Results tagged ‘ pitcher ’
When I first started watching Yankee baseball back in 1960, the Red Sox had a horrible team. Ted Williams was about to retire leaving behind a crippled Boston offense and the team’s solid pitching staff from the 1950s had faded away. They basically had three guys back then who were warriors. One was the Bronx born third baseman, Frank Malzone. For some reason, I loved the guy and was secretly wishing the Yankees would trade for him. In their bullpen was a fearsome save machine named Dick Radatz. Known as the “Monster”, the intimidating six foot six inch right-hander won forty games and saved 78 more during his first three years in the league, his ERA never went higher than 2.29 and he absolutely owned Mickey Mantle.
Today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant was the third stud on those mediocre Boston teams of the early sixties. Bill Monbouquette was a tough kid from Medford, Massachusetts who never gave into big league hitters. He credited Ted Williams with teaching him the most important lesson of his career, stay ahead of the hitters. The right-hander didn’t throw especially hard but he threw strikes and he wasn’t afraid to come inside on anyone. During his prime years in Beantown, from 1960 until 1965, he won 104 games for the Red Sox, including a twenty-win season in 1963 and a no-hitter in 1962.
Boston traded “Monbo” to the Tigers after the 1965 season. He had a rough first year in MoTown and instead of keeping him on as a bullpen pitcher, Detroit’s front office decided to give him his outright release in May of 1967 and the Yankees grabbed him immediately. I loved the move back then because the great Yankee pitching staffs of the early sixties had vanished. At first, New York skipper Ralph Houk used his new acquisition almost exclusively out of the bullpen. By mid-August, however, Monboquette had worked his way into the starting rotation and ended up winning four of his last six decisions, including an impressive complete-game shutout versus the White Sox. His final numbers during his first year in pinstripes included a 6-5 record, a save and an impressive 2.33 ERA.
Monbo couldn’t continue at that pace the following year and got traded to the Giants for reliever Lindy McDaniel in July of 1968. That would turn out to be his final big league season as a pitcher. He then got into coaching and eventually became Billy Martin’s Yankee pitching coach during the 1985 season.
One of the things I didn’t know about this guy until I researched his career for today’s post was how physically tough he was. On the day he signed with Boston in 1955, the Red Sox invited him and his family to stick around and watch that day’s Red Sox game at Fenway Park. During the contest, somebody spilled beer on Monbouquette’s mother and after a heated exchange, both the pitcher and his dad got into it with the rowdies and ended up in a police holding cell. Nine years later, Monbouquette was trying to parlay his twenty win season into a raise on his then $14,000 annual Red Sox salary. During his super-heated negotiations with Pinky Higgins, who was Boston’s GM at the time, Monbouquette actually decked the guy twice. In 2008, Monbouquette got into the biggest fight of his life when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He underwent a stem cell transplant and beat that too.
|BOS (8 yrs)||96||91||.513||3.69||254||228||8||72||16||1||1622.0||1649||755||665||180||408||969||1.268|
|NYY (2 yrs)||11||12||.478||3.19||50||21||6||4||1||1||222.2||214||86||79||13||30||85||1.096|
|DET (2 yrs)||7||8||.467||4.64||32||14||9||2||1||0||104.2||121||60||54||14||22||63||1.366|
|SFG (1 yr)||0||1||.000||3.75||7||0||4||0||0||1||12.0||11||9||5||4||2||5||1.083|
The Yanks let a very talented starting pitcher get away when they included today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant in a package of three pitchers they traded to the Senators midway through the 1951 season to acquire reliever Bob Kuzava. New York had signed Bob Porterfield to a minor league contract in 1946. He made his big league debut two years later when he went 5-3 for the 1948 Yankees after winning 15 games for the Yanks’ Newark Bears farm team that same season. Everyone thought this right-handed native of Newport, Virginia was headed for a great career in pinstripes but the truth was that back then, the Yankees didn’t need more starting pitchers. They already had the Holy Trinity of Raschi, Reynolds and Lopat at the top of their rotation and with blue-chippers like Tommy Byrne and Whitey Ford being groomed in their farm system, good young Yankee arms like Porterfield became very expendable. So after spending the next two seasons bouncing back and forth between the Bronx and Triple A, Porterfield was dealt to Washington.
During the next four years he won 67 games for a mediocre Senator ball club, including a breakout 22-win season in 1953 when he led the American League with 22 wins and 9 shutouts. In November of 1955, Poterfield was part of a huge nine-player swap between Washington and the Red Sox.The change of scenery proved disastrous to his career. He went 3-12 for Boston in 1956 and would spend the next three years with three different ball clubs, struggling to regain his form. He never did. He made his last big league appearance in 1959 with the Pirates and then spent two more years in the minors before hanging up his glove for good.
Porterfield eventually got a job as a welder with Westinghouse in West Virginia. He died in 1980 when cancer invaded his lymph nodes. He was just 56 years old at the time.
|WSH (5 yrs)||67||64||.511||3.38||146||138||7||78||19||0||1041.2||1020||437||391||62||343||366||1.308|
|NYY (4 yrs)||8||9||.471||5.06||40||22||5||5||1||1||158.1||171||93||89||10||74||66||1.547|
|PIT (2 yrs)||5||8||.385||3.63||73||6||24||2||1||6||129.0||129||55||52||10||38||58||1.295|
|BOS (3 yrs)||7||16||.304||4.65||55||27||9||7||2||1||232.1||237||138||120||30||94||82||1.425|
|CHC (1 yr)||0||0||11.37||4||0||0||0||0||0||6.1||14||9||8||1||3||0||2.684|
In my lifetime, there have been numerous Yankee starting pitching acquisitions that were considered “big busts” after joining my favorite team. There were many instances when I disagreed with how big of a bust the guy was in pinstripes but when a long-time Yankee fan like me hears names like, Javier Vazquez, Kevin Brown, Kenny Rogers, Eddie Whitson, and just about every starting pitcher the Bronx Bombers traded for during the decade of the 1980′s, the phrase “disappointing as a Yankee” comes to mind. The very first “disappointing as a Yankee” pitcher I can remember was the big Dodger right-hander, Stan Williams, who New York got for Moose Skowron in a 1963 trade. Yankee fans were told he was going to become a consistent 20-game winner in New York. Williams ended up winning a total of just ten games over the next two seasons before he was traded to Cleveland.
What is often overlooked when a pitcher performs poorly in Pinstripes by both merciless Yankee fans and the even more merciless Yankee media, is the toll it takes on these guys. Professional athletes are dependent on confidence and when that confidence is shaken by persistent boos and bad press, it can be mentally devastating. That’s why today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant called the two full seasons he pitched for the Yankees “the worst two years of my life!”
The Yankees wanted Fred Sanford badly. The young right hander had made the St Louis Browns starting rotation two years after returning from service in the Pacific during WWII and though he led the league with 21 losses in 1948, lots of scouts loved his stuff and thought he’d be a big winner on a better club than the lowly Browns. The Yankees agreed and gave up $100,000 and a package of three decent prospects to bring Sanford to New York, just before Christmas in 1948.
Sanford’s 1949 inaugural season in New York was also Casey Stengel’s debut year as Yankee manager. The Old Perfessor had the luxury of inheriting three of the best starting pitchers ever to appear in the same rotation, in Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds and Eddie Lopat. That left Stengel with one decision to make. Who would be the team’s fourth starter? Casey went with a left-hander, Tommy Byrne and put Sanford in the bullpen, using him for spot starts and long relief.
The Utah native actually did pretty well in that role. He went 7-3 in 29 appearances with a 3.87 ERA. That ’49 Yankee team did even better. They won the AL Pennant and the World Series. But Sanford didn’t get to throw a single pitch in that 1949 Series and after he went 5-4 as a spot starter again the following season, he didn’t get to pitch in the 1950 Fall Classic against the Phillies either. And though he was on the mound at the end of Yankee games 23 times during his first two years in New York, not one of those appearances was in a save situation. It was clear Stengel lacked confidence in the pitcher and the fans and press piled on. When New York Daily News’ columnist, Joe Trimble described Sanford as the Yankees’ “$100,000 Lemon” the label stuck and the pitcher’s days in the Bronx were numbered.
Those days ended on June 15, 1951, after Sanford had started his third Yankee season with an 0-3 record and experienced his first blown save under Stengel. The Yanks traded their deflated hurler to the Senators in a deal that brought reliever Bob Kuzava to the Bronx.
|SLB (5 yrs)||23||42||.354||4.42||91||66||14||21||3||6||472.1||499||254||232||42||203||158||1.486|
|NYY (3 yrs)||12||10||.545||4.18||66||25||13||5||0||0||234.2||218||124||109||20||161||115||1.615|
|WSH (1 yr)||2||3||.400||6.57||7||7||0||0||0||0||37.0||51||27||27||5||27||12||2.108|
Yankee history is filled with athletes who made a bigger mark on the gridiron than they did the baseball diamond. George Halas blew his shot at becoming a starter in the Yankee outfield before he went back to Chicago and began his Hall of Fame playing and coaching career with the Bears. Fifteen years after Papa Bear took off the pinstripes, a USC football star named Jess Hill put them on and became New York’s starting center fielder for a while until Joe DiMaggio showed up. Hill would then become a successful football coach, eventually returning to his alma mater where he coached the Frank Gifford-led Trojan teams from the early fifties. Yankee fans my age remember when the former Ole Miss quarterback, Jake Gibbs replaced Elston Howard as New York’s starting catcher in 1967. George Steinbrenner had a special affinity for those who played with the pigskin. He drafted and signed John Elway, Deion Sanders and Drew Henson to Yankee baseball contracts. With the exception of Gibbs, great football talents did not translate into very productive Yankees and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant represents both extremes.
Charlie Caldwell was born on August 2, 1901 in Bristol, Virginia but he grew up in Yonkers, NY, where he became a legendary high school athlete. He expanded upon that legend at Princeton, lettering a total of seven times in the three major sports. He earned All-American status as a Crimson Tide pitcher and in 1925, he signed a contract to pitch for the New York Yankees. Manager Miller Huggins gave the right-hander three chances to make an impression during that ’25 season and unfortunately for Caldwell, the results were not good. In those three appearances, Caldwell pitched a total of two and two-thirds innings, gave up seven hits, five earned runs, and three walks. His ERA was just a shade less than seventeen. But before Huggins sent him home, Caldwell did throw one pitch that would dramatically impact the course of Yankee franchise history. It was a pitch Caldwell threw in batting practice. The hitter was the Yankees’ star first baseman, Wally Pipp. The ball sailed and hit Pipp squarely on the temple, forcing the player to the bench for that afternoon’s game. Pipp’s replacement at first base was Lou Gehrig. Gehrig of course would remain in that position without missing a game for the next thirteen seasons.
As for Caldwell, that errant pitch certainly helped seal his fate as a Yankee failure. He returned to Princeton and became an assistant football coach. In 1928, he was hired as the head football coach at Williams College in Massachusetts, where he would remain for the next 17 seasons. He then accepted the position of head football coach at his alma mater and became one of the school’s most successful coaches of all time. His Princeton gridiron teams went undefeated in 1950 and ’51, when Ivy League teams still played top tier football programs from around the country. Caldwell was famous for playing a traditional single wing offense at Princeton when every other school in the country was switching to the T-formation. He was also a champion of treating college football players as college students first and was one of the earliest advocates of reducing the influence of money and commercialism on the college game. Caldwell died from cancer in 1957, while still head coach at Princeton. He was just 56-years-old.
Caldwell shares his birthday with the first Latino to ever play for the Yankees.
I was one of many Yankee fans impressed with today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant’s first big league start. It took place on May 12, 2013 in Cleveland’s Jacobs Field. Vidal Nuno threw five scoreless innings against the Tribe that day in the second half of a double-header to earn both his first Yankee victory and the pretty effusive praise of New York skipper Joe Girardi. But the manager’s kind words didn’t prevent Nuno from getting sent back down to Scranton the next day. He was brought right back up the same week, when Andy Pettitte strained his back. Girardi gave him two more starts in late May against the Rays and the Mets and he didn’t do poorly in either. He lasted six innings in both contests and surrendered just two runs in each, but he got no decision against Tampa and took the loss against the Yankees cross-town rivals. Nuno hasn’t pitched an inning for New York since. It was deja vu all over again for the southpaw when one day after his last start he was again sent down to Scranton. This time the move was forced by the return-from-injury of both Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youklis.
Nuno turns 26 years-old today. He was born in National City, California and played his collegiate baseball at Baker University in Kansas. He was a 49th round selection of the Cleveland Indians in the 2009 MLB amateur draft. After a great first season in the lowest level of the Indians’ farm system, he had a tough time the following year at the A level and Cleveland let him go. The Yankees signed him in 2011 and he’s pitched well everywhere he’s been since, including New York’s 2013 spring training camp, where he was named the winner of the Dawson Award for best performance by a rookie. He’s now passed just about every other New York pitching prospect that had been ahead of him on the organizational depth chart at the time he was signed.
Nuno shares his birthday with this long-ago Yankee pitcher, this one-time Yankee outfielder and this runner-up for the 1963 AL Rookie of the Year Award.
Today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant was not very well known as a Yankee pitcher, but he certainly was involved in lot’s of great Major League Baseball history. First of all, he was the son of a big league pitcher. Dee Pillette’s Dad, Herman won 19 games with the 1922 Tigers in his first complete big league season. He then led the league with 19 losses the following year, hurt his arm and became so sour on Major League baseball that he discouraged his only son from playing the game.
Duane Pillette, better known as Dee, ended up not listening to his father. Born in Detroit, when his Dad was pitching for the Tigers, he was raised in San Diego and became a very good pitcher for the San Diego High School team. A Yankee scout named Joe Devine was ready to sign the teenager right out of high school but Dee’s Dad insisted his son had to attend college. Devine got the youngster a scholarship at a Catholic college in San Francisco in 1940. WWII service in the Navy interrupted his education and when Dee returned from the South Pacific after the war, he finally signed a Yankee contract.
After three years in the minors, Pillette was invited to Casey Stengel’s first Yankee spring training camp in 1949 and impressed the Ol Perfessor. Though he failed to make the parent club’s Opening Day roster, he was called up to the Bronx that July and made 12 appearances during the second half of that season, including his first three big league starts. He ended the year with a 2-4 record, a 4.34 ERA and though he failed to make Stengel’s World Series roster, Pillette also got his one and only championship ring.
The tall right-hander started out the 1950 season back in the minors and after getting called back up that June, was traded with Snuffy Stirnweiss and two other Yankees to the Browns for St. Louis pitchers Tom Ferrick and Joe Ostrowski. One year later, Pillette had pitched his way into the Brown’s starting rotation and when his 14 losses that season led the American League, the Pillette’s became the first and only father and son pair to have led the league in in that category.
Dee’s best year in the Majors was 1952, when he went 10-13 for St. Louis with a 3.59 ERA. The following year he was the starting pitcher in the last game ever played by a St. Louis Browns baseball team. Five months later, after the team had relocated to Baltimore, Pillette became the winning pitcher in the first regular season victory recorded by the modern-day Orioles. He went 10-14 during that ’54 season and produced a career-low 3.12 ERA, but he also developed bone spurs in his pitching elbow. He hung around in the big leagues for two more years before going home to California, where he eventually became a distributor of mobile homes. He lived to be 88 years old, passing away in 2011.
The only other member of the Yankee all-time roster born on July 24th is this former catcher.
|BAL (6 yrs)||36||62||.367||4.37||152||116||15||32||4||2||836.1||901||454||406||59||357||282||1.504|
|NYY (2 yrs)||2||4||.333||3.86||16||3||4||2||0||0||44.1||52||23||19||6||22||13||1.669|
|PHI (1 yr)||0||0||6.56||20||0||6||0||0||0||23.1||32||21||17||2||12||10||1.886|
You’d have to be about my age or older to remember today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant and if you do, you might not remember him as a Yankee. That’s because in October of 1967, everyone including me thought Gary Waslewski was on the cusp of becoming a very good starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
Waslewski was born in Connecticut to a Polish father and a mom who was half German and half Cherokee Indian. He was signed by the Pirates in 1960, after his freshman year of college. He spent the next four years pitching in the Pittsburgh farm system and then, when he was left unprotected in the minor league draft in 1964, the Red Sox grabbed him. Three years later he was called up by Boston when the team was in the midst of their 1967 miracle season. In Waslewski’s second ever big league start, the then 25-year-old right-hander shut out the White Sox for nine innings but was forced to leave the game in the tenth with a strained left shoulder. He recovered quickly and won his next two decisions. He had allowed just 3 earned runs in his first 26.1 big league innings. That’s when his right arm started aching.
He ended up with a 2-2 record that year and a 3.21 ERA. Everybody, including Waslewski was surprised when Boston Manager Dick Williams put him on the World Series roster as a replacement for the injured pitcher, Bucky Brandon. Everyone was pretty much shocked, when Williams named Waslewski as his Game 6 starting pitcher. After all, Boston was down 3 games to 2 to the Cardinals at the time and placing the fate of the team in a must win game on the shoulders of a rookie, much less a 2-game-winning rookie seemed crazy. Dick Williams was crazy, crazy like a fox.
The Boston manager had been impressed by Waslewski’s perfect two-inning relief stint against the heart of the St Louis’s lineup in Game 3. Besides, the manager’s other choices as starters for that game were Jose Santiago or Gary Bell, neither of whom was considered a better than average arm. Waslewski ended up pitching into the sixth inning and leaving that game with a 4-2 lead. Though he didn’t get the win because the Cards later tied the score, Boston pulled out the victory and everyone praised the rookies’ clutch performance and poise. After Boston lost the next game and the Series, Red Sox fans took solace in the fact that a new number 2 starter seemed ready to help Cy Young Award winner Jim Lonborg get Boston back to the postseason in 1968.
That didn’t happen. After winning his first two starts in 1968, Gary lost his next seven decisions and finished the year 4-7. His bubble had burst in Beantown and following that ’68 season, he was traded to the Cardinals for Dick Schofield. He was sent to Montreal the following June and did nothing for either National League team that indicated he was becoming a better big league pitcher. In fact, his 3-11 record since leaving the Red Sox, a rising ERA and a chronically sore right arm seemed to signal impending retirement. The New York Yankees felt differently.
New York got Waslewski in a May 1970 trade for a first baseman named Dave McDonald. Ralph Houk used him a lot (26 appearances) during the second half of that 1970 season, including 5 starts. Though his record with New York was just 2-2, he pitched well enough to get invited back in 1971. He appeared in 24 games during his only full year in the Bronx and all of them were in relief.
The Yankees cut him toward the end of their 1972 spring training camp. He signed with Oakland but after an 0-3 start he was reassigned to the minors. He hung up his glove for good after the 1974 season.
|MON (2 yrs)||3||9||.250||3.63||36||18||7||3||1||1||134.0||125||67||54||8||78||82||1.515|
|NYY (2 yrs)||2||3||.400||3.18||50||5||13||0||0||1||90.2||70||35||32||6||43||44||1.246|
|BOS (2 yrs)||6||9||.400||3.54||46||19||6||2||0||2||147.1||142||68||58||12||60||79||1.371|
|STL (1 yr)||0||2||.000||3.92||12||0||7||0||0||1||20.2||19||9||9||3||8||16||1.306|
|OAK (1 yr)||0||3||.000||2.04||8||0||3||0||0||0||17.2||12||5||4||3||8||8||1.132|
You never heard of Floyd Newkirk and either had I until this morning. That’s when I found out he was one of just 35 big league players who celebrate or celebrated their birthday on today’s date. I had also thought Tom Metcalf was the only former Yankee among those 35 July 16th birthday celebrants until I discovered that Newkirk had pitched for New York as well, during the 1934 season after getting called up on August 1st from the Yanks’ outstanding Newark Bears farm club. At the time of that call-up, he had put together an 11-4 record for the Bears. When he made his one and only appearance for New York almost three weeks later versus the St.Louis Browns, he became the only three-fingered pitcher in history to pitch for the Yankees.
The right-handed Newkirk had lost two fingers on his pitching hand in a childhood accident. Throughout his youth, he never treated the condition as a handicap. Instead, he claimed his unique three-digit grip on a baseball added speed to his fastball and bite to his curve. He went on to pitch in college in his native Illinois and then signed with the Albany (New York) Senators in the old Eastern League.
In one article I uncovered during my research for today’s post, a fill-in sportswriter for a Milwaukee newspaper gave an account of a 1933 American Association game he was called upon to cover, between Newkirk’s St. Paul Saints and the hometown Milwaukee Brewers. In a very tongue and cheek writing style, this amusing scribe who had never before reported on a baseball game, bemoaned the fact that the St. Paul pitcher with three fingers had out-pitched the five-fingered hometown hurler that day.
In any event, that one scoreless ninth inning Newkirk pitched against St. Louis in 1934 would end up being the the only inning of his Yankee and his big league pitching career. That December, Newkirk was included in the historic trade with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League that brought Joe DiMaggio to New York. He went 8-5 with San Francisco in 1935 but an inability to throw strikes doomed his efforts to make it back to the Majors. He passed away in 1976 at the age of 67.
Mickey Mantle will always be my favorite baseball “name” but “Zack Monroe” isn’t too bad a moniker for a ball player either. Both names ended up appearing on Hall of Fame plaques. Of course Mantle’s plaque is in Cooperstown while today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant’s can be found in at the the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame.
This native of that city in Illinois was a two-sports star at home-town Bradley University when the Yankees signed him in 1952. He then played just one season of minor league ball before doing a two-year hitch in the military during the Korean War. He returned to the Yankee farm system in 1955. The right-hander put together two straight 16-win seasons for the Yankees’ single A affiliate in Binghamton and was a stellar 10-2 for their triple A club in Richmond when he got the call to report to the Bronx at the end of June, during the 1958 season. He made his big league debut against the A’s on June 27th of that year. He held the Kansas City lineup hitless in his three-inning relief stint but he gave up four bases-on-balls. It was that inability to throw strikes at the big league level that would come back to haunt him.
Five days later, Casey Stengel gave Monroe his first start in Baltimore and he gave up just one run (and 5-more walks) during his eight-inning appearance against the O’s to earn his first big league victory. He ended up winning four of his five decisions during his rookie season and posting an impressive 3.26 ERA. That was good enough to earn Monroe a spot on the Yankees’ World Series roster that year, but in his only relief appearance against the Braves, he was shelled for three runs in the single inning he got to pitch. That bad October inning against Milwaukee, the 27 walks he issued in the 58 regular season innings he pitched that first year, plus the fact that he was already 26-years-old at the time, most likely soured his long-term potential in the eyes of Stengel and the Yankee brass. Though he made New York’s 1959 Opening Day roster, he found himself back in Richmond in early May, after two straight bad relief outings. He never again pitched in the big leagues.
Monroe shares his birthday with one of the Yankees greatest fourth outfielders of all-time and this one-time Yankee prospect.
Those of us who remember the first half of George Steinbrenner’s tenure as principal owner of the Yankees remember the two things he hated most. The first was seeing his Yankees lose a baseball game. The second was seeing his Yankees lose the back-page headlines of New York City’s tabloid newspapers to the cross-town New York Mets.
When the 1984 regular season began, “The Boss” had already enjoyed a decade of dominant Big Apple press coverage. His Yankees had been to five postseasons and won two rings in those ten years. The Mets, on the other hand, after making the World Series that first year of Steinbrenner’s rein had entered into an extended period of losing by 1977. As Opening Day 1984 approached, the Amazin’s were coming off seven consecutive seasons during which they had failed to reach 70 victories.
But as Steinbrenner began his second decade of Yankeedom, there was a definite whiff of change in the air between the Bronx and Flushing. More specifically, it was a nineteen year old Doctor of Whiff’s with a blazing fastball who would almost singlehandedly evict the Bronx Bombers form the back pages of the Daily News and Post. His name was Dwight Gooden and he would electrify baseball with his 17-9 rookie season and league-leading 276 strikeouts. He led that ’84 team to their first 90-win season since the legendary Miracle Mets of 1969 and he would help the club reach that level of success six more times during the next seven years.
The Boss reacted to Gooden’s emergence as only “the Boss” could. He demanded the Yankees find a teenaged phee-nom starter of their own. The unfortunate pinstriped pitching prospect selected for the cloning experiment was a nineteen-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic who was coming off an 18-7 1983 season spent mostly as a starter with the Yankees’ single A team in the Florida League. Never mind he wasn’t yet old enough to drink and had only pitched a month of that season in double A ball, the Mets had a 19-year-old pitching sensation dominating his league and George Steinbrenner wanted one of his own.
The problem that almost became a tragic career blunder was that Rijo, unlike Gooden was nowhere near ready to pitch at the big league level. Manager Yogi Berra let him perform out of the bullpen the first month of that ’84 season but my guess is that the hotter Gooden got starting for the Mets the greater the pressure the Boss put on Berra to start Rijo. Berra began using him as a starter in early May. By June 11th, his record was 1-6 and Yogi put him back in the bullpen. Less than a month later, he was 2-8 and pitching in Columbus. That December, he was one of five Yankees sent Oakland in the trade for Ricky Henderson.
After three mediocre years with the A’s, Rijo signed as a free agent with the Reds and found a home. He was 97-61 during his decade in Cincinnati, during which he won the 1990 World Series MVP award for his two Fall Classic victories against Oakland. Rijo, who was born in 1965, is the son-in-law of Hall-of-Fame pitcher, Juan Marichal.
Rijo shares his May 13th birthday with another Yankee pitching prospect who made his big league debut in May of 2012.
|CIN (10 yrs)||97||61||.614||2.83||280||215||22||17||4||0||1478.0||1301||523||464||102||453||1251||1.187|
|OAK (3 yrs)||17||22||.436||4.74||72||49||13||5||0||1||339.2||335||209||179||40||177||308||1.507|
|NYY (1 yr)||2||8||.200||4.76||24||5||8||0||0||2||62.1||74||40||33||5||33||47||1.717|