Results tagged ‘ ron guidry ’
If you’re old enough to remember when Lou Piniella played for the Yankees, you most likely enjoyed watching him do so. He had very little speed and not much power so he mixed every ounce of talent he had with every bit of effort he could muster to play a huge role in helping New York win five pennants and two World Series during his eleven seasons with the team. Oh yeah, he also had a beautiful swing which earned him the nickname “Sweet Lou.” He first donned the pinstripes in 1974, when the Yankees picked up the 1969 AL Rookie of the Year winner from the Royals in a trade for veteran reliever Lindy McDaniel. It turned out to be one of the best transactions in Yankee history. He hit .305 as manager Bill Virdon’s everyday right-fielder during his first year in the Bronx but then he went through a horrible season in 1975, averaging just .186 and helping to get Virdon fired and replaced by the fiery Billy Martin. Billy began playing Piniella a little bit in right field, a little bit in left and a little bit at DH. Lou simply thrived in this semi-utility role, averaging over .300 for the rest of his Yankee career. The play he will always be remembered for in the Big Apple was his famous feint on the Jerry Remy liner that he lost in the sun during the 1978 playoff game against the Red Sox. If he doesn’t make believe he sees that ball, Rick Burleson, who was on first at the time, easily gets to third and might have scored. Then Lou spears the ball on one hop and again prevents Burleson from getting past second.
George Steinbrenner loved players born in his adopted home-town of Tampa and Lou was the first native of that city to play for The Boss. That helps explain why George gave Lou his first manager and general manager jobs with the Yankees. Piniella’s temper and Steinbrenner’s famous impatience with anyone placed in either of those positions ended any chance Lou might have had to retire from baseball as a Yankee. Instead he went on to win three Manager of the Year titles, the 1991 World Series and finally ended his 43-year big league career this month when he walked away from the Wrigley Field dugout to spend time with his ailing Mom and go fishing.
Lou turns 68 years-old today. The guy who gave up the home run to Bucky Dent in that 1978 playoff game, the pitcher who started that playoff game for New York and this former Yankee second baseman were all also born on August 28th.
I met Ron Guidry once. It was back in the early eighties when the Yankees were still doing their spring training at Ft Lauderdale. My wife and I and our two children were visiting my in-laws in nearby Boynton Beach and we got tickets to New York’s last home exhibition game of that season. My son Matt had not been feeling well at the time so during the game, I was carrying him down the ramp from the stands on my shoulders, to get him out of the hot sun for a while and get him something to drink. That was when we saw “the Gator.” The ramp was right alongside the Yankee clubhouse exit, separated by a chain link fence. Since this was their last game in Florida, the Yankees were all packed for the plane ride north and there was a huge pile of luggage sitting behind the fence. Ron Guidry, was rummaging around inside one of the suitcases. I shouted out a greeting and he looked up, smiled and gave a friendly wave. Then he saw Matt on my shoulders and asked me how old he was. I think he was three at the time. Guidry came over to the fence and stuck his finger through one of the links and touched Matt’s hand with it. I told him how my son had not been feeling well and Guidry remarked that he looked sort of flushed and it was a good thing I was getting him into the shade. The very best pitcher in baseball at the time then told my young son that he hoped Matt felt better real soon.
Then last year I saw a report on some television show about how Guidry would serve as Yogi Berra’s personal companion at the Yankees’ annual spring training. Gator would pick the aging Hall of Famer up at the airport when he arrived in Tampa, get him checked into his hotel, take him to and from Legends Field every day and have dinner with him most every night. A few days after the report aired, Berra took a tumble in the Legends Field clubhouse and it was Guidry who went with him to the hospital.
Guidry was born on August 28,1950 in Lafayette, LA. If you had the privilege of seeing him pitch you remember how dominating he could be on the mound. He won twice as many games as he lost during his career, 170 in all and he always got the ball whenever the Yankees were facing a must-win. He was a great Yankee. And if you didn’t know it already, now you know that Ron Guidry is a super nice human being as well. Happy 61st birthday Gator.
Guidry shares his August 28th birthday with; the pitcher he beat in that famous 1978 playoff game against the Red Sox; the Yankee right fielder in that same game who made a great play to save Gator’s victory that day; and the starting second baseman on the Yankees’ first World championship team.