Back in the nineteen fifties, slugger Mickey Mantle would begin drooling a week before his Yankees were scheduled to play a series against the Washington Senators. Why? There were three reasons, and their names were Chuck Stobbs, Camilio Pascual and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, Pedro “Pistol Pete” Ramos. They formed three fifths of Washington’s starting rotation back then and it seemed as if Mantle hit three-fifths of his 536 lifetime home runs off the trio. Pascual and Ramos were both from Cuba and both were actually very talented big league pitchers. In fact, I saw Pascual pitch a couple of times live at Yankee Stadium and several times on television and to this day, I believe he belongs in Cooperstown. Ramos was a notch below his countryman in talent but it would end up being Ramos who would help pitch the Yankees into a World Series.
Pedro pitched his first seven big league seasons for the Senators (who moved to Minnesota and became the Twins in 1961) and achieved double figures in victories in six of them. Unfortunately, thanks in large part to the anemic offense and porous defense of those Washington teams, Ramos also lost 112 games during that same span. He was then traded to the Indians, where he pitched decently for almost three seasons until September 5, 1964 when Yankee GM Ralph Houk acquired him for two players to be named later, who would turn out to be pitchers Ralph Terry and Bud Daley.
Yogi Berra had replaced Houk as Yankee skipper that season and the team took a long time to respond to their new Manager and were in danger of not reaching the World Series for the first time in five straight seasons. Berra’s starting rotation and bullpen were running on fumes. The additions of Mel Stottlemyre and Ramos proved to be the perfect elixir to what ailed Yankee pitching. Ramos took over the closer role and pitched brilliantly, saving eight games down the stretch as New York pulled off a late-season surge to win the AL Pennant. Unfortunately, he had joined the Yankees to late in the season to qualify for the World Series roster so he was forced to watch helplessly as the Cardinals beat New York in that year’s seven-game Fall Classic.
Houk then replaced Berra as Yankee Manager with Johnny Keane right after that series and Ramos spent the next two years as the closer on a Yankee team that was not able to generate too many leads that needed closing. Still, Ramos did save a total 32 games for New York during the 1965 and ’66 seasons before getting dealt to Philadelphia for relief pitcher Joe Verbanic. He retired after the 1970 season with a lifetime record of 117-160, 55 saves and 13 shutouts.
It seems Ramos was pretty much a wild man in his private life. In fact, his nickname “Pistol Pete” was only partially attributable to the right-hander’s fastball. This guy actually carried a gun with him off the field, almost all the time. He once used that gun to shoot out the screen of his family’s television set when he objected to the channel choice of Mrs. Ramos (who quickly thereafter became the ex-Mrs. Ramos.) He also used his gun after his playing days were over when he got himself involved in Little Havana’s drug business, which landed him in jail in the early 1980’s.
Ramos shares his April 28th birthday with this former Yankee pitcher.
|MIN (7 yrs)||78||112||.411||4.19||290||199||56||58||10||12||1544.1||1579||808||719||210||491||740||1.340|
|CLE (3 yrs)||26||30||.464||3.87||109||68||15||15||3||1||519.0||489||262||223||75||152||363||1.235|
|NYY (3 yrs)||9||14||.391||3.05||130||1||91||0||0||40||203.2||191||80||69||18||45||147||1.159|
|WSA (1 yr)||0||0||7.56||4||0||1||0||0||0||8.1||10||7||7||2||4||10||1.680|
|CIN (1 yr)||4||3||.571||5.16||38||0||12||0||0||2||66.1||73||41||38||8||24||40||1.462|
|PIT (1 yr)||0||1||.000||6.00||5||0||3||0||0||0||6.0||8||4||4||2||0||4||1.333|
|PHI (1 yr)||0||0||9.00||6||0||4||0||0||0||8.0||14||8||8||1||8||1||2.750|
If you were a bullpen pitcher for the New York Yankees after Game 2 of the 1956 World Series win over the Brooklyn Dodgers, you might have qualified for unemployment checks. Why? Because beginning with Game 3, New York starting pitchers; Whitey Ford, Tom Sturdivant, Don Larsen, Bob Turley and Johnny Kucks became the first and only pitchers in history to toss five consecutive complete games in a Fall Classic.
Sturdivant’s turn came in the fourth game, which he won 6-2. That would be the only postseason decision in the decade-long big league career of this right-hander, who was born in Kansas, on April 28, 1930 and then raised in Oklahoma. The Yankees originally signed him out of high school as an infielder but he didn’t hit well in the minors. When he came back to the organization after serving a year in the military, Sturdivant was switched to pitching. He could throw hard and he developed a signature slithering curve ball that eventually earned him the nickname “Snake.” The Yankees called him up for the first time in 1955 and pitched him pretty much exclusively out of the bullpen. In ’56, Casey Stengel began starting him and he did well enough to become a regular part of that year’s Yankee rotation, winning 16 games. He duplicated that win total in 1957, and his .727 winning percentage that season led the AL. Sturdivant was also one of the league’s best hitting pitchers in the days before the DH took hold. In 1956, this guy hit .313. Stengel absolutely loved him but according to my research could either never remember or pronounce his last name so the Ol Perfessor just took to calling Sturdivant, “Number 47.”
The winning didn’t last long. In 1957 he tore his rotator cuff and although he claimed his arm recovered completely, Sturdivant spent the final six seasons of his career struggling on the mound for six different big league teams. He never came close to being the pitcher he was during those two great years he had for the Yankees.
This former Yankee reliever also celebrates a birthday today.
|NYY (5 yrs)||36||25||.590||3.19||115||59||26||13||4||5||524.1||449||205||186||45||221||333||1.278|
|PIT (3 yrs)||14||7||.667||3.49||65||23||16||8||2||3||219.1||209||97||85||19||60||127||1.226|
|KCA (3 yrs)||3||8||.273||4.42||56||6||20||0||0||5||128.1||121||73||63||12||52||84||1.348|
|NYM (1 yr)||0||0||5.97||16||0||5||0||0||1||28.2||34||20||19||2||7||18||1.430|
|BOS (1 yr)||3||3||.500||4.97||40||3||14||0||0||1||101.1||106||58||56||16||45||67||1.490|
|WSA (1 yr)||2||6||.250||4.61||15||10||3||1||1||0||80.0||67||42||41||6||40||39||1.338|
|DET (1 yr)||1||2||.333||3.76||28||0||15||0||0||2||55.0||43||26||23||7||24||36||1.218|