Results tagged ‘ second baseman ’

May 16 – Happy Birthday Billy Martin

martinI never was a big fan of Billy Martin. I was too young to remember his playing days with the Yankees in the fifties. When he started managing in the American League, first for the Twins in 1969 and then the Tigers in 1971, I remember trying to learn more about him. Everything I read seemed to indicate he had a great will to win, a strong knowledge of the game but an extremely bad temper. This helped explain why he was fired from his first three managerial positions even after he helped turn losing teams into winners.

When George Steinbrenner became managing partner of the Yankees the perfect storm necessary to bring these two unpredictable forces together in the Bronx had been formed. In the beginning, it worked marvelously. The Yankees got back to the World Series and fans filled the Stadium like never before. It didn’t last long, however. Martin’s dependence on alcohol worsened under the pressure of Steinbrenner’s meddling and the glare of the New York media. Once these fault lines became public during and after the 1977 season, Martin would never again be able to command the respect or support of his players necessary to lead them to championships.

As more and more Yankees and ex-Yankees began talking and writing about their experiences while playing for Martin, a clearer picture of his addiction to alcohol, his emotional insecurity, and his inhumane behavior emerged. What respect I had for his past achievements was quickly replaced by pity for what he had become.

Having written all this it is only fair to point out that there are many people who knew Martin personally and who played with him and for him on a baseball field who loved and deeply respected the guy. My opinions of him were formed from the far-away focus of a typical baseball fan.

He died on Christmas day in 1989 when his truck was driven into a ditch by a friend who was allegedly driving intoxicated at the time of the accident. It has also been reported that the driver and Martin had been drinking all day. May he now be resting in peace.

During his final season as Yankee skipper in 1989, Martin had this right-handed veteran starter who shares his May 16th birthday, on his pitching staff. Martin was not the Yankee manager when this other May 16th born right-hander pitched in pinstripes, during the 1981 season. This former Yankee reliever was also born on that day.

Martin’s record as a Yankee player:

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1950 NYY 34 39 36 10 9 1 0 1 8 0 3 3 .250 .308 .361 .669
1951 NYY 51 65 58 10 15 1 2 0 2 0 4 9 .259 .328 .345 .673
1952 NYY 109 401 363 32 97 13 3 3 33 3 22 31 .267 .323 .344 .668
1953 NYY 149 644 587 72 151 24 6 15 75 6 43 56 .257 .314 .395 .710
1954 Did not play in major leagues (Military Service)
1955 NYY 20 80 70 8 21 2 0 1 9 1 7 9 .300 .354 .371 .726
1956 NYY 121 504 458 76 121 24 5 9 49 7 30 56 .264 .310 .397 .708
1957 NYY 43 154 145 12 35 5 2 1 12 2 3 14 .241 .257 .324 .581
11 Yrs 1021 3716 3419 425 877 137 28 64 333 34 188 355 .257 .300 .369 .669
NYY (7 yrs) 527 1887 1717 220 449 70 18 30 188 19 112 178 .262 .313 .376 .688
MIN (1 yr) 108 398 374 44 92 15 5 6 36 3 13 42 .246 .275 .361 .636
MLN (1 yr) 6 6 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
KCA (1 yr) 73 285 265 33 68 9 3 9 27 7 12 20 .257 .295 .415 .710
CIN (1 yr) 103 346 317 34 78 17 1 3 16 0 27 34 .246 .304 .334 .639
CLE (1 yr) 73 258 242 37 63 7 0 9 24 0 8 18 .260 .290 .401 .691
DET (1 yr) 131 536 498 56 127 19 1 7 42 5 16 62 .255 .279 .339 .619
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/15/2013.

Martin’s record as a Yankee manager:

Rk Year Age Tm Lg G W L W-L% Finish
8 1975 47 New York Yankees AL 2nd of 2 56 30 26 .536 3
9 1976 48 New York Yankees AL 159 97 62 .610 1 AL Pennant
10 1977 49 New York Yankees AL 162 100 62 .617 1 WS Champs
11 1978 50 New York Yankees AL 1st of 3 94 52 42 .553 1
12 1979 51 New York Yankees AL 2nd of 2 95 55 40 .579 4
17 1983 55 New York Yankees AL 162 91 71 .562 3
18 1985 57 New York Yankees AL 2nd of 2 145 91 54 .628 2
19 1988 60 New York Yankees AL 1st of 2 68 40 28 .588 5
Minnesota Twins 1 year 162 97 65 .599 1.0
Detroit Tigers 3 years 452 248 204 .549 2.0
Texas Rangers 3 years 279 137 141 .493 3.7
Oakland Athletics 3 years 433 215 218 .497 2.5
New York Yankees 8 years 941 556 385 .591 2.5 2 Pennants and 1 World Series Title
16 years 2267 1253 1013 .553 2.5 2 Pennants and 1 World Series Title
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/15/2013.

May 6 – Happy Birthday Lute Boone

There have been 30 starting second basemen in Yankee franchise history. If he had played two or three more years in the Bronx instead of leaving for Seattle in 2014, Robinson Cano would have certainly been considered the greatest Yankee second sacker of all time.  In my opinion, he now falls just short. That honor still belongs to the Hall of Famer, Tony Lazzeri, who started at second base for New York for twelve seasons. One of my favorites, Willie Randolph holds the record for most seasons starting at second base for the Yankees with thirteen. Cano started at second for New York for nine straight seasons, tying him with Bobby Richardson. The first second baseman in franchise history was a guy named Jimmy Williams, who held the job for seven straight seasons, until 1907. Today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant, Lute Boone was the starting second baseman for New York in 1914 and ’15.  An excellent defensive infielder, he was a horrible big league hitter, averaging  just .209 during his four seasons in the Big Apple. He had much better success hitting in the American Association. That’s where he ended up after his big league career ended for good in 1918. He kept playing in that league until he was 40 years old and then he became an owner and player manager of his own minor league team. Here’s a look at some key stats of my picks for the top five second basemen in Yankee franchise history:

Player                      Yrs Starting      G       H      R       HR    RBI       AVE    Rings

Tony Lazzeri              12                1659   1784  952   169   1154   .293     5

Willie Randolph          13                1694   1731  1027    48   549   .275     2

Robinson Cano           9                 1374  1649   799   204   822    .309      1

Joe Gordon                 7                 1000  1000   596   153   975    .271      4

Bobby Richardson       9                  1412  1432   643     34    390   .266      1

Lute Boone shares his May 6th birthday with this former Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1913 NYY 6 15 12 3 4 0 0 0 1 0 3 1 .333 .467 .333 .800
1914 NYY 106 413 370 34 82 8 2 0 21 10 18 31 41 .222 .285 .254 .539
1915 NYY 130 494 431 44 88 12 2 5 43 14 17 41 53 .204 .285 .276 .562
1916 NYY 46 146 124 14 23 4 0 1 8 7 8 10 .185 .252 .242 .494
5 Yrs 315 1169 1028 102 215 27 4 6 76 32 35 91 111 .209 .282 .261 .543
NYY (4 yrs) 288 1068 937 95 197 24 4 6 73 31 35 83 105 .210 .284 .264 .547
PIT (1 yr) 27 101 91 7 18 3 0 0 3 1 8 6 .198 .263 .231 .493
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table Generated 5/6/2013.

March 13 – Happy Birthday Mariano Duncan

By the time the Yankees signed Mariano Duncan as a free agent in December of 1995, the Dominican middle infielder was already a 32-year-old, 11-year veteran of the big leagues. The Yankees expected to play their rookie, Derek Jeter at short in 1996 and were going to move switch-hitting Tony Fernandez from short to second. They wanted Duncan to serve as a backup for both positions. That plan fell apart when Fernandez got hurt in spring training and was shelved for the year. Manager Joe Torre gave Yankee rookie Andy Fox every chance to win the second base job but the youngster could not get his average up to .200. Then Torre gave Duncan a try. He responded with the best season of his career.

Mariano hit .340 in 109 games that year. He became a leader in that Yankee clubhouse and his popular pre-game pronouncement, “We play today, we win today…dassit” became the slogan of that amazing club. When the Yankees won the 1996 Pennant and World Series, I was pretty certain Duncan would be back to start at second again in 1997. But George Steinbrenner did not feel the same way. He did not think Duncan was good enough defensively and when the Boss’s feeling became public, Mariano was angry and demanded to be traded. The Yankees tried to grant him that wish by reaching a deal with the Padres that would send Duncan and pitcher Kenny Rogers to San Diego in return for slugger Greg Vaughn. When Vaughn failed his physical and the deal was voided, Duncan became even more vocal about his dislike for Steinbrenner. Finally, after the All Star break, the Yankees traded Duncan to Toronto. He played his final 39 big league games as a Blue Jay and then tried Japanese baseball for a year before retiring for good.

Yankee fans will always remember Mariano’s great year in 1996 and he has a ring on his finger to prove it. This former Yankee slugger shares a March 13 birthday with Mariano as does this former outfielder who was the last Yankee to wear uniform number 7 before Mickey Mantle made it famous.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1996 NYY 109 417 400 62 136 34 3 8 56 4 9 77 .340 .352 .500 .852
1997 NYY 50 179 172 16 42 8 0 1 13 2 6 39 .244 .270 .308 .578
12 Yrs 1279 4998 4677 619 1247 233 37 87 491 174 201 913 .267 .300 .388 .688
PHI (4 yrs) 406 1698 1613 208 442 100 9 30 194 40 46 311 .274 .298 .403 .701
LAD (4 yrs) 376 1439 1314 161 307 44 8 20 95 100 85 268 .234 .284 .325 .609
CIN (4 yrs) 299 1089 1011 152 282 41 17 28 121 24 49 179 .279 .316 .436 .752
NYY (2 yrs) 159 596 572 78 178 42 3 9 69 6 15 116 .311 .327 .442 .769
TOR (1 yr) 39 176 167 20 38 6 0 0 12 4 6 39 .228 .267 .263 .531
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/7/2014.

February 9 – Happy Birthday Sir Robert Eenhoorn

fd603New York’s second round draft choice in 1990, Sir Robert Eenhoorn was the first Yankee to hail from the Netherlands and the first Yankee to be knighted. When he joined the Yankee organization, GM Gene Michael was hoping he’d one day become the parent club’s starting shortstop. A superb fielder, Eenhoorn’s hitting skills were good enough to keep him advancing up New York’s farm system ladder until he got to the Bronx. His biggest obstacle to prime time however, was another young Yankee shortstop prospect by the name of Derek Jeter.

Over a three year-period beginning in 1994, he got to wear pinstripes for a total of 20 games and 32 at bats before he was released and picked up by the Angels. By 1998 he had returned to his native country and played on the Netherlands National team eventually becoming its manager. In 2003, Eenhoorn’s young son was killed by a rare form of cancer. Former Mets’ manager, Davey Johnson took control of the Dutch National Team while Eenhoorn and his family recovered from the tragedy.

Over the next several years Eenhoorn dedicated his professional live to developing the game of baseball in Europe. He started a European baseball academy that was modeled after similar schools in the US. In 2011 he was knighted by the Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix after the National Team he assembled as General Manager, won the 2011 World Cup. His next goal is to have Major League regular season baseball games played in Europe. He also hope to get MLB teams to sponsor farm clubs in his native country.

He shares his birthday with this one time Yankee catcher, this great former Yankee third baseman and with this not-so-great-one too.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1994 NYY 3 4 4 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .750 1.250
1995 NYY 5 15 14 1 2 1 0 0 2 0 1 3 .143 .200 .214 .414
1996 NYY 12 19 14 2 1 0 0 0 2 0 2 3 .071 .167 .071 .238
4 Yrs 37 74 67 7 16 3 0 1 10 0 3 10 .239 .260 .328 .589
NYY (3 yrs) 20 38 32 4 5 2 0 0 4 0 3 6 .156 .216 .219 .435
ANA (2 yrs) 17 36 35 3 11 1 0 1 6 0 0 4 .314 .306 .429 .734
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/22/2014.

February 8 – Happy Birthday Don Heffner

heffnerDon “Jeep” Heffner was Tony Lazzeri’s primary back-up at second base during the final years of “Poosh Em Up’s” Hall of Fame career in New York. The only Major League player ever to be born in Rouzerville, PA, Heffner made a decent big league debut with the Yankees in 1934, appearing in 72 games and averaging .261 for a Joe McCarthy-led team that won 94 games that year but still finished second to Mickey Cochrane’s powerful Detroit Tiger ball club.

That turned out to be Heffner’s best offensive season in pinstripes but he stuck around in the Bronx long enough to win championship rings in both 1936 and ’37. When an aging Lazzeri was let go by New York after the ’37 season, Hefner’s weak bat removed him from consideration for the vacant starting job. Instead, he was traded to the Browns for a better hitting second baseman named Bill Knickerbocker.

Heffner spent the next four seasons starting at second for St. Louis while Knickerbocker lost the battle for the Yankees’ starting second base job to rookie Joe Gordon. Heffner continued playing in the big leagues until 1943 and then got into coaching and managing. In 1966, he skippered the Cincinnati Reds for 83 games, his only big league managerial position.

He shares his birthday with this former Yankee pitcher and this one-time Yankee first baseman.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1934 NYY 72 270 241 29 63 8 3 0 25 1 25 18 .261 .331 .320 .650
1935 NYY 10 40 36 3 11 3 1 0 8 0 4 1 .306 .375 .444 .819
1936 NYY 19 55 48 7 11 2 1 0 6 0 6 5 .229 .315 .313 .627
1937 NYY 60 221 201 23 50 6 5 0 21 1 19 19 .249 .314 .328 .642
11 Yrs 743 2847 2526 275 610 99 19 6 248 18 270 218 .241 .317 .303 .620
SLB (6 yrs) 524 2039 1803 196 434 73 9 6 179 13 193 162 .241 .317 .301 .618
NYY (4 yrs) 161 586 526 62 135 19 10 0 60 2 54 43 .257 .326 .331 .657
PHA (1 yr) 52 198 178 17 37 6 0 0 8 3 18 12 .208 .284 .242 .526
DET (1 yr) 6 24 19 0 4 1 0 0 1 0 5 1 .211 .375 .263 .638
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/18/2014.

January 24 – Happy Birthday Earle Gardner

earle_gardnerThough they were also referred to as the Americans, their Highlanders’ nickname fit them well because they played their home games in a place called Hilltop Park, which was located on one of the highest points on Manhattan island. The team landed there in 1903 when Ban Johnson’s upstart American League relocated its Baltimore Oriole franchise to the Big Apple. It was a forced move that caused tons of bad blood and hostility. As a result, just about the entire Orioles roster either refused to make the move or were not offered the opportunity to do so. This forced the Highlanders to throw a team together in a helter skelter fashion, that included boozers, brawlers, gamblers and a few talented ball players thrown in for good measure. Co-owned by one of New York City’s biggest gambling barons and a retired corrupt cop, the club played as erratically as the hit-or-miss evolution of the team’s roster suggested it would. They finished 4th, 2nd, 6th, 2nd, 5th, last, 5th, 2nd, 6th and last during their first decade in their new home. They battled helplessly for the attention of city’s baseball fans and baseball press in those early years with John McGraw’s mighty Giants. Things really didn’t get better for the team and its fans until the franchise was purchased by a couple of very wealthy colonels named Rupert and Huston in 1915.

Earle Gardner joined the team in 1908. He was a five foot eleven inch, 160 pound second baseman from Sparta, IL, who during three previous seasons in the minors had developed a reputation with his fancy glove work. He was also a decent hitter, averaging right around .300 in three different classes of farm league ball. It took him two-and-a-half seasons to claim the starting second-baseman’s job and he was only able to hold onto it for just a year-and-a-half. He hit .263 in 1911, his only full season as a starter and then he gave way to Hack Simmons in 1912.

Just 28 years-old at the time he lost his starting position, Gardner returned to minor league ball and never again played in a big league game. He ended up with a .263 lifetime average during his five seasons in New York. He continued playing in the minors until 1918. He died in 1943 at the age of 59.

Gardner shares his birthday with this former Yankee relief pitcher and this one too.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1908 NYY 20 80 75 7 16 2 0 0 4 0 1 6 .213 .234 .240 .474 54
1909 NYY 22 89 85 12 28 4 0 0 15 4 3 8 .329 .352 .376 .729 129
1910 NYY 86 303 271 36 66 4 2 1 24 9 21 22 .244 .303 .284 .587 79
1911 NYY 102 395 357 36 94 13 2 0 39 14 20 27 .263 .312 .311 .622 70
1912 NYY 43 170 160 14 45 3 1 0 26 11 5 8 .281 .303 .313 .616 72
5 Yrs 273 1037 948 105 249 26 5 1 108 38 50 71 .263 .305 .304 .609 76
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/24/2014.

January 7 – Happy Birthday Alfonso Soriano

sorianotpUp until the 2009 World Series, one of my most frequent Yankee related “What if…” questions was “What if the Yankees never traded Alfonso Soriano for A-Rod.” Then A-Rod finally put together an outstanding postseason that year and led my favorite team to its 27th World Championship. At the same time, Soriano had just struggled through his third straight regular season as a Cub and had been horrible in the two postseasons he played in for Chicago.  So I stopped playing the “What if…” game.

Since that 2009 World Series however, A-Rod has emphatically confirmed all of his maddening insecurities that negatively impact his play and make it so hard to root for him. Soriano, on the other hand, has taken advantage of an unexpected return trip to the Bronx to remind us all of just how amazing a ballplayer he can be when he goes on one of his patented “hot streaks.” So I again find myself asking the question, “what if that trade in February of 2004 had never been made?”

If the deal never went down, worst case scenario would be that the Yanks would have failed to win that 2009 title. Rodriguez also put some monster years together during his time in pinstripes especially in ’05 and ’07 so you have to wonder if without him, New York might have missed postseason play all-together in a couple of those seasons. But Soriano’s body of work during that same period of time was not too shabby either and don’t forget the Yanks would have probably used the many extra millions they paid A-Rod to sign at least one other impact free agent. The biggest benefit of getting rid of Soriano was that it opened up the opportunity for Robbie Cano to become New York’s starting second baseman. If you remember, when Soriano was traded to the Nationals from Texas, he fought Washington’s desire to move him from second base to the outfield. Knowing how the Yanks operate, the chances are pretty good they would have dealt a young Cano to another organization because they would have kept Soriano at second.

Oh well, we will never really know the true consequences but it’s fun to surmise. Meanwhile, Soriano turns 38-years-old today and is once again being counted on to help New York win a World Series. The Yankee brain-trust had to force GM Brian Cashman to make the deal with the Cubs that brought this native Dominican back to New York in late July of the 2013 season and thank God they did. At the time the Yankee offense was sinking like the Titanic in the AL East pennant race. Soriano desperately wanted to wear the pinstripes again and willingly waived the no-trade clause in his Cubs contract to make it happen. Then he went out and put the Yankee lineup on his back and just about single-handedly kept the team in contention for fall ball up until the final few weeks of the regular season.

With the free agent signings of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, Soriano’s role in the Yankees’ 2014 plans remains unclear. They have a glut of outfielders and DH’s on their current roster. But I’m hoping he gets a chance to start somewhere in the Yankee lineup because I don’t want to ask myself any more “What if the Yankees had kept Alfonso Soriano” questions.

This MVP of the 1952 World Series and this catcher from the 1927 Yankees were also born on January 7.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1998 Did not play in major leagues (Did Not Play)
1999 NYY 9 8 8 2 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 3 .125 .125 .500 .625
2000 NYY 22 53 50 5 9 3 0 2 3 2 1 15 .180 .196 .360 .556
2001 NYY 158 614 574 77 154 34 3 18 73 43 29 125 .268 .304 .432 .736
2002 NYY 156 741 696 128 209 51 2 39 102 41 23 157 .300 .332 .547 .880
2003 NYY 156 734 682 114 198 36 5 38 91 35 38 130 .290 .338 .525 .863
2013 NYY 58 243 219 37 56 8 0 17 50 8 21 67 .256 .325 .525 .850
15 Yrs 1908 8157 7524 1130 2045 466 31 406 1136 288 490 1732 .272 .321 .504 .825
CHC (7 yrs) 889 3696 3403 469 898 218 13 181 526 70 245 829 .264 .317 .495 .812
NYY (6 yrs) 559 2393 2229 363 627 132 10 115 320 129 112 497 .281 .323 .504 .827
TEX (2 yrs) 301 1340 1245 179 341 75 6 64 195 48 66 246 .274 .316 .498 .814
WSN (1 yr) 159 728 647 119 179 41 2 46 95 41 67 160 .277 .351 .560 .911
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/8/2014.

January 3 – Happy Birthday Luis Sojo

Luis Sojo was one of my favorite Yankees. He had that wonderful ability to sit on the bench for most of a game and then grab his glove and instantly make a difficult play look easy from any infield position. I also would get a kick out of his rumpled appearance in a Yankee uniform, which always reminded me sort of the way Yogi Berra looked in pinstripes. The Yankees first got him off waivers from Seattle during the 1996 season and the following year, the native Venezuelan took over the starting second base position from Mariano Duncan. When the Yankees acquired Chuck Knoblauch from the Twins to play second in 1998, Sojo became the team’s reliable utility infielder. After the 1999 season, Luis signed as a free agent with the Pirates but when Knoblauch’s strange throwing problems peaked, New York traded to get Sojo back in August of 2000, setting up his most magical moment as a Yankee. That came in the ninth inning of the fifth and final game of that season’s Subway Series. With the score tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth, Sojo came to bat for the first time after being inserted to play second base in the previous inning. His ground ball single through the middle off of Al Leiter scored Jorge Posada from second. Scott Brosius also scored on the play when the throw home trying to nail Posada was way off the mark and the Yankees were once again World Champs. I was thrilled for Sojo. The guy won four rings as a Yankee. He then became New York’s third base coach for a couple of seasons and until last year, managed the Yankees Tampa Minor League club.

Today is also the birthday of this former Yankee pitcher and this colorful pre-WWII outfielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1996 NYY 18 44 40 3 11 2 0 0 5 0 1 4 .275 .286 .325 .611
1997 NYY 77 239 215 27 66 6 1 2 25 3 16 14 .307 .355 .372 .727
1998 NYY 54 153 147 16 34 3 1 0 14 1 4 15 .231 .250 .265 .515
1999 NYY 49 133 127 20 32 6 0 2 16 1 4 17 .252 .275 .346 .621
2000 NYY 34 134 125 19 36 7 1 2 17 1 6 6 .288 .321 .408 .729
2001 NYY 39 84 79 5 13 2 0 0 9 1 4 12 .165 .214 .190 .404
2003 NYY 3 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
13 Yrs 848 2773 2571 300 671 103 12 36 261 28 124 198 .261 .297 .352 .650
NYY (7 yrs) 274 791 737 90 192 26 3 6 86 7 35 68 .261 .294 .328 .623
SEA (3 yrs) 242 861 799 102 209 35 5 14 77 8 41 57 .262 .300 .370 .671
CAL (2 yrs) 219 793 732 75 194 26 4 10 63 11 28 50 .265 .297 .352 .650
TOR (2 yrs) 52 139 127 19 26 5 0 1 15 1 9 7 .205 .255 .268 .523
PIT (1 yr) 61 189 176 14 50 11 0 5 20 1 11 16 .284 .328 .432 .760
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/4/2014.

December 20 – Happy Birthday Jimmy Williams

Williams.JimmyLast week, Bronx Bomber fans were forced to say good-bye to the most recent “great” second baseman in Yankee franchise history, when Robbie Cano took his magical bat and gifted glove to Seattle for 240 million Mariner bucks. Today, we can say Happy Birthday to the first great second baseman in Yankee franchise history.

Jimmy Williams had made a smashing big league debut in his 1899 rookie season with Pittsburgh, when he led the National League with 27 triples,smashed 9 home runs and averaged a whopping .354. Its no wonder the legendary John McGraw literally kidnapped Williams on his way to the Pirates 1901 spring training camp and enticed him to sign with his newly formed Baltimore Orioles in the newly formed American League.

A third baseman with the Pirates, McGraw switched Williams to second and for the next seven seasons,he established himself as one of the best in the game at that position. Offensively, he continued to be a “triples machine,” leading the league in three-baggers in each of the two seasons the team remained in Baltimore.

When Ban Johnson’s dictatorial antics forced the shift of the Orioles’ franchise to New York before the 1903 season, Williams was one of just four Orioles’ players who made the move north with the club. He and outfielder Harry Howell were the only two starters in the New York Highanders’ first Opening Day lineup who were also in the first ever Baltimore Orioles Opening Day lineup, two seasons earlier. Williams, who was born in St. Louis but spent most of his childhood in Denver, is also credited with driving in the first run in New York Highlander/Yankee history.

Though he never again topped the .300 mark in batting average once the team relocated, he was one of the Highlanders’ best offensive weapons. He consistently finished near the top of the team’s leader board in most of the major hitting categories. He was also well respected by his teammates serving New York’s first-ever  team-captains.

Following the 1907 regular season, New York manager Cal Griffith decided Williams was getting a bit long in the tooth and traded his then 30-year-old infielder to the Browns as part of a six player deal that brought 27-year-old St.Louis second baseman, Harry Niles to New York. Williams ended up outplaying Niles during each player’s first season with their new teams but Williams would falter badly for the Browns the following year, (1909) averaging just .195.

Instead of quitting, he went back to the minors and spent the final six years of his playing career manning second base for the Minneapolis Millers in the American Association. A favorite of Minneapolis fans, Williams ended up settling in that city after he finally retired in 1915. He died there in 1965, at the age of 89.

Williams shares his birthday with one of baseball’s greatest business minds and also with  this former Yankee DH and outfielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1901 BLA 130 568 501 113 159 26 21 7 96 21 56 36 .317 .388 .495 .883
1902 BLA 125 545 498 83 156 27 21 8 83 14 36 46 .313 .361 .500 .861
1903 NYY 132 554 502 60 134 30 12 3 82 9 39 54 .267 .326 .392 .718
1904 NYY 146 612 559 62 147 31 7 2 74 14 38 65 .263 .314 .354 .669
1905 NYY 129 533 470 54 107 20 8 6 62 14 50 46 .228 .306 .343 .648
1906 NYY 139 571 501 61 139 25 7 3 77 8 44 51 .277 .342 .373 .715
1907 NYY 139 551 504 53 136 17 11 2 63 14 35 50 .270 .319 .359 .678
11 Yrs 1457 6116 5485 780 1508 242 138 49 796 151 474 531 .275 .337 .396 .733
NYY (7 yrs) 940 3934 3535 486 978 176 87 31 537 94 298 348 .277 .337 .402 .739
PIT (2 yrs) 259 1148 1037 199 330 43 38 14 184 44 92 78 .318 .379 .473 .853
SLB (2 yrs) 258 1034 913 95 200 23 13 4 75 13 84 105 .219 .288 .286 .574
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/20/2013.

December 5 – Happy Birthday Joe Gedeon

gedeonToday’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant was born in Sacramento, California on December 5, 1893 and became a star athlete at Sacramento High School. He was so good that Calvin Griffith, the legendary manager and future owner of the Washington Senators, brought Elmer “Joe” Gedeon to the big leagues when he was just 19 years-old. The problem was that back then, the big leagues played all of their games east of the Mississippi and most of them in cities that didn’t get warm until June. Gedeon hated cold weather and was far from disappointed when the Senators sent him back to the much more mild game-time temperatures of the Pacific Coast League for more experience after the 1914 season.

After he put together a great year as the starting second baseman for the Salt Lake City Bees, Griffith wanted him back in Washington. But the Newark franchise in the upstart Federal League lured him away with a very attractive two-year deal that then fell apart when that struggling enterprise went belly-up. That’s when the Yankees swooped in and signed Gedeon to play second base for their 1916 team.

By all accounts,Gedeon had a super spring training camp that year and beat out Luke Boone for the starting job. His hot hitting continued early in the season and his batting average was at .319 at the end of April. He couldn’t keep it up, however and ended his first year with New York hitting just .211. He then lost his job to Fritz Maisel during the 1917 season and was traded to the Browns in January of 1918.

Still just 23 years-old at the time of that deal, over the next three seasons Gedeon got better with both the bat and the glove and was soon being touted as one of the AL’s top second baseman. Then misfortune hit him like a ton of bricks.

When the 1919 regular season ended, instead of returning to California right away, Gedeon decided to take in that year’s World Series between the White Sox and Cincinnati. That of course was the Series during which the infamous “Black Sox” scandal took police. Gedeon had buddies on the Chicago team and he later testified to a Grand Jury that those buddies had told him that the games were going to be fixed. Gedeon placed bets totaling about $700 on the Reds. He won the bets but lost his MLB career.

Unbelievably, after volunteering to tell the whole truth to to the grand jury convened the following year to investigate the scandal, Gedeon received a lifetime ban from the game by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. More shockingly, many of the White Sox players who also knew the fix was on, received no punishment whatsoever.

A distraught Gedeon went back to California and evidently slowly drank himself to death. When he died in 1941 at the age of 47, he was suffering from severe cirrhosis of the liver.

Gedeon shares his birthday with this former Yankee reliever and this one-time Yankee outfielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1916 NYY 122 491 435 50 92 14 4 0 27 14 40 61 .211 .282 .262 .544
1917 NYY 33 131 117 15 28 7 0 0 8 4 7 13 .239 .288 .299 .587
7 Yrs 584 2446 2109 259 515 82 20 1 171 34 180 181 .244 .311 .303 .615
SLB (3 yrs) 396 1746 1484 191 382 60 13 1 129 13 132 100 .257 .326 .317 .643
WSH (2 yrs) 33 78 73 3 13 1 3 0 7 3 1 7 .178 .211 .274 .484
NYY (2 yrs) 155 622 552 65 120 21 4 0 35 18 47 74 .217 .284 .270 .554
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/5/2013.