It is still hard to believe Bobby is gone. He became my favorite Yankee when he was brought up in 1969 to replace my previous favorite Yankee, the great Mickey Mantle. Even though he developed into a very good big league player, he was no Mantle. He was instead, the very best player on a very bad string of Yankee teams and I loved the guy. I remember being very upset when Bobby was traded to the Giants for Bobby Bonds right after the 1974 season. I remember being overjoyed when the Yankees put him back in pinstripes during the 1979 season. I hated to see him retire during the 1983 season but I enjoyed listening to him and learning more about him during his many years in the Yankees’ broadcast booth. When he died from a brain tumor in July of 2008, Yankee fans around the world mourned him. Had he lived he would have turned 68 years-old today.
In April of 2014, the Yankees announced that they would be placing plaques in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park to honor Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez, two great Yankees who certainly deserve the recognition. But what about Bobby Murcer?
|NYY (13 yrs)||1256||4997||4428||641||1231||192||29||175||687||74||491||564||.278||.349||.453||.802|
|CHC (3 yrs)||358||1465||1243||178||336||44||10||43||175||32||196||154||.270||.367||.426||.792|
|SFG (2 yrs)||294||1256||1059||153||295||49||6||34||181||21||175||123||.279||.379||.432||.812|
One of the things the Yankees did not seem to need after winning the 1950 World Series was starting pitching. Their rotation was loaded with the glorious triumvirate of Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds and Eddie Lopat,15-game winner Tommy Byrne and a cocky rookie southpaw named Whitey Ford. But Ford would miss the entire 1951 season to military service and Byrne, who always had control problems suddenly couldn’t find the plate. That made room in the rotation for a rookie Yankee left-hander named Tom Morgan. Casey Stengel let the 20-year-old native of El Monte, California start 16 times during that ’51 season and he went 6-3 in those games, including two shutouts. He also relieved in 11 other games that year and earned two saves.
Morgan credited two guys for helping him become a successful big league pitcher. The first was his younger brother Dick, who became a minor league catcher himself. Tom would spend hours throwing a baseball to his sibling in the yard of their California home and he credited those sessions for helping him master control of his very good fastball. He also used to say that his Yankee pitching coach, Jim Turner was instrumental in helping him master both a sidearm curve and change up, giving him the confidence he needed to throw those pitches whenever he needed to at the big league level.
Morgan’s most distinctive physical trait was the way he walked. He’d bend his body at the waist, hunch his shoulders and take his steps slowly, looking as if he was always pulling something behind him. As a result, the Grand Annointer of pinstriped nicknames, Yankee announcer Mel Allen gave Morgan the nickname of “the Plowboy.”
Morgan started 12 more times in 1952 and then missed the entire ’53 season to military service. When he returned to action in 1954, Stengel began using him more out of the bullpen and he had his best season in pinstripes with an 11-5 record and a 3.34 ERA. He was then converted to a full-time reliever and over the next two seasons he saved 21 games for New York. But his ERA climbed dramatically in 1956 and the following February he was included in a humungous deal with the A’s that eventually caused 13 players to exchange uniforms.
After one year in Kansas City, Morgan spent two-and-a-half years with the Tigers and a half season as a Senator. The expansion Angels purchased him in 1961 and he surprised everyone by putting together two very strong years out of the Angels bullpen. He couldn’t keep the string going, however, and he was done as a player after the ’63 season. He then became a minor league pitching instructor with the Angels and scouted for the Yankees. He eventually became the Angels’ big league pitching coach and later held that same position with the Padres. Cy Young Award winners Nolan Ryan and Randy Jones credited Morgan with helping them become all star pitchers. He was still coaching at the minor league level when he suffered a stroke and died of a heart attack in 1987 at the age of 56.
|1953||Did not play in major leagues (Military Service)|
|NYY (5 yrs)||38||22||.633||3.48||156||46||61||13||7||26||504.2||500||218||195||32||160||163||20||1.308|
|LAA (3 yrs)||13||4||.765||2.86||120||0||64||0||0||20||166.2||147||65||53||14||42||75||9||1.134|
|DET (3 yrs)||6||11||.353||3.81||107||2||49||0||0||11||184.1||197||93||78||24||32||83||7||1.242|
|WSH (1 yr)||1||3||.250||3.75||14||0||6||0||0||0||24.0||36||15||10||6||5||11||1||1.708|
|KCA (1 yr)||9||7||.563||4.64||46||13||24||5||0||7||143.2||160||76||74||19||61||32||3||1.538|
Few Yankee pitchers if any ever had a better big league rookie season than Wilcy Moore was able to put together. First of all, he broke into the Majors with perhaps the greatest team in league history, the fabled 1927 New York Yankees. That squad won 110 games in their 154-game season and finished 19 games in front of the second place Philadelphia A’s. As a team, the ’27 Yankees averaged .307 and their pitching staff gave up just 3.20 runs per game, both tops in the league. Miller Huggins used his 30-year-old first-year pitcher mostly out of the bullpen that season and when baseball historians applied the modern day save rule retroactively, it was discovered that Moore led the AL in saves in 1927 with 13. He also won nineteen games while losing just seven and posted a league-leading 2.28 ERA that year.
To top it all off, Moore also made the greatest wager of his life during that 1927 season. The great Babe Ruth bet the weak-hitting Moore $15 that the pitcher would not hit a home run during the 1927 season and sweetened the pot by giving the native of Bonita Texas, twenty-to-one odds. Moore won the bet on September 16 1927 when he hit his first and only big league home run against Chicago White Sox pitcher Ted Blankenship. He used the Sultan of Swat’s three hundred dollars to purchase two mules for his farm and named one of the animals “Babe” and the other “Ruth.”
Moore would never again approach the level of pitching success he experienced during his magical 1927 season. His cumulative record during his second and third seasons wearing the Yankee pinstripes was just 10-10 with only ten total saves. He spent the 1930 season back in the minors and then the Red Sox selected him in the 1930 Rule Five draft. After pitching most of the next two seasons in Beantown, the Yankees reacquired Moore in an August 1932 trade. At first, returning to Yankee Stadium was just the elixir Moore’s career needed as he pitched lights out relief for New York during the final two months of the ’32 season. But he faded in ’33 and would spend the next seven years in the minors, trying unsuccessfully to pitch his way back to the big dance.
|NYY (5 yrs)||36||21||.632||3.31||171||15||107||6||1||35||421.1||439||209||155||13||135||139||1.362|
|BOS (2 yrs)||15||23||.395||4.31||90||17||53||8||1||14||269.2||293||147||129||12||97||65||1.446|
His nickname was “Boomer,” he was partially raised by a morotcycle gang, he once was fined for wearing Babe Ruth’s baseball cap in an actual MLB game and he loved pitching for the New York Yankees. Wells was what you would call a “free spirit.” He didn’t normally respond well to authority figures and for the first ten years of his big league career, he pitched OK for four different teams, compiling a 90-75 record.
Then in December of 1996, the Yankees signed the rotund left-hander to a free agent contract and Wells was introduced to the pinstripes and the Big Apple. He thought he found heaven on earth. That first year in New York was the worst of his four Yankee seasons on the field, as he went 16-10 and tried to figure out his new manager, Joe Torre and the big boss, Steinbrenner. Off the field, however, Wells provided an instant boost to New York City’s night life.
Then in 1998, in my humble but very Yankee-centric opinion, I thought David Wells was the best pitcher in baseball. He went 18-4 in the regular season with five shutouts and then 5-0 in the postseason. His perfect game against the Twins in May of that year was a magical moment in franchise history. Simply put, that 1998 Yankee team would not have been the best Yankee team I ever saw if David Wells was not on its roster. But when the Blue Jays let it be known that their 1998 Cy Young Award winner, Roger Clemens was available, George Steinbrenner told his front office to do whatever it took to get him. “Whatever it took” included Wells and Boomer found himself pitching north of the border in 1999.
Wells was devastated by the deal. Best friend David Cone told reporters that the big southpaw cried like a baby when he got the news. Boomer knew Toronto well because he had come up with the Blue Jays and played his first six big league seasons with the team. He went back up north and won 37 games there during the next two seasons while Clemens won just 27 for the Yankees during that same span.
2001 was going to be the final year on Wells’ contract and the Blue Jays knew they’d have a tough time re-signing him, so in January of that year he was traded to the White Sox. He then injured his back and appeared in just 16 games for Chicago in 2001.
Wells’ return to the Yankees the following year was not without controversy. It was reported that he and his agent had already verbally committed to a contract with the Diamondbacks when the Yankees came up with their best but very late offer. Wells backed out of his deal with the Diamondbacks to return to pinstripes.
His 2002 season was outstanding. Wells remained injury free and went 19-7. His Yankee fortunes really began to turn when his autobiography was released right before the 2003 season began. In it, Boomer made some controversial statements and claims that didn’t sit well with the Yankee front office. Still, in 2003 he pitched 215 solid innings for the Yankees during the regular season, going 15-7, which brought his four season record in pinstripes to 68-28, for a gaudy .708 winning percentage.
In the 2003 postseason, Wells improved his Yankee postseason record to 7-1 with his victories in the ALDS and ALCS, before losing a tough 3-2 decision to the Marlins in Game 1 of that year’s World Series. With the two teams tied at two games apiece, Wells was scheduled to pitch Game 5. He told manager Joe Torre before the game that his back hurt too much to accept the challenge. That bad back combined with the ill will created by his book sealed Wells fate in New York. When he entered free agency following the Series, there were no last minute offers from the Yankees and Wells signed with his hometown Padres instead.
|TOR (8 yrs)||84||55||.604||4.06||306||138||65||18||2||13||1148.2||1171||566||518||126||294||28||784||1.275|
|NYY (4 yrs)||68||28||.708||3.90||124||123||0||19||9||0||851.2||886||396||369||98||139||2||557||1.204|
|SDP (3 yrs)||18||18||.500||4.33||58||58||0||0||0||0||342.2||392||170||165||41||57||5||178||1.310|
|DET (3 yrs)||26||19||.578||3.78||66||64||0||8||1||0||428.2||416||201||180||56||103||17||293||1.211|
|BOS (2 yrs)||17||10||.630||4.56||38||38||0||2||0||0||231.0||284||125||117||31||29||0||131||1.355|
|LAD (1 yr)||4||1||.800||5.12||7||7||0||0||0||0||38.2||45||23||22||5||9||1||19||1.397|
|CIN (1 yr)||6||5||.545||3.59||11||11||0||3||0||0||72.2||74||34||29||6||16||4||50||1.239|
|BAL (1 yr)||11||14||.440||5.14||34||34||0||3||0||0||224.1||247||132||128||32||51||7||130||1.328|
|CHW (1 yr)||5||7||.417||4.47||16||16||0||1||0||0||100.2||120||55||50||12||21||1||59||1.401|