Long before the ballfields of Kalamazoo, Michigan produced Derek Jeter, the first Yankee to achieve 3,000 hits in pinstripes, they also produced Johnny Ganzel, the first starting first baseman in the history of the Yankee franchise, after it was relocated from Baltimore to New York. Known as “the first family of Michigan baseball” the Ganzel clan produced a bevy of players. There were five Ganzel brothers and every one of them played big league or minor league ball.
Ganzel had three prior years of experience in the National League, when he accepted Clark Griffith’s offer to play for New York’s new American League franchise in 1903. He had a strong season that year, averaging a solid .277 and finishing second on the team in RBIs with 71. He then slumped in 1904, causing Griffith to refuse the first baseman’s demand for a raise for the ’05 season. Ganzel then demanded a trade but Griffith waited until he had Hal Chase under contract before complying with his request and sending Ganzel to Detroit.
Ganzel would never get to play for Detroit. Instead he became the player manager for a minor league team in Grand Rapids before taking over the same role with the NL’s Cincinnati Reds in 1908. He shares his April 7th birthday with the first manager in Yankee franchise history, this former Yankee pitcher and this one too.
|CIN (2 yrs)||257||1002||919||93||232||36||26||3||117||15||48||51||.252||.293||.358||.651|
|NYY (2 yrs)||259||1035||941||112||253||41||17||9||119||22||54||79||.269||.323||.377||.700|
|CHC (1 yr)||78||308||284||29||78||14||4||4||32||5||10||10||.275||.316||.394||.710|
|NYG (1 yr)||138||562||526||42||113||13||3||2||66||6||20||32||.215||.256||.262||.518|
|PIT (1 yr)||15||50||45||5||6||0||0||0||2||0||4||1||.133||.220||.133||.353|