Even though he had been one of the heroes for the Yankees in their 1999 World Series win over the Braves, Chad Curtis’s days in Pinstripes were numbered following that Fall Classic. Why? In August of that year, he had vocally criticized Yankee idol Derek Jeter for not actively defending his teammates in a brawl that took place during a game between New York and Seattle. Sure enough, that December Curtis was traded to the Texas Rangers for two Ranger pitching prospects, Brandon Knight and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant.
Of the two, Sam Marsonek was considered more likely to make it to the big leagues. He was a six foot six inch right-handed native of Tampa, FL, who had been a Ranger first round draft pick in 1996. His numbers were not impressive during the three seasons he had spent in the Texas farm system and they really didn’t improve much during the next four years he spent with four different Yankee minor league clubs. Still, he was called up to the Bronx just before the 2004 All Star break and made his big league debut in a relief stint against Tampa Bay on July 11 of that season. He pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, New York won 10-3 and after the game the Yankee players scattered to enjoy their 3-day All Star break. Marsonek had planned a fishing weekend but he hadn’t planned on slipping on a pier and straining his knee. The injury landed him on the 15-day disabled list and then the 60-day disabled list and then a reassignment back to the Yankee farm system. He would spend the next three years trying to get back to the majors but he never did. Instead, he retired and started the Score International Baseball organization, a combination baseball camp and Christian mission for teenagers.
Marsonek shares his birthday with another former Yankee reliever.
It seems the Yankees have been short on left-handed relievers forever. At least that’s the reason Brian Cashman gave to the press to explain why he had offered a then 39-year-old well-traveled southpaw named Buddy Groom, a one-year $850,000 contract if he could make New York’s roster out of the 2005 spring training season. The Yankees had only 38-year-old lefty Mike Stanton in their bullpen at the time and the Yankee GM felt Groom was better than any alternatives the organization had in their farm system.
Groom had come up to the big leagues with the Tigers in 1992 and did not win a game during his first three seasons in MoTown, going a combined 0-7, while picking up two saves. He finally got his first big league victory for Detroit in ’95 but was traded to the Marlins that same season. He then signed as a free agent with the A’s in 1996 and went 5-0 during his first of what would be four seasons with Oakland. Groom next signed with the Orioles in 2000 and stuck around Baltimore for the next five years, setting a career best in saves with 11 for the Birds 2001 team. He had been used frequently by all three of those teams and at one point had put together seven consecutive seasons of seventy or more appearances and nine straight of sixty or more.
Joe Torre started calling on his new reliever during the latter part of April in 2005 and the Dallas native was practically un-hittable during his first six appearances in pinstripes. He then went through a rough patch in late May that included appearances against Yankee arch rivals, the Red Sox and Mets, during which Groom got lit up pretty good. He then rebounded with a fantastic June, not surrendering a single run in his seven appearances that month. But he struggled again in July and Cashman sent him to the Diamondbacks at the trading deadline as part of a conditional deal. New York then replaced Groom with another lefty reliever named Alan Embree. Groom would lose his only decision with Arizona and then hang up his glove for good. He ended his 14 year big league career with a 31-32 record and 27 saves.
Groom shares his birthday with this other Yankee reliever.
|BAL (5 yrs)||15||13||.536||3.91||330||0||108||0||0||18||285.1||296||133||124||26||72||212||1.290|
|OAK (4 yrs)||13||5||.722||4.51||301||1||42||0||0||5||245.1||270||134||123||22||96||170||1.492|
|DET (4 yrs)||1||11||.083||5.96||94||14||27||0||0||3||148.0||182||102||98||18||74||80||1.730|
|ARI (1 yr)||0||1||.000||4.70||23||0||5||0||0||1||15.1||19||8||8||2||5||7||1.565|
|NYY (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||4.91||24||0||8||0||0||0||25.2||32||14||14||3||7||13||1.519|
|FLA (1 yr)||1||2||.333||7.20||14||0||5||0||0||0||15.0||26||12||12||2||6||12||2.133|