yrs) 700 2778 2570 258 734 127 21 45 348 22 153 265 .286 .327 .404 .730
CLE (1 yr) 6 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
BAL (1 yr) 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/31/2013.