Born in Richmond, CA, Dale Sveum was the Milwaukee Brewers’ first round draft choice in 1982 and considered to be the heir apparent to the great Robin Yount. By 1987, in just his second year in the big leagues, the 23-year-old switch hitter blasted 25 home runs and drove in 95 as Milwaukee’s starting shortstop. He would continue playing through 1999 and never again come close to matching either of those numbers.
The Brewers gave up on him after the 1991 season and traded him to the Phillies. During the next five years he played for five different teams. The Yankees signed him as a free agent in November of 1997 and the following April, he was on the Opening Day roster of a Yankee team that was about to win more regular season games than any team in franchise history. Sveum spelled Tino Martinez at first base plus saw some occasional time at the hot corner. What he didn’t do was hit. At the All Star break his average was just .155 and the Yanks gave him his walking papers.
After an unsuccessful comeback try with the Pirates the following year, his big league career was over. He got into coaching and in 2008, he became the interim manager of the Brewers for the last 12 games of the season. In 2012, Theo Epstein hired Sveum to manage the Chicago Cubs. Epstein himself had just been hired as the team’s president and given free reign to rebuild the organization from the bottom up. He had chosen Sveum as the new skipper because his plan was to bring Chicago’s best prospects up and play them. That required a manager who could communicate with and develop young talent and Epstein felt those were Sveum’s greatest strengths. Unfortunately, after two years of putting this plan in action, the performances of the Cub prospects had regressed. When Epstein fired Sveum the day after the 2013 regular season ended, he absolved his departing skipper for the failure of those prospects to develop, inferring that the organization may have simply overestimated their abilities.
|MIL (5 yrs)||511||1878||1702||210||413||80||10||46||236||9||137||426||.243||.299||.382||.681|
|PIT (3 yrs)||187||459||411||46||107||30||2||16||65||0||40||115||.260||.324||.460||.784|
|PHI (1 yr)||54||153||135||13||24||4||0||2||16||0||16||39||.178||.261||.252||.513|
|OAK (1 yr)||30||96||79||12||14||2||1||2||6||0||16||21||.177||.316||.304||.620|
|NYY (1 yr)||30||64||58||6||9||0||0||0||3||0||4||16||.155||.203||.155||.358|
|SEA (1 yr)||10||29||27||3||5||0||0||1||2||0||2||10||.185||.241||.296||.538|
|CHW (1 yr)||40||131||114||15||25||9||0||2||12||1||12||29||.219||.287||.351||.638|
By 1967 it had become clear to most of us Bronx Bomber fans from the baby boom generation that the Yankee dynasty was no more. Mantle’s knees buckled every time he swung his bat. All Star names like Maris, Kubek, Richardson and Boyer no longer appeared in the New York lineup, replaced by the likes of Whitaker, Clarke, Smith and Amaro. We became desperate for talent and hoped that every Yankee prospect who got a cup-of-coffee call-up to 161st street was the answer. Surely a Mike Hegan or a Ross Moschitto would evolve into a 30 home run hitter, or maybe it would be the Brooklyn native with movie star looks named Frank Tepedino. But none of them did.
Tepedino was just 19 years old when he made his pinstriped debut in May of 1967. He was a left-handed hitter who played first base so he was behind both Mickey Mantle and Hegan on that Yankee team’s depth chart and barely saw any action during the three months he was on the Yankee roster. About the only thing he proved he could do at the big league level was drink, and by the time New York sent him back to the minors, Tepedino had become a full fledged alcoholic. He would get three more shots with the Yankees in 1969, ’70 and ’71 before getting traded to the Braves in 1973 for starting pitcher Pat Dobson. He had his best big league season his first year in Atlanta, hitting .304 in 74 games. He remained with the Braves until 1975, which is when his eight-season career in the Majors ended.
Tepedino returned to New York City and became a fireman. On September 11, 2001, he was on his way to the Twin Towers when they collapsed. He stopped drinking years ago and has since made over 60,000 speeches to youth groups and schools about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. He might not have made it big as a Yankee but he certainly made sure his life after baseball has been meaningful.
He shares his birthday with this former Yankee pitcher who put together several great seasons on the mound, this former Yankee pitcher who put together just one and this one-time Yankee first baseman.
|NYY (5 yrs)||52||83||77||8||17||2||0||0||6||1||6||8||.221||.277||.247||.524|
|ATL (3 yrs)||160||354||324||31||84||10||1||4||45||1||23||36||.259||.307||.333||.640|
|MIL (1 yr)||53||112||106||11||21||1||0||2||7||2||4||17||.198||.234||.264||.498|
If you’re younger than the age of 30, you probably never saw “El Tiante” pitch in the Major Leagues. That’s your loss. This guy was one of the most entertaining and skilled starting pitchers of his era. I remember his incredible 1968 season when he won 21 games for Cleveland. He was the ace of a very strong Indians pitching staff that led the AL with 23 shutouts, nine of which were thrown by Tiant. Cleveland won a total of 83 games that season and in over a quarter of those victories they shutout the opposition.
Tiant’s career was almost derailed by a rash of injuries and he actually was released by both the Twins and the Braves before he found his true home with the Red Sox. After an awkward start in Beantown, when Tiant went 1-7 in 1971, he won 120 games during the next seven seasons, winning the hearts of Red Sox fans in the process. It was Tiant’s two-hit shutout against the Blue Jays that got the Red Sox into the 1978 one-game playoff for the AL East crown. I still say if the Red Sox could have started this guy instead of Mike Torrez in that next game, Bucky Dent’s heroics never would have happened. Tiant pitched his very best at the the biggest of moments.
In 1979, Tiant joined the Yankees as a free agent and pitched very well for a team torn apart first by management issues and then by the tragic death of their captain, Thurman Munson. Tiant won 13 games that season including his 49th and final career shutout. He fell to 8-9 the following year and the Yankees let him go. For you younger fans who never saw him pitch, think El Duque, only better. Tiant was born on November 23, 1940, in Marianao, Cuba.
|BOS (8 yrs)||122||81||.601||3.36||274||238||17||113||26||3||1774.2||1630||709||663||170||501||1075||1.201|
|CLE (6 yrs)||75||64||.540||2.84||211||160||33||63||21||12||1200.0||939||431||379||126||432||1041||1.143|
|NYY (2 yrs)||21||17||.553||4.31||55||55||0||8||1||0||332.0||329||173||159||32||103||188||1.301|
|MIN (1 yr)||7||3||.700||3.40||18||17||1||2||1||0||92.2||84||36||35||12||41||50||1.349|
|PIT (1 yr)||2||5||.286||3.92||9||9||0||1||0||0||57.1||54||31||25||3||19||32||1.273|
|CAL (1 yr)||2||2||.500||5.76||6||5||0||0||0||0||29.2||39||20||19||3||8||30||1.584|
As the 2005 season began, Brian Cashman thought he had assembled the starting pitching staff New York would need to recapture the AL pennant from Boston and help Yankee fans forget the horror of the Bronx Bombers’ ALCS collapse to the hated Red Sox, the previous postseason. The Yankee GM had traded for Randy Johnson and signed Carl Pavano during that offseason and was hoping those two veterans would combine with Mike Mussina and Kevin Brown to give New York the type of overpowering rotation a team needed to make it to the World Series. That did not happen. Johnson was good but not great, ditto for Mussina and both Brown and Pavano missed most of that season due to injuries. The Yankees were forced to improvise with their starting pitching and they did so by bringing up Chien-Ming Wang from their farm system, trading for a Pittsburgh starter named Shawn Chacon and using a free agent pitcher they had signed the previous January named Aaron Small. Wang and Chacon won 15 games between them but it was Small’s performance that year that won the AL East Division flag for Joe Torre’s squad. The tall right hander won all ten of his decisions including five big wins in September, giving up just 3.2 runs every nine innings he pitched. Small was a high school teammate of Jason Giambi in Covina, CA. That great performance in 2005 earned him a million dollar contract from New York in 2006 but he would never win another big league game. After losing his third straight decision in 2006, he was sent down to Columbus, where he spent the rest of that year. He ended up retiring after that season with a 25-13 record and four saves during his nine years of big league pitching.
|OAK (3 yrs)||11||9||.550||5.63||107||3||30||0||0||4||161.1||197||112||101||12||76||93||1.692|
|NYY (2 yrs)||10||3||.769||4.60||26||12||3||1||1||0||103.2||113||56||53||13||36||49||1.437|
|FLA (2 yrs)||1||0||1.000||6.35||14||0||1||0||0||0||22.2||31||17||16||6||13||13||1.941|
|ARI (1 yr)||3||1||.750||3.69||23||0||9||0||0||0||31.2||32||14||13||5||8||14||1.263|
|ATL (1 yr)||0||0||27.00||1||0||1||0||0||0||0.1||2||1||1||0||2||1||12.000|
|TOR (1 yr)||0||0||9.00||1||0||1||0||0||0||2.0||5||2||2||1||2||0||3.500|