Results tagged ‘ july 27 ’

July 27 – Happy Birthday Johnny Kucks

kucksThe Yanks had won five straight Pennants with a starting rotation led by the Holy Trinity of Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds and Eddie Lopat. Raschi was the first of the three to go before the 1954 season and then both Reynolds and Lopat followed him out of the Bronx the following year. That left Whitey Ford as the only bonafide ace in New York’s rotation and thus began the era of what I like to call the in and outers. These were Yankee pitchers who were brought up from the minors or acquired from other teams who had one or maybe two great years in pinstripes pitching behind Ford. They’d help Stengel win another pennant or Fall Classic and then fade away. The four top in and outers during the second half of the 1950’s were Tommy Byrne, Tom Sturdivant, Bob Turley and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant.

Johnny Kucks’ big Yankee season was 1956. The tall, skinny right-hander from Hoboken put together a sensational 18-9 regular season and then shut the Brooklyn Dodgers out in the 7th Game of the 1956 World Series to help New York avenge its only Fall Classic loss to D’em Bums from a year earlier. If Don Larsen hadn’t thrown his perfect game in that same Series, Kucks’ final game effort would have been much more celebrated in the annals of Yankee history.

New York had signed Kucks right out of high school right before the 1952 regular season began. They assigned the then 18-year-older to their Class B affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia and he wowed the entire organization when he finished 19-6 that year. He then spent the next two years in the military and then went 8-7 with the parent club during his 1955 rookie season. Kucks fit right into that mid-fifties Yankee clubhouse. He loved to party and with that crew, he had plenty of opportunities to do so. He was in attendance during the famous Copa incident in June of 1957.

Kucks never again approached the level of brilliance he displayed on the mound in that 1956 season. After two mediocre seasons for New York in 1957 and ’58, he was traded to Kansas City at the beginning of the ’59 season in the deal that brought Hector Lopez and a new Yankee in and outer for the early 1960’s by the name of Ralph Terry.

Kucks shares his July 27th birthday with this current Yankee slugger,  this former lippy shortstop and this former Yankee utility infielder.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1955 NYY 8 7 .533 3.41 29 13 5 3 1 0 126.2 122 54 48 8 44 49 1.311
1956 NYY 18 9 .667 3.85 34 31 1 12 3 0 224.1 223 113 96 19 72 67 1.315
1957 NYY 8 10 .444 3.56 37 23 10 4 1 2 179.1 169 82 71 13 59 78 1.271
1958 NYY 8 8 .500 3.93 34 15 8 4 1 4 126.0 132 67 55 14 39 46 1.357
1959 NYY 0 1 .000 8.64 9 1 4 0 0 0 16.2 21 16 16 5 9 9 1.800
6 Yrs 54 56 .491 4.10 207 123 39 30 7 7 938.1 970 493 427 91 308 338 1.362
NYY (5 yrs) 42 35 .545 3.82 143 83 28 23 6 6 673.0 667 332 286 59 223 249 1.322
KCA (2 yrs) 12 21 .364 4.78 64 40 11 7 1 1 265.1 303 161 141 32 85 89 1.462
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/26/2013.

July 27 – Happy Birthday Enrique Wilson

Enrique Wilson was a valuable utility infielder for the New York Yankees from 2001, when he was first acquired from the Pirates for pitcher Damaso Marte, through the 2004 season. During that span, he appeared in 104 games at second base, 83 at short and 62 at third. He was only a .244 lifetime hitter during his 9 seasons in the big leagues and hit just .216 during his four years in the Bronx. But when long-time Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez was on the mound, the light-hitting Wilson turned into a reincarnation of Rod Carew. He faced Martinez 25 times in a Yankee uniform and had ten hits against him for an average of .400.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Wilson was a switch-hitter. I admired the guy because of his defensive versatility and his ability to come up big whenever the Yankees faced their arch-rivals from Beantown. I remember one Boston-New York game during the 2002 season when Wilson hit a grand slam off of Red Sox reliever Rich Garces to break a 2-2 tie. Joe Torre was a big fan of Enrique’s and when the Yankees traded Soriano for A-Rod, the Yankee manager told the media that Wilson would be his starter at second base. But Wilson’s bat got real cold and by June of the 2004 season he had lost his job to Miguel Cairo. That September, when Torre didn’t start Wilson against Boston with Martinez on the mound, the disappointed second baseman told reporters he would be leaving the Yankees at the end of the season and that’s exactly what happened.

Wilson shares his July 27th birthday with this current Yankee slugger,  this former lippy shortstop and this former Yankee utility infielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2001 NYY 48 108 99 10 24 5 1 1 12 0 6 14 .242 .283 .343 .626
2002 NYY 60 119 105 17 19 2 2 2 11 1 8 22 .181 .239 .295 .534
2003 NYY 63 147 135 18 31 9 0 3 15 3 7 14 .230 .276 .363 .639
2004 NYY 93 262 240 19 51 9 0 6 31 1 15 20 .213 .254 .325 .579
9 Yrs 555 1537 1406 155 343 73 5 22 141 14 89 169 .244 .288 .350 .638
CLE (4 yrs) 190 607 554 72 159 37 1 6 49 9 36 62 .287 .328 .390 .718
NYY (4 yrs) 264 636 579 64 125 25 3 12 69 5 36 70 .216 .261 .332 .593
PIT (2 yrs) 86 269 251 18 56 9 1 4 23 0 14 36 .223 .262 .315 .577
CHC (1 yr) 15 25 22 1 3 2 0 0 0 0 3 1 .136 .240 .227 .467
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2013.

July 27 – Happy Birthday Leo Durocher

I have read a lot of books about baseball in my lifetime. One of the best was “Nice Guys Finish Last,” the autobiography of Leo “The Lip” Durocher. I was not a fan of Durocher’s but I loved his book. I certainly was not alone in my dislike for the outspoken, ego maniacal native of West Springfield, MA, who started his almost fifty-year career in the big leagues as a Yankee shortstop. Miller Huggins loved the kid’s aggressiveness and the New York skipper gradually gave Durocher more and more playing time at short at the expense of the much more mild mannered Mark Koenig. In “Nice Guys Finish Last,” Durocher claims he used to sit right next to Huggins on the bench and write down every move the manager made in a little black book the shortstop carried with him at all times.Huggins biggest problem as Yankee field boss was trying to instill some sense of discipline in Babe Ruth and a core group of his Yankee teammates who seemed to follow the Bambino’s lead on and off the field, regardless if it was good or bad. Huggins began using Durocher’s willingness to do anything he was told to do by his manager as an example for his teammates to follow. Of course, Durocher’s willingness to comply with Huggins every request was looked upon by those same teammates as the age-old practice of ass-kissing. Compounding the young shortstop’s reputation problems was the fact that he dressed in flashy clothes, ate in fancy restaurants and loved to pal around and gamble with celebrities who did not play baseball for a living, all on a rookie’s salary.

On the field, Leo could not hit but he was above average defensively and always gave you the impression he was hustling and playing hard. He surprised many by hitting .270 during his first full season in pinstripes in 1928. He slumped a bit at the plate the following year but what most likely ended Durocher’s slightly longer than two-year Yankee career was the tragic and sudden death of Huggins during the ’29 season. Durocher also claims in his book that it was his propensity to spend a lot more than he was making that got him sold to the Reds after the 1929 season. Specifically, after Yankee GM Ed Barrow refused to give the shortstop a salary advance, Leo told him to “Go F himself.”

Leo went on to enjoy a 17-year playing career with the Reds, the Cardinal’s Gashouse Gang teams and finally the Brooklyn Dodgers. He transitioned into managing in 1939, while still playing for the Dodgers and during his 26 years as a field skipper his record was 2008-1709 and his teams won two NL Pennants and 1 World Series. If you have not read “Nice Guys Finish Last,” I highly recommend you do so and form your own opinions about “Leo the Lip.”

Today is also the birthday of another Yankee who may or may not one day join Durocher in Cooperstown. This former Yankee utility infielder and this Yankee pitcher from the 1950’s were  also born on July 27th.
Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1925 NYY 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
1928 NYY 102 329 296 46 80 8 6 0 31 1 22 52 .270 .327 .338 .665
1929 NYY 106 385 341 53 84 4 5 0 32 3 34 33 .246 .320 .287 .607
17 Yrs 1637 5829 5350 575 1320 210 56 24 567 31 377 480 .247 .299 .320 .619
G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
BRO (6 yrs) 345 1195 1094 97 267 49 12 3 113 6 88 72 .244 .303 .319 .622
STL (5 yrs) 683 2587 2395 272 611 100 20 15 294 18 155 201 .255 .302 .332 .634
CIN (4 yrs) 399 1332 1223 106 278 49 13 6 97 3 78 122 .227 .275 .303 .579
NYY (3 yrs) 210 715 638 100 164 12 11 0 63 4 56 85 .257 .323 .310 .633
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2013.

July 27 – Happy Birthday Alex Rodriguez

Update: This original post was written during the 2010 season. I’ve added the first paragraph in August of 2013.

As a student of Yankee history, I find myself wondering how will Yankee fans fifty years from now look back at the behavior of A-Rod from the 2012 postseason onward.  Ryan Dempster did  something I didn’t think was possible. He made me root for Alex Rodriguez again. Don’t get me wrong, I still wish the greedy and self-absorbed A-Rod had never been a member of my favorite team’s roster but what Dempster did when he threw at Rodriguez was gutless. It was also stupid. In fact, from this point forward, I will be referring to the Boston pitcher as Ryan Dumb-ster.

As A-Rod celebrates his 38th birthday and continues his now-sputtering quest to become Baseball’s all-time home run king, you would think he is a lot more at peace with himself than he was just two years ago at this time. I believe the key is that he has finally stopped trying to portray himself one way to the public while living his private life in a completely different way.

I did not become a true fan of A-Rod the player until 2007, when two things happened simultaneously. First, he had the most incredible year on the field of any Yankee I’ve ever seen play the game. Secondly, he learned how to say “no comment” whenever the New York media asked him questions that were not about his play on the field.

Then, A-Rod and his agent, Scott Boras orchestrated that tasteless and clueless announcement during the 2007 World Series that A-Rod was opting out of his Yankee contract. Even though the move did end up making millions more Yankee dollars for Rodriguez, it was a public relations disaster for him at the same time.

By the time 2008 rolled around, A-Rod was still saying no comment to the reporters but the papparazzi photos of his extra marital actions started speaking a lot louder than his words. With the Yankees struggling with injuries under then new manager, Joe Girardi, the sports pages of the New York tabloids were filled with photos of Rodriguez in night time action. Unfortunately, none of those photos showed A-Rod with a baseball uniform on.

Then during the spring of 2009 we learned that A-Rod did take steroids. So in the space of just two and a half pinstripe seasons, Rodriguez’s actions verified his greed, his marital infidelity and his cheating on the field, a sort of modern day ballplayer’s triple crown. But then came the Yankees’ glorious ’09 post season run, with Alex leading the way with some of the most impressive clutch hitting I’ve seen during my fifty years as an avid fan of MLB. He had reversed his reputation as a perennial goat of October, captured his elusive World Championship ring and gained the somewhat begrudging adoration of Big Apple fans all at the same time. It seemed too good to be true and perhaps it was. This past year we learned that Rodriguez visited, Dr Anthony Galea, the recently convicted Canadian “blood doctor” without telling the Yankee front-office.

So like many Yankee fans, I’m still wondering who this superstar is. The one good thing is that the newest version of A-Rod no longer attempts to profusely deny his faults. Instead, he just refuses to discuss them with the media, which is perfectly OK by me. The one I’ve watched play in pinstripes these past eight seasons is certainly one of the most talented baseball players I’ve seen in the last half-century and I guess I’m hoping that is how he will be remembered.

Ironically, this Yankee who stopped talking about himself shares his birthday with another Yankee who never could. This utility-infielder and this Yankee starting pitcher from the 1950’s were also born on July 27th.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2004 NYY 155 698 601 112 172 24 2 36 106 28 80 131 .286 .375 .512 .888
2005 NYY 162 715 605 124 194 29 1 48 130 21 91 139 .321 .421 .610 1.031
2006 NYY 154 674 572 113 166 26 1 35 121 15 90 139 .290 .392 .523 .914
2007 NYY 158 708 583 143 183 31 0 54 156 24 95 120 .314 .422 .645 1.067
2008 NYY 138 594 510 104 154 33 0 35 103 18 65 117 .302 .392 .573 .965
2009 NYY 124 535 444 78 127 17 1 30 100 14 80 97 .286 .402 .532 .933
2010 NYY 137 595 522 74 141 29 2 30 125 4 59 98 .270 .341 .506 .847
2011 NYY 99 428 373 67 103 21 0 16 62 4 47 80 .276 .362 .461 .823
2012 NYY 122 529 463 74 126 17 1 18 57 13 51 116 .272 .353 .430 .783
19 Yrs 2524 11163 9662 1898 2901 512 30 647 1950 318 1217 2032 .300 .384 .560 .945
NYY (9 yrs) 1249 5476 4673 889 1366 227 8 302 960 141 658 1037 .292 .387 .538 .925
SEA (7 yrs) 790 3515 3126 627 966 194 13 189 595 133 310 616 .309 .374 .561 .934
TEX (3 yrs) 485 2172 1863 382 569 91 9 156 395 44 249 379 .305 .395 .615 1.011
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2013.