Today’s birthday celebrant was the first starting third baseman in Yankee franchise history. His name was William Edward Conroy but he was better known to everyone as Wid. He was born In Philadelphia on April 5, 1877. After the 1902 season, he jumped from the National League’s pennant winning Pittsburgh Pirates to the new AL franchise in the Big Apple which was then known as the Highlanders. On Opening Day of the 1903 season, he batted sixth in the Highlander’s first ever lineup. During his six seasons playing for New York, Conroy was one of the teams better offensive players. He had decent power, leading New York in home runs with 4 during the 1906 season. He was also a good base runner and gifted base stealer. In fact, old Wid is still tied for sixth place on the Yankee franchise’s all-time list of stolen bases with 186. In 1909, the Yankees sold Conroy to the Senators, where he finished his playing career in 1911.
Conroy was New York’s starting third baseman for three of his six seasons on the team, playing mostly in the outfield the rest of the time. Here’s the list of top five Yankee third baseman by the number of years they started at the hot corner for New York:
These are Wid Conroy’s career stats and seasonal stats as a Yankee:
|NYY (6 yrs)||796||3300||3005||356||750||111||59||12||266||184||198||306||.250||.299||.338||.637|
|WSH (3 yrs)||348||1328||1188||120||289||35||11||4||75||47||87||92||.243||.298||.301||.600|
|PIT (1 yr)||99||404||365||55||89||10||6||1||47||10||24||41||.244||.299||.312||.612|
|MLA (1 yr)||131||560||503||74||129||20||6||5||64||21||36||42||.256||.316||.350||.666|
On August 20th of 1951, the Yankees made one of the most successful minor league recall decisions in franchise history. Bobby Hogue was a chubby, Miami-born WWII Navy veteran, who had made his big league debut in 1948 as a 27-year-old rookie reliever with that season’s NL Champion Boston Braves. The short and stocky right-hander did not make a very good first impression on Billy Southworth, the Braves’ skipper at the time, who took one look at Hogue’s waistline and told him he needed to lose some weight. What Southworth didn’t know was that Hogue may have looked out of shape but he was anything but. Back in Miami, before he joined the Navy, Hogue had been a promising amateur boxer who had won 36 fights. After watching the pitcher work his butt off during the Braves’ ’48 spring training camp, Southworth realized the rookie’s portly appearance actually disguised a well-conditioned athlete’s body and he brought Hogue north with the team.
That proved to be an excellent decision as Hogue went 8-2 during his rookie season in Beantown, with 2 saves and a 3.23 ERA. He didn’t get to make a single appearance in the Braves’ six-game World Series defeat to the Indians that year but he certainly was one of the key reasons Boston was able to get to that Fall Classic. He was blessed with a natural slider and he had always been able to locate it with extreme precision. He only walked 19 hitters in the 88-innings he pitched during that ’48 season.
He had another good year for the Braves in 1949 but the following year, his ERA ballooned to over five and his control began to erode. When he started off the 1951 season slowly, the Braves put him on waivers and he was picked up by the Browns. At first, the change of team’s and league’s did not benefit Hogue. By the end of July, he had appeared in 18 games for St. Louis and both his ERA and walk ratio were as high as ever. That’s when the Yankees purchased his contract and sent him to pitch for their Kansas City farm team. The demotion gave Hogue the opportunity to work on his knuckleball. That pitch helped him win four straight decisions in KC, which was good enough to earn him a ticket up to the Bronx on August 21 of the 1951 season.
At the time of the call-up, the Yankees were in second place, a game behind a very solid Indians’ ball club. They proceeded to finish the year by going 24-12 and capturing the AL flag by five games over second place Cleveland. Hogue made seven appearances in that stretch without allowing a run. He then put together two more goose-egg appearances against the Giants in that year’s World Series and got his second ring. Unfortunately, Hogue’s effectiveness abandoned him the following year. He was 3-5 with a 5.32 ERA when the Yankees put him on waivers in early August of the 1952 season. He was re-claimed by the Browns and though he pitched better once back in St Louis, he never again pitched in the big leagues after that 1952 season.
So you may be wondering why I started this post with the claim that Hogue’s recall from the minors in August of 1951 was one of the most successful recalls in Yankee franchise history? Yes he did finish the season and that year’s World Series un-scored upon but he only pitched a total of nine innings during that span. How could I place such historical significance on that front-office move that took place over a half-century ago? Well, Hogue was one of two Kansas City players the Yankees recalled that day. The other one was an infielder the Yankees were trying to convert into an outfielder. His name was Mickey Mantle.
Hogue shares his April 5th birthday with this former AL Rookie of the Year and the first starting third-baseman in Yankee franchise history.
|BSN (4 yrs)||13||9||.591||3.74||112||2||50||0||0||12||226.0||239||102||94||17||78||81||1.403|
|NYY (2 yrs)||4||5||.444||4.61||34||0||16||0||0||4||54.2||56||30||28||6||28||14||1.537|
|SLB (2 yrs)||1||2||.333||4.30||26||1||12||0||0||1||46.0||41||22||22||2||36||13||1.674|
The 1960 AL Rookie of the Year with Baltimore, Ron spent the 1970 and ’71 seasons with the Yankees as their primary utility infielder. During his first season in pinstripes, Hansen was able to hit .297 in his part-time role but when he slumped to .207 the following season New York released him. In 1968, he became the first player to pull off an unassisted triple play since 1927 and the feat wasn’t accomplished again until 1994 (by Boston shortstop John Valentin.) In a very unique vote, when Hansen won his 1960 AL ROY award, two of his Orioles’ teammates finished second (pitcher Chuck Estrada) and third (first baseman Jim Gentile) in the balloting for the first year honor. Hansen shares his April 5th birthday with this former Yankee reliever and the first starting third baseman in Yankee franchise history.
Hansen hailed from Oxford, NE and is one of 25 members of the Yankee’s All-Time roster to win Rookie of the Year honors, eight of whom did it as Yankees. Here’s my picks for the all-time lineup of Yankees who won the coveted first-year honor. Alongside each player’s name is the year they won the honor and the team they played for at the time:
1B Chris Chambliss (1971 – Indians)
2B Steve Sax (1982 – Dodgers)
3B Gil McDougald (1951 – Yankees)
SS Derek Jeter (1996 – Yankees)
C Thurman Munson (1970 – Yankees)
OF Lou Piniella (1969 – Royals)
OF Darryl Strawberry (1983 – Mets)
OF David Justice (1990 – Braves)
P Dwight Gooden (1984 – Mets)
CL Dave Righetti (1981 – Yankees)
Here are Hansen’s Yankee seasonal and MLB career stats:
|CHW (7 yrs)||769||2875||2488||261||594||95||10||55||282||5||319||318||.239||.325||.351||.676|
|BAL (5 yrs)||393||1469||1282||136||301||42||7||37||155||4||166||234||.235||.324||.365||.689|
|NYY (2 yrs)||120||272||236||19||57||7||0||6||34||0||28||36||.242||.317||.347||.665|
|KCR (1 yr)||16||33||30||2||4||0||0||0||2||0||3||6||.133||.212||.133||.345|
|WSA (1 yr)||86||315||275||28||51||12||0||8||28||0||35||49||.185||.281||.316||.598|