Results tagged ‘ pitcher ’
The phone rang and he let it ring one more time before picking it up. His family, friends and coaches who were gathered in his Sarasota, Florida living room that early June day in 1993 all fell silent and turned their attention to the expression on the face of the eighteen-year-old high school pitcher who was now holding the receiver tightly to his ear. As soon as they saw the huge grin break out across his face, every person in the room knew not only who was on the other end of that phone conversation but also what he had just said. The caller was Yankee scout Paul Turco, and he had just told the talented teenager that he had been selected with the Yankees first draft pick (13th overall) in Major League Baseball’s 1993 Amateur Draft.
The kids name was Matt Drews and right after he hung up the phone that day, his Dad, Ron Drews handed him a Yankee cap and told him it was his now. But unlike the brand new New Era team lids most modern day top picks get to place on their heads, the Yankee hat Matt’s Dad had handed him looked a bit aged and odd. That’s because at the time, that particular hat was close to a half-century old. It had been given originally to Matt’s grandfather by Joe DiMaggio as a gift for Matt’s Dad. Ron Drew’s Dad and Matt Drew’s Grandfather was former Yankee pitcher and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, Karl Drews. In his rookie year of 1947, Karl had gone 6-6 for New York, appearing in 30 games for Yankee skipper Bucky Harris, including ten starts. Six years earlier, Karl was pitching for the Class C farm team that used to play in my hometown of Amsterdam, NY. He had signed with the Yankees in 1939 and was working his way up the minor league ladder when he was called into the military for service in WWII. That’s why he was already 27 years-old during his first full season in the big leagues.
Drews threw very hard but he had trouble finding the strike zone consistently. Still, Harris had enough faith in his rookie to use him twice in the 1947 World Series against Brooklyn. After his first appearance in Game 3 of that Fall Classic, the gracious DiMaggio walked up to him in the clubhouse after the game and handed him the Yankee cap, telling Drews to give it to his boy as a souvenir of his first World Series game.
DiMaggio would return to three more World Series as a Yankee before retiring but unfortuntely for Karl Drews, 1947 would be his one and only appearance in postseason play. The following season, the Yankees found themselves in a year-long and eventually unsuccessful battle with the Red Sox and Indians to defend their AL Pennant. Drews was actually pitching better baseball than he had the season before, walking fewer hitters and lowering his ERA by over a full run, to 3.79. That didn’t prevent the Yankees from selling Drews to the St. Louis Browns in early August of that 1948 season.
Now pitching for one of the worst teams in baseball, Drews went 4-12 for the Browns in 1949 and was sent back to the minors, where he broke his skull in a base path collision. He got back to the big leagues with the Phillies in 1951 and had his best big league season a year later, as a member of Philadelphia’s starting rotation. He went 14-15 with a sparkling 2.72 ERA and threw 5 shutouts. He would last two more years in the big leagues and then settled with his family in Hollywood, Florida. On August 15th, 1963, he was taking his daughter to swimming practice when his car stalled on a Florida highway. When he got out of the disabled vehicle and attempted to wave a passing car down, the drunken driver of the car plowed into Drews and killed him instantly. He was just 43 years old at the time of his death and he would never get to meet his grandson Matt.
Unlike his grandfather, Matt Drews never made it to the mound of Yankee Stadium. His career started out well, as he went 22-13 during his first two seasons in the lowest levels of New York’s farm system, but during the next five he was 16-58. He left baseball after the 2000 season.
|PHI (4 yrs)||25||25||.500||3.74||93||60||9||22||5||3||453.0||478||221||188||43||117||187||1.313|
|NYY (3 yrs)||8||10||.444||4.76||52||13||18||0||0||2||136.0||133||80||72||9||92||60||1.654|
|SLB (2 yrs)||7||14||.333||6.94||51||25||10||3||1||2||177.2||223||148||137||14||104||46||1.841|
|CIN (1 yr)||4||4||.500||6.00||22||9||7||1||1||0||60.0||79||44||40||6||19||29||1.633|
Due to an eye ailment, Walter “Monk” Dubiel was not considered healthy enough to serve in WWII and with a sore hip and chronically aching back, there were times he was just barely healthy enough to pitch for the Yankees. New York signed this native of Hartford, Connecticut in 1941 and he spent the next four seasons moving up the organization’s farm system. By 1944, most of the front-line big league pitchers were in the military and Dubiel, who had gone 16-9 for the Yankees’ double A affiliate in Newark the year before, was ready to make his debut in the Bronx. The six foot tall right-hander went 13-13 in his rookie year, threw three shutouts and posted a very respectable ERA of 3.38. But he also pitched 232 innings for Manager Joe McCarthy’s third place ball club, which was fifty more than he had ever pitched in a single season in the minors. He couldn’t match that workload in his sophomore season in pinstripes and his ERA in 1945 climbed to 4.64, but he did manage to post a 10-9 record, which would turn out to be his only winning season as a big league pitcher.
Since the war had ended, all of the Yankee pitchers who had served in the armed forces returned en-masse to New York’s 1946 spring training camp. Dubiel couldn’t make the cut and he was sent back to Newark by McCarthy. Accompanying him to the minor league club that spring was a short stumpy Yankee catcher by the name of Lawrence Berra. Yogi would end up back in pinstripes one day but Monk never did.
In 1947, he became the property of the pitching poor Philadelphia Phillies via the Rule 5 Draft, which eased his path back to the big leagues. He went 8-10 for Philadelphia in 1948, with 2 shutouts and 4 saves. That December he was traded to the Cubs. He would pitch the next three seasons and a tiny part of a fourth in the Windy City and then return to the minors for good. He ended his seven-year career as a Major League pitcher with a 45-53 record and an ERA of 3.87 with 11 saves and 9 shutouts.
Dubiel wore uniform number 14 with New York. Here are my picks for the top five number “14′s” in Yankee history:
|CHC (4 yrs)||14||21||.400||3.85||94||32||26||7||3||7||345.2||341||171||148||31||143||123||1.400|
|NYY (2 yrs)||23||22||.511||3.87||56||48||5||28||4||0||383.1||374||181||165||21||148||124||1.362|
|PHI (1 yr)||8||10||.444||3.89||37||17||10||6||2||4||150.1||139||84||65||13||58||42||1.310|
One could sum up today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant’s career with three words, “strange but interesting.” It started out late but promising. Though this right-handed hurler never played an inning of minor league ball, he was already 28-years-old when he signed with the Yankees in 1924. Up until then, he had been playing semi-pro baseball for a company-sponsored team back in his native New Jersey. Such teams were common throughout the country during much of the first half of the 20th century and the competition was certainly, in many cases, minor-league quality. In fact, Gaston’s semi-pro team regularly played exhibition games versus Major League clubs and through the years, he had offers from several of them to pitch for their organizations. But it wasn’t until the Yankees offered him a contract that he decided to make the move.
That happened in 1924. Gaston joined a Yankee team that had won the franchise’s first World Series the year before. Miller Huggins was his manager and a fellow rookie, Lou Gehrig, his first big league roommate. Huggins liked Gaston a lot and got him into 29 games during his rookie season, mostly as a reliever. In fact, he won his first four straight big league decisions coming out of the bullpen, before Huggins gave him a chance to start. Gaston’s signature pitch was a fork ball that moved so much, there were times he had no idea where the ball was going. As a result, he would often walk an awful lot of hitters, and in his first ever big league start, he issued eight bases on balls against the St. Louis Browns in six-plus innings and suffered his first loss. But all-in-all, his rookie season had been a success. He finished it with a 5-3 record and a save, a budding friendship with the Iron Horse, plus Huggins liked his stuff. Gaston was certainly in a good place to be with his baseball career. But not for long.
The 1924 Yankees had failed to make it back to the World Series for the first time in three years, and New York owner Jacob Rupert, who was George Steinbrenner before George Steinbrenner was even born, wanted better pitching. He heard the St. Louis Browns wanted to trade their four-time 20-game winner, Urban Shocker and he went after him hard. The deal between the two teams was reached a week before Christmas in 1924. The Yanks sent Gaston, starting pitcher Bullet Joe Bush and another pitcher named Joe Giard to the Browns for Shocker. When Huggins told Gaston he had been traded, the Yankee manager also told the departing pitcher he hated to lose him.
Thus, Gaston’s pinstriped career ended but he would go on to establish a few unusual Major League firsts. He holds the record for giving up the most hits in a shutout, 14. He also owns the record for taking part in the most double plays as a pitcher in a single game, 4. Though he was teammates with 17 different future Hall of Famers during his eleven-year career, they all must have been in hitting slumps on the days Gaston pitched because his career record was 97-164, which gives him the record for most games below the .500 mark for pitchers with at least 100 decisions. In addition to the Yankees and Browns, he also pitched for the White Sox, Senators and Red Sox, and while with Boston, he got the opportunity to pitch to his older brother, catcher Alex Gaston, during the 1929 season. Milt Gaston kept setting records after he retired in 1934. He became the only former player with at least ten years of service to live to 100. He died in his sleep in a Massachusetts nursing home in 1996.
|SLB (3 yrs)||38||49||.437||4.60||111||87||15||51||1||2||707.0||786||439||361||39||302||200||1.539|
|CHW (3 yrs)||21||48||.304||4.95||87||78||6||24||3||1||527.2||607||353||290||35||217||131||1.562|
|BOS (3 yrs)||27||52||.342||3.95||100||80||18||44||3||4||635.2||674||335||279||34||220||215||1.406|
|WSH (1 yr)||6||12||.333||5.51||28||22||4||8||3||0||148.2||179||102||91||3||53||45||1.561|
|NYY (1 yr)||5||3||.625||4.50||29||2||20||0||0||1||86.0||92||48||43||3||44||24||1.581|
As the 2012 season approached, more and more Yankee fans were beginning to wonder if Yankee pitching prospect, Hector Noesi was really ready to become a part of the team’s starting rotation. That’s because it looked like New York’s front office was electing to stand pat with the pitching arms the team already had on its roster during this offseason and not test the trade or free agent market for a solution. That meant if Phil Hughes and AJ Burnett or the aging Freddie Garcia were not able to deliver during the first few weeks of the upcoming regular season, Joe Girardi’s first option was most likely going to be inserting Noesi in the Yankee rotation.
This Dominican right hander had appeared in 30 games for New York in 2010 after being called up from Scranton in mid-May, almost all of them as a reliever. He made a good first impression when he got the win with a four-scoreless-extra-inning stint against Baltimore the very first time he pitched in the big leagues. He also had pitched well during his ascent through the Yankee minor league organization. Noesi has a fastball in the lower nineties and has already developed a very good change up. His delivery has been described by scouts as “smooth and fluid” and he has shown very good command of the strike zone.
My problem with the guy was that he had already tested positive for steroids in 2007 and served a 50-game suspension. He’s tested clean since but he’s also experienced some serious problems with his pitching arm. Still, the Yankees were very high on this guy coming into 2012 and were telling everyone who would listen that he was ready to start in the big leagues right now.
Some of that praise may have been hype to increase his trade value because in January of 2012, the Yankees included Noesi with Jesus Montero in the package they sent to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and a Mariner pitching prospect named Jose Campos. To date, Noesi has not pitched well for Seattle. He went 2-12 mostly as a starter for the M’s in 2012 and then spent large parts of his 2013 season pitching in Tacoma.
Hector shares his January 26th birthday with this one time Yankee World Series hero.
|SEA (2 yrs)||2||13||.133||5.98||34||19||8||0||0||0||134.0||149||92||89||24||51||89||1.493|
|NYY (1 yr)||2||2||.500||4.47||30||2||14||0||0||0||56.1||63||29||28||6||22||45||1.509|
He was considered the best pitcher in the history of Clarkson University, a small engineering school in northwestern New York State. Born in Rome, New York in 1918, his real first name was Emerson but his Clarkson coach started calling him “Steve” instead because it was easier to both say and remember. Roser had a choice to make in 1940. He could either finish his senior year at Clarkson or sign a contract with the Yankees. He signed the contract and spent the next four years pitching his way up New York’s minor league ladder.
Joe McCarthy put him on the parent club’s roster for the first time in 1944, and Roser pitched well enough to stick around the entire season. His big league debut came on May 5th of that year against the Red Sox. He relieved starter Atley Donald in the top of the fifth inning with the score tied and finished the game, which the Yankees won, earning him his first career victory. He got his first career start two months later and earned a complete game 8-2 win over the Tigers. He would finish that first season with a 4-3 record and one save and he earned good marks from McCarthy who kept Roser on the roster the following season.
In 1946, his slow start combined with the mass return of Yankee pitching talent from military service in World War II got the right-hander sold to the Boston Braves in early May. He pitched OK but sparingly in Beantown for a few weeks and then spent the second half of the season with the Braves triple A team in Indianapolis. Despite a good record in Indy, he failed to make the Braves roster the following spring and when he pitched poorly during the 1947 season in the minors, he quit the game for good. Roser returned to upstate New York where he and his wife opened a sporting goods store and a restaurant. Roser passed away in 2002.
One of the amazing things about the on-the-field dominance of the Yankee teams during the late nineties was the fact that off-the-field, the franchise’s player personnel decision making process was in disarray. I like to call the reason for that disarray “the Boss’s Tale of Two Cities.” The ball club George Steinbrenner owned played in New York but he lived and made his base of operations in Tampa, Florida. The Yankee GM and Manager were based in the Big Apple while the team’s administrative personnel, including Steinbrenner’s unofficial cabinet of baseball advisors operated out of the central Florida city. The eccentric Yankee owner loved to create conflict among his upper-echelon staff because he felt it fostered a competition to out-do each other and keep everyone in line. But if you asked Brian Cashman and Joe Torre if they enjoyed fighting every Yankee player move with a bunch of George’s yes men located 1,500 miles away, you’d have received a much different opinion.
A classic example of this two-headed management battle is today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, pitcher Jeff Juden. A 1989 first round draft pick of the Houston Astros, the 6 foot 8 inch, 265 pound right-hander had pitched for seven different teams during his first seven big league seasons. One of the reasons this Salem, Massachusetts native was hiring moving vans every season was because he was purportedly not a nice guy. Prior to him signing as a free agent with the Yankees in February of 1999, Juden had a long history of not getting along with opponents on the field or teammates in his own clubhouse. It has been alleged that when Juden was pitching for Montreal in 1996, some Expo players actually told management they would no longer play if Juden wasn’t banished from the team. The Expos got rid of him, even though he had an 11-5 record at the time. But as George Steinbrenner’s on-again, off-again love affair with the cantankerous Billy Martin had proven, the Boss had a special place in his heart for fight-loving trouble-makers and the Yankees signed Juden.
The pitcher was assigned to New York’s triple A Columbus affiliate to begin the 1999 season. Sure enough, he got into trouble in his new clubhouse almost immediately in an incident with Clipper teammate, Andy Stankiewicz. His on-the-field performance was nothing to write home about either. In 26 starts with Columbus, he was 11-12 with a 5.56 ERA. Despite it all, Juden was promoted to the big league roster that September, with the Yanks still battling the Red Sox for the AL East flag. It became apparent to the Yankee press pool that the huge hurler’s ascension had been the decision of the Tampa-side of Yankee management, when Torre responded to their questions about the new arrival by telling reporters he didn’t know why the pitcher was there because neither he or Yankee M Cashman had requested him.
Juden’s only start as a Yankee was ruined by an error by first baseman Jim Leyritz that led to five unearned runs and an 0-1 lifetime Yankee record for the controversial pitcher. Ironically, the Tampa committee had convinced Steinbrenner the Yankees should reacquire Leyritz earlier that same season over the objections of both Torre and Cashman. The Tampa connection brought Juden back for spring training the following season but it was no surprise to any one that Torre chose to go north without him. The Yankees released him and after a few more years of trying to regain his form and control his temper in the minors, he retired with a 27-32 lifetime record.
|PHI (2 yrs)||3||8||.273||4.68||19||15||0||1||0||0||90.1||82||56||47||10||43||69||1.384|
|MON (2 yrs)||12||5||.706||3.82||44||22||7||3||0||0||162.2||147||76||69||18||71||133||1.340|
|HOU (2 yrs)||0||3||.000||5.87||6||3||1||0||0||0||23.0||23||17||15||4||11||18||1.478|
|SFG (1 yr)||4||0||1.000||4.10||36||0||9||0||0||0||41.2||39||23||19||7||20||35||1.416|
|ANA (1 yr)||1||3||.250||6.75||8||6||1||0||0||0||40.0||33||32||30||7||18||39||1.275|
|CLE (1 yr)||0||1||.000||5.46||8||5||0||0||0||0||31.1||32||21||19||6||15||29||1.500|
|NYY (1 yr)||0||1||.000||1.59||2||1||0||0||0||0||5.2||5||9||1||1||3||9||1.412|
|MIL (1 yr)||7||11||.389||5.53||24||24||0||2||0||0||138.1||149||91||85||20||66||109||1.554|
I began paying attention to the White Sox starting pitching rotation right around 1980. That was the season a former Yankee minor league phee-nom named Lamarr Hoyt made his first big league start for Chicago and went an impressive 9-3 in his rookie year. The Yankees had included Hoyt in the package of players they used to acquire shortstop Bucky Dent from the White Sox three seasons earlier and I had kept an eye on Hoyt’s progress ever since.
The Chicago rotation Hoyt joined that season included some very good young pitchers headed by 21-year-old Britt Burns, who led the staff with 15 victories that season. Hoyt and Burns were joined by 22-year-old left-hander Steve Trout and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, Rich Dotson. Dotson was a 21-year-old rookie at the time, who finished the year with an impressive 12-10 record. Back then, the Yankee rotation by contrast was ancient but still effective, with 39-year-old Luis Tiant, 37-year-old Tommy John and 35-year-old Rudy May helping 29-year-old Ron Guidry win the AL East. Yankee fans like me couldn’t help but notice the young guns being assembled in the Windy City and wish our favorite team was as well-stocked with fresh young arms.
Dotson had a superb start to his sophomore year. By June 9th of the ’81 season, the young right-hander was 7-3 and four of those seven victories were complete game shutouts. Two days later the season stopped when players went on strike. The disruption clearly bothered Dotson, who went just 2-5 during the second half of the split season.
The Cincinnati native would reach his apex as a pro two years later when he went 22-7 to help lead the White Sox to an AL West Division flag. It looked as if he was on his way to becoming one of baseball’s premier right-handed pitchers after he started the ’84 season with 11 wins in his first 15 decisions and made the All Star team. But he fell apart in the second half of that year and the White Sox collapsed in the standings. A circulatory problem was later discovered in Dotson’s throwing shoulder and it limited him to just nine starts in 1985. After two more losing seasons in Chicago, he was traded to the Yankees in November of 1987, for outfielder Dan Pasqua.
Ironically, both Steve Trout and Britt Burns had preceded their former pitching mate to the Bronx in earlier deals and both had failed miserably. Dotson fared better in pinstripes than both of them, winning 12 games for New York in 1988, but his ERA hit five and the Yankees finished in a disappointing fifth place in the AL East. When he continued to struggle the following year, new Yankee manager Dallas Green demoted Dotson to the bullpen and a few weeks later, the pitcher was given his unconditional release. He retired after the 1990 season with a lifetime record of 111-113.
|CHW (10 yrs)||97||95||.505||4.02||254||250||4||50||11||0||1606.0||1594||799||718||156||637||873||1.389|
|NYY (2 yrs)||14||14||.500||5.13||43||38||2||5||0||0||222.2||247||136||127||35||89||91||1.509|
|KCR (1 yr)||0||4||.000||8.48||8||7||1||0||0||0||28.2||43||29||27||3||14||9||1.988|
Legendary Yankee scout, Paul Krichell signed some of the best players in Yankee history, including Lou Gehrig and Whitey Ford. He was once asked which of the players he had signed most surprised him by not making it in the big leagues. One of his answers was Charlie Devens. The Yankees gave Devens a huge bonus when the fire-balling right-hander graduated from Harvard in 1932 and wasted no time throwing him into the fire. He got his first start in Pinstripes against Boston in Fenway and threw a complete game victory. He had a blazing fastball and loads of confidence but he also had a family that owned a bank and a girl friend who was the daughter of a former Massacusetts’ Governor. After bouncing back and forth between the Yankees and their Minor League affiliate in Newark for the next two seasons, it wasn’t too difficult a decision for Charlie to walk away from the Yankees in 1934 for a job in his family’s bank and to marry his well-heeled sweetheart.
Another Yankee born on the first day of the year was this former first baseman nicknamed “the Earl of Snohomish.”
I don’t remember what my exact reaction was back in July of 2004, when I learned that the Yankees had traded Jose Contreras for this tall Mexican right hander, but I don’t think I was too disappointed. Loaiza was coming off a twenty-one win season with the White Sox in 2003 and was 9-5 thus far in 2004 when he became a Yankee. In addition to sending Contreras to the Windy City, New York also had to include lots of cash. Although Contreras had not been a total bust in New York, Steinbrenner had spent over $30 million to outbid the Red Sox for the Cuban defector and the Yankee front office predicted he was ready to win big at the big league level, right away. When that didn’t happen, disappointed Yankee fans started booing and Contreras’ $8.5 million annual salary became an even heavier albatross around New York’s neck. So the Yankees jumped at the chance to replace the Cuban with Loaiza who’s annual salary was $4 million at the time.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, they jumped a bit to soon and the White Sox ended up getting the best part of the deal by a country mile. Loaiza went just 1-2 in pinstripes the rest of that 2004 season and got absolutely hammered in most of his starts. New York released him that October. Contreras would go on to find his bearings at US Cellular Field. In 2005, Jose went 15-7 and then 3-1 in the postseason to help the White Sox capture their first World Series title in over 70 years. Loaiza actually rebounded to pitch well for the Nationals in 2005 and did OK with the A’s in 2006. He’s been out of the big leagues since 2008 and had a 126-114 lifetime record during his 14-season career with eight different big league clubs.
Another Yankee born on the last day of the year was this pitcher who lost the final game of the 1955 World series to Brooklyn.
|PIT (4 yrs)||27||28||.491||4.63||96||87||3||3||1||0||513.1||580||296||264||62||160||292||1.442|
|TEX (3 yrs)||17||17||.500||5.19||64||46||6||1||0||1||307.0||364||189||177||46||93||207||1.489|
|TOR (3 yrs)||25||28||.472||4.96||75||69||1||5||3||0||433.1||526||260||239||53||104||259||1.454|
|CHW (3 yrs)||30||14||.682||3.65||58||55||3||3||1||0||370.0||355||158||150||41||101||291||1.232|
|OAK (2 yrs)||12||9||.571||4.62||28||28||0||2||1||0||169.1||189||95||87||18||44||102||1.376|
|LAD (2 yrs)||2||6||.250||6.94||12||8||2||0||0||0||46.2||50||36||36||12||21||24||1.521|
|WSN (1 yr)||12||10||.545||3.77||34||34||0||0||0||0||217.0||227||93||91||18||55||173||1.300|
|NYY (1 yr)||1||2||.333||8.50||10||6||1||0||0||0||42.1||61||43||40||9||26||34||2.055|
This big right-hander was coming off the worst season in his 14-year big league career, when the Yankees signed the Gastonia, North Carolina native to a free agent minor-league contract just before the 2011 season opened. Millwood’s 4-16 record with the Orioles in 2010 had scared away most big league teams but his 159 lifetime wins and the uncertainty of New York’s own starting rotation convinced Brian Cashman to grab the former NL All Star and hold him in reserve. The Yanks assigned Millwood to their Scranton-Wilkes Barre Triple A team. If either Freddie Garcia or Bartolo Colon had failed to perform for the parent club during the opening weeks of the 2011 season, New York intended to use Millwood as their replacement.
Millwood pitched well during his opening month in the minors but both Colon and Garcia were doing likewise with the Yankees. Instead of waiting around for circumstances to change, Millwood chose to opt out of his Yankee contract and sign with the Red Sox. By that August, Millwood was 7-2 for the season in Triple A but with no hope of getting called up by the Red Sox either. When the Rockies were looking for a starter, he got Boston to release him and he ended up in Colorado’s rotation during the last two months of the 2011 regular season, going 4-3. He pitched the 2012 season with the Mariners.
The only member of the Yankee all-time roster who actually played for the big league club is this former outfielder who lived to be 100 years-old.