His nickname was Honest John and he was the first native Norwegian to play in the Major Leagues. He was also the first New York Yankee (Highlander) starting position player to bat from both sides of the plate. Anderson was already familiar with the Big Apple when the St Louis Browns traded the then 30-year-old to New York after the 1903 season because he had been a starting outfielder for Brooklyn for most of the previous decade. With New York, he joined Wee Willie Keeler and Patsy Dougherty to form a strong Highlander outfield that helped lead that team to a 92-victory season, falling just one and a half games short (to Boston) of the franchise’s first AL pennant. Anderson hit .278 and led the team with 82 RBIs. When he had a slow start at the plate the following year, New York waived him and he was picked up by the Senators, with whom he rebounded nicely by hitting .290 the rest of that season. During his second season playing in our Nation’s Capitol, he led the AL with 39 stolen bases in 1906. Honest John retired after the 1908 season with 1,843 hits and a .290 lifetime batting average during his fourteen seasons of big league ball.
The only other Major League position player to have been born in Norway was also a Yankee, serving as Bill Dickey’s backup at catcher for most of the 1930’s. Do you know his name? I’ll give the answer in tomorrow’s post.
Today is also the birthday of this former Yankee relief pitcher.
|BRO (6 yrs)||487||2131||1937||331||576||86||57||20||350||124||83||100||.297||.333||.432||.764|
|WSH (3 yrs)||339||1406||1316||145||370||58||14||4||152||80||75||90||.281||.323||.356||.679|
|SLB (3 yrs)||402||1735||1650||215||495||109||21||14||262||66||68||69||.300||.330||.417||.747|
|NYY (2 yrs)||175||706||657||74||178||30||13||3||96||29||31||45||.271||.311||.370||.681|
|WHS (1 yr)||110||471||430||70||131||28||18||9||71||18||23||19||.305||.357||.516||.873|
|CHW (1 yr)||123||399||355||36||93||17||1||0||47||21||30||33||.262||.321||.315||.637|
Mr. Roland is one of just two former Yankees I came across, who were born on December 14. I remember him mostly as a pitcher for the Twins in the early sixties. He went 4-1 for Minnesota in ten starts during his rookie season of 1963 and the Twins used him as their fifth starter at the beginning of the next season. Unfortunately for Roland, he did not pitch well in 1964 and he spent the entire 1965 season back in the minors where he was forced to watch the Twins make it to that year’s World Series. He was back in the big leagues for good by 1967, got sold to Oakland in 1969 and then the Yankees in 1972. He relieved in 10 games for New York, losing his only decision and failing to earn a save. The Yankees traded him to Texas and he retired after failing to catch on with the Rangers. Roland’s most impressive career performance actually took place against the Yankees during the 1964 season when he started and completed a 12-inning 7-2 victory over the eventual AL Champions. The southpaw died of cancer at the age of 67.
I was much more personally familiar with another almost-Yankee born on this same date. His name was Mitch Lyden, but unfortunately for Mitch, all his Yankee games took place as a member of the Albany Colonie Yankees, New York’s Double A Eastern League affiliate back in the eighties and early nineties. Mitch was a catcher who spent 16 seasons in the minors, including parts of five with Albany Colonie. His only taste of the big leagues was a six-game call-up with the Marlins in 1993. It seemed as if every time I took my kids to an Albany Colonie Yankee game, Mitch would hit a home run. In fact, his 47 career HRs and 170 career RBIs are the most ever for an Albany Colonie player.
The only other big league Yankee I could find who was born on December 14th was this switch-hitting outfielder who played for New York’s AL franchise way back in 1904.
|MIN (6 yrs)||10||9||.526||3.42||95||24||32||4||1||5||244.2||197||110||93||22||123||151||1.308|
|OAK (4 yrs)||9||7||.563||2.59||100||5||21||2||0||4||177.1||126||58||51||8||88||104||1.207|
|TEX (1 yr)||0||0||8.10||5||0||1||0||0||0||3.1||7||3||3||1||2||4||2.700|
|NYY (1 yr)||0||1||.000||5.04||16||0||10||0||0||0||25.0||27||14||14||3||16||13||1.720|