Results tagged ‘ pitcher ’

August 25 – Happy Birthday Adam Warren

warrenEvery professional baseball player has the same exact basic goals. The first is to make it to the big leagues. Adam Warren checked that one off his bucket list in late June of the 2012 season, when the Yanks called him up from Scranton-Wilkes Barre to make an emergency start after both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte went down with injuries.

The second goal is to make a great first impression in your Major League debut. Warren screwed that one up. He got shelled by the White Sox in his first appearance, giving up eight hits, including two bombs and surrendering six earned runs, lasting just two and a third innings in the 14-7 Yankee loss. That disastrous first effort put a real quick kabosh on the third goal every professional baseball player shares, which is once called up, to stay in the Majors. The Yankees sent Warren down the next day.

It took Warren right up to the last day of the Yankees 2013 spring training season to convince Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild that he deserved a second chance. He’s been New York’s long relief guy out of the bullpen since. With a few exceptions, this right-handed native of Birmingham, Alabama has pitched well in that role and since Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes are in the last year of contracts, Warren’s next goal is to pitch well enough to earn a spot in next season’s version of the Yankee starting rotation.

Does he have a chance? Sure. He’s only 25-years-old, he’s now got some innings under his belt and he’s already on the team. A fourth round Yankee draft pick in 2009, Warren has a decent but not overpowering fastball so he must be able to hit his spots to win at the big league level. His control has been just so-so thus far during the 2013 season (22 unintentional walks in 62 innings.) From my perspective, Warren has to notch his game up to a higher gear before I think he’s ready to join a Yankee rotation.

He shares his birthday with this former Yankee shortstop, this former Yankee reliever and this other former Yankee reliever.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2012 NYY 0 0 23.14 1 1 0 0 0 0 2.1 8 6 6 2 2 1 4.286
2013 NYY 1 2 .333 3.69 25 1 14 0 0 1 61.0 65 25 25 10 24 50 1.459
2 Yrs 1 2 .333 4.41 26 2 14 0 0 1 63.1 73 31 31 12 26 51 1.563
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/25/2013.

August 20 – Happy Birthday Pete Schneider

schneiderThere were no “Joba Rules” when today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant made his big league debut as an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher for the 1914 Cincinnati Reds. The team he joined at such a young age was horrible, finishing dead last in the National League, with a 60-94 record. Though Pete Schneider could only manage a 5-13 record that season, his 2.81 rookie year ERA was a better indicator of just how talented and advanced this Los Angeles native was on a pitching mound. During the next three seasons, he averaged close to 300 innings pitched per year and achieved an overall ERA of 2,40. Unfortunately, the Cincinnati offense provided him with pretty tepid run support and Schneider lost 19 games in each of those three seasons.

But he had also been able to win 20 games in 1917, after future Hall of Fame hurler Christy Matthewson had taken over as Reds’ skipper and Schneider’s future was looking much brighter. But those 300 innings pitched per year had taken a toll on the kid’s right arm and he went just 10-15 with a 3.83 ERA during the 1918 regular season. Yankee skipper, Miller Huggins was obviously hoping a change of scenery would revive Schneider when he had his Yankee front office purchase the pitcher’s contract from the Reds. Determined to pitch his sore arm back into shape, Schneider decided to pitch winter ball that offseason. It was a fateful decision. In his first winter ball start he blew out his arm. He would end up appearing in just seven games in pinstripes in 1919 and then would never again play in another big league game.

Instead he and his lame arm returned to his native California, where he decided to convert himself into a full-time outfielder. He actually did pretty darn good with that effort. During his first four years as a Pacific Coast League position player he hit in the mid .330’s and he averaged 16 home runs per season. On May 11, 1923 he gained national attention by putting on one of the greatest offensive performances in the history of professional baseball. In a game against the Salt Lake City Bees, Schneider belted five home runs and a double and drove in 14 runs. He continued playing minor league ball until 1928. Unfortunately, his life after baseball took a tragic turn. In 1935, he got into a bar fight, allegedly defending his wife’s honor and killed a guy. He was found guilty of manslaughter and served prison time in San Quentin, where he would become manager of the famed penal institution’s baseball team. He died in 1957 at the age of 61.

Schneider shares his August 20th birthday with this great former Yankee third baseman and this one time Yankee pitching prospect.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1919 NYY 0 1 .000 3.41 7 4 1 0 0 0 29.0 19 14 11 1 22 11 1.414
6 Yrs 59 86 .407 2.66 207 157 36 84 10 4 1274.0 1199 541 377 16 498 487 1.332
CIN (5 yrs) 59 85 .410 2.65 200 153 35 84 10 4 1245.0 1180 527 366 15 476 476 1.330
NYY (1 yr) 0 1 .000 3.41 7 4 1 0 0 0 29.0 19 14 11 1 22 11 1.414
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/19/2013.

August 11 – Happy Birthday Bill Monbouquette

monboWhen 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.

Monbo shares his birthday with this former Yankee outfielder and this one too.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1967 NYY 6 5 .545 2.36 33 10 4 2 1 1 133.1 122 39 35 6 17 53 1.043
1968 NYY 5 7 .417 4.43 17 11 2 2 0 0 89.1 92 47 44 7 13 32 1.175
11 Yrs 114 112 .504 3.68 343 263 27 78 18 3 1961.1 1995 910 803 211 462 1122 1.253
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
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/13/2013.

August 10 – Happy Birthday Bob Porterfield

porterfieldThe 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.

Porterfield shares his birthday with this former Yankee outfielder, this one too and this former Yankee infielder.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1948 NYY 5 3 .625 4.50 16 12 2 2 1 0 78.0 85 42 39 5 34 30 1.526
1949 NYY 2 5 .286 4.06 12 8 1 3 0 0 57.2 53 26 26 3 29 25 1.422
1950 NYY 1 1 .500 8.69 10 2 2 0 0 1 19.2 28 19 19 2 8 9 1.831
1951 NYY 0 0 15.00 2 0 0 0 0 0 3.0 5 6 5 0 3 2 2.667
12 Yrs 87 97 .473 3.79 318 193 45 92 23 8 1567.2 1571 732 660 113 552 572 1.354
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
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/9/2013.

August 9 – Happy Birthday Fred Sanford

fred-sanfordIn 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.

Sanford shares his August 9th birthday with this former Yankee manager/catcher and this Yankee pitcher with a cool name.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1949 NYY 7 3 .700 3.87 29 11 6 3 0 0 95.1 100 53 41 9 57 51 1.647
1950 NYY 5 4 .556 4.55 26 12 4 2 0 0 112.2 103 60 57 9 79 54 1.615
1951 NYY 0 3 .000 3.71 11 2 3 0 0 0 26.2 15 11 11 2 25 10 1.500
7 Yrs 37 55 .402 4.45 164 98 27 26 3 6 744.0 768 405 368 67 391 285 1.558
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
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/9/2013.

August 2 – Happy Birthday Charlie Caldwell

ccaldwellYankee 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.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1925 NYY 0 0 16.88 3 0 1 0 0 0 2.2 7 6 5 0 3 1 3.750
1 Yr 0 0 16.88 3 0 1 0 0 0 2.2 7 6 5 0 3 1 3.750
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/1/2013.

July 26 – Happy Birthday Vidal Nuno

MLB: New York Yankees-Photo DayI 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.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2013 NYY 1 2 .333 2.25 5 3 2 0 0 0 20.0 16 5 5 2 6 9 1.100
1 Yr 1 2 .333 2.25 5 3 2 0 0 0 20.0 16 5 5 2 6 9 1.100
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/25/2013.

July 24 – Happy Birthday Dee Pillette

pilletteToday’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.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1949 NYY 2 4 .333 4.34 12 3 2 2 0 0 37.1 43 20 18 6 19 9 1.661
1950 NYY 0 0 1.29 4 0 2 0 0 0 7.0 9 3 1 0 3 4 1.714
8 Yrs 38 66 .365 4.40 188 119 25 34 4 2 904.0 985 498 442 67 391 305 1.522
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
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/23/2013.

July 21 – Happy Birthday Gary Waslewski

waslewskiYou’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.

Waslewski shares his birthday with this former Cy Young Award winner and this one time Yankee first baseman.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1970 NYY 2 2 .500 3.11 26 5 5 0 0 0 55.0 42 20 19 4 27 27 1.255
1971 NYY 0 1 .000 3.28 24 0 8 0 0 1 35.2 28 15 13 2 16 17 1.234
6 Yrs 11 26 .297 3.44 152 42 36 5 1 5 410.1 368 184 157 32 197 229 1.377
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
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/20/2013.

July 16 – Happy Birthday Floyd “Three-Finger” Newkirk

Floyd_NewkirkIIYou 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.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1934 NYY 0 0 0.00 1 0 1 0 0 0 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 2.000
1 Yr 0 0 0.00 1 0 1 0 0 0 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 2.000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/15/2013.