Results tagged ‘ second baseman ’

October 1 – Happy Birthday Jimmy Reese

Ron Blomberg appeared in his first Yankee game on August 23, 1968. Incredibly, he was just the second Jew ever to wear a Yankee uniform. The first was today’s birthday celebrant, Jimmy Reese. Reese doesn’t sound like a Jewish name does it? That’s because the second baseman had changed it from Soloman when he was a teenager, knowing he would have better luck making it as a baseball player if he hid his heritage.

In 1929, Reese hit .337 for the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast league. The Yankees paid Oakland $125,000 for the contracts of Reese and his Oakland teammate and double play partner, Lyn Lary. While Lary became the Yankees’ starting shortstop in 1930, Reese sat on the bench behind future Hall of Fame second baseman, Tony Lazzeri. Yankee skipper, Bob Shawkey did manage to get Jimmy into 77 games that year and Reese responded by hitting .346. He also became Babe Ruth’s roommate on the road and one of the Bambino’s best friends and biggest admirers. Ruth’s first question walking into the Yankee clubhouse would often be “Where’s the Jew.” He’d take Reese home for dinner, play cards with him on the long train rides during Yankee road trips, and pull all sorts of pranks on his adoring roommate. When Reese’s average fell to .241 in 1931, the Yankees sold him to the American Association franchise in St. Paul, MN. After a 90-game trial with the Cardinals in 1932, Reese’s big league playing career was over and he headed back to the Pacific Coast League.

After coaching in the Minors for decades, Reese asked the California Angels for a job and was made the team’s conditioning coach in 1972, when he was 71 years old. He spent the next 22 years in that role, becoming one of the most popular personalities ever to wear the Halos’ uniform. He was best known for his incredible skills with a fungo bat. He could hit a ball wherever he wanted to with that bat and would even sometimes pitch Angels’ batting practice with it, hitting one line drive after another right over the plate. The Angels retired his uniform number when he died in 1994. I wonder if that number would have been retired if this New York City native had not made the decision to change his name from Soloman to Reese all those many years ago?

Also celebrating his birthday today is the player the Yankees traded for outfielder Paul O’Neill and this one-time closer who retired with 365 saves.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1930 NYY 77 203 188 44 65 14 2 3 18 1 11 8 .346 .382 .489 .871
1931 NYY 65 265 245 41 59 10 2 3 26 2 17 10 .241 .293 .335 .627
3 Yrs 232 801 742 123 206 39 4 8 70 7 48 37 .278 .324 .373 .697
NYY (2 yrs) 142 468 433 85 124 24 4 6 44 3 28 18 .286 .331 .402 .733
STL (1 yr) 90 333 309 38 82 15 0 2 26 4 20 19 .265 .314 .333 .648
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/1/2013.

July 7 – Happy Birthday Chuck Knoblauch

I had taken my two sons to the second game of the 1998 American League Championship Series against Cleveland. It turned out to be a pitchers’ duel, first between David Cone and Charles Nagy and then each team’s bullpen. The score was tied one to one in the top of the twelfth when Jim Thome led off the inning with a single off of Yankee reliever Jeff Nelson. Enrique Wilson came into run for Thome and the next hitter, Travis Fryman, laid a bunt down the first base line. Knoblauch was covering first when the throw hit Fryman and the ball squirted into foul territory. Instead of going for the ball, Knoblauch decided to argue runner interference with first base umpire John Shulock.

As Knoblauch stood there arguing, Wilson rounded third and scored the go-ahead run as me and my boys and about 57,000 other fans in the Stadium that evening screamed at the clueless Yankee second baseman to get the damn ball. The incident turned what could have been a baseball classic into an extra inning nightmare and I was never ever able to completely forgive Chuck for that bonehead play.

As it turned out, Knoblauch was just not a good fit for the Yankees. The artificial turf in Minnesota had helped him average better than .300 with the Twins and he was never the same hitter on Yankee Stadium turf. He also developed that horrible case of the “Steve Blass” throwing disease that eventually forced Joe Torre to play him at designated hitter.Knoblauch was born on this date in 1968, in Houston.

Knoblauch shares his July 7th birthday with the only former Yankee player to become a big league umpire.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1998 NYY 150 706 603 117 160 25 4 17 64 31 76 70 .265 .361 .405 .765
1999 NYY 150 715 603 120 176 36 4 18 68 28 83 57 .292 .393 .454 .848
2000 NYY 102 457 400 75 113 22 2 5 26 15 46 45 .283 .366 .385 .751
2001 NYY 137 600 521 66 130 20 3 9 44 38 58 73 .250 .339 .351 .691
12 Yrs 1632 7387 6366 1132 1839 322 64 98 615 407 804 730 .289 .378 .406 .783
MIN (7 yrs) 1013 4573 3939 713 1197 210 51 43 391 276 513 453 .304 .391 .416 .807
NYY (4 yrs) 539 2478 2127 378 579 103 13 49 202 112 263 245 .272 .366 .402 .768
KCR (1 yr) 80 336 300 41 63 9 0 6 22 19 28 32 .210 .284 .300 .584
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/7/2013.

November 9 – Happy Birthday Jerry Priddy

Robinson Cano is the latest in a long and illustrious line of great New York Yankee second basemen. The first was Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri and then Joe Gordon. Later on, both Billy Martin and Bobby Richardson became All Stars for New York at that position, as did the great Willie Randolph. One name not on that list is Jerry Priddy and the late, great Phil Rizzuto was always astonished by that omission. Why? Because Scooter was Priddy’s teammate and double-play partner during their climb through the Yankee’s Minor League organization. During his days in the broadcast booth, Rizzuto would often tell listeners that Priddy had been a much better all-around player than he was and that he could not believe his Los Angeles-born former teammate did not make it big in pinstripes.

Priddy and Rizzuto were so good that when they joined the Yankees in 1941, Manager Joe McCarthy moved Gordon from second base to first so that the two rookies could take over the middle of New York’s infield. Rizzuto held his own at short but Priddy struggled to hit big league pitching. The Yankees might have been more patient with a less cocky rookie, but Priddy was anything but. He told Gordon in spring training that he was a better second baseman than the future Hall of Famer so when he got off to a slow start, his veteran teammates offered no assistance, shed no tears and spared no criticism of the outspoken rookie.

Priddy hit just .213 in 56 games during that rookie season. He did better the following year, hitting .280 as Gordon’s backup but when he complained about a lack of playing time, the Yankees decided to give up on their loud-mouthed prospect and traded him to Washington. He had a good year there and then spent the next three seasons in military service. When he returned, Jerry did evolve into one of the league’s better second baseman, playing eleven seasons in all and averaging .265 lifetime. In the mean time, Scooter played himself into the Hall of Fame and was left wondering why his old teammate wasn’t in there with him.

This former Yankee outfielder and this one too were also born on November 9.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1941 21 NYY AL 56 194 174 18 37 7 0 1 26 4 18 16 .213 .290 .270 .560
1942 22 NYY AL 59 222 189 23 53 9 2 2 28 0 31 27 .280 .385 .381 .766
11 Yrs 1296 5427 4720 612 1252 232 46 61 541 44 624 639 .265 .353 .373 .725
DET (4 yrs) 451 1933 1677 228 448 77 17 26 176 8 223 216 .267 .355 .380 .735
WSH (3 yrs) 434 1787 1576 164 390 73 14 13 169 21 186 228 .247 .328 .336 .665
NYY (2 yrs) 115 416 363 41 90 16 2 3 54 4 49 43 .248 .341 .328 .668
SLB (2 yrs) 296 1291 1104 179 324 66 13 19 142 11 166 152 .293 .387 .428 .815
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/9/2013.

September 14 – Happy Birthday Jerry Coleman

Oh Doctor! True baseball fans know these words as the signature phrase of long-time San Diego Padre play-by-play announcer, Jerry Coleman. Only very long-time baseball fans, however, can remember when that same Jerry Coleman was the starting second baseman for the first three of Casey Stengel’s five straight New York Yankee championship teams from 1949 through 1951. Where was Coleman when the Yankees won the ’52 and ’53 titles? He was in the Marines flying a fighter jet during the Korean War while his starting Yankee position was taken over by Billy Martin. Coleman had also spent the three years before beginning his Yankee career as a Marine aviator during WWII, making him the only big league baseball player in history to see combat action in two different wars.

He spent a total of nine seasons in Pinstripes. His best year was 1950, when Stengel used him in 153 games and he batted .287. Coleman also had a .275 lifetime batting average in six World Series.

When I was a kid, I would have to pilfer my older brother’s GE transistor radio to listen to radio broadcasts of Yankee games on the front porch of our house on Guy Park Avenue. That was my first encounter with Coleman, who was doing New York’s games on the radio back then.

The older I get the more respect and awe I have for athletes like Coleman, who excelled at their sport, served their country in an active combat position during what would have been their peak performance years and then excelled in the careers they entered, when their playing days were over. Coleman was born September 14, 1924, in San Jose, CA. Update: Coleman passed away on January 5, 2014, at the age of 89.

Coleman shares his birthday with this former Yankee starting pitcher who was acquired by New York in exchange for the great first baseman, Moose Skowren.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1949 NYY 128 523 447 54 123 21 5 2 42 8 63 44 .275 .367 .358 .725
1950 NYY 153 602 522 69 150 19 6 6 69 3 67 38 .287 .372 .381 .753
1951 NYY 121 404 362 48 90 11 2 3 43 6 31 36 .249 .315 .315 .630
1952 NYY 11 47 42 6 17 2 1 0 4 0 5 4 .405 .468 .500 .968
1953 NYY 8 11 10 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .200 .200 .200 .400
1954 NYY 107 333 300 39 65 7 1 3 21 3 26 29 .217 .278 .277 .555
1955 NYY 43 112 96 12 22 5 0 0 8 0 11 11 .229 .321 .281 .602
1956 NYY 80 203 183 15 47 5 1 0 18 1 12 33 .257 .305 .295 .600
1957 NYY 72 180 157 23 42 7 2 2 12 1 20 21 .268 .354 .376 .730
9 Yrs 723 2415 2119 267 558 77 18 16 217 22 235 218 .263 .340 .339 .680
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/19/2013.

August 28 – Happy Birthday Aaron Ward

His Yankee teammates used to call him “Wardie.” He had put on the pinstripes for the first time in 1917, when he was just 20 years-old. A year later, Miller Huggins became Yankee Manager and Ward sat on his bench for two seasons, listening, watching and learning how the game was played. In 1920, the wife of Yankee third baseman, Frank “Home Run” Baker, died suddenly. Baker decided to take a year off from playing baseball to be with his two young children. “Hug” started playing Ward at third that season and the Akansas native did OK, hitting 11 home runs and driving in 54 for an improving Yankee team that also featured newcomer Babe Ruth that year. When Baker decided to return to the game the following year, the Yankees traded their starting second baseman, Del Pratt to the Red Sox and Huggins made Ward the team’s new starting second sacker.

For the next three seasons, he was as valuable a Yankee as any with the exception of Ruth. Ward hit a career high .306 in 1921, helping Huggins and New York reach their first World Series, which they lost to their hometown rivals, the Giants. They lost to them again in the ’22 Fall Classic but the third time proved to be the charm the following year and Ward played a huge roll in the Yankees first-ever World Championship. He hit .284 in the regular season and drove in a career-high 82 runs. Than in the ’23 World Series, Wardie led the Yankees with 10 hits and a .417 batting average, while providing excellent defense at second. Yankee owner, Jacob Rupert told the press that Ward deserved as much credit as Ruth and Huggins, for the Yankees’ first title.

Neither the Yankees or Ward could continue their success in 1924, as the team finished in second place and the second baseman slumped to .253. The bigger problem facing Huggins was Ruth’s outlandish personal behavior and the impact it was having on not only the Bambino’s play but also the attitude of the entire Yankee team. It came to a head in 1925, the year of Ruth’s famous “big bellyache,” which in actuality was a complete physical and mental breakdown. The Yankees fell all the way to seventh place in the final standings.

The Bambino had been scared straight. He worked harder during the 1925 off season than he ever had before and helped the Yankees win another AL Pennant in ’26. But he sure didn’t do it by himself. New York had introduced a whole new right side of their infield that year. Lou Gehrig took over for Wally Pipp at first and Aaron Ward lost his job at second to a kid named Tony Lazzeri. He appeared in just 22 games during his final season in the Bronx and then got traded to the White Sox. He retired two seasons later with a .268 lifetime average and 966 hits during his dozen-year big league career.

Wardie shares his birthday with this former Cy Young Award winner, this outfielder known for his sweet swing,  this one-time Yankee pitcher who also gave up Bucky Dent’s home run and this former Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1917 NYY 8 27 26 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 1 5 .115 .148 .115 .264
1918 NYY 20 36 32 2 4 1 0 0 1 1 2 7 .125 .176 .156 .333
1919 NYY 27 39 34 5 7 2 0 0 2 0 5 6 .206 .308 .265 .572
1920 NYY 127 551 496 62 127 18 7 11 54 7 33 84 .256 .304 .387 .691
1921 NYY 153 634 556 77 170 30 10 5 75 6 42 68 .306 .363 .423 .786
1922 NYY 154 641 558 69 149 19 5 7 68 6 45 64 .267 .328 .357 .685
1923 NYY 152 642 567 79 161 26 11 10 82 8 56 65 .284 .351 .422 .773
1924 NYY 120 476 400 42 101 13 10 8 66 1 40 45 .253 .324 .395 .719
1925 NYY 125 502 439 41 108 22 3 4 38 1 49 49 .246 .326 .337 .663
1926 NYY 22 34 31 5 10 2 0 0 3 0 2 6 .323 .364 .387 .751
12 Yrs 1059 4143 3611 457 966 158 54 50 446 36 339 457 .268 .335 .383 .717
NYY (10 yrs) 908 3582 3139 382 840 133 46 45 390 30 275 399 .268 .331 .382 .713
CLE (1 yr) 6 11 9 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 .111 .200 .111 .311
CHW (1 yr) 145 550 463 75 125 25 8 5 56 6 63 56 .270 .360 .391 .751
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/31/2013.

August 19 – Happy Birthday Bobby Richardson

Those of us who are old enough to have been Yankee fans back in 1961, remember today’s birthday celebrant fondly.  Bobby Richardson was born on today’s date in 1935, in Sumter, SC. He was the lead-off man and starting second baseman for one of the great teams and most impressive starting infields in Pinstripe history. He combined with first baseman Moose Skowren, shortstop Tony Kubek and the late Clete Boyer at the hot corner to provide New York’s pitching staff with an outstanding first line of defense. The seven-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner had a productive bat as well. He reached the .300 mark twice during his twelve-year career, led the league in hits with 209 in 1962 and drove in a record 12 RBIs in a losing effort against Pittsburgh, during the 1960 World Series. His only weakness was his inability to draw more walks as a lead-off man. In 1961, for example, Richardson drew just 30 base-on-balls in over 700 plate appearances. How many more RBI’s would his teammates Mantle and Maris have had that year if Bobby wasn’t such a free swinger?

Richardson retired from the Yankees in 1966, just 31 years-old at the time. He became a successful college baseball coach at the University of South Carolina and ran for Congress in the mid seventies. Always a deeply religious man, younger Yankee fans were introduced to Bobby when he officiated at teammate Mickey Mantle’s funeral.

Richardson shares his birthday with this former Yankee pitcher, who afterwards became the Yankee scout who signed Ron Guidry.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1955 NYY 11 29 26 2 4 0 0 0 3 1 2 0 .154 .214 .154 .368
1956 NYY 5 7 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .143 .143 .143 .286
1957 NYY 97 320 305 36 78 11 1 0 19 1 9 26 .256 .274 .298 .573
1958 NYY 73 195 182 18 45 6 2 0 14 1 8 5 .247 .276 .302 .578
1959 NYY 134 507 469 53 141 18 6 2 33 5 26 20 .301 .335 .377 .713
1960 NYY 150 507 460 45 116 12 3 1 26 6 35 19 .252 .303 .298 .601
1961 NYY 162 704 662 80 173 17 5 3 49 9 30 23 .261 .295 .316 .610
1962 NYY 161 754 692 99 209 38 5 8 59 11 37 24 .302 .337 .406 .743
1963 NYY 151 668 630 72 167 20 6 3 48 15 25 22 .265 .294 .330 .624
1964 NYY 159 728 679 90 181 25 4 4 50 11 28 36 .267 .294 .333 .626
1965 NYY 160 713 664 76 164 28 2 6 47 7 37 39 .247 .287 .322 .609
1966 NYY 149 648 610 71 153 21 3 7 42 6 25 28 .251 .280 .330 .610
12 Yrs 1412 5780 5386 643 1432 196 37 34 390 73 262 243 .266 .299 .335 .634
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/19/2013.

May 6 – Happy Birthday Lute Boone

There have been 29 starting second basemen in Yankee franchise history. The current one, Robinson Cano has a chance to go down in history as the greatest Yankee second sacker of all time. That honor now 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. This is the ninth season Cano has started at that position for New York putting him one behind Bobby Richardson, who played there for nine seasons in the Bronx. 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.  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           8+               1244  1499   738   185   735    .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 26 – Happy Birthday Jose Vizcaino

When the Yankees traded for Minnesota’s Chuck Knoblaugh in February of 1998, New York thought they were getting a perennial .300 hitter and a Golden Glove second baseman. As it turned out, they got neither. His first two seasons in pinstripes at the plate were good enough, as he showed surprising power and scored runs in bunches. But Chuck developed a mysterious case of the Steve Blass throwing disease. His tosses to Yankee first baseman, Tino Martinez, started sailing all over the place and as his errors climbed, Knoblaugh’s confidence and concentration plummeted.

The situation got so bad, the Yankees traded for Jose Vizcaino during the 2000 season and started the Dominican Republic native at second and began using Knoblaugh in the outfield and as DH. Jose hit .251 in 73 regular season games for New York. It was Vizcaino’s single in the twelfth inning of Game One of the 2000 Subway Series that drove in Tino Martinez with the winning run to beat the Mets. Jose was not re-signed by New York after their 2000 World Series victory and in 2001, Alfonso Soriano became New York’s starting second baseman. Jose signed with Houston, where he played for the next five seasons. He left the big leagues in 2006, after an eighteen year career that saw him play for eight different Major League franchises.

Jose shares his March 26th birthday with this WWII era pacifist pitcher and this current day Yankee shortstop.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2000 NYY 73 191 174 23 48 8 1 0 10 5 12 28 .276 .319 .333 .652
18 Yrs 1820 5918 5379 633 1453 204 47 36 480 74 378 729 .270 .318 .346 .663
LAD (5 yrs) 245 737 657 71 164 21 2 4 64 11 51 82 .250 .305 .306 .611
HOU (5 yrs) 559 1513 1396 154 385 65 13 13 133 9 82 174 .276 .316 .369 .685
NYM (3 yrs) 334 1419 1282 160 361 46 14 7 121 18 96 196 .282 .332 .356 .688
CHC (3 yrs) 330 1076 981 106 260 34 8 5 81 17 65 124 .265 .309 .331 .640
SFG (2 yrs) 215 766 687 93 176 22 7 6 55 8 64 97 .256 .319 .335 .654
STL (1 yr) 16 25 23 3 8 3 0 1 3 0 1 4 .348 .375 .609 .984
CLE (1 yr) 48 191 179 23 51 5 2 0 13 6 7 24 .285 .310 .335 .645
NYY (1 yr) 73 191 174 23 48 8 1 0 10 5 12 28 .276 .319 .333 .652
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/14/2014.

February 18 – Happy Birthday Joe Gordon

My favorite story about “Flash” came from his Yankee teammate, Tommy Henrich. According to Old Reliable, reporters were questioning Yankee manager Joe McCarthy in New York’s locker room after a game and asked him why he liked Joe Gordon as a player so much. McCarthy had frequently claimed Gordon was the “best player in baseball.” Instead of answering the question, McCarthy called his second baseman over and asked him what his batting average was. Gordon replied that he did not know. Next, McCarthy asked Joe how many home runs he had hit so far that season and again the Flash told his skipper that he had no idea. McCarthy then excused the infielder and after he walked away, answered the reporters original question. “That’s what I like. All he does is come to beat you.”

Joe played for the Yankees from 1938 until 1943 and then served in WWII. During those six seasons the Yankees won five World Series, Gordon made five All Star teams and he won the 1942 AL MVP award. He was also a magnificent second baseman. When Scooter joined the Yankees in 1941 he and Flash formed a terrific middle infield until Pearl Harbor blew it apart. When Gordon returned to the Yankees from military service after the war, he hit just .210 and New York’s front office, thinking his best playing days were behind him, traded Joe to Cleveland for pitcher Allie Reynolds. It turned out to be one of those transactions that worked well for both teams. The hits and power returned to Gordon’s bat and he teamed with Indians’ player manager Lou Boudreau to lead Cleveland to a 1948 World Series victory. Gordon blasted 32 home runs and drove in 124 that season. He played for Cleveland until 1950, retiring after 11 big league seasons. He eventually became a manager, skippering Cleveland, the Athletics and the Royals.

Joe died in 1978 and was voted into Cooperstown by the Veterans Committee in 2009. I listened to his daughter make the acceptance speech and the loving words she shared about her Dad made it clear that Gordon was much more than just a great ballplayer. Joe was born in LA on February 18, 1915.

This former Yankee bullpen star, this long-ago Yankee starting pitcher and this former Yankee catcher also celebrate birthdays on February 18th.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1938 NYY 127 521 458 83 117 24 7 25 97 11 56 72 .255 .340 .502 .843
1939 NYY 151 648 567 92 161 32 5 28 111 11 75 57 .284 .370 .506 .876
1940 NYY 155 677 616 112 173 32 10 30 103 18 52 57 .281 .340 .511 .851
1941 NYY 156 665 588 104 162 26 7 24 87 10 72 80 .276 .358 .466 .824
1942 NYY 147 625 538 88 173 29 4 18 103 12 79 95 .322 .409 .491 .900
1943 NYY 152 649 543 82 135 28 5 17 69 4 98 75 .249 .365 .413 .778
1946 NYY 112 431 376 35 79 15 0 11 47 2 49 72 .210 .308 .338 .645
11 Yrs 1566 6538 5707 914 1530 264 52 253 975 89 759 702 .268 .357 .466 .822
NYY (7 yrs) 1000 4216 3686 596 1000 186 38 153 617 68 481 508 .271 .358 .467 .825
CLE (4 yrs) 566 2322 2021 318 530 78 14 100 358 21 278 194 .262 .354 .463 .817
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/28/2014.

January 29 – Happy Birthday Steve Sax

It didn’t take me long to become a huge Willie Randolph fan after the Yankees acquired the second baseman in a December, 1975 trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates. I did not appreciate how the Mets dumped Randolph as Manager during the 2008 season and I can remember being just as upset when the Yankees signed Steve Sax as a free agent to take over the starting second baseman’s job from Willie, after the 1988 season.

Sax had been the NL Rookie of the Year for the Dodgers in 1982 and because he was good looking and did most of his ball-playing right next to Hollywood, you kept seeing him pop up on TV shows whenever a script called for a real ballplayer. But what he was most famous for was the mysterious case of the “Steve Blass” throwing disease he developed during the 1983 season. For those of you who don’t know, Blass was a Pirate pitcher who woke up one day and could no longer throw a baseball over the plate from the pitchers’ mound. I’m not talking about pitches ending up just a little bit off the plate, Blass’s tosses would regularly sale in all directions, five feet from the catcher. Sax’s throws were doing the same thing to his first baseman and it became such a running joke at Dodger Stadium that fans sitting in the box seats behind first base would show up wearing batting helmets. Dodger Manager, Tommy Lasorda tried everything he could think of to fix Sax’s problem. One of his remedies was a gag. Lasorda had a guy put the head of a greased pig in his second baseman’s hotel bed one night with a note threatening Sax with physical harm if he made another errant throw. Sax insists that pig’s head discovery straightened him out. Whatever.

Sax did enjoy three productive seasons in New York from 1989 through 1991, topping the .300 batting average mark in both his first and final years in pinstripes. He also stole 117 bases as a Yankee. Sax was rewarded for his success in New York with a huge eight-figure, four-year contract with the Chicago White Sox. He was a dud in the Windy City, hitting just .236 in his first season with Chicago and getting released by the club the following season. Steve was born in Sacramento and turns fifty-two years old today.

By the way, that’s former Yankee hitting instructor, Frank “Hondo” Howard, pictured with Sax in the above baseball card. Sax must have been standing on a step stool at the time this photo was taken because at 6’7″, big Frank was at least eight inches taller than Sax. Do you remember this other Yankee second baseman who developed his case of Steve Blass throwing disease while he was wearing the pinstripes?

Sax shares his birthday with this former Yankee utility outfielder and this former Yankee set-up man.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1989 NYY 158 717 651 88 205 26 3 5 63 43 52 44 .315 .364 .387 .751
1990 NYY 155 680 615 70 160 24 2 4 42 43 49 46 .260 .316 .325 .641
1991 NYY 158 707 652 85 198 38 2 10 56 31 41 38 .304 .345 .414 .759
14 Yrs 1769 7632 6940 913 1949 278 47 54 550 444 556 584 .281 .335 .358 .692
LAD (8 yrs) 1091 4745 4312 574 1218 159 35 30 333 290 363 406 .282 .339 .356 .696
NYY (3 yrs) 471 2104 1918 243 563 88 7 19 161 117 142 128 .294 .342 .376 .718
CHW (2 yrs) 200 759 686 94 162 31 4 5 55 37 51 48 .236 .289 .315 .603
OAK (1 yr) 7 24 24 2 6 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 .250 .250 .333 .583
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/29/2014.