May 3 – Happy Birthday Cliff Markle

markleIf you think today’s sportswriters and bloggers can be overly critical of modern day ballplayers, you’re absolutely correct. But its nothing new. Take a look at some of the statements I uncovered about today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant in a July 21, 1916 New York Times account of a regular season game between the Yankees and the St Louis Browns: “None of the Yankees was injured yesterday up at the Polo Grounds yesterday but a misfortune came to them when Cliff Markle started to pitch against the St. Louis Browns…Markle seems to be about the only disappointing feature of this year’s Yankee ball club. All the other players have proved better than anyone expected except Markle…The only player who doesn’t seem to approve (of the Yankees being in first place) is Markle…whenever he starts to pitch the home plate simply disappears…As Markle pitched yesterday he had a far-away look, as if pondering where he was going to spend next summer’s vacation…Markle left (the game) with the bases loaded and no one was out when Manager Bill Donovan sent the pitcher word that the next train south left the elevated at 4:20 PM. He also told him if he hurried he might catch it.” Ouch! Imagine if Michael Kay used the above words to describe one of Ivan Nova’s recent starts.

A native of Dravosburg, PA, this right-hander actually attracted the attention of several big league teams after posting a 31-9 record for a Class C minor league team in the Virginia League in 1914, followed by a 19-11 season for a B team in Waco, Texas. He also got off to a strong start with New York, winning both of his decisions at the end of the Yankees’ 1915 season and his first three the following year. On May 6 of 1916,his ERA was a microscopic 1.39. That’s when the curtain started coming down on his big league career. He lost three of his next four decisions including the one described above. In fact, though at first I thought the Times sports reporter was just trying to be dramatically sarcastic, that start against the Brown’s was the last game Markle pitched in the big leagues for the next five years. But instead of taking the elevated train south, he headed north and finished the 1916 season pitching for an American Association League team in Toronto.

His next stop in the big leagues was with Cincinnati in 1921 and ’22 and then two years later he got a final chance with the Yanks but he couldn’t seem to get anyone out. That was his last year as a professional baseball player. He passed away in 1974 at the age of 80.

He shares his birthday with the winningest pitcher in Yankee history and this former back-up catcher.

1915 NYY 2 0 1.000 0.39 3 2 1 2 0 0 23.0 15 3 1 1 6 12 0.913
1916 NYY 4 3 .571 4.53 11 7 1 3 1 0 45.2 41 26 23 0 31 14 1.577
1924 NYY 0 3 .000 8.87 7 3 2 0 0 0 23.1 29 26 23 5 20 7 2.100
5 Yrs 12 17 .414 4.10 56 21 23 12 2 0 234.2 235 132 107 9 110 90 1.470
NYY (3 yrs) 6 6 .500 4.60 21 12 4 5 1 0 92.0 85 55 47 6 57 33 1.543
CIN (2 yrs) 6 11 .353 3.79 35 9 19 7 1 0 142.2 150 77 60 3 53 57 1.423
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/3/2013.

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