Results tagged ‘ highlanders ’

September 15 – Happy Birthday Slow Joe Doyle

joe doyleOnly eleven pitchers have started their big league careers with two consecutive shutouts in their first two starts since the 20th century began and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant is one of them. His real name was Judd Doyle but he became universally known as “Slow Joe” because when he was on the mound it took him forever to throw a pitch. When he finally got around to it, the results appeared to be pretty good, especially at the beginning stages of his Yankee career.

He made his impressive big league debut in late August of 1906 and finished his one-month-long first season in New York with a 2-1 record. The best year of his career was his second, when he became a member of the team’s starting rotation and went 11-11 with a solid 2.65 ERA. He continued to show flashes of brilliance on the mound. Jack Chesbro even called Doyle “…one of the greatest pitchers there is!”  That probably explains why the Yankees never hired “Happy Jack” as a scout when his playing days were over.

Like Chesbro, Doyle’s best pitch was a spit ball but the only way Slow Joe would have ever had a shot at matching his more famous teammate’s record-breaking 41 wins in a season would be if that season was about 400 games long. That’s because Doyle liked to rest about ten days before each start, which would drive his first New York manager, Clark Griffith crazy.

He lost his spot in the rotation in 1908 and then got it back the following year. But when he got off to a slow start during the 1910 season, New York sold the right-handed native of Clay Center, Kansas to Cincinnati.

Doyle shares his birthday with this Hall of Fame pitcher and this former Yankee third baseman.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1906 NYY 2 1 .667 2.38 9 6 3 3 2 0 45.1 34 15 12 1 13 28 1.037
1907 NYY 11 11 .500 2.65 29 23 5 15 1 1 193.2 169 86 57 2 67 94 1.219
1908 NYY 1 1 .500 2.63 12 4 5 2 1 0 48.0 42 24 14 1 14 20 1.167
1909 NYY 8 6 .571 2.58 17 15 2 8 3 0 125.2 103 49 36 3 37 57 1.114
1910 NYY 0 2 .000 8.03 3 2 1 1 0 0 12.1 19 13 11 0 5 6 1.946
5 Yrs 22 21 .512 2.85 75 50 21 29 7 1 436.1 383 206 138 7 147 209 1.215
NYY (5 yrs) 22 21 .512 2.75 70 50 16 29 7 1 425.0 367 187 130 7 136 205 1.184
CIN (1 yr) 0 0 6.35 5 0 5 0 0 0 11.1 16 19 8 0 11 4 2.382
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/19/2013.

September 11 – Happy Birthday Bill Hogg

BillHoggNew York had been in the thick of the 1904 AL Pennant race right up until a fluttering knuckleball from 41-game winner Jack Chesbro got past catcher Red Kleinow permitting the winning run to score during the team’s next-to-the-last game of that season. Hopes were high that the team’s starting rotation, led by Chesbro, Al Orth and Red Powell would lead the Highlanders to the league crown in ’05. Joining that trio for the new season would be a young right-hander named William “Buffalo Bill” Hogg.

Hogg was born in Michigan in 1881 but grew up in Pueblo, Colorado. New York signed him after he won a total of 33 games for two different minor league clubs in 1904. At six feet tall and weighing 200 pounds, he was considered a “big” guy for his time and developed a reputation for being mean and nasty on the mound.

He pitched decently for New York during his 1905 rookie season but with Chesbro winning 23 fewer games, the Highlanders fell to sixth place. He had his best season in ’06 posting a career high 14 victories as New York improved to a second-place finish. After one more winning season in ’07, Hogg had an illness filled final year in New York and was released. He was trying to regain his health and pitch his way back to the big leagues when he died suddenly,while on a winter barnstorming tour in New Orleans. The cause of death was Brights Disease. Hogg was just 28-years-old at the time.

Hogg shares his birthday with this former Yankee catcher and this one-time Yankee prospect.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1905 NYY 9 13 .409 3.20 39 22 13 9 3 1 205.0 178 104 73 1 101 125 1.361
1906 NYY 14 13 .519 2.93 28 25 3 15 3 0 206.0 171 77 67 5 72 107 1.180
1907 NYY 10 8 .556 3.08 25 21 2 13 0 0 166.2 173 84 57 3 83 64 1.536
1908 NYY 4 16 .200 3.01 24 21 3 6 0 0 152.1 155 89 51 4 63 72 1.431
4 Yrs 37 50 .425 3.06 116 89 21 43 6 1 730.0 677 354 248 13 319 368 1.364
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/18/2013.

September 5 – Happy Birthday Al Orth

OrthWatching CC Sabathia pitch during most of the 2013 season has not always been fun. I’m a huge fan of the Yankee ace but it looks as if the elbow surgery he underwent last year or maybe the pounds he took off during the offseason has had a negative impact on the velocity of his fastball. As a result, he’s learning how to pitch without a 95 mph heater in his arsenal and at times during the process, he’s been forced to learn some hard-hit lessons.

I wish I could have Sabathia talk to today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, Al Orth, who in addition to being known as “Smiling Al” was also called “the Curveless Wonder” during his long-ago big league pitching career that began with the Phillies in 1895. Orth was considered to be one of the “softest throwing” pitchers in baseball history.

Hitters who faced the brawny right-hander did not worry about striking out. Orth fanned just two hitters per game during his 15-season career. Instead, opposing batsman fought impatience and attention deficit disorder as they watched and waited for Orth’s soft-tossed but well-aimed offerings to finally get close enough to the plate to swing at them.

The native of Sedalia, Missouri jumped to the newly formed American League in 1902 and pitched two-plus seasons for the Washington Senators before getting traded to the Yankees during the 1904 season, who were then still known as the Highlanders. In New York, he was united with “Happy” Jack Chesbro and introduced to Chesbro’s signature pitch, the spitball.

Experimenting with the juiced baseball, Orth found immediate success. He went 11-6 during his first partial season with the club and by 1906, he was throwing the wet one well enough to lead the AL in wins with 27. But Father Time and about nine-hundred innings of work the previous three seasons caught up to the veteran hurler. He turned 34-years-old in 1907 and when he lost 21 games that year, he became the first pitcher in history to lead the league in wins one season and in losses the next. When he lost 13 of his 15 decisions in ’08, the Yankees didn’t want him pitching any more but they did still want him on the team. Why?

In addition to being pretty good on the mound, Al Orth was one of the best hitting pitchers in baseball history. When he retired in 1909, he had a lifetime batting average of .273 and 184 career RBI’s. So in addition to having him talk to CC, if Orth was still around today, I might have him chat with Vernon Wells and Chris Stewart too. When he finally did quit playing, Orth became a big league umpire for a while. He died in 1948 at the age of 76.

Orth shares his birthday with this WWII-era Yankee first baseman and this more recent Yankee reliever.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1904 NYY 11 6 .647 2.68 20 18 2 11 2 0 137.2 122 47 41 0 19 47 1.024
1905 NYY 18 16 .529 2.86 40 37 3 26 6 0 305.1 273 122 97 8 61 121 1.094
1906 NYY 27 17 .614 2.34 45 39 5 36 3 0 338.2 317 115 88 2 66 133 1.131
1907 NYY 14 21 .400 2.61 36 33 3 21 2 0 248.2 244 134 72 2 53 78 1.194
1908 NYY 2 13 .133 3.42 21 17 3 8 1 0 139.1 134 62 53 4 30 22 1.177
1909 NYY 0 0 12.00 1 1 0 0 0 0 3.0 6 4 4 0 1 1 2.333
15 Yrs 204 189 .519 3.37 440 394 44 324 31 6 3354.2 3564 1704 1256 75 661 948 1.259
PHI (7 yrs) 100 72 .581 3.49 193 173 20 149 14 4 1504.2 1687 816 584 31 314 359 1.330
NYY (6 yrs) 72 73 .497 2.72 163 145 16 102 14 0 1172.2 1096 484 355 16 230 402 1.131
WSH (3 yrs) 32 44 .421 4.21 84 76 8 73 3 2 677.1 781 404 317 28 117 187 1.326
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/5/2013.

May 29 – Happy Birthday David Fultz

FultzThe name David Fultz means absolutely nothing to Yankee fans today, but just about a century ago, this native of Staunton, Virginia was Bo Jackson, Tim Tebow and Marvin Miller rolled into one extremely gifted and motivated human being. He played football and baseball at Brown, was named captain of both teams and achieved All-American status in both sports. In fact, his record for career points and touchdowns on the gridiron at the Ivy League school stood for 100 years. In addition to being a superb athlete, Fultz was also the epitome of a perfect gentleman, refusing to drink alcohol, smoke tobacco or curse. He was also a devout enough Christian that he had clauses written into both his pro baseball and pro football contracts that stated he could not be forced to play in games that took place on Sundays.

Fultz began his big league career with the National League’s Philadelphia Phillies in 1898 and eventually moved over to Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s teams in the newly formed American League. In 1903, the New York Highlanders purchased his contract from Mack.

Fultz was considered to be one of the very best outfielders in baseball in his prime. He also wielded a better than average bat. His best year was as an A in 1902, when he averaged .302, led the league in scoring with 109 runs and finished second in stolen bases with 44 thefts. By the time he came to New York, the many leg injuries he had sustained during his football career were taking their toll. He played in just 176 games during his first two seasons as a Highlander and attended Columbia Law School during the offseason. The 1904 Highlander team surprised everyone by winning 92 games and finishing just a game and a half behind the first place Red Sox. Fultz made key contributions to that team’s success as the fourth outfielder, averaging .274 in 94 games of action.  He then became a starter on the 1905 Highlander squad that finished a disappointing sixth in the AL standings as just about the entire lineup including Fultz, slumped badly from the previous year.

That winter, Fultz got his law degree and quit baseball for good. He opened a practice in New York City and in 1912, was the driving force behind the formation of Major League Baseball’s first players union. Called the Players Fraternity, the group threatened to strike in 1917 but the work stoppage was avoided when the team owners granted some concessions demanded by Fultz. The union was disbanded during WWI.

In addition to playing big league baseball, professional football and practicing law, Fultz coached collegiate football at the University of Missouri and NYU and also coached baseball at the US Naval Academy and Columbia. He was a first lieutenant in the US Army Air Service during WWI and later became active in both New York City and New York State politics. Talk about a boring life. He lived until 1959, passing away at the age of 84.

Fultz shares his birthday with this former Yankee first basemanthis former Yankee utility player and this one-time Yankee third baseman.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1903 NYY 79 335 295 39 66 12 1 0 25 29 25 21 .224 .295 .271 .567
1904 NYY 97 382 339 39 93 17 4 2 32 17 24 29 .274 .324 .366 .690
1905 NYY 129 482 422 49 98 13 3 0 42 44 39 47 .232 .308 .277 .585
7 Yrs 644 2713 2393 369 648 84 26 3 223 189 201 185 .271 .332 .331 .664
NYY (3 yrs) 305 1199 1056 127 257 42 8 2 99 90 88 97 .243 .309 .304 .613
PHI (2 yrs) 21 66 60 7 12 2 2 0 5 2 6 7 .200 .273 .300 .573
PHA (2 yrs) 261 1217 1067 204 317 37 14 1 101 80 94 65 .297 .357 .361 .718
BLN (1 yr) 57 231 210 31 62 3 2 0 18 17 13 16 .295 .342 .329 .671
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/29/2013.

April 22 – Happy Birthday Neal Ball

There must have been a slight but confusing communication problem in the New York Highlander clubhouse during the 1908 season. The manager of that team at the start of the season was Hall of Famer, Clark Griffith, who would go on to become the patriarch of baseball in our nation’s capital. Griffith’s ’08 Highlanders were not a very good team. In fact they were so bad, Griffith voluntarily resigned as skipper in early June, telling the press that he had tried everything possible to fix what was wrong with the squad and was simply giving up, indicating that perhaps he himself was a jinx.

I’m sure one of the “everything possible remedies” the bewildered skipper used was regular pep talks to his team. If these were like most managerial pep talks through the ages, Griffith would end his oratories with the battle cry “Now let’s play ball!” Therein may have lied the problem. The Highlander players would probably just sit there looking at each other and thinking to themselves; “We are playing Ball already at shortstop and we’re still losing!”

They would be referring to one Cornelius “Neal” Ball, their 5 foot 7 inch teammate from Grand Haven, MI. Ball started 132 games at shortstop for the Highlanders in that ’08 season, hitting .247 and leading the league in strikeouts with 91. It was the 27-year-old Ball’s first full big league season and it would be his last one with the Yankees. In May of 1909, New York sold Ball to the Cleveland Nats. Two months later, he became the first Major League player in history to execute an unassisted triple play.

Ball and this very good former starting pitcher are the only two members of the Yankee roster I could find who celebrate a birthday on April 22.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1907 NYY 15 47 44 5 9 1 1 0 4 1 1 11 .205 .222 .273 .495
1908 NYY 132 484 446 35 110 16 2 0 38 32 21 91 .247 .284 .291 .575
1909 NYY 8 34 29 5 6 1 1 0 3 2 3 10 .207 .281 .310 .592
7 Yrs 502 1776 1613 163 404 56 17 4 151 92 99 323 .250 .295 .314 .609
CLE (4 yrs) 306 1092 991 99 260 34 13 4 96 49 62 194 .262 .306 .335 .641
NYY (3 yrs) 155 565 519 45 125 18 4 0 45 35 25 112 .241 .278 .291 .569
BOS (2 yrs) 41 119 103 19 19 4 0 0 10 8 12 17 .184 .276 .223 .499
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/22/2013.