Results tagged ‘ tony lazzeri ’

January 18 – Happy Birthday to a Number 5

pinstripe.5.jpgThe Yankees began wearing numbers on their uniforms during the 1929 season. At the time, the numbers were assigned based on the player’s batting position in the lineup. This explains how Babe Ruth got the number three and how Yankee cleanup hitter, Lou Gehrig secured number 4. The first Yankee to wear number 5 during that 1929 season was the talented but very moody outfielder, Bob Meusel. In 1930, it was assigned to the great second baseman, Tony “Poosh em Up” Lazzeri. Frank Crosetti was then given the number in 1932 and Lazzeri was switched to number 6. Crosetti wore number 5 for the next four seasons except for a short time, during the 1935 season, when the Crow got hurt and couldn’t play. The Yankees called up Nolen Richardson to take Crosetti’s spot. Richardson was a middle infielder who had played a bit of big league ball for the Tigers before he joined the Yankee organization. Since he was replacing Crosetti, the Yankees gave him uniform number 5. The 32-year-old native of Chattanooga, TN did not see much action in that uniform, appearing in just 12 games that season before getting sent down to New York’s Newark Bears farm club. He became a popular member of the Bears and was the Captain of the 1937 team that is still considered to be one of the greatest teams in minor league history, winning the International League’s pennant that season by 25 1/2 games.

Joe DiMaggio did not get number 5 until 1937, his second season in pinstripes. Crosetti kept the number until 1936. Joltin Joe wore number 9 as a rookie in 1936. Incredibly, the Yankees didn’t even keep number 5 in mothballs during the WWII when Joe D served in the military. Instead, New York’s wartime first baseman, Nick Etten got the number in 1943 and kept it until the Yankee Clipper returned for the 1946 season.

The only other Yankee born on this date was still waiting to make his debut in pinstripes as the 2014 regular season approaches.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1935 NYY 12 49 46 3 10 1 1 0 5 0 3 1 .217 .265 .283 .548
6 Yrs 168 509 473 39 117 19 5 0 45 8 23 22 .247 .282 .309 .591
DET (3 yrs) 120 351 324 28 78 14 4 0 30 8 17 17 .241 .279 .309 .587
CIN (2 yrs) 36 109 103 8 29 4 0 0 10 0 3 4 .282 .302 .320 .622
NYY (1 yr) 12 49 46 3 10 1 1 0 5 0 3 1 .217 .265 .283 .548
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/22/2014.

December 6 – Happy Birthday Tony Lazzeri

If I was given the choice of a back seat to sit in on a historical car ride, I’d have a tough time not selecting the 1936 cross-country trip taken by three members of the New York Yankees. The Yankee front office had just purchased the contract of a young Pacific Coast League ballplayer named Joe DiMaggio. The kid lived in San Francisco as did the two players who composed New York’s starting middle infield back then, shortstop Frankie Crosetti and today’s birthday celebrant, second baseman, Tony “Poosh em Up” Lazzeri. The Yankee front office had arranged to have the two veterans pick up DiMaggio at his home and drive him the three thousand or so miles to  St. Petersburg, FL, where the Yankees conducted Spring training.

Lazzeri is still considered to be by many, the greatest second baseman in Yankee franchise history. Born in 1903 in San Francisco, his first year in the Bronx was 1926 and he started fast by belting 18 home runs and driving in 114 runs. He would drive in 100 or more runs seven different times and he finished his fourteen-season career with a .292 lifetime batting average and 1,191 RBI’s. Like Crosetti and DiMaggio, Lazzeri was an Italian-American and before the Yankee Clipper joined him in New York, he had become the number one sports hero of the 1 million plus Italian-Americans who were living in the Big Apple. Perhaps the most amazing thing about his accomplishments on the ball field was the fact that he achieved them while being afflicted with epilepsy, at a time when the disease was poorly treated and very misunderstood.

He played in six World Series as a Yankee and won five rings. He was unceremoniously dumped by New York after hitting a career-low .244, in 1937. He signed with the Cubs in 38 and made it back to the World Series for a seventh time as a part-time player for Chicago. In a bittersweet moment for Tony, the Cubbies lost that Fall Classic to the Yankees. After trying to hang on with Brooklyn and then the New York Giants, Lazzeri retired after the 1939 season. He then became a Minor League Manager for a few years before buying a tavern in his native San Francisco. In 1946, Lazzeri’s wife came home from a vacation to find her husband dead. He apparently fell down the stairs in their home and was killed when his head banged against the bannister. The Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee put Tony’s plaque in Cooperstown, in 1991.

Lazzeri shares his December 6th birthday with this Cuban defector who became a Yankee starting pitcher, this former Yankee coach, this former Yankee catcher and also with this former Yankee outfielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1926 NYY 155 665 589 79 162 28 14 18 117 16 54 96 .275 .338 .462 .800
1927 NYY 153 660 570 92 176 29 8 18 102 22 69 82 .309 .383 .482 .866
1928 NYY 116 464 404 62 134 30 11 10 82 15 43 50 .332 .397 .535 .932
1929 NYY 147 639 545 101 193 37 11 18 106 9 68 45 .354 .429 .561 .991
1930 NYY 143 650 571 109 173 34 15 9 121 4 60 62 .303 .372 .462 .835
1931 NYY 135 569 484 67 129 27 7 8 83 18 79 80 .267 .371 .401 .771
1932 NYY 142 603 510 79 153 28 16 15 113 11 82 64 .300 .399 .506 .905
1933 NYY 139 603 523 94 154 22 12 18 104 15 73 62 .294 .383 .486 .869
1934 NYY 123 515 438 59 117 24 6 14 67 11 71 64 .267 .369 .445 .815
1935 NYY 130 544 477 72 130 18 6 13 83 11 63 75 .273 .361 .417 .778
1936 NYY 150 638 537 82 154 29 6 14 109 8 97 65 .287 .397 .441 .838
1937 NYY 126 518 446 56 109 21 3 14 70 7 71 76 .244 .348 .399 .747
14 Yrs 1740 7314 6297 986 1840 334 115 178 1194 148 869 864 .292 .380 .467 .846
NYY (12 yrs) 1659 7068 6094 952 1784 327 115 169 1157 147 830 821 .293 .379 .467 .847
NYG (1 yr) 13 51 44 7 13 0 0 1 8 0 7 6 .295 .392 .364 .756
BRO (1 yr) 14 51 39 6 11 2 0 3 6 1 10 7 .282 .451 .564 1.015
CHC (1 yr) 54 144 120 21 32 5 0 5 23 0 22 30 .267 .380 .433 .814
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/7/2013.