Results tagged ‘ pitcher ’

March 16 – Happy Birthday Charles Hudson

Its been over 25 years since the transaction took place and it wasn’t until I did research for today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant that I finally completely understood why the Yankees traded their very solid designated hitter, Mike “the Hit Man” Easler, for the very shaky Philadelphia starting pitcher, Charles Hudson in December of 1985. I knew that Easler had demanded to be traded when he was told that Yankee manager Lou Piniella intended to platoon him at DH with Ken Griffey during the ’86 season. What I was not aware of was that the Yankees were contractually obligated to doing so within three months of the demand or Easler would have become a free agent.

So that’s why a very emphatic George Steinbrenner ordered the Yankees to send Easler, who had hit .302 for New York in 1985, to the Phillies for Hudson, who had had put together a very mediocre 32-42 record during his four years pitching in the “City of Brotherly Love.” Hudson was also a switch-hitter, which was a pretty rare attribute for a pitcher. His problem was however, he couldn’t hit very well from either side of the plate.

At first, it looked like “the Boss” was a prophet, as Hudson got off to a fast start with New York, winning his first six decisions during the 1987 season. Even though the right-handed native of Ennis, TX cooled off after that and spent some time pitching out of the Yankee bullpen, he still finished his first year in pinstripes with an 11-7 record that included two shutouts and an efficient 3.61 ERA. That win total put him in third place behind Rick Rhoden (16) and Tommy John (13) for most victories by a Yankee pitcher that year.

Unfortunately for Hudson, that would prove to be his best season in New York. In 1988, he again split his time between the starting rotation and the bullpen to finish 6-6, while his ERA jumped to 4.49. In spite of that performance, the Yankees resigned him for the ’89 season. Then just before spring training camp broke, he was dealt to the Tigers for the veteran infielder, Tom Brookens, who was a complete bust during his one season in pinstripes.

Hudson floundered in Detroit during the 1989 season and his career ended that August, after he smashed his car into a Motor City telephone pole, and destroyed his right knee. It was at that low point that Hudson admitted to having a drinking problem, which he worked hard to eliminate.

Hudson shares his March 16th birthday with “the Grandy-Man.”

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1987 NYY 11 7 .611 3.61 35 16 7 6 2 0 154.2 137 63 62 19 57 100 1.254
1988 NYY 6 6 .500 4.49 28 12 10 1 0 2 106.1 93 53 53 9 36 58 1.213
7 Yrs 50 60 .455 4.14 208 140 30 14 3 2 1007.2 997 518 463 110 361 580 1.348
PHI (4 yrs) 32 42 .432 3.98 127 105 9 7 1 0 680.0 692 353 301 68 237 399 1.366
NYY (2 yrs) 17 13 .567 3.97 63 28 17 7 2 2 261.0 230 116 115 28 93 158 1.238
DET (1 yr) 1 5 .167 6.35 18 7 4 0 0 0 66.2 75 49 47 14 31 23 1.590
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/9/2014.

March 14 – Happy Birthday Kevin Brown

I do remember getting pretty excited when New York acquired this veteran right-hander from the Dodgers after their 2003 World Series defeat to the Marlins. They had to give up Jeff Weaver to get him but Weaver had been unimpressive in pinstripes. New York also had to pay Brown’s salary of $15 million per year but the Yankees had the cash.

Brown’s initial season as a Yankee was filled with disappointments. First, his chronically sore back prevented him from pitching well over an extended string of starts. Next, a frustrated Brown injured his hand punching a concrete wall, angering his teammates. Finally, Brown pitched terribly in the seventh and deciding game of the disastrous 2004 ALCS against the Red Sox, sealing his reputation as a disappointment with Yankee fans. He then went 4-7 in 2005 and retired with a career record of 211-144.

This one-time Yankee catcher was also born on March 14th.
Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2004 NYY 10 6 .625 4.09 22 22 0 0 0 0 132.0 132 65 60 14 35 83 1.265
2005 NYY 4 7 .364 6.50 13 13 0 0 0 0 73.1 107 57 53 5 19 50 1.718
19 Yrs 211 144 .594 3.28 486 476 1 72 17 0 3256.1 3079 1357 1185 208 901 2397 1.222
TEX (8 yrs) 78 64 .549 3.81 187 186 1 40 6 0 1278.2 1322 629 541 85 428 742 1.369
LAD (5 yrs) 58 32 .644 2.83 137 129 0 11 2 0 872.2 737 319 274 68 223 784 1.100
NYY (2 yrs) 14 13 .519 4.95 35 35 0 0 0 0 205.1 239 122 113 19 54 133 1.427
FLA (2 yrs) 33 19 .635 2.30 65 65 0 11 5 0 470.1 401 137 120 18 99 364 1.063
SDP (1 yr) 18 7 .720 2.38 36 35 0 7 3 0 257.0 225 77 68 8 49 257 1.066
BAL (1 yr) 10 9 .526 3.60 26 26 0 3 1 0 172.1 155 73 69 10 48 117 1.178
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/7/2014.

March 4 – Happy Birthday Lefty O’Doul

Francis Joseph O’Doul began his pro baseball career as a southpaw pitcher with the New York Yankees in 1919. He failed to win or lose a game in three partial seasons with New York and then hurt his left arm, pitching for the Red Sox in 1923. He spent the next five years in the minors converting himself into an every day player. He resurfaced with the New York Giants in 1928, hitting .319 as a 31-year old second-time rookie. Unfortunately, O’Doul’s defensive skills in the outfield did not match his hitting prowess and New York traded him to Philadelphia after that season. What a mistake that turned out to be for the Giants. All O’Doul did for the Phillies in 1929 was win the NL batting title with an incredible .398 average and a league-leading 254 hits. He belted 32 home runs, drove in 122 and scored 152 times himself and finished second in that year’s MVP voting to the immortal Rogers Hornsby. O’Doul had another great year in 1930, averaging .383 but the Phillies finished 40 games out of first place. Lefty’s defense was still dreadful however, and the Phillies needed pitching so they dealt O’Doul to Brooklyn for a couple of hurlers, a replacement outfielder and some much needed cash. During O’Douls three years with Brooklyn, he averaged .340 and won his second NL batting title with a .368 average in 1932. During the 33 season, he was traded back to the Giants and got the opportunity to play in the only World Series of his career.  By then he was 36-years old and losing his hitting skills. He retired the following year and went back to his native San Francisco to manage the Seals, in the Pacific Coast League.

Lefty died in 1969. He shares a birthday with this other star from the 1920s and ’30s who like O’Doul, was known by his nickname and made brief appearances as a Yankee, early in his career.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1919 NYY 19 17 16 2 4 0 0 0 1 1 1 2 .250 .294 .250 .544
1920 NYY 13 13 12 2 2 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 .167 .231 .250 .481
1922 NYY 8 9 9 0 3 1 0 0 4 0 0 2 .333 .333 .444 .778
11 Yrs 970 3658 3264 624 1140 175 41 113 542 36 333 122 .349 .413 .532 .945
NYG (3 yrs) 275 848 760 125 239 32 8 26 127 12 77 32 .314 .380 .480 .860
BRO (3 yrs) 325 1394 1266 219 431 69 20 33 186 18 113 42 .340 .399 .505 .904
NYY (3 yrs) 40 39 37 4 9 2 0 0 6 1 2 5 .243 .282 .297 .579
PHI (2 yrs) 294 1338 1166 274 456 72 13 54 219 5 139 40 .391 .460 .614 1.074
BOS (1 yr) 36 39 35 2 5 0 0 0 4 0 2 3 .143 .189 .143 .332
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/21/2014.

March 1 – Happy Birthday Ron Klimkowski

In 1970, I remember giving a trio of young Yankee pitchers the nickname “The Three K’s.” They were Steve Kline, Mike Kekich and Ron Klimkowski. Klimkowski was a Jersey City native who was born on March 1, 1944. He grew up a passionate Yankee fan but was signed by the Red Sox out of college. He realized his boyhood dream of becoming a Yankee when he was sent to New York as part of the 1967 trade that sent Ellie Howard to Beantown. After a brief call-up to the Bronx in 1969, the right hander became a permanent part of the Yankee staff the following season. Pitching mainly out of the bullpen with an occasional start, he won 6 of 13 decisions including a complete-game three hit shutout of Detroit and posted a 2.68 ERA in 98 innings of work.

Both Kline and Kekich were first-year starters on that same staff and both matched Klimkowski’s total of six wins. I considered Kline the most talented of the three. He won 28 games in pinstripes over the next two seasons with an ERA well under three runs per game, but pitched too many innings in the process. His arm and career faded quickly and he was out of the big leagues by 1975. Kekich also became a two-time double digit winner for New York, winning ten games in both 1971 and ’72. That’s when he swapped wives with teammate Fritz Peterson, pretty much ruining his career in the process.

After the 1970 season, New York sent Klimkowski to Oakland in their trade for Felipe Alou. The A’s released him after his 2-2, 2-save performance in 1971 and he rejoined the Yankees. When he could not recover from a 1973 spring-training knee injury, he was forced to retire. Klimkowski died in November of 2009 of heart failure at the young age of 55, after seeing his beloved Yankees win their 27th World Series.

Some Klimkowski uniform trivia: Klimkowski was assigned uniform number 51 during his 1969 rookie season. In 1970, he was given number 24. He then got traded to Oakland for Felipe Alou who also wore number 24 for the Yankees. When the A’s released Klimkowski and the Yankees re-signed him for a spell, he wore uniform number 22.

In the last three days, we’ve had two Pinstripe Birthday Celebrants who were born in Jersey City (Klimkowski & Willie Banks). Over the years, more Yankees have lived in New Jersey than any other state, especially during baseball season. Oddly, there have not been that many Bronx Bombers born in the Garden State. Here’s my top five list of Jersey-born Yankees:

1. Derek Jeter – Pequannock

2. Billy Johnson – Montclair

3. Jim Bouton – Newark

4. Rick Cerone – Newark

5. Elliott Maddox – East Orange

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1969 NYY 0 0 0.64 3 1 2 0 0 0 14.0 6 1 1 0 5 3 0.786
1970 NYY 6 7 .462 2.65 45 3 10 1 1 1 98.1 80 36 29 7 33 40 1.149
1972 NYY 0 3 .000 4.02 16 2 3 0 0 1 31.1 32 15 14 3 15 11 1.500
4 Yrs 8 12 .400 2.90 90 6 26 1 1 4 189.0 155 71 61 13 76 79 1.222
NYY (3 yrs) 6 10 .375 2.76 64 6 15 1 1 2 143.2 118 52 44 10 53 54 1.190
OAK (1 yr) 2 2 .500 3.38 26 0 11 0 0 2 45.1 37 19 17 3 23 25 1.324
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/2/2014.

February 26 – Happy Birthday Rip Collins

rcollins.jpg1920 was an historic year for the New York Yankee franchise. Major League baseball was in the throes of scandal over the alleged involvement of several Chicago White Sox players in a concerted effort to lose the 1919 World Series against Cincinnati. Fans all over the country were turning away from the game in disgust. That wasn’t the case in the Big Apple thanks to the Yankees’ acquisition of Babe Ruth from Boston in January of 1920. In his first season as a Yankee, Ruth stunned the nation by hitting the then unbelievable total of 54 home runs. That would be like someone hitting 180 home runs during the 2010 season, without the help of any pharmaceuticals.

New York set a franchise record by winning 95 games that year and although Ruth was clearly the driving force behind that success, New York had also assembled an outstanding pitching staff. Three veterans on that staff, Carl Mays, Bob Shawkey and Jack Quinn combined to win 64 games that season. The fourth starter was a young, whiskey drinking rookie from Texas named Rip Collins. He was a former Texas Aggie football player who was as tough as they come and he put together a fourteen-victory season during his first year in pinstripes. The following year, Ruth hit 59 bombs and the Yankees won the first AL Pennant in their illustrious history. Collins went 11-5 in his sophomore season and although he had a tendency to walk too many hitters, it looked as if he was in the infant stages of what promised to be a long and successful career with New York. But Yankee manager Miller Huggins had different ideas. From the moment Ruth came to New York, Huggins found it impossible to control this slugging wild man off the field. The manager knew he couldn’t trade Ruth so he did the next best thing. He started getting rid of the Yankee teammates that Ruth enjoyed partying with. Young Rip Collins was one such teammate. In December of 1921, the pitcher was part of a seven player swap with the Red Sox. He went 14-7 during his one season in Beantown but the same control issues that he had experienced as a Yankee followed him to Boston as he led the AL in bases-on-balls. Collins then spent the next five years in Detroit pitching for the Tigers. He then pitched in Canada in 1928 and then signed with the Browns, where he finished his big league career in 1931. Lifetime, Collins was 108-82. After he left baseball he began a career in law enforcement which included a job as a Texas Ranger. He died in Texas in May of 1968 at the age of 72.

Other Yankees born on February 26th include this most famous third string catcher in the team’s history and this former first base prospect.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1920 NYY 14 8 .636 3.22 36 18 12 10 2 1 187.1 171 83 67 6 79 66 1.335
1921 NYY 11 5 .688 5.44 28 16 4 7 2 0 137.1 158 103 83 6 78 64 1.718
11 Yrs 108 82 .568 3.99 311 219 49 84 15 5 1712.1 1795 926 760 73 674 569 1.442
DET (5 yrs) 44 40 .524 3.94 137 102 14 34 6 1 743.0 787 415 325 25 240 214 1.382
SLB (3 yrs) 25 18 .581 4.09 78 54 17 18 2 3 434.0 460 224 197 32 174 156 1.461
NYY (2 yrs) 25 13 .658 4.16 64 34 16 17 4 1 324.2 329 186 150 12 157 130 1.497
BOS (1 yr) 14 11 .560 3.76 32 29 2 15 3 0 210.2 219 101 88 4 103 69 1.528
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/2/2014.