Results tagged ‘ catcher ’

July 24 – Happy Birthday Joe Oliver

Today is the 49th birthday of Major League Baseball’s controversial career home run leader and son of a former-Yankee, Barry Bonds. Exactly one year after Bonds came into this world, today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Joe Oliver played just 12 games of his 13-year big league career in a Yankee uniform as a backup catcher during the 2001 season. He spent his most productive big league seasons with the Reds and started behind the plate for Lou Piniella’s 1990 World Champion Cincinnati team. He caught 1,033 games in thirteen big league seasons. He hit the last of his 102 big league home runs in a Yankee uniform against the great Greg Maddux. The only other member of the Yankee family to be born on this date is this former Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2001 NYY 12 40 36 3 9 1 0 1 2 0 1 12 .250 .263 .361 .624
13 Yrs 1076 3698 3367 320 831 174 3 102 476 13 248 637 .247 .299 .391 .690
CIN (8 yrs) 769 2648 2408 210 593 120 2 72 342 6 178 437 .246 .298 .387 .686
SEA (2 yrs) 98 316 285 45 72 16 1 12 45 3 24 53 .253 .311 .442 .753
PIT (1 yr) 45 146 134 10 27 8 0 1 13 2 10 33 .201 .253 .284 .537
BOS (1 yr) 5 13 12 1 3 1 0 0 1 0 1 3 .250 .308 .333 .641
NYY (1 yr) 12 40 36 3 9 1 0 1 2 0 1 12 .250 .263 .361 .624
DET (1 yr) 50 166 155 8 35 8 0 4 22 0 7 33 .226 .253 .355 .608
MIL (1 yr) 97 369 337 43 92 20 0 12 51 2 27 66 .273 .332 .439 .772
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/23/2013.

 

July 20 – Happy Birthday Red Kleinow

When Hall of Famer Bill Dickey began his sixth consecutive season as the Yankees’ starting catcher in 1934 he broke the 25-year-old record for most consecutive years starting for New York at that position, which was set by today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant. John Peter Kleinow, better known as Red, was born in Milwaukee on this date in 1877. He played baseball in college and then the minor leagues before signing with the Highlanders in 1904. During his first season in New York, he was the team’s back-up backstop to Deacon McGuire. He took over as starter the following year and maintained that status through the 1909 season.

Never a good hitter, Kleinow was instead considered to be an excellent defensive catcher. His lifetime percentage for throwing out base runners attempting to steal was an impressive 44%. But it was a pitch that got over Kleinow’s head in his rookie season that cost New York a shot at the franchise’s first pennant in 1904. Trailing Boston by a game and a half with just two to play, New York’s 41-game winner, Jack Chesbro was pitching against the first place team in the eighth inning of a 2-2 tie game. Chesbro threw one of the dirtiest baseballs in the game and in the later innings, when the sun was low in the sky and shadows covered the Hilltopper Park pitching mound, it was next to impossible for a hitter or catcher to pick up the flight of a “Happy Jack” doctored baseball. With a runner on third, Chesbro let loose a spitball that the hitter never saw. Unfortunately, neither did Kleinow. As the ball sailed over the catcher’s head, the runner on third scampered safely home and Boston won the game and clinched the pennant.

In 1910, Red became a Red Sox when Boston purchased his contract from New York. But by then, the wear and tear on Kleinow’s legs from all those years of catching had caught up with him and he was out of the big leagues after 1911. His batting average during his seven years with New York was only .219 and he drove in an average of just 17 runs per season. He must have been a defensive wizard!

Red shares his July 20th birthday with this pitcher the Yankees acquired in a trade for Dave Winfield. Today is also the 44th anniversary of Man’s first steps on the Moon which also means it is my oldest brother’s birthday. Happy birthday Big J.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1904 NYY 68 230 209 12 43 8 4 0 16 4 15 37 .206 .259 .282 .541
1905 NYY 88 278 253 23 56 6 3 1 24 7 20 34 .221 .284 .281 .564
1906 NYY 96 306 268 30 59 9 3 0 31 8 24 28 .220 .287 .276 .563
1907 NYY 90 301 269 30 71 6 4 0 26 5 24 25 .264 .327 .316 .643
1908 NYY 96 312 279 16 47 3 2 1 13 5 22 31 .168 .237 .204 .441
1909 NYY 78 241 206 24 47 11 4 0 15 7 25 31 .228 .315 .320 .635
1910 NYY 6 13 12 2 5 0 0 0 2 2 1 0 .417 .462 .417 .878
8 Yrs 584 1875 1665 146 354 45 20 3 135 42 153 213 .213 .282 .269 .551
NYY (7 yrs) 522 1681 1496 137 328 43 20 2 127 38 131 186 .219 .286 .279 .564
BOS (2 yrs) 58 186 161 9 25 1 0 1 8 4 22 26 .155 .257 .180 .437
PHI (1 yr) 4 8 8 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .125 .125 .250 .375
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/20/2013.

July 15 – Happy Birthday Bubbles Hargrave

hargraveBubbles and his brother Pinky made careers out of back-up catching. His real first name was Eugene and he was four years older than Pinky. He played in 852 big league games in a career that spanned a dozen seasons, most of them in Cincinnati. For a part-time player, Bubbles could really handle the bat. In fact, he won the NL batting title in 1926 with a .353 average back when all a hitter had to do to qualify was appear in 100 games (Bubble had 115 hits in just 326 at bats that season.) He retired with a very noteworthy .310 lifetime batting average. The Reds let him go after the 1928 season and he spent all of 1929 catching for a double A franchise in St Paul, MN. In 1930, the Yankees signed him to back up their young catching phee-nom, Bill Dickey. Hargrave appeared in 45 games that season for New York, hitting .278. He then caught for a few more years in the minors before hanging his tools of ignorance up for good. He was born on July 15, 1892 in New Haven, IN. He died in 1969 in his adopted hometown of Cincinnati.

He shares his birthday with this former Yankee outfielder and this long-ago 1902 Oriole first baseman, who both committed suicide.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1930 NYY 45 121 108 11 30 7 0 0 12 0 10 9 .278 .339 .343 .682
12 Yrs 852 2852 2533 314 786 155 58 29 376 29 217 165 .310 .372 .452 .824
CIN (8 yrs) 766 2671 2367 298 744 146 57 29 359 27 206 147 .314 .377 .461 .838
CHC (3 yrs) 41 60 58 5 12 2 1 0 5 2 1 9 .207 .220 .276 .496
NYY (1 yr) 45 121 108 11 30 7 0 0 12 0 10 9 .278 .339 .343 .682
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/15/2013.

July 6 – Happy Birthday Ken Sears

Back in the early forties, Yankee front-office guru, Ed Barrow was busily signing every catching prospect he could find, knowing that the Yankee’s all-time great, Bill Dickey was nearing the end-of-the-line as the team’s starting receiver. One such prospect was Ken Sears, who’s dad, Ziggy was then a National League umpire.

Sears had played collegiate ball at the University of Alabama and had good power. Since he swung a bat from the left side, Barrow was hoping he’d be a good fit for that short right field porch in the old Yankee Stadium. Sears played his first year of professional ball in my hometown, with the 1939 Amsterdam Rugmakers of the old Class C Canadian American League. The following season he smashed 38 home runs for the Yankees Class B team in Norfolk, VA. That impressive power output got him moved up to the double A level of the Yankee organization, where he continued to pound the ball. There is little doubt that the migration of young Yankee catchers into military service during World War II helped Sears earn his first big league roster spot with the 1943 parent club, but by then he had also established himself as one of the franchise’s prime candidates to succeed Dickey.

His Yankee career got off to a great start on Opening Day 1943, when he hit his first big league home run. He got into 64 games that season as Dickey’s backup and hit .278. He helped the Yankees capture the AL Pennant but he did not get to play in what would be McCarthy’s seventh and final World Series win as a Yankee manager that fall.

What Sears was not able to do that year was hit with anywhere near the level of power he had exhibited at the minor league level. His Opening Day blast was one of just two home runs he managed during his rookie season. That issue became moot when Sears was also called into military service and missed playing the next two years. When he returned to the club, so had all of the other Yankee catchers who had made the switch from baseball to WWII military uniforms. Sears was out of shape and lost his spot on the Yankee catching depth chart quickly. New York then sold him to the Browns who would later try and return the catcher to New York, complaining he had reported to St. Louis with a bum throwing arm. The seven games he played for the Browns in 1946 would be the last of his big league career. Sears died in 1971 at the age of just 58.

Sears shares his July 6th birthday with this former Yankee Captain and this long-ago Yankee utility player.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1943 NYY 60 201 187 22 52 7 0 2 22 1 11 18 .278 .328 .348 .676
2 Yrs 67 219 202 23 57 7 0 2 23 1 14 18 .282 .338 .347 .684
NYY (1 yr) 60 201 187 22 52 7 0 2 22 1 11 18 .278 .328 .348 .676
SLB (1 yr) 7 18 15 1 5 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 .333 .444 .333 .778
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/6/2013.

June 24 – Happy Birthday Rollie Hemsley

Of the eight Yankee catchers who have made the AL All Star team, today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant is perhaps the least recognized. That’s because he was actually the team’s second string catcher the year he was honored and it happened during WWII when America’s focus was more on the battles going on in Europe and the Pacific and not on baseball. Rollie Hemsley may not have been very well known as a Yankee, but prior to him wearing the pinstripes, the Syracuse, Ohio native had caught in the big leagues for thirteen seasons for five different big league ball clubs and made four other AL All Star teams. His best years were spent as the starting catcher for the Browns from 1934 through 1937. He hit a career-high .309 for St. Louis during the 1934 season and was better than adequate defensively, behind the plate.

The Yankees signed him in July of 1942, after he had been released by Cincinnati. New York needed an extra catcher because their starter, Bill Dickey had been injured. Hemsley ended up hitting .294 in the 31 games he appeared in for New York that season which got him an invite back the following year when he became Dickey’s primary backup. By 1944 Dickey was in military service and Hemsley pretty much shared the Yankee catching position with Mike Garbark. Though he was already 37 years-old at the time, Rollie thrived with the added playing time, hitting a solid .268 and earning his fifth and final All Star game nod.

During the 1945 spring training season, rookie catcher Aaron Robinson impressed the Yankee brass enough to feel they could sell Hemsley to the Phillies. Rollie was 40-years-old when he played his last game in the majors in 1947. He later became a big league coach for many years. He ended up catching in 1,482 big league games. He shares his birthday with this Yankee starting pitcher and this long-ago Yankee outfielder.

Here are the seven other Yankee catchers who have made the AL All Star team during their careers in pinstripes:

Bill Dickey (11 times)

Here are Hemsley’s Yankee and career playing stats.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1942 NYY 31 92 85 12 25 3 1 0 15 1 5 9 .294 .333 .353 .686
1943 NYY 62 199 180 12 43 6 3 2 24 0 13 9 .239 .290 .339 .629
1944 NYY 81 299 284 23 76 12 5 2 26 0 9 13 .268 .290 .366 .656
19 Yrs 1593 5511 5047 562 1321 257 72 31 555 29 357 395 .262 .311 .360 .671
G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
SLB (5 yrs) 515 1932 1741 184 475 101 20 8 182 11 155 149 .273 .334 .368 .701
PIT (4 yrs) 252 789 727 93 192 37 16 2 101 5 40 56 .264 .302 .367 .670
CLE (4 yrs) 390 1415 1302 160 344 58 17 10 130 6 89 84 .264 .311 .358 .669
NYY (3 yrs) 174 590 549 47 144 21 9 4 65 1 27 31 .262 .297 .355 .652
PHI (2 yrs) 51 155 142 7 32 4 1 0 12 0 9 10 .225 .272 .268 .539
CIN (2 yrs) 85 241 231 16 35 9 2 0 14 0 10 19 .152 .187 .208 .395
CHC (2 yrs) 126 389 355 55 99 27 7 7 51 6 27 46 .279 .330 .454 .783
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/24/2013.

June 11 – Happy Birthday Roger Bresnahan

Ban Johnson, the first-ever American League President did not like John McGraw, who was then the manager of the new league’s Baltimore franchise. McGraw was famous for fighting with umpires and flouting the rules. The fact that the fiery skipper also had an ownership stake in the Orioles’ franchise meant that he was technically one of the AL chief executive’s  bosses, which also drove Johnson nuts. So during the 1902 season, Johnson put together a reason to put McGraw on indefinite suspension. Instead of fighting it or serving it out, McGraw jumped to the rival National League and accepted a managerial position with the New York Giants. When he did, he invited a core group of his favorite Orioles players to accompany him to his new team. That is why both McGraw and today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant were already in the Big Apple when one season later, the Orioles’ franchise was also relocated there and became the Highlanders (and eventually the Yankees.) If Johnson and McGraw did not dislike each other so much both the manager and Roger Bresnahan would have become Highlanders instead of Giants and the Yankee franchise would surly have won its first Pennants and World Series much earlier in team history. Eventually, baseball’s most famous catcher during the first decade of the 20th century would one day join his buddy and skipper in Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Bresnahan was a versatile athlete and a very interesting character. He was famous for his hair-trigger temper. Nobody got ejected from baseball games for fighting with umpires and opposing players more frequently than Bresnahan did and it was often necessary to call in the local police to escort the Toledo, Ohio native off the field. He was also not your prototypical catcher. He had outstanding speed, stealing 212 bases during his big league career. He was a second-string receiver for McGraw in Baltimore but when he joined the Giants they already had two catchers so Lil Napoleon started his buddy in center during his first full season in New York and he hit .350. Bresnahan had started his big league career as a pitcher and went 4-0 doing his 1897 rookie season with Washington. He actually played all nine positions during his career. This guy was also quite the innovator. It was Bresnahan who introduced shin guards to the catching position and he also wore baseball’s first-ever batting helmet.

Roger no doubt owed much of his big league success to Giant Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Matthewson. It was Matthewson who went to McGraw and told him he preferred to have Bresnahan catch his games. In 1905, the two would lead the Giants to their second straight NL Pennant and first ever World Series title. In that Fall Classic, Matthewson would throw three complete game shutouts with Bresnahan behind the plate in each of them. In addition, the Giants’ starting catcher also led New York with a .313 batting average during that Series.

Bresnahan would continue catching for the Giants until 1909, when he was offered the opportunity to become a player-manager for the Cardinals. Not wanting to stand in his friend’s way, McGraw let him go. Bresnahan would spend four years catching and managing for the Cardinals and later hold the same position with the Cubs.  He retired in 1915, after playing 15 Major League seasons and would one day buy a minor league franchise in Toledo. He was voted into Cooperstown by the Old Timer’s Committee in 1945, one year after he had died of a heart attack in Toledo, at the age of 65.

Bresnahan shares his June 11th birthday with this former Yankee co-owner.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1901 BLA 86 323 295 40 79 9 9 1 32 10 23 33 .268 .323 .369 .692
1902 BLA 65 262 235 30 64 8 6 4 34 12 21 16 .272 .337 .409 .746
17 Yrs 1446 5374 4481 682 1252 218 71 26 530 212 714 403 .279 .386 .377 .764
NYG (7 yrs) 751 3024 2499 438 731 135 35 15 291 118 410 234 .293 .403 .393 .795
STL (4 yrs) 289 992 803 92 221 43 14 4 106 32 160 64 .275 .401 .379 .779
CHC (4 yrs) 249 756 633 81 151 23 7 2 64 40 99 54 .239 .345 .306 .652
BLA (2 yrs) 151 585 530 70 143 17 15 5 66 22 44 49 .270 .329 .387 .716
WHS (1 yr) 6 17 16 1 6 0 0 0 3 0 1 2 .375 .412 .375 .787
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/11/2013.

June 10 – Happy Birthday Brad Gulden

During the 1979 spring training season, Thurman Munson had nicknamed the then 22-year-old Brad Gulden the “Little Midget” and told the youngster he would one day replace Munson as the Yankees’ starting catcher. I’m sure neither player was thinking that prophecy would be realized just six months later.

The Yankees had acquired Gulden in a trade with the Dodgers in February of 1979. When he was later interviewed for Marty Appel’s book “Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain,” Gulden recalled how Munson befriended and encouraged him that spring and how the two would sit and talk about baseball and flying. According to Gulden, Munson spent much more time with him than a veteran should with a rookie and Gulden loved him for it.

Gulden’s Yankee debut took place the day after Munson was killed, when he replaced Jerry Narron behind the plate in the ninth inning of that evening’s game against Baltimore. Yankee skipper, Billy Martin then gave Gulden an opportunity to take over Munson’s spot by regularly starting him behind the plate for much of the rest of that season. But Gulden hit just .163 in those 40 games and the Yankees instead traded for Rick Cerone during the 1979 off-season.

Gulden did become part of Yankee trivia history in 1980. That November, the Yankees traded him to Seattle for infielder Larry Milbourne and a player to be named later. The following May, the Mariners completed the traded by sending Gulden back to the Yankees as the “player to be named later” part of the trade. This makes Gulden the only Yankee ever traded for himself.

Gulden shares his June 10th birthday with this popular Yankee game announcer and this long-ago Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1979 NYY 40 105 92 10 15 4 0 0 6 0 9 16 .163 .238 .207 .444
1980 NYY 2 3 3 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 .333 .333 1.333 1.667
7 Yrs 182 491 435 45 87 14 2 5 43 2 45 61 .200 .277 .276 .553
NYY (2 yrs) 42 108 95 11 16 4 0 1 8 0 9 16 .168 .240 .242 .482
SFG (1 yr) 17 24 22 2 2 0 0 0 1 0 2 5 .091 .167 .091 .258
LAD (1 yr) 3 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
CIN (1 yr) 107 332 292 31 66 8 2 4 33 2 33 35 .226 .307 .308 .615
MON (1 yr) 5 7 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .143 .000 .143
SEA (1 yr) 8 16 16 0 3 2 0 0 1 0 0 2 .188 .188 .313 .500
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/9/2013.

June 6 – Happy Birthday Bill Dickey

One of the all-time great catchers in baseball history, Dickey was superb both at the plate and behind it. He hit .300 in ten of his first eleven seasons as the starting Yankee receiver and drove in over 100 runs in a season four times during his Hall of Fame career. This eleven-time All-Star played in eight World Series with New York, winning seven rings in the process. Dickey’s prime was the four-year-period from 1936 through 1939, during which he averaged 26 home runs, and 115 RBIs with a batting average of .326. He entered Military service in 1943, returning to the team in 1946. When Yankee skipper, Joe McCarthy fell ill and resigned, the team made Dickey the player-manager for the balance of the ’46 season. After leading New York to a 57-48 finish that year, he ended both his big league playing and managing career. He then accepted the Yankee’s offer to manage their Minor League team in Dickey’s hometown of Little, Rock Arkansas. After one season there, he was back in the Bronx to begin a decade long career as a Yankee coach. His Hall-of-Fame Yankee successor at catcher, Yogi Berra credits Dickey for teaching him how to play the position.

Dickey was a quiet hard-working professional, much like his close friend and roommate, Lou Gehrig. He played hard on the field and behaved himself off of it. His playing career lasted 17 seasons. The Yankees retired his uniform number 8 (shared with Berra) and a plaque in his honor now rests in the Monument Park of the new Yankee Stadium. It certainly belongs there.

Dickey shares his birthday with this one-time Yankee prospect.

Dickey’s record as a Yankee player:

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1928 NYY 10 16 15 1 3 1 1 0 2 0 0 2 .200 .200 .400 .600
1929 NYY 130 474 447 60 145 30 6 10 65 4 14 16 .324 .346 .485 .832
1930 NYY 109 396 366 55 124 25 7 5 65 7 21 14 .339 .375 .486 .861
1931 NYY 130 524 477 65 156 17 10 6 78 2 39 20 .327 .378 .442 .820
1932 NYY 108 459 423 66 131 20 4 15 84 2 34 13 .310 .361 .482 .843
1933 NYY 130 532 478 58 152 24 8 14 97 3 47 14 .318 .381 .490 .871
1934 NYY 104 438 395 56 127 24 4 12 72 0 38 18 .322 .384 .494 .878
1935 NYY 120 491 448 54 125 26 6 14 81 1 35 11 .279 .339 .458 .797
1936 NYY 112 472 423 99 153 26 8 22 107 0 46 16 .362 .428 .617 1.045
1937 NYY 140 609 530 87 176 35 2 29 133 3 73 22 .332 .417 .570 .987
1938 NYY 132 532 454 84 142 27 4 27 115 3 75 22 .313 .412 .568 .981
1939 NYY 128 565 480 98 145 23 3 24 105 5 77 37 .302 .403 .513 .915
1940 NYY 106 424 372 45 92 11 1 9 54 0 48 32 .247 .336 .355 .691
1941 NYY 109 397 348 35 99 15 5 7 71 2 45 17 .284 .371 .417 .788
1942 NYY 82 295 268 28 79 13 1 2 37 2 26 11 .295 .359 .373 .732
1943 NYY 85 284 242 29 85 18 2 4 33 2 41 12 .351 .445 .492 .937
1946 NYY 54 156 134 10 35 8 0 2 10 0 19 12 .261 .357 .366 .723
17 Yrs 1789 7064 6300 930 1969 343 72 202 1209 36 678 289 .313 .382 .486 .868
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/6/2013.

Dickey’s record as a Yankee manager:

Rk Year Age Tm Lg G W L W-L% Finish
1 1946 39 New York Yankees AL 2nd of 3 105 57 48 .543 3 Player/Manager
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/6/2013.

June 5 – Happy Birthday Duke Sims

There have only been three “Duke’s” in Yankee franchise history. The first was the very versatile starter and reliever, Duke Maas, who went 26-12 during Casey Stengel’s last three seasons as Yankee skipper. The second Yankee “Duke” was New York City native, Duke Carmel, who first played for Stengel’s Mets in 1963 before donning the pinstripes for just six games during the 1965 season. The third and most recent Bronx Bomber named Duke, was the veteran catcher, Duke Sims, who spent his first seven big league seasons doing a lot of catching and some pretty effective hitting for the Cleveland Indians. He then got traded to the Dodgers in 1971, was released by LA the following year and got picked up by the Tigers. He played parts of two seasons in MoTown and was again put on waivers during the 1973 season. That’s when the Yankees picked him up.

Sims was a solid defensive catcher with a strong arm and not to shabby offensively either. He had hit 23 home runs for the Indians in 1970 and though his lifetime average was just .239, he carried a .340 career on base percentage. But with Thurman Munson entrenched as Yankee catcher and both Jerry Mays and a youngster named Rick Dempsey backing him up, Sims was pretty much a luxury the Yankees couldn’t afford or find a spot to play. He got into only 4 games during the end of the 1973 season and just 5 more at the beginning of the following year. That’s when the Yankees made a terrific deal. They traded Sims to Texas for a left-handed pitcher named Larry Gura.

Sims would end up retiring that year after going to the Rangers and hitting .209. Gura, on the other hand would pitch another eleven seasons in the big leagues and win 123 more games before retiring. The only problem was that he got 111 of those victories wearing the uniform of the Kansas City Royals instead of the Yankee pinstripes. That’s because after going 12-9 during his first two seasons in New York, somebody in the front office got the bright idea to trade Gura for catcher Fran Healy. So instead of magically transforming the inexpensive waiver selection Duke Sims into one of the AL’s better southpaws during the late seventies and early eighties, the Yankees ended up with two easy-to-forget seasons of Fran Healy’s backup catching.

Sims shares his birthday with the Yankee pitcher who still holds the record for most wins in a single season and also the official “Truck” of the Yankees.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1973 NYY 4 12 9 3 3 0 0 1 1 0 3 1 .333 .500 .667 1.167
1974 NYY 5 16 15 1 2 1 0 0 2 0 1 5 .133 .188 .200 .388
11 Yrs 843 2810 2422 263 580 80 6 100 310 6 338 483 .239 .340 .401 .741
CLE (7 yrs) 536 1823 1561 180 369 51 4 76 216 5 230 337 .236 .344 .420 .764
LAD (2 yrs) 141 432 381 30 92 14 2 8 36 0 47 62 .241 .326 .352 .678
NYY (2 yrs) 9 28 24 4 5 1 0 1 3 0 4 6 .208 .321 .375 .696
DET (2 yrs) 118 409 350 42 92 14 0 12 49 1 49 54 .263 .356 .406 .761
TEX (1 yr) 39 118 106 7 22 0 0 3 6 0 8 24 .208 .280 .292 .572
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/5/2013.

June 3 – Happy Birthday Jose Molina

Former Yankee catcher, Jose Molina was born on this day in 1975, in Bayamon Puerto Rico. He became Jorge Posada’s backup receiver on July 21, 2007 when the Yankees acquired him from the Angels for a Minor League pitcher named Jeff Kennard. In what I always thought had been a cool arrangement, up until that deal was made Jose had been sharing the Angels’ catching position with his younger brother Bengie. He also has another brother with the absolute best first name in baseball (Yadier; pronounced yah-dee-yay), who has been a very good starting catcher for the Cardinals since 2005. Together, the catching Molina brothers have collected five World Series rings during the past decade. Both Bengie and Yadier are better hitters than their older brother and have each won multiple Gold Gloves. Jose’s inability to hit right-handed pitching usually prevents him from taking over a team’s starting catcher role but his arm and his abilities behind the plate are every bit as good if not better than his younger brothers.

The Yankees had been using Will Nieves as Posada’s backup during the first half of that 2007 season, but he was only hitting .164. When Molina took over that role he became an instant hit with Yankee fans, impressing us with defensive skills that were superior to Posada’s and also hitting a surprisingly robust .318 during his first half-year playing in the Bronx. In fact, it wasn’t till Molina put on the pinstripes and I got to watch him semi-regularly that I really began noticing Posada’s weaknesses behind the plate. I will never forget the evening Molina left me stunned with my mouth open staring at my big screen after he threw a would-be base-stealer out at second from his knees.

His play impressed the Yankee brass too. New York signed him to a two-year-$4 million deal to play for them in 2008 and’ ’09. When Posada was injured in ’08, Molina got the opportunity to start. Unfortunately, by then he had stopped hitting and the Yankees eventually felt forced to go out and get Ivan Rodriguez in a failed effort to put some more offense into their lineup. The move didn’t help New York, as the team missed postseason play for the first time since 1993 but I-Rods inability to hit did help convince the Yankee front-office to keep Molina as Posada’s backup the following year. Jose did get the opportunity to engrave his name in Yankee lore that season. On September 21, 2008 in the bottom of the fourth inning in a game against Baltimore, Jose hit a 2-0 pitch off the then Orioles Chris Waters deep into the left field stands for a two run home run. That blast would turn out to be the very last home run ever hit in the original Yankee Stadium.

In 2009, A.J. Burnett became a Yankee and Molina pretty quickly became Burnett’s personal catcher. Jose helped guide the whacky right-hander to what would turn out to be his best season in pinstripes, helping New York capture their 27th World Championship. But Molina’s bat continued to fail him as he hit just .217 during the ’09 regular season. The Yankees chose not to re-sign him when his contract expired and rookie Francisco Cervelli took over the back-up catcher’s role in 2010.

Jose ended up playing two seasons as Toronto’s second catcher before signing a rather surprising two-year deal With Tampa Bay in November of 2011. Rays’ manager, Joe Madden is using the now 38-year-old Jose as his team’s starting receiver.

Molina shares his birthday with this Yankee DH.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2007 NYY 29 71 66 9 21 5 0 1 9 0 2 13 .318 .333 .439 .773
2008 NYY 100 297 268 32 58 17 0 3 18 0 12 52 .216 .263 .313 .576
2009 NYY 52 155 138 15 30 4 0 1 11 0 14 28 .217 .292 .268 .560
14 Yrs 805 2340 2134 221 510 107 3 38 202 16 121 476 .239 .286 .345 .631
LAA (7 yrs) 363 1043 958 92 227 49 2 15 97 9 44 221 .237 .274 .339 .613
NYY (3 yrs) 181 523 472 56 109 26 0 5 38 0 28 93 .231 .281 .318 .599
TBR (2 yrs) 139 379 347 38 80 15 0 9 39 4 23 78 .231 .285 .352 .636
TOR (2 yrs) 112 374 338 32 89 16 1 9 27 3 24 80 .263 .323 .396 .720
CHC (1 yr) 10 21 19 3 5 1 0 0 1 0 2 4 .263 .333 .316 .649
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/3/2013.