Results tagged ‘ february 9 ’

February 9 – Happy Birthday Sir Robert Eenhoorn

fd603New York’s second round draft choice in 1990, Sir Robert Eenhoorn was the first Yankee to hail from the Netherlands and the first Yankee to be knighted. When he joined the Yankee organization, GM Gene Michael was hoping he’d one day become the parent club’s starting shortstop. A superb fielder, Eenhoorn’s hitting skills were good enough to keep him advancing up New York’s farm system ladder until he got to the Bronx. His biggest obstacle to prime time however, was another young Yankee shortstop prospect by the name of Derek Jeter.

Over a three year-period beginning in 1994, he got to wear pinstripes for a total of 20 games and 32 at bats before he was released and picked up by the Angels. By 1998 he had returned to his native country and played on the Netherlands National team eventually becoming its manager. In 2003, Eenhoorn’s young son was killed by a rare form of cancer. Former Mets’ manager, Davey Johnson took control of the Dutch National Team while Eenhoorn and his family recovered from the tragedy.

Over the next several years Eenhoorn dedicated his professional live to developing the game of baseball in Europe. He started a European baseball academy that was modeled after similar schools in the US. In 2011 he was knighted by the Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix after the National Team he assembled as General Manager, won the 2011 World Cup. His next goal is to have Major League regular season baseball games played in Europe. He also hope to get MLB teams to sponsor farm clubs in his native country.

He shares his birthday with this one time Yankee catcher, this great former Yankee third baseman and with this not-so-great-one too.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1994 NYY 3 4 4 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .750 1.250
1995 NYY 5 15 14 1 2 1 0 0 2 0 1 3 .143 .200 .214 .414
1996 NYY 12 19 14 2 1 0 0 0 2 0 2 3 .071 .167 .071 .238
4 Yrs 37 74 67 7 16 3 0 1 10 0 3 10 .239 .260 .328 .589
NYY (3 yrs) 20 38 32 4 5 2 0 0 4 0 3 6 .156 .216 .219 .435
ANA (2 yrs) 17 36 35 3 11 1 0 1 6 0 0 4 .314 .306 .429 .734
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/22/2014.

February 9 – Happy Birthday Dioner Navarro

dioner-navarroAll the hopeful comments I read and hear about the Yankee’s top catching prospect, Gary Sanchez, remind me of the similar hype surrounding today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant back at the turn of this century. The Yankees signed Dioner Navarro as an amateur free agent in 2000 and three seasons later this native Venezuelan hit .341 for double-A Trenton and was named the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year. Only 19-years-old at the time, he was being groomed as the eventual replacement for Jorge Posada. He got Yankee fans really excited when New York brought him up to the parent club in September of 2004 and the kid hit .429 in the seven games in which he got a chance to play.

Just a few weeks later, the Yankees suffered their famous collapse against Boston in the 2004 ALCS and New York’s front office went into a panic mode for a pitching ace. They settled on Randy Johnson but it cost them Navarro. Arizona then turned right around and traded their new acquisition to the Dodgers in a deal for Shawn Greene. He was given a shot to battle Russell Martin for the Los Angeles starting catcher’s job but he broke his wrist. The Dodgers ended up dealing him to Tampa Bay the following season and he started for the Rays behind the plate from 2007 until 2010, when he lost his job to John Jaso. Navarro’s best season was 2008 when he averaged .297 and made the AL All Star team. He turns just 29-years-old today and spent the 2012 season as a backup catcher for the Reds.

After the Yankees traded Navarro, they signed another teen-aged native-Venezuelan catching prospect to take his place as Posada’s heir apparent. The new kid’s name was Jesus Montero. He too gave Yankee fans something to get excited about in a late season call-up a couple seasons ago and then got traded to Seattle. Perhaps now you understand why I refuse to get too excited about Gary Sanchez.

Dioner shares his birthday with this one-time Yankee second base prospect, this great former Yankee third baseman and with this not-so-great-one too.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2004 NYY 5 7 7 2 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 .429 .429 .429 .857
10 Yrs 715 2505 2251 239 565 100 4 54 243 10 193 342 .251 .313 .371 .684
TBR (5 yrs) 458 1672 1508 161 367 73 2 29 157 9 117 220 .243 .300 .352 .652
LAD (3 yrs) 139 487 427 39 103 17 1 10 39 1 51 74 .241 .325 .356 .681
CHC (1 yr) 89 266 240 31 72 7 0 13 34 0 23 36 .300 .365 .492 .856
CIN (1 yr) 24 73 69 6 20 3 1 2 12 0 2 12 .290 .306 .449 .755
NYY (1 yr) 5 7 7 2 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 .429 .429 .429 .857
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/22/2014.

February 9 – Happy Birthday Julie Wera

He may have been a member of perhaps the most famous Yankee team in history, but even the most diehard and long time Bronx Bomber fans have probably never heard of Julie Wera. He was a reserve third baseman on the 1927 Murderers’ Row team and his $2,400 salary made him the lowest paid player on that great squad’s roster. Wera was just 5 feet 8 inches tall and when  5 foot 6 inch Manager, Miller Huggins got his first look at his rookie third baseman during the Yankees’ 1927 spring training season, he took an immediate liking to him. In fact, according to a March, 1927 New York Times article, the usually tight-lipped Huggins told every sports writer in that camp that Vera was one of the most impressive rookie players he had seen come up from New York’s farm system in “quite a while.”

Julie did not live up to that hype. Huggins put the Winona Minnesota native into 38 games that season and Wera hit just .238 with one home run and eight RBIs. Even though it would have been impossible for the youngster to earn a starting berth n that great team, Wera’s lack of playing was not because of any lack of ability on his part. During that season he blew out his knee and was never again the same ballplayer Huggins had raved about that spring. But he remained on the Yankee roster the entire year and even though he didn’t get a chance to play in the 1927 World Series, he did get a ring and a full winning share. Then it was back to the minors for a couple seasons and another quick five-game cup-of-coffee visit with the Yankees in September of 1929. He spent the next eight years in the minors and by 1939, he ended up working in a butcher shop back home in Minnesota. That same summer, he was working behind the meat counter when a surprise visitor showed up at the shop. It was his old Yankee teammate Lou Gehrig. The Iron Horse was in town getting medical tests at the Mayo Clinic and when he found out Wera worked nearby he decided to go say hello and ended up putting on a butcher’s apron and posing for pictures with his old friend. Hours later, Gehrig would receive the devastating news that he had ALS.

Wera’s name again showed up in the newspapers nine years later, when the New York Times reported on September 14, 1948 that he had killed himself by overdosing on sleeping pills. The article reported that a suicide note had been left explaining he was distraught over separating from his wife. It was also erroneously reported in that same article that Wera had made his big league and Yankee debut at the age of 16 and hit a home run off of the great Walter Johnson in his first game. It was later learned that the dead man had been posing as Vera in order to get a front-office position with a minor league baseball team in Oroville, California. He told his employers that his face had been disfigured in World War II and the resulting plastic surgery had changed his appearance.

The real Julie Wera actually lived until December of 1979, when he was felled by a fatal heart attack.

Wera shares his February 9th birthday with another much more successful Yankee third baseman, this one-time Yankee second base prospect and also with this former Yankee catching prospect. Today is also the 90th birthday of the man who took me to my very first Yankee game in 1961 and dozens more after that. Happy Birthday Uncle Jim Gentile.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1927 NYY 38 44 42 7 10 3 0 1 8 0 1 5 .238 .273 .381 .654
1929 NYY 5 14 12 1 5 0 0 0 2 0 1 1 .417 .462 .417 .878
2 Yrs 43 58 54 8 15 3 0 1 10 0 2 6 .278 .316 .389 .705
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/22/2014.

February 10 – Happy Birthday Herb Pennock

What you can learn doing research for a blog about the New York Yankees. Today’s birthday celebrant is a Hall-of-Fame southpaw who  pitched for the great Yankee teams of the 1920s. His Manager at the time, Miller Huggins, called Pennock the best left-hander in baseball back then. My choice would probably have been Lefty Grove but Pennock was indeed very good. He went 162-90 during his 11 seasons in New York and 5-0 in the World Series. He was a native of Kennett Square, PA and was nicknamed the “Knight of Kennett Square,” but when it came to his feelings about blacks, chivalry played no part.

Many respected authors and baseball historians have presented strong evidence that Pennock was a racist. Playing in an era when blacks were not permitted in the Major Leagues helped hide that fact, but when he retired from the mound and became a front-office executive, first for the Red Sox as head of their farm system and then later as GM of the Phillies, Pennock was able to actively help prevent integration in the big leagues. And when it did happen, he was among its’ most vociferous opponents.

Pennock was known to threaten that he’d never let his Philadelphia team take the field against any opponent that had a black man on their roster. Dodger owner Branch Rickey claimed that Pennock told him that Philadelphia wasn’t ready to see a “n—–r” play Major League baseball.  He hired Ben Chapman, his old Yankee teammate and one of the most notorious racists in all of baseball, to manage the Phillies. Chapman was an equal-opportunity bigot. The anti-Semitc slurs he had made as a New York outfielder during the 1930s had so enraged the team’s Jewish fans that they presented a petition, signed by over 15,000 people, requesting that the New York front office banish the player.

I’m not naive. I realize it was a different time in our society back then, but can you imagine what would happen to a modern day ballplayer who committed the same offenses as Chapman? Well if you were Herb Pennock you’d hire the guy to manage the Phillies. If those were the “good old days” of baseball in this country, I’m glad I wasn’t around to witness them. It was Chapman who became infamous for his cruel treatment of Jackie Robinson whenever Philadelphia played Brooklyn during the 1947 season.

The fact that Pennock is in the Hall of Fame and Pete Rose is not is why so many of today’s fans wonder what the phrase; “protecting the moral integrity of the game,” truly means.

A second all-time great Yankee pitcher also celebrates a birthday today, as does this pitcher who recently signed as a free agent with New York, this original owner of the Yankee franchise and this recent Yankee DH.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1923 NYY 19 6 .760 3.13 35 27 5 21 1 3 238.1 235 86 83 11 68 93 1.271
1924 NYY 21 9 .700 2.83 40 34 5 25 4 3 286.1 302 104 90 13 64 101 1.278
1925 NYY 16 17 .485 2.96 47 31 11 21 2 2 277.0 267 117 91 11 71 88 1.220
1926 NYY 23 11 .676 3.62 40 33 5 19 1 2 266.1 294 133 107 11 43 78 1.265
1927 NYY 19 8 .704 3.00 34 26 7 18 1 2 209.2 225 89 70 5 48 51 1.302
1928 NYY 17 6 .739 2.56 28 24 4 18 5 3 211.0 215 71 60 2 40 53 1.209
1929 NYY 9 11 .450 4.92 27 23 1 8 1 2 157.1 205 101 86 11 28 49 1.481
1930 NYY 11 7 .611 4.32 25 19 3 11 1 0 156.1 194 95 75 8 20 46 1.369
1931 NYY 11 6 .647 4.28 25 25 0 12 1 0 189.1 247 96 90 7 30 65 1.463
1932 NYY 9 5 .643 4.60 22 21 1 9 1 0 146.2 191 94 75 8 38 54 1.561
1933 NYY 7 4 .636 5.54 23 5 10 2 1 4 65.0 96 46 40 4 21 22 1.800
22 Yrs 241 162 .598 3.60 617 419 135 247 35 33 3571.2 3900 1699 1428 128 916 1227 1.348
NYY (11 yrs) 162 90 .643 3.54 346 268 52 164 19 21 2203.1 2471 1032 867 91 471 700 1.335
BOS (8 yrs) 62 59 .512 3.67 201 124 56 70 12 6 1089.1 1169 522 444 29 299 358 1.348
PHA (4 yrs) 17 13 .567 3.77 70 27 27 13 4 6 279.0 260 145 117 8 146 169 1.455
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/22/2014.

February 9 – Happy Birthday Clete Boyer

My first memory of Clete Boyer was of him playing third base for the great New York Yankee team of 1961. I can still see him in his number 6 pinstriped jersey, making a diving stop on a hard hit ground ball down the line and jumping to his feet to throw a bullet to Moose Skowron with his powerful right arm to nip an opposing runner at first base. Just one season before, Casey Stengel had almost destroyed Boyer’s confidence by pinch-hitting Dale Long for him in the second inning of the very first game of the 1960 World Series. Ralph Houk had replaced Stengel in 1961 and assured Boyer he would be New York’s every day third baseman. Clete was constantly among league leaders in assists, chances and double plays but he would watch Brooks Robinson win the AL Gold Glove for third baseman year in and year out. Boyer had to leave the league to win his first and only Gold Glove for Atlanta, in 1969.

Clete was not a great hitter but his offensive numbers with New York would have been better if he did not occupy the eighth spot in the Yankee lineup. With the pitcher hitting behind him, Boyer saw very few strikes and was too aggressive at the plate to work the count effectively. As a result, he usually hit in the .240s and struck out close to 100 times a year during his Yankee career. But he also had enough power to hit 95 home runs during his eight seasons in New York, a respectable number considering that he played half his games in a Yankee Stadium that was not at all conducive to right-handed power.

Boyer was the Yankees’ regular third baseman for seven seasons, winning five pennants and two World Series during that time. He was one of the few veterans on the team not to experience a drastic decline in his offensive numbers during the debacle seasons of 1965 and ’66. Still, he was purged during the mid-sixties house-cleaning that saw New York trade one veteran after another in return for mediocre players who would never succeed with the Yankees. In Boyer’s case, he was swapped for a young outfielder from the Braves named Bill Robinson who hit just .206 during three dreadful seasons in pinstripes. Meanwhile, Boyer had a career year his first season in Atlanta, with 26 home runs and 96 RBIs in 1967. Clete remained with the Braves until he retired as a player after the 1971 season.

Born in Cassville, MO, in 1937, Clete was one of 14 Boyer children. His older brothers, Cloyd, a pitcher and Ken, a third baseman and one-time NL MVP with St Louis, also played in the big leagues. Clete died in 2007. He shares his February 9th birthday with another third baseman who played on the great 1927 Yankee team, this one-time Yankee second base prospect and this one-time Yankee catching prospect.

Since we’re celebrating the birthday of two Yankee third baseman, I thought I’d share my picks for the top five third baseman in Yankee history. Here they are. What do you think?

Number 1 – Alex Rodriguez – Passed Nettles in both home runs and RBIs as a Yankee in 2010 even though he’s played 500 fewer games.
Number 2 – Graig Nettles – Won two rings, two Gold Gloves, hit most home runs, and played most games as Yankee third baseman.
Number 3 – Red Rolfe – A .289 lifetime hitter with five rings and a great glove.
Number 4 – Clete Boyer
Number 5 – Wade Boggs – Won two rings, two Gold Gloves and averaged .313 in pinstripes.

Boyers Stats:

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1959 NYY 47 124 114 4 20 2 0 0 3 1 6 23 .175 .215 .193 .408
1960 NYY 124 431 393 54 95 20 1 14 46 2 23 85 .242 .285 .405 .690
1961 NYY 148 579 504 61 113 19 5 11 55 1 63 83 .224 .308 .347 .656
1962 NYY 158 633 566 85 154 24 1 18 68 3 51 106 .272 .331 .413 .745
1963 NYY 152 596 557 59 140 20 3 12 54 4 33 91 .251 .295 .363 .657
1964 NYY 147 554 510 43 111 10 5 8 52 6 36 93 .218 .269 .304 .573
1965 NYY 148 562 514 69 129 23 6 18 58 4 39 79 .251 .304 .424 .728
1966 NYY 144 558 500 59 120 22 4 14 57 6 46 48 .240 .303 .384 .687
16 Yrs 1725 6368 5780 645 1396 200 33 162 654 41 470 931 .242 .299 .372 .670
NYY (8 yrs) 1068 4037 3658 434 882 140 25 95 393 27 297 608 .241 .298 .371 .669
ATL (5 yrs) 533 2105 1914 193 467 56 7 66 251 13 159 282 .244 .303 .384 .687
KCA (3 yrs) 124 226 208 18 47 4 1 1 10 1 14 41 .226 .278 .269 .547
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/22/2014.