Results tagged ‘ relief pitcher ’
One of three pitchers to have played for the Yankees and won the MVP award, southpaw Bobby Shantz was a 24-game winner for the 1952 Philadelphia A’s who thought his career was over the following season when he blew out his left elbow. He suffered through four more pain-filled seasons with the A’s, pitching when he could and gradually regaining arm strength. By the time he was sent to the Yankees as part of a ten-player 1957 pre-season swap, Shantz was ready to resume his career as a starter.
It just so happened that Yankee ace, Whitey Ford, developed his own sore arm in 1957 so when Shantz started that season going 9-1 for New York, he became the toast of the Big Apple. He finished that year with an 11-5 record and led the league with a 2.45 ERA. The diminuitive 5 foot 6 inch Shantz stayed in Pinstripes for the next four seasons, gradually becoming Casey Stengel’s best reliever.
Yankee Universe’s memory of this little southpaw would be a lot brighter if the infield at old Forbes Field had been groomed more professionally. The Yankees had quickly fallen behind in the seventh game of the 1960 World Series, when Bob Turley and Bill Stafford gave up four early runs to the Pirates. Stengel then put Shantz in the game in the third inning. He pitched shutout ball until Bill Virdon’s eighth inning grounder to short caromed off a stone that shouldn’t have been there, causing it to take a crazy hop into Tony Kubek’s Adam’s apple and turn a sure double play into a rally starting infield single. If Kubek makes that play Shantz’s pitching performance would reside right up there in the pantheon of outstanding moments in Yankee history. Instead, we got a real-life reenactment of David using a stone to kill Goliath and Mazeroski’s bronze statue stands outside of Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.
Its also too bad Virdon didn’t hit that ball to Shantz, instead. Bobby was a seven-time Gold Glove winner during his career. Bobby was born on September 26, 1925, in Pottsown, PA. Happy 86th birthday Bobby.
Stengel and his pitching coach, Jim Turner perfected the role of spot starter during their Yankee tenures. They used Johnny Sain, Shantz, Duke Maas, Bob Turley and Jim Coates to near perfection in that dual role and each of them helped New York make it to at least one World Series. By the way, Spud Chandler and Roger Clemens were the other two pitchers who won MVP Awards and also played for the Yankees. Chandler was the only one of the three to win the award as a Yankee.
|KCA (8 yrs)||69||65||.515||3.80||220||124||55||61||11||11||1166.2||1132||535||492||95||424||566||1.334|
|NYY (4 yrs)||30||18||.625||2.73||138||38||48||14||3||19||461.1||405||167||140||32||132||272||1.164|
|STL (3 yrs)||12||10||.545||2.51||99||0||61||0||0||15||154.1||114||56||43||15||44||129||1.024|
|PIT (1 yr)||6||3||.667||3.32||43||6||16||2||1||2||89.1||91||38||33||5||26||61||1.310|
|PHI (1 yr)||1||1||.500||2.25||14||0||3||0||0||0||32.0||23||10||8||1||6||18||0.906|
|CHC (1 yr)||0||1||.000||5.56||20||0||9||0||0||1||11.1||15||7||7||2||6||12||1.853|
|HOU (1 yr)||1||1||.500||1.31||3||3||0||1||0||0||20.2||15||4||3||1||5||14||0.968|
David 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.
|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|
The only member of the New York Yankee all-time roster to celebrate a birthday on September 8th is this Asheville, NC native who won 29 games over two seasons for the Yankee’s Triple A teams in the late seventies. McCall could not replicate that success at the big league level, appearing in only a total of seven games in pinstripes over the course of the 1977 and 78 seasons. He won his only Yankee decision during the 1978 regular season. I guess you could say that without that victory, the Yankees would not have tied Boston for that season’s Eastern Division Pennant. Without that tie, Bucky Dent’s home run never would have happened. So thank you Larry.
After the 1978 postseason, McCall was included as part of the package the Yankees traded to Texas to obtain Dave Righetti. By 1980, McCall was out of the big leagues for good and began a long career as a Minor League pitching coach in the Orioles’ organization. In 2006, he served as Baltimore’s big league bullpen coach.
So how many Yankees have their been on the team’s all-time roster who have a last name that begins with the moniker prefix “Mc?” Including McCall, I counted 39. Four of them are in the Hall of Fame but two of those four, John McGraw and Joe “Iron Man” McGinnity played or managed for the franchise before it was relocated to the Big Apple from Baltimore in 1903. Another “Mc” enshrined in Cooperstown was named Bill McKechnie, a utility second baseman on the 1913 Yankee team who would go onto become a two-time World Series winning manager. The fourth was of course the legendary Yankee manager, Joe McCarthy. Gil McDougald was the best McYankee player of all time. He is the all-time leader in Yankee McHomers with 112. Others you might remember include pitchers Sam McDowell, Mike McCormick, “Black Jack” McDowell and the wily reliever, Lindy McDaniel. Who was the biggest Yanke McDud? Remember Rich McKinney? He’s the third baseman the Yankees got for 1968 AL Rookie of the Year pitcher, Stan Bahnsen in a 1972 trade with the White Sox. McKinney would hit just .215 during his one year with New York while Bahnsen was winning 21 games for Chicago that same season. There have been four Yankee “McDonalds,” including Darnell, who played some games in the outfield for the 2012 Yankees. The most recent McYankee was Casey McGeHee.
|NYY (2 yrs)||1||2||.333||6.14||7||1||3||0||0||0||22.0||32||17||15||3||7||7||1.773|
|TEX (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||2.16||2||1||1||0||0||0||8.1||7||2||2||0||3||3||1.200|
The great Yankee bullpen of the late 1990′s had been disrupted by the departure of right-hander Jeff Nelson after the 2000 season. Brian Cashman had spent the first three weeks of June in 2001 trying to put the finishing touches on a trade with the Expos for Ugueth Urbina but the deal fell apart at the last second.
I remember salivating over the possible addition of Ugie when rumors of the proposed deal became public. Naturally, I was disappointed when my favorite team ended up with Jay Witasick in their bullpen instead.
At the time of his acquisition, Witasick had already been pitching in the big leagues for five seasons with three different teams. He also had never posted an ERA below 5.64 in any of them. But then suddenly, during the first half of the 2001 season, he was getting everybody out for the San Diego Padres. His fastball was suddenly faster, his control sharper and his ERA was a microscopic 1.86. Cashman was willing to ignore Witasick’s half decade of big league history and sent Yankee infield prospect D’Angelo Jimenez to San Diego in exchange for the six-foot-four-inch, right-handed native of Baltimore.
The newest Yankee then got shelled in his first appearance against Baltimore but settled down and pitched decent ball for New York through August. Then he got hot during the final month of the 2001 season, turning in ten consecutive appearances without surrendering an earned run, earning him a spot on Joe Torre’s postseason roster. That proved to be a bad decision.
He did not pitch well in his only ALDS appearance against Seattle. He pitched even worse in his only ALCS appearance against the Angels and then turned in one of the worst World Series pitching performances in the history of the Yankee franchise.
After Andy Pettitte gave up four runs during the first two innings of Game Six against Arizona, Torre replaced him with Witasick in the top of the third with two Diamondbacks on base. Witasick permitted those two runners to score and then proceeded to give up nine more runs of his own, making his World Series ERA 54.00. You know what’s even more remarkable? Naturally, George Steinbrenner had this guy jettisoned from New York after that Series and he ended up back in the World Series the very next season with San Francisco. How did he do? In two appearances for the Giants in that Fall Classic, he retired just one batter and posted a second consecutive World Series ERA of 54.00.
Witasick shares his birthday with this Yankee second baseman from the 1920′s, this former Cy Young Award winner, this outfielder known for his sweet swing and this one-time Yankee pitcher who also gave up Bucky Dent’s home run.
|OAK (6 yrs)||5||5||.500||5.26||91||3||25||0||0||1||116.1||127||78||68||22||73||115||1.719|
|SDP (4 yrs)||11||12||.478||3.96||132||11||43||0||0||4||206.2||199||108||91||26||101||206||1.452|
|KCR (2 yrs)||12||20||.375||5.71||54||42||4||3||1||0||247.2||300||173||157||38||121||169||1.700|
|TBD (1 yr)||0||0||6.61||20||0||5||0||0||0||16.1||17||13||12||1||18||8||2.143|
|COL (1 yr)||0||4||.000||2.52||32||0||7||0||0||0||35.2||27||11||10||2||12||40||1.093|
|SFG (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||2.37||44||0||9||0||0||0||68.1||58||19||18||3||21||54||1.156|
|NYY (1 yr)||3||0||1.000||4.69||32||0||8||0||0||0||40.1||47||27||21||5||18||53||1.612|
Jim York had been a pretty decent reliever for both the Royals and Astros, by the time the Yankees purchased the six foot three inch right-hander from Houston in January of 1976. Although he already had five-plus big league seasons under his belt at the time, New York assigned their “new York” to their triple A team in Syracuse where he started the season with a 6-1 record pitching out of the Chiefs’ bullpen. Even though his triple A ERA was a sky high 5.34, the Yankees called him up that July to serve as a middle reliever.
On July 20 1976, Billy Martin started Ken Holtzman in an afternoon game at Comiskey Park. The Yanks had acquired the veteran right-hander a month earlier in a blockbuster 10-player deal they did with the Orioles. Holtzman had struggled in his first few starts in pinstripes and that didn’t please Martin or Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. Based on what I’ve read about their relationships, if I saw these three guys getting on the same elevator, I’d wait for the next one. They hated each other.
So when Holtzman gave up seven runs in the first inning of that start against Chicago, you know both Martin and the Boss had to be fuming as Jim York was called in to pitch for his very first time in pinstripes. The native of Maywood, California was up to the task. He held the White Sox to just two runs over the next seven innings while the Yankee offense went on a roll. When the game was called on count of rain, with one out in the home half of the eighth inning, the Yankees were ahead 14-7 and York had earned his first and only Yankee victory.
He would make two more relief appearances for Martin that year, getting hit pretty hard in both. After that third appearance, the Yankees released him and he would never again pitch in a big league game. He shares his birthday with a former Yankee backup catcher, who also spent some time playing for Houston. Here’s my all-time lineup of Yankees who also played for the Astros:
1b Bob Watson
2b Andy Stankiewicz
3b Morgan Ensberg
ss Jose Vizcaino
c Cliff Johnson
of Jimmy Wynn
of Joe Pepitone
of Lance Berkman
sp Andy Pettitte
sp Roger Clemens
cl Mark Melancon
mgr Bill Virdon
Here ares Jim York’s Yankee and career stats:
|HOU (4 yrs)||9||11||.450||4.19||114||4||55||0||0||7||174.0||201||89||81||9||82||79||1.626|
|KCR (2 yrs)||6||6||.500||2.93||57||0||24||0||0||3||101.1||75||35||33||9||46||109||1.194|
|NYY (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||5.59||3||0||1||0||0||0||9.2||14||7||6||1||4||6||1.862|
What a birthday present today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant gave himself, his teammates and Yankee fans last evening at the Stadium. David Huff turns 29-years-old today and last night Joe Girardi called on him to relieve spot starter Adam Warren in the fourth inning of New York’s game against Toronto. All he did was huff and puff and close the Blue Jays offense down for five innings allowing the Yankee offense to rally and win the game. I got to admit, I wondered why New York put this left-handed reliever on their roster earlier this month and even wondered why Girardi went to him in that game last night, but I’m not wondering any more.
Originally a first round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2006, Huff went 11-9 during his 2009 rookie season with the Tribe but his ERA that year was too high at 5.61. It got even higher in his sophomore year, climbing to 6.21 and this time he paid for it with an abysmal 2-11 record. Cleveland kept him around in their organization for three more years, before giving up on the native of San Diego and placing him on waivers earlier this season.
The Yankees grabbed him and sent him to their triple A team in Scranton/Wilkes Barre. He didn’t pitch very well there, going 1-6 with an ERA just under four so no one was probably more surprised than Huff himself when he was told he was headed to the Bronx.. In fact, that conversation never would have taken place if Dellin Betances, one of the original Killer B’s, who was called just before Huff had not been abused in his only appearance against the Angels. When the Yanks sent Betances back down they replaced him with Huff,
Truth is that its way too early to tell if Huff can stick in the Yankee bullpen for the rest of this season, but if he can put together a few more outings like the one he had last night against the Jays, he won’t be going anywhere for at least a while. Huff shares his birthday with this former Yankee catcher and this former starting pitcher.
|CLE (5 yrs)||18||26||.409||5.40||58||52||2||1||0||0||288.1||352||197||173||41||98||162||1.561|
|NYY (1 yr)||0||0||6.75||2||0||2||0||0||0||1.1||1||1||1||0||2||1||2.250|
The great Mariano Rivera was not used as a closer during his final minor league seasons with the Yankees’ Columbus Clippers Triple A farm team. Instead, that task was handed to today’s much lesser known Pinstripe Birthday celebrant. Dave Pavlas was born in West Germany on August 12, 1962. This tall and lanky right-hander led the Clippers in saves for three straight seasons, from 1995 through 1997. Unfortunately, he was already 33 years-old by the time he joined Columbus.
Pavlas had made his big league debut back in 1990, as a reliever with the Cubs. He got into thirteen games in his first season, won his only two decisions and compiled an impressive 2.11 ERA. But he started the next season back in the minors and when the Cubs gave him another chance at the Big Show it wasn’t much of one. In late July of the ’91 season, Pavlas was given the ball in the top of the ninth, with his team behind 4-0 against the Braves. He was hit hard, gave up a couple of runs and didn’t get another chance to pitch from a Major League mound for the next four years.
The Yankees signed him to a minor league contract in early 1995. He got called up to the Bronx in both 1995 and ’96 and did some effective relief pitching for the World Championship team of 1996. He earned his one and only big league save on August 24th of that season when he came on in the ninth inning with two men on, two outs and New York leading Oakland 5-4. The first batter he faced was future Yankee Scott Brosius, who got an infield single to load the bases. He then struck out another future Yankee, Jason Giambi, to preserve the victory.
He was just one of 14 big league players and the only member of the Yankee’s all-time roster to have been born in West Germany and he will forever hold that distinction since that country no longer technically exists. Pavlas shares his birthday with this Cuban defector who played in pinstripes.
|CHC (2 yrs)||2||0||1.000||2.82||14||0||4||0||0||0||22.1||26||9||7||3||6||12||1.433|
|NYY (2 yrs)||0||0||2.51||20||0||9||0||0||1||28.2||31||9||8||0||7||21||1.326|
After the Yanks were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round for the second consecutive year in 2006, New York’s front office decided it was time to end the Randy Johnson era in the Bronx. They had brought the “Big Unit” to the Big Apple after the 2003 ALCS debacle with the Red Sox, thinking he would be the stopper they needed to go deep in future postseasons. But his bad back and prickly personality made his two-year stay in pinstripes uncomfortable and unsuccessful, especially in the postseason.
Still, I was upset that the best New York could get in return for their ace was an Arizona Diamondback package of three minor league prospects and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant. After all, despite all his problems, Johnson did put together two seventeen-win seasons as a Yankee. In Luis Vizcaino, the Yanks were getting a 31-year-old journeyman right-handed reliever who had yet to distinguish himself during tenures with four different big league teams.
As it turned out, the Dominican native had a surprisingly productive season for the Yankees in 2007. He became a workhorse out of the bullpen for manager Joe Torre, appearing in 77 games and winning eight of his ten decisions in the process. Unfortunately the postseason was a different story. The Yanks were protecting a one-run lead in Game 2 against the Indians in Cleveland after losing Game 1 of that year’s ALDS. Torre went to his rookie phee-nom Joba Chamberlain with one out and two runners on in the home half of the seventh. Chamberlain got the last two outs of that inning but in the bottom of the eighth, a swarm of midges were blown into Jacobs Field with a wind off of Lake Erie and an obviously distracted Joba surrendered the tying run. Three innings later, Torre turned to Vizcaino to start the 11th. He walked the first hitter he faced, gave up a single to the next batter and after an intentional walk and a pop out, gave up a game-winning single to Travis Hafner and the Yanks went down 2-0 in that series. They ended up losing in four games to Cleveland for their third straight first-round exit from postseason play.
The Yanks were interested in re-signing Vizcaino for 2008 but the pitcher was looking to convert his 8-2 record into a three-year deal. New York was only interested in doing one so they let the pitcher sign as a free agent with the Rockies. Unfortunately, the Yankees used the draft pick on a pitcher named Jeremy Bleich, a southpaw out of Stanford who is still trying to make it up to the Bronx. Vizcaino ended up getting a nice seven million dollar two year deal but got rocked during his one and only season in Colorado. He was traded to the Cubs in January of 2009 and was released by both Chicago and the Indians during the ’09 regular season. The Yankees then signed him to a minor league deal but he was suspended in 2011 for using PEDs.
Vizcaino shares his birthday with this former Yankee pitching coach, this DH and first baseman made famous in a Seinfeld episode and this fireballing former Yankee reliever.
|OAK (3 yrs)||2||2||.500||5.61||49||0||17||0||0||1||59.1||66||38||37||11||26||51||1.551|
|MIL (3 yrs)||13||10||.565||4.22||224||0||72||0||0||6||215.1||180||107||101||34||79||203||1.203|
|ARI (1 yr)||4||6||.400||3.58||70||0||15||0||0||0||65.1||51||26||26||8||29||72||1.224|
|COL (1 yr)||1||2||.333||5.28||43||0||13||0||0||0||46.0||48||28||27||10||19||49||1.457|
|CHC (1 yr)||0||0||0.00||4||0||2||0||0||0||3.2||2||0||0||0||0||3||0.545|
|CLE (1 yr)||1||3||.250||5.40||11||0||4||0||0||1||11.2||8||7||7||2||12||9||1.714|
|NYY (1 yr)||8||2||.800||4.30||77||0||13||0||0||0||75.1||66||37||36||6||43||62||1.447|
|CHW (1 yr)||6||5||.545||3.73||65||0||20||0||0||0||70.0||74||30||29||8||29||43||1.471|
Yankee fans had little to cheer about at the end of their 2008 season, which took some of the luster off of Phil Coke’s sizzling end-of-the-year pinstriped debut that year. While the Yanks spent the last full month playing just poorly enough to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993, you couldn’t blame Coke. Joe Girardi called him into 12 September games and he delivered big time. He gave up just a single run in 14.2 innings and walked just two hitters, winning his only decision and getting credited with 5 holds.
That performance rocketed the southpaw native of Sonora, California to the top of the Yankee bullpen’s depth chart when the team’s 2009 spring training camp opened. Coke, however, got off to a horrible start that year and struggled to regain his first year form right through May. He then put together a brilliant June, but was inconsistent in both July and August. Fortunately for New York, Coke was able to put together his second straight brilliant September and this time it helped the Yankee’s make a successful stretch run to the AL East Diivision title.
He then made a total of four scoreless appearances in the 2009 ALDS and ALCS before getting roughed up a bit by Philadelphia in that tear’s Fall Classic. All-in-all, Coke’s sophomore season was a success, as he led the staff in appearances with 72 and was again a force down the stretch. Though his ERA that year climbed to 4.50 runs, after the Yankees won that World Series I never once thought Phil Coke’s Yankee days were over.
That December, Brian Cashman orchestrated a complicated three-team-trade to bring outfielder Curtis Granderson to New York. As part of that deal, Phil Coke ended up in Detroit along with Yankee outfield prospect, Austin Jackson. Like his first year in New York, Coke had a solid first year with Detroit but has not been as effective since, with one significant exception. During the 2012 ALCS against the Yankees, Tiger skipper Jim Leyland lost all faith in Jose Valverde after the closer gave up two crushing home runs in the ninth inning of Game 1. For the rest of that series he used Coke as his closer and he pitched brilliantly in that role.
|DET (4 yrs)||12||22||.353||4.35||218||15||46||0||0||5||256.2||285||140||124||15||99||197||1.496|
|NYY (2 yrs)||5||3||.625||3.74||84||0||13||0||0||2||74.2||52||35||31||10||22||63||0.991|
You’ve almost certainly never heard of today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant unless you’re a resident of Rumford, Maine. This right-handed pitcher is the only Major League ballplayer ever born in that New England hamlet. But Stan Thomas was also the winning pitcher of a pretty significant victory in Yankee history.
Thomas had played his collegiate baseball at the University of New Haven and was one of the last draft picks ever made by the old Washington Senators team in 1971, just before that franchise relocated to Arlington, Texas and became the Rangers. During the summer of 1974, he was called up to the Rangers, where he pitched for manager Billy Martin for the first time. The following spring, he made the Texas Opening Day roster and became one of Billy’s go-to guys in the bullpen, getting into 46 games, putting together a 3.10 ERA and earning three saves. He also followed orders. During a spring training contest against the Yankees, Martin most likely told his pitchers he wouldn’t be too upset at all if they threw at Yankee outfielder Elliott Maddox. A week earlier, Maddox had called Martin a liar. In 1973, Maddox was a Ranger outfielder when Martin was hired as the team’s manager. According to Maddox, Martin had promised him playing time with Texas but never followed through. Billy’s method of payback for Maddox’s accusation was revealed early on in that 1975 exhibition game, when Ranger starter Jim Bibby hit the outfielder’s shoulder with a pitch in his first at bat. Then in the sixth, it was Thomas’s turn to defend his skipper. He threw a fastball that whistled over Maddox’s head. Naturally, the Yankee pitchers retaliated and an on-field brawl ensued, which was usually a rare occurrence in a big league spring training game, unless Billy Martin happened to be involved.
As fate would have it, Martin was fired by Texas before the 1975 season ended and then hired by George Steinbrenner to replace Bill Virdon as Yankee skipper. That move doomed Maddox’s future as a Yankee and probably paved the way to the Bronx for Stan Thomas. The pitcher had been traded by the Rangers to the Indians after the 1975 season for ex-Yankee Johnny Ellis. Thomas had pitched well for the Tribe during the ’76 season, appearing in 37 games, winning 4, saving 6 and amassing a career low 2.30 ERA. That July, in a game against Martin’s Yankees, he also got another opportunity to prove to his former and future skipper that he wasn’t afraid to send messages with his fastball. The Yankees were teeing off on Cleveland pitching and drubbing the Indians when late in the game, Thomas hit both Thurman Munson and Willie Randolph with pitches.
As good as Thomas pitched in ’76, Cleveland still chose not to protect him and he was selected by the Mariners in the 1976 AL Expansion Draft. He was having a horrible year for the first-year Mariners, when in August of 1977 he got the word that he had been acquired by the Yankees. He was sent to Syracuse for a while but got called up in September. That 1977 Yankee team had already clinched the Pennant and was going for the club’s 100th victory in its final game of the regular season versus Detroit. Fourteen years had passed since the Bronx Bombers had achieved the century mark, so the game was significant for many Yankee lovers but Billy Martin rightfully couldn’t care less. He was trying to get his team ready for postseason so he rested half his starting line-up and used rookie Ken Clay as his starting pitcher.
Still, despite the second tier lineup, the Yankees had just taken the lead and were ahead of the Tigers 3-2, entering the top of the sixth inning, when Martin inserted Thomas into the game. It wasn’t pretty. Thomas surrendered the lead twice but New York battled back to regain it both times. You wonder why Martin kept Thomas in to finish the game because with his late-season 40-man roster in effect, he had plenty of other choices. Perhaps it was his way of thanking Thomas for sending Maddox that message two year’s earlier or perhaps it wasn’t. Whatever the reason, it was Thomas who pitched stayed on to pitch a hitless ninth inning to earn his only Yankee victory and New York’s 100th win of the 1977 baseball season. The then 27-year-old Thomas, would never again get to throw a pitch in a Major League game.
|TEX (2 yrs)||4||4||.500||3.60||58||1||23||0||0||3||95.0||94||46||38||3||40||54||3||1.411|
|CLE (1 yr)||4||4||.500||2.30||37||7||15||2||0||6||105.2||88||33||27||5||41||54||4||1.221|
|NYY (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||7.11||3||0||2||0||0||0||6.1||7||7||5||0||4||1||0||1.737|
|SEA (1 yr)||2||6||.250||6.02||13||9||2||1||0||0||58.1||74||49||39||8||25||14||3||1.697|