Results tagged ‘ october 22 ’

October 22 – Happy Birthday Myles Thomas

thomasThe article appeared in the New York Times on December 17, 1925. It started out like this; “Good news for Yankee fans. Miller Huggins announced yesterday the purchase of one the best minor league pitchers in the country, a young man named Myles Thomas…” The article went on to say that the purchase had forced Jake Ruppert, the Yankee owner then, to “remove several layers from his bankroll to get this lad” because there were several big league teams interested in the right-hander from College Station, Pennsylvania. The reason for all the attention on Myles Thomas was the 28-8 record he had put together during the 1925 season, while pitching for the double A International League’s Toronto Maple Leafs.

Ironically, Huggins had been given a chance to sign this same guy in 1921, when he was fresh out of Pennsylvania State Teachers College. The Yankee skipper passed on that first opportunity and Thomas had then spent the next six seasons pitching in the minors. So he was already 28 years-old when he made his big-league debut with the 1926 Yankees, but he couldn’t have picked a better time to come to the Bronx. During his three full seasons on the team, the Yankees won three straight AL Pennants and both the 1927 and ’28 World Series.

Thomas’s best season in pinstripes was his second, when he went 7-4 for the Murderers’ Row team that went 110-44 and swept the Pirates in the ’27 World Series. But Huggins gradually lost faith in him as time went on. The pitcher’s starts and appearances out of the bullpen decreased in each of his successive seasons with New York until he was finally put on waivers and sold to the Senators in late June of 1929.

He pitched a couple of seasons in Washington before going back to the minors, where after hanging up his glove, he eventually became a coach with the Toledo Mud Hens. I can picture Thomas, perhaps wearing one of the World Series rings he won with the Yankees, out in the Mud Hens bullpen during a game, surrounded by a bunch of wide-eyed big-leaguer wannabe’s, regaling them with his memories of pitching for one of the greatest teams in big league history. I wonder if he told those kids that Babe Ruth himself had given Thomas the nickname of “Duck Eye.” Of course, the Bambino gave just about every teammate he ever played with a nickname because he was too self-absorbed to bother remembering their real names. In fact, in 1928, after Thomas had been Ruth’s teammate for more than two years. Yankee second baseman Tony Lazzeri introduced him to Ruth in a Boston hotel lobby as “the new pitcher from Yale the Yanks had just signed.” Ruth stuck out his hand and said “Hi ya keed.”

Thomas shares his birthday with baseball’s best all-around second baseman and a player who has a decent chance of becoming the first Japanese-born member of the Hall-of-Fame.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1926 NYY 6 6 .500 4.23 33 13 7 3 0 0 140.1 140 79 66 6 65 38 1.461
1927 NYY 7 4 .636 4.87 21 9 8 1 0 0 88.2 111 58 48 4 43 25 1.737
1928 NYY 1 0 1.000 3.41 12 1 6 0 0 0 31.2 33 19 12 3 9 10 1.326
1929 NYY 0 2 .000 10.80 5 1 1 0 0 0 15.0 27 21 18 0 9 3 2.400
5 Yrs 23 22 .511 4.64 105 40 33 11 0 2 434.2 499 284 224 19 189 121 1.583
NYY (4 yrs) 14 12 .538 4.70 71 24 22 4 0 0 275.2 311 177 144 13 126 76 1.585
WSH (2 yrs) 9 10 .474 4.53 34 16 11 7 0 2 159.0 188 107 80 6 63 45 1.579
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/22/2013.

October 22 – Happy Birthday Ichiro Suzuki

I’ve always admired the way Ichiro Suzuki played the game of baseball, but since he did it mostly in Seattle I would never have classified myself as a huge “Ichi” fan. I am now.

When the Yankees learned in late July of the 2012 regular season that their injured starting outfielder, Brett Gardner was unlikely to return to the active roster before the end of the year, they traded pitchers D. J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to the Mariners for the aging native of Kasugai, Japan. I liked the deal immediately because I thought New York had missed Gardner’s defense and his run-scoring ability and by adding Suzuki they were actually getting someone who was an even better outfielder and run scorer than Gardner.

From the moment he put on the pinstripes, it has been a pleasure to watch this guy play the game. Unlike most of the high-paid sluggers in this current Yankee lineup, Suzuki is content to take what he is given from opposing pitchers and as a result, he’s a very tough out. What was most surprising to me, however, was his ability to turn on an inside fastball and drive it easily into Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch.

The highpoint of his first year as a Yankee was a five-game mid-September stretch he put together against the Blue Jays and Orioles. He went 14-20 in those games, scoring seven runs, driving in five and New York won them all. Without that five game win streak, the Yankees would have not won the AL East and without Suzuki, there would have been no five game win streak.

He ended up appearing in 67 regular season games for New York in 2012 and hitting .322. For some idiot reason, the Yankees had him batting at the bottom of the order when he first joined the team, because I think he would have scored a lot more runs than the 28 he did manage.  After hitting just .217 in the Yankee victory over Baltimore in the ALDS, Suzuki was the only member of New York’s lineup who could hit Detroit pitching in the 2012 ALCS, averaging .353 against the Tigers.

Suzuki turns 40-years-old today. He shares his October 22nd birthday with one of his own Yankee teammates and this long-ago Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2012 NYY 67 240 227 28 73 13 1 5 27 14 5 21 .322 .340 .454 .794
2013 NYY 150 555 520 57 136 15 3 7 35 20 26 63 .262 .297 .342 .639
13 Yrs 2061 9278 8605 1261 2742 323 83 111 695 472 544 876 .319 .361 .414 .775
SEA (12 yrs) 1844 8483 7858 1176 2533 295 79 99 633 438 513 792 .322 .366 .418 .784
NYY (2 yrs) 217 795 747 85 209 28 4 12 62 34 31 84 .280 .310 .376 .686
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/22/2013.

October 22 – Happy Birthday Robinson Cano

I remember when the Yankees signed Tony Womack as a free agent to become their starting second baseman for the 2005 season. He was coming off a career year with the NL Champion Cardinals but he was 35 years of age, had no real pop in his bat and didn’t seem to me to be the kind of player Yankee fans would embrace. I was right and Joe Torre evidently agreed with me because Womack lasted only a couple of dozen games as New York’s starting second baseman.

I have to admit, at first, I wasn’t a big fan of Womack’s successor either. When the Yankees brought Robinson Cano up and installed him at second base, he started off pretty slow at the plate, experienced rookie-type-lapses of concentration in the field and he had the most annoying nail-biting habit of any Yankee in history. I was screaming for the Yankees to make a deal to bring back Soriano, confident that “Canoe,” Derek Jeter’s nickname for his new teammate, would be back in Triple A before the 2005 season was over.

This fully underscores why the Yankees paid Joe Torre millions of dollars to make field decisions and never responded to my written offer to manage their team for free. Torre’s patience with his young second baseman was rewarded, when Cano did start hitting, finishing his rookie season with a .297 batting average. He also fielded brilliantly and became a key reason why the Yankees made it to the 2005 postseason.

Cano then got better in both his second and third seasons in the Bronx before he digressed in 2008. I’m not sure what happened to him that season. He made more mistakes in the field and seemed to concentrate less at the plate. Cano had always been an undisciplined hitter, swinging at nearly everything pitchers threw him but during that ’08 season, he was swinging at literally everything.

Fortunately for New York, Cano has been superb ever since, making a gigantic leap during the past three seasons to becoming the best all-around second baseman in the Major Leagues. He makes plays in the field that I’ve never seen made by any second baseman, ever. He has also become one of the game’s great offensive forces, with that special ability to both score and drive in 100 runs per season. Cano is so good and so gifted, it has become easy for fans like me to take some of the extraordinary things he does both at the plate and defensively at second base, for granted. But I don’t think I’m being unfair when I call him out for his propensity to not hustle on the base paths. When he hits a field-able ground ball he often jogs to first and when he hits fly balls deep that have a chance to go out of the park, he goes into his home run trot much too soon. If he’d get rid of both bad habits, he’d be an absolute perfect second baseman. But even if he doesn’t, he’s pretty damn close to perfect anyway.

Cano shares his birthday with one of his current Yankee teammates and this long-ago Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2005 NYY 132 551 522 78 155 34 4 14 62 1 16 68 .297 .320 .458 .778
2006 NYY 122 508 482 62 165 41 1 15 78 5 18 54 .342 .365 .525 .890
2007 NYY 160 669 617 93 189 41 7 19 97 4 39 85 .306 .353 .488 .841
2008 NYY 159 634 597 70 162 35 3 14 72 2 26 65 .271 .305 .410 .715
2009 NYY 161 674 637 103 204 48 2 25 85 5 30 63 .320 .352 .520 .871
2010 NYY 160 696 626 103 200 41 3 29 109 3 57 77 .319 .381 .534 .914
2011 NYY 159 681 623 104 188 46 7 28 118 8 38 96 .302 .349 .533 .882
2012 NYY 161 697 627 105 196 48 1 33 94 3 61 96 .313 .379 .550 .929
2013 NYY 160 681 605 81 190 41 0 27 107 7 65 85 .314 .383 .516 .899
9 Yrs 1374 5791 5336 799 1649 375 28 204 822 38 350 689 .309 .355 .504 .860
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/22/2013.