Did you know that on almost every day of the year, at least one member of the New York Yankee's all-time roster celebrates a birthday? The posts of the Pinstripe Birthday Blog celebrate those birthdays and offer personal recollections, career highlights, and trivia questions that will bring back memories and test your knowledge of the storied history of the Bronx Bombers.
September 5 – Happy Birthday Buddy Hassett
After spending six seasons in the National League with the Dodgers and Braves, the Yankees acquired Hassett to play first base in 1942, replacing the light-hitting Johnny Sturm. The New York City native who was born September 5, 1911, did OK in Pinstripes, hitting .284 and scoring 80 runs for a Yankee team that won 103 regular season games and captured the AL Pennant. After hitting .333 in a losing effort against the Cardinals in that season’s World Series, Hassett never appeared in another big league ball game.
He was called into military service the following year and the Yankees went out and got Nick Etten to play first base during the ’43 season. By the time Hassett returned from the Navy he was one of over 500 big league and more than 4,000 minor league players coming back from the armed services to reclaim or try to win a limited number of big league roster spots. Though Hassett had been one of a small group of players in history to have compiled at least 375 plate appearances during each season of his major league career before joining the service, he failed to make a post- WWII big league roster (even though the commissioner had expanded those rosters from 25 to 30 players to accommodate returning players.)
September 5 is also the birthday of Bill Mazeroski. My first vivid memory of being a Yankee fan was running all the way home from school as a first grader on an October afternoon in 1960 so I could watch the end of the seventh game of the 1960 World Series. I got in front of our family’s black & white Sylvania just in time to see Yogi Berra staring up at the top of the ivy-covered left field wall at Pittsburgh’s old Forbes Field, watching Mazeroski’s series-winning home run fly over it. So I won’t be wishing the former Pirate second baseman a happy birthday, ever.