Category: Dailies

June 5 – Happy Birthday Jack Chesbro

When I first started following baseball in 1960, New York Yankees dominated the record book. Babe Ruth’s single season and career home run records, Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played, Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak and Jack Chesbro’s most wins in a season marks were all considered unbreakable. One year later, Maris hit 61 but that was OK by me because he was a Yankee. Then Aaron grabbed the Babe’s other record, Ripken replaced the Iron Horse, and a juiced up McGuire eclipsed Maris. That leaves just DiMaggio’s 56 games and Chesbro’s 41 victories still Pinstripe property.

I do believe that the Clipper’s hitting streak will fall some day in the not too distant future but Happy Jack’s victory mark will withstand the test of time. The ironic thing about Chesbro’s 41-win season in 1904 was that he too used juice to help him set the mark. But his juice came out of his mouth instead of a syringe and was applied to a baseball instead of being injected into his butt. Jack had one of baseball’s best spitballs and in 1904 he used it to near perfection. Just like steroids’ impact on the the human body however, foreign substances applied to a baseball can have disastrous side effects. One of the spitters Chesbro threw during the 1904 season finale against the Red Sox fluttered so much it got past the New York catcher and the winning run scored, costing the Highlanders the pennant.

Chesbro pitched seven seasons for New York with a cumulative record of 128-93. His total big league career lasted 11 years and his lifetime record was 198-132. That 40-victory season got him elected to the Hall of Fame by the old-timers committee in 1946.

Chesbro shares his June 5th birthday with a couple of former Yankee catchers nicknamed “Duke” and “Truck.”

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP WHIP
1903 NYY 21 15 .583 2.77 40 36 4 33 1 0 324.2 300 140 100 7 74 147 9 1.152
1904 NYY 41 12 .774 1.82 55 51 3 48 6 0 454.2 338 128 92 4 88 239 7 0.937
1905 NYY 19 15 .559 2.20 41 38 2 24 3 0 303.1 262 125 74 5 71 156 6 1.098
1906 NYY 23 17 .575 2.96 49 42 7 24 4 1 325.0 314 138 107 2 75 152 10 1.197
1907 NYY 10 10 .500 2.53 30 25 3 17 1 0 206.0 192 83 58 0 46 78 6 1.155
1908 NYY 14 20 .412 2.93 45 31 13 20 3 1 288.2 276 134 94 6 67 124 14 1.188
1909 NYY 0 4 .000 6.34 9 4 4 2 0 0 49.2 70 47 35 2 13 17 3 1.671
11 Yrs 198 132 .600 2.68 392 332 52 260 35 5 2896.2 2647 1206 864 39 690 1265 113 1.152
NYY (7 yrs) 128 93 .579 2.58 269 227 36 168 18 2 1952.0 1752 795 560 26 434 913 55 1.120
PIT (4 yrs) 70 38 .648 2.89 122 104 16 92 17 3 938.2 888 407 301 12 252 349 58 1.214
BOS (1 yr) 0 1 .000 4.50 1 1 0 0 0 0 6.0 7 4 3 1 4 3 0 1.833
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/5/2013.

June 4 – Happy Birthday Phil Linz

When then Manager, Yogi Berra slapped the harmonica out of Phil’s hands on that infamous 1964 Yankee bus ride, Yankee fans would never had guessed that the seemingly quiet and shy Linz was possible of such defiance. In actuality, Linz  was a whacko. He and the even crazier Joe Pepitone had come up through the Yankee farm system together, leaving a trail of behavioral incidents that would have made Charley Sheen blush.

Linz spent four seasons in pinstripes as a utility infielder. He had a good glove and displayed a good enough bat to see plenty of action during his first three years in the big leagues. In fact, Linz started and led off every game of the Yankee’s 1964 World Series against the Cardinals. The two home runs he hit during that Fall Classic would be the highlight of his Yankee career and also the turning point. In 1965, Linz pretty much stopped hitting, averaging just .207 in 99 games. So when Tony Kubek’s bad back forced the Yankee stating shortstop’s early retirement at the age of 29, Linz was bypassed for the job. Instead, New York traded him to Philadelphia, for their starting shortstop, Ruben Amaro. Linz bombed as a Phillie and then played his final two big league seasons as a backup infielder with the Mets.

Phil shares his June 4th birthday with this Yankee coach who as a big league catcher invented the “sit-down strike.” This long-ago Yankee outfielder was also born on this date.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1962 NYY 71 136 129 28 37 8 0 1 14 6 6 17 .287 .316 .372 .688
1963 NYY 72 209 186 22 50 9 0 2 12 1 15 18 .269 .328 .349 .678
1964 NYY 112 417 368 63 92 21 3 5 25 3 43 61 .250 .332 .364 .696
1965 NYY 99 324 285 37 59 12 1 2 16 2 30 33 .207 .281 .277 .558
7 Yrs 519 1518 1372 185 322 64 4 11 96 13 112 195 .235 .295 .311 .606
NYY (4 yrs) 354 1086 968 150 238 50 4 10 67 12 94 129 .246 .314 .337 .651
NYM (2 yrs) 102 340 316 27 66 9 0 0 18 1 14 51 .209 .248 .237 .485
PHI (2 yrs) 63 92 88 8 18 5 0 1 11 0 4 15 .205 .239 .295 .535
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/3/2013.

June 3 – Happy Birthday Jose Molina

Former Yankee catcher, Jose Molina was born on this day in 1975, in Bayamon Puerto Rico. He became Jorge Posada’s backup receiver on July 21, 2007 when the Yankees acquired him from the Angels for a Minor League pitcher named Jeff Kennard. In what I always thought had been a cool arrangement, up until that deal was made Jose had been sharing the Angels’ catching position with his younger brother Bengie. He also has another brother with the absolute best first name in baseball (Yadier; pronounced yah-dee-yay), who has been a very good starting catcher for the Cardinals since 2005. Together, the catching Molina brothers have collected five World Series rings during the past decade. Both Bengie and Yadier are better hitters than their older brother and have each won multiple Gold Gloves. Jose’s inability to hit right-handed pitching usually prevents him from taking over a team’s starting catcher role but his arm and his abilities behind the plate are every bit as good if not better than his younger brothers.

The Yankees had been using Will Nieves as Posada’s backup during the first half of that 2007 season, but he was only hitting .164. When Molina took over that role he became an instant hit with Yankee fans, impressing us with defensive skills that were superior to Posada’s and also hitting a surprisingly robust .318 during his first half-year playing in the Bronx. In fact, it wasn’t till Molina put on the pinstripes and I got to watch him semi-regularly that I really began noticing Posada’s weaknesses behind the plate. I will never forget the evening Molina left me stunned with my mouth open staring at my big screen after he threw a would-be base-stealer out at second from his knees.

His play impressed the Yankee brass too. New York signed him to a two-year-$4 million deal to play for them in 2008 and’ ’09. When Posada was injured in ’08, Molina got the opportunity to start. Unfortunately, by then he had stopped hitting and the Yankees eventually felt forced to go out and get Ivan Rodriguez in a failed effort to put some more offense into their lineup. The move didn’t help New York, as the team missed postseason play for the first time since 1993 but I-Rods inability to hit did help convince the Yankee front-office to keep Molina as Posada’s backup the following year. Jose did get the opportunity to engrave his name in Yankee lore that season. On September 21, 2008 in the bottom of the fourth inning in a game against Baltimore, Jose hit a 2-0 pitch off the then Orioles Chris Waters deep into the left field stands for a two run home run. That blast would turn out to be the very last home run ever hit in the original Yankee Stadium.

In 2009, A.J. Burnett became a Yankee and Molina pretty quickly became Burnett’s personal catcher. Jose helped guide the whacky right-hander to what would turn out to be his best season in pinstripes, helping New York capture their 27th World Championship. But Molina’s bat continued to fail him as he hit just .217 during the ’09 regular season. The Yankees chose not to re-sign him when his contract expired and rookie Francisco Cervelli took over the back-up catcher’s role in 2010.

Jose ended up playing two seasons as Toronto’s second catcher before signing a rather surprising two-year deal with Tampa Bay in November of 2011. Rays’ manager, Joe Madden used Molina as his team’s starting receiver the following season. The veteran catcher turns 39 years old today.

Molina shares his birthday with this Yankee DH.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2007 NYY 29 71 66 9 21 5 0 1 9 0 2 13 .318 .333 .439 .773
2008 NYY 100 297 268 32 58 17 0 3 18 0 12 52 .216 .263 .313 .576
2009 NYY 52 155 138 15 30 4 0 1 11 0 14 28 .217 .292 .268 .560
15 Yrs 906 2656 2420 237 566 115 3 39 214 17 146 548 .234 .283 .332 .615
LAA (7 yrs) 363 1043 958 92 227 49 2 15 97 9 44 221 .237 .274 .339 .613
TBR (3 yrs) 240 695 633 54 136 23 0 10 51 5 48 150 .215 .273 .299 .571
NYY (3 yrs) 181 523 472 56 109 26 0 5 38 0 28 93 .231 .281 .318 .599
TOR (2 yrs) 112 374 338 32 89 16 1 9 27 3 24 80 .263 .323 .396 .720
CHC (1 yr) 10 21 19 3 5 1 0 0 1 0 2 4 .263 .333 .316 .649
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/16/2014.

June 1 – Happy Birthday Bud Metheny

When Babe Ruth was released by the Yankees in 1934, the team gave George Selkirk, his replacement in right field, the Babe’s uniform number “3.” Selkirk wore it until he went into military service after the 1942 season. With most of the frontline players away at war, the Yankees reached down into their minor league organization for Selkirk’s replacement, a then 28-year-old St. Louis native named Bud Metheny, and gave him uniform number 3. Metheny wore that number and started in the Yankee outfield from 1943 until 1945, when the War ended and the regular big leaguers returned to the game. Born on June 1, 1915, his best year in pinstripes was 1944, when he hit 14 home runs and drove in 67. He returned to the minors in 1946 and never again played a big league game. He then became the head baseball coach at Old Dominion University in 1948 and remained in that position for the next 32 years.

By the way, the Yankees did not retire the Bambino’s number for good until after Ruth died in 1948. After Metheny, the number was worn by Roy Bockman, Roy Weatherly, Allie Clarke and finally Cliff Mapes.

Other Yankees born on this date include the only big league catcher in history to catch no-hit games on consecutive days and this one-time 20-game-winner.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1943 NYY 103 409 360 51 94 18 2 9 36 2 39 34 .261 .333 .397 .731
1944 NYY 137 592 518 72 124 16 1 14 67 5 56 57 .239 .316 .355 .671
1945 NYY 133 580 509 64 126 18 2 8 53 5 54 31 .248 .325 .338 .662
1946 NYY 3 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
4 Yrs 376 1584 1390 187 344 52 5 31 156 12 149 122 .247 .323 .359 .682
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/31/2013.

May 30 – Happy Birthday Al Mamaux

Al Mamaux seemed to be on top of the baseball world after putting together consecutive 21-victory seasons for his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates in 1915 and ’16. His bubble quickly burst the following season, however, when he went just 2-11 and was also suspended by Pittsburgh Manager, Hugo Bezdek for violating “team rules” during a road trip to  New York. When I first found out about the suspension, it caused me to surmise that perhaps Mamaux, who was just 22 years old at the time, had let success go to his head. A closer look at this right-hander’s season stat lines indicated other reasons may have existed for his quick and precipitous downfall. During his two big seasons with the Pirates, he had pitched more than 550 innings of baseball, far more than he had ever thrown over a two season period. All those innings must have put a tremendous strain on his young right arm because he was never again able to approach that same level of success in the big leagues.

The Pirates traded him and Burleigh Grimes to Brooklyn in 1918 in a deal that sent future Yankee skipper Casey Stengel to Pittsburgh. Mamaux hardly pitched for his new team in 1918 but recovered to win 10 games in 1919 and 12 more in 1920. He would spend a total of six seasons with Brooklyn and his big league career was just about over when the Yankees purchased his contract in 1924. He appeared in 14 games for New York in 1924, splitting his only two decisions. That performance ended his big league playing days but put him on the path to his second career as a very successful manager of the Yankees’ Newark Bears farm team. Before he took over as Newark’s field boss, he anchored the Bears starting rotation for four seasons during which he won 79 games. In 1930 he replaced Tris Speaker as skipper of the Bears. His Newark teams were considered the very best in that proud franchise’s illustrious International League history and Mamaux would later become a highly regarded college coach at Seton Hall.

The only other Yankee born in this date made his debut as a Yankee pitcher during the same season Mamaux became the Bears’ manager.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1924 NYY 1 1 .500 5.68 14 2 7 0 0 0 38.0 44 28 24 2 20 12 1.684
12 Yrs 76 67 .531 2.90 254 137 79 78 15 10 1293.0 1138 541 416 22 511 625 1.275
BRO (6 yrs) 26 30 .464 3.07 127 49 49 26 4 8 541.2 513 241 185 12 183 244 1.285
PIT (5 yrs) 49 36 .576 2.61 113 86 23 52 11 2 713.1 581 272 207 8 308 369 1.246
NYY (1 yr) 1 1 .500 5.68 14 2 7 0 0 0 38.0 44 28 24 2 20 12 1.684
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/30/2013.

May 29 – Happy Birthday Charlie Hayes

HayesCFate shined kindly on this fourteen-year veteran when he found himself catching the final out pop-up of the 1996 World Series as the Yankee’s third baseman. New York had picked him up late that same season to serve as a late-inning defensive replacement for Wade Boggs. Hayes had also been the Yankee starting third baseman in 1992 but was left unprotected in the MLB Expansion Draft and was selected by Colorado.

After he caught the last out of the ’96 Series, he actually started more games at third for the Yankees the following season than Boggs did. But after the Indians bounced the Yankees out of postseason play in the first round of the 1997 playoffs, Charlie was traded to San Francisco and the Yankees went out and got Scott Brosius from Oakland to be their new third baseman.

Born in Hattiesburg, MS in 1965, Charlie retired after the 2001 season with 144 home runs and 1,379 career hits during his 14-season big league career.

Charley shares his May 29th birthday with long-ago Yankee outfielderthis utility player and  this first baseman

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1992 NYY 142 549 509 52 131 19 2 18 66 3 28 100 .257 .297 .409 .705
1996 NYY 20 69 67 7 19 3 0 2 13 0 1 12 .284 .294 .418 .712
1997 NYY 100 398 353 39 91 16 0 11 53 3 40 66 .258 .332 .397 .728
14 Yrs 1547 5766 5262 580 1379 251 16 144 740 47 420 918 .262 .316 .398 .714
SFG (4 yrs) 216 683 609 72 150 17 1 18 110 5 67 106 .246 .320 .366 .686
PHI (4 yrs) 519 1981 1849 174 474 88 5 41 238 15 105 303 .256 .296 .376 .672
NYY (3 yrs) 262 1016 929 98 241 38 2 31 132 6 69 178 .259 .310 .405 .715
COL (2 yrs) 270 1093 996 135 297 68 6 35 148 14 79 153 .298 .352 .484 .836
PIT (1 yr) 128 500 459 51 114 21 2 10 62 6 36 78 .248 .301 .368 .669
HOU (1 yr) 31 58 50 4 10 2 0 0 4 0 7 16 .200 .293 .240 .533
MIL (1 yr) 121 435 370 46 93 17 0 9 46 1 57 84 .251 .348 .370 .718
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/29/2013.

May 25 – Happy Birthday Bobby Brown

Bobby Brown started his Yankee career during the tumultuous 1979 season, when he was acquired from the Blue Jays in June of that year. At the same time New York traded for Brown, George Steinbrenner, replaced Manager Bob Lemon with Billy Martin. After winning two straight World Championships, New York was floundering in that year’s AL Pennant race. The “Boss” thought Lemon had lost control of the team and especially center-fielder Mickey Rivers. The Yankee owner felt Martin was the guy who could make the Yankees and “Mick the Quick” play hard again.

Instead, Rivers continued to drift and on August 1, 1979, the speedy outfielder was dealt to the Rangers. That same day, Thurman Munson crashed his plane and the rest of the 1979 baseball season suddenly didn’t matter to anybody.

In one of his best moves as Yankee owner, Steinbrenner then approved the hiring of long-time Yankee coach Dick Howser as the team’s new skipper. The Yankees also swung a deal for the young Mariner center-fielder, Rupert Jones. Everyone thought Jones would become the Yankees next great center fielder. Fortunately for Bobby Brown, that didn’t happen.

With Jones struggling to keep his average over .200, Dick Howser began playing Brown in the middle of his outfield  during that 1980 season. Brown’s speed helped him cover the huge dimensions of center field in the old Yankee Stadium and it helped him steal 27 bases that season. Howser also liked the fact that Brown was a switch hitter. Bobby responded well, hitting .260 and poking 14 home runs in his official rookie season. But the Howser-Brown mutual admiration society was about to get disbanded.

Howser was fired by an irate Steinbrenner after the Yankees got knocked out of the 1980 playoffs in three-straight games by the Royals. Brown went hitless in that series, which did not go unnoticed in the Yankee front office. At the very end of New York’s 1981 spring training season, New York traded Jones to the Padres for San Diego’s talented center fielder, Jerry Mumphrey. That trade signaled the official end of Brown’s career as the Yankee’s starting center fielder.

Bobby began the 1981 season in Columbus and then got called back up to the parent club in late May. He remained in pinstripes during the rest of that strike-shortened 1981 season, but he hit only .226. Still, the Yankees kept him on their post-season roster, which ended up giving Brown one more opportunity to make Steinbrenner livid. It happened during the pivotal Game 4 of that year’s Fall Classic against the Dodgers. Yankee Manager, Bob Lemon had inserted Brown as a pinch runner for Oscar Gamble in the sixth inning with the Yankees ahead 6-3. But instead of putting Jerry Mumphrey in center the following inning, Lemon sent Brown out to play the field. Mumphrey was considered to be a much better defensive outfielder than Brown. Later in the game, with the score tied 6-6, Brown misplayed Rick Monday’s blooper into a double, which led to a two-run inning and a Dodger victory and a deadlocked Series. Los Angeles would go on to win the next two games and the World Championship. The following April, Brown was playing for the Mariners.

The Yankees actually traded for Bobby Brown two different times. They originally acquired him in 1978, when he was still a minor leaguer in the Phillies’ organization but then lost him to the Mets in the 1978 rule 5 Draft. In that trade with the Phillies, the Yankees got Brown and outfielder Jay Johnstone for reliever Rawley Eastwick. When New York traded Bobby Brown to the Mariners in 1982 they got starting pitcher Shane Rawley in return. This makes Brown the only Yankee in history who was traded to the team and from the team for guys who shared the name Rawley.

There was another pretty famous Bobby Brown in Yankee history, a third baseman during the late forties who went on to become a medical doctor and then the last president of MLB’s American League. There have also been lots of Yankees who like the two Bobby Brown’s, have names (or nicknames) with the same first and last initial. Here’s my line up of the most notable of those alliteratively monikered Bronx Bombers:

Chris Chambliss – 1b
Steve Sax – 2b
Tommy Tresh – SS
Red Rolfe – 3b
Frank Fernandez – c
Mickey Mantle – of
Bobby Bonds – of
Chad Curtis – of
Shane Spencer – dh
Mike Mussina – p
Red Ruffing – p
Goose Gossage – rp

Bobby turns 59-years-old today. He shares his May 25th birthday with this former Yankee pitcher and minor league pitching instructor.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1979 NYY 30 71 68 7 17 3 1 0 3 2 2 17 .250 .271 .324 .595
1980 NYY 137 446 412 65 107 12 5 14 47 27 29 82 .260 .306 .415 .721
1981 NYY 31 69 62 5 14 1 0 0 6 4 5 15 .226 .279 .242 .521
7 Yrs 502 1393 1277 183 313 38 12 26 130 110 94 238 .245 .295 .355 .649
SDP (3 yrs) 221 528 480 76 116 15 5 8 57 49 39 91 .242 .296 .344 .640
NYY (3 yrs) 198 586 542 77 138 16 6 14 56 33 36 114 .255 .299 .384 .683
SEA (1 yr) 79 267 245 29 59 7 1 4 17 28 17 32 .241 .288 .327 .614
TOR (1 yr) 4 12 10 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 .000 .167 .000 .167
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/25/2014.