Celerino was born in El Guayabel, Mexico in 1944 and I believe he was the first native born Mexican to play for the Yankees. He didn’t get to do so for very long. He took over from Rich McKinney as New York’s starting third baseman during the 1972 season but the Yankees traded for Graig Nettles that November. Sanchez appeared in 34 games for New York in 1973 and was released. He returned to Mexico where he was killed in an automobile accident in 1992. He finished his Yankee and big league career with 76 hits, one home run and a .242 batting average.
You can’t make this stuff up Yankee fans. The New York Yankees once had a pitcher with the same name as the star correspondent of the 60-Minutes television show, Mike Wallace. Guess what the lifetime record of the pinstriped Mike Wallace was as a Yankee? 6-0!
I actually remember the Yankee Mike Wallace pretty well. That’s because he joined the Yankees from the Phillies during the 1974 regular season. That was the same year New York was making a surprising run at the AL East Division flag under manager, Bill Virdon, despite the fact that Mel Stottlemyre had torn his rotator cuff and his wonderful pitching career was over.
Doc Medich and Pat Dobson both took up the slack caused by Stottlemyre’s absence, when each won 19 games. Dick Tidrow and Rudy May rounded out the surprisingly decent rotation and Sparky “the Count” Lyle, held court in the Yankee bullpen. Wallace joined the team in late June and Virdon used him as his primary left-handed middle reliever the rest of that season. He appeared in 23 games for New York and in addition to the perfect 6-0 record, his ERA was just 2.41.
We all hoped the Gastonia, North Carolina native would be more than just a flash in the pan but that was his fate. After three appearances for the Yankees in 1975, Wallace’s ERA climbed to over thirteen and he was sold to St. Louis. He was out of the big leagues by 1977 and he is now a baseball commentator on the Mid Atlantic Sports network.
|NYY (2 yrs)||6||0||1.000||3.34||26||1||8||0||0||0||56.2||53||25||21||4||36||36||1.571|
|PHI (2 yrs)||2||1||.667||4.10||28||3||7||1||0||1||41.2||50||22||19||1||17||21||1.608|
|STL (2 yrs)||3||2||.600||3.84||58||0||17||0||0||2||75.0||75||36||32||3||44||46||1.587|
|TEX (1 yr)||0||0||7.56||5||0||0||0||0||0||8.1||10||7||7||1||10||2||2.400|
Larry MacPhail Sr. was anything but an ordinary guy. The son of a prominent banker, Larry attended private schools, went on to get his law degree and then enlisted in the army to fight WWI as an artillery captain. As the armistice was being negotiated, he accompanied his commanding officer on an unsanctioned and unsuccessful mission to kidnap the Kaiser. After the war, he practiced law, ran a department store and became part owner of a minor league baseball team. That team was affiliated with the St Louis Cardinals and through that affiliation, Larry developed a working relationship with the Cardinal’s chief executive, the legendary Branch Rickey. A few years later, the Cincinnati Reds were looking for a new GM and Rickey recommended MacPhail for the job and the game of baseball was never the same. MacPhail was an innovator. He introduced night baseball, air travel and television to the sport and for good measure, he gave the game Red Barber. After leaving the Reds he became GM of the Dodgers and turned a very bad Brooklyn team into a pennant winner within two seasons. Then in 1945, he was brought into a partnership by Dan Topping and Del Webb that purchased the New York Yankees from the estate of Jacob Rupert. Neither Webb or Topping knew anything about running a baseball team and after witnessing MacPhail’s success with Brooklyn, they figured he was the right guy to make baseball decisions.
The problem with MacPhail was he loved the booze as much as he loved running a baseball team and he too often let the two mix. Yankee manager Joe McCarthy quit the team when MacPhail became its President and so did his successor, Bill Dickey. One night while drinking with Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey in Toots Shoor’s restaurant in Manhattan, MacPhail actually traded Joe DiMaggio for Ted Williams. When Yawkey sobered up the next morning, he called old Larry and nixed the deal. After both McCarthy and Dickey quit as Yankee skippers, MacPhail started courting Leo Durocher, who was being investigated by the Commissioner’s office for his association with known gamblers. It soon became clear to Webb and Topping that MacPhail was not a good fit. The situation came to a head after the Yankees beat the Dodgers in the 1947 World Series. MacPhail was already drunk before the final game ended. During a team celebration that followed at Manhattan’s Biltmore Hotel, the seriously inebriated executive insulted every one in his path including Topping. Author Roger Kahn later wrote that MacPhail was actually suffering a nervous breakdown during the event. Whatever the case, Topping and Webb quickly forced him out of the partnership. He never again ran a big league ball club.
MacPhail passed away in 1975 at the age of 85. Three years later he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His son Lee was also a Yankee GM and joined his Dad in the Hall of Fame in 1998, becoming the only father-son tandem in Cooperstown. Larry Sr. shares his February 3rd birthday with this former Yankee pitcher, this one too and this one-time Yankee third-baseman.