Cedric Tallis became George Steinbrenner’s GM, right after the Yankees won their first World Series for the shipbuilder’s son in 1977. That was right after Gabe Paul, who Tallis succeeded as GM, was getting most of the credit in the media for building that championship team and right after the Boss got sick and tired of seeing Paul get all that credit. By 1977, Steinbrenner was pretty much convinced he was a baseball genius and that he only needed a GM to carry out his orders. Paul had too big of an ego to hold the title in name only, so the Yankee owner replaced him.
Tallis was actually a highly experienced and capable baseball executive who had spent twenty years running minor league franchises. He became business manager of the American League’s newly formed Los Angeles Angels in 1961 and seven years later was hired as the first GM of the new Kansas City Royal franchise. It was Tallis who started the famous Kansas City Royal Baseball Academy with its mission of converting great athletes with no baseball experience into Major League baseball players. His astute draft management and clever trades helped the Royals finish with 85 wins in just their third season and earned Tallis the Sporting News Executive of the Year Award in 1971.
Three years later he was hired by the Yankees to oversee the reconstruction of the original Yankee Stadium. When that project was completed he became Paul’s assistant. He was Steinbrenner’s GM during the 1978 and ’79 seasons. He’s the guy “the Boss” sent to fire Bob Lemon in 1978, after Lemon’s pal and former Cleveland Indian teammate, Yankee president Al Rosen refused to do so. He’s also the Yankee GM who signed free agents Goose Gossage and Tommy John.
Tallis’s tenure in the job did not survive the tumultuous and tragic 1979 season. Gossage’s thumb injury followed by Thurman Munson’s tragic death doomed the Yankees’ chances for a three-peat. Steinbrenner decided he wanted Gene Michael to be his team’s new GM so he kicked Tallis upstairs, where he remained employed by New York for three more years.
His next job was as executive director of an organization known as the Tampa Baseball Group, which was formed to lure a baseball team to the central Florida city. He died of a heart attack in 1991. He was 76-years-old.
My cousin Bob from Syracuse was in town on one Memorial Day weekend during the mid seventies. He was my direct link to the Yankees’ International League farm team that was located in Syracuse during the 1970’s, called the Chiefs. He knew I was a huge Yankee fan so when he saw me that day he told me the Yankees had a new “Mickey” coming up who can hit home runs and play shortstop. When I asked him what the guys name was he said Mickey Klutz. I probably started laughing thinking my cousin was joking with me. He finally convinced me he wasn’t so the next time I went to purchase my copy of the Sunday Times I also picked up the Sporting News so I could check the Chiefs player stats myself and sure enough, I found the name Mickey Klutts listed and he did play shortstop and was leading that Chiefs’ team in home runs. A few weeks later I got to see the Yankees “new Mickey” when he was called to to the parent club for a mid-season look see. He was quickly sent back down but for the next couple of years I kept my eye on him, hoping against hope that the next Yankee Messiah was about to emerge.
In the mean time, the Yankees were doing just fine on the field playing another “Mickey” named Rivers. They won the 1976 AL Pennant and the ’77 World Series. Management wise though, the organization was a mess. Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner were at each others throats and you never knew what the back page headline of the Daily News would be on any given day. The Boss or Martin for that matter were never fans of Yankee left-fielder Roy White and were always trying to replace him with an outfielder with more pop in his bat. In June of ’78 the Yankees got Gary Thomasson from the A’s in a trade that sent Klutts to Oakland. I was not happy because I had always liked White and was ready to become a huge Mickey Klutts fan.
As it turned out, the Yankees were right about Klutts and wrong about Thomasson, who is today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant. Martin and then his replacement, Bob Lemon gave their new outfielder the left field spot and he did OK, hitting .276 for the rest of that season, but his 3 home runs and 20 RBI’s impressed no one. The following February, the Yankees traded him to the Dodgers for catcher Brad Gulden. Klutts ended up spending four seasons with Oakland as a utility infielder and was out of the big leagues for good after the 1983 season.
|SFG (6 yrs)||604||1910||1677||233||426||81||22||38||201||42||203||301||.254||.333||.397||.729|
|LAD (2 yrs)||195||491||426||45||102||14||1||15||57||4||60||96||.239||.335||.383||.718|
|OAK (1 yr)||47||171||154||17||31||4||1||5||16||4||15||44||.201||.272||.338||.610|
|NYY (1 yr)||55||130||116||20||32||4||1||3||20||0||13||22||.276||.346||.405||.751|
Having been a Yankee fan for half a century, there were two seasons during that span I will always remember as being particularly depressing. There were years when New York lost more games and finished lower in the standings but the Yankee teams of both 1965 and 1989 surprised fans by their mediocrity and served as signals that the team was about to enter periods of darkness.
In 1965 it seemed as if the entire Yankee starting lineup got old all at the same time. In 1989, the team’s starting rotation consisted of Andy Hawkins, Clay Parker, Greg Cadaret, Walt Terrell and today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant, left-hander Dave LaPoint. That ’89 team reminded me of a wounded war veteran returning home with “no arms.”
Hawkins led that staff with a 15-15 record and no other starter won more than six games. LaPoint was 6-9 that season and then 7-10 in 1990. In the mean time, the Yankees failed to effectively address their starting pitching woes until they signed free agent Jimmy Key and traded for Jim Abbott before the 1993 season. In 1995 they brought up Andy Pettitte and traded for David Cone and they’ve been on a postseason role since.
LaPoint ended up with the Phillies the following year, which turned out to be his final season in the big leagues. He finished with a lifetime record of 80-86, pitching for nine different teams over a dozen seasons.
|STL (5 yrs)||35||23||.603||3.90||121||87||10||3||1||0||563.2||604||266||244||34||220||336||1.462|
|NYY (2 yrs)||13||19||.406||4.74||48||47||0||2||0||0||271.1||326||157||143||23||102||118||1.577|
|CHW (2 yrs)||16||14||.533||3.25||39||37||0||3||2||0||244.0||220||98||88||17||78||122||1.221|
|PIT (1 yr)||4||2||.667||2.77||8||8||0||1||0||0||52.0||54||18||16||4||10||19||1.231|
|SFG (1 yr)||7||17||.292||3.57||31||31||0||2||1||0||206.2||215||99||82||18||74||122||1.398|
|PHI (1 yr)||0||1||.000||16.20||2||2||0||0||0||0||5.0||10||10||9||0||6||3||3.200|
|SDP (1 yr)||1||4||.200||4.26||24||4||4||0||0||0||61.1||67||37||29||8||24||41||1.484|
|DET (1 yr)||3||6||.333||5.72||16||8||2||0||0||0||67.2||85||49||43||11||32||36||1.729|
|MIL (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||6.00||5||3||1||0||0||1||15.0||17||14||10||2||13||5||2.000|