Results tagged ‘ third baseman ’

November 22 – Happy Birthday Rich McKinney

mckinneyThough the transaction took place over four decades ago, I know I screamed in anguish when I heard about the trade. Three weeks before Christmas in 1971, the Yankees sent their 1968 Rookie-of-the-Year-winning right-hander, Stan Bahnsen to the Chicago White Sox. They took a guy who had won the impressive total of 55 games for some mediocre New York teams during the previous four seasons and sent him to the Windy City in exchange for a 25-year-old utility infielder named Rich McKinney.

I knew what Yankee skipper Ralph Houk and the team’s GM, Lee MacPhail were thinking when they pulled the trigger on that one. New York desperately needed a good starting third baseman. They hadn’t had one since they traded Clete Boyer to the Braves in 1966.

McKinney, a native of Piqua, OH, had been in the big leagues for just two seasons and was coming off a decent year in which he had averaged .271 in 114 games as Chicago’s primary utility infielder. There was nothing in his resume that indicated he was going to be anything special, but after trying to win with guys like Charley Smith and Jerry Kenney at the hot corner, Houk and MacPhail figured this kid was worth a shot. But he wasn’t worth Stan Bahnsen!

The veteran right-hander took his “Bahnsen Burner” to Comiskey Park and won 21 games in 1972. Meanwhile, McKinney was a complete bust in the Bronx. He started out slow and never got better. By June he was playing down in Syracuse and the Yanks were using the infamous Celerino Sanchez as their starter at third. That November, McKinney’s Yankee career ended, when he was traded to Oakland in the deal that brought Matty Alou to New York.

This hitting star of the 1998 World Series, this former Yankee shortstop, this long-ago Yankee pitching prospect and this current Yankee catcher all share McKinney’s November 22nd birthday.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1972 NYY 37 128 121 10 26 2 0 1 7 1 7 13 .215 .258 .256 .514
7 Yrs 341 980 886 79 199 28 2 20 100 4 77 124 .225 .286 .328 .615
OAK (4 yrs) 147 306 277 22 53 10 0 7 30 0 24 49 .191 .252 .303 .556
CHW (2 yrs) 157 546 488 47 120 16 2 12 63 3 46 62 .246 .312 .361 .672
NYY (1 yr) 37 128 121 10 26 2 0 1 7 1 7 13 .215 .258 .256 .514
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/22/2013.

October 17 – Happy Birthday Red Rolfe

Before Derek Jeter came along and reserved a spot on the wall of Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park for his pinstriped jersey, the most famous number “2″ in Yankee history had been a red-headed graduate of Dartmouth named Robert Abial Rolfe. Though hair-color earned him the workingman’s nickname he made famous, Rolfe was an Ivy League gentleman. An article in “Baseball Digest” once referred to him as “the best-educated, best dressed, politest Bronx Bomber of the thirties.”

Those Joe McCarthy-led Yankee teams put up some incredible offensive numbers during their pre-WWII era of success and it was their great third baseman Rolfe, batting second, who would help light the fuse for the team’s explosive lineup. Here’s some examples: In the three-season period from 1937-to-1939, Rolfe scored a total of 414 runs. In 1937, Rolfe scored the incredible total of 143 runs and didn’t even lead the team in scoring that year because Joe DiMaggio scored 151. In 1938, five different Yankees scored at least 109 runs. The 1939 Yankee team lost Lou Gehrig to ALS disease yet seven members of their starting lineup scored at least 87 runs that year and the team won 106 regular season games and then swept the Reds four straight in the World Series. During Rolfe’s decade-long Yankee career, he averaged 130 runs scored for every 162 games he played.

Rolfe was one of Manager Joe McCarthy’s all-time favorite players because he worked so hard and so smart at getting better and gaining every possible advantage over an opponent on the field.  It was Rolfe who was one of the first players in baseball to keep a “book” on opposing hitters that he would use to change his fielding position at the hot corner, based on who was in the batters box. His book on opposing pitchers was just as detailed. He knew and could tell his Yankee teammates what pitch to expect in a pressure situation from every pitcher in the league. He did not ignore opposing fielders either. He would make notes how an outfielder fielded line drives and if they had a tendency to drop to their knee or back up on the ball, you could be sure the next time Rolfe hit one of his patented line drives at them he’d end up sliding safely into second. It may have been because Rolfe did so much thinking as a player he never found time to just relax and enjoy the game he played so well. He developed painful ulcers which were the primary reason he retired at the young age of 33 after New York lost the 1942 World Series to the Cardinals.

Rolfe got back into the big leagues as a Manager with the Tigers in 1949 and led Detroit to a 95-win season the following year, just three games behind the AL Pennant-winning 1950 Yankees. At the time, he attributed his success to cracking the whip on a bunch of Detroit players who he claimed had grown complacent. By 1952, many of those same players turned on Rolfe, claiming he was impossible to satisfy and the Tigers fired him. Born on October 17, 1908 in Penacook, NH, Rolfe returned to Dartmouth as athletic director. He died in 1969. Dartmouth’s baseball stadium is named after him.

Rolfe shares his October 17th birthday with this former Yankee outfielder and this one-time Yankee GM.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1931 NYY 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1934 NYY 89 309 279 54 80 13 2 0 18 2 26 16 .287 .348 .348 .695
1935 NYY 149 705 639 108 192 33 9 5 67 7 57 39 .300 .361 .404 .764
1936 NYY 135 646 568 116 181 39 15 10 70 3 68 38 .319 .392 .493 .884
1937 NYY 154 741 648 143 179 34 10 4 62 4 90 53 .276 .365 .378 .743
1938 NYY 151 715 631 132 196 36 8 10 80 13 74 44 .311 .386 .441 .826
1939 NYY 152 731 648 139 213 46 10 14 80 7 81 41 .329 .404 .495 .899
1940 NYY 139 647 588 102 147 26 6 10 53 4 50 48 .250 .311 .366 .677
1941 NYY 136 621 561 106 148 22 5 8 42 3 57 38 .264 .332 .364 .695
1942 NYY 69 291 265 42 58 8 2 8 25 1 23 18 .219 .281 .355 .636
10 Yrs 1175 5406 4827 942 1394 257 67 69 497 44 526 335 .289 .360 .413 .773
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/17/2013.

September 29 – Happy Birthday Dave Silvestri

sylvestriIt was so nice having the Yankees double A farm team a half hour’s drive away from my back door twenty years ago. We’d put our four kids in the minivan and take them to Heritage Park, which was what they called the home field of the Eastern League’s Albany- Colonie Yankees back then and for less than twenty bucks, my family of six would spend an evening watching players we hoped would some day be on the roster of the big league Yankees. And many were, including the core four of Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte and Posada, the Williams boys, Bernie and Gerald, Roberto Kelly, Jim Leyritz, Andy Stankiewicz, Pat Kelly, Sterling Hitchcock and a host of others who eventually got to play in the Bronx.

One of the Albany-Colonie players who I thought might be a future Yankee star was today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant. Back in 1991, Dave Silvestri was the A-C Yankees starting shortstop and leading home run hitter. He belted 19 round-trippers that year and drove in 83 runs. I was hopeful that Silvestri would turn into a pinstriped version of Cal Ripken, a starting shortstop with lots of pop in his bat. He wasn’t perfect. His defense needed work and he struck out a lot but those were common maladies in younger players. He was certainly the organization’s top prospect at short and he continued to pound the ball at the triple A level.  The parent club was terrible back then and had no good shortstops on the roster. Remember Alvaro Espinosa?

But instead of getting a decent shot to play at the top level, the Yanks treated Silvestri like a yo-yo, sending him up and down repeatedly between their big league and Columbus rosters. He played seven games for New York in 1992, seven more in ’93, a dozen in ’94 and his Yankee career high of seventeen in 1995. Meanwhile, Jeter passed him on the organization’s depth chart for shortstops and the Yankees used up all their options on the guy. For a while, it looked as if he would be groomed to play third base, but in the end, the Yankees traded the then 27-year-old native of St. Louis to the Expos for a minor leaguer named Tyrone Horne. Silvestri told a New York Times reporter he couldn’t wait to leave the Yankees so he could play for an organization that would  finally give him a shot at a regular big league job.

The Expos gave Silvestri that shot in 1996, when he appeared in a career-high 86 games for Montreal. But he hit just .204 during that season and he was released at the end of that year. He continued playing, mostly in the minors for three more years.

Silvestri shares his birthday with this former Yankee outfielder, this former starting pitcher and this 1967 Cy Young Award winner.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1992 NYY 7 13 13 3 4 0 2 0 1 0 0 3 .308 .308 .615 .923
1993 NYY 7 26 21 4 6 1 0 1 4 0 5 3 .286 .423 .476 .899
1994 NYY 12 23 18 3 2 0 1 1 2 0 4 9 .111 .261 .389 .650
1995 NYY 17 27 21 4 2 0 0 1 4 0 4 9 .095 .259 .238 .497
8 Yrs 181 401 336 42 68 12 3 6 36 4 56 96 .202 .315 .310 .624
NYY (4 yrs) 43 89 73 14 14 1 3 3 11 0 13 24 .192 .315 .411 .726
MON (2 yrs) 125 283 234 28 52 10 0 3 24 4 43 68 .222 .341 .303 .644
TBD (1 yr) 8 14 14 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .071 .071 .071 .143
TEX (1 yr) 2 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
ANA (1 yr) 3 11 11 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 .091 .091 .182 .273
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/29/2013.

September 18 – Happy Birthday Brent Lillibridge

lillibridgeA few years from now, today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant will certainly be one of the more difficult-to-remember answers to the trivia question; “Can you name someone who played third base for the Yankees during the 2013 regular season?” Brent Lillibridge’s first day in pinstripes was a sad one in Yankee Universe. He was called up from Scranton/Wilkes Barre to take the place of Derek Jeter in July, after the Yankee Captain’s first attempt to play in 2013 ended with a strained quad and a return trip to the DL.

Unfortunately for Lillibridge, he hit just .171 during his 11-game sojourn at the Yankees’ hot-corner position and quickly lost the job. Ironically, Lillibridge was one of the White Sox players traded to Boston in 2012 for Kevin Youklis, who was supposed to be the Yankees’ starting third baseman in 2013 until A-Rod returned from his offseason hip surgery.

Don’t feel too sorry for this native of Everett, Washington who turns 30 years old today. Despite the fact that the Yankees were the sixth team he’s played for during his six seasons in the big leagues and despite the fact that as of today his lifetime average in the Majors is just .205, the guy has earned over $2 million in salary during that time. That’s about double what the Yankees paid Hall-of-Famer, Mickey Mantle for his eighteen years of service in pinstripes.

He shares his birthday with this long-ago Yankee pitcher and this more current one too.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2013 NYY 11 37 35 2 6 1 0 0 3 1 1 8 .171 .194 .200 .394
6 Yrs 358 784 708 102 145 25 4 19 71 37 49 235 .205 .267 .332 .599
CHW (4 yrs) 256 499 442 76 96 13 3 15 50 28 38 150 .217 .291 .362 .653
ATL (1 yr) 29 85 80 9 16 6 1 1 8 2 3 23 .200 .238 .338 .576
BOS (1 yr) 10 16 16 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 .125 .125 .125 .250
CHC (1 yr) 9 24 24 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 9 .042 .042 .042 .083
CLE (1 yr) 43 123 111 15 24 5 0 3 8 6 7 40 .216 .276 .342 .619
NYY (1 yr) 11 37 35 2 6 1 0 0 3 1 1 8 .171 .194 .200 .394
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/20/2013.

September 9 – Happy Birthday Todd Zeile

zeileTodd Zeile had a very impressive first game as a Yankee. The Bronx Bombers had signed this native of Van Nuys, California in December of 2002, when he was a 37-year-old, fourteen-year veteran coming off a strong year with the Colorado Rockies. New York intended to use him as a back-up to Robin Ventura at third base. Ventura had done better than any body expected during his first season in the Bronx, smashing 27 home runs and driving in 93, but he too was getting up there in years. Having the right-hand hitting Zeile spell him against the occasional southpaw seemed like a great idea at the time.

He made his first start for New York in Game 3 of that 2003 season against the Blue Jays in Toronto. He homered against the huge left-hander Mark Hendrickson, in his first-ever pinstriped at bat. He also hit two doubles and drove in three runs that night. That debut performance turned out to be the highlight of his single-season Yankee career. When the Yankees released him that August, he was hitting just .210, with 6 home runs and 23 RBI’s in 66 games. Worse yet was the fact that Ventura also had stopped hitting that season, leaving the Yankees scrambling to come up with offense from the third base position. They solved that problem at the trading deadline when they acquired Aaron Boone from the Reds. The rest of course is Yankee history.

Zeile was picked up by the Expos and then finished his big league career the following year in a Mets’ uniform. He shares his September 9th birthday with this Hall of Fame pitcher, this Hall of Fame manager and this former Yankee center fielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2003 NYY 66 214 186 29 39 8 0 6 23 0 24 36 .210 .294 .349 .644
16 Yrs 2158 8649 7573 986 2004 397 23 253 1110 53 945 1279 .265 .346 .423 .769
G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
STL (7 yrs) 757 3087 2694 356 719 149 13 75 394 33 346 410 .267 .349 .415 .764
NYM (3 yrs) 441 1631 1423 163 368 77 4 41 176 4 191 270 .259 .348 .405 .753
TEX (2 yrs) 208 869 768 106 219 55 2 30 126 2 84 126 .285 .355 .479 .834
LAD (2 yrs) 200 842 733 111 194 23 1 38 117 9 95 136 .265 .352 .454 .806
COL (1 yr) 144 580 506 61 138 23 0 18 87 1 66 92 .273 .353 .425 .778
PHI (1 yr) 134 572 500 61 134 24 0 20 80 1 67 88 .268 .353 .436 .789
MON (1 yr) 34 127 113 11 29 2 2 5 19 1 10 18 .257 .331 .442 .773
CHC (1 yr) 79 325 299 34 68 16 0 9 30 0 16 53 .227 .271 .371 .642
NYY (1 yr) 66 214 186 29 39 8 0 6 23 0 24 36 .210 .294 .349 .644
FLA (1 yr) 66 270 234 37 68 12 1 6 39 2 31 34 .291 .374 .427 .801
BAL (1 yr) 29 132 117 17 28 8 0 5 19 0 15 16 .239 .326 .436 .762
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/17/2013.

September 3 – Happy Birthday Chris Nelson

nelsonWhat do David Adams, Luis Cruz, Alberto Gonzalez, Brent Lillibridge, Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez, Mark Reynolds, Alex Rodriguez, Vernon Wells, Kevin Youklis and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant have in common? They all played third base for the Yankees during the 2013 regular season.

Chris Nelson was the .300-hitting starting third baseman of the Colorado Rockies during the 2012 season. That same job was his to lose on Opening Day of 2013 and he ended up losing it to Rockie rookie Nelson Aranado. When Kevin Youklis’s back did not hold up during the first month of the season, the Yankees acquired Nelson from Colorado on May 1, 2013. New York skipper, Joe Grardi then started the native of Escondido, California at the hot corner for ten straight games. Defensively, he did fine but his .222 batting average and 2 RBI’s convinced the Yankee brass he wasn’t the answer long-term and he ended up on waivers. The Angels then picked him up and on August 1. He started playing third base regularly for his third big league team this season, when LA-Anaheim’s starter at that position, Alberto Callaspo went on the DL. On August 15th, Nelson got some revenge on the Yankees when he drove in five runs against his former team to prevent New York from an important series sweep.

On August 29th, the injury bug hit Nelson too. While running to first he pulled a hamstring pretty badly and it sounds like he’s done for the season. Nelson shares a birthday with this former Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2013 NYY 10 37 36 3 8 2 0 0 2 0 1 11 .222 .243 .278 .521
4 Yrs 255 820 761 91 204 36 8 16 93 8 48 189 .268 .312 .399 .712
COL (4 yrs) 212 664 616 78 172 33 6 13 73 6 39 142 .279 .322 .416 .738
LAA (1 yr) 33 119 109 10 24 1 2 3 18 2 8 36 .220 .277 .349 .626
NYY (1 yr) 10 37 36 3 8 2 0 0 2 0 1 11 .222 .243 .278 .521
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/3/2013.

August 15 – Happy Birthday Scott Brosius

If you watched last evening’s (8/14/2013) Yankee game, in which New York destroyed the Angels for the second consecutive night, you heard Paul O’Neill tell his TV booth partners that the 1998 Yankee team he played on was as close to a perfect team as he had ever been associated with. I couldn’t agree more.

The 1961 Yankees were my favorite team of all time and the 1978 Yankees were the most dramatic. The 1996 Yankees gave me the biggest thrill I ever had as a baseball fan but it was the 1998 Yankees who were the best team I’ve ever seen play a season, beginning to end. And if you had to point to one roster change that made the biggest difference between the team that lost the Divisional playoffs to Cleveland the year before and the one that won 114 regular season games and swept the Padres in the 1998 World Series, it would be the addition of Scott Brosius as New York’s starting third baseman. Born on today’s date in 1966, in Hillsboro, OR, the Yankees signed Brosius as a free agent after he spent his first seven big league seasons in Oakland.

Joe Torre inserted his right-handed bat at the bottom of the Yankee lineup. Brosius responded by hitting .300, smacking 19 home runs, scoring 86 runs and driving in 98 more. He turned the bottom of that lineup into an opposing pitcher’s nightmare and he played superb defense as well. But he saved his best for that year’s post season, batting close to .400 in thirteen October games and winning the 1998 World Series MVP award. He was an AL All Star that first year in pinstripes, a Gold Glove winner in 1999, and his thrilling game-winning home run during Game 5 of the 2001 Series against Arizona was a fitting culmination of his brief but great Yankee career.

Brosius shares his birthday with this former Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1998 NYY 152 603 530 86 159 34 0 19 98 11 52 97 .300 .371 .472 .843
1999 NYY 133 529 473 64 117 26 1 17 71 9 39 74 .247 .307 .414 .722
2000 NYY 135 519 470 57 108 20 0 16 64 0 45 73 .230 .299 .374 .673
2001 NYY 120 478 428 57 123 25 2 13 49 3 34 83 .287 .343 .446 .789
11 Yrs 1146 4356 3889 544 1001 200 8 141 531 57 348 699 .257 .323 .422 .744
OAK (7 yrs) 606 2227 1988 280 494 95 5 76 249 34 178 372 .248 .315 .416 .731
NYY (4 yrs) 540 2129 1901 264 507 105 3 65 282 23 170 327 .267 .331 .428 .759
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/15/2013.

May 19 – Happy Birthday Gil McDougald

bd6e9fb2-765d-41c5-a3fb-3ff54c36ef4aThe Yankee teams of the 1950s were among the best in the elite franchise’s illustrious history. Managed by Casey Stengel, they won eight of the decade’s ten possible Pennants and six World Championships. One of the key members of those great teams was a Scottish-American infielder, born in San Francisco by the name of Gil McDougald. Signed by the Yankees out of the University of San Francisco in 1948, McDougald tore up Minor League pitching, averaging .340 during his three-year climb through the Yankee farm system. He was brought up to the Bronx in 1951 along with a much more heralded Yankee rookie named Mantle. It was McDougald who won that season’s Rookie of the Year award with a .306 average. In that year’s World Series against the cross-town Giants, McDougald became the first rookie to hit a grand slam home run in Fall Classic history.

Stengel loved McDougald’s defensive versatility and took full advantage of it. During his career in the Bronx, the infielder played 599 games at second, 508 at the hot corner and another 284 at shortstop and was selected as an All Star at all three positions. He had a lifetime batting average of .276 and hit 112 regular season and seven World Series home runs.

Two line drives had tremendous impact upon McDougald’s career. The first came off the bat of Yankee teammate, Bob Cerv during batting practice before a game in August of 1955. McDougald was standing near second base and the ball struck him in the left ear. Even though no one realized it at the time, the resulting damage caused a gradual hearing loss that resulted in McDougald being almost completely deaf early on in his retirement years. In 1957, another line drive, this one off McDougald’s bat, hit Cleveland Indian pitching sensation, Herb Score square in the face. Score was never again the same pitcher and McDougald later admitted that the incident impacted his play as well.

After the Yankees suffered their heartbreaking loss to the Pirates in the 1960 World Series, the front office informed Gil that he would not be protected in the upcoming AL expansion draft. McDougald decided to call it quits at that time. He died in November of 2010, at the age of 82.

Gil shares his May 19th birthday with this one-time Yankee catcher and this former Yankee starting pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1951 NYY 131 473 402 72 123 23 4 14 63 14 56 54 .306 .396 .488 .884
1952 NYY 152 633 555 65 146 16 5 11 78 6 57 73 .263 .336 .369 .705
1953 NYY 141 614 541 82 154 27 7 10 83 3 60 65 .285 .361 .416 .777
1954 NYY 126 474 394 66 102 22 2 12 48 3 62 64 .259 .364 .416 .780
1955 NYY 141 615 533 79 152 10 8 13 53 6 65 77 .285 .361 .407 .768
1956 NYY 120 518 438 79 136 13 3 13 56 3 68 59 .311 .405 .443 .848
1957 NYY 141 625 539 87 156 25 9 13 62 2 59 71 .289 .362 .442 .804
1958 NYY 138 578 503 69 126 19 1 14 65 6 59 75 .250 .329 .376 .705
1959 NYY 127 481 434 44 109 16 8 4 34 0 35 40 .251 .309 .353 .661
1960 NYY 119 387 337 54 87 16 4 8 34 2 38 45 .258 .337 .401 .737
10 Yrs 1336 5398 4676 697 1291 187 51 112 576 45 559 623 .276 .356 .410 .766
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/19/2013.

April 16 – Happy Birthday Bernie Allen

ballenWhen Bernie Allen graduated from high school in his hometown of East Liverpool, OH, he was a good enough school-boy quarterback to get a scholarship offer from Purdue University. Problem was Bernie didn’t like playing football but he knew if he wanted to go to college, accepting that scholarship was the only way he’d be able to, so that’s what he did. During his time on the gridiron as a Boilermaker, he became one of the better QB’s in the Big Ten but he also got the opportunity to play collegiate baseball and become an All American in that sport. In early 1961, the Minnesota Twins made Allen one of the first amateurs signed by that team after it had relocated to the Twin Cities from our Nation’s capitol.

After just one year in the minors, he made the Twins big league roster during the team’s 1962 spring training season. Minnesota’s first year manager, Sam Mele liked his rookie infielder so much, he benched the veteran Billy Martin and started Allen at second base. Mele also installed a second rookie, third baseman Rich Rollins in his starting infield and the two first-year players helped the surprising Twins finish in second place with 91 wins, a 20-game improvement over the previous season. Bernie had 154 hits that year including 12 home runs, with 64 RBIs and finished third in the AL Rookie-of-theYear balloting. Though I was just 8-years-old at the time, I clearly remember that 1962 Minnesota team because in addition to battling my Yankees for the Pennant, every player in their starting lineup reached double figures in home runs that season.

Allen got off to a horrendously slow start at the plate in his sophomore season and his batting average was still under.200 by late August. He then hit .320 during the last six weeks of the ’63 season, saving his starting job in the process. But his potential to develop into a perennial big league All Star was wiped out with one play during the 1964 season. Attempting to turn a double play, Allen was bowled over by Don Zimmer who rolled over the second baseman’s leg. Allen had torn his ACL, but the injury was mis-diagnosed by Minnesota’a team doctors. When the leg didn’t get better, Allen got his own doctors to examine the knee and they made a correct diagnosis and operated five months after the injury occurred. By then however, the ligament had shriveled and the surgeon didn’t think Allen would ever again play baseball. He proved that doctor wrong but it does explain why all of Allen’s highest single-season offensive numbers took place during that 1962 rookie season. He was simply never the same player after Zimmer rolled his knee.

The Yankees got Bernie in 1972. The Twins had traded him to the Senators after the 1966 season and he played pretty regularly for Washington for five years, right up until that franchise moved to Texas. He then became Ralph Houk’s primary utility infielder during the 1972 season, appearing in 84 games, mostly as a third baseman, but hitting a paltry .227 in the process. It was that weak bat that got him sold to the Expos in August of 1973. When he hit just .180, the then 34-year-old Allen hung up his glove for good.

He shares his April 16th birthday with this former Yankee back-up catcher and this Hall-of-Fame outfielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1972 NYY 84 248 220 26 50 9 0 9 22 0 23 42 .227 .296 .391 .686
1973 NYY 17 62 57 5 13 3 0 0 4 0 5 5 .228 .290 .281 .571
12 Yrs 1139 3824 3404 357 815 140 21 73 352 13 370 424 .239 .314 .357 .671
MIN (5 yrs) 492 1789 1595 195 392 75 10 32 163 3 165 212 .246 .316 .366 .682
WSA (5 yrs) 530 1669 1482 126 351 52 11 30 154 10 172 161 .237 .317 .348 .665
NYY (2 yrs) 101 310 277 31 63 12 0 9 26 0 28 47 .227 .294 .368 .663
MON (1 yr) 16 56 50 5 9 1 0 2 9 0 5 4 .180 .255 .320 .575
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/23/2014.

April 13 – Happy Birthday Oscar Grimes

grimesThe great Joe McCarthy really was a players’ manager but that didn’t mean he was a pushover, far from it. During the 1942 season, Bill Dickey got hurt. His backup that season and heir apparent as Yankee catcher was a 27-year-old native of Buffalo, NY named Buddy Rosar. Rosar was married and had a kid and with the world at war, he was worried about his future. He felt he needed a career to fall back on in case he didn’t make it as a big league catcher so he made a fateful decision to leave the Yankees for a couple of days to take a policeman’s exam back in his native Buffalo. During his absence, the Yankees played a double header on a very hot afternoon and McCarthy had no choice but to start 35-year-old Rollie Hemsley behind the plate for both games. When the day was done, Hemsley was near collapse from physical exhaustion and McCarthy was determined to get rid of Rosar.

The trade took place ten days after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Rosar and Yankee outfielder Roy Cullenbine were sent to Cleveland for outfielder Roy Weatherly and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant. Oscar Grimes had been around baseball all his life. His father Ray had been a first baseman for the Cubs during the 1920′s and his uncle Roy Grimes, had once played second base for the New York Giants. Oscar was an infielder too and one of the reasons Marse Joe wanted him was his ability to play any of the four infield positions.

That flexibility didn’t earn the native of Minerva, OH much playing time during his first season in New York. He got into just eight games for the Yankees in 1943 but he did get his first and only World Series ring that year, even though he didn’t get to play a single out of that Fall Classic. Things changed for Grimes in 1944. The Yankees’ young and talented starting third baseman, Billy Johnson was called into military service and McCarthy began playing Grimes regularly at the hot corner. In one of his early starts there, he found out firsthand why the legendary Yankee skipper was so beloved by his players. Grimes had made three errors in the contest, pretty much single handedly costing New York the loss. While he was undressing in the clubhouse after the game, he saw McCarthy approaching him. He prepared himself for a tongue-lashing but instead, the manager put his hand on Grimes shoulder and told him about a horrible fielding day he himself had had in the minors.

Grimes played 116 games and had a career high .279 during that ’44 season. In 1945, he played 142 games for New York and had a stellar on base percentage of .395. But Grimes achilles heel were his iron hands. He was simply not a very good defensive infielder and when Johnson and all the other Yankee third base prospects returned from service, Grimes days in pinstripes were numbered. That number came up on July 11th of the 1946 season when New York sold him to the Philadelphia A’s. He became the A’s starting second baseman and didn’t do to badly with his bat, hitting .262 during his half season in Philadelphia. But his defense just wasn’t good enough to keep him in the post war big leagues and he spent the next five seasons playing minor league ball, finally retiring for good in 1950, at the age of 35.

Grimes shares his birthday with this former Yankee pitcher and this long-ago Highlander shortstop.

Year Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1943 NYY AL 9 24 20 4 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 7 .150 .261 .150 .411
1944 NYY AL 116 456 387 44 108 17 8 5 46 6 0 59 57 .279 .377 .403 .780
1945 NYY AL 142 595 480 64 127 19 7 4 45 7 6 97 73 .265 .395 .358 .753
1946 TOT AL 73 271 230 29 58 6 0 1 24 2 1 28 36 .252 .336 .291 .627
1946 NYY AL 14 41 39 1 8 1 0 0 4 0 1 1 7 .205 .225 .231 .456
9 Yrs 602 2193 1832 235 469 73 24 18 200 30 12 297 303 .256 .363 .352 .715
CLE (5 yrs) 262 847 715 94 173 31 9 8 84 15 5 110 130 .242 .345 .344 .689
NYY (4 yrs) 281 1116 926 113 246 37 15 9 96 13 7 160 144 .266 .378 .367 .746
PHA (1 yr) 59 230 191 28 50 5 0 1 20 2 0 27 29 .262 .356 .304 .660
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/12/2013.