Results tagged ‘ pitcher ’

December 27 – Happy Birthday Herb Karpel

karpelNormally, a player with as few appearances as Herb Karpel had with the New York Yankees would not be featured on the Pinstripe Birthday Blog. You’re reading about him now only because he happened to have one of the greatest seasons of any pitcher in the history of the Amsterdam, Rugmakers. The Rugmakers were the Yankees’ old Class C affiliate in the Canadian-American League and I happen to have been born in Amsterdam, NY, which of course was the hometown of the Rugmaker team, from 1938 until the CanAm League was shut down after the 1951 season.

Karpel, a southpaw who was born in Brooklyn, NY and signed by the Yankees in 1937, spent the 1939 season with Amsterdam. He went 19-9 that year leading Amsterdam to the regular season pennant. During the next three seasons he climbed the rungs of New York’s farm system ladder, achieving double-digit victory totals at every stop. That’s when the US Army came calling. Karpel spent the next three years serving his country and when he was discharged in 1946, he was invited to New York’s spring training camp and pitched well enough to make the Opening Day roster.

He made his Yankee debut at the Stadium on April 19, 1946, in the eighth inning of the team’s home opener versus the Senators. He retired the only hitter he faced. New York skipper, Joe McCarthy threw him right back into the fire the next day, again against Washington, but this time with the Yankees trailing the Senators by a run. Karpel got hammered, surrendering four hits and two runs in his one-and-a-third innings of work. That turned out to be the last inning and a third he would ever pitch as a Yankee and as a big leaguer. McCarthy sent him to New York’s Triple A affiliate in Newark and Karpel went 14-6 for the Bears during the rest of that ’46 season.

He would keep pitching in the minors until 1951 before finally retiring. His footnote in Yankee history is that he was the last Yankee player to wear uniform number 37 before Casey Stengel put it on his back and made it famous.

He shares his December 27th birthday with this former Yankee postseason herothis great Yankee switch-hitter and this recent Yankee reliever.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1946 NYY 0 0 10.80 2 0 0 0 0 0 1.2 4 2 2 0 0 0 2.400
1 Yr 0 0 10.80 2 0 0 0 0 0 1.2 4 2 2 0 0 0 2.400
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/27/2013.

December 15 – Happy Birthday Gil Blanco

blancoWe didn’t know it at the time, but the 1965 Yankee spring training camp would be the  last one hosting a defending AL Champion ball club for quite a while, over a decade to be exact. It was Johnny Keane’s first exhibition season as the manager of the Bronx Bombers after he replaced the fired Yogi Berra. Keane’s Cardinals had defeated Berra’s Yankees in the 1964 World Series the previous fall. New York GM, Ralph Houk had already made the decision to fire Berra before losing that Series, convinced his veteran club needed more discipline. Houk felt Keane was the guy who could instill it.

The new skipper’s innovative idea was to move New York’s big hitters like Mantle, Maris and Ellie Howard to the very top of the Yankee lineup so they could get more at bats. The plan was working like a charm during spring training. Mantle actually batted first in some of that year’s preseason games with Maris second and Howard in the three-hole and they all were hitting over .400 at one point.

The other exciting thing about that ’65 camp was the emergence of today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant as a bonafide Yankee pitching prospect. Gil Blanco was a big six feet five inch right-hander from Phoenix who had been signed by New York right out of high school the year before. Just nineteen years old, he impressed everyone with his poise and stuff that spring and earned a spot on the Yankee roster.

Though the team started out the 1965 regular season slow under Keane, Blanco did not, holding the opposition scoreless during his first seven big league appearances out of the bullpen. That streak earned him his first start at the end of May versus  Detroit and the kid got hammered. He gave up three hits, two walks and four runs and didn’t make it out of the first inning.

That turned out to be the only start he’d make while wearing the pinstripes. He failed to make the Yanks 1966 Opening Day roster and that June, Houk traded Blanco, Bill Stafford and Roger Repoz to the A’s for Fred Talbot and Bill Bryan. He got the opportunity to start for Kansas City during the second half of that season, but after finishing 2-4, he would never again throw a pitch in the big leagues.

He shares his birthday with this AL Rookie of the Year winner in 1968 and this former Yankee first baseman.

December 11 – Happy Birthday Hal Brown

They called him”Hal” and “Skinny” but his real name was Hector. He was 6’2″ and weighed about 180 pounds. Just before he retired, the great Ted Williams told reporters that Brown had never thrown him a “fat pitch” and called Skinny a “great pitcher.” Who could be more qualified than the “Splendid Splinter” to make a judgment like that. Brown had a terrific slider and later in his career he learned how to throw a knuckleball. Those two pitches helped him stay in the big leagues for 14 seasons, coming up with the White Sox, in 1951. He was traded to the Red Sox in1953 and went 11-6 for Boston that year in his first shot as a regular starting pitcher. But it wasn’t until he was traded to Baltimore, two seasons later that Brown really hit his pitching stride. In eight years with the Birds, Hal started and relieved his way to a 62-48 record. The Yankees purchased Brown from Baltimore in the last month of the 1962 season and he got his first and only start in pinstripes against the Red Sox, two days later. Boston battered him pretty good and he left in the fifth inning, trailing 9-2. He got just one more relief appearance that season and then was sold to the Houston Colt 45s the following April. Brown is the only member of the Yankee all-time roster I could find who was born on December 11. The Greensboro, NC native was born on this date in 1924.

Just last week, the Yankees announced they had signed free agent Jacoby Ellsbury to a long-term deal. Ellsbury joins Hal Brown and a whole bunch of other former big leaguers who played for both the Yankees and Red Sox during their careers. Here’s my all-time lineup of Yankee/Red Sox:

1b: George Boomer Scott
2b: Mark Bellhorn
3b: Wade Boggs
ss: Everett Scott
c: Elston Howard
of: Babe Ruth
of: Johnny Damon
of: Jacoby Ellsbury
dh: Don Baylor
sp: Red Ruffing
cl: Sparky Lyle

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1962 NYY 0 1 .000 6.75 2 1 1 0 0 0 6.2 9 10 5 3 2 2 1.650
14 Yrs 85 92 .480 3.81 358 211 72 47 13 11 1680.0 1677 781 712 173 389 710 1.230
BAL (8 yrs) 62 48 .564 3.61 204 131 36 30 9 9 1030.2 975 442 413 105 228 422 1.167
BOS (3 yrs) 13 14 .481 4.40 72 30 21 7 1 0 288.1 305 159 141 22 100 130 1.405
HOU (2 yrs) 8 26 .235 3.62 53 41 5 9 3 1 273.1 291 122 110 32 34 121 1.189
CHW (2 yrs) 2 3 .400 4.78 27 8 9 1 0 1 81.0 97 48 43 11 25 35 1.506
NYY (1 yr) 0 1 .000 6.75 2 1 1 0 0 0 6.2 9 10 5 3 2 2 1.650
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/11/2013.

December 1 – Happy Birthday Cecil Perkins

December 1 in general is not a very noteworthy date for baseball birthdays of any kind. The only member of Baseball’s Hall-of-Fame born on this date, played in just 1 big league game, but he managed in 3,658 of them and won four World Series rings. That would be Walter Alston, who managed the Dodgers for 23 years and beat the Yankees in two of those Fall Classics (1955 and 1963.) The greatest all-around big league player born on this date would probably be former Expo and Rockies outfielder, Larry Walker, who retired in 2005 with a .313 lifetime average and 383 home runs.

The only member of the Yankee all-time roster who celebrates his birthday on December 1 is a former pitcher named Cecil Perkins. You’ve never heard of him because his entire big league and Yankee career consisted of two appearances during the 1967 season. The first was as a starter against the Twins on July 5th of that year. Perkins lasted just three innings, giving up five runs and five hits and getting the loss in a 10-4 Minnesota victory. Former Yankee announcer, Jim Kaat, got the complete game win for the Twins that day. Perkins gave up his first big league hit, a triple to Rod Carew in the first inning. Later in the game, Minnesota third baseman Rich Reese hit what would become the only big league home run ever given up by the right hander. That loss extended a Yankee losing streak to five games. Three days later, Yankee Manager Ralph Houk inserted Perkins in the sixth inning of a game against the Orioles, in Baltimore. The Yankees were trailing 8-3 at the time and Perkins pitched two inning of one-hit, shutout ball, including a strikeout of the great Oriole reliever, Moe Drabowsky, which turned out to be Perkins only big league career K. He was then sent back down to Syracuse for the balance of the 1967 season and was gone from baseball for good after the following season.

Perkins was born in Baltimore in 1940. Other former Yankees born in Baltimore include; Phil Linz, Jeff Nelson, Tommy Byrne, Ron Swoboda and the Big Bam, Babe Ruth.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1967 NYY 0 1 .000 9.00 2 1 0 0 0 0 5.0 6 5 5 1 2 1 1.600
1 Yr 0 1 .000 9.00 2 1 0 0 0 0 5.0 6 5 5 1 2 1 1.600
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/1/2013.

November 12 – Happy Birthday Don Johnson

don_johnsonToday’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant did not accomplish much as a Yankee. After getting signed by New York as a 16-year-old pitching phee-nom out of Portland Oregon in 1944, this six foot three inch right-hander’s minor league career was interrupted by two years of military service just as WWII ended. When he returned from service he was still just 20 years-old and he was able to pitch his way onto New York’s 1947 Opening Day roster with a strong spring training performance.

Bucky Harris, the Yankee skipper back then, used Johnson in fifteen games that year including 8 starts. He finished his debut season with a 4-3 record and a 3.64 ERA. He also won a World Series ring that year though he did not appear in the Yankees seven-game victory over the Dodgers. After he got off to a slow start the next year, Johnson was included in a seven-player deal New York GM George Weiss made with the St. Louis Browns. Over the next eight seasons, Johnson became a journeyman, pitching for five different big league teams as well as spending quite a bit of time with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League. He hung up his glove for good in 1960 and returned to his hometown, where among other things, he drove a Taxi for 25 years.

While researching Brown’s background for this post, I came across a one-hour video below, which shows an 86-year-old Johnson being interviewed in June of 2013, at his old grade school in Portland. It runs for about an hour and in it, Johnson either mis-remembers or exaggerates some of his accomplishments on the ball field. For example,he claims he once faced Bob Feller when he was on a 4-game winning streak and lost a 1-0 complete-game decision, but a review of his career performances turned up no such streak or decision. He also claimed he won 27 games for Toronto during the 1957 season but Baseball-Reference.com has him winning just 17 games that year. Despite these apparent exaggerations, I found the interview delightful to listen to and hopefully you will as well.

Johnson shares his birthday with this long-ago Yankee ace and this former Yankee speedster.

Here are Johnson’s Yankee and career pitching statistics.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1947 NYY 4 3 .571 3.64 15 8 4 2 0 0 54.1 57 26 22 2 23 16 1.472
1950 NYY 1 0 1.000 10.00 8 0 4 0 0 0 18.0 35 21 20 2 12 9 2.611
7 Yrs 27 38 .415 4.78 198 70 62 17 5 12 631.0 712 371 335 55 285 262 1.580
BAL (3 yrs) 7 11 .389 6.54 62 20 19 4 1 2 179.0 242 144 130 22 108 66 1.955
WSH (2 yrs) 7 16 .304 4.11 50 26 12 8 1 2 212.2 218 108 97 13 91 89 1.453
NYY (2 yrs) 5 3 .625 5.23 23 8 8 2 0 0 72.1 92 47 42 4 35 25 1.756
SFG (1 yr) 0 1 .000 6.26 17 0 6 0 0 1 23.0 31 19 16 2 8 14 1.696
CHW (1 yr) 8 7 .533 3.13 46 16 17 3 3 7 144.0 129 53 50 14 43 68 1.194
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/12/2013.

October 22 – Happy Birthday Myles Thomas

thomasThe article appeared in the New York Times on December 17, 1925. It started out like this; “Good news for Yankee fans. Miller Huggins announced yesterday the purchase of one the best minor league pitchers in the country, a young man named Myles Thomas…” The article went on to say that the purchase had forced Jake Ruppert, the Yankee owner then, to “remove several layers from his bankroll to get this lad” because there were several big league teams interested in the right-hander from College Station, Pennsylvania. The reason for all the attention on Myles Thomas was the 28-8 record he had put together during the 1925 season, while pitching for the double A International League’s Toronto Maple Leafs.

Ironically, Huggins had been given a chance to sign this same guy in 1921, when he was fresh out of Pennsylvania State Teachers College. The Yankee skipper passed on that first opportunity and Thomas had then spent the next six seasons pitching in the minors. So he was already 28 years-old when he made his big-league debut with the 1926 Yankees, but he couldn’t have picked a better time to come to the Bronx. During his three full seasons on the team, the Yankees won three straight AL Pennants and both the 1927 and ’28 World Series.

Thomas’s best season in pinstripes was his second, when he went 7-4 for the Murderers’ Row team that went 110-44 and swept the Pirates in the ’27 World Series. But Huggins gradually lost faith in him as time went on. The pitcher’s starts and appearances out of the bullpen decreased in each of his successive seasons with New York until he was finally put on waivers and sold to the Senators in late June of 1929.

He pitched a couple of seasons in Washington before going back to the minors, where after hanging up his glove, he eventually became a coach with the Toledo Mud Hens. I can picture Thomas, perhaps wearing one of the World Series rings he won with the Yankees, out in the Mud Hens bullpen during a game, surrounded by a bunch of wide-eyed big-leaguer wannabe’s, regaling them with his memories of pitching for one of the greatest teams in big league history. I wonder if he told those kids that Babe Ruth himself had given Thomas the nickname of “Duck Eye.” Of course, the Bambino gave just about every teammate he ever played with a nickname because he was too self-absorbed to bother remembering their real names. In fact, in 1928, after Thomas had been Ruth’s teammate for more than two years. Yankee second baseman Tony Lazzeri introduced him to Ruth in a Boston hotel lobby as “the new pitcher from Yale the Yanks had just signed.” Ruth stuck out his hand and said “Hi ya keed.”

Thomas shares his birthday with baseball’s best all-around second baseman and a player who has a decent chance of becoming the first Japanese-born member of the Hall-of-Fame.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1926 NYY 6 6 .500 4.23 33 13 7 3 0 0 140.1 140 79 66 6 65 38 1.461
1927 NYY 7 4 .636 4.87 21 9 8 1 0 0 88.2 111 58 48 4 43 25 1.737
1928 NYY 1 0 1.000 3.41 12 1 6 0 0 0 31.2 33 19 12 3 9 10 1.326
1929 NYY 0 2 .000 10.80 5 1 1 0 0 0 15.0 27 21 18 0 9 3 2.400
5 Yrs 23 22 .511 4.64 105 40 33 11 0 2 434.2 499 284 224 19 189 121 1.583
NYY (4 yrs) 14 12 .538 4.70 71 24 22 4 0 0 275.2 311 177 144 13 126 76 1.585
WSH (2 yrs) 9 10 .474 4.53 34 16 11 7 0 2 159.0 188 107 80 6 63 45 1.579
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/22/2013.

October 2 – Happy Birthday John Gabler

GablerThough the Yankees signed this tall, thin right-handed native of Kansas City in 1949, it took him a full decade to get through the organization’s minor league system and make his big league debut in September of 1959. In fact, the only thing that moved slower than John Gabler’s ascent to the Majors was evidently, his fastball.

He didn’t start winning in the minors until 1954, when he was still pitching in the C-level California League. It wasn’t until four years later, when he went 19-7 for manager Ralph Houk’s 1958 Triple-A Denver Bears team that his name made it to the upper portion of the Yanks pitching prospects list and even then, Yankee skipper Casey Stengel had to be convinced Gabler was worth a roster spot.

The pitcher helped his cause with three strong appearances during his end-of-the-year debut in the Bronx in 1959. Still, it probably was the hiring of Eddie Lopat as Stengel’s new pitching coach that enabled Gabler to make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster in 1960. Steady Eddie had been a big winner on the Stengel-led Yankee teams that won five straight world championships between 1949 and ’53, while mastering a low speed repertoire of junk pitches thrown with precise control. He was the perfect pitching coach for Gabler, who threw the same array of pitches as Lopat.

The combination seemed to be clicking when Gabler opened his season with a win, pitching seven scoreless innings in a 4-0 victory over the Red Sox. But after he got hit hard in his next start, the Yanks sent him to the bullpen and he had never really pitched well as a reliever during his long career in the minors.

Still, he hung on with the team until the end of July, when he was reassigned to Richmond. The Senators then selected him in the 1960 AL Expansion draft. Gabler pitched one season in Washington and his big league career was over. He passed away in 2009, at the age of 78.

Gabler shares his October 2nd birthday with this former Yankee pitcherthis former Yankee shortstop and this other former Yankee shortstop.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1959 NYY 1 1 .500 2.79 3 1 0 0 0 0 19.1 21 6 6 1 10 11 1.603
1960 NYY 3 3 .500 4.15 21 4 5 0 0 1 52.0 46 27 24 2 32 19 1.500
3 Yrs 7 12 .368 4.39 53 14 16 0 0 5 164.0 171 94 80 8 79 63 1.524
NYY (2 yrs) 4 4 .500 3.79 24 5 5 0 0 1 71.1 67 33 30 3 42 30 1.528
WSA (1 yr) 3 8 .273 4.86 29 9 11 0 0 4 92.2 104 61 50 5 37 33 1.522
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/2/2013.

September 28 – Happy Birthday Pete Filson

filsonYankee fans heard a lot about Pete Filson in the early eighties. He was a left-handed starting pitcher who had been selected by New York in the ninth round of the 1979 amateur draft. The Yankees assigned him to their Class C Appalachian League team in Paintsville, Kentucky and in 13 starts during the 1979 season he went 9-0 with three shutouts and a 1.68 ERA. The native of Darby, Pennsylvania then proved that first year was no fluke when he followed it up with a 13-9 record in A ball in 1980 and a stellar 17-3 mark the following season.

The question wasn’t would Filson become a winner for New York at the big league level, it was just a matter of when he’d get the chance. But this was the early eighties and the ego-maniacal George Steinbrenner was pretty much dictating the personnel moves made by the Yankee organization. The Boss didn’t get along with Rick Cerone, New York’s staring catcher at the time so he directed the front office to replace him. The Twins’ first string receiver was available but he wouldn’t come cheap. The Yanks had to give Minnesota Filson in the deal.

Filson made his big league debut with the Twins during the 1982 season and spent the next three years pitching out of the Minnesota bullpen. In 1986, he was traded to the White Sox and a year later, he returned to the Bronx as part of the same deal that brought Randy Velarde to the Yankees.

Filson finally got to make his Yankee debut on August 29, 1987 in a relief appearance against the Mariners. He got rocked. He also got lit up in his second appearance against Boston a week later but then settled down and pitched well in his next three. That streak got him his first ever start in pinstripes and he made it a good one, pitching seven scoreless innings against Baltimore and earning his first and only Yankee victory. He pitched well in his next start as well but did not factor in the decision.

Filson turned 29-years-old that year and the Yanks decided to release him at the end of their 1988 spring training camp. He got one more shot at the big leagues in 1990. Filson ended up having a brilliant minor league career, putting together a 95-34 record during his decade pitching on farm teams with a 2.98 ERA. I think the Yanks screwed up his career when they traded him for Wynegar and he ended up stuck in the Twins’ bullpen during his prime. Southpaws did well in the old Yankee Stadium and God knows the Yanks could have used another good lefty starter during those seasons in the early 1980′s.

He shares his September 29th birthday with this former Yankee center fielder,  this former Yankee relief pitcher and this long-ago New York first baseman.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1987 NYY 1 0 1.000 3.27 7 2 3 0 0 0 22.0 26 10 8 2 9 10 1.591
7 Yrs 15 18 .455 4.18 148 34 43 1 0 4 391.2 398 198 182 51 150 187 1.399
MIN (5 yrs) 14 13 .519 3.98 130 24 38 1 0 4 323.0 316 148 143 39 123 164 1.359
KCR (1 yr) 0 4 .000 5.91 8 7 0 0 0 0 35.0 42 31 23 6 13 9 1.571
NYY (1 yr) 1 0 1.000 3.27 7 2 3 0 0 0 22.0 26 10 8 2 9 10 1.591
CHW (1 yr) 0 1 .000 6.17 3 1 2 0 0 0 11.2 14 9 8 4 5 4 1.629
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/28/2013.

September 25 – Happy Birthday David Weathers

weathersDavid Weathers made his big league debut in 1991 as a 20-year-old Toronto Blue Jay right-hander. The native of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee started out as a reliever, switched to starting when he was traded to the Marlins in 1993 and then went back to the bullpen permanently after he pitched poorly in his first four starts with the Yankees three seasons later.

In fact, he pitched pretty horribly for New York during both of the regular seasons he wore the pinstripes but he stepped up big time during the 1996 postseason. He got wins in both the ALDS and ALCS that year and pitched a total of eight innings of scoreless ball between the two. Joe Torre then used Weathers in Games 1, 4 and 6 of that year’s World Series against the Braves and he gave up only a single run. Given the fact that Yankee owner George Steinbrenner had publicly criticized the reliever after his poor start in the regular season that year, there’s no doubt Weathers’ fall ball heroics were the only reason he remained in the Yankees’ bullpen plans for 1997. Unfortunately, he got off to an even worse start that year and this time Steinbrenner got his wish. Weathers was traded to the Indians in early June of 1997 for outfielder Chad Curtis.

After leaving the Bronx, Weathers just kept pitching and pitching and pitching, going from Cleveland to Cincinnati, to Milwaukee, to the Cubs, back to New York with the Mets, and then return trips to the Reds and Marlins. In all he pitched in over 900 games before his career ended in 2009 and in 2007, his stick-to-it-ness paid off when he was made the Reds closer and saved 33 games.

Weathers was born on the very same day as this Hall-of-Fame Yankee shortstop, this former Yankee reliever/pitching coach and also with Robinson Cano’s predecessor as Yankee starting second baseman.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1996 NYY 0 2 .000 9.35 11 4 1 0 0 0 17.1 23 19 18 1 14 13 2.135
1997 NYY 0 1 .000 10.00 10 0 3 0 0 0 9.0 15 10 10 1 7 4 2.444
19 Yrs 73 88 .453 4.25 964 69 304 0 0 75 1376.1 1432 711 650 133 604 976 1.479
CIN (6 yrs) 22 27 .449 3.97 341 9 157 0 0 61 398.2 388 188 176 39 164 283 1.385
FLA (5 yrs) 17 22 .436 5.16 105 55 11 0 0 0 359.0 425 227 206 33 159 216 1.627
MIL (5 yrs) 18 17 .514 3.53 237 0 71 0 0 7 298.2 282 129 117 30 120 223 1.346
NYM (3 yrs) 12 12 .500 3.22 180 0 42 0 0 7 198.2 197 82 71 17 91 161 1.450
NYY (2 yrs) 0 3 .000 9.57 21 4 4 0 0 0 26.1 38 29 28 2 21 17 2.241
TOR (2 yrs) 1 0 1.000 5.50 17 0 4 0 0 0 18.0 20 12 11 2 19 16 2.167
CLE (1 yr) 1 2 .333 7.56 9 1 2 0 0 0 16.2 23 14 14 2 8 14 1.860
CHC (1 yr) 1 1 .500 3.18 28 0 4 0 0 0 28.1 28 10 10 3 9 20 1.306
HOU (1 yr) 1 4 .200 4.78 26 0 9 0 0 0 32.0 31 20 17 5 13 26 1.375
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/25/2013.

September 17 – Happy Birthday Al Gettel

gettelIt took Al Gettel ten years to climb the rungs of the Yankees’ farm system ladder and make it to the Bronx. A big, good-looking farm boy from Kempsville, Virginia, he had been signed by New York in 1936, out of high school. That was right about the time Joe McCarthy had put together an outstanding Yankee pitching staff that would end up leading the Bronx Bombers to four straight World Championships. That great pitching at the big league level created a bottleneck for the organization’s good pitchers in the minors and Gettel found himself right in the middle of it.

He finally got called up in 1945 and McCarthy used him regularly as both a starter and reliever. He went 9-8 in his rookie season with 3 saves and a 3.90 ERA. He actually pitched better in his sophomore season for New York, lowering his ERA below three and hurling his first two big league shutouts. That was the same year the Yankees were sold to the triumvirate of Dan Topping, Del Webb and the unpredictable Lee MacPhail. McCarthy hated MacPhail and quit as Yankee skipper. Anxious to put his personal stamp on his new team, MacPhail was eager to make trades and Gettel’s lackluster 6-7 record in the just completed 1946 season had put a target on the pitcher’s back. A few weeks before Christmas that year, MacPhail completed a five player transaction that sent Gettel to Cleveland.

The six-foot-three-inch, two-hundred-pound right-hander then had the best season of his Major League career, going 11-10 for the Tribe in ’47 with a 3.20 ERA and two more shutouts. After a horrible start the following season, he was traded to the White Sox but did little to distinguish himself during the balance of his days in the big leagues.

He did, however become a star in the Pacific Coast League, where he continied to pitch until 1956. He also became a movie actor, scoring several minor roles in Hollywood westerns, thanks to his good looks and ability to ride a horse. It was during his movie days as a cowboy that he picked up the nickname of “Two Gun.” Gettel also made headlines in 2001 when he told a Wall Street Journal reporter that the 1951 New York Giants had concocted an elaborate scheme to steal the pitching signs of opposing teams. He had pitched out of the bullpen for that Giant team until he had been sold to the Oakland Oaks in the PCL in July of that ’51 season.  Gettel lived until 2005, passing away at the age of 87.

He shares his birthday with this one-time Yankee outfielder and this one-time Yankee first base prospect.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1945 NYY 9 8 .529 3.90 27 17 7 9 0 3 154.2 141 70 67 11 53 67 1.254
1946 NYY 6 7 .462 2.97 26 11 8 5 2 0 103.0 89 40 34 6 40 54 1.252
7 Yrs 38 45 .458 4.28 184 79 52 31 5 6 734.1 711 382 349 72 310 310 1.390
CLE (2 yrs) 11 11 .500 3.91 36 23 6 9 2 0 156.2 137 69 68 14 72 68 1.334
NYY (2 yrs) 15 15 .500 3.53 53 28 15 14 2 3 257.2 230 110 101 17 93 121 1.254
CHW (2 yrs) 10 15 .400 4.73 41 26 8 8 1 2 211.0 223 124 111 19 86 71 1.464
WSH (1 yr) 0 2 .000 5.45 16 1 8 0 0 1 34.2 43 24 21 4 24 7 1.933
NYG (1 yr) 1 2 .333 4.87 30 1 11 0 0 0 57.1 52 37 31 12 25 36 1.343
STL (1 yr) 1 0 1.000 9.00 8 0 4 0 0 0 17.0 26 18 17 6 10 7 2.118
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/20/2013.