Results tagged ‘ pitcher ’

May 30 – Happy Birthday Al Mamaux

Al Mamaux seemed to be on top of the baseball world after putting together consecutive 21-victory seasons for his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates in 1915 and ’16. His bubble quickly burst the following season, however, when he went just 2-11 and was also suspended by Pittsburgh Manager, Hugo Bezdek for violating “team rules” during a road trip to  New York. When I first found out about the suspension, it caused me to surmise that perhaps Mamaux, who was just 22 years old at the time, had let success go to his head. A closer look at this right-hander’s season stat lines indicated other reasons may have existed for his quick and precipitous downfall. During his two big seasons with the Pirates, he had pitched more than 550 innings of baseball, far more than he had ever thrown over a two season period. All those innings must have put a tremendous strain on his young right arm because he was never again able to approach that same level of success in the big leagues.

The Pirates traded him and Burleigh Grimes to Brooklyn in 1918 in a deal that sent future Yankee skipper Casey Stengel to Pittsburgh. Mamaux hardly pitched for his new team in 1918 but recovered to win 10 games in 1919 and 12 more in 1920. He would spend a total of six seasons with Brooklyn and his big league career was just about over when the Yankees purchased his contract in 1924. He appeared in 14 games for New York in 1924, splitting his only two decisions. That performance ended his big league playing days but put him on the path to his second career as a very successful manager of the Yankees’ Newark Bears farm team. Before he took over as Newark’s field boss, he anchored the Bears starting rotation for four seasons during which he won 79 games. In 1930 he replaced Tris Speaker as skipper of the Bears. His Newark teams were considered the very best in that proud franchise’s illustrious International League history and Mamaux would later become a highly regarded college coach at Seton Hall.

The only other Yankee born in this date made his debut as a Yankee pitcher during the same season Mamaux became the Bears’ manager.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1924 NYY 1 1 .500 5.68 14 2 7 0 0 0 38.0 44 28 24 2 20 12 1.684
12 Yrs 76 67 .531 2.90 254 137 79 78 15 10 1293.0 1138 541 416 22 511 625 1.275
BRO (6 yrs) 26 30 .464 3.07 127 49 49 26 4 8 541.2 513 241 185 12 183 244 1.285
PIT (5 yrs) 49 36 .576 2.61 113 86 23 52 11 2 713.1 581 272 207 8 308 369 1.246
NYY (1 yr) 1 1 .500 5.68 14 2 7 0 0 0 38.0 44 28 24 2 20 12 1.684
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/30/2013.

May 17 – Happy Birthday Jim McDonald

Jim McDonaldYankee fans, the Yankee press and even some of his own Yankee teammates had not been too thrilled with this right-hander’s performance since he came to the Bronx in a November 1951 trade that sent a good-looking New York prospect by the name of Clint Courtney to the Browns.  Born in Oregon and raised in Modesto, California, McDonald spent his first season in pinstripes pitching mostly out of Casey Stengel’s bullpen with an occasional starting assignment thrown in the mix.

After a couple of rough early outings, he had started throwing very well and when July rolled around his ERA was under two. That’s when he had an eight game stretch in which he lost three decisions, blew a save and doubled his ERA. Meanwhile, Courtney was having a solid rookie season for the Browns and every time the Yankees played St. Louis, he seemed to have big days at the plate. It was looking like the Yanks had made a very bad deal.

Fortunately for McDonald, Yankee pitching coach Jim Turner had faith in him. When the ’53 season rolled around, New York’s Holy Trinity starting three of Reynolds, Raschi and Lopat had all reached their mid-thirties and required more rest. In June of that year, Turner started using McDonald as his team’s fifth starter and he did OK, finishing the season with a 9-7 record and an ERA of 3.82.

That earned him a surprise start in the fifth game of that year’s World Series against the Dodgers. He wasn’t exactly brilliant that day, but he did manage to pitch into the eighth inning and get the win, making him at the time the 26th Yankee pitcher in history to earn a World Series victory (as of Opening Day 2014 that number of pitchers has increased to 59.)

McDonald then pitched sparingly but well for New York in 1954, winning four of his five decisions and lowering his ERA to 3.17. Then that November, in one of the biggest and most complicated trades in baseball history, he was traded to the Orioles in a transaction involving sixteen players. He pitched in the big leagues until 1958.

McDonald shares his birthday with this former Yankee owner,  this former Yankee DH and this former Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1952 NYY 3 4 .429 3.50 26 5 9 1 0 0 69.1 71 31 27 1 40 20 1.601
1953 NYY 9 7 .563 3.82 27 18 5 6 2 0 129.2 128 64 55 4 39 43 1.288
1954 NYY 4 1 .800 3.17 16 10 3 3 1 0 71.0 54 28 25 3 45 20 1.394
9 Yrs 24 27 .471 4.27 136 55 30 15 3 1 468.0 489 262 222 24 231 158 1.538
NYY (3 yrs) 16 12 .571 3.57 69 33 17 10 3 0 270.0 253 123 107 8 124 83 1.396
CHW (3 yrs) 0 3 .000 5.82 21 3 4 0 0 0 43.1 53 34 28 5 21 22 1.708
BAL (2 yrs) 7 12 .368 5.24 37 19 8 5 0 1 135.2 160 96 79 10 76 48 1.740
BOS (1 yr) 1 0 1.000 3.79 9 0 1 0 0 0 19.0 23 9 8 1 10 5 1.737
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/17/2014.

May 2 – Happy Birthday Larry Gowell

I love writing this blog because I learn such interesting things about players who wore the pinstripes. Take today’s birthday celebrant as an example. I very clearly remember when Larry Gowell made his debut with the Yankees way back in 1972. He was considered a very good prospect at the time but he had one serious handicap. He was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and as such, it was against his religious beliefs to work from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. This meant he could not and did not pitch in any baseball games on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon. Still, his slider was good enough to get him promoted to the Yankees for a cup-of-coffee look see in September of 1972. He would appear in just two games as a Yankee and as a big leaguer, yet he still became part of baseball history.

His first big league appearance was a hitless two-inning relief stint against the Milwaukee Brewers. Two weeks later, Yankee manager Ralph Houk gave the Lewiston, Maine-born right hander his first and only big league start against that same Brewer team. Although Gowell took the loss, he made MLB history when he hit a third inning ground ball double off of Milwaukee’s Jim Lonborg. That hit turned out to be the very last hit by an American League pitcher before the League’s new designated hitter rule went into affect.

Gowell would spend the next two seasons in Syracuse pitching for the Yankees’ triple A franchise. He left baseball after the 1974 season. During my research for this post, I found a reference to Gowell in a book about offshore insurance schemes of all things. Robert Tillman, author of the book alleges that in 1996, Gowell sold a worthless $100,000 promissory note on behalf of a company called Legends Sports, that was supposedly constructing a string of golf courses and entertainment centers in the southeastern United States. The note was supposed to pay the purchaser a twelve percent annual interest but instead, proved to be worthless when it was discovered that the owners of Legends Sports were operating a Ponzi scheme. I wonder if Gowell made the sale of that bond on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon. I hope not because according to his religion, that would have been a sin.

Gowell shares his May 2nd birthday with a Yankee pitcher who got in trouble when he barnstormed with Babe Ruth.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1972 NYY 0 1 .000 1.29 2 1 0 0 0 0 7.0 3 1 1 0 2 7 0.714
1 Yr 0 1 .000 1.29 2 1 0 0 0 0 7.0 3 1 1 0 2 7 0.714
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2013.