They called this Chicago native “the Hawk” and he was signed as a catcher by his hometown White Sox in 1936, after attending Purdue University for two years. He got to the big leagues by 1939 and played two seasons as a backup catcher to Chicago’s Mike Tresh, who was the father of future Yankee shortstop, Tom Tresh. The White Sox then traded the switch-hitting Silvestri to the Yankees, where he became the third string receiver behind Hall of Famer Bill Dickey and Buddy Rosar during the 1941 season and won his first World Series ring. When World War II came, Silvestri spent the next four seasons in the U.S. Army. When he returned to the Yankees in 1946, Aaron Robinson was New York’s starting catcher, an aging Dickey was his backup and Sylvestri, Gus Niarhos, Bill Drescher and a youngster named Yogi Berra all battled for the third string job. The following year Dickey retired, Berra became Robinson’s backup and Silvestri found himself back in the minor leagues. He spent the entire 1948 season playing for the Yankee’s Newark farm team. Though he was a switch-hitter, Silvestri’s problem was that he couldn’t hit very well from either side of the plate. Unable to win even a third string job with the loaded Yankees, Silvestri was probably happy when the Phillies grabbed him in the 1948 Rule 5 draft. But Philadelphia already had Andy Seminick and Stan Lopata doing the catching. The Hawk would appear in a total of just 19 games during his three seasons in the City of Brotherly Love and get just 42 plate appearances. He also got his first-ever World Series at bat as a member of the 1950 Whiz Kids team that lost to the Yankees. The fact of the matter was that Mr. Silvestri spent almost his entire eight season big league career in his teams’ bullpens, warming up relievers. His career totals included 102 games played, 203 lifetime at bats, 44 hits and a lifetime batting average of .217. He would rejoin the Yankee organization in 1954 and spend the rest of his playing days on Yankee farm teams. He then became a Manager in the Yankee farm system and eventually a long-time big league coach in the Braves organization. He passed away in 1992 at the age of 75. Silvestri shares his May 3rd birthday with the winningest right-hander in Yankee history and also this much less successful former Yankee hurler.
|PHI (3 yrs)||19||44||33||5||7||0||1||0||5||0||9||6||.212||.395||.273||.668|
|NYY (3 yrs)||33||83||71||10||18||6||0||1||5||0||12||15||.254||.361||.380||.742|
|CHW (2 yrs)||50||111||99||11||19||5||0||4||15||0||10||20||.192||.273||.364||.636|
If you think today’s sportswriters and bloggers can be overly critical of modern day ballplayers, you’re absolutely correct. But its nothing new. Take a look at some of the statements I uncovered about today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant in a July 21, 1916 New York Times account of a regular season game between the Yankees and the St Louis Browns: “None of the Yankees was injured yesterday up at the Polo Grounds yesterday but a misfortune came to them when Cliff Markle started to pitch against the St. Louis Browns…Markle seems to be about the only disappointing feature of this year’s Yankee ball club. All the other players have proved better than anyone expected except Markle…The only player who doesn’t seem to approve (of the Yankees being in first place) is Markle…whenever he starts to pitch the home plate simply disappears…As Markle pitched yesterday he had a far-away look, as if pondering where he was going to spend next summer’s vacation…Markle left (the game) with the bases loaded and no one was out when Manager Bill Donovan sent the pitcher word that the next train south left the elevated at 4:20 PM. He also told him if he hurried he might catch it.” Ouch! Imagine if Michael Kay used the above words to describe one of Ivan Nova’s recent starts.
A native of Dravosburg, PA, this right-hander actually attracted the attention of several big league teams after posting a 31-9 record for a Class C minor league team in the Virginia League in 1914, followed by a 19-11 season for a B team in Waco, Texas. He also got off to a strong start with New York, winning both of his decisions at the end of the Yankees’ 1915 season and his first three the following year. On May 6 of 1916,his ERA was a microscopic 1.39. That’s when the curtain started coming down on his big league career. He lost three of his next four decisions including the one described above. In fact, though at first I thought the Times sports reporter was just trying to be dramatically sarcastic, that start against the Brown’s was the last game Markle pitched in the big leagues for the next five years. But instead of taking the elevated train south, he headed north and finished the 1916 season pitching for an American Association League team in Toronto.
His next stop in the big leagues was with Cincinnati in 1921 and ’22 and then two years later he got a final chance with the Yanks but he couldn’t seem to get anyone out. That was his last year as a professional baseball player. He passed away in 1974 at the age of 80.
|NYY (3 yrs)||6||6||.500||4.60||21||12||4||5||1||0||92.0||85||55||47||6||57||33||1.543|
|CIN (2 yrs)||6||11||.353||3.79||35||9||19||7||1||0||142.2||150||77||60||3||53||57||1.423|
This right-hander started his Major League career as a member of the the Red Sox in 1924. In the slightly more than five seasons he spent in a Boston uniform, Ruffing’s won-lost record was an atrocious 39-96. This slow start to his big league pitching career was most likely attributable to the combination of a pretty putrid era of Red Sox offense and the fact that Ruffing was originally an outfielder, who only began pitching after a mining accident cost him four toes. In any event, Boston readily accepted the Yankee’s offer of $50,000 and a reserve outfielder named Cedric Durst in exchange for Ruffing, during the second month of the 1930 season.
Old Red then proceeded to go 15-5 in his debut season in Pinstripes. During the next 14 years, he won 231 games, lost just 124, and enjoyed four 20-victory seasons. He also compiled a 7-2 record in seven World Series and was the ace on six world championship Yankee teams. Since he was also originally a good-hitting outfielder, Ruffing became one of the best hitting pitchers in MLB history, compiling a .269 lifetime batting average. Charles Herbert “Red” Ruffing was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1967.
So what happened to Cedric Durst? He got into 102 games for the Red Sox in 1930, batted .240 and then never played in another Major League game. Ruffing shares his May 3rd birthday with this catcher, who became his Yankee teammate in 1941 and this long-ago Yankee pitcher.
|NYY (15 yrs)||231||124||.651||3.47||426||391||30||261||40||9||3168.2||2995||1406||1222||200||1066||1526||1.282|
|BOS (7 yrs)||39||96||.289||4.61||189||138||39||73||5||9||1122.1||1226||670||575||47||459||450||1.501|
|CHW (1 yr)||3||5||.375||6.11||9||9||0||1||0||0||53.0||63||39||36||7||16||11||1.491|