Results tagged ‘ second baseman ’

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.

January 10 – Happy Birthday Del Pratt

Back in the second decade of the last century, Eddie Collins was considered to be the best second baseman in the American League and today’s birthday celebrant was thought to be the junior circuit’s second best second sacker. For most of that decade, Del Pratt played for the lowly St. Louis Browns. I say lowly because during Pratt’s six years with the team, the Browns’ cumulative record was 380-542 and their highest finish in the standings was fifth place. Things got so bad for the franchise that the suspicious Browns’ owner, who’s last name happened to be “Ball,” accused several of the team’s players of purposely playing poorly so that they’d be traded to a more successful franchise. Pratt reacted angrily to the accusation and actually sued the owner for slander. While his case was still in the courts, Pratt was ironically traded to the Yankees, which sort of indicated that the best way to get traded was not to lay down on the job but instead, to sue your boss.

In any event, Pratt spent three very productive years patrolling the middle of the Yankee infield. He averaged .295 in pinstripes and drove in 97 runs in 1920, his first and only season as a teammate of the great Babe Ruth. Just before Christmas of that same year, the Yankees dealt Pratt to the Red Sox in a deal that brought Waite Hoyt to New York. After two seasons in Boston and two more in Detroit, Pratt retired with 1,996 career hits and a .292 lifetime batting average. He was born in Walhalla, SC, in 1888. He shares his January 10th birthday with this former Yankee starting pitcher and this one-time Yankee outfielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1918 NYY 126 540 477 65 131 19 7 2 55 12 35 26 .275 .327 .356 .683
1919 NYY 140 581 527 69 154 27 7 4 56 22 36 24 .292 .342 .393 .735
1920 NYY 154 654 574 84 180 37 8 4 97 12 50 24 .314 .372 .427 .798
13 Yrs 1836 7613 6826 856 1996 392 117 43 968 247 513 428 .292 .345 .403 .748
SLB (6 yrs) 905 3763 3394 386 957 179 72 21 455 174 239 305 .282 .332 .396 .728
NYY (3 yrs) 420 1775 1578 218 465 83 22 10 208 46 121 74 .295 .348 .394 .743
BOS (2 yrs) 289 1248 1128 153 352 80 17 11 188 15 97 30 .312 .369 .442 .811
DET (2 yrs) 222 827 726 99 222 50 6 1 117 12 56 19 .306 .362 .395 .757
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/10/2014.

October 26 – Happy Birthday Snuffy Stirnweiss

A Big Apple native and the son of a New York City policeman, Stirnweiss was a superb athlete who became an All-American running back at North Carolina but chose baseball as his career when he signed with the Yankees in 1940. By 1943 he was New York’s starting second baseman and the following year he led the AL in runs, hits, triples and stolen bases. He did even better in 1945, repeating as league leader in all those categories while adding the AL batting crown to his portfolio. But when WWII ended and the Major League rosters were replenished with returning players who had served their country, Snuffy’s production suffered. He was never again the offensive force he had been during the War years but he did evolve into one of baseball’s best defensive second baseman.

He eventually lost the starting second base job to Jerry Coleman. In 1950, the Yankees traded Stirnweiss to the Browns who in turn traded him to Cleveland. When his playing career ended after the 1952 season, Snuffy tried his hand at managing in the minor leagues. When an opportunity in banking opened up in New York City, Snuffy jumped into the new career. He was on his way to a Manhattan luncheon meeting on September 15, 1958 when he was killed in a commuter train wreck in Bayonne, NJ. He was just 40 years old and the father of six young children at the time of the tragedy.

Snuffy shares his birthday with this former Yankee infielder and this one-time Yankee pitching prospect.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1943 NYY 83 325 274 34 60 8 4 1 25 11 47 37 .219 .333 .288 .622
1944 NYY 154 723 643 125 205 35 16 8 43 55 73 87 .319 .389 .460 .849
1945 NYY 152 718 632 107 195 32 22 10 64 33 78 62 .309 .385 .476 .862
1946 NYY 129 560 487 75 122 19 7 0 37 18 66 58 .251 .340 .318 .658
1947 NYY 148 673 571 102 146 18 8 5 41 5 89 47 .256 .358 .342 .700
1948 NYY 141 609 515 90 130 20 7 3 32 5 86 62 .252 .360 .336 .696
1949 NYY 70 190 157 29 41 8 2 0 11 3 29 20 .261 .380 .338 .717
1950 NYY 7 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
10 Yrs 1028 4292 3695 604 989 157 68 29 281 134 541 447 .268 .362 .371 .733
NYY (8 yrs) 884 3800 3281 562 899 140 66 27 253 130 468 373 .274 .366 .382 .747
CLE (2 yrs) 51 111 88 10 19 1 0 1 4 1 22 25 .216 .373 .261 .634
SLB (1 yr) 93 381 326 32 71 16 2 1 24 3 51 49 .218 .324 .288 .612
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/27/2013.

October 22 – Happy Birthday Robinson Cano

I remember when the Yankees signed Tony Womack as a free agent to become their starting second baseman for the 2005 season. He was coming off a career year with the NL Champion Cardinals but he was 35 years of age, had no real pop in his bat and didn’t seem to me to be the kind of player Yankee fans would embrace. I was right and Joe Torre evidently agreed with me because Womack lasted only a couple of dozen games as New York’s starting second baseman.

I have to admit, at first, I wasn’t a big fan of Womack’s successor either. When the Yankees brought Robinson Cano up and installed him at second base, he started off pretty slow at the plate, experienced rookie-type-lapses of concentration in the field and he had the most annoying nail-biting habit of any Yankee in history. I was screaming for the Yankees to make a deal to bring back Soriano, confident that “Canoe,” Derek Jeter’s nickname for his new teammate, would be back in Triple A before the 2005 season was over.

This fully underscores why the Yankees paid Joe Torre millions of dollars to make field decisions and never responded to my written offer to manage their team for free. Torre’s patience with his young second baseman was rewarded, when Cano did start hitting, finishing his rookie season with a .297 batting average. He also fielded brilliantly and became a key reason why the Yankees made it to the 2005 postseason.

Cano then got better in both his second and third seasons in the Bronx before he digressed in 2008. I’m not sure what happened to him that season. He made more mistakes in the field and seemed to concentrate less at the plate. Cano had always been an undisciplined hitter, swinging at nearly everything pitchers threw him but during that ’08 season, he was swinging at literally everything.

Fortunately for New York, Cano has been superb ever since, making a gigantic leap during the past three seasons to becoming the best all-around second baseman in the Major Leagues. He makes plays in the field that I’ve never seen made by any second baseman, ever. He has also become one of the game’s great offensive forces, with that special ability to both score and drive in 100 runs per season. Cano is so good and so gifted, it has become easy for fans like me to take some of the extraordinary things he does both at the plate and defensively at second base, for granted. But I don’t think I’m being unfair when I call him out for his propensity to not hustle on the base paths. When he hits a field-able ground ball he often jogs to first and when he hits fly balls deep that have a chance to go out of the park, he goes into his home run trot much too soon. If he’d get rid of both bad habits, he’d be an absolute perfect second baseman. But even if he doesn’t, he’s pretty damn close to perfect anyway.

Cano shares his birthday with one of his current Yankee teammates and this long-ago Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2005 NYY 132 551 522 78 155 34 4 14 62 1 16 68 .297 .320 .458 .778
2006 NYY 122 508 482 62 165 41 1 15 78 5 18 54 .342 .365 .525 .890
2007 NYY 160 669 617 93 189 41 7 19 97 4 39 85 .306 .353 .488 .841
2008 NYY 159 634 597 70 162 35 3 14 72 2 26 65 .271 .305 .410 .715
2009 NYY 161 674 637 103 204 48 2 25 85 5 30 63 .320 .352 .520 .871
2010 NYY 160 696 626 103 200 41 3 29 109 3 57 77 .319 .381 .534 .914
2011 NYY 159 681 623 104 188 46 7 28 118 8 38 96 .302 .349 .533 .882
2012 NYY 161 697 627 105 196 48 1 33 94 3 61 96 .313 .379 .550 .929
2013 NYY 160 681 605 81 190 41 0 27 107 7 65 85 .314 .383 .516 .899
9 Yrs 1374 5791 5336 799 1649 375 28 204 822 38 350 689 .309 .355 .504 .860
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/22/2013.

October 14 – Happy Birthday Pat Kelly

I first saw Pat Kelly play when he was the starting second baseman for the Albany-Colonie Yankees, New York’s old double A affiliate in the Eastern League. The year was 1990 and Kelly along with Bernie and Gerald Williams helped lead that team to an Eastern League pennant. He was solid defensively, was very quick on the base paths but he had a propensity for striking out too much for a non-power-hitter. Still, by the following season, Kelly found himself in the big leagues as a member of a very mediocre 1991 Yankee team.

Yankee Manager, Stump Merrill had been starting Jim Leyritz at third and was not happy with his defense at the hot corner. New York brought Kelly up in May and Stump inserted him as his everyday third baseman. Playing out-of-position, Kelly did not turn out to be much of an improvement defensively over Leyritz, but he did OK at the plate, hustled his rear end off and remained on the big league roster.

The following season, Buck Showalter replaced Merrill as Yankee skipper and he switched Kelly back to second base. Despite hitting just .226 that year, he started twice as many games at second as Mike Gallego. The following year, the Philadelphia native put together his best big league season, hitting .273 in 127 games for New York in 1993 and setting career highs in just about every offensive category. I remember thinking that Kelly had arrived as a bonafide big league player that season and expected him to enjoy a long and successful career as the Yankee’s starting second baseman.

By 1994, Showalter had Kelly and that entire Yankee team humming on all cylinders, as they streaked to a commanding lead in their Division and Kelly’s average rose to .280. But then the strike happened in August and the rest of the season was cancelled. When the players finally returned to the field in 1995, Kelly hurt his wrist, slumped at the plate and began losing his second base starts to Randy Velarde. But he did come through with the biggest hit of his Yankee career in the third-to-last game of the 1995 season. At the time, the Yankees were battling the Angels for the AL Wild Card spot and were trailing the Blue Jays by a run in the top of the ninth inning in Toronto. Kelly came to the plate with Velarde on first and hit a go-ahead home run. It was a huge hit at the time because Toronto was horrible that year and if the Yankees had lost that game I seriously doubt they would have hung on to finish ahead of the Angels.

As most Yankee fans remember, that team went on to lose to the Mariners in the 1995 ALDS and Steinbrenner then fired Showalter and replaced him with Joe Torre. When Kelly hurt his shoulder that spring and it required surgery, Torre announced that he was going to start Tony Fernandez at second base in 1996. Fernandez then broke his elbow. A scrambling Yankee front office brought in Mariano (We play today, we win today, das eeet) Duncan to play second and he responded by hitting a career-high .340. Kelly’s Yankee career was pretty much over at that point. Even before his big league playing days ended, he had become deeply involved in Australian baseball and he still today serves as a scout specializing in finding playing talent “Down Under” and throughout the entire Pacific rim area.

Kelly shares his October 14th birthday with his former Yankee teammate and current Yankee Manager, this former Yankee outfielder and this former 20-game-winning Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1991 NYY 96 322 298 35 72 12 4 3 23 12 15 52 .242 .288 .339 .626
1992 NYY 106 364 318 38 72 22 2 7 27 8 25 72 .226 .301 .374 .675
1993 NYY 127 451 406 49 111 24 1 7 51 14 24 68 .273 .317 .389 .707
1994 NYY 93 329 286 35 80 21 2 3 41 6 19 51 .280 .330 .399 .729
1995 NYY 89 310 270 32 64 12 1 4 29 8 23 65 .237 .307 .333 .640
1996 NYY 13 23 21 4 3 0 0 0 2 0 2 9 .143 .217 .143 .360
1997 NYY 67 138 120 25 29 6 1 2 10 8 14 37 .242 .324 .358 .682
9 Yrs 681 2237 1988 253 495 109 11 36 217 61 145 425 .249 .307 .369 .677
NYY (7 yrs) 591 1937 1719 218 431 97 11 26 183 56 122 354 .251 .309 .365 .674
STL (1 yr) 53 170 153 18 33 5 0 4 14 5 13 48 .216 .284 .327 .611
TOR (1 yr) 37 130 116 17 31 7 0 6 20 0 10 23 .267 .318 .483 .801
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/14/2013.

July 6 – Happy Birthday Willie Randolph

I have been a huge Willie Randolph fan since 1976, his rookie season with the New York Yankees. When I first heard about the trade with the Pirates that brought Willie to the Bronx I wasn’t thrilled because the Yankees had sent a pretty good starting pitcher named Doc Medich to Pittsburgh, in the deal. It only took me a few games into the 1976 season, however, to realize Randolph was a winner. Though he was only 21 years old at the time, he played like a polished veteran, especially in the field. I loved the way he fluidly brought ground balls hit to him into his body before making the throw. At the plate, Willie was adept at getting on base, stealing important bases, and moving runners into scoring position. The best way I can describe Willie’s impact on the Yankees was that you really noticed how good he was when he wasn’t in the lineup.

Willie was also a great teammate. On a Yankee team that was notorious for clubhouse cliques and animosity, Willie got along with and was respected by everyone and was eventually named Yankee Captain.

I remember the disappointment I felt when Randolph signed with the Dodgers as a free agent after the 1988 season. The Yankees were in the midst of a fifteen-season-long postseason drought and with Randolph leaving, they were losing one of their last links to their glory teams of the seventies. He ended up playing until 1992 and retired with 2,210 lifetime hits (1,731 as a Yankee) 1,239 runs (1,027 with NY) and a .276 lifetime batting average (.275 with NY) over eighteen seasons.

When Willie was named manager of the Mets, I knew he would be a very calm and controlled field boss who treated his players like professionals, respected the skills and opinions of his coaches, and let his team play. He did just that and deserved a much better fate than he received from the team’s front-office.

Willie was born on this date in 1954, in Holly Hills, SC. His family moved to Brooklyn where Willie was raised and played high school baseball. He shares his July 6th birthday with this World War II era Yankee backup catcher and this long-ago Yankee captain.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1976 NYY 125 499 430 59 115 15 4 1 40 37 58 39 .267 .356 .328 .684
1977 NYY 147 624 551 91 151 28 11 4 40 13 64 53 .274 .347 .387 .734
1978 NYY 134 596 499 87 139 18 6 3 42 36 82 51 .279 .381 .357 .738
1979 NYY 153 682 574 98 155 15 13 5 61 33 95 39 .270 .374 .368 .741
1980 NYY 138 642 513 99 151 23 7 7 46 30 119 45 .294 .427 .407 .834
1981 NYY 93 422 357 59 83 14 3 2 24 14 57 24 .232 .336 .305 .641
1982 NYY 144 643 553 85 155 21 4 3 36 16 75 35 .280 .368 .349 .717
1983 NYY 104 477 420 73 117 21 1 2 38 12 53 32 .279 .361 .348 .708
1984 NYY 142 664 564 86 162 24 2 2 31 10 86 42 .287 .377 .348 .725
1985 NYY 143 597 497 75 137 21 2 5 40 16 85 39 .276 .382 .356 .738
1986 NYY 141 601 492 76 136 15 2 5 50 15 94 49 .276 .393 .346 .738
1987 NYY 120 543 449 96 137 24 2 7 67 11 82 25 .305 .411 .414 .825
1988 NYY 110 474 404 43 93 20 1 2 34 8 55 39 .230 .322 .300 .621
18 Yrs 2202 9461 8018 1239 2210 316 65 54 687 271 1243 675 .276 .373 .351 .724
NYY (13 yrs) 1694 7464 6303 1027 1731 259 58 48 549 251 1005 512 .275 .374 .357 .731
LAD (2 yrs) 171 746 645 77 181 22 0 3 45 8 84 60 .281 .365 .329 .694
NYM (1 yr) 90 336 286 29 72 11 1 2 15 1 40 34 .252 .352 .318 .670
PIT (1 yr) 30 70 61 9 10 1 0 0 3 1 7 6 .164 .246 .180 .427
OAK (1 yr) 93 333 292 37 75 9 3 1 21 6 32 25 .257 .331 .318 .650
MIL (1 yr) 124 512 431 60 141 14 3 0 54 4 75 38 .327 .424 .374 .798
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/6/2013.

June 2 – Happy Birthday Horace Clarke

For long-time Yankee fans it was the “Dark Ages.” It was the interval of time that lasted from the day CBS fired Yogi Berra after the Yankees lost the 1964 series to the Cardinals, until the very final day of 1974, when George Steinbrenner signed Catfish Hunter as a free agent. It also happened to be pretty much the same exact period of time that Horace Clarke played second base for the New York Yankees.

We called him “Hoss” back then and I can remember screaming at him through my TV set during the early part of his career, “You stink Hoss!” He really didn’t though. He just had the misfortune of being a Yankee leadoff man in front of young hitters named Bill Robinson, Frank Tepedino and Steve Whitaker instead of young hitters named Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Elston Howard. Clarke amassed over 1200 career hits and 140 stolen bases while with the Yankees. I saw him recently at a Yankee old-timer game with that familiar number 20 on his pinstriped back. I’ve now come to the conclusion that those Dark Age days of rooting for the Yankees would have been even darker if it wasn’t for Hoss. Clarke was born in the Virgin Islands on today’s date in 1940. He shares his June 2nd birthday with his old double play partner with the Yankees, this effective Yankee reliever from the late 1990′s, and this more recent Yankee postseason hero.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1965 NYY 51 115 108 13 28 1 0 1 9 2 6 6 .259 .296 .296 .592
1966 NYY 96 344 312 37 83 10 4 6 28 5 27 24 .266 .324 .381 .705
1967 NYY 143 633 588 74 160 17 0 3 29 21 42 64 .272 .321 .316 .637
1968 NYY 148 607 579 52 133 6 1 2 26 20 23 46 .230 .258 .254 .512
1969 NYY 156 700 641 82 183 26 7 4 48 33 53 41 .285 .339 .367 .706
1970 NYY 158 732 686 81 172 24 2 4 46 23 35 35 .251 .286 .309 .595
1971 NYY 159 696 625 76 156 23 7 2 41 17 64 43 .250 .321 .318 .639
1972 NYY 147 613 547 65 132 20 2 3 37 18 56 44 .241 .315 .302 .616
1973 NYY 148 650 590 60 155 21 0 2 35 11 47 48 .263 .317 .308 .625
1974 TOT 66 152 137 8 28 2 0 0 5 1 12 11 .204 .268 .219 .487
1974 NYY 24 53 47 3 11 1 0 0 1 1 4 5 .234 .294 .255 .549
10 Yrs 1272 5242 4813 548 1230 150 23 27 304 151 365 362 .256 .308 .313 .621
NYY (10 yrs) 1230 5143 4723 543 1213 149 23 27 300 151 357 356 .257 .309 .315 .624
SDP (1 yr) 42 99 90 5 17 1 0 0 4 0 8 6 .189 .255 .200 .455
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/1/2013.

September 25 – Happy Birthday Tony Womack

When the Yankees signed Tony Womack as a free agent after the 2004 season, I was not too excited. He had just completed arguably his best Major League season, hitting .307 and smacking 170 hits and helping to lead St Louis to an NL Championship, but he had hit only.182 in that year’s World Series as the Cardinals got swept by the Red Sox and even though he had lot’s of speed, his ability to get on base was far from impressive. Evidently, Joe Torre was not too excited either because by May of the 2005 season, Robinson Cano was the Yankees’ starting second baseman and the only action Womack was seeing was in the Yankee outfield. During his one and only season in the Bronx, Womack hit .249 and had just a .279 on base percentage. He was shipped to the Reds the following December. Even though it did not work out in New York, Womack had a very good 13-season big league career, winning a ring with Arizona and amassing over 1,300 hits.

Also celebrating a birthday today is the Yankee legend who inspired this blog, this great former Yankee pitcher and this one-time Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2005 NYY 108 351 329 46 82 8 1 0 15 27 12 49 .249 .276 .280 .556
13 Yrs 1303 5389 4963 739 1353 190 59 36 368 363 308 649 .273 .317 .356 .673
ARI (5 yrs) 629 2744 2521 392 677 98 37 21 200 182 159 303 .269 .314 .362 .676
PIT (5 yrs) 351 1475 1362 190 379 55 17 9 103 122 92 210 .278 .325 .363 .688
CHC (2 yrs) 40 109 101 10 26 3 1 1 4 3 5 15 .257 .292 .337 .629
COL (1 yr) 21 81 79 9 15 2 0 0 5 3 0 9 .190 .200 .215 .415
STL (1 yr) 145 606 553 91 170 22 3 5 38 26 36 60 .307 .349 .385 .735
CIN (1 yr) 9 23 18 1 4 2 0 0 3 0 4 3 .222 .364 .333 .697
NYY (1 yr) 108 351 329 46 82 8 1 0 15 27 12 49 .249 .276 .280 .556
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/25/2013.

January 12 – Happy Birthday Andy Fox

andy-fox.jpgI remember being pretty happy hearing the news that Andy Fox had made the Yankee’s big league roster coming out of spring training in 1996. Living just a half-hour outside of Albany, I had become a big fan of the Albany Colonie Yankees, New York’s Double A franchise at that time. It was fun watching Fox and teammates like Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mo Rivera play for Albany and having all four of them playing in the Bronx in 1996, made rooting for that Yankee team not just easy, but special. Manager Joe Torre gave Fox quite a bit of playing time that first year, mostly at second base. The guy just loved to play the game and his hustle and enthusiasm was impossible to ignore. Unfortunately, he could not get his average above the .200 mark. At the same time, teammate and fellow second baseman Mariano Duncan was having a career year at the plate relegating Andy to a strict utility role. When he got traded to the Diamondbacks after the 1997 season and hit .277 his first year in Arizona, I thought he was on his way to a solid career. That turned out to be the best year of an otherwise mediocre nine season big league stay that ended when Texas released him in 2004. Andy was born on this date in Sacramento in 1971.

He shares his birthday with this Yankee starting pitcherthis former Yankee reliever and this former top Yankee draft pick.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1996 NYY 113 219 189 26 37 4 0 3 13 11 20 28 .196 .276 .265 .541
1997 NYY 22 40 31 13 7 1 0 0 1 2 7 9 .226 .368 .258 .626
9 Yrs 776 2194 1925 248 461 65 17 30 168 74 197 407 .239 .324 .338 .662
FLA (4 yrs) 326 905 788 94 185 23 9 10 66 41 89 177 .235 .326 .325 .651
ARI (3 yrs) 269 974 862 111 227 37 8 16 87 20 80 174 .263 .343 .381 .724
NYY (2 yrs) 135 259 220 39 44 5 0 3 14 13 27 37 .200 .290 .264 .554
TEX (1 yr) 12 13 12 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 .083 .154 .083 .237
MON (1 yr) 34 43 43 2 4 0 0 1 1 0 0 16 .093 .093 .163 .256
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/12/2014.

December 6 – Happy Birthday Tony Lazzeri

If I was given the choice of a back seat to sit in on a historical car ride, I’d have a tough time not selecting the 1936 cross-country trip taken by three members of the New York Yankees. The Yankee front office had just purchased the contract of a young Pacific Coast League ballplayer named Joe DiMaggio. The kid lived in San Francisco as did the two players who composed New York’s starting middle infield back then, shortstop Frankie Crosetti and today’s birthday celebrant, second baseman, Tony “Poosh em Up” Lazzeri. The Yankee front office had arranged to have the two veterans pick up DiMaggio at his home and drive him the three thousand or so miles to  St. Petersburg, FL, where the Yankees conducted Spring training.

Lazzeri is still considered to be by many, the greatest second baseman in Yankee franchise history. Born in 1903 in San Francisco, his first year in the Bronx was 1926 and he started fast by belting 18 home runs and driving in 114 runs. He would drive in 100 or more runs seven different times and he finished his fourteen-season career with a .292 lifetime batting average and 1,191 RBI’s. Like Crosetti and DiMaggio, Lazzeri was an Italian-American and before the Yankee Clipper joined him in New York, he had become the number one sports hero of the 1 million plus Italian-Americans who were living in the Big Apple. Perhaps the most amazing thing about his accomplishments on the ball field was the fact that he achieved them while being afflicted with epilepsy, at a time when the disease was poorly treated and very misunderstood.

He played in six World Series as a Yankee and won five rings. He was unceremoniously dumped by New York after hitting a career-low .244, in 1937. He signed with the Cubs in 38 and made it back to the World Series for a seventh time as a part-time player for Chicago. In a bittersweet moment for Tony, the Cubbies lost that Fall Classic to the Yankees. After trying to hang on with Brooklyn and then the New York Giants, Lazzeri retired after the 1939 season. He then became a Minor League Manager for a few years before buying a tavern in his native San Francisco. In 1946, Lazzeri’s wife came home from a vacation to find her husband dead. He apparently fell down the stairs in their home and was killed when his head banged against the bannister. The Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee put Tony’s plaque in Cooperstown, in 1991.

Lazzeri shares his December 6th birthday with this Cuban defector who became a Yankee starting pitcher, this former Yankee coach, this former Yankee catcher and also with this former Yankee outfielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1926 NYY 155 665 589 79 162 28 14 18 117 16 54 96 .275 .338 .462 .800
1927 NYY 153 660 570 92 176 29 8 18 102 22 69 82 .309 .383 .482 .866
1928 NYY 116 464 404 62 134 30 11 10 82 15 43 50 .332 .397 .535 .932
1929 NYY 147 639 545 101 193 37 11 18 106 9 68 45 .354 .429 .561 .991
1930 NYY 143 650 571 109 173 34 15 9 121 4 60 62 .303 .372 .462 .835
1931 NYY 135 569 484 67 129 27 7 8 83 18 79 80 .267 .371 .401 .771
1932 NYY 142 603 510 79 153 28 16 15 113 11 82 64 .300 .399 .506 .905
1933 NYY 139 603 523 94 154 22 12 18 104 15 73 62 .294 .383 .486 .869
1934 NYY 123 515 438 59 117 24 6 14 67 11 71 64 .267 .369 .445 .815
1935 NYY 130 544 477 72 130 18 6 13 83 11 63 75 .273 .361 .417 .778
1936 NYY 150 638 537 82 154 29 6 14 109 8 97 65 .287 .397 .441 .838
1937 NYY 126 518 446 56 109 21 3 14 70 7 71 76 .244 .348 .399 .747
14 Yrs 1740 7314 6297 986 1840 334 115 178 1194 148 869 864 .292 .380 .467 .846
NYY (12 yrs) 1659 7068 6094 952 1784 327 115 169 1157 147 830 821 .293 .379 .467 .847
NYG (1 yr) 13 51 44 7 13 0 0 1 8 0 7 6 .295 .392 .364 .756
BRO (1 yr) 14 51 39 6 11 2 0 3 6 1 10 7 .282 .451 .564 1.015
CHC (1 yr) 54 144 120 21 32 5 0 5 23 0 22 30 .267 .380 .433 .814
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/7/2013.