The Yankees signed this Princeton, Missouri native when he was 21-years-old in 1937 and assigned him to their Class C team in Joplin. During his second year with that ball club he popped 24 home runs and got promoted to the Yanks’ Norfolk, Virginia affiliate in the Class B Piedmont League. That’s when and where Derry really raised some eyebrows by belting 40 home runs during the ’39 season.
Normally, when an organization’s young prospect hits 40 homers at any level it gets him on a pretty fast track to a Major League trial. Unfortunately for this young outfielder, the Yankee team he was trying to make was anything but normal, especially in the outfield. The only outfield problem NY manager Joe McCarthy had to solve each and every game was figuring out who was not going to play. If you got Joe DiMaggio, Charley Selkirk, Tommy Henrich and George Selkirk on your roster, as McCarthy did when Derry hit those 40 homers in the Piedmont league, you’re not going to be too concerned with what your team’s minor league outfielders are doing. So while that 1939 Yankee team led by its glut of All Star outfielders was winning its fourth straight World Series, all Derry’s 40 home run season got him was a ticket to Class A.
It would take seven years and a World War to get Derry his shot at the Yankee outfield. By then he was 27-years-old. By 1944, DiMaggio, Keller, Henrich and Selkirk were all doing hitches in the military and Derry became the parent club’s fourth outfielder that season. He saw his most big league action the following season when he got into 78 games for New York and hit a career high 13 home runs. But he averaged just .225 that year against the second tier of pitching talent that took over the big league mounds during WWII. When the war ended and all the Yankees returned from military service the following year, Derry was sold to the A’s. He hit just .207 for Philadelphia and after one more brief shot with the Cardinals, finished out his playing career in the minors.
|NYY (2 yrs)||116||421||367||51||86||9||2||17||59||2||51||68||.234||.329||.409||.738|
|STL (1 yr)||2||2||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|PHA (1 yr)||69||214||184||17||38||8||5||0||14||0||27||54||.207||.311||.304||.616|
Leavitt “Bud” Daley overcame some pretty incredible odds to become an All Star pitcher in the big leagues. When Daley was born on October 7, 1932 in Orange, CA. his right hand was permanently injured during a difficult delivery. Daley grew up hiding it well, especially on a baseball field. The only sign of problems with the hand was that he was forced to wear his baseball glove at an odd angle.
The Cleveland Indians signed Daley in 1951, when he was 19-years-old. After several trials with the Indians, Daley was traded to the Baltimore Orioles on April Fool’s Day in 1958 along with Gene Woodling and Dick Williams for Larry Doby. Two weeks later, Baltimore dealt Daley to Kansas City. The A’s gave him a spot in their 1959 starting rotation and he responded by winning 16 games in each of the next two seasons and becoming a two-time All Star. The Yankees traded for the southpaw two years later and he became a starter-reliever for the legendary 1961 Bronx Bomber team. Even though he finished that year with a lackluster 8-9 record, Yankee Manager Ralph Houk claimed Daley was a valuable, unsung hero of that great squad.
Perhaps his most important contribution during that season came during the September 1st opener of a three-game series against second-place Detroit. At the time, the Tigers were just two-and-a-half games in back of New York and could have taken over first place with a sweep of the three-game set. Houk put Daley in the scoreless game when starter Whitey Ford tired. He pitched three plus innings of scoreless relief before handing the ball to closer Luis Arroryo and the Yankees prevailed 1-0 and went on to sweep the three games. Daley then came on in relief of the Ralph Terry in the third inning of that year’s fifth and final World Series game against Cincinnati and pitched the final six innings to earn the win. Daley went on to win seven games and save four more for the 1962 Yankees, his best year in pinstripes. He injured his arm during the 1964 season and his big league career was over at the age of 31.
|NYY (4 yrs)||18||16||.529||3.89||80||26||19||7||0||6||271.0||271||129||117||28||97||154||1.358|
|KCA (4 yrs)||39||39||.500||3.93||118||79||13||28||3||2||581.2||597||294||254||62||199||326||1.368|
|CLE (3 yrs)||3||9||.250||4.87||50||11||16||1||0||2||114.2||130||79||62||9||55||69||1.613|
For every player who was an all-star as a Yankee there are thirty to fifty members of the team’s all-time roster who were not. But if you’re a loyal Yankee fan, you remember the subs as well as the starters. Take today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant as an example. In August of 1998 the Yankees were looking for a right handed middle reliever to add to their bullpen. Since that ’98 Yankee team won 114 regular season games, you wonder why they were looking for anything at that time because they already had the best-winning team in franchise history. Despite that, the Yankees had tried to make a deal for Padres’ right-hander Brian Boehringer, who had already pitched for New York the three previous seasons but the deal kept breaking down. Instead New York and San Diego swapped four pitchers and Jim Bruske was the only one of the four with Major League experience.
At first the Yankees put their new acquisition in Triple A but when the big league rosters expanded to 40 on September 1 of that year, Bruske was brought up to the parent club. He made a couple of relief appearances first but after clinching the AL East Pennant, New York was setting up their pitching rotation for the playoffs and gave Bruske a start against the lowly Devil Rays. He went five innings and got the win. It was his fifth consecutive winning decision over a two season period. It would also be the only decision of his Yankee career. When he failed to make the team’s big league roster the following spring, New York released him. He resurfaced in Milwaukee during the 2000 season and won his sixth straight big league decision as a Brewer. He would end his big league career that same season with that streak intact and a 9-1 lifetime record.
Bruske was born in East St Louis, IL, grew up in California and was originally an outfielder. He played his college ball at Loyola Marymount, where he started in the same outfield as Billy Beane, who would later become the first Major League Baseball player to publicly discuss his homosexuality. Bruske shares his October 7th birthday with this WWII era Yankee outfielder and this Yankee pitcher from the early 1960s.
|LAD (3 yrs)||3||0||1.000||4.05||55||0||18||0||0||2||66.2||76||33||30||4||26||48||1.530|
|SDP (2 yrs)||4||1||.800||3.66||32||0||7||0||0||0||51.2||47||26||21||5||29||36||1.471|
|NYY (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||3.00||3||1||0||0||0||0||9.0||9||3||3||2||1||3||1.111|
|MIL (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||6.48||15||0||1||0||0||0||16.2||22||15||12||5||12||8||2.040|