Results tagged ‘ outfielder ’

April 14 – Happy Birthday David Justice

My in-laws became huge Atlanta Braves’ fans in the 1980s, which of course meant they adored Dale Murphy. I’m not certain of this but I think I do remember my mother-in-law actually crying on the day the team traded “the Murph” to the Phillies, in August of 1990. The guy who took over for the Braves’ legend was David Justice. He got off to a great start, winning the 1990 NL Rookie of the Year Award by hitting 28 home runs and averaging .282 in his first full big league season. He then had two consecutive 21 home run seasons before suddenly exploding with 40 round trippers and 120 RBIs in 1993.

The following season, Justice tore his shoulder muscle and was never again the force he had been in Atlanta’s lineup. He had also married the actress, Halle Barry in 1992 and their life together became fodder for the tabloids for the next few years. Their coupling ended pretty badly just a couple of years after it began and the outfielder’s marriage to the Braves also broke up shortly thereafter.

In March of 1997, Justice switched tribes when Atlanta traded him and fellow Braves’ outfielder, Marquis Grissom to the Indians for Kenny Lofton and pitcher Alan Embree. My mother-in-law didn’t cry that day but she wasn’t happy a year later when Lofton, who had hit .333 during his one season in Atlanta, became a free agent and rejoined the Indians. He and Justice, who hit 31 home runs and drove in 101 runs, led Cleveland to the 1997 World Series.

In June of 2000, Justice came to the Yankees. I had never been a big David Justice fan so when New York made the mid-season trade with Cleveland to get him that year, my first reaction was disappointment that the New York front office had given up on Ricky Ledee, who was part of the trade. But boy did Justice make me forget Ledee in a hurry. In just 78 games in pinstripes that season, he smacked 20 home runs, scored 58, and drove in 60 more. He pretty much put the team on his back and carried them to the playoffs. Then in the ALCS against Seattle, Justice drove in eight more runs. Without him, I doubt seriously the Subway Series of 2000 would ever have taken place.

In 2001, Justice suffered a groin injury that plagued him almost the entire season. He played in only 111 games, hit just 18 home runs and averaged a career low .241. Those numbers got him traded after the 2001 season, first to the Mets who then immediately turned around and traded Justice to the A’s, where the then 36-year-old three-time all-star played the final season of his 14-year big league career. He quit with 305 career home runs and two rings. But baseball wasn’t through with Justice yet.

Five years after he played his final big league game, his name showed up in “the Mitchell Report,” the Major League’s official expose of steroid and HGH abuse. An informant claimed to have sold Justice HGH after the 2000 World Series. Justice has steadfastly denied he ever used any PEDs during his career. What’s the truth? When Justice hit those 40 homers in 1993, the two guys who finished ahead of him in the NL MVP race were Barry Bonds and Larry Dykstra. When the Yankees traded for Justice during the 2000 season, it was only after Brian Cashman failed in his efforts to bring Sammy Sosa or Juan Gonzalez to New York. Justice played and peaked during the same era as Bonds, Dykstra, Sosa and Gonzalez. We know PEDs were part of the game. Are they still? Who really knows? That’s the damn shame.

Justice shares his April 14th birthday with this former Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2000 NYY 78 318 275 43 84 17 0 20 60 1 39 42 .305 .391 .585 .977
2001 NYY 111 439 381 58 92 16 1 18 51 1 54 83 .241 .333 .430 .763
14 Yrs 1610 6602 5625 929 1571 280 24 305 1017 53 903 999 .279 .378 .500 .878
ATL (8 yrs) 817 3349 2858 475 786 127 16 160 522 33 452 492 .275 .374 .499 .873
CLE (4 yrs) 486 2025 1713 299 503 102 4 96 335 14 288 316 .294 .392 .526 .918
NYY (2 yrs) 189 757 656 101 176 33 1 38 111 2 93 125 .268 .357 .495 .853
OAK (1 yr) 118 471 398 54 106 18 3 11 49 4 70 66 .266 .376 .410 .785
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/23/2014.

April 12 – Happy Birthday Sammy Vick

vick.jpgA few years ago, I read a book entitled “The Big Bam,” which is a biography of Babe Ruth, written by Leigh Montville. In it, the author goes into great detail about the transaction that made Ruth a Yankee, in January of 1920. At the time the deal was made, Ruth was coming off a season in which he hit the  then unheard of total of 29 home runs. He had almost convinced Red Sox Manager, Ed Barrow, that he was too good a hitter to continue pitching. He was quickly becoming the most famous man in America and was about to embark on a career in pinstripes that would in effect, make him the God of baseball. So imagine for a moment that you are today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant, Sammy Vick. You’ve been a Yankee for three seasons and in 1919, you finally became the team’s starting right fielder. You’re only 24 years old and the Yankees, under second-year Manager Miller Huggins, were an improving baseball team, finishing in third place in the American League the past season. So you wake up on January 4, 1920 and you pour yourself a cup of coffee and grab the morning newspaper. You unfold  it and there on the top of the front page, you’re suddenly staring at your own obituary. Actually, the headline reads “Yankees Purchase Ruth From Boston” but to your eyes it says “Sammy Vick’s Days as Yankees’ Starting Right Fielder Are Over Forever.” When he got to the part of the article where Huggins is quoted as saying Babe’s pitching days are over for good, Vick probably put down his coffee and the newspaper and went back to bed hoping against hope that everything that had just transpired was nothing but a bad dream.

Ruth went on to hit 59 home runs during his first season in New York. Vick only got to play when “The Big Bam” was hurt, tired, hung over or finished hitting for the day. That meant Vick, who was a native of Batesville, Mississippi, appeared in just 51 games in 1920. The following season he was traded to Boston as part of a nine-player swap between the two teams. He floundered as a Red Sox and was back in the minors by 1922. He played until 1930 but never got back to the big leagues. Sammy lived to be 91, passing away in 1986. I bet at the time, he was still telling anyone who would listen that he was the guy who lost his job to Babe Ruth.

Joining Vick as a former Yankee who celebrates his birthday on April 12 is this reliever who came to New York in a trade for El Duque and this outfielder the Yankees picked up from Detroit just as the 2013 season was about to begin.

Year Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1917 NYY AL 10 38 36 4 10 3 0 0 2 2 1 6 .278 .297 .361 .658
1918 NYY AL 2 3 3 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 .667 .667 .667 1.333
1919 NYY AL 106 445 407 59 101 15 9 2 27 9 35 55 .248 .308 .344 .652
1920 NYY AL 51 135 118 21 26 7 1 0 11 1 1 14 20 .220 .313 .297 .610
5 Yrs 213 702 641 90 159 28 11 2 50 12 2 51 91 .248 .305 .335 .641
NYY (4 yrs) 169 621 564 85 139 25 10 2 41 12 1 50 81 .246 .310 .337 .647
BOS (1 yr) 44 81 77 5 20 3 1 0 9 0 1 1 10 .260 .269 .325 .594
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/12/2013.

April 10 – Happy Birthday Ken Griffey Sr.

griffey.jpegAfter a nine-year career as a star outfielder for Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, Ken Griffey Sr. was signed as a free agent by the Yankees after the 1981 season. That was right after the fractious players strike, the crazy split-season format caused by the work action and New York’s loss to the Dodgers in the 1981 World Series. All three of those events impacted George Steinbrenner’s ownership philosophy to a point where he stopped listening to his baseball people and started making baseball decisions and deals on his own. Nothing symbolized the Boss’s going rogue better than the signing of Griffey and the trade for his Cincinnati outfield teammate, Dave Collins. The Yankees ended up with six outfielders on their 1982 roster making it difficult for Griffey and completely impossible for Collins to feel like they fit in. A solid but not spectacular player, Griffey later admitted to Baseball Digest that he felt much more comfortable playing in the National League. He lasted four and a half seasons in the Bronx, averaging .285 during that span. Just before the 1986 All Star break, the Yankees traded Griffey and shortstop Andre Robertson to the Braves for Claudell Washington and Paul Zuvella. Griffey couldn’t wait to get back to the Senior Circuit.

He would end up playing nineteen seasons in the big leagues, finally retiring in 1991, with a lifetime average of .296 and 2,143 hits. He was the second best ballplayer to be born in Donora, PA behind Stan “the Man” Musial and the second best ballplayer to be born in his own family behind his superstar son and former Mariner teammate, Ken “the Kid” Griffey.

This former Yankee, also born on April 10th, was New York’s starting DH in the Opening Day lineup of Griffey’s first game in pinstripes in 1982.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1982 NYY 127 528 484 70 134 23 2 12 54 10 39 58 .277 .329 .407 .736
1983 NYY 118 499 458 60 140 21 3 11 46 6 34 45 .306 .355 .437 .792
1984 NYY 120 436 399 44 109 20 1 7 56 2 29 32 .273 .321 .381 .702
1985 NYY 127 487 438 68 120 28 4 10 69 7 41 51 .274 .331 .425 .755
1986 NYY 59 219 198 33 60 7 0 9 26 2 15 24 .303 .349 .475 .823
19 Yrs 2097 8049 7229 1129 2143 364 77 152 859 200 719 898 .296 .359 .431 .790
CIN (12 yrs) 1224 4716 4206 709 1275 212 63 71 466 156 455 549 .303 .370 .434 .804
NYY (5 yrs) 551 2169 1977 275 563 99 10 49 251 27 158 210 .285 .336 .419 .755
ATL (3 yrs) 271 976 884 122 252 44 4 28 115 17 83 123 .285 .345 .439 .784
SEA (2 yrs) 51 188 162 23 53 9 0 4 27 0 23 16 .327 .410 .457 .866
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/23/2014.