Results tagged ‘ starting pitcher ’
According to Al Lopez, this near-sighted native of Cape Cod threw the best curveball Lopez had ever seen. That was quite a compliment coming from a guy who spent 19 years as a big league catcher and 17 more as a big league manager. This right-hander made his Major League debut with the Red Sox when he was just 21 years old in 1926. I’ve read that Danny MacFayden was the first big league player in history to wear eyeglasses during a game. He grabbed the attention of the Yankees during the 1931 season, when he went 16-12 for a Boston team that won just 62 games that year. That’s why, even though MacFayden started out the 1932 campaign for the Red Sox by winning just one of his first 11 decisions, the Yankees were still willing to part with two decent pitchers and $50,000 to bring him to the Bronx in June of that season.
New York skipper Joe McCarthy inserted his new arrival into a deep-star-studded Yankee rotation that included Lefty Gomez, Red Ruffing, Herb Pennock, Johnny Allen and George Pipgras. MacFayden more than held his own, winning 7 of his 12 decisions to help that great 1932 team win 107 regular season games. He didn’t get to pitch in that year’s World Series.
During his final two years with the Yankees, he was used as a reliever and spot starter and grew disgruntled with both his manager and his role on the team. McCarthy wanted all his pitchers to throw exclusively overhand but MacFayden had always switched between an overhand and sidearm delivery and was convinced that the different looks made it harder for hitters to figure him out. He may have had a point. His ERAs during his final two years in pinstripes were not impressive and he ended up getting sold to the Reds after the 1934 season. New York gave Cincinnati the option of returning MacFayden the following June which they did. Not surprisingly, McCarthy then put the pitcher on waivers and he was claimed by the Boston Bees who immediately began using MacFayden as a starter. It took him a year to get back into the starter’s mode but once he did, the pitcher known as “Deacon Danny” put together three straight solid seasons for some mediocre Boston teams.
When he finally retired as a player in 1942, MacFayden had won 139 big league games and had never spent a day pitching in the minors. He later became the highly respected baseball coach at Bowdoin College in Maine.
|BOS (7 yrs)||52||78||.400||4.23||185||148||26||71||8||4||1167.0||1273||643||548||45||430||344||1.459|
|BSN (6 yrs)||60||64||.484||3.45||169||142||16||71||10||2||1097.0||1178||485||420||36||292||311||1.340|
|NYY (3 yrs)||14||10||.583||4.68||64||32||16||15||0||1||307.2||367||188||160||24||105||102||1.534|
|WSH (1 yr)||0||1||.000||10.29||5||0||3||0||0||0||7.0||12||9||8||1||5||3||2.429|
|CIN (1 yr)||1||2||.333||4.75||7||4||1||1||0||0||36.0||39||22||19||1||13||13||1.444|
|PIT (1 yr)||5||4||.556||3.55||35||8||13||0||0||2||91.1||112||47||36||5||27||24||1.522|
John Montefusco was good at fast starts. In his September 3, 1974 Major League debut for San Francisco, he was called in from the bullpen in the visitor’s half of the first inning with the Giants trailing their arch rivals, the Dodgers, 4-2. Not only did he go on to pitch nine innings of one-run relief to get the win, he also homered in his first-ever big league at bat against the LA knuckleballer, Charlie Hough. Then in 1975, his official rookie season, Montefusco went 15-9 with a 2.88 ERA to win the NL Rookie of the Year award. The young right-hander became the talk of baseball and was even turned into baseball royalty when sportscaster Al Michaels gave the Long Branch, NJ native the nickname “The Count.”
Montefusco continued his outstanding pitching during his sophomore season with 16 wins, a 2.84 ERA, getting selected to his first and only All Star team and leading the league with six shutouts. But in those first two seasons he had also pitched 500 innings of baseball and although he would have some decent years during the rest of his professional career, he would never again be the pitcher he was in 1975 and ’76 in San Francisco.
The injuries began in 1977 and by 1981, the Giants had traded him to the Braves, where he won just two games that season and pitched just 77 innings. Still, when he became a free agent at the end of that year, the Padres signed him. Montefusco won 10 games during his first season in a Padres uniform and was 9-4 in August of the following year when the Yankees acquired him in a trade for a player to be named later and couple of hundred thousand of George Steinbrenner’s dollars. (The player to be named later turned out to be Dennis Rasmussen.)
That 1983 Yankee team was trying to catch Baltimore in the AL East Pennant race and they were hoping Montefusco would strengthen their starting rotation. He certainly did that. The Count put together one of his patented fast starts for New York and I remember it very well. He got six starts down the stretch and won all five of his decisions. The Yankees couldn’t catch Baltimore but it wasn’t Montefusco’s fault and Bronx Bomber fans were hoping he’d continue his winning ways the following year. The Yankee front office was more than hoping, they were betting on it. They gave the pitcher a 4-year, $3 million contract that October. But by then, he was 34 years-old and his right arm had just about quit on him. He went 5-3 in 84 and then spent the rest of his Yankee contract on the DL.
When he retired, he got involved in harness horse racing as a driver and owner. He also became a minor league pitching instructor for the Yankees. Then in 1997, his name was back in the New York tabloid headlines when he was convicted of assaulting his wife.
Update: The above post was originally written in 2011. After finally being acquitted of the most serious assault charges made by his ex-wife, it was reported that Montefusco told the judge he would never be a defendant in a court room again for any kind of offense. The Count actually spent two years in jail after being arrested on those charges because he reportedly couldn’t afford bail. He then became a pitching coach for an independent minor league club based in Somerset, New Jersey, that was managed by former Yankee, Sparky Lyle. He quit that job in 2005. Montefusco’s Yankee seasonal stats and big league career totals are listed at the end of this post.
I’ve also put together a lineup of some of the most notable players who have played for both the Yankees and Giants during their big league careers:
The Count shares his March 25th birthday with this former switch-hitting Yankee outfielder.
|SFG (7 yrs)||59||62||.488||3.47||185||175||2||30||11||0||1182.2||1143||514||456||90||383||869||1.290|
|NYY (4 yrs)||10||3||.769||3.75||24||18||2||0||0||0||112.2||115||51||47||13||30||43||1.287|
|SDP (2 yrs)||19||15||.559||3.77||63||42||9||2||0||4||279.2||271||131||117||23||73||135||1.230|
|ATL (1 yr)||2||3||.400||3.49||26||9||4||0||0||1||77.1||75||32||30||9||27||34||1.319|
I remember the first and only time I saw Bartolo Colon pitch live. It was a late season night game in 2000 at Yankee Stadium. The only Yankee hit he allowed that evening was an eighth inning single by Luis Polonia who was then immediately erased on a double play ground ball. I know he had at least a dozen strikeouts that night as he bested Roger Clemens and threw a complete game shutout. When I walked into Yankee Stadium that evening, I was looking forward to watching one of the best pitchers in baseball perform. As I left that evening, I realized I had just witnessed two.
Colon came up with the Indians in 1997 and spent his first five-plus seasons pitching for Cleveland. Just before the trading deadline of the 2002 season, the Indians decided to trade the Dominican right-hander to Montreal for four prospects including Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore. His record was 10-4 before the trade and he went 10-4 after it, giving Colon his first 20-victory season in the big leagues. Knowing that Colon would be a free agent following the 2003 season and realizing they could never sign him, Montreal traded him to the White Sox. He pitched one year in the Windy City became a free agent and signed a four-year, $50 million deal to pitch for the Angels. He looked like a bargain after the first two seasons of that contract during which he won 39 games including his second 20-victory season and the AL Cy Young Award in 2005. But he tore his rotator cuff pitching against the Yankees in the 2005 playoffs and he spent the next five years recovering from that injury and trying to regain his form.
In January of 2011, the Yankees signed him and told him he could compete for the fourth and fifth spots in the Yankee rotation. He won neither but pitched well enough in spring training to start the year as New York’s long reliever. When Phil Hughes fell apart last April, Colon took his spot in the rotation and pitched very well. By July 2 of last year his record was 6-3 and his ERA just 2.88. He would fade down the stretch and not get re-signed by the Yankees after the 2011 postseason, but I for one will always be grateful for Bartolo Colon’s contribution to that year’s Yankee team.
Update: The above post was originally written in 2011. Since that time, Colon has signed two consecutive one-year contracts to pitch for the Oakland A’s. Last year, he was helping Manager Bob Melvin’s team become the AL West’s surprising division-winner, when in late-August of 2012, he was suspended by Major League Baseball for the use of the MLB-banned substance, testosterone. His record was 10-9 at the time of that suspension. Colon admitted he used the stuff, apologized and then signed with Oakland to pitch for them again in 2013.
It seems that as far as the use of performance enhancing drugs by active MLB players is concerned, the best response for continuing your career unabated after a positive test occurs is to admit your guilt, apologize and serve your suspension. If you attempt to deny it, even for a week or so, as the Giants’ Melky Cabrera did last year when he was having an MVP-type season for the Giants, you’ll be shunned by your team and its fans and forced to find employment elsewhere (Unless of course you hire Ryan Braun’s legal team to get the test results thrown out.)
Colon’s record thus far in 2013 is 4-2. He turns 40-years-old today.
He shares his May 24th birthday with this former Yankee catcher named “Ellie.” No not that “Ellie.”
|CLE (6 yrs)||75||45||.625||3.92||162||160||0||15||6||0||1029.2||984||483||448||109||419||873||1.363|
|LAA (4 yrs)||46||33||.582||4.66||96||95||0||3||1||0||586.2||633||328||304||90||154||422||1.341|
|OAK (2 yrs)||14||11||.560||3.66||33||33||0||1||1||0||206.2||217||88||84||24||27||121||1.181|
|CHW (2 yrs)||18||19||.486||3.93||46||46||0||9||0||0||304.1||292||149||133||43||88||211||1.249|
|BOS (1 yr)||4||2||.667||3.92||7||7||0||0||0||0||39.0||44||23||17||5||10||27||1.385|
|MON (1 yr)||10||4||.714||3.31||17||17||0||4||1||0||117.0||115||48||43||9||39||74||1.316|
|NYY (1 yr)||8||10||.444||4.00||29||26||0||1||1||0||164.1||172||85||73||21||40||135||1.290|
My wife dragged me to a performance of Les Miserables at Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady, NY several years ago. I was not a fan of the place because the seats were built for munchkins and there was absolutely no way for a person my size to get comfortable. Plus if you’re familiar with the epic play about the French Revolution, you know I was not in for a night of excitement and laughs.
Sure enough, as soon as the curtain opened I started fidgeting and with my knees crammed against the seat in front of me, both of my legs quickly went to sleep. I was just about to close my eyes and force myself into a numbing nap when I heard my wife whisper, “That’s that Yankee pitcher’s son singing.” I opened up my program and sure enough, one of the lead characters was Tommy John’s boy. I think it was Travis and he had an absolutely amazing voice.
In spite of this connection to my all-time favorite baseball team, my legs were getting prickly, the lady next to me was pushing my arm off the armrest and I spent the rest of the evening in a painful agony. I remember how good it felt when the final curtain came down and we were able to get up and start walking toward the theater’s exit. As we crawled along with the large crowd approaching the door leading outside, I noticed a man leaning against the wall in the corner nearest me. As I passed him I smiled and told him that his son had a wonderful voice. Tommy John smiled and mouthed back the words “Thank you.”
I liked Tommy John when he pitched for the Yankees but I liked him even more when I saw him that night at Proctor’s Theater. After all, John is 6’3″ tall just like me so I know his legs were sore too. I knew then and there that in addition to being a great pitcher, Tommy was also a good father.
John may be most famous for the surgery (ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction) named after him but he was a pretty good Yankee pitcher too. He had two twenty-victory seasons with New York during his first stay in the Bronx and then went 13-6 for them as a 44-year old in 1987. One of the things that most surprised me when I was doing research for this post was finding out that Tommy won more games as a Yankee (91) than he did for the Dodgers (87) or White Sox (82.) As of right now, those 91 wins place him in the 20th spot on the Yankees’ all-time career wins list. He has more wins as a Yankee than Roger Clemens (83), Bob Turley, David Wells (68) or Catfish Hunter (64) were ever able to achieve in pinstripes.
John was born in Terre Haute, Indiana on May 22, 1943, the only member of the Yankee all-time roster to be born on today’s date. I was also surprised to find out that there were not too many former Yankee all-star-level players born in Indiana. The best of the Hoosier-born Yankees were Don Mattingly, Don Larsen and John.
|NYY (8 yrs)||91||60||.603||3.59||214||203||7||53||12||0||1367.0||1456||621||545||80||324||483||1.302|
|CHW (7 yrs)||82||80||.506||2.95||237||219||5||56||21||3||1493.1||1362||573||490||99||460||888||1.220|
|LAD (6 yrs)||87||42||.674||2.97||182||174||6||37||11||1||1198.0||1169||460||396||64||296||649||1.223|
|CAL (4 yrs)||24||32||.429||4.40||85||76||3||14||1||0||489.1||610||263||239||42||125||143||1.502|
|CLE (2 yrs)||2||11||.154||3.61||31||17||1||2||1||0||114.2||120||63||46||11||41||74||1.404|
|OAK (1 yr)||2||6||.250||6.19||11||11||0||0||0||0||48.0||66||37||33||6||13||8||1.646|
This right-hander was just 19 years old when he made his big league debut for Miller Huggins’ Yankees in April of 1925. The legendary New York skipper was impressed enough with the youngster’s stuff that he got him into 24 ballgames that season, mostly as a reliever. But the native of Bradenton, Florida wasn’t quite ready for prime time and he spent the next two years back in the minors.
Huggins brought Johnson back up to begin the 1928 season and inserted him into a Yankee starting rotation that included two Hall of Famers in Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock, plus 20-game winner George Pipgras. The kid was able to hold his own with that impressive group, finishing the year with a very good 14-9 record. That mark was no doubt boosted by the powerful 1928 Yankee lineup because Johnson’s 4.30 ERA and his league-leading 104 walks that season indicated he did not dominate opposing lineups. He then sat in the Yankee dugout watching his teammates sweep the Cardinals in the ’28 World Series. In fact, New York used just three pitchers during that entire Fall Classic as Hoyt won two complete game starts and Pipgras and Tom Zachary each got one.
He went just 3-3 in 1929 and then bounced back with a 14-11 record in 1930 and a 13-8 mark in ’31. But his control problems continued as he walked over 100 hitters in each of those seasons. Meanwhile, Huggins had tragically died from an eye infection in 1929 and after his successor, Bob Shawkey led New York to a third place finish in 1930, Joe McCarthy had taken over the team. He had stuck with Johnson in his rotation through the 1931 season but he was impressed by a 27-year-old rookie named Johnny Allen during the Yanks’ 1932 spring training camp. When Johnson got off to just a so-so start that year Marse Joe had seen enough. He was traded to the Red Sox on June 5, 1932 and Johnny Allen went on to win 17 games for New York in his rookie season. When Hank Johnson left the Bronx, his career ERA for New York of 4.79 was the highest of any Yankee pitcher with more than 500 innings pitched. It still is today.
Johnson spent the next three years starting and relieving for the Red Sox and continuing to walk too many hitters and allow too many runs. After a horrible three game tenure with the A’s he went back down to the minors to try and find the strike zone. He never did.
When Johnson was a kid, he used to pick oranges out of the groves near his home and try to throw them across Florida’s Braden River. He always credited that activity with giving him the arm strength necessary to pitch in the big leagues.
|NYY (7 yrs)||47||36||.566||4.84||157||76||51||31||3||7||712.2||702||439||383||56||403||407||1.551|
|BOS (3 yrs)||16||15||.516||4.72||69||37||15||14||1||3||310.2||359||200||163||28||141||145||1.609|
|PHA (1 yr)||0||2||.000||7.71||3||3||0||0||0||0||11.2||16||16||10||4||10||6||2.229|
|CIN (1 yr)||0||3||.000||2.01||20||0||15||0||0||1||31.1||30||10||7||1||13||10||1.372|
One of the things the Yankees did not seem to need after winning the 1950 World Series was starting pitching. Their rotation was loaded with the glorious triumvirate of Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds and Eddie Lopat,15-game winner Tommy Byrne and a cocky rookie southpaw named Whitey Ford. But Ford would miss the entire 1951 season to military service and Byrne, who always had control problems suddenly couldn’t find the plate. That made room in the rotation for a rookie Yankee left-hander named Tom Morgan. Casey Stengel let the 20-year-old native of El Monte, California start 16 times during that ’51 season and he went 6-3 in those games, including two shutouts. He also relieved in 11 other games that year and earned two saves.
Morgan credited two guys for helping him become a successful big league pitcher. The first was his younger brother Dick, who became a minor league catcher himself. Tom would spend hours throwing a baseball to his sibling in the yard of their California home and he credited those sessions for helping him master control of his very good fastball. He also used to say that his Yankee pitching coach, Jim Turner was instrumental in helping him master both a sidearm curve and change up, giving him the confidence he needed to throw those pitches whenever he needed to at the big league level.
Morgan’s most distinctive physical trait was the way he walked. He’d bend his body at the waist, hunch his shoulders and take his steps slowly, looking as if he was always pulling something behind him. As a result, the Grand Annointer of pinstriped nicknames, Yankee announcer Mel Allen gave Morgan the nickname of “the Plowboy.”
Morgan started 12 more times in 1952 and then missed the entire ’53 season to military service. When he returned to action in 1954, Stengel began using him more out of the bullpen and he had his best season in pinstripes with an 11-5 record and a 3.34 ERA. He was then converted to a full-time reliever and over the next two seasons he saved 21 games for New York. But his ERA climbed dramatically in 1956 and the following February he was included in a humungous deal with the A’s that eventually caused 13 players to exchange uniforms.
After one year in Kansas City, Morgan spent two-and-a-half years with the Tigers and a half season as a Senator. The expansion Angels purchased him in 1961 and he surprised everyone by putting together two very strong years out of the Angels bullpen. He couldn’t keep the string going, however, and he was done as a player after the ’63 season. He then became a minor league pitching instructor with the Angels and scouted for the Yankees. He eventually became the Angels’ big league pitching coach and later held that same position with the Padres. Cy Young Award winners Nolan Ryan and Randy Jones credited Morgan with helping them become all star pitchers. He was still coaching at the minor league level when he suffered a stroke and died of a heart attack in 1987 at the age of 56.
|1953||Did not play in major leagues (Military Service)|
|NYY (5 yrs)||38||22||.633||3.48||156||46||61||13||7||26||504.2||500||218||195||32||160||163||20||1.308|
|LAA (3 yrs)||13||4||.765||2.86||120||0||64||0||0||20||166.2||147||65||53||14||42||75||9||1.134|
|DET (3 yrs)||6||11||.353||3.81||107||2||49||0||0||11||184.1||197||93||78||24||32||83||7||1.242|
|WSH (1 yr)||1||3||.250||3.75||14||0||6||0||0||0||24.0||36||15||10||6||5||11||1||1.708|
|KCA (1 yr)||9||7||.563||4.64||46||13||24||5||0||7||143.2||160||76||74||19||61||32||3||1.538|
Drafted by the Mets initially in 1979, Terrell did not sign. The Rangers drafted him the following season, signed him and then bundled him with Ron Darling in a trade for Met fan favorite Lee Mazzilli. Terrell went 19-23 during his three seasons at Shea. In 1984, the Amazins dealt the right-hander to Detroit for Howard Johnson, a transaction that worked out well for both teams. Terrell thrived in the Motor City winning 47 games during the next three seasons. When he slumped to 7-16 in 1988, Detroit traded him to San Diego where he got off to a horrible start during the 1989 season and was just 5-13 by the end of June. That’s when the Yankees swapped their slumping third baseman, Mike Pagliarullo for Terrell and Walt ended the year by winning six of eleven decisions for the Bombers. The Yankees let him walk after that one half-season and he signed with the Pirates. He eventually returned to Detroit where he retired after the 1992 season with 111 victories during his eleven-year big league career.
Only one player in big league history has made the All Star team playing for both Detroit and New York and that’s “the Boomer” David Wells. Here’s my line up of the best players to wear the uniforms of both the Yankees and Tigers during their playing careers:
c – Ivan Rodriguez
1b – Cecil Fielder
2b – Billy Martin
3b – Aurelio Rodriguez
ss - Tom Tresh
of – Rocky Colavito
of – Curtis Granderson
of – Steve Kemp
dh – Gary Sheffield
p – Jeff Weaver
p – David Wells
p – Virgil Trucks
p – Doyle Alexander
cl – Duke Maas
mgr – Ralph Houk
|DET (7 yrs)||79||76||.510||4.26||216||190||9||44||9||0||1328.0||1379||687||629||126||516||621||1.427|
|NYM (3 yrs)||19||23||.452||3.53||57||56||1||7||3||0||369.2||377||168||145||25||149||181||1.423|
|PIT (1 yr)||2||7||.222||5.88||16||16||0||0||0||0||82.2||98||59||54||13||33||34||1.585|
|SDP (1 yr)||5||13||.278||4.01||19||19||0||4||1||0||123.1||134||65||55||14||26||63||1.297|
|NYY (1 yr)||6||5||.545||5.20||13||13||0||1||1||0||83.0||102||52||48||9||24||30||1.518|
Yankee fans will never forget the hype that surrounded the $12.8 million signing of this huge and mysterious right-hander from Hyogo, Japan. When he won his first major league start impressively, many of us were convinced he was the chosen one. When I saw him for the first time, I remember being surprised by the size of his head and I also remember thinking that if Babe Ruth came back to life as a Japanese male, he’d look like Irabu.
In any event, Hideki did not fulfill the huge expectations of Yankee fans or the Yankee brass. After three OK seasons in the Bronx, which included Steinbrenner’s infamous “fat toad” insult incident, the Yankees sent Irabu to Montreal for Ted Lilly.
If right now someone told Yankee fans that Phil Hughes would finish the current season with a 13-9 record, most of us, including Joe Girardi and the Yankee front office would be extremely pleased. That was Irabu’s record in 1998, his first full season with the team. I know I would also be thrilled if Andy Pettitte rejoins the Yankees this month and ends up going 11-7 during the rest of the 2012 season. That was Irabu’s record during his second and final full year as a Yankee starter.
On July 28, 2011, Hideki Irabu was found dead in his Los Angeles home. He was 42 years-old. Initial reports indicated LA police were treating it as a suicide. Irabu’s wife had recently separated from him and taken the couple’s two young children with her. Former Met Manager, Bobby Valentine, who managed Irabu for one season in Japan, indicated that Irabu liked to drink beer and was at times “his own worst enemy.” The Japanese culture has traditionally treated suicide as an honorable way to die. As a Japanese friend of Irabu told reporters covering his death, “He decided to go to heaven.” I hope he got there. Rest in peace Hideki.
Irabu shares his 5th birthday with this one time roommate of the M&M Boys.
|NYY (3 yrs)||29||20||.592||4.80||74||64||2||4||2||0||395.2||397||224||211||68||142||1||315||1.362|
|MON (2 yrs)||2||7||.222||6.69||14||14||0||0||0||0||71.1||99||54||53||12||17||0||60||1.626|
|TEX (1 yr)||3||8||.273||5.74||38||2||26||0||0||16||47.0||51||30||30||11||16||2||30||1.426|
The American League was established in 1901 with no member franchise based in New York. Back then, the team that would eventually become the New York Yankees was named the Orioles and they were located in Baltimore. The legendary John McGraw was Manager of that 1901 Orioles team and he skippered it to a 67-65 fifth place finish in the AL’s inaugural season. Like Joe Girardi with today’s Yankees, McGraw was having trouble putting together an effective starting rotation. When the Boston franchise released 38 year-old southpaw Frank Foreman, “Little Napoleon” signed him and put him in the Baltimore rotation.
Nicknamed “Monkey,” Foreman had actually pitched for the Orioles in Baltimore a dozen seasons earlier when the franchise was a member of the old American Association League. He threw an almost unbelievable 414 innings for the Birds during that 1889 season and finished the year with a 23-21 record. He would make his return to the city memorable by finishing 12-6 for McGraw, to lead the 1901 team in winning percentage. He was brought back by McGraw to pitch for the Orioles in ’02 but his 39-year-old left arm had nothing left and he was released after losing his first two starts.
Foreman would remain in the game as a big league scout and is credited with finding and signing the hall-of-fame pitcher, Eddie Plank. Foreman shares his May 1 birthday with another Yankee who pitched for the same franchise 101 seasons later.
|BLA (2 yrs)||12||8||.600||3.86||26||24||2||20||1||1||207.2||253||138||89||2||64||43||1.526|
Marv Breuer thought he had blown his chance to get signed by the Yankees. He was pitching for an unaffiliated D-level team in Rogers, Arkansas in 1934 and Yankee scout Johnny Nee was in the stands for one of the right-hander’s starts. Breuer not only lost the game 7-0, his team was no-hit by the opposing team’s pitcher. At dinner that night, a disappointed Breuer figured it would be the pitcher he faced that day who would be getting a visit from Nee. But when he looked up from his plate, Nee was standing there ready to offer him a Yankee contract. A disbelieving Breuer thought the scout had made a mistake and reminded his unexpected visitor it was the other guy who had thrown the no-hitter. Nee told him “You’ll be pitching in the American League when everyone has forgotten about that no-hitter.”
So Breuer signed on with the Yanks and spent the next six years trying to climb up the crowded ladder of baseball’s best farm system and there were plenty of missteps along the way. His first breakout year came with Binghamton in 1936, when he went 18-9 in the A-level NY-Penn League. But when he was promoted to double A, the following season, his record plummeted to 5-19 and the Rolla, Missouri native gave serious thought to quitting the game.
It was the midst of the Great Depression and Breuer had earned a degree in civil engineering after graduating from high school. Every off-season, he was hired to do engineering work. But he stuck with pitching and when he went 17-9 for the Yank’s, Kansas City Blues farm team in 1939, Joe McCarthy brought him to spring training and announced he would open the 1940 season as a member of the Yankees’ starting rotation.
Now remember, that Yankee team Breuer was joining had won four consecutive World Championships and the pitching staff on their 1939 club boasted seven guys with at least 10 winning decisions. But Lefty Gomez was faltering badly, Red Ruffing was getting old and Spud Chandler was hurting. McCarthy found himself forced to revamp one of the deepest mound staff’s in the history of the game.
It looked as if Breuer was certainly one of the answers as the 1940 regular season got under way. The 26-year-old rookie pitched well and the Yankees won 9 of his first 13 starts. But the tide turned in late July and Breuer started getting hammered. By the end of his first full season in New York, his record was a disappointing 8-9 and his ERA in the mid-four’s and the Yankees finished in second place.
He pitched better in 1941, putting together what would be his only winning season for New York, finishing 9-7 and lowering his ERA by half a run. He then turned in his most memorable moment in pinstripes during Game 4 of that year’s World Series against Brooklyn. McCarthy called on him to relieve starter Atley Donald in the fifth inning with the Yankees trailing Brooklyn, 4-3. He pitched three scoreless innings and New York came back to win the game.
He would spend two more years with the team but when it became clear he would never become the 20-game winner the Yankees thought he would, the pitcher nicknamed “Baby Face” quit the game for good and became a civil engineer for the US Geological Survey for the next 31 years. He passed away in 1991 at the age of 76.
|162 Game Avg.||12||12||.490||4.03||40||28||7||11||0||1||226||227||115||101||19||72||105||1.323|