Mr. Mogridge was a tall and thin southpaw, who threw a decent spitball in his day. He made Yankee franchise history on April 24, 1917 when he threw the first no-hitter in the team’s history. It would take more than 66 years before another Yankee pitcher, Dave Righetti threw another one during the regular season.
A native of Rochester, NY, Mogridge made his big league debut with the White Sox in 1911 but he was not yet ready to stick. He returned to the minors in 1912 and it would take three more years for him to get back to the big dance and this time it was as a Yankee. His first Yankee skipper was Wild Bill Donovan who used Mogridge mostly as a starter in both 1916 and ’17. When Miller Huggins took over the team the following year, he used this lanky left-hander a lot in a closing role as well as a starter. The result was a 16-win season with a 2.18 ERA and 7 saves.
After another solid year in 1919, Mogridge’s performance slipped badly in 1920 and that December the Yanks traded him to the Senators. He quickly evolved into one of Washington’s most reliable starters, putting together back-to-back 18-win seasons during his first two years there and becoming one of the heroes of the Senators’ 1924 World Series victory. In that Fall Classic against the Giants, he started and won Game 4 and then pitched brilliantly out of the bullpen in Game 7, which Washington won in extra innings in a contest still considered to be one of the greatest in Series history.
Age began to catch up with Mogridge in 1925 and he was traded to the Browns that June. The Yankees actually re-aquired him in a trade with St. Louis the following February, but immediately put the by then, 36-year-old pitcher on waivers and he was claimed by the Braves. He pitched a couple more years for Boston, retiring after the 1927 season and returning to his native Rochester. He died in that city in 1962, at the age of 73.
|NYY (6 yrs)||48||57||.457||2.73||171||103||48||61||8||8||965.2||929||393||293||24||220||278||1.190|
|WSH (5 yrs)||68||55||.553||3.38||145||136||6||72||12||1||1016.2||1104||453||382||38||273||284||1.354|
|BSN (2 yrs)||12||14||.462||4.30||59||11||40||2||0||8||190.2||221||105||91||10||51||72||1.427|
|CHW (2 yrs)||3||6||.333||4.19||21||9||7||2||0||3||77.1||81||42||36||3||16||36||1.254|
|SLB (1 yr)||1||1||.500||5.87||2||2||0||1||0||0||15.1||17||10||10||2||5||8||1.435|
When Jorge Posada tore his shoulder muscle during the 2008 season, the Yankees tried to make do with the backstop platoon of Jose Molina and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant. Originally drafted by New York out of high school in 1993, Moeller decided to instead play college ball for USC. Three years later, he was the Twins seventh round pick, even though he had torn his ACL in a home plate collision on the very last play of his USC career. He made his big league debut with Minnesota in 2000 and the following spring he was traded to the Diamondbacks where he would eventually become Randy Johnson’s personal receiver.
Tall for a catcher at 6′ 3″, Moeller had decent defensive skills but he was always a below-average big league hitter. His only shot at starting had come with the Brewers in 2004 and when he averaged just .208 that season, he was destined to remain a second-string receiver for the rest of his career. If you’re going to be a backup position player and survive in the big leagues, your best shot is as a catcher since every team is forced to carry at least two of them at all times. That fact helped Moeller put together an 11-year Major League career with seven different teams.
When Posada’s shoulder started hurting during the 2008 spring training season, the Yanks signed Moeller as a free agent insurance policy. When Hip Hip Jorge’s injury did not improve, the Yanks restricted him to DH duty and brought Moeller up in mid April to back up Molina. The Upland, California native surprised everyone including me by hitting a robust .350 during that initial call-up. When it was later determined that Posada’s shoulder would require season-ending surgery, Moeller was brought back up to the Bronx where he would pretty much become the personal catcher of Yankee veteran Andy Pettitte and Yankee rookie, Darrell Rasner.
Moeller ended up appearing in 41 games for New York that year. It would have been more but neither he (Moeller finished 2008 with a .231 average) or Molina (who finished with a .216 average) were hitting well and the Yankees’ offense was sputtering. That’s why, on July 30th of that season, GM Brian Cashman acquired veteran catcher Ivan Rodriguez from the Tigers for Yankee reliever Kyle Farnesworth. Unfortunately by then, I-Rod’s best offensive days were behind him and he would end up hitting just .218 in pinstripes and the Yankees ended up missing the postseason for the first time in thirteen years. One thing Moeller did exhibit that year was an improved throwing arm. He threw out almost 40% of the runners attempting to steal off of him in 2008, a career high. His lifetime average was just 24%.
New York let Moeller become a free agent after that 2008 season. He spent the following year as a backup catcher with Baltimore. The Yankees re-signed him in April of 2010 and he played his final nine big-league games in pinstripes. He retired with 315 career hits, 29 home runs and a lifetime batting average of .226.
|ARI (3 yrs)||140||455||400||47||107||28||3||10||47||1||46||94||.268||.344||.428||.772|
|MIL (3 yrs)||196||669||614||57||125||25||2||14||55||0||38||148||.204||.257||.319||.576|
|NYY (2 yrs)||50||118||105||15||24||9||0||1||9||0||8||22||.229||.305||.343||.648|
|MIN (1 yr)||48||139||128||13||27||3||1||1||9||1||9||33||.211||.261||.273||.534|
|LAD (1 yr)||7||9||8||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||.125||.222||.125||.347|
|CIN (1 yr)||30||49||48||6||8||1||0||1||2||0||0||17||.167||.167||.250||.417|
|BAL (1 yr)||30||100||89||6||23||8||1||2||10||0||7||16||.258||.313||.438||.751|
My favorite story about “Flash” came from his Yankee teammate, Tommy Henrich. According to Old Reliable, reporters were questioning Yankee manager Joe McCarthy in New York’s locker room after a game and asked him why he liked Joe Gordon as a player so much. McCarthy had frequently claimed Gordon was the “best player in baseball.” Instead of answering the question, McCarthy called his second baseman over and asked him what his batting average was. Gordon replied that he did not know. Next, McCarthy asked Joe how many home runs he had hit so far that season and again the Flash told his skipper that he had no idea. McCarthy then excused the infielder and after he walked away, answered the reporters original question. “That’s what I like. All he does is come to beat you.”
Joe played for the Yankees from 1938 until 1943 and then served in WWII. During those six seasons the Yankees won five World Series, Gordon made five All Star teams and he won the 1942 AL MVP award. He was also a magnificent second baseman. When Scooter joined the Yankees in 1941 he and Flash formed a terrific middle infield until Pearl Harbor blew it apart. When Gordon returned to the Yankees from military service after the war, he hit just .210 and New York’s front office, thinking his best playing days were behind him, traded Joe to Cleveland for pitcher Allie Reynolds. It turned out to be one of those transactions that worked well for both teams. The hits and power returned to Gordon’s bat and he teamed with Indians’ player manager Lou Boudreau to lead Cleveland to a 1948 World Series victory. Gordon blasted 32 home runs and drove in 124 that season. He played for Cleveland until 1950, retiring after 11 big league seasons. He eventually became a manager, skippering Cleveland, the Athletics and the Royals.
Joe died in 1978 and was voted into Cooperstown by the Veterans Committee in 2009. I listened to his daughter make the acceptance speech and the loving words she shared about her Dad made it clear that Gordon was much more than just a great ballplayer. Joe was born in LA on February 18, 1915.
|NYY (7 yrs)||1000||4216||3686||596||1000||186||38||153||617||68||481||508||.271||.358||.467||.825|
|CLE (4 yrs)||566||2322||2021||318||530||78||14||100||358||21||278||194||.262||.354||.463||.817|