The last name of today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant is Ford. He was a two-time twenty game winner as a starter for the Yankee franchise and he was famous for scuffing the baseball with a tiny piece of sandpaper. He admitted to that doctoring after his playing days were over. What was this pitcher’s first name?
You’re wrong if you guessed Whitey. You’re also wrong if you guessed Edward, which was the real first name of one-time Yankee ace Whitey Ford. Whitey was also a two-time twenty-game winner for New York and after he retired in 1967, he also admitted to doctoring the baseball with a small strip of sandpaper attached to his wedding ring. But Whitey Ford wasn’t born on April 25th.
Today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant is instead, “Russ” Ford, who was born in Canada on April 25, 1883. He was a right handed pitcher for the New York Highlanders from 1909 until he jumped to the Federal League in 1914. This Ford won 26 games for New York in 1910 and then 22 the following year. According to his New York Times obituary, he invented the “Emory ball” by accident when one of his warm up pitches went flying by the catcher and bounced off a grating. When he got that ball back in his glove, he noticed a scuff mark. He then noticed that every pitch he threw with that scuffed baseball moved much more sharply than even his spitball did. That’s when Ford began concealing and carrying sandpaper with him to the mound.
After his two straight 20-win seasons, Ford lost 21 games for the 1912 Highlanders and then went 12-18 for the 1913 team that by then had officially changed its name to the New York Yankees. Those two bad years helped make Ford’s jump to the upstart Federal League in 1914 much easier for the Yankees to swallow. In fact, when AL President Ban Johnson offered to go to court to protect the Yankee’s contractual rights to the pitcher, Frank Chance, the New York Manager at the time told Johnson not to even bother.
|NYY (5 yrs)||73||56||.566||2.54||143||129||14||100||10||3||1112.2||1010||458||314||27||287||553||1.166|
|BUF (2 yrs)||26||15||.634||2.74||56||41||14||26||5||6||374.2||330||137||114||18||89||157||1.118|
I remember thinking the Yankees made a good move when they signed this righty reliever to a free agent contract in 1998. Holmes had pitched out of the Colorado bullpen for five seasons before that and had put up decent numbers, especially considering half his mound appearances were in Denver, where pitchers are typically punished by the thin air. But I was wrong. Holmes showed promise during the first two months of his only season in Pinstripes and Joe Torre’s confidence in the Asheville, NC reached a highpoint after Holmes turned in seven consecutive scoreless stints between late April and mid-May. But then he gave up three home runs in a single inning against Baltimore and after that, he struggled to regain consistency. He did bounce back to pitch well that September but when he didn’t make an appearance in the Yankees’ 1998 postseason you knew his days in pinstripes were numbered. The following March, Holmes was traded to the Diamondbacks. His final Yankee record included two saves and an 0-3 won-lost record. Holmes kept pitching until 2003, when he retired with a record of 35-33 and 59 saves, appearing in a total of 557 games during his 13-season career.
|COL (5 yrs)||23||13||.639||4.42||263||6||129||0||0||46||328.0||341||181||161||34||136||297||1.454|
|ARI (2 yrs)||4||3||.571||4.25||52||0||12||0||0||1||55.0||62||27||26||4||26||40||1.600|
|ATL (2 yrs)||3||4||.429||2.89||103||0||22||0||0||1||96.2||88||34||31||8||23||93||1.148|
|MIL (2 yrs)||5||8||.385||3.94||81||0||34||0||0||9||118.2||125||55||52||7||38||90||1.374|
|STL (1 yr)||0||1||.000||9.72||5||0||1||0||0||0||8.1||12||9||9||2||3||5||1.800|
|LAD (1 yr)||0||1||.000||5.19||14||0||1||0||0||0||17.1||15||10||10||1||11||19||1.500|
|NYY (1 yr)||0||3||.000||3.33||34||0||13||0||0||2||51.1||53||19||19||4||14||31||1.305|
|BAL (1 yr)||0||0||25.07||5||0||0||0||0||0||4.2||13||13||13||3||5||6||3.857|
MLB scouts first took notice of Juan Miranda when he played left field and hit over .400 for the Cuban National Team that won the first World University Championship Series gold medal in 2002. He defected from the Castro-ruled island in 2005 and signed with the Yankees in 2006. He put together some solid seasons in the Yankee farm system that earned him late season call-ups to the Bronx in both 2008 and ’09. He got his real shot with the parent club in 2010, when Manager Joe Girardi played him pretty regularly during the second half of May. He hit his first big league home run against Boston’s Josh Beckett in a losing effort on May 18th of that season and two days later he went deep against Tampa Bay’s James Shields. Unfortunately, he had a tough time proving he could hit big league pitching consistently and when the Yankees sent him back down that June, his average was just .217. The following November, Miranda was traded to the Diamondbacks. The change of scenery didn’t help. He hit only .213 for Arizona last year. He began the 2012 season with Tampa’s Triple A affiliate in Durham.
|NYY (3 yrs)||46||94||83||11||21||3||1||4||14||0||0||9||20||.253||.330||.458||.788|
|ARI (1 yr)||65||202||174||18||37||8||2||7||23||0||1||23||48||.213||.315||.402||.717|