Results tagged ‘ yankees ’
When the Yankees signed catcher, Gus Niarhos to his first contract, Hall-of-Famer Bill Dickey was still starting behind the plate for the parent club. Nine years later, when the Yankees placed the first Greek-American ever to wear pinstripes and play in a World Series on waivers, Hall-of-Famer Yogi Berra was the team’s starting catcher. As Niarhos explained years later, when asked about his career as a Yankee, “That was a tough organization if you were a catcher.” It sure was.
Niarhos was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, where he was a three-sport star as a high school athlete. He was actually enrolled at Auburn University on a football scholarship when the Yanks signed him and sent him to their Akron farm club. When WWII broke out, Niarhos joined the Navy and served his country for the next four years.
He got his first chance to play in the Bronx in 1946, when he was called up in June of that year, after Bill Dickey replaced Joe McCarthy as Yankee skipper. Though Dickey continued to catch occasionally after becoming manager , it was Niarhos who served as Aaron Robinson’s primary back-up during the second half of that season.
Solid defensively, Niarhos was pretty much a singles-hitter with the stick and he never hit a home run during his days with New York. After spending the entire 1947 season back in the minors, he shared the Yankees’ starting catching responsibilities with Yogi Berra in ’48, averaging a decent .268 but producing just 19 RBI’s.
Berra became the Yankees’ full time receiver the following season with Niarhos backing him up and since Yogi could catch 140 games a year in his prime, New York suddenly found itself with a glut of backup catching talent and released Niarhos.
He landed on his feet with the Chicago White Sox, where he hit a career high .324 backing up Phil Masi during the ’50 season. He hit his first and only big league home run the following year against his former team, when he connected off of Yankee reliever Bob Kuzava. He later played for both the Red Sox and the Phillies. He finally hung up his catcher’s mitt for good after the ’57 season and became a minor league manager and coach in the A’s organization. He passed away in 2004 at the age of 84.
|NYY (4 yrs)||153||393||311||59||82||15||4||0||27||2||76||25||.264||.410||.338||.747|
|PHI (2 yrs)||10||14||14||1||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||.143||.143||.143||.286|
|BOS (2 yrs)||45||113||93||10||13||1||1||0||6||0||16||13||.140||.279||.172||.451|
|CHW (2 yrs)||107||338||273||44||77||10||0||1||26||4||61||15||.282||.415||.330||.745|
Today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant was born in Sacramento, California on December 5, 1893 and became a star athlete at Sacramento High School. He was so good that Calvin Griffith, the legendary manager and future owner of the Washington Senators, brought Elmer “Joe” Gedeon to the big leagues when he was just 19 years-old. The problem was that back then, the big leagues played all of their games east of the Mississippi and most of them in cities that didn’t get warm until June. Gedeon hated cold weather and was far from disappointed when the Senators sent him back to the much more mild game-time temperatures of the Pacific Coast League for more experience after the 1914 season.
After he put together a great year as the starting second baseman for the Salt Lake City Bees, Griffith wanted him back in Washington. But the Newark franchise in the upstart Federal League lured him away with a very attractive two-year deal that then fell apart when that struggling enterprise went belly-up. That’s when the Yankees swooped in and signed Gedeon to play second base for their 1916 team.
By all accounts,Gedeon had a super spring training camp that year and beat out Luke Boone for the starting job. His hot hitting continued early in the season and his batting average was at .319 at the end of April. He couldn’t keep it up, however and ended his first year with New York hitting just .211. He then lost his job to Fritz Maisel during the 1917 season and was traded to the Browns in January of 1918.
Still just 23 years-old at the time of that deal, over the next three seasons Gedeon got better with both the bat and the glove and was soon being touted as one of the AL’s top second baseman. Then misfortune hit him like a ton of bricks.
When the 1919 regular season ended, instead of returning to California right away, Gedeon decided to take in that year’s World Series between the White Sox and Cincinnati. That of course was the Series during which the infamous “Black Sox” scandal took police. Gedeon had buddies on the Chicago team and he later testified to a Grand Jury that those buddies had told him that the games were going to be fixed. Gedeon placed bets totaling about $700 on the Reds. He won the bets but lost his MLB career.
Unbelievably, after volunteering to tell the whole truth to to the grand jury convened the following year to investigate the scandal, Gedeon received a lifetime ban from the game by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. More shockingly, many of the White Sox players who also knew the fix was on, received no punishment whatsoever.
A distraught Gedeon went back to California and evidently slowly drank himself to death. When he died in 1941 at the age of 47, he was suffering from severe cirrhosis of the liver.
|SLB (3 yrs)||396||1746||1484||191||382||60||13||1||129||13||132||100||.257||.326||.317||.643|
|WSH (2 yrs)||33||78||73||3||13||1||3||0||7||3||1||7||.178||.211||.274||.484|
|NYY (2 yrs)||155||622||552||65||120||21||4||0||35||18||47||74||.217||.284||.270||.554|
Raise your hand if you can remember when Lee Smith was the Yankee closer. You remember Smith, I’m sure. He was baseball’s all-time saves leader until Trevor Hoffman notched his 479th save during the 2006 season. A native of Jamestown, Louisiana, Smith had an 18-year big league career that saw him wear the uniform of eight different teams.
The Yankees got him from St.Louis on August 31, 1993, after New York’s regular closer, Steve Farr went on the disabled list. Unfortunately for both Smith and the Yankees, he didn’t get much of a chance to do what he did better than anybody in baseball during his short tenure in Pinstripes. During the month he was a Yankee, the team was only in four save situations and Smith saved three of them, including career number 400.
When asked about his inactivity, the huge right-hander told the Big Apple sports press he didn’t know why the Yanks got him in the first place because what they really needed was a starting pitcher. Sure enough, when Smith’s contract expired at the end of the 1993 regular season, New York let him sign with Baltimore, where he would lead the AL in saves the following year.
Many of the players who played both with and against Smith feel he deserves to be in Cooperstown but he’s never received more than 48% of the sportswriters’ Hall of Fame votes. His one achilles heel was the postseason. He only played fall ball twice during his long career, once with the Cubs in 1984 and again with the Red Sox in ’88. Both teams were eliminated in the LCS round and though Smith did have one save, he also lost two decisions and had a combined ERA of 8.44.
|CHC (8 yrs)||40||51||.440||2.92||458||6||342||0||0||180||681.1||591||240||221||38||264||644||1.255|
|STL (4 yrs)||15||20||.429||2.90||245||0||209||0||0||160||266.2||239||92||86||23||68||246||1.151|
|BOS (3 yrs)||12||7||.632||3.04||139||0||115||0||0||58||168.2||138||68||57||13||79||209||1.287|
|CAL (2 yrs)||0||5||.000||3.28||63||0||59||0||0||37||60.1||50||23||22||3||28||49||1.293|
|MON (1 yr)||0||1||.000||5.82||25||0||14||0||0||5||21.2||28||16||14||2||8||15||1.662|
|CIN (1 yr)||3||4||.429||4.06||43||0||16||0||0||2||44.1||49||20||20||4||23||35||1.624|
|NYY (1 yr)||0||0||0.00||8||0||8||0||0||3||8.0||4||0||0||0||5||11||1.125|
|BAL (1 yr)||1||4||.200||3.29||41||0||39||0||0||33||38.1||34||16||14||6||11||42||1.174|
Growing 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.
|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|
It took the New York Yankees about two decades to learn how to get to the World Series and a couple more to figure out how to win one, but once they created the formula, they applied it more efficiently than any other franchise in the history of professional sports. It required owners who had lots of money at their disposal who were willing to spend it freely; plus a front-office executive who could convert that money into great scouting, shrewd signings and clever trades; plus a manager who had the ability to put those players on the field and in the positions they needed to be to perform most effectively. But most of all, the Yankee formula for success required getting 25 of the best players possible under contract and then somehow motivating them to deliver when called upon.
No one could blame Miller Huggins if he thought his 1924 Yankee team was a cinch to win a fourth straight AL Pennant or even a second straight World Championship. Instead the team finished second to the Washington Senators and then collapsed to seventh place the following year. How could the fortunes of a team with Babe Ruth in his prime in its lineup reverse so rapidly? Huggins blamed complacency and too much partying off the field. He was determined to shake up his roster by getting rid of some of some veterans and bringing in some young talent that was capable of challenging the Yankee starters for playing time. Those new faces included young Yankee infield prospects like Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri and Mark Koenig and it would be those three Baby Bronx Bombers who helped lead the Yankees back to the World Series in 1926.
Determined not to repeat his mistake, Huggins had Barrow make a deal with the White Sox in January of 1927 that brought catcher Johnny Grabowski and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant to New York for veteran second baseman, Aaron Ward. Originally, the Yankee skipper expected Ray Morehart to be his utility infielder during the 1927 season. The native of Abner, Texas had been known for his defensive ability more than his bat, but he raised some eyebrows when he hit .318 during his final season in Chicago. When he bested all of the great Yankees in that legendary Murderers’ Row lineup with a .378 batting average during his first spring training season with the team, Huggins started thinking he could start Morehart at second. That would permit him to move Lazzeri to short and shift Koenig over to third where he would replace Joe Dugan, who was the only starting infielder on the team who had reached the age of 30. That meant every infielder but Gehrig would have somebody behind him pressing for playing time which suited old “Hug” just fine.
Both Dugan and backup third baseman Mike Gazella started the season hitting the ball well as did both Lazzeri and Koenig. This greatly restricted Morehart’s innings and at bats, which helped turn his hot spring training bat ice cold. Eventually, Huggins did begin playing Lazzeri at both third and short and inserted Morehart at second, where the first-year Yankee impressed everyone with his outstanding defense. The more at bats he got, the better he hit too. He raised his average almost two hundred points over the two months he played regularly and became a valuable little piece of that legendary 1927 Yankee team.
Still, there was too much talent on that roster to keep Morehart a part of it and he was let go following his only year on the team. He would never again appear in a big league ball game. He continued playing minor league ball until 1933.
Morehart shares his birthday with this former Yankee pitcher from the 1930s.
|CHW (2 yrs)||104||328||292||37||81||14||5||0||27||6||28||22||.277||.343||.360||.702|
|NYY (1 yr)||73||230||195||45||50||7||2||1||20||4||29||18||.256||.353||.328||.681|
December 1 in general is not a very noteworthy date for baseball birthdays of any kind. The only member of Baseball’s Hall-of-Fame born on this date, played in just 1 big league game, but he managed in 3,658 of them and won four World Series rings. That would be Walter Alston, who managed the Dodgers for 23 years and beat the Yankees in two of those Fall Classics (1955 and 1963.) The greatest all-around big league player born on this date would probably be former Expo and Rockies outfielder, Larry Walker, who retired in 2005 with a .313 lifetime average and 383 home runs.
The only member of the Yankee all-time roster who celebrates his birthday on December 1 is a former pitcher named Cecil Perkins. You’ve never heard of him because his entire big league and Yankee career consisted of two appearances during the 1967 season. The first was as a starter against the Twins on July 5th of that year. Perkins lasted just three innings, giving up five runs and five hits and getting the loss in a 10-4 Minnesota victory. Former Yankee announcer, Jim Kaat, got the complete game win for the Twins that day. Perkins gave up his first big league hit, a triple to Rod Carew in the first inning. Later in the game, Minnesota third baseman Rich Reese hit what would become the only big league home run ever given up by the right hander. That loss extended a Yankee losing streak to five games. Three days later, Yankee Manager Ralph Houk inserted Perkins in the sixth inning of a game against the Orioles, in Baltimore. The Yankees were trailing 8-3 at the time and Perkins pitched two inning of one-hit, shutout ball, including a strikeout of the great Oriole reliever, Moe Drabowsky, which turned out to be Perkins only big league career K. He was then sent back down to Syracuse for the balance of the 1967 season and was gone from baseball for good after the following season.
Perkins was born in Baltimore in 1940. Other former Yankees born in Baltimore include; Phil Linz, Jeff Nelson, Tommy Byrne, Ron Swoboda and the Big Bam, Babe Ruth.
Marcus was the first of the two Lawton brothers to make it to the big leagues but it was younger brother Matt who became an All Star. Marcus Lawton made his ten-game Major League debut as a Yankee during the 1989 season and then never played another game in the big leagues. What he did too was spend lots of time with his younger sibling teaching him everything he knew about the game. The lessons paid off.
Matt Lawton enjoyed a solid twelve season career, with his best years coming with the Twins and the Indians. He was an AL All Star with Minnesota in 2000 and again with Cleveland in 2004. The Yankees got him in a late August trade with the Cubs in 2005, just a few days after Hurricane Katrina demolished Lawton’s hometown of Gulfport,Mississippi and did severe damage to the outfielder’s home. He got off to a horribly slow start with New York but on September 21 of that season, he hit a huge 2-run home run that beat the Orioles and propelled the Yankees into first place.
During Lawton’s short time as a Yankee he tested positive for steroids and immediately admitted he took the drug and apologized. The Yanks released him in late October He then signed with Seattle and after serving a ten-game suspension at the beginning of the 2006 season, he lasted just two months with the Mariners, before hanging up his glove for good.
|MIN (7 yrs)||771||3150||2672||423||739||163||13||72||384||96||408||335||.277||.379||.428||.808|
|CLE (3 yrs)||363||1593||1381||237||355||63||2||50||180||41||180||165||.257||.352||.414||.767|
|NYM (1 yr)||48||213||183||24||45||11||1||3||13||10||22||34||.246||.352||.366||.718|
|PIT (1 yr)||101||445||374||53||102||28||1||10||44||16||58||61||.273||.380||.433||.813|
|CHC (1 yr)||19||83||78||8||19||2||0||1||5||1||4||8||.244||.289||.308||.597|
|SEA (1 yr)||11||29||27||5||7||0||0||0||1||0||2||2||.259||.310||.259||.570|
|NYY (1 yr)||21||57||48||6||6||0||0||2||4||1||7||8||.125||.263||.250||.513|
The best closer ever. Those really are the only four words you need to describe “Mo’s” career with the Yankees. In my fifty-plus years of being an avid Major League baseball fan, I’ve seen nobody end games as successfully as this guy did for the past nineteen seasons. And the amazing thing is that he did it with one pitch, a cut fastball. Yankee fans watched Rivera’s cutter break a remarkable number of big league bats over the years. The pitch had such late and significant movement that it was almost impossible for even the most skilled big league hitters to get the meaty part of their bat on the ball. I heard Jim Kaat try to explain it years ago during one Yankee broadcast by telling viewers that Mariano had very long fingers, which helped him get more spin on the cutter than most other pitchers who threw it. Add in his flawless mechanics which enabled him to precisely replicate his elegant delivery pitch after pitch and you have the formula for closing perfection that danced to the tune of “Enter Sandman.”
When I think of Mariano I will remember his postseason brilliance which included 42 saves, an 8-1 record and an ERA of 0.70. I will remember him setting the MLB career saves record during the 2011 season. I will remember how he returned from an ACL tear at the age of 43 and went on to save 44 games during the final year of his Hall of Fame career. But most of all, I will remember how secure every Yankee lead seemed to be at the end of the eighth inning for almost two straight decades and how comforting it was as a Yankee fan to see that bullpen door swing open and see number 42 trot in to that elevated circular spot in the middle of the infield from where he performed his magic.
Thank you Mariano Rivera. Yankee fans will never ever forget just how magnificent you were.
His real name was Wilbur Roach, but he eventually became known better by the nickname “Roxey.” A native Pennsylvanian, Roach seems to have also been a pretty astute businessman and before Ted Williams came along, perhaps the the best fly-fishing ball player ever born.
He started playing minor league ball in 1906, when he was already 23-years-old. He made his big league debut with the 1910 New York Highlanders, a surprisingly good team that would finish 25 games over five hundred that season. That was only good enough for second place, far behind the powerful A’s of Connie Mack.
George Stallings was the skipper of that Highlander ball club and he might have thought Roach had a decent shot at unseating New York’s starting shortstop at the time, the light-hitting John Knight. Roxey appeared in 70 games that year but hit just .214. Mean whiile, Knight had an offensive epiphany, finishing the 1910 season with a .312 batting average, which was about 100 points higher than his lifetime average had been up to that point.
Getting outplayed by Knight was not the only disruption that occurred in Roach’s career that year. George Stallings had suspected that New York’s starting first baseman, Hal Chase was involved with professional gamblers and was throwing games. When he became convinced his suspicions were true, he went to both the League President and the Highlanders’ ownership and demanded Chase be banned. Instead, the team’s owners, who happened to be big gamblers themselves, not only sided with Chase, they fired Stallings and made the first baseman the team’s new manager.
After appearing in just 13 games for New York in 1911, Roach’s contract was sold to a minor league team. Since he owned both a pool hall and a bowling alley back home in Pennsylvania, Roach didn’t need his baseball salary to survive but he kept playing minor league ball and in 1915 signed a contract to play for the International League’s Toronto Maple Leafs. At midseason, however, the Buffalo franchise of the upstart Federal League offered him $1,000 more than the Leafs were paying him and he jumped the team to take the raise.
When the Federal League folded, Roach continued playing minor league ball, this time in Louisville. He also continued pursuing his favorite sports, which were fly fishing and hunting. Earlier in his career, he had purchased some land in Michigan to serve as his private fish and game preserve. He moved up there, opened a Ford dealership and pursued his passions. It seems that he was also one of the great fly tiers of all time. Known as “patterns” in the sport, Roxey’s Fox Squirrel Tail and Gray Squirrel Tail fly patterns have become famous worldwide among fly fisherman and are still replicated today.
Roxey was also proficient in another area as well. He fathered 14 children. He suffered a fatal heart attack the day after Christmas in 1947.
|NYY (2 yrs)||83||308||260||31||57||11||3||0||22||15||35||39||.219||.319||.285||.603|
|WSH (1 yr)||2||2||2||1||1||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||.500||.500||2.000||2.500|
|BUF (1 yr)||92||370||346||35||93||20||3||2||31||11||17||34||.269||.303||.361||.664|
Born 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.
|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|