Results tagged ‘ second baseman ’

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.