Results tagged ‘ third baseman ’

December 25 – Happy Birthday Gene Robertson

RobertsonThis St.Louis native evidently had a tough time leaving home. He went to college at St. Louis University and then after a couple of seasons in the minors, signed with his hometown Browns. It soon looked as if Robertson was on his way to big league stardom when he won the starting third base position for St. Louis in 1924 and averaged .319. The following season, the 5’7″, 152 pound left-handed hitter surprised all of baseball by belting 14 round-trippers and driving in a career high 76 runs.

Then in 1926 he stopped hitting and the Browns let him go. He spent the 1927 season regaining his stroke with the St.Paul Saints. Yankee skipper, Miller Huggins, had become a silent one-third owner of the Saints’ franchise in 1924 and over the next few seasons, the contracts of several St.Paul players were purchased by the Yankees, including Robertson’s in August of 1927.

He made his Yankee debut the following year, sharing third base pretty much evenly with “Jumpin” Joe Dugan and averaging .291 during his first season in pinstripes. That fall, he saw the only World Series action of his career, appearing in three games against the Cardinals, driving in two runs and winning his first and only ring.

When the Yankees struggled early during the 1929 season, Huggins, who had been feeling physically lousy since spring training, inserted Robertson as his every-day third baseman. He again hit for a decent average but once it became clear his team had no chance of catching the Philadelphia A’s in that year’s pennant race, the Yankee skipper decided he needed to begin rebuilding the Yankee lineup for the 1930 season. He made 23-year-old Lyn Lary his new starting third baseman and in his last player personnel move before checking into the hospital, the Huggins sold Robertson to the Boston Braves. One week later Huggins was dead.

Robertson got off to a horrible start for the Braves in 1930 and was hitting just .186 when he was sent to the Pacific Coast League. He passed away in 1981 at the age of 81. He joins this speedy outfielder and this one too as former Yankees who were born on Christmas day.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1928 NYY 83 277 251 29 73 9 0 1 36 2 14 6 .291 .328 .339 .667
1929 NYY 90 347 309 45 92 15 6 0 35 3 28 6 .298 .358 .385 .743
9 Yrs 656 2489 2200 311 615 100 23 20 250 29 205 79 .280 .344 .373 .717
SLB (6 yrs) 454 1767 1553 229 431 75 17 19 166 23 157 64 .278 .347 .384 .732
BSN (2 yrs) 29 98 87 8 19 1 0 0 13 1 6 3 .218 .269 .230 .499
NYY (2 yrs) 173 624 560 74 165 24 6 1 71 5 42 12 .295 .345 .364 .709
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2013.

December 13 – Happy Birthday Hank Majeski

MajeskiLike hundreds of other young big league prospects from the same era, Staten Island native Hank Majeski’s baseball career was put on hold for military service during World War II. Nicknamed “Heeney,” he had started his baseball career as a second baseman, but when he made his big league debut with the Boston Bee’s in 1941, Boston manager Casey Stengel switched him to the hot corner. It was a wise move by the “Ol Perfessor” as Majeski evolved into one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball over the next decade. Before that happened, however, the Yankees acquired him from Boston and before he had a chance to play in the Bronx, he turned in his baseball uniform and put on the uniform of the US Coast Guard, which he wore for the next three years.

By the time he was discharged in 1946, he was already 29-years-old. Major League Baseball had expanded rosters to thirty slots at the end of the war to accommodate all of the ballplayers returning from military service. That made it easier for Majeski to make his first Yankee team that spring but also created a crowd of third baseman competing for playing time. With Snuffy Stirnweiss, Billy Johnson and Bobby Brown all on the same roster, its real easy to understand why Majeski only got into eight Yankee games during the first half of that 1946 season. It also explains why the Yankees sold him to the Philadelphia A’s that June.

Connie Mack immediately made his new acquisition the team’s starting third baseman and for the next five seasons, Majeski played brilliantly in the field, setting the MLB record for best fielding percentage by a third baseman (.989) in 1947. Though he hadn’t been known for his offensive skills, Majeski developed into an excellent hitter as well, averaging over 280 during his six years with Philly and surprising everyone in baseball in 1948 when he drove in 120 runs, set a career high in hits with 186 and batting average, with a .310 figure.

Heeney Majeski later got sold to Cleveland and ended his big league career with the Orioles in 1955 at the age of 38. After his playing days, he became a big league and college coach. He died of cancer in 1991 at the age of 74.

Majeski shares his birthday with this former Yankee closer, this former Yankee staring pitcher and this son of a former Yankee manager.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1946 NYY 8 12 12 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 .083 .083 .250 .333
13 Yrs 1069 3790 3421 404 956 181 27 57 501 10 299 260 .279 .342 .398 .740
PHA (6 yrs) 604 2474 2221 284 629 128 23 37 346 7 210 144 .283 .350 .412 .762
CLE (4 yrs) 179 305 273 26 74 9 0 7 44 0 25 32 .271 .338 .381 .719
BSN (3 yrs) 128 453 425 40 108 21 1 7 57 2 19 43 .254 .289 .358 .647
CHW (2 yrs) 134 503 449 51 137 22 2 6 52 1 43 34 .305 .370 .403 .773
NYY (1 yr) 8 12 12 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 .083 .083 .250 .333
BAL (1 yr) 16 43 41 2 7 1 0 0 2 0 2 4 .171 .209 .195 .404
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/13/2013.

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.