After pitching briefly for Cincinnati in 1894, this southpaw native of Dayton, Kentucky signed with the Pirates in 1897 and became a four-time twenty game winner by the time he was 27-years-old. He teamed with Happy Jack Chesbro and Deacon Phillipe to give the Bucs three of the top starting pitchers in all of baseball at the turn of the century and that trio led Pittsburgh to two straight NL Pennants in 1901 and ’02, just before there was a World Series. But during that 1902 season, Tannehill was involved in a bizarre incident that would end up having a dramatic impact on New York Yankee franchise history.
After a Pirate game in August of that season, Tannehill got into a fight with one of his own teammates and dislocated his throwing shoulder. Pirate owner Barney Dreyfuss accompanied his injured pitcher to the hospital where Tannehill was administered ether so that a doctor could maneuver the injured shoulder back into its socket. While under the influences of the anesthetic, the patient started talking and one of the shocking things he told Dreyfuss was that he and several of his teammates, including Chesbro had been secretly talking with Ban Johnson, the president of the new American League. Johnson had offered the players $1,000 apiece to jump to the new league in1903. Dreyfuss responded by giving Tannehill, Chesbro and Pirate catcher Jack O’Connor their unconditional release and all three became members of the 1903 New York Highlanders, an AL team that had just been relocated to New York from Baltimore.
Chesbro won 21 games for the new club, but Tannehill struggled in his new surroundings and finished 15-15. He hated pitching in New York’s Hilltop Park complaining that a cold Hudson River wind that constantly blew across the ball field was harmful to his pitching arm. He also had a tough time getting along with his new manager, Clark Griffith and that relationship suffered an irreparable break when Griffith suspended Tannehill’s best buddy, O’Connor during the season.
The unhappy southpaw requested a trade back to Cincinnati, where the air was warmer and he could be near his family in Kentucky. Instead, in December of 1903, New York traded him to the Red Sox. Even though it was not his first choice, the change of scenery and getting away from Griffith did wonders for Tannehill’s pitching. He became a 20-game winner for a fifth and sixth time during his first two seasons in Beantown and in the process, got some revenge on his old Hilltopper skipper, when his 21-11 season in 1904 was instrumental in helping Boston edge out New York for the 1904 AL Pennant.
He continued pitching till 1911 and then became a minor league umpire and major league coach after his playing days were over. He passed away in 1956, at the age of 84.
|PIT (6 yrs)||116||58||.667||2.75||192||171||20||149||17||5||1508.0||1561||663||461||11||243||466||1.196|
|BOS (5 yrs)||62||38||.620||2.50||116||106||10||85||14||1||885.2||836||332||246||24||154||342||1.118|
|WSH (2 yrs)||3||5||.375||3.69||13||11||2||7||1||0||92.2||96||44||38||1||28||22||1.338|
|CIN (2 yrs)||1||1||.500||7.02||6||2||4||1||0||1||33.1||43||37||26||1||19||8||1.860|
|NYY (1 yr)||15||15||.500||3.27||32||31||1||22||2||0||239.2||258||123||87||3||34||106||1.218|
This Big Apple native son was the first great Yankee reliever. He had come up to the Yankees as a starter in 1934, winning 14 games in his rookie season. It was only after the Yankees paid him a starter’s salary that he agreed to the pleadings of then Manager Joe McCarthy, to become one of baseball’s first full-time relief specialists. During the next eight years he led the AL in relief victories six times and in saves, four times.
How important was Murphy to the Yankee’s great success during the late thirties? When New York’s Hall-of-Fame hurler, Lefty Gomez was asked how he felt before a big game, he responded, “How I feel isn’t important. The important thing is how Murphy feels!” McCarthy liked to refer to Murphy as “My pennant insurance.” Murphy was given the nickname “Fireman” and was so dominant in his role that that same nickname became the term used to describe each team’s best bullpen pitcher. In all, Murphy pitched 12 seasons in pinstripes with all but one of those seasons coming before he entered military service in 1943. He finished his Yankee career with a record of 93-53 and 107 saves. He then became a front office executive with the Red Sox and then the Mets. He passed away in 1970, at the age of 71.
|1944||Did not play in major leagues (Military Service)|
|1945||Did not play in major leagues (Military Service)|
|NYY (12 yrs)||93||53||.637||3.54||383||40||277||17||0||104||990.1||944||447||389||51||416||369||1.373|
|BOS (1 yr)||0||0||2.80||32||0||16||0||0||3||54.2||41||17||17||1||28||9||1.262|
When most baseball fans hear the name Robin Ventura, they visualize the 1993 incident during which Nolan Ryan held him in a headlock and threw punches at his head. It is easy to forget the fact that Ventura was one of the best all-around third basemen in baseball during his sixteen-year big league career that included a season and a half tenure wearing the pinstripes in 2002 and ’03. He won a total of six Gold Gloves, hit 294 career home runs and the only two third basemen who had more 90 RBI seasons than Ventura (8) were Hall of Famers, Mike Schmidt (11) and Eddie Matthews (10).
The Yankees signed him as a free agent in 2002 to take over the starting hot corner position after Scott Brosius retired. He was to be the interim guy at third while the Yankees were developing Drew Henson in their farm system. Ventura did a very good job that first season in the Bronx, belting 27 home runs, driving in 93 and making the AL All Star team. But by then he was 35 years old and when his offensive production began to slip in 2003 the Yankees decided to make a move. That move did not involve Henson, who was floundering in Columbus at the time, striking out with regularity and making tons of errors in the field. Instead, New York acquired Aaron Boone from the Reds and on the same day sent Ventura to the Dodgers for pitcher Scott Proctor and outfielder Bubba Crosby.
Boone of course became part of Yankee postseason history with his walk-off grand salami against the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS. Ventura stuck around in Los Angeles for one more year and then retired. He was born on this date in 1967, in Santa Maria, CA. He shares his July 14th birthday with this original Yankee “Fireman” and this long-ago starting pitcher.
|CHW (10 yrs)||1254||5310||4542||658||1244||219||12||171||741||15||668||659||.274||.365||.440||.805|
|NYM (3 yrs)||444||1771||1513||219||394||81||1||77||265||6||237||301||.260||.360||.468||.828|
|LAD (2 yrs)||151||302||261||30||61||8||1||10||41||0||40||56||.234||.334||.387||.721|
|NYY (2 yrs)||230||888||748||99||186||30||0||36||135||3||130||163||.249||.359||.433||.792|