March 24 – Happy Birthday Dick Kryhoski

Having seven bonafide candidates for the five spots in the Yankees’ 2012 starting rotation is certainly one of Joe Gerardi’s spring training dilemmas this year. But it pales in comparison to the crowd of first basemen Casey Stengel dealt with back in 1949. Stengel, however, loved platooning his ballplayers and he had a veritable ball with that particular Yankee team. To begin with, Joe DiMaggio was disabled with a sore heel that year, so Stengel shuffled his three outfield spots among Hank Bauer, Johnny Lindell, Gene Woodling and Cliff Mapes. At third base, he had the good fielding Billy “the Bull” Johnson and the good hitting but horrible fielding future doctor, Bobby Brown. His two alternatives at second were Snuffy Stirnweiss and Jerry Coleman. But it was at first that the Ol Perfessor had a real logjam. The veteran ex-outfielder, Tommy Henrich was considered the starter but he was joined by fellow first-sackers, Jack Phillips, Fenton Mole, Joe Collins and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, Dick Kryhoski.

I know that baseball fans in my hometown of Amsterdam New York were rooting for Kryhoski to make Stengel’s cut. That’s because he had spent part of his first year in the Yankee organization playing for the Amsterdam Rugmakers, New York’s old Class C affiliate in the Canadian American League. Not only did the Livonia, NJ native make the parent club that spring, he also returned to Amsterdam when the Yankees squared off against the Rugmakers in an exhibition and thrilled the crowd with a home run that day.

As the season began, Stengel inserted Kryhoski at first quite a bit to give the then-36-year-old Henrich a breather. Though both he and Henrich batted from the left side, Stengel played him almost exclusively against right-handed pitching. If you played first base for the Yankees and swung from the left side, you better have been able to pull the ball into the old Stadium’s short right field porch. Kryhoski’s inability to do so frustrated Casey and even though the kid had his batting average up over .300, it did not prevent Casey from looking for a better alternative among the aforementioned group of first-sackers already in the Yankee organization. When none of them caught fire, the Yankees went out and purchased “the Big Cat,” Johnny Mize from the cross-town Giants and Kryhoski’s days in Pinstripes were effectively over. He did hit .291 during his rookie season. That December, he was traded to the Tigers. He ended up playing two seasons in Detroit, three seasons for the Browns/Orioles and one more with the A’s. He retired in 1955, with a .265 career average in 569 big league games. He passed away in 2007 at the age of 82.

Kryhoski shares his March 24th birthday with this three-team-teammate of Babe Ruththis former Yankee reliever and this one-time Yankee starting pitcher.

1949 NYY 54 188 177 18 52 10 3 1 27 2 9 17 .294 .335 .401 .736
7 Yrs 569 1946 1794 203 475 85 14 45 231 5 119 163 .265 .314 .403 .717
BAL (3 yrs) 315 1071 980 105 255 44 7 28 126 2 68 99 .260 .312 .405 .717
DET (2 yrs) 172 634 590 78 158 29 4 16 76 1 36 40 .268 .313 .412 .725
KCA (1 yr) 28 53 47 2 10 2 0 0 2 0 6 7 .213 .302 .255 .557
NYY (1 yr) 54 188 177 18 52 10 3 1 27 2 9 17 .294 .335 .401 .736
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/13/2014.

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