A few years ago, I read a book entitled “The Big Bam,” which is a biography of Babe Ruth, written by Leigh Montville. In it, the author goes into great detail about the transaction that made Ruth a Yankee, in January of 1920. At the time the deal was made, Ruth was coming off a season in which he hit the then unheard of total of 29 home runs. He had almost convinced Red Sox Manager, Ed Barrow, that he was too good a hitter to continue pitching. He was quickly becoming the most famous man in America and was about to embark on a career in pinstripes that would in effect, make him the God of baseball. So imagine for a moment that you are today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant, Sammy Vick. You’ve been a Yankee for three seasons and in 1919, you finally became the team’s starting right fielder. You’re only 24 years old and the Yankees, under second-year Manager Miller Huggins, were an improving baseball team, finishing in third place in the American League the past season. So you wake up on January 4, 1920 and you pour yourself a cup of coffee and grab the morning newspaper. You unfold it and there on the top of the front page, you’re suddenly staring at your own obituary. Actually, the headline reads “Yankees Purchase Ruth From Boston” but to your eyes it says “Sammy Vick’s Days as Yankees’ Starting Right Fielder Are Over Forever.” When he got to the part of the article where Huggins is quoted as saying Babe’s pitching days are over for good, Vick probably put down his coffee and the newspaper and went back to bed hoping against hope that everything that had just transpired was nothing but a bad dream.
Ruth went on to hit 59 home runs during his first season in New York. Vick only got to play when “The Big Bam” was hurt, tired, hung over or finished hitting for the day. That meant Vick, who was a native of Batesville, Mississippi, appeared in just 51 games in 1920. The following season he was traded to Boston as part of a nine-player swap between the two teams. He floundered as a Red Sox and was back in the minors by 1922. He played until 1930 but never got back to the big leagues. Sammy lived to be 91, passing away in 1986. I bet at the time, he was still telling anyone who would listen that he was the guy who lost his job to Babe Ruth.
Joining Vick as a former Yankee who celebrates his birthday on April 12 is this reliever who came to New York in a trade for El Duque and this outfielder the Yankees picked up from Detroit just as the 2013 season was about to begin.
|NYY (4 yrs)||169||621||564||85||139||25||10||2||41||12||1||50||81||.246||.310||.337||.647|
|BOS (1 yr)||44||81||77||5||20||3||1||0||9||0||1||1||10||.260||.269||.325||.594|
You’re Brennan Boesch and you’ve been a starting outfielder for the Detroit Tigers since you made your big league debut in 2010. During that first year you led all American League rookies in home runs and RBIs. You were having an even better sophomore year when in early August of 2011, you tore a ligament in your wrist, causing you to miss the final two months of the regular season plus that year’s ALDS and ALCS.
You worked hard to get your wrist rehabbed but it hurt like hell to swing a bat and you pretty much struggled with it during the entire 2012 season. Even though you had some big hits down the stretch, Jim Leyland left you off the Tigers’ postseason roster and you missed a chance to play in the 2012 World Series. Five months later, you were in for an even bigger disappointment. You were determined to play your way back into Detroit’s starting lineup in 2013 but that didn’t happen. Early on in spring training you suffered an oblique injury, which set you back and then on March 15th, Leyland called you into his office and told you the team was releasing you. That had to be one of the toughest things you’ve ever had to hear. But then your agent told you the Yanks had called and were interested in bringing you to New York to start in their outfield while Curtis Granderson’s broken arm healed. Just like that, it looked like you were about to turn lemon into lemonade. The deal gets made, you pack your bags and head for Tampa, but no sooner do you get there and the Yankees announce they’ve just acquired Vernon Wells from the Angels. Within a span of just a few days you go from fighting for a starting job to getting cut to being given a starting job for the Yankees and then losing it. Talk about the highs and lows of professional athletes, huh?
I remember when Brennan Boesch got his first at bat against the Yankees and I saw his name flash on the television screen. I thought some YES Network technician had left the “d” out of his first name and mistakenly hit the “n” key twice. I also remember he pretty much wore out Yankee pitching. He averaged .363 against them in 22 games and like most left-handed hitters with some pop in his bat, he absolutely loved hitting in Yankee Stadium. When the news broke that the Yankees signed him, I confess that the first thing that came into my head was that this guy had enough of an all-around game to have a chance of evolving into a Paul O’Neill type player for New York. He really didn’t get the chance I thought he would with the Yankees. Instead he was reassigned to the minors and then released.
Boesch is a big guy, six feet four inches tall and he weighs over 230 pounds. He was born in Santa Monica, California in 1985. He shares his birthday with this former Yankee reliever and this long-ago Yankee outfielder.
|DET (3 yrs)||380||1487||1362||176||353||73||6||42||175||18||101||286||.259||.315||.414||.729|
|LAA (1 yr)||5||12||12||0||3||1||0||0||0||1||0||1||.250||.250||.333||.583|
|NYY (1 yr)||23||53||51||6||14||2||1||3||8||0||2||9||.275||.302||.529||.831|
Today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant is Antonio Osuna. I remember not being at all happy when the Yankees sent Orlando Hernandez to the White Sox for this Mexican reliever just before the 2003 spring training camps opened. Then the Sox immediately dealt Hernandez to the Expos. Osuna had just had his best big league season in the Windy City in 2002 but I loved El Duque. The deal turned out OK for the Yanks. Osuna was nothing special pitching for them out of the pen during his only season in the Bronx but El Duque got hurt and did not pitch an inning for the Expos in 2003. Montreal then released Hernandez and the Yankees re-signed him in 2004. Torre put Hernandez in a struggling Yankee rotation in July of that year and he won eight straight. Osuna ended up pitching in 48 games for Joe Torre’s team in 2003. He finished that season with a 2-5 record and a 3.73 ERA and was left off the New York’s postseason roster and then released. He was the last Yankee to wear uniform number 13 before it became the property of A-Rod. Osuna then signed with San Diego in 2004 and the following season he pitched in his last big league game as a member of the Nationals. He then played a few more years in his native Mexico. He was 36-29 during his 11-season big league career and earned 21 saves. Osuna shares an April 12 birthday with this former Yankee outfielder who lost his starting job to Babe Ruth and this other outfielder, who was acquired from Detroit just before the 2013 regular season started.
|LAD (6 yrs)||24||21||.533||3.28||265||0||89||0||0||10||327.0||261||131||119||32||141||18||346||9||1.229|
|CHW (2 yrs)||8||2||.800||4.88||63||0||28||0||0||11||72.0||72||42||39||4||30||5||72||5||1.417|
|SDP (1 yr)||2||1||.667||2.45||31||0||6||0||0||0||36.2||32||11||10||3||11||0||36||1||1.173|
|WSN (1 yr)||0||0||42.43||4||0||1||0||0||0||2.1||9||11||11||2||7||1||0||0||6.857|
|NYY (1 yr)||2||5||.286||3.73||48||0||16||0||0||0||50.2||58||22||21||3||20||3||47||2||1.539|