Of the two Leiter brothers from Toms River, NJ who were both Yankee pitching prospects, it was older brother Mark who was more impressive in the Minors and younger brother Al who did best as a pro. Mark was two years older than Al and threw right-handed while his younger sibling was a southpaw. But in 1986 Mark hurt his pitching shoulder and underwent surgery. That same shoulder was cut open two more times in the next seventeen months forcing Leiter to sit out three full seasons. By the time he finally got a shot with the Yankees, his brother Al had already been traded and Mark wasn’t the same pitcher he had been four years earlier. He split his only two decisions in pinstripes before being shipped to Detroit the following year. In 11 big league seasons Mark won 65 and lost 73 while Al went 162-132 during his nineteen-year Major League career.
Mark shares his April 13th birthday with this WWII-era third baseman and the first starting shortstop in Yankee franchise history.
|DET (3 yrs)||23||18||.561||4.36||100||42||18||3||0||1||353.1||352||184||171||42||137||14||248||1.384|
|SFG (2 yrs)||14||22||.389||4.38||53||51||0||8||1||0||331.0||336||184||161||44||105||11||247||1.332|
|PHI (2 yrs)||17||22||.436||4.98||100||31||50||3||0||23||271.1||283||168||150||33||111||9||232||1.452|
|MON (1 yr)||4||2||.667||4.39||12||12||0||1||0||0||69.2||68||35||34||12||19||1||46||1.249|
|CAL (1 yr)||4||7||.364||4.72||40||7||15||0||0||2||95.1||99||56||50||13||35||6||71||1.406|
|SEA (1 yr)||0||0||6.75||2||0||0||0||0||0||1.1||2||1||1||0||0||0||1||1.500|
|NYY (1 yr)||1||1||.500||6.84||8||3||2||0||0||0||26.1||33||20||20||5||9||0||21||1.595|
|MIL (1 yr)||2||1||.667||3.75||20||3||3||0||0||0||36.0||32||16||15||6||8||2||26||1.111|
After coming up through the Yankee farm system, Al Leiter made his Major League debut in pinstripes, starting four games for New York during the 1987 season. The following year he finished 4-4 for the Yankees but was hampered by a chronic blistering problem on the fingers of his pitching hand. At the end of the first month of the 1989 season, New York traded the promising left hander to the Blue Jays for Toronto’s slugging outfielder, Jesse Barfield. Leiter bounced up and down between Toronto and the Blue Jays top farm team for the next three seasons before becoming a semi-regular member of the parent club’s starting staff in 1993. He won a World Series game and a ring that year and by 1995, he’d pitched well enough to sign a nice free agent deal with the Marlins. Al won 27 games and another World Series ring during his two years in Florida but the Marlins dealt him to the Mets in 1998 in the deal for A.J. Burnett. During the next seven seasons he pitched some very good baseball for the Amazin’s, winning 95 games, losing just 67 and pitching seven shutouts. When the Mets let him become a free agent in 2004, he went back to the Marlins, where he had compiled a 3-7 record when he was traded to the Yankees.
I remember watching him pitch his first start as a returning Yankee, a six-plus-inning, three hit victory over Boston’s Tim Wakefield. Unfortunately, Leiter’s career-long struggle with control prevented him from becoming an even more effective member of that 2005 Yankee pitching staff. He retired from baseball after that season and is now a very talented and hard-working television analyst for both the YES and MLB Networks. Al was born on October 23, 1965, in Toms River, NJ. This long-ago Yankee outfielder was also born on today’s date.