Results tagged ‘ august 7 ’

August 7 – Happy Birthday Bill McKechnie

Bill McKechnieDeacon Bill McKechnie wasn’t an especially good baseball player. He played a total of 846 games over eleven seasons as a utility infielder for five different ball clubs, averaging just .251 lifetime. Forty-five of those games were played in a Yankee uniform during the 1913 season. The switch-hitting Wilkinsburg, PA native hit just .134 for that Frank Chance managed New York team that finished in seventh place that season with a horrible 57-94 record. Those mediocre numbers may explain why the Yankees or nobody else seemed to care when McKechnie jumped to the upstart Federal League the following season to play for the Indianapolis Hoosiers. He averaged .304 as the Hoosier’s starting third baseman in 1914 and when the franchise was relocated to Newark, NJ the following year, McKechnie was made the team’s player-manager.

McKechne may have not been a very good big league player but he became an excellent big league manager. After the Federal League went belly up in 1916, he returned to the National League and played five more seasons before landing the Pittsburgh Pirates’ skipper’s job in June of 1922. His 1925 Pirate team won the World Series. His 1928 St. Louis Cardinal team won the NL Pennant. He then won two more Pennants with the 1939 and ’40 Cincinnati Reds and captured his second World Championship with that 1940 Reds team. He was the only big league manager to win pennants with three different teams until Dick Williams accomplished that same feat in 1984. In all he managed for 24 seasons in the National League. In addition to the Pirates, Cards and Reds, he also managed the Boston Braves for eight seasons. In all, he won 1,842 games which placed him in second place on the all-time list, when he retired in 1946, behind only John McGraw. He was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1962. He died three years later at the age of 79.

McKechnie shares his birthday with this World Series legend, this former Yankee DH/outfielder and this one-time Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1913 NYY 45 124 112 7 15 0 0 0 8 2 8 17 .134 .198 .134 .332
11 Yrs 846 3179 2843 319 713 86 33 8 240 127 190 204 .251 .301 .313 .614
PIT (6 yrs) 368 1313 1182 118 278 25 20 5 109 34 71 80 .235 .281 .303 .584
NEW (2 yrs) 276 1179 1021 156 286 46 11 3 81 75 94 67 .280 .345 .356 .700
CIN (2 yrs) 85 285 264 15 70 6 1 0 25 9 10 19 .265 .295 .295 .590
NYG (1 yr) 71 273 260 22 64 9 1 0 17 7 7 20 .246 .269 .288 .557
BSN (1 yr) 1 5 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .200 .000 .200
NYY (1 yr) 45 124 112 7 15 0 0 0 8 2 8 17 .134 .198 .134 .332
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/6/2013.

August 8 – Happy Birthday Jason Grimsley

Its a lot easier for me to criticize star players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens for allegedly turning to PEDs to help them pad already impressive personal stats and lengthen their careers, than it is to criticize today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant. Back in 1996, it looked as if Jason Grimsley’s career as a Major League pitcher was over. In seven seasons, pitching mostly as a starter with the Phillies, Indians and Angels, he had not been able to win more than five games or earn much more than the league’s minimum salary. He was 28 years-old and being sent back to the minors and the odds were he’d never put on a big league uniform again.

Then three years later, he re-emerged in the Bronx, in Joe Torre’s Yankee bullpen. When New York’s late-inning relievers Mike Stanton and Jeff Nelson both struggled during that 1999 season, it was Grimsley who picked them up. The tall right-hander appeared in 55 games that year, won seven of his nine decisions and finished with a 3.60 ERA. When asked to explain why he was pitching so much more effectively than he did earlier in his career, Grimsley credited the improvement to his conversion to a full-time reliever. He said the change in roles permitted him to focus on mastering one pitch, a hard sinking fastball, instead of trying to master four different ones. That made sense, but seven years later we learned that other factors may have also been involved.

In 2006, the front door doorbell of Grimsley’s Arizona home rang. When the Cleveland, Texas native answered it, he found federal agents with a search warrant. They were there looking for human growth hormone and in the conversation that followed, Grimsley not only admitted using the substance, he reportedly gave the agents the names of several teammates who used HGH, steroids and amphetamines. The next day, Grimsley asked his then current employer, the Arizona Diamondbacks to release him and they immediately obliged.

So why do I find it so hard to criticize Grimsley for turning to performance enhancers? Simply put, I feel he was cheating just to survive and feed his family, while guys like Clemens and Bonds, who had already made their marks and fortunes in the game, could only have been motivated by greed and/or ego. Grimsley’s drug-taking helped him get back to the majors and raise his salary from $425,000 to $2 million annually. During the eight years after his return to the big leagues, Grimsley earned over $8 million and probably secured his family’s future for life. If I were Grimsley, faced with the same choices, I’d have a real difficult time not making the same exact one he did.

He shares his August 7th birthday with this World Series legend, this Hall of Fame manager and this one-time Yankee DH and outfielder.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1999 NYY 7 2 .778 3.60 55 0 25 0 0 1 75.0 66 39 30 7 40 49 1.413
2000 NYY 3 2 .600 5.04 63 4 18 0 0 1 96.1 100 58 54 10 42 53 1.474
15 Yrs 42 58 .420 4.77 552 72 127 3 1 4 936.2 954 549 496 83 498 622 1.550
KCR (4 yrs) 10 21 .323 3.94 251 0 59 0 0 1 253.1 247 122 111 19 116 196 1.433
PHI (3 yrs) 5 12 .294 4.35 27 27 0 0 0 0 136.2 120 68 66 7 103 90 1.632
CLE (3 yrs) 8 6 .571 5.09 39 21 3 1 0 1 159.0 180 97 90 14 86 111 1.673
NYY (2 yrs) 10 4 .714 4.41 118 4 43 0 0 2 171.1 166 97 84 17 82 102 1.447
BAL (2 yrs) 3 6 .333 4.78 63 0 12 0 0 0 58.1 61 40 31 8 29 31 1.543
ARI (1 yr) 1 2 .333 4.88 19 0 6 0 0 0 27.2 30 15 15 4 8 10 1.373
CAL (1 yr) 5 7 .417 6.84 35 20 4 2 1 0 130.1 150 110 99 14 74 82 1.719
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/6/2013.

August 7 – Happy Birthday Steve Kemp

Steve Kemp was a college star at USC and the overall number one draft pick in MLB’s 1976 amateur draft. After just one year in the minors, the Detroit Tigers brought Kemp up to the big leagues and he responded with an 18-home run, 88-RBI rookie season in 1977. Over the next three seasons, he became one of the upper tier outfielders in the AL and an All Star in 1979, when he belted 26 home runs, drove in 105 and hit .318.

The problem with Kemp was his defense. He was a below average left-fielder with limited range and one of the league’s weakest outfield arms. So when he slumped at the plate during the strike-shortened season of 1981, the Tigers traded him to Chicago for outfielder Chet Lemon. Kemp had a strong year in the Windy City, hitting 19 HRs and driving in 98. When he became a free agent at the end of the ’82 season, White Sox owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn offered Kemp a contract worth $800K per year.

But back in 1983, George Steinbrenner was on a free agent spending spree. He seemed to want to sign anybody who ever hit .300 or won 20 games in a season. He gave Kemp a $5.5 million, five-year deal and Reinsdorf and Einhorn howled publicly in protest. They claimed Kemp wasn’t worth those kind of dollars and that “The Boss’s” stupid spending would ruin baseball’s salary structure. They turned out to be half-right anyway.

Kemp became one of the many Steinbrenner signings from that era to fail on the Big Apple stage. During his two seasons in pinstripes he hit just .264 and averaged 9 home runs and only 45 RBIs per season. Yankee Stadium favored left handed pull hitters but not lefties who hit the ball with power into the gaps. Pop ups down the line in the old Stadium were home runs while 400 yard drives to right-center were usually just long outs. Kemp’s power was to that cow-pasture-like gap in right center.  His defensive shortcomings were also highlighted by the Stadium’s tough left field.

By 1984, Steinbrenner had seen enough. He OK’d a trade that sent Kemp to Pittsburgh for Yogi’s kid, Dale Berra and a prospect named Jay Buhner. Kemp’s skills faded fast in the Steel City and he  was out of the big leagues for good by 1987. He was born in San Angelo, TX on August 7, 1954. Kemp certainly wasn’t a perfect Yankee but he shares today as a birthday with this former Yankee pitcher who on one brilliant October day in 1956, was. Today is also the birthday of this one-time Yankee reliever and this Hall of Fame manager.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1983 NYY 109 419 373 53 90 17 3 12 49 1 41 37 .241 .318 .399 .718
1984 NYY 94 361 313 37 91 12 1 7 41 4 40 54 .291 .369 .403 .771
11 Yrs 1168 4714 4058 581 1128 179 25 130 634 39 576 605 .278 .367 .431 .797
DET (5 yrs) 684 2930 2504 378 711 114 18 89 422 24 375 362 .284 .376 .450 .826
PIT (2 yrs) 105 286 252 20 62 13 2 3 22 2 29 60 .246 .319 .349 .669
NYY (2 yrs) 203 780 686 90 181 29 4 19 90 5 81 91 .264 .341 .401 .742
TEX (1 yr) 16 39 36 2 8 0 0 0 2 1 2 9 .222 .256 .222 .479
CHW (1 yr) 160 679 580 91 166 23 1 19 98 7 89 83 .286 .381 .428 .808
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/6/2013.

August 7 – Happy Birthday Don Larsen

Larsen will of course always be remembered as the guy who threw the only perfect game in World Series history. When most fans think of this big right-hander they probably visualize the famous clip of that game’s final out, when umpire Babe Pinelli ended the at bat of the Dodgers’ Dale Mitchell with a questionable third strike call. At the end of that clip, Yankee catcher Yogi Berra is shown jumping joyously into Larsen’s arms. Did you know that during that leap, Yogi’s knee hit Larsen squarely in the groin, putting the Yankee pitcher in excruciating pain?

One of the things I most like about sports is getting the opportunity to watch non-stars have their day in the sun. Just two seasons before he became a Yankee legend, Larsen had a 3-21 record for baseball’s worst team at the time, the Baltimore Orioles. After that horrific year, he was traded to the Yankees as part of a sixteen-player transaction that was then the largest trade in baseball history. Can you imagine the current Yankees making a trade involving sixteen players and their agents?

Larsen pitched decently for the Yankees for five seasons, compiling a 45-24 regular season record and a total of three World Series victories against just one defeat. But during his fourteen-year big league career he was traded eight times, lost more games than he won, and was never considered one of baseball’s upper tier pitchers. None of that mattered to Larsen. During the fiftieth year anniversary celebration of his World Series classic, I heard Larsen tell an interviewer that one game performance had changed his life and continued to help him pay the bills a full half century after it happened. Larsen was born on this date in 1929, in Michigan City, IN.

Larsen shares his birthday with this Hall of Fame managerthis former Yankee outfielder and this former Yankee reliever.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1955 NYY 9 2 .818 3.06 19 13 5 5 1 2 97.0 81 38 33 8 51 44 1.361
1956 NYY 11 5 .688 3.26 38 20 9 6 1 1 179.2 133 72 65 19 96 107 1.275
1957 NYY 10 4 .714 3.74 27 20 5 4 1 0 139.2 113 68 58 12 87 81 1.432
1958 NYY 9 6 .600 3.07 19 19 0 5 3 0 114.1 100 43 39 4 52 55 1.329
1959 NYY 6 7 .462 4.33 25 18 3 3 1 0 124.2 122 65 60 14 76 69 1.588
14 Yrs 81 91 .471 3.78 412 171 132 44 11 23 1548.0 1442 728 650 130 725 849 1.400
W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
NYY (5 yrs) 45 24 .652 3.50 128 90 22 23 7 3 655.1 549 286 255 57 362 356 1.390
SFG (3 yrs) 12 12 .500 3.86 101 0 54 0 0 14 158.2 139 72 68 17 83 108 1.399
BAL (3 yrs) 11 35 .239 4.08 94 51 23 19 3 3 448.1 467 227 203 33 173 216 1.428
KCA (2 yrs) 2 10 .167 5.20 30 16 8 0 0 0 98.2 118 64 57 13 53 56 1.733
HOU (2 yrs) 4 8 .333 2.40 31 11 11 2 1 1 108.2 100 39 29 4 23 59 1.132
CHC (1 yr) 0 0 9.00 3 0 1 0 0 0 4.0 5 4 4 1 2 1 1.750
CHW (1 yr) 7 2 .778 4.12 25 3 13 0 0 2 74.1 64 36 34 5 29 53 1.251
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/6/2013.