Results tagged ‘ starting pitcher ’

December 31 – Happy Birthday Tommy Byrne

Tommy Byrne didn’t really have a nickname but if he did, it probably would have been “Wild Man.” This southpaw had a blazing fastball and a great biting curve but he had a real tough time throwing either of them over the plate with any consistency. Over his thirteen season big league career, the Baltimore native averaged just under seven walks for every nine innings he pitched, led the American League in that department three straight seasons and in one of them, 1951, he walked 150 batters in just 143 innings. And when Byrne didn’t walk a batter, chances were good that he’d hit him instead because the guy led the AL in hit batsmen five different times. So how did a pitcher who was so wild stay in the big leagues? There were two reasons really.

The first was that despite his aversion to the strike zone, Byrne would win games. He started pitching full time for the Yankees in 1948 and over the next three seasons his record was 38-21. He was a very effective fourth starter for New York, behind their legendary Raschi, Reynolds, Lopat triumvirate. The second reason the Yankees kept him was his ability to hit. Byrne was one of the best hitting pitchers in all of baseball. He averaged .326 in 1948 and .272 two seasons later. He was such a good stick that he was frequently used as a pinch hitter and actually had 80 pinch hits during his career.

So Manager Casey Stengel, Byrne’s Yankee teammates and even most Yankee fans would tolerate the left-handers mind-numbing spurts of wildness because he kept winning games and the team kept winning pennants in spite of them. Unfortunately for Byrne, the one guy who couldn’t tolerate it any longer turned out to be Yankee co-owner Dan Topping. On June 15th, 1951, Topping engineered a trade that sent Byrne to the Browns for another southpaw pitcher named Stubby Overmire. I read that Stengel was livid with Topping when he learned of the trade after it had already been consummated.

The Yankees didn’t miss Tommy at first because they still had the big three in their starting rotation along with a new young southpaw named Whitey Ford. Byrne, on the other hand did not find pitching for the lowly Browns anywhere near as enjoyable as pitching for the mighty Yankees. He went 11-24 during his two seasons in St. Louis and then was traded to the White Sox.

In addition to being wild, Byrne turned out to be pretty lucky too. By 1954, Raschi was gone and Reynolds and Lopat were nearing the end of their careers. Byrne in the mean time, had been sold by the White Sox to the Senators and then released. He spent most of the 1954 season pitching for Seattle in the PCL League, where he went 20-10 on the mound and hit .296 at the plate. That performance caught the attention of the Yankees and the then-34-year-old pitcher suddenly found himself back in pinstripes at the close of the 1954 season. The following year, Byrne rejoined the Yankees’ starting rotation and went 16-5 to lead the AL in winning percentage. He also pitched very well in the 1955 World Series against the Dodgers. Bryne got a complete-game 4-2 victory in Game 2 and also drove in the winning runs with his two-run single. He then held the Dodgers to just one run for five-plus innings of Game 7 before being lifted by Stengel in a game the Yankees would go on to lose.

Byrne pitched two more seasons for New York and then went back to college at Wake Forest. He ended his career with an 85-69 overall record and 72-40 as an eleven-year Yankee. He ended up getting into politics and served as Mayor of the college town for fifteen years. He passed away in 2007, at the age of 87. One of the things I learned about Byrne doing research for this post was that he was considered to be a flake. He was known for talking to opposing hitters during the game and according to Yogi Berra, Byrne’s chit chatting would drive all stars like Ted Williams and Al Rosen absolutely crazy. Often times, he would tell the hitter what pitch he was about to throw. The talking combined with his sharp biting curve ball and lack of control made Byrne Yogi’s choice as the toughest pitcher he ever had to catch.

Byrne shares his last-day-of-the-year birthday with this other former Yankee starting pitcher.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1943 NYY 2 1 .667 6.54 11 2 8 0 0 0 31.2 28 26 23 1 35 22 1.989
1946 NYY 0 1 .000 5.79 4 1 3 0 0 0 9.1 7 8 6 1 8 5 1.607
1947 NYY 0 0 4.15 4 1 2 0 0 0 4.1 5 2 2 0 6 2 2.538
1948 NYY 8 5 .615 3.30 31 11 11 5 1 2 133.2 79 55 49 8 101 93 1.347
1949 NYY 15 7 .682 3.72 32 30 2 12 3 0 196.0 125 84 81 11 179 129 1.551
1950 NYY 15 9 .625 4.74 31 31 0 10 2 0 203.1 188 115 107 23 160 118 1.711
1951 TOT 6 11 .353 4.26 28 20 3 7 2 0 143.2 120 73 68 5 150 71 1.879
1951 NYY 2 1 .667 6.86 9 3 1 0 0 0 21.0 16 17 16 0 36 14 2.476
1954 NYY 3 2 .600 2.70 5 5 0 4 1 0 40.0 36 13 12 1 19 24 1.375
1955 NYY 16 5 .762 3.15 27 22 4 9 3 2 160.0 137 69 56 12 87 76 1.400
1956 NYY 7 3 .700 3.36 37 8 18 1 0 6 109.2 108 50 41 9 72 52 1.641
1957 NYY 4 6 .400 4.36 30 4 16 1 0 2 84.2 70 41 41 8 60 57 1.535
13 Yrs 85 69 .552 4.11 281 170 72 65 12 12 1362.0 1138 688 622 98 1037 766 1.597
NYY (11 yrs) 72 40 .643 3.93 221 118 65 42 10 12 993.2 799 480 434 74 763 592 1.572
SLB (2 yrs) 11 24 .314 4.35 48 41 7 21 2 0 318.2 286 173 154 21 226 148 1.607
WSH (1 yr) 0 5 .000 4.28 6 5 0 2 0 0 33.2 35 17 16 3 22 22 1.693
CHW (1 yr) 2 0 1.000 10.13 6 6 0 0 0 0 16.0 18 18 18 0 26 4 2.750
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/31/2013.

December 26 – Happy Birthday Dustin Moseley

dustin-moseleyWhile the Yankees had a marvelous season in 2009, winning their 27th World Championship, it was a lost year for Dustin Moseley. The right-handed pitcher from Texarkana, Texas strained his right forearm at the beginning of that year and just as he recovered from that injury he found out he needed surgery on his hip, which ended his season. His contract with the Angels was up that same season, so you know he had to be thrilled when the Yankees offered him a contract that winter.

Moseley had his agent include a clause that made him a free agent again if he wasn’t on New York’s 25-man roster by July 1. Getting him there by that date proved to be an easy decision because the defending champions’ bullpen was a complete mess that season. Both Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson were pitching poorly, Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin were worse and Alfredo Aceves was on the DL.

So when Moseley made his pinstriped debut as a reliever against Toronto on July 3rd of that season and held the Jays hitless in his two-inning stint, Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, his Yankee teammates and plenty of Yankee fans were all simultaneously hoping it was a sign of good things to come. It actually wasn’t. After three more relief stints his ERA was over four. By then however, the Yankee starting pitching situation had fallen upon rough times and Girardi actually inserted Moseley into the rotation.

The 29-year-old stepped up, winning four of his first six decisions as a starter. Even though he lost his last two starts that year, his strong two inning relief stint in Game 1 of the 2010 ALCS against Texas earned him the win and probably was the reason the Yanks tried to re-sign him again following that postseason.Moseley instead decided to take his game to San Diego’s more pitcher-friendly Petco Park.

He pitched well for the Padres in 2011.posting a 3.30 ERA, but poor run support saddled him with a 3-10 record. He also injured his non-throwing shoulder and when he failed to get off to a good start the following year, he was put on waivers.He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since.

Moseley shares his Yankee birthday with this former postseason hero and one-time Yankee reliever.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2010 NYY 4 4 .500 4.96 16 9 2 0 0 0 65.1 66 36 36 13 27 33 1.423
7 Yrs 15 21 .417 4.67 101 53 17 0 0 0 358.1 397 202 186 43 117 199 1.434
LAA (4 yrs) 8 7 .533 5.41 64 23 15 0 0 0 168.0 209 102 101 19 52 98 1.554
SDP (2 yrs) 3 10 .231 3.53 21 21 0 0 0 0 125.0 122 64 49 11 38 68 1.280
NYY (1 yr) 4 4 .500 4.96 16 9 2 0 0 0 65.1 66 36 36 13 27 33 1.423
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/27/2013.

December 23 – Happy Birthday Shawn Chacon

Back in 2005, starting pitchers were dropping like flies for manager Joe Torre’s Yankees. Carl Pavano, Jared Wright and Chien Ming Wang were already on the disabled list when in late July, the mercurial Kevin Brown joined them. The Yankee front office responded by going on a starter acquisition blitz. They went out and got Al Leiter, Hideki Nomo and Shawn Chacon.

Of the three, Yankee fans expected the least from Chacon. His big league career up until that point had been weird to say the least. During his first three seasons in the Majors he had been a starter for Colorado. After going 11-21 his first two years, he had 11 victories by the 2003 All Star break but then did not win another game that season. Then he became the Rockie closer, finishing 2004 with 35 saves but a horrible 1-7 won-lost record.

Chacon ended up being one of the best pitchers on the Yankee staff during the second half of 2005. He won seven of ten decisions with a sparkling 2.85 ERA. He and another journeyman starter, Aaron Small, actually saved that Yankee season, with both guys pitching better than the millionaire’s club of starters the Yankees started that year with.

He got off to a good start for New York in 2006 as well but he got hurt early in the season and then got traded to the Pirates. He ended up with the Astros, in 2008 where he made headlines and got suspended when he scuffled with Houston GM Ed Wade. The right-hander has not pitched a game in the big leagues since. Chacon was born on December 23, 1977 in Anchorage, Alaska and given up for adoption, four years later.

Chacon shares his birthday with another former Yankee starting pitcher and with this former Yankee third-baseman.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2005 NYY 7 3 .700 2.85 14 12 0 0 0 0 79.0 66 26 25 7 30 40 1.215
2006 NYY 5 3 .625 7.00 17 11 0 0 0 0 63.0 77 54 49 11 36 35 1.794
8 Yrs 45 61 .425 4.99 269 134 71 0 0 36 922.0 916 544 511 137 475 619 1.509
COL (5 yrs) 24 45 .348 5.20 150 83 60 0 0 35 552.1 543 338 319 82 293 385 1.514
PIT (2 yrs) 7 7 .500 4.44 73 13 11 0 0 1 142.0 142 74 70 21 75 106 1.528
NYY (2 yrs) 12 6 .667 4.69 31 23 0 0 0 0 142.0 143 80 74 18 66 75 1.472
HOU (1 yr) 2 3 .400 5.04 15 15 0 0 0 0 85.2 88 52 48 16 41 53 1.506
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.

December 3 – Happy Birthday Butch Wensloff

wensloffGrowing up in Sausalito, California, Charles “Butch” Wensloff did not have an easy life. He was just six years old and the eldest of three children, when his dad left his mom to marry another woman. In an effort to help his family put food on the table during the Great Depression, Charley quit school at a young age to work at a variety of odd jobs.

In his spare time he pitched for semi-pro teams. Strong as a bull, the young right-hander had an impressive fastball and to keep opposing hitters off balance, he developed a very good knuckler. His mastery of those two pitches got him his first minor league contract in 1937 with the El Paso Texans, a D-level club in the old Aztec League. His 17-10 record that season caught the attention of the Yankees and they purchased his contract and moved him up to their Joplin affiliate in the C-level Western Association. When Wensloff won 21 games during his second year in Joplin, he was sent up to the Yankees double A affiliate in Kansas City, where during the next three seasons he won 49 ball games.

The Yankees finally brought him up in 1943, when he was 27 years old. Manager Joe McCarthy loved the fact that in addition to a fastball and curve, his new rookie hurler had better than average command of his knuckleball. The Yankee skipper wasted little time throwing Wensloff into the starting rotation and by the end of his first year in the big leagues, he had compiled a 13-11 record and a 2.58 ERA.

He didn’t get to throw a single pitch in the Yankees five-game victory over the Cardinals in the ’43 Series because McCarthy had decided to use him as his long reliever out of the bullpen if the need arose. It never did.

Wensloff was one of those guys who never felt as if he was being paid enough and for all I know, he probably had good reasons for feeling that way. When he received his proposed Yankee contract for the 1944 season in the mail, he was unhappy with it and refused to sign it. When the stalemate continued, he was put on the voluntarily retired list and missed the entire 1944 season. He then got drafted into the Army in 1945 and wasn’t discharged until August of 1946, long after all of the Yankees other pitchers had returned from service. The long period of inactivity and his late discharge probably contributed to the sore arm he developed during the Yankees’ 1947 spring training camp.

Though he did finally return to pitch for New York again in June of that year, his arm was never the same. After going 3-1 for Bucky Harris’s 1947 AL Pennant winners he finally got to pitch in a World Series that fall. But when he again was unhappy with the Yankees contract offer for the following season, he asked to be traded. His wish was granted when he was dealt to the Indians but after just one painful appearance with Cleveland, his big league career was over. He passed away in 2001, at the age of 85.

He shares his December 3rd birthday with this former Yankee first baseman, this former Yankee pitcher and this one-time Yankee outfielder.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1943 NYY 13 11 .542 2.54 29 27 1 18 1 1 223.1 179 80 63 7 70 105 1.115
1947 NYY 3 1 .750 2.61 11 5 3 1 0 0 51.2 41 17 15 3 22 18 1.219
3 Yrs 16 13 .552 2.60 41 32 5 19 1 1 276.2 222 99 80 11 95 125 1.146
NYY (2 yrs) 16 12 .571 2.55 40 32 4 19 1 1 275.0 220 97 78 10 92 123 1.135
CLE (1 yr) 0 1 .000 10.80 1 0 1 0 0 0 1.2 2 2 2 1 3 2 3.000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/3/2013.

November 27 – Happy Birthday Bill Short

ShortBorn in Kingston, NY and raised in nearby Newburgh, Bill Short was a five foot nine inch southpaw signed by the Yankees right out of high school in 1955. He spent the next five years climbing up the alphabetized ladder of New York’s farm system. At triple A Richmond in 1959, he became a genuine top prospect when he put together a 17-6 record, a 2.48 ERA and captured the league’s pitcher of the year honors.

By the time the Yankees 1960 spring training camp opened, Casey Stengel was ready for Short to prove he had good enough stuff to crack the parent club’s starting rotation. Short pitched well enough to make the team and after his first four regular season starts, he had a 2-1 record and despite an alarming number of bases on balls, a sparkling ERA of just 2.25. But he couldn’t keep it up.

Ironically as his walks went down his ERA went up and he lost his next three starts. He also lost his spot in both the rotation and on the Yankee roster, getting sent back down to the minors to try and get it back together. He spent the rest of his only Yankee season bouncing back and forth between Richmond and the Bronx and he was left off New York’s 1960 World Series roster.

Short then spent the entire 1961 season in Richmond and when the Yankees did not protect him, Baltimore claimed him in the Rule 5 Draft. He did get back to the big leagues, first with the Orioles and later with the Red Sox, Pirates, Mets and Reds, making his final big league appearance in 1969. Never a star at the top-level, Short won 120 games in the minors and is a member of the International League Hall of Fame.

He shares a birthday with this long-ago Yankee pitcher and this much more recent Yankee catcher.

Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1960 22 NYY AL 3 5 .375 4.79 10 10 0 2 0 0 47.0 49 25 25 5 30 14 1.681
6 Yrs 5 11 .313 4.73 73 16 16 3 1 2 131.1 130 75 69 8 64 71 1.477
BAL (2 yrs) 2 3 .400 4.10 11 6 1 1 1 0 41.2 42 22 19 2 16 30 1.392
NYM (1 yr) 0 3 .000 4.85 34 0 13 0 0 1 29.2 24 17 16 0 14 24 1.281
PIT (1 yr) 0 0 3.86 6 0 1 0 0 1 2.1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0.857
BOS (1 yr) 0 0 4.32 8 0 0 0 0 0 8.1 10 6 4 1 2 2 1.440
CIN (1 yr) 0 0 15.43 4 0 1 0 0 0 2.1 4 4 4 0 1 0 2.143
NYY (1 yr) 3 5 .375 4.79 10 10 0 2 0 0 47.0 49 25 25 5 30 14 1.681
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/26/2013.

November 26 – Happy Birthday Sam Militello

MilitelloBy 1992, even the most loyal and optimistic Yankee fans were wondering if our favorite baseball team would ever be winners again. George Steinbrenner had gotten himself suspended for life but not before he presided over the disembowelment of his ball club. The Stump Merrill era had just ended and somebody named Buck Showalter was now skippering the club.

Melido Perez was the ace of Buck’s pitching staff that year,which should tell you just how bad that staff was. It was clear to me that if the Yankees were ever going to be contenders again, the team had to find some special arms.

That’s why we all got pretty excited when today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant showed up in the Bronx during the dog days of August that year. A native of Tampa, Sam Militello was a tall fireballing right-hander  who had just won two consecutive pitcher of the year awards in the Yankee farm system. When he won his first three big league decisions the immediate reaction of Yankee Universe was not just joy but also “where the hell have they been hiding this kid and why?”

Unfortunately, Militello’s brilliance did not last. He lost his next three decisions and was then shelved for the remainder of the ’92 season with a tired arm. He bounced back with a strong spring training performance and the Yanks brought him north to start the ’93 season. After his first three regular season appearances however, his ERA was near seven and he couldn’t get the ball over the plate. The Yanks sent him down at the end of April. It was his inability to throw strikes and a series of arm injuries that prevented Militello from ever again throwing a pitch in the big leagues.

He shares his birthday with this Yankee Hall of Famer, this former starting pitcher and this one-time Yankee reliever.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1992 NYY 3 3 .500 3.45 9 9 0 0 0 0 60.0 43 24 23 6 32 42 1.250
1993 NYY 1 1 .500 6.75 3 2 0 0 0 0 9.1 10 8 7 1 7 5 1.821
2 Yrs 4 4 .500 3.89 12 11 0 0 0 0 69.1 53 32 30 7 39 47 1.327
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/25/2013.

November 24 – Happy Birthday Bob Friend

Strangely, Bob Friend almost helped the Yankees win the 1960 World Series. I use the word strangely because Friend did not become a Yankee until 1965. At the time of the ’60 Fall Classic he was still the ace of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ staff, who had won 18 games during that regular season and would end up winning 192 decisions before being traded by the Bucs to New York for reliever Pete Mikkelsen. The veteran right-hander, who was nicknamed “The Warrior,” started the second and sixth games of the Series and was plastered by the very talented Yankee lineup. Friend pitched a total of just six innings in those two appearances, surrendering thirteen hits and nine earned runs in the process. He would never again pitch in the postseason. When he started his one and only season in pinstripes losing four of his first five decisions, the Yankees sold him to the Mets. The Lafayette, IN native finished that season with a 5-8 record for the Amazin’s and then retired.

Another Yankee born on today’s date was this popular infielder with Hollywood good looks and this former Yankee reliever.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1966 NYY 1 4 .200 4.84 12 8 2 0 0 0 44.2 61 25 24 2 9 22 1.567
16 Yrs 197 230 .461 3.58 602 497 56 163 36 11 3611.0 3772 1652 1438 286 894 1734 1.292
PIT (15 yrs) 191 218 .467 3.55 568 477 46 161 35 10 3480.1 3610 1575 1372 273 869 1682 1.287
NYM (1 yr) 5 8 .385 4.40 22 12 8 2 1 1 86.0 101 52 42 11 16 30 1.360
NYY (1 yr) 1 4 .200 4.84 12 8 2 0 0 0 44.2 61 25 24 2 9 22 1.567
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/24/2013.

November 16 – Happy Birthday Dwight Gooden

For those first initial glorious years of “Doc’s” career, he was the best pitcher in all of baseball. He won the Rookie of the Year award his first season with the Mets, the Cy Young Award his second, and a World Championship in his third. He won 24 games, led the National League in strikeouts and ERA, and threw eight shutouts when he was just 20 years of age. Unfortunately for Gooden and the Mets, he couldn’t handle his immense success. He gave it all up for cocaine.

George Steinbrenner made Doc a Yankee in 1996 and Gooden responded with 11 wins and that glorious no-hitter against Seattle. But the Gooden-pitched Yankee game I’ll remember most is the fourth game of the 1997 ALDS against Cleveland. Even though New York was leading that series two games to one at the time, the Indians had hit both a hurting David Cone and a healthy Andy Pettitte hard in earlier games. Doc was Torre’s surprise choice to start the next game at Jacobs Field. When he took the mound, it had been ten days since he last pitched and Gooden probably surmised that New York was not going to re-sign him for ’98.  He had gone a lackluster 9-7 that regular season and Yankee fans like me would not have been surprised if the hard-hitting Indians got to him early. Instead, Gooden was masterful for about as long as he could be. The only blemish had been a David Justice home run and when Torre came to the mound to take him out of the game with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees were leading 2-1.

Of course, New York went on to lose that game and that series but Doc had certainly impressed the heck out of me. He must have impressed the Indians quite a bit as well because less than two months later, Cleveland signed him to a two year deal for over $5.5 million. It seemed Gooden had conquered his demons at last, but of course we have found out since that he had not. What could have been.

Today is also my beautiful wife Rosemary’s birthday and my lovely sister-in-law Maria’s birthday too. Happy with love birthday ladies.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1996 NYY 11 7 .611 5.01 29 29 0 1 1 0 170.2 169 101 95 19 88 126 1.506
1997 NYY 9 5 .643 4.91 20 19 0 0 0 0 106.1 116 61 58 14 53 66 1.589
2000 NYY 4 2 .667 3.36 18 5 3 0 0 2 64.1 66 28 24 8 21 31 1.352
16 Yrs 194 112 .634 3.51 430 410 4 68 24 3 2800.2 2564 1198 1091 210 954 2293 1.256
NYM (11 yrs) 157 85 .649 3.10 305 303 1 67 23 1 2169.2 1898 823 747 123 651 1875 1.175
NYY (3 yrs) 24 14 .632 4.67 67 53 3 1 1 2 341.1 351 190 177 41 162 223 1.503
CLE (2 yrs) 11 10 .524 4.92 49 45 0 0 0 0 249.0 262 149 136 31 118 171 1.526
TBD (1 yr) 2 3 .400 6.63 8 8 0 0 0 0 36.2 47 32 27 14 20 23 1.827
HOU (1 yr) 0 0 9.00 1 1 0 0 0 0 4.0 6 4 4 1 3 1 2.250
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/18/2013.

November 14 – Happy Birthday Harry Howell

howellEvidently, “Handsome” Harry Howell could have taught A-Rod a thing or two about flirting with female fans in the stands at Yankee games. According to this excellent article written by Eric Sallee, it was this Jersey native’s roving eye that caused his divorce from the first Mrs. Howell.

After three seasons of playing in the National League, Howell migrated to the newly formed American League as a member of manager John McGraw’s 1901 Baltimore Oriole starting rotation which was also the first starting rotation in official Yankee franchise history. In that inaugural season, he and Joe McGinnity became the first Yankee pitchers to lose 20 games in a season. In 1902, the Baltimore team disintegrated after McGraw quit at midseason and with Howell going just 9-15, the team went on to finish the year with a 50-88 record. That’s when League founder and president, Ban Johnson exerted his near-dictatorial control and relocated the team to New York City.

It proved to be a fortunate move for Howell because when he got to New York he became teammates with Jack Chesbro. The former Pirate ace had one of the game’s most effective spitballs and he was more than happy to show Howell how to throw one of his own. Handsome Harry proved to be a quick study. He spent most of the ’03 season experimenting with the spitter, while still relying more heavily on his fastball and curve. He went 9-6 during the Yankees’ first season in the Big Apple and on April 23rd of that year, he became the first pitcher in New York Yankee history (excluding the franchise’s two years in Baltimore) to win a game, when he beat the Senators 7-2.

The following spring, Yankee skipper Clark Griffith traded Howell to the St. Louis Browns for pitcher Jack Powell. It was in St. Louis that Howell perfected the pitch taught to him by Chesbro. During the next six seasons, he threw one of the nastiest, most-loaded-up spitters in the game with great results. His ERA during his Browns’ career, which consisted of almost 1,600 innings pitched was a pretty incredible 2.06.

Howell shares his birthday with this former Yankee outfielder and this one too.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1903 NYY 9 6 .600 3.53 25 15 10 13 0 0 155.2 140 79 61 4 44 62 1.182
13 Yrs 131 146 .473 2.74 340 282 53 244 20 6 2567.2 2435 1158 781 27 677 986 1.212
SLB (7 yrs) 78 91 .462 2.06 201 173 23 150 16 5 1580.2 1325 549 362 8 390 712 1.085
NYY (3 yrs) 32 42 .432 3.77 88 72 16 64 2 0 649.1 716 403 272 14 171 188 1.366
BRO (2 yrs) 8 5 .615 3.93 23 12 11 9 2 0 128.1 146 80 56 4 47 28 1.504
BLN (1 yr) 13 8 .619 3.91 28 25 3 21 0 1 209.1 248 126 91 1 69 58 1.514
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/14/2013.

November 13 – Happy Birthday Mel Stottlemyre

Just as he was during his tenure as the team’s pitching coach, Mel Stottlemyre was under- appreciated as a Yankee starting pitcher. He did the bulk of his hurling during one of the bleakest ten-year periods in Pinstripe history. Yet he finished his career with a 2.97 ERA, 40 shutouts and averaged 16 victories per season.

Born in Hazelton, MO in 1941, Stottlemyre became one of my favorite players when the Yankees brought him up from the minors at the 1964 mid season and he won nine of twelve decisions to help the team come from behind and win the pennant. He then pitched two great games against the Cardinals in that season’s Fall Classic. I still remember watching the final game of that Series when Yankee Manager,Yogi Berra gave the 22-year-old right-hander the starting assignment a third time on just two-days rest because Whitey Ford couldn’t lift his left arm. Mel gave up three runs in the fourth inning on a walk and a bunch of singles. Berra’s decision to replace Stottlemyre with Al Downing an inning later immediately backfired when Downing gave up a lead-off home run to Lou Brock and a couple of more hits and the Cardinals scored three more runs. That negated the impact of Mickey Mantle’s three-run blast the following inning. The Yankees and Stottlemyre lost the game, Berra lost his job and my favorite team didn’t get back to a World Series for the next 11 years.

My anti-Yankee friends like to point out that Stottlemyre did almost all of his pitching before the American League implemented the designated hitter rule in 1973. This, they contend, explains why his ERA and shutout numbers are much more impressive than today’s starting pitchers. Not so fast. Stottlemyre’s record during the 1973 season, his only full year pitching to a DH, shows 16 victories, 4 shutouts, and an ERA of 3.07 for a Yankee team that had the third worst rated offense in the league that season.

In fact, if it were not for a rotator cuff injury that ended his career at the age of 32, in 1974, I believe Stottlemyre would have remained an effective sinker-balling starter for the great Yankee teams of the mid-seventies. In the process, he might have won a World Series, close to fifty more career victories and had his uniform number retired.

Besides pitching, the other thing Mel did very well was help others become better pitchers. Both his sons ended up pitching in the big leagues and Mel was the pitching coach for both the 1986 World Champion Mets and the four Joe Torre-led World Champion Yankee teams.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1964 NYY 9 3 .750 2.06 13 12 0 5 2 0 96.0 77 26 22 3 35 49 1.167
1965 NYY 20 9 .690 2.63 37 37 0 18 4 0 291.0 250 99 85 18 88 155 1.162
1966 NYY 12 20 .375 3.80 37 35 2 9 3 1 251.0 239 116 106 18 82 146 1.279
1967 NYY 15 15 .500 2.96 36 36 0 10 4 0 255.0 235 96 84 20 88 151 1.267
1968 NYY 21 12 .636 2.45 36 36 0 19 6 0 278.2 243 86 76 21 65 140 1.105
1969 NYY 20 14 .588 2.82 39 39 0 24 3 0 303.0 267 105 95 19 97 113 1.201
1970 NYY 15 13 .536 3.09 37 37 0 14 0 0 271.0 262 110 93 23 84 126 1.277
1971 NYY 16 12 .571 2.87 35 35 0 19 7 0 269.2 234 100 86 16 69 132 1.124
1972 NYY 14 18 .438 3.22 36 36 0 9 7 0 260.0 250 99 93 13 85 110 1.288
1973 NYY 16 16 .500 3.07 38 38 0 19 4 0 273.0 259 112 93 13 79 95 1.238
1974 NYY 6 7 .462 3.58 16 15 1 6 0 0 113.0 119 54 45 7 37 40 1.381
11 Yrs 164 139 .541 2.97 360 356 3 152 40 1 2661.1 2435 1003 878 171 809 1257 1.219
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/13/2013.