Results tagged ‘ shortstop ’

July 19 – Happy Birthday Mark Koenig

Derek Jeter will be the last Yankee shortstop to wear uniform number 2 but the first one to do so is today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant. Mark Koenig started at short for New York’s legendary Murderers’ Row team of 1927 and batted second, after leadoff man Earle Combs and right before the Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth. That hallowed team became the first in AL history to remain in first place the entire season, set a regular season record with 110 victories and become the first junior circuit squad to sweep an NL opponent (the Pirates) in a World Series. Koenig hit .285 for that Yankee team and scored 99 runs. He was a very good fielder and was also universally liked and respected by his teammates.

The Yankees became this San Francisco native’s first big league club in 1925, when he was just 20-years old. He won the starting job at short the following season and held it until 1929, when he was replaced by the bold and brash Leo Durocher. In May of the following season, he was traded to the Tigers, but when he couldn’t get his average above the .250s, Detroit sold his contract to a Pacific Coast League team. After 89 games in the minors, he was hitting .335 and caught the attention of the Cubs who were in a battle for the 1932 NL Pennant. He was brought to the Windy City that August and played outstanding baseball for 2 months, hitting a robust .353 to help Chicago hold off the Pirates and earn the right to face the Yankees in the ’32 World Series.

When his former Yankee teammates learned that Koenig’s new Chicago’ teammates had not voted him a full share of the team’s World Series prize money, they exhibited their resentment with a constant and fierce series-long razzing targeting the entire Cubs’ team, except Koenig of course. That razzing was nearing the boil-over point by Game 3, when Babe Ruth came to the plate in the fifth inning with the score tied 4-4 to face Cub pitcher Charley Root. Root and the entire Cub bench were screaming obscenities at the Bambino, who was responding in kind. When Root supposedly quick pitched a second strike, legend has it that Ruth pointed to center and hit Root’s next pitch into the Wrigley Field bleachers in the general direction of where he had pointed.

The Cubs brought Koenig back for the ’33 season and then traded him to the Phillies, who in turn dealt him to the Reds. Still just 29 years old, Koenig became Cincinnati’s starting third baseman in 1934 and had a strong season. He then came back to New York in 1935, this time with the cross town Giants where he finished out his playing career in 1936. Koenig’s lifetime average for his dozen years as a big leaguer was a respectable .279 and he collected 1,190 hits. He would live until 1993 and become the oldest surviving starter from that 1927 Yankee team and missing by a couple of seasons, the beginning of the career of the last Yankee shortstop who will ever wear Koenig’s number.

Koenig shares his July 19th birthday with one of his Murderer’s Row teammatesthis former Yankee starting pitcher and this more recent Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1925 NYY 28 117 110 14 23 6 1 0 4 0 5 4 .209 .243 .282 .525
1926 NYY 147 679 617 93 167 26 8 5 65 4 43 37 .271 .319 .363 .682
1927 NYY 123 567 526 99 150 20 11 3 62 3 25 21 .285 .320 .382 .702
1928 NYY 132 579 533 89 170 19 10 4 63 3 32 19 .319 .360 .415 .774
1929 NYY 116 400 373 44 109 27 5 3 41 1 23 17 .292 .335 .416 .751
1930 NYY 21 86 74 9 17 5 0 0 9 0 6 5 .230 .296 .297 .594
12 Yrs 1162 4603 4271 572 1190 195 49 28 446 31 222 190 .279 .316 .367 .683
NYY (6 yrs) 567 2428 2233 348 636 103 35 15 244 11 134 103 .285 .327 .382 .710
NYG (2 yrs) 149 487 454 47 128 16 0 4 44 0 21 22 .282 .315 .344 .659
CHC (2 yrs) 113 345 320 47 98 17 2 6 36 5 18 14 .306 .345 .428 .773
DET (2 yrs) 182 682 631 70 156 33 6 2 55 10 34 27 .247 .288 .328 .616
CIN (1 yr) 151 661 633 60 172 26 6 1 67 5 15 24 .272 .289 .336 .625
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/18/2013.

June 15 – Happy Birthday Eduardo Nunez

Joe Girardi has been one of Eduardo Nunez’s biggest fans and boosters since the young Dominican infielder made his big league and Yankee debut in August of 2010. Several of the team’s talent developers have also predicted that Nunez would one day succeed his boyhood idol, Derek Jeter as Yankee shortstop. Members of the Yankee front-office have been quoted as labeling this kid as untouchable. I’m not that optimistic about this guy.

Don’t get me wrong, he has potential. I just have not seen strong enough evidence that he’s anywhere near ready to take over Jeter’s position anytime soon. He was a valuable utility infielder for Girardi in 2011, appearing in 112 games that season and averaging .265 as a fill-in for Jeter and A-Rod who both were forced into long absences with injuries. But his defensive lapses at both short and third were often glaring and far too frequent for a big league infielder.

It was those same defensive shortcomings in several early-season  games this season that finally forced Girardi to OK Nunez’s return to Triple A. I do think he has the offensive skills necessary to play regularly at the big league level but he lacks the power necessary to hold down the Yankees’ DH spot. Making Nunez’s return to the Bronx even more difficult is the fact that he can’t focus his time in the minors mastering one infield spot. With A-Rod, Jeter and Robbie Cano pretty firmly ensconced at their respective positions for the next few years, Nunez must learn to play all three adequately.

Nunez shares his june 15th birthday with this Hall-of-Fame third baseman,  one of the members of the famous Yankee core four and this former Yankee first baseman.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2010 NYY 30 53 50 12 14 1 0 1 7 5 3 2 .280 .321 .360 .681
2011 NYY 112 338 309 38 82 18 2 5 30 22 22 37 .265 .313 .385 .698
2012 NYY 38 100 89 14 26 4 1 1 11 11 6 12 .292 .330 .393 .723
2013 NYY 27 95 80 9 16 4 1 0 4 2 8 16 .200 .290 .275 .565
4 Yrs 207 586 528 73 138 27 4 7 52 40 39 67 .261 .313 .367 .681
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/15/2013.

March 9 – Happy Birthday Bert Campaneris

When I first started following Yankee baseball in 1960, the stolen base was something other teams did but not my Bronx Bombers. The Yankees had built and sustained a dynastic offense on slugging power and in the early ’60’s if somebody stole a base who was wearing a pinstriped uniform, it was either by accident or Mickey Mantle’s legs were feeling particularly strong that day. Case in point, in 1961, the Yankees led all of baseball with 240 home runs and also trailed all of baseball with just 28 stolen bases.

It was the Chicago White Sox at the time, who lived and breathed by a small ball attack that depended on stolen bases to spark their offense it was their great shortstop, Luis Aparicio, who provided the lighter fluid. Little Louie had made his Windy City debut in 1956 and proceeded to win nine straight AL stolen base crowns. That’s why it was pretty shocking when today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant stopped Aparicio’s streak in 1965, by stealing 51 bases for the A’s in just his second big league season.

If you ask Jim Kaat, the one-time Yankee pitcher and game announcer, who Campaneris reminded him of, it might have been Mantle instead of Aparicio. “Kitty” was the first big league pitcher to face the 22-year-old Cuban in his rookie season of 1964 and Campy hit Kaat’s first pitch to him for a home run. He then homered off Kaat again in the same game. This incredibly talented shortstop brought an immediate element of excitement to a Kansas City team that had played horrible baseball for a very long time and gradually, he helped mold that ball club into a force that would win three consecutive World Championships. He would capture six AL stolen base titles in his first eight seasons. Then, just to prove he wasn’t a one-dimensional player, he decided to try and hit home runs during the 1970 season and hit 22 of them.

Campy’s career with the A’s ended after the 1976 season. The bitter Oakland owner Charley Finley had thrown up his hands at free agency and was cashing in his chips by unloading all of the team’s best players. Campaneris was one of the few A’s stars left from the three straight world championship teams to make it to free agency before being traded. He more than doubled his last A’s salary when he signed with Texas. But he was 35 years-old at the time and his best days were behind him. Over the next five seasons, he evolved into a utility infielder and pinch-runner first with the Rangers and then with the Angels. It looked as if his big league playing days were over for good when the Angels let him go and he played the 1982 season in Mexico.

The 1982 Yankee season had been a nightmare. The team finished in fifth place, below five-hundred and had gone through three managers. George Steinbrenner brought Billy Martin back to manage the 1983 club. When the Boss signed Reggie Jackson as a free agent after the 1976 season, Martin had wanted him to sign Campaneris instead. Campy contacted the Yankees about coming to spring training because he had heard they had a shortage of infielders. He was invited to camp and got a break when Roy Smalley went down with appendicitis. Though he didn’t go north with the team he did accept a roster spot with Columbus instead and was called up to the Bronx in early May. He ended up doing a better-than-decent job as Martin’s key infield reserve. He hit .322 in 60 games of action and even stole 6 bases, leaving him with a career total of 649. It was a fitting end to an outstanding 19-year career.

Campy shares his March 9th birthday with this Yankee who hit one of the most famous home runs in franchise history, this sidearming southpaw, this former Yankee outfielder and this former AL MVP.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1983 NYY 60 155 143 19 46 5 0 0 11 6 8 9 .322 .355 .357 .712
19 Yrs 2328 9625 8684 1181 2249 313 86 79 646 649 618 1142 .259 .311 .342 .653
OAK (13 yrs) 1795 7895 7180 983 1882 270 70 70 529 566 504 933 .262 .314 .348 .662
TEX (3 yrs) 256 977 830 109 191 24 10 6 63 50 68 125 .230 .291 .305 .595
CAL (3 yrs) 217 598 531 70 130 14 6 3 43 27 38 75 .245 .296 .311 .607
NYY (1 yr) 60 155 143 19 46 5 0 0 11 6 8 9 .322 .355 .357 .712
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/4/2014.

February 5 – Happy Birthday Roger Peckinpaugh

peck1.jpgHe was the first starting shortstop in New York Yankee team history. Peckinpaugh won the job in 1913, the same year the New York Highlanders officially became the New York Yankees. He kept that position for the next eight seasons, long enough to become the first Yankee starting shortstop to play in the old Yankee Stadium and also to play for New York in a World Series. He was a brilliant fielder, an excellent base runner and a fierce and volatile competitor. In 1914, when team skipper Frank Chance was fired with 20-games left in the regular season, New York made Peckinpaugh player/manager and the Yanks finished the season 10-10 under his stewardship. His lifetime totals in Pinstripes included 1,170 hits, over 1,200 games played, a .257 batting average and 143 stolen bases.

In December of 1921, Roger was part a seven player swap with the Red Sox that included Boston’s starting shortstop, Everett Scott. By 1925, Peckinpaugh had been traded to Washington, where he hit .294 and was named AL MVP for leading the Senators to the World Series. But in that year’s Fall Classic against the Pirates, Peckinpaugh committed the unbelievable total of eight errors, which remains a Series record, today. He ended his playing career in 1927 and re-started his managing career the following season as skipper of the Indians. He managed for seven seasons and then took a job in Cleveland’s front office. Roger died in 1977, at the age of 86.

Since today’s post is about the first great shortstop in pinstripe history, let’s take a look at my list of the five greatest Yankee shortstops ever:

Number 1 – Derek Jeter: Five rings, eight pennants, seventeen postseasons, 3,000 hits. Simply the best.
Number 2 – Phil Rizzuto: Ted Williams described Scooter as one of the greatest players of his era. Nine pennants, seven rings, an MVP and Hall-of-Famer.
Number 3 – Frankie Crosetti: The starting shortstop on 6 World Championship teams. A total of nine pennants and eight rings as a player. Reached 1,500 hits and 1,000 runs during his career.
Number 4 – Peckinpaugh
Number 5 – Tony Kubek: His three rings, seven pennants and 1,109 hits during a brief nine-year career easily beats out Bucky Dent for the final spot.

Also born on this date was this former New York receiver, and this one-time prized Yankee prospect.

Peckinpaugh’s Yankee regular season and career playing stats:

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1913 NYY 95 373 340 35 91 10 7 1 32 19 24 47 .268 .316 .347 .663
1914 NYY 157 635 570 55 127 14 6 3 51 38 51 73 .223 .288 .284 .572
1915 NYY 142 625 540 67 119 18 7 5 44 19 49 72 .220 .289 .307 .596
1916 NYY 145 631 552 65 141 22 8 4 58 18 62 50 .255 .332 .346 .678
1917 NYY 148 629 543 63 141 24 7 0 41 17 64 46 .260 .340 .330 .670
1918 NYY 122 516 446 59 103 15 3 0 43 12 43 41 .231 .303 .278 .581
1919 NYY 122 537 453 89 138 20 2 7 33 10 59 37 .305 .390 .404 .794
1920 NYY 139 623 534 109 144 26 6 8 54 8 72 47 .270 .356 .386 .742
1921 NYY 149 694 577 128 166 25 7 8 71 2 84 44 .288 .380 .397 .777
17 Yrs 2012 8383 7233 1006 1876 256 75 48 739 205 814 670 .259 .336 .335 .672
NYY (9 yrs) 1219 5263 4555 670 1170 174 53 36 427 143 508 457 .257 .334 .342 .676
WSH (5 yrs) 639 2566 2180 293 583 72 18 11 261 46 268 146 .267 .349 .332 .681
CLE (3 yrs) 86 308 281 20 59 4 1 1 28 14 17 61 .210 .258 .242 .500
CHW (1 yr) 68 246 217 23 64 6 3 0 23 2 21 6 .295 .360 .350 .710
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/14/2014.

Peckinpaugh’s managerial stats:

Rk Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% G Finish
1 1914 23 New York Yankees AL 2nd of 2 10 10 .500 20 6
New York Yankees 1 year 10 10 .500 20 6.0
Cleveland Indians 7 years 490 481 .505 975 4.4
8 years 500 491 .505 995 4.6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/14/2014.

January 6 – Happy Birthday Ruben Amaro

The 1965 season was a “year of discovery” for the Yankee front office and Yankee fans but what they discovered wasn’t pretty. They went into that season thinking the defending AL Champion Bronx Bombers had everything in place on-the-field to win the team’s sixth straight pennant and ended the year realizing their cupboard was bare.

The problems started at the top with GM Ralph Houk. He had proved himself as a solid field manager but he was no George Weiss when it came to general managing. The team’s first-year field skipper, Johnny Keane found out that the veteran Yankee roster did not respond to his “disciplined” approach in the dugout or in the clubhouse. Whitey Ford was near the end of the line and the futures of one-time young stud pitchers Jim Bouton and Al Downing did not look so bright anymore. At first base, an immature Joe Pepitone was proving he’d never be a player the team could depend upon. Behind the plate, Elston Howard was breaking down physically. In the outfield, both Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris had awful seasons in ’65. And most shocking of all, the middle of New York’s infield, for decades the core of Yankee dynasty teams, was about to disappear entirely.

Shortstop Tony Kubek had gone to the Mayo Clinic to try and find out the true source of the excruciating pain he constantly felt in his shoulder. The diagnosis was not good. It was a vertebrae problem at the base of Kubek’s neck that could not be resolved. The doctors recommended complete rest and the 29-year-old Kubek went one step beyond and completely retired from the game. His second base partner, Bobby Richardson, also just 29-years-old, was also ready to hang up his cleats after the ’65 season but agreed to play one more year to help break in his own and Kubek’s successors.

Finding Kubek’s successor would prove to be Houk’s most pressing and difficult challenge. The Yankees backup shortstop was actually more of a natural second baseman by the name of Phil Linz. Linz had gained fame for his harmonica playing on the Yankee team bus during the 1964 season. The guy wore glasses and looked almost professorial but he was actually a pretty wild party animal who hung around with the even crazier Pepitone. Linz also couldn’t hit at all.

Houk liked the Yankee’s top minor league shortstop at the time, a kid from Oklahoma named Bobby Murcer, but the GM knew he couldn’t depend on a rookie, so he looked around the big leagues to find out what veteran shortstops were available. Not many were. The one Houk settled on had been the NL Gold Glove winner at the position in 1964, with the Phillies. His name was Ruben Amaro. That ’64 season in Philadelphia had been the highlight of Amaro’s career but the truth was his lifetime average (.241) was five points lower than Linz’s at the time. Houk settled on Amaro because he was a better defensive player than Linz and a much more mature individual as well. When Philadelphia was willing to accept Linz in exchange for Amaro, Houk made the trade.

The 1966 season turned out to be one of the all-time worst years in Yankee franchise history. Amaro’s contribution to that season pretty much ended after just four games. In the first inning of the Yankee’s fifth game of the season versus Baltimore, the Orioles’ Curt Blefary hit a popup off of Al Downing into short left field. Amaro went back and Yankee left-fielder Tom Tresh charged in. The collision tore all the ligaments in the shortstop’s left knee and he wouldn’t play his next Yankee game until September 6th. By then the Yankee record was 62-80 and the team would finish the year in the AL basement.

Amaro came back to play 123 games at short for New York in 1967. Just as Houk expected, he showed a pretty good glove, was a positive influence in the rapidly changing Yankee clubhouse but no help offensively to a lineup that was desperate for assistance. Amaro had hit just .223 and scored only 31 runs. Murcer had already proven he was not a shortstop and Houk’s 1966 experiment to play third baseman Clete Boyer at short had failed as well. Instead Houk went searching for a trade. He tried to get Maury Wills and Luis Aparicio but fell short in both pursuits. All he could come up with was a guy named Gene Michael who, ironically would turn out to be a much better evaluator of player talent for the New York Yankees than Ralph Houk would ever be. Amaro ended up getting sold to the Angels.

Ruben is also the father of the very talented GM of the Philadelphia Phillies, Ruben Amaro Jr. The elder Amaro shares his January 6th birthday with this former Yankee pitcher who played his best ball for the Cincinnati Reds, this other former Yankee pitcher who played his best ball for the Brooklyn Dodgers, this long-ago Highlander starting pitcher and this former reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1966 NYY 14 23 23 0 5 0 0 0 3 0 0 2 .217 .217 .217 .435
1967 NYY 130 470 417 31 93 12 0 1 17 3 43 49 .223 .297 .259 .556
1968 NYY 47 50 41 3 5 1 0 0 0 0 9 6 .122 .280 .146 .426
11 Yrs 940 2451 2155 211 505 75 13 8 156 11 227 280 .234 .309 .292 .601
PHI (6 yrs) 668 1790 1571 165 379 60 12 7 135 8 166 209 .241 .315 .308 .623
NYY (3 yrs) 191 543 481 34 103 13 0 1 20 3 52 57 .214 .292 .247 .540
STL (1 yr) 40 82 76 8 17 2 1 0 0 0 5 8 .224 .272 .276 .548
CAL (1 yr) 41 36 27 4 6 0 0 0 1 0 4 6 .222 .323 .222 .545
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/7/2014.

December 12 – Happy Birthday Pee Wee Wanninger

On May 6, 1925, the Yankees were scheduled to play the Philadelphia A’s at the old Yankee Stadium. Manager Miller Huggins picked that particular contest to do something he hadn’t done in the previous 475 regular season Yankee games. That was to start a Yankee player at shortstop who was not named Everett Scott. In fact, up until that afternoon Scott had played in 1,307 consecutive regular season games, which was the all-time record at the time. Huggins felt the streak was putting too much pressure on Scott so he decided to take it upon himself to end the thing. In Scott’s place, Huggins started a 22-year-old rookie shortstop named Paul Wanninger. The kid was only 5’7″ tall and weighed just 150 pounds, which earned him the nickname Pee-Wee. He went 0-2 that afternoon against the A’s and was himself removed for a pinch hitter as he was about to take his third at bat.

As it turned out, Huggins’ intention was not to simply give Scott a day off. Just a few weeks later, the Yankees placed Scott on waivers and Wanninger took over as the Yankees’ starting shortstop. That 1925 season proved to be a terrible one for New York. It was the year of Babe Ruth’s big bellyache, which in reality was the Bambino’s total physical breakdown caused by his horrible habits and lifestyle. Without their star, New York lost 85 games and fell to seventh place in the AL. Wanninger ended up playing in 117 games that year. Pee Wee got hot early and finished May with a 13-game hitting streak.

On June 1, Huggins made another decision that would end up having a legendary impact on the game. The Yankees were losing to the Senators and Wanninger was 0 for 3 and due to come up a fourth time. Instead, Huggins decided to pinch hit for Pee Wee and you know the diminutive shortstop  must have been steamed about that decision because it ended any chance he had of extending his thirteen game hitting streak to 14. The guy Huggins selected to pinch-hit was another Yankee rookie, who was built like Adonis and was five inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than Pee Wee. His name was Lou Gehrig. That pinch-hitting appearance would be the first of Gehrig’s 2,130 consecutive game streak, shattering Everett Scott’s previous record and holding up for over 50 years, until Cal Ripken Jr. surpassed it in 1995.

In the mean time, Pee Wee Wanninger stayed hot offensively for New York right through June, when he was still averaging .290 and playing a decent shortstop. But as the summer temperatures rose, Wanninger’s bat got cold. After he averaged just .167 for the month of August, Huggins began playing another rookie named Mark Koenig at short. It would be Koenig who would start at that position for the great Yankee teams of 1926, ’27 and ’28. Wanninger would end his one and only year in pinstripes hitting just .236. The Yankees sold him to a minor league team after that season. He got back to the big leagues for a brief spell in 1927, playing for both the Red Sox and Cincinnati and then was gone for good. But not before he got the opportunity to play key roles in the ending of one one of the Game’s great streaks and the beginning of another.

Wanninger shares his birthday with this former Yankee closer , this former Yankee utility infielder, and this former Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1925 NYY 117 427 403 35 95 13 6 1 22 3 11 34 .236 .256 .305 .561
2 Yrs 163 598 556 53 130 15 8 1 31 5 23 43 .234 .266 .295 .560
CIN (1 yr) 28 104 93 14 23 2 2 0 8 0 6 7 .247 .293 .312 .605
NYY (1 yr) 117 427 403 35 95 13 6 1 22 3 11 34 .236 .256 .305 .561
BOS (1 yr) 18 67 60 4 12 0 0 0 1 2 6 2 .200 .284 .200 .484
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/12/2013.

November 24 – Happy Birthday Randy Velarde

Velarde started his big league career with the Yankees in 1987 and was the team’s top utility infielder for the better part of nine seasons. He looked like a movie star and as each year passed he seemed to get his body more ripped. His best seasons in pinstripes were 1992, when he played in 121 games and hit .272 and 1992, when he batted .301. When the Yankees finally made it back to the playoffs in 1995 after missing the postseason for the previous fourteen years, Velarde was an important and versatile part of that team’s infield. When the Yankees lost in the first round of the playoffs to Seattle however, Velarde hit just .200 in that series. An overreacting George Steinbrenner then fired Manager Bucky Showalter and also replaced starters Mike Stanley, Don Mattingly, Pat Kelly and Velarde, who became a free agent. Randy then signed a pretty nice four-year deal with the Angels for right around $4 million. He had the three best years of his career as an Angel before being traded to the A’s during the 1999 season. He joined the Yankees a second time in 2001 but appeared in just 15 games. He retired after the 2002 season.

This one-time Yankee pitcher and this former Yankee reliever were also born on this date.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1987 NYY 8 22 22 1 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 6 .182 .182 .182 .364
1988 NYY 48 125 115 18 20 6 0 5 12 1 8 24 .174 .240 .357 .597
1989 NYY 33 111 100 12 34 4 2 2 11 0 7 14 .340 .389 .480 .869
1990 NYY 95 253 229 21 48 6 2 5 19 0 20 53 .210 .275 .319 .594
1991 NYY 80 210 184 19 45 11 1 1 15 3 18 43 .245 .322 .332 .653
1992 NYY 121 461 412 57 112 24 1 7 46 7 38 78 .272 .333 .386 .719
1993 NYY 85 253 226 28 68 13 2 7 24 2 18 39 .301 .360 .469 .829
1994 NYY 77 310 280 47 78 16 1 9 34 4 22 61 .279 .338 .439 .777
1995 NYY 111 432 367 60 102 19 1 7 46 5 55 64 .278 .375 .392 .768
2001 NYY 15 55 46 4 7 3 0 0 1 2 5 13 .152 .278 .217 .495
16 Yrs 1273 4813 4244 633 1171 214 23 100 445 78 463 853 .276 .352 .408 .760
NYY (10 yrs) 673 2232 1981 267 518 102 10 43 209 24 191 395 .261 .332 .388 .720
ANA (4 yrs) 283 1260 1094 168 315 55 8 27 128 27 147 216 .288 .376 .427 .803
OAK (3 yrs) 239 987 873 152 250 41 3 21 77 23 96 169 .286 .363 .412 .775
TEX (1 yr) 78 334 296 46 88 16 2 9 31 4 29 73 .297 .369 .456 .825
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/24/2013.

October 25 – Happy Birthday Roy Smalley

The story goes that George Steinbrenner loved the Twins switch-hitting starting shortstop, Roy Smalley. So even though New York already had Bucky Dent and the promising Andre Robertson at that position for the 1982 season, the Yankees sent reliever Ron Davis and a young shortstop prospect named Greg Gagne to the Twins in April of that year to get Smalley in pinstripes. Roy had the bloodlines for baseball. His Dad had been a pretty good infielder for the Cubs in the 40s and his Mom’s brother was long-time big league player and manager, Gene Mauch. But ancestry and being good in Minnesota did not assure success in the Big Apple and Smalley was never comfortable as a Yankee. He did hit 20 home runs his first season in the Bronx and 18 during his second, but by 1984 Steinbrenner had tired of him and he was dealt to the White Sox. In the mean time, Ron Davis never turned into the closer the Twins needed, but Greg Gagne became a popular leader and starting shortstop on the great Twins teams of the 1980s. Roy was born on October 24, 1952, in Los Angeles. In the baseball card pictured with today’s post, doesn’t the larger image of Smalley look a lot like comedian Ray Romano? Also notice on the card that Smalley’s positions are listed as shortstop, third and first base. This is indicative of the early-eighties chaos with the New York lineup. It seemed hardly any Yankee back then knew what position he’d be playing game-to-game.

Smalley shares his October 25th birthday with this former Yankee GM,  this former Yankee reliever , this former Yankee turned medical doctor and this Yankee bullpen coach.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1982 NYY 142 565 486 55 125 14 2 20 67 0 68 100 .257 .346 .418 .764
1983 NYY 130 520 451 70 124 24 1 18 62 3 58 68 .275 .357 .452 .810
1984 NYY 67 227 209 17 50 8 1 7 26 2 15 35 .239 .286 .388 .674
13 Yrs 1653 6595 5657 745 1454 244 25 163 694 27 771 908 .257 .345 .395 .740
MIN (10 yrs) 1148 4676 3997 551 1046 184 21 110 485 15 549 606 .262 .350 .401 .750
NYY (3 yrs) 339 1312 1146 142 299 46 4 45 155 5 141 203 .261 .340 .426 .766
TEX (2 yrs) 119 449 379 37 86 10 0 4 41 6 59 69 .227 .328 .285 .613
CHW (1 yr) 47 158 135 15 23 4 0 4 13 1 22 30 .170 .285 .289 .574
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2013.

September 25 – Happy Birthday Phil Rizzuto

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Scooter do Yankee games. In fact, his memorable on-air birthday wishes to Yankee fans inspired this Blog. One evening toward the end of his career in the Yankee booth, Rizzuto was going through his list of birthday announcements when the late Bobby Murcer interrupted him by asking when he was born. The Scooter didn’t answer the question so I grabbed my copy of the Baseball Encyclopedia and looked it up. Then I looked up Murcer’s, Mantle’s, Mattingly’s etc. As I did so I began to wonder if I could find a current or former Yankee born on each day of the calendar year and the task became my hobby for the next few months.

I never saw Rizzuto play the game but I grew up listening to him. I loved the fact that he was an unabashed “homer” rooting the Yankees on through good times and bad. His stories were priceless, entertaining me almost as much as a Yankee victory. I loved the one he told about spending his wedding night in a round room so he couldn’t corner his wife, Cora. Or when Bill White would ask him if he thought traffic would be bad after the game and Rizzuto would answer. “I don’t know White and I don’t intend to find out.” Or when a batter would hit a pop up and Rizzuto would say “While that ball’s up in the air Seaver I wanna wish Sophie DeCarlo up in Mt. Vernon a happy 80th birthday.” His induction speech at the Baseball Hall of Fame is a classic.

On the field, Rizzuto was one of the most valuable members of the Yankee teams that won five straight pennants from 1949 through 1953. In all he had seven championship rings and he won the 1950 AL MVP award when he reached the 200 hit plateau with a .324 average. He was an expert bunter, base runner and a terrific fielder. The great Ted Williams often stated that Rizzuto was one of the most talented players he had ever seen.  I’m glad he made it to Cooperstown while he was still alive. He was truly a Yankee legend.

This great Yankee pitcher this former Yankee second baseman and this one-time Yankee reliever were all also born on September 25th.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1941 NYY 133 547 515 65 158 20 9 3 46 14 27 36 .307 .343 .398 .741
1942 NYY 144 613 553 79 157 24 7 4 68 22 44 40 .284 .343 .374 .718
1946 NYY 126 520 471 53 121 17 1 2 38 14 34 39 .257 .315 .310 .625
1947 NYY 153 623 549 78 150 26 9 2 60 11 57 31 .273 .350 .364 .714
1948 NYY 128 539 464 65 117 13 2 6 50 6 60 24 .252 .340 .328 .668
1949 NYY 153 712 614 110 169 22 7 5 65 18 72 34 .275 .352 .358 .711
1950 NYY 155 735 617 125 200 36 7 7 66 12 92 39 .324 .418 .439 .857
1951 NYY 144 630 540 87 148 21 6 2 43 18 58 27 .274 .350 .346 .696
1952 NYY 152 673 578 89 147 24 10 2 43 17 67 42 .254 .337 .341 .678
1953 NYY 134 506 413 54 112 21 3 2 54 4 71 39 .271 .383 .351 .734
1954 NYY 127 373 307 47 60 11 0 2 15 3 41 23 .195 .291 .251 .541
1955 NYY 81 181 143 19 37 4 1 1 9 7 22 18 .259 .369 .322 .691
1956 NYY 31 66 52 6 12 0 0 0 6 3 6 6 .231 .310 .231 .541
13 Yrs 1661 6718 5816 877 1588 239 62 38 563 149 651 398 .273 .351 .355 .706
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/25/2013.

August 14 – Happy Birthday Jim Mason

1974 was a good year for the New York Yankees. After falling eight games back in their Division race by that season’s All Star break, Manager Bill Virdon’s team got hot in the second half and battled Boston and Baltimore for first place, finishing in second, just two games behind the Birds. I remember going absolutely crazy when the Yankees swept Cleveland in a four-game series in late September and climbed into first place. Two days later, their time at the top ended when they lost a double header to the Red Sox. This marked the first time since 1964 that New York had been in first place during the month of September. The starting shortstop on that 1974 Yankee team was today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant. Born in Mobile, AL, in 1950, Mason was one of the last draft choices of the old Washington Senator franchise before they moved to Texas. He played 152 games for New York in 1974, batting .250 but committing 26 errors. He played quite a bit of shortstop for the Yankees the next two seasons as well and he pinch-hit the only Yankee home run in the disastrous 1976 World Series against the Big Red Machine.

Mason had succeeded “The Stick,” Gene Michael as New York’s starting shortstop. Fred Stanley then succeeded Mason. When I see New York sportswriters disparage an aging Derek Jeter’s supposed offensive shortcomings I just laugh. These pundits must have not been around when Michael, Stanley and Mason were around. This trio wrote the book on the offensive shortcomings of Yankee shortstops.

Mason shares his birthday with this long ago Yankee first baseman and  this former Yankee infielder and one-time Florida Marlins’ Manager.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1974 NYY 152 487 440 41 110 18 6 5 37 1 35 87 .250 .302 .352 .654
1975 NYY 94 251 223 17 34 3 2 2 16 0 22 49 .152 .228 .211 .438
1976 NYY 93 236 217 17 39 7 1 1 14 0 9 37 .180 .210 .235 .445
9 Yrs 633 1756 1584 140 322 53 12 12 114 2 124 316 .203 .259 .275 .534
TEX (5 yrs) 232 616 554 52 113 17 2 4 39 0 44 117 .204 .262 .264 .525
NYY (3 yrs) 339 974 880 75 183 28 9 8 67 1 66 173 .208 .261 .288 .548
MON (1 yr) 40 78 71 3 13 5 1 0 6 0 7 16 .183 .256 .282 .538
TOR (1 yr) 22 88 79 10 13 3 0 0 2 1 7 10 .165 .233 .203 .435
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/14/2013.