Today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant was one of the meanest Yankee pitchers ever to take the mound. Jim Coates was a tall skinny right-handed starter and reliever for New York from 1959 until he was traded to the Senators in ’62, for an even taller and skinnier pitcher named Steve Hamilton. Coates’ nickname was “the Mummy,” given to him by his Yankee teammates because he always slept with his eyes open. On one Yankee plane trip, Manager Casey Stengel’s wife accompanied the team and when she passed a napping Coates on a return-trip from the bathroom, she told Casey one of his players “was sitting back there dead.”
Born in the tiny village of Farnham, Virginia, Coates had been signed by the Yankees in 1951 and pitched in their farm system for eight long years. His problem was control. He had none. In one minor league game he walked 13 hitters in a row. Fortunately for Coates, he got on a team managed by former Yankee pitcher, Eddie Lopat. Lopat helped him with his delivery and his tempo and pretty soon Coates had evolved into the organization’s very best pitching prospect. After a cup-of-coffee visit to the Bronx in 1956, Coates came up for good in 1959. He went 30-9 during his first three seasons with the team and finished his four year Yankee career with a 37-15 record. Except for one relief appearance for Whitey Ford in the 1961 World Series against the Reds, he did not pitch well in his three postseasons with New York and never really became the star the Yankees thought he would be.
Coates had a very bad temper and a reputation as one of baseball’s most aggressive headhunters. I’ve also read that he was considered pretty much a racist by some of his Yankee teammates. But the guy had a knack for winning quite a few more games than he lost every season for some very good Yankee teams.
|NYY (5 yrs)||37||15||.712||3.84||167||39||62||12||3||15||510.2||476||242||218||50||209||284||1.341|
|CAL (3 yrs)||4||3||.571||4.02||51||5||14||1||1||3||112.0||102||55||50||9||49||70||1.348|
|WSA (1 yr)||2||4||.333||5.28||20||2||9||0||0||0||44.1||51||29||26||4||21||31||1.624|
|CIN (1 yr)||0||0||5.51||9||0||4||0||0||0||16.1||21||10||10||2||7||11||1.714|
Dallas Green became the 16th Yankee Manager hired by George Steinbrenner, when he was named to that position prior to the 1989 season. Before that year was over, Green had become the 17th Yankee Skipper to be fired by “The Boss.”
He had replaced Lou Piniella in New York’s dugout and was himself replaced by Bucky Dent. What I remember most about Green is that he lived by Steinbrenner’s sword and then was banished by it. When he first joined the Yankee organization in an advisory role, Steinbrenner suddenly had a soul mate who shared George’s favorite hobby of publicly criticizing Yankee players and staff. Green got what he wished for when he was handed the reins to that 1989 team but part of that wish included perhaps the worst Yankee starting rotation in the history of the franchise. The frustrated new Skipper quickly started blaming the team’s inability to win consistently on the Yankee front office’s inability to get him some decent arms. Steinbrenner did not agree. The soon-to-be-suspended owner would conduct impromptu press conferences during which he would compare his existing team. position-by-position with AL East opponents who were then ahead of New York in the standings and conclude that his current roster was better than its current record. Naturally, that translated into a Manager and coaching staff that was not doing its job.
The Boss also started taking public pot shots at Green’s coaches. When Green reacted angrily, George had his beleaguered field boss right where he wanted him. After a few more weeks of exchanging insults in the sports pages of Big Apple’s tabloids, Steinbrenner put Green out of his misery on August 17, 1989. At the time of his firing, the Yankees were in sixth place in their division with a 56-65 record.
Leaving quietly was not in Green’s nature of course. Instead he blasted Steinbrenner and all the “parasites” and “yes men” the Yankee owner surrounded himself with. I guess that sort of explains why Dallas was never called back to manage a Yankee’s Old Timers’ Day squad.
I was ambivalent about Green when he managed in the Bronx but my eventual dislike for the guy was sparked by his decision to fire Mel Stottlemyre as the Mets’ pitching coach when Green became that team’s manager in 1993. We of course all felt horribly sad for him when his beautiful granddaughter was murdered during the assassination attempt of Gabby Gifford in Tucson, in January of 2011.
Green had a mediocre eight-season career as a big league pitcher, mostly with the Phillies. When his playing days ended in 1968, he went into coaching. He got his first managerial gig with the Phillies at the end of the 1979 season and then led that team to a World Series title the following year. His career record as a big league manager was 454 – 478.
|5||1989||54||New York Yankees||AL||1st of 2||121||56||65||.463||5|
|Philadelphia Phillies||3 years||299||169||130||.565||2.3||1 Pennant and 1 World Series Title|
|New York Yankees||1 year||121||56||65||.463||5.0|
|New York Mets||4 years||512||229||283||.447||4.0|
Watching the Yankees struggle in seasons past to build an effective bridge between their starting pitchers and Mariano Rivera made me appreciate Ron Davis even more. From 1979, when he went 14-2 in his rookie season with New York, until 1981 when he was traded to the Twins for Roy Smalley, there was no better bridge pitcher in baseball than this tall, right-handed fireballer. With no disrespect to Dave Robertson, Phil Hughes, Flash Gordon, Mike Stanton or even Mo himself (Mariano began his Yankee career as the very-effective bridge to closer John Wetteland for the 1996 World Champions) if I had to pick a guy to hold a lead in the seventh and eighth inning for the all-time Yankee team, I’d pick the Ron Davis I watched baffle Yankee opponents in those two late-innings for almost three seasons. That’s how good he was. The Twins converted him into a closer and he did fine in that role for four seasons but Ron Davis was born to take the ball from a starter with his team ahead and give it to a closer with that lead still intact.
Ron was born on this date in 1955, in Houston. He told the NY Post in 2009 that he wasn’t ready to leave the big leagues when he did at the age of 32, but doing so made it possible for him to become part of his own family’s life. He had already been divorced once by then and had five children from his two marriages. he became a stay-at-home Dad after leaving the game, who became very involved in his children’s lives. His youngest child Ike now plays first base for the New York Mets.
|MIN (5 yrs)||19||40||.322||4.51||286||0||249||0||0||108||381.1||384||201||191||47||185||349||1.492|
|NYY (4 yrs)||27||10||.730||2.93||144||0||74||0||0||22||291.2||255||105||95||20||88||191||1.176|
|CHC (2 yrs)||0||2||.000||6.54||38||0||11||0||0||0||52.1||74||41||38||11||15||41||1.701|
|SFG (1 yr)||1||1||.500||4.67||9||0||4||0||0||0||17.1||15||10||9||4||6||15||1.212|
|LAD (1 yr)||0||0||6.75||4||0||2||0||0||0||4.0||7||4||3||0||6||1||3.250|
Wow! Talk about getting knocked off a pedestal. “Rocket’s” seven Cy Young Awards, his 354 victories, those 4,672 career strikeouts, that winning percentage in the mid six hundreds, and those 46 shutouts, all became less meaningful when the rumors of his long-time steroid use gained some substance. And when Clemens refused to follow the leads of Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte and admit his mistakes, his reputation seemed to unravel even quicker. A few weeks ago, a federal judge declared a mistrial in Clemens perjury trial when prosecutors showed jurors evidence that had been previously ruled out. In any event, the Rocket will forever be associated with the rocket fuel he allegedly used to propel himself into baseball’s record books. Will Clemens eventually get into Cooperstown?
|BOS (13 yrs)||192||111||.634||3.06||383||382||0||100||38||0||2776.0||2359||1045||943||194||856||2590||1.158|
|NYY (6 yrs)||83||42||.664||4.01||175||174||0||3||2||0||1103.0||1044||536||491||116||398||1014||1.307|
|HOU (3 yrs)||38||18||.679||2.40||84||84||0||1||0||0||539.0||409||161||144||33||170||505||1.074|
|TOR (2 yrs)||41||13||.759||2.33||67||67||0||14||6||0||498.2||373||143||129||20||156||563||1.061|