Results tagged ‘ outfielder ’

June 17 – Happy Birthday Vic Mata

Vic Mata got his opportunity to play in the Bronx in 1984 mostly because George Steinbrenner was growing frustrated playing and paying high-priced veterans to miss the playoffs. In 1983, the Yankees had won 91 games but finished third in the AL East. That was the second consecutive season New York had failed to qualify for Fall Ball and that was the first time that had happened to a Yankee team since 1975. So “The Boss” let it be known he wanted to start testing the fruit from the Yankee farm system, hoping young guys like Don Mattingly, Mike Pagliarullo, Bobby Meacham and Vic Mata could show the old guys how to win with hunger and hustle. The Yankees were a game under .500 in July when Mata got his first start. Yogi Berra played the Dominican Republic native quite a bit in center field for the balance of that year and both Vic and the Yankees responded. Mata got real hot at the plate in August and helped the Yankees go 40-27 the rest of the way. But that proved to be the best and longest stretch of big league baseball Mata would ever play. That December, the short-memoried Steinbrenner went out and got the A’s Ricky Henderson to play center field for the Yankees. Then when the Yankees got off to a slow start in ’85 “The Boss” canned Berra and replaced him with good old Billy Martin. Berra liked Mata and Martin loved Henderson. Mata ended up playing just six more regular-season games in pinstripes.

After spending the final couple of seasons of his playing career in the minors, Mata eventually got into scouting. It has been in that capacity that this he has made his most significant contribution to the Yankees. Vic is the guy who signed Robinson Cano. He is also the only Yankee past or present who was born on June 17th. Happy Fathers’ Day to all you Dads out there.

Mata shares his birthday with this former front office Yankee executive.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1984 NYY 30 76 70 8 23 5 0 1 6 1 0 12 .329 .333 .443 .776
1985 NYY 6 7 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .143 .143 .143 .286
2 Yrs 36 83 77 9 24 5 0 1 6 1 0 12 .312 .316 .416 .732
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/17/2013.

June 16 – Happy Birthday Allie Clarke

This Jersey native started his seven-season big league career appearing in 24 games with the 1947 Yankees. Most of those appearances were as a first baseman. He was one of the last Yankees to wear uniform number 3 before it was retired upon Babe Ruth’s death in 1948. The highlight of Clarke’s short stay in pinstripes had to be his participation in the 1947 World Series. He appeared in three games against the Dodgers in that Fall Classic, came to the plate three times, getting a walk a base hit, scoring a run and delivering an RBI. He was then traded to the Indians for pitcher Red Embree and appeared in his second straight Series that year, when the Indians captured the AL Pennant. He played three plus seasons in Cleveland and then joined the A’s in Philadelphia for a while. He played his last big league game in 1953.

Clarke played briefly for the Amsterdam Rugmakers in 1941. The team was based in my hometown of Amsterdam, NY and was the Yankees’ C-level affiliate in the old Canadian-American League. He wowed our town’s local sports press by averaging .368 during his 20 games with the team.

He shares his June 16th birthday with this former Yankee reliever and this one too.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1947 NYY 24 73 67 9 25 5 0 1 14 0 5 2 .373 .417 .493 .909
7 Yrs 358 1106 1021 131 267 48 4 32 149 2 72 70 .262 .312 .410 .722
CLE (4 yrs) 178 562 518 73 135 17 3 17 71 0 39 32 .261 .312 .403 .716
PHA (3 yrs) 147 456 421 49 106 26 1 14 64 2 28 31 .252 .303 .418 .721
NYY (1 yr) 24 73 67 9 25 5 0 1 14 0 5 2 .373 .417 .493 .909
CHW (1 yr) 9 15 15 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 .067 .067 .067 .133
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/16/2013.

June 12 – Happy Birthday Hideki Matsui

The initial signing of this former Yomiuri Giant standout was a great move by the Yankee front office prior to the 2003 season. Only Ishiru Suzuki ranks in front of him in terms of on-the-field performance by a Japanese player in the Major Leagues. He knocked in over 100 runs in four of his first five seasons in Pinstripes and only a wrist injury prevented him from making it all five.

The second contract the Yankees gave Matsui (four years, $52 million) after the 2005 season, did not turn out as well for New York. The wrist mishap ended Hideki’s consecutive game streak of over 1,700 (started in Japan and continued during his first 518 games as a Yankee.) After the broken wrist, he missed close to forty percent of the Yankee’s regular-season games during the next three seasons with an assortment of ailments and injuries including two very painful knees.

Matsui then put together a memorable final year in pinstripes in 2009. During the regular season he blasted 28 home runs and drove in ninety. But he saved his very best effort for the 2009 World Series. He hit .615 in fourteen plate appearances against the Phillies with three home runs and 8 RBIs. I had the pleasure of seeing him hit one of those round-trippers live, at Game 2 at the Stadium. His Game 6 performance will remain one for the ages. Matsui drove in six of the seven Yankee runs with a homer, double and single and was named the Series MVP. Since he hit 332 home runs while playing in Japan, Matsui ended up with 507 combined home runs during his career.

Matsui’s quiet brilliance during his seven seasons in the Bronx made him one of my favorite Yankees. “Godzilla” announced his retirement from baseball on December 27, 2012.

This former Yankee relief pitcher shares Matsui’s birthday.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2003 NYY 163 695 623 82 179 42 1 16 106 2 63 86 .287 .353 .435 .788
2004 NYY 162 680 584 109 174 34 2 31 108 3 88 103 .298 .390 .522 .912
2005 NYY 162 704 629 108 192 45 3 23 116 2 63 78 .305 .367 .496 .863
2006 NYY 51 201 172 32 52 9 0 8 29 1 27 23 .302 .393 .494 .887
2007 NYY 143 634 547 100 156 28 4 25 103 4 73 73 .285 .367 .488 .855
2008 NYY 93 378 337 43 99 17 0 9 45 0 38 47 .294 .370 .424 .795
2009 NYY 142 528 456 62 125 21 1 28 90 0 64 75 .274 .367 .509 .876
10 Yrs 1236 5066 4442 656 1253 249 12 175 760 13 547 689 .282 .360 .462 .822
NYY (7 yrs) 916 3820 3348 536 977 196 11 140 597 12 416 485 .292 .370 .482 .852
TBR (1 yr) 34 103 95 7 14 1 0 2 7 0 8 22 .147 .214 .221 .435
OAK (1 yr) 141 585 517 58 130 28 0 12 72 1 56 84 .251 .321 .375 .696
LAA (1 yr) 145 558 482 55 132 24 1 21 84 0 67 98 .274 .361 .459 .820
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/12/2013.

June 1 – Happy Birthday Bud Metheny

When Babe Ruth was released by the Yankees in 1934, the team gave George Selkirk, his replacement in right field, the Babe’s uniform number “3.” Selkirk wore it until he went into military service after the 1942 season. With most of the frontline players away at war, the Yankees reached down into their minor league organization for Selkirk’s replacement, a then 28-year-old St. Louis native named Bud Metheny, and gave him uniform number 3. Metheny wore that number and started in the Yankee outfield from 1943 until 1945, when the War ended and the regular big leaguers returned to the game. Born on June 1, 1915, his best year in pinstripes was 1944, when he hit 14 home runs and drove in 67. He returned to the minors in 1946 and never again played a big league game. He then became the head baseball coach at Old Dominion University in 1948 and remained in that position for the next 32 years.

By the way, the Yankees did not retire the Bambino’s number for good until after Ruth died in 1948. After Metheny, the number was worn by Roy Bockman, Roy Weatherly, Allie Clarke and finally Cliff Mapes.

Other Yankees born on this date include the only big league catcher in history to catch no-hit games on consecutive days and this one-time 20-game-winner.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1943 NYY 103 409 360 51 94 18 2 9 36 2 39 34 .261 .333 .397 .731
1944 NYY 137 592 518 72 124 16 1 14 67 5 56 57 .239 .316 .355 .671
1945 NYY 133 580 509 64 126 18 2 8 53 5 54 31 .248 .325 .338 .662
1946 NYY 3 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
4 Yrs 376 1584 1390 187 344 52 5 31 156 12 149 122 .247 .323 .359 .682
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/31/2013.

May 26 – Happy Birthday Chris Latham

The year was 2003. The Yankees would win 101 games that season and capture the AL East Divison, the ALDS against the Twins, the ALCS against the Red Sox but then lose the Series to the Marlins. Coming out of that year’s spring training season, most of the reporters covering the Yankees were predicting Juan Rivera would be Joe Torre’s selection as the team’s fourth outfielder. Instead, Torre chose Chris Latham.

New York had signed the Idaho native the previous September after he had spent the entire 2000 season in the Mets farm system. But Latham did have prior big league experience. He had made his debut in the Majors for the Twins in 1997 and saw action in Minnesota’s outfield for three straight seasons. He had also played for Toronto during the 2000 season, where he hit a career high .274 in 43 games as a utility outfielder.

Reports at the time indicated Torre had selected Latham over Rivera because his speed made him a better pinch-running option, he was a switch-hitter and had experience playing center field. He made his debut in pinstripes as a pinch runner for Raul Mondesi on April 6, 2003, during the sixth inning of game against Tampa Bay. He scored a run and remained in the game to play right field. He got his first Yankee at bat three innings later and singled off Jorge Sosa.

Even though Latham had made the Yankee roster, his agent continued to look for opportunities that would permit his client to play more and make a higher salary. He found such an opportunity with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. Latham asked the Yankees if they would agree to negotiating a deal with the Giants that would permit him to play there and the team graciously agreed. Before he departed for Yomiuri, he got one more at bat as a Yankee against his old team the Twins and singled. That hit would make him the only Yankee in history to leave New York with more than one official at bat and a 1.000 career batting average.

The only other Yankee born on May 26th was this former first baseman.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2003 NYY 4 2 2 3 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
5 Yrs 110 240 213 34 43 5 1 3 19 9 23 85 .202 .280 .277 .557
MIN (3 yrs) 63 154 138 19 21 2 0 1 9 4 13 57 .152 .222 .188 .411
NYY (1 yr) 4 2 2 3 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
TOR (1 yr) 43 84 73 12 20 3 1 2 10 4 10 28 .274 .369 .425 .794
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/26/2013.

May 25 – Happy Birthday Bobby Brown

Bobby Brown started his Yankee career during the tumultuous 1979 season, when he was acquired from the Blue Jays in June of that year. At the same time New York traded for Brown, George Steinbrenner, replaced Manager Bob Lemon with Billy Martin. After winning two straight World Championships, New York was floundering in that year’s AL Pennant race. The “Boss” thought Lemon had lost control of the team and especially center-fielder Mickey Rivers. The Yankee owner felt Martin was the guy who could make the Yankees and “Mick the Quick” play hard again.

Instead, Rivers continued to drift and on August 1, 1979, the speedy outfielder was dealt to the Rangers. That same day, Thurman Munson crashed his plane and the rest of the 1979 baseball season suddenly didn’t matter to anybody.

In one of his best moves as Yankee owner, Steinbrenner then approved the hiring of long-time Yankee coach Dick Howser as the team’s new skipper. The Yankees also swung a deal for the young Mariner center-fielder, Rupert Jones. Everyone thought Jones would become the Yankees next great center fielder. Fortunately for Bobby Brown, that didn’t happen.

With Jones struggling to keep his average over .200, Dick Howser began playing Brown in the middle of his outfield  during that 1980 season. Brown’s speed helped him cover the huge dimensions of center field in the old Yankee Stadium and it helped him steal 27 bases that season. Howser also liked the fact that Brown was a switch hitter. Bobby responded well, hitting .260 and poking 14 home runs in his official rookie season. But the Howser-Brown mutual admiration society was about to get disbanded.

Howser was fired by an irate Steinbrenner after the Yankees got knocked out of the 1980 playoffs in three-straight games by the Royals. Brown went hitless in that series, which did not go unnoticed in the Yankee front office. At the very end of New York’s 1981 spring training season, New York traded Jones to the Padres for San Diego’s talented center fielder, Jerry Mumphrey. That trade signaled the official end of Brown’s career as the Yankee’s starting center fielder.

Bobby began the 1981 season in Columbus and then got called back up to the parent club in late May. He remained in pinstripes during the rest of that strike-shortened 1981 season, but he hit only .226. Still, the Yankees kept him on their post-season roster, which ended up giving Brown one more opportunity to make Steinbrenner livid. It happened during the pivotal Game 4 of that year’s Fall Classic against the Dodgers. Yankee Manager, Bob Lemon had inserted Brown as a pinch runner for Oscar Gamble in the sixth inning with the Yankees ahead 6-3. But instead of putting Jerry Mumphrey in center the following inning, Lemon sent Brown out to play the field. Mumphrey was considered to be a much better defensive outfielder than Brown. Later in the game, with the score tied 6-6, Brown misplayed Rick Monday’s blooper into a double, which led to a two-run inning and a Dodger victory and a deadlocked Series. Los Angeles would go on to win the next two games and the World Championship. The following April, Brown was playing for the Mariners.

The Yankees actually traded for Bobby Brown two different times. They originally acquired him in 1978, when he was still a minor leaguer in the Phillies’ organization but then lost him to the Mets in the 1978 rule 5 Draft. In that trade with the Phillies, the Yankees got Brown and outfielder Jay Johnstone for reliever Rawley Eastwick. When New York traded Bobby Brown to the Mariners in 1982 they got starting pitcher Shane Rawley in return. This makes Brown the only Yankee in history who was traded to the team and from the team for guys who shared the name Rawley.

There was another pretty famous Bobby Brown in Yankee history, a third baseman during the late forties who went on to become a medical doctor and then the last president of MLB’s American League. There have also been lots of Yankees who like the two Bobby Brown’s, have names (or nicknames) with the same first and last initial. Here’s my line up of the most notable of those alliteratively monikered Bronx Bombers:

Chris Chambliss – 1b
Steve Sax – 2b
Tommy Tresh – SS
Red Rolfe – 3b
Frank Fernandez – c
Mickey Mantle – of
Bobby Bonds – of
Chad Curtis – of
Shane Spencer – dh
Mike Mussina – p
Red Ruffing – p
Goose Gossage – rp

Bobby turns 59-years-old today. He shares his May 25th birthday with this former Yankee pitcher and minor league pitching instructor.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1979 NYY 30 71 68 7 17 3 1 0 3 2 2 17 .250 .271 .324 .595
1980 NYY 137 446 412 65 107 12 5 14 47 27 29 82 .260 .306 .415 .721
1981 NYY 31 69 62 5 14 1 0 0 6 4 5 15 .226 .279 .242 .521
7 Yrs 502 1393 1277 183 313 38 12 26 130 110 94 238 .245 .295 .355 .649
SDP (3 yrs) 221 528 480 76 116 15 5 8 57 49 39 91 .242 .296 .344 .640
NYY (3 yrs) 198 586 542 77 138 16 6 14 56 33 36 114 .255 .299 .384 .683
SEA (1 yr) 79 267 245 29 59 7 1 4 17 28 17 32 .241 .288 .327 .614
TOR (1 yr) 4 12 10 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 .000 .167 .000 .167
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/25/2014.

May 20 – Happy Birthday Bobby Murcer

It is still hard to believe Bobby is gone. He became my favorite Yankee when he was brought up in 1969 to replace my previous favorite Yankee, the great Mickey Mantle. Even though he developed into a very good big league player, he was no Mantle. He was instead, the very best player on a very bad string of Yankee teams and I loved the guy. I remember being very upset when Bobby was traded to the Giants for Bobby Bonds right after the 1974 season. I remember being overjoyed when the Yankees put him back in pinstripes during the 1979 season. I hated to see him retire during the 1983 season but I enjoyed listening to him and learning more about him during his many years in the Yankees’ broadcast booth. When he died from a brain tumor in July of 2008, Yankee fans around the world mourned him. Had he lived he would have turned 68 years-old today.

In April of 2014, the Yankees announced that they would be placing plaques in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park to honor Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez, two great Yankees who certainly deserve the recognition. But what about Bobby Murcer?

Bobby shares his birthday with the first closer in Yankee history, this one-time Yankee pitcher and this one too.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1965 NYY 11 42 37 2 9 0 1 1 4 0 5 12 .243 .333 .378 .712
1966 NYY 21 73 69 3 12 1 1 0 5 2 4 5 .174 .219 .217 .437
1969 NYY 152 625 564 82 146 24 4 26 82 7 50 103 .259 .319 .454 .773
1970 NYY 159 680 581 95 146 23 3 23 78 15 87 100 .251 .348 .420 .768
1971 ★ NYY 146 624 529 94 175 25 6 25 94 14 91 60 .331 .427 .543 .969
1972 ★ NYY 153 654 585 102 171 30 7 33 96 11 63 67 .292 .361 .537 .898
1973 ★ NYY 160 672 616 83 187 29 2 22 95 6 50 67 .304 .357 .464 .821
1974 ★ NYY 156 679 606 69 166 25 4 10 88 14 57 59 .274 .332 .378 .710
1979 NYY 74 294 264 42 72 12 0 8 33 1 25 32 .273 .339 .409 .748
1980 NYY 100 345 297 41 80 9 1 13 57 2 34 28 .269 .339 .438 .777
1981 NYY 50 130 117 14 31 6 0 6 24 0 12 15 .265 .331 .470 .801
1982 NYY 65 156 141 12 32 6 0 7 30 2 12 15 .227 .288 .418 .707
1983 NYY 9 23 22 2 4 2 0 1 1 0 1 1 .182 .217 .409 .626
17 Yrs 1908 7718 6730 972 1862 285 45 252 1043 127 862 841 .277 .357 .445 .802
NYY (13 yrs) 1256 4997 4428 641 1231 192 29 175 687 74 491 564 .278 .349 .453 .802
CHC (3 yrs) 358 1465 1243 178 336 44 10 43 175 32 196 154 .270 .367 .426 .792
SFG (2 yrs) 294 1256 1059 153 295 49 6 34 181 21 175 123 .279 .379 .432 .812
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/20/2014.

May 14 – Happy Birthday Earle Combs

combsEarle Combs was born on May 14, 1899, in Pebworth, KY. Nicknamed the “”Kentucky Colonel”” he was the first great Yankee center fielder. When he left his parents’ farm at the age of seventeen, his career goal was to become a school teacher.  He attended what is now Eastern Kentucky University to pursue a teaching degree. He got involved in a baseball game between the students and the faculty of the college. The guy pitching for the teachers that day had some big league experience and was impressed enough by Combs’ ability that he urged him to try out for the school’s baseball team. He did and quickly became an elite player on that team. Soon he was playing semi pro and minor league ball.

In 1924, he signed a contract to play for the Kentucky Colonels of the American Association. The team’s manager was future Yankee skipper, Joe McCarthy, who converted Combs from a shortstop to a center fielder. After two outstanding seasons with the Colonels, the Yankees outbid a slew of other big league teams and purchased his contract for $50,000. He than began his twelve-season career in Pinstripes in 1924.

He batted .325, lifetime. That mark places Combs third on the list of highest Yankee lifetime batting averages with a minimum of 1,500 plate appearances. Combs scored at least 113 runs for eight straight seasons hitting in front of Ruth and Gehrig. During the 1934 season, he ran into an outfield wall in Sportsmen’s Park in St Louis, chasing a fly ball at top speed. He broke his skull and almost died from the resulting injuries. He attempted a comeback in 1935 but after crashing into another wall, he called it quits for good.  Combs was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1970.

Combs shares his May 14th birthday with this former Yankee Manager and this former Yankee reliever and this other former Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1924 NYY 24 39 35 10 14 5 0 0 2 0 4 2 .400 .462 .543 1.004
1925 NYY 150 674 593 117 203 36 13 3 61 12 65 43 .342 .411 .462 .873
1926 NYY 145 670 606 113 181 31 12 8 55 8 47 23 .299 .352 .429 .781
1927 NYY 152 725 648 137 231 36 23 6 64 15 62 31 .356 .414 .511 .925
1928 NYY 149 709 626 118 194 33 21 7 56 11 77 33 .310 .387 .463 .850
1929 NYY 142 666 586 119 202 33 15 3 65 12 69 32 .345 .414 .468 .881
1930 NYY 137 617 532 129 183 30 22 7 82 16 74 26 .344 .424 .523 .947
1931 NYY 138 636 563 120 179 31 13 5 58 11 68 34 .318 .394 .446 .840
1932 NYY 144 675 591 143 190 32 10 9 65 3 81 16 .321 .405 .455 .860
1933 NYY 122 472 417 86 125 22 16 5 64 6 47 19 .300 .372 .465 .837
1934 NYY 63 295 251 47 80 13 5 2 25 3 40 9 .319 .412 .434 .847
1935 NYY 89 335 298 47 84 7 4 3 35 1 36 10 .282 .359 .362 .722
12 Yrs 1455 6513 5746 1186 1866 309 154 58 632 98 670 278 .325 .397 .462 .859
162 Game Avg. 162 725 640 132 208 34 17 6 70 11 75 31 .325 .397 .462 .859
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/13/2013.

May 5 – Happy Birthday Bob Cerv

Cerv.jpgThey may have played their home games in the “Show Me State” but the 1958 starting lineup of the Kansas City A’s certainly had lots of pinstripe connections. Former Yankee prospects, Vic Power and Hal Smith started at first and third respectively. Future Yankees Hector Lopez and shortstop Joe DeMaestri held down the middle positions of the A’s infield and their soon-to-be New York teammates, Roger Maris and today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant, Bob Cerv comprised two thirds of Kansas City’s starting outfield that year. If either Ralph Terry, Bob Grim, Duke Maas, Tom Gorman, Bud Daley or Virgil Trucks happened to be on the mound that day and the A’s fourth outfielder Woodie Held started in place of KC’s Bill Tuttle in center, eight of the nine positions would be manned by former or future players from the Yankee organization. It was no wonder people inside of baseball began referring to the A’s as the Yankees big league farm team.

Cerv had made his debut in New York in 1951, which also happened to be Joe DiMaggio’s last season as a Yankee and Mickey Mantle’s first. Unlike those two superstars, Cerv would never become a Yankee regular, but because he played for Casey Stengel at the time, the platoon maestro of big league managers, he would evolve into a very valuable member of those great New York teams. By 1954, ’55 and ’56 he had settled into the role of the Yankee’s starting right-fielder against left handed pitching. Cerv had a vicious swing and it produced some of the hardest hit balls in the game at the time. His home run power was thwarted by the vast dimensions of the Yankee Stadium’s left-center field, but those line drives off his bat would have been hits in any park.

His best year in the Bronx was 1955, when he hit .341 in 55 games plus his only World Series home run. The following year, he hit .304 while playing in 54 regular season contests. During his first six seasons with New York, the team played in five World Series and won four of them, generating perhaps $30-to-$40 thousand of additional income for the the growing Cerv family. Then the Yankees sold him to Kansas City where he became an All Star outfielder in 1958, belting 38 home runs, driving in 104 runs and topping the .300 mark in batting average.

By 1960, Cerv was back in the Bronx as a reserve outfielder. When the Yankees didn’t protect him during that year’s AL expansion draft, he was selected by the Los Angeles Angels. The Yankees quickly brought him back in a May 1961 trade with LA and he then became the house-mother-like roommate of both Mantle and Maris during their famous home run race that season. Even though he probably could have enjoyed a much more productive statistical career playing somewhere else, Cerv always cherished his days in a Yankee uniform during an era when World Series checks were as regular as paychecks for those on the Yankee roster. His second tenure in pinstripes ended in June of the 1962 season, when he was sold to Houston.

I actually hated seeing Bob Cerv play when I was a kid only because it usually meant my hero, Mickey Mantle, was scratched from the lineup again. The Lincoln, Nebraska native was born in 1926 and played a total of 12 seasons in the Majors. He may have been just a part-time player but Cerv was among the Yankees top ten all-time lists in one important category. He and his wife raised ten children and got each of them through college. That qualifies him for my own Hall of Fame, any day of the week. Mr. Cerv turns 89 years old today. Happy Birthday Bob Cerv!

Cerv shares his Yankee birthday with this one-time Yankee pitcher who’s life ended tragically in July of 2011.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1951 NYY 12 33 28 4 6 1 0 0 2 0 4 6 .214 .313 .250 .563
1952 NYY 36 96 87 11 21 3 2 1 8 0 9 22 .241 .313 .356 .669
1953 NYY 8 7 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .143 .000 .143
1954 NYY 56 112 100 14 26 6 0 5 13 0 11 17 .260 .330 .470 .800
1955 NYY 55 96 85 17 29 4 2 3 22 4 7 16 .341 .411 .541 .952
1956 NYY 54 134 115 16 35 5 6 3 25 0 18 13 .304 .396 .530 .926
1960 NYY 87 249 216 32 54 11 1 8 28 0 30 36 .250 .349 .421 .771
1961 NYY 57 131 118 17 32 5 1 6 20 1 12 17 .271 .344 .483 .827
1962 NYY 14 20 17 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 2 3 .118 .250 .176 .426
12 Yrs 829 2515 2261 320 624 96 26 105 374 12 212 392 .276 .340 .481 .821
NYY (9 yrs) 379 878 772 112 205 36 12 26 118 5 94 131 .266 .350 .444 .795
KCA (4 yrs) 413 1544 1401 203 403 57 14 75 247 7 115 243 .288 .342 .509 .851
LAA (1 yr) 18 60 57 3 9 3 0 2 6 0 1 8 .158 .169 .316 .485
HOU (1 yr) 19 33 31 2 7 0 0 2 3 0 2 10 .226 .273 .419 .692
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/5/2014.

April 27 – Happy Birthday Enos Slaughter

enosslaughterfront.jpgBy most accounts, when Enos “Country” Slaughter joined the Yankees in 1954, many of his new Yankee teammates weren’t too fond of him. That group included and was probably led by the temperamental Billy Martin, who thought Slaughter ‘s habit of running hard to first on every hit ball and even after bases on balls, was an attempt to show up his teammates. Martin considered Slaughter and for that matter most teammates who had not come up through the Yankee organization, as outsiders who could not be trusted on the field or in the clubhouse. Fortunately for Slaughter, Casey Stengel did not share that sentiment, probably because he was an old National Leaguer himself.

Slaughter explained the real reason he hustled every second while on the field in his autobiography. He was playing on a Cardinal farm team in Columbus, GA in 1932, hitting in the low .200′s and thinking he was going to be released any minute when in between innings during a game, he walked backed to the dugout from his right field position. Burt Shotten happened to be his Manager at the time and when Slaughter finally got to the dugout, Shotten told him if he was too tired to run back to the bench that maybe he was too tired to play in the game. Slaughter said that not-too-subtle hint from Shotten forever changed the way he approached the game. He vowed that he would never ever loaf on a baseball field again and he kept that promise for the next 27 years.

The saddest day of his life was August 11, 1954, the day the Cardinals traded him to the Yankees. He actually burst into tears after hearing the news but not because he had any particular animosity toward the Bronx Bombers.  Slaughter absolutely loved playing in St. Louis and never dreamed getting traded was even a remote possibility.

As hard as it was for him to do so, Slaughter brought all of his experience and enthusiasm for the game with him to New York. From 1954 until he was traded to Kansas City in 1955 and then again after he was reacquired by New York a season later until 1959, Casey used the aging veteran frequently as both a pinch hitter and outfield substitute. He also treated Slaughter as his bench coach. The two veterans would often sit next to each other in the dugout, constantly discussing strategy and possible moves.

Slaughter contributed on the field as well. He was a star in the 1956 World Series, hitting .350 as the Yankees beat Brooklyn. His best regular season in pinstripes was 1958, when he hit .304 in 160 plate appearances. Enos retired after the 1959 season, at the ripe age of 43 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame, 26-years later. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 85.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1954 NYY 69 154 125 19 31 4 2 1 19 0 28 8 .248 .386 .336 .722
1955 NYY 10 10 9 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 .111 .200 .111 .311
1956 NYY 24 89 83 15 24 4 2 0 4 1 5 6 .289 .330 .386 .715
1957 NYY 96 255 209 24 53 7 1 5 34 0 40 19 .254 .369 .368 .737
1958 NYY 77 160 138 21 42 4 1 4 19 2 21 16 .304 .396 .435 .831
1959 NYY 74 114 99 10 17 2 0 6 21 1 13 19 .172 .265 .374 .639
19 Yrs 2380 9086 7946 1247 2383 413 148 169 1304 71 1018 538 .300 .382 .453 .834
STL (13 yrs) 1820 7713 6775 1071 2064 366 135 146 1148 64 838 429 .305 .384 .463 .847
NYY (6 yrs) 350 782 663 90 168 21 6 16 98 4 108 69 .253 .356 .376 .732
KCA (2 yrs) 199 570 490 86 148 26 7 7 57 3 69 37 .302 .387 .427 .814
MLN (1 yr) 11 21 18 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 3 3 .167 .286 .167 .452
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/27/2014.