After a nine-year career as a star outfielder for Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, Ken Griffey Sr. was signed as a free agent by the Yankees after the 1981 season. That was right after the fractious players strike, the crazy split-season format caused by the work action and New York’s loss to the Dodgers in the 1981 World Series. All three of those events impacted George Steinbrenner’s ownership philosophy to a point where he stopped listening to his baseball people and started making baseball decisions and deals on his own. Nothing symbolized the Boss’s going rogue better than the signing of Griffey and the trade for his Cincinnati outfield teammate, Dave Collins. The Yankees ended up with six outfielders on their 1982 roster making it difficult for Griffey and completely impossible for Collins to feel like they fit in. A solid but not spectacular player, Griffey later admitted to Baseball Digest that he felt much more comfortable playing in the National League. He lasted four and a half seasons in the Bronx, averaging .285 during that span. Just before the 1986 All Star break, the Yankees traded Griffey and shortstop Andre Robertson to the Braves for Claudell Washington and Paul Zuvella. Griffey couldn’t wait to get back to the Senior Circuit.
He would end up playing nineteen seasons in the big leagues, finally retiring in 1991, with a lifetime average of .296 and 2,143 hits. He was the second best ballplayer to be born in Donora, PA behind Stan “the Man” Musial and the second best ballplayer to be born in his own family behind his superstar son and former Mariner teammate, Ken “the Kid” Griffey.
This former Yankee, also born on April 10th, was New York’s starting DH in the Opening Day lineup of Griffey’s first game in pinstripes in 1982.
|CIN (12 yrs)||1224||4716||4206||709||1275||212||63||71||466||156||455||549||.303||.370||.434||.804|
|NYY (5 yrs)||551||2169||1977||275||563||99||10||49||251||27||158||210||.285||.336||.419||.755|
|ATL (3 yrs)||271||976||884||122||252||44||4||28||115||17||83||123||.285||.345||.439||.784|
|SEA (2 yrs)||51||188||162||23||53||9||0||4||27||0||23||16||.327||.410||.457||.866|
If Marvin Miller or Scott “the snake oil salesman” Boras had been around in the 1920’s, I might have a lot more to tell you about today’s Pinstripe Baseball Birthday Celebrant. Unfortunately, however, for guys like William Harmong Lamar, ballplayers did all of their own labor-lawyer-ing and contract negotiations for many many years and Lamar simply wasn’t very good at it.
As the only member of the all-time Yankee roster to be born on this date, Lamar did not get the opportunity to play much baseball in the Big Apple. Born in Maryland, near Washington DC, he became a high school baseball star who in 1916, signed a contract to play for the Baltimore Orioles in the International League. By the following year, the US had entered WWI and the military draft began in May of that year. The Yankees were probably looking for bodies to replace players lost to the army when they purchased the contracts of Lamar and two of his Oriole teammates toward the end of the 1917 season. Lamar’s first appearance in a big league and Yankee game was on September 19th of that season. He played a total of 11 games that year and just 28 the next before he himself was drafted.
From the research I did on his career, it appears as if Lamar was a very fast runner but not much of a hitter or defensive outfielder during his days with the Yankees. Neither of his two Yankee Managers, Wild Bill Donovan or Miller Huggins played him much during the 1917 and ’18 seasons and the kid averaged less than .230 in the Yankee action he did experience. That explains why Huggins did not invite Lamar to the Yankees’ 1919 spring training camp but he showed up anyway. Not wanting to disrespect a returning soldier, Huggins let him stay and brought him north with the team, but only for a short while. On June 10, 1919, Huggins ended Lamar’s Yankee career by putting him on waivers. The Red Sox picked him up immediately and he managed to hit .291 for Boston during the second half of the 1919 season. He was then traded for an International League outfielder and it would take Lamar another five years before he actually got a regular job as a big leaguer. That was in 1924, when he joined Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s as a 27-year-old left-fielder.
Lamar hit .330 in 1924 and then an even more robust .356 in 1925 with 202 hits. It looked as if his train had finally arrived at the station. But Lamar had also developed a propensity to party. In fact, his nickname was “Good Time Bill.” His batting average and his playing time dropped in ’26 and even though he was hitting .299 at the time, Lamar was put on waivers by the A’s in early August of the 1927 season. accompanied by rumors that he had a difficult time complying with Connie Mack’s team rules. The Senators immediately picked up his contract but that’s when Lamar started getting a bit too cute. The Washington newspapers had played up the fact that the newest Senator would be starting in the outfield in an upcoming series against the Yankees. He decided to try and leverage the anticipation of Washington fans for his arrival into a bonus for reporting from the famously tight-fisted Senators’ owner Clark Griffith. How’d that little ploy turn out for “Good Time Bill?” He lost the balance of his salary for 1927 and he never again played in a big league came.
Much of the information used for this post came from an article about Lamar, written by Bill Nowlin, as part of the SABR Baseball Biography Project. You can find that article online, here.
|PHA (4 yrs)||425||1818||1678||263||539||101||22||19||223||18||73||63||.321||.350||.442||.792|
|NYY (3 yrs)||50||179||167||15||38||4||0||0||5||4||8||5||.228||.263||.251||.514|
|BRO (2 yrs)||27||47||47||7||13||4||0||0||4||0||0||1||.277||.277||.362||.638|
|BOS (1 yr)||48||159||148||18||43||5||1||0||14||3||5||9||.291||.314||.338||.652|
Bobby Abreu gave the Yankees two and a half seasons of solid play as their starting right fielder. He averaged .295 while in pinstripes, stole more than 20 bases a season, was never hurt and he both scored and drove in over 100 runs in each of his two full years in New York. I was expecting him to be a better defensive outfielder than he showed as a Yankee but when you look at his overall performance, he did absolutely fine. Unfortunately, fine was just not good enough for a Yankee team that slowly but surely forgot how to win in October.
I liked Abreu’s game but I liked the game of the guy he replaced in right field for New York, even more. That would be Gary Sheffield, who was in my opinion one of the most intimidating hitters in the big leagues. Opposing pitchers respected Abreu but they feared Sheffield. So when the Yankees let Abreu walk after the 2008 season, I was not too upset. He signed with the Angels and had a typical very good Abreu year in 2009 before slumping significantly in 2010. Bobby was born in Venezuela on March 11, 1974.
|PHI (9 yrs)||1353||5885||4857||891||1474||348||42||195||814||254||947||1078||.303||.416||.513||.928|
|LAA (4 yrs)||456||1946||1662||239||443||103||5||43||246||75||261||363||.267||.364||.412||.776|
|NYY (3 yrs)||372||1631||1423||260||420||95||9||43||243||57||190||276||.295||.378||.465||.843|
|HOU (2 yrs)||74||234||210||23||52||11||2||3||27||7||23||51||.248||.325||.362||.687|
|LAD (1 yr)||92||230||195||28||48||8||1||3||19||6||35||51||.246||.361||.344||.704|
When outfielder Myril Hoag began his Yankee career, he competed for playing time with the likes of Babe Ruth and Earle Combs. By the time he completed it seven years later, he was playing behind names like DiMaggio, Selkirk and Henrich. Thus went the pinstriped career of one of the most effective fourth outfielders in franchise history, good enough to back up those who were better.
Born in California, Hoag began his pro career in the Pacific Coast League and made his Yankee and big league debut in 1931. His best season in the Bronx was 1937, when he appeared in 103 games, had 109 hits and averaged .301. Hoag also put together a solid World Series against the Giants in 1937, starting all five games and batting an even .300.
After the 1938 World Series, New York traded Hoag and back-up catcher Joe Glenn to the St. Louis Browns for pitcher Orel Hildebrand and outfielder Buster Mills. He finally got his chance to be a starting outfielder with his new ball club and took advantage of it, by averaging .295 and making the AL All Star team. That ’39 season proved to be his best. The Browns traded him to the White Sox and after his second season with Chicago, Hoag joined the Army. He was given a medical discharge a year later and ended up playing for Cleveland during the second half of the ’44 season and averaging .285 for the Tribe.
That would be Hoag’s last hurrah as a big leaguer, though he’d continue to play in the minors well into his forties, finally hanging his spikes up for good after the 1951 season. He was only 63 when he passed away in 1971, a victim of an emphysema-induced heart attack.
Hoag shares his March 9th birthday with this Yankee who hit one of the most famous home runs in franchise history, this former AL MVP, this recent Yankee reliever and one of the great base-stealers in MLB history.
|NYY (7 yrs)||471||1360||1228||181||349||61||18||11||185||17||106||141||.284||.345||.390||.735|
|SLB (3 yrs)||206||724||674||78||192||34||4||13||101||11||37||65||.285||.323||.405||.728|
|CHW (3 yrs)||236||927||840||82||207||32||5||3||85||24||73||51||.246||.307||.307||.615|
|CLE (2 yrs)||107||451||405||43||106||14||6||1||30||7||36||41||.262||.325||.333||.658|
Long-time Yankee fans like me can remember the days prior to the onslaught of steroid use by MLB players, when hitting thirty home runs in the big leagues was considered something really special. If a rookie did it, the feat was considered near majestic. That’s why when today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant came up to the Twins during the 1963 season and set an American League record by belting 33 home runs in his first year, it was pretty special. He broke a record that had been set by none other than the great Ted Williams, who had hit 31 during his rookie season of 1939. That 1963 Twins team had one of the best homer-hitting starting outfields in baseball history. Harmon Killebrew was the left fielder and he led all of baseball with 45 circuit blasts. Bob Allison played center and he had 35. The entire 1963 Minnesota lineup had some power, leading the league with 225 home runs, 37 more than the second place Yankees hit that season.
Hall played four years in the Twin Cities, made two AL All Star teams and helped Minnesota win the 1965 AL Pennant. After his average dipped by fifty points in 1966, the Twins traded him to California with big Don Mincher for a very good starting pitcher named Dean Chance. Hall would never again be the hitter he was but I still member getting sort of excited when the Yankees picked him up during the 1969 season. Why? That year’s struggling Yankee team had Bill Robinson starting in the outfield even though he was averaging in the one-seventies. I was hoping Hall’s left-handed swing would be rejuvenated by Yankee Stadium’s short right-field porch. It wasn’t. Hall was traded to the Cubs right before the end of the 1969 season. 1970 was his last year in the bigs. He retired with 121 career home runs over eight seasons. He was born on March 7, 1938 in Mount Holly, NC and shares his birthday with this one-time Yankee reliever.
If you put together an all-time lineup of players who played for both the Yankees and Twins, it might look like the following:
1B Doug Mientkiewicz
SS Roy Smalley
OF Jimmie Hall
OF Cesar Tovar
DH Gary Ward
P Jim Kaat
CL Ron Davis
Mgr Billy Martin
Jimmie Hall’s Yankee and career stats:
|MIN (4 yrs)||573||2102||1885||282||507||73||16||98||288||23||191||358||.269||.334||.481||.815|
|CHC (2 yrs)||39||61||56||3||8||2||0||0||2||0||5||17||.143||.213||.179||.392|
|CLE (2 yrs)||57||133||121||5||22||4||0||1||8||2||12||22||.182||.256||.240||.495|
|CAL (2 yrs)||175||589||527||69||127||11||3||17||63||5||58||84||.241||.315||.370||.685|
|ATL (1 yr)||39||49||47||7||10||2||0||2||4||0||2||14||.213||.245||.383||.628|
|NYY (1 yr)||80||233||212||21||50||8||5||3||26||8||19||34||.236||.296||.363||.659|
Francis Joseph O’Doul began his pro baseball career as a southpaw pitcher with the New York Yankees in 1919. He failed to win or lose a game in three partial seasons with New York and then hurt his left arm, pitching for the Red Sox in 1923. He spent the next five years in the minors converting himself into an every day player. He resurfaced with the New York Giants in 1928, hitting .319 as a 31-year old second-time rookie. Unfortunately, O’Doul’s defensive skills in the outfield did not match his hitting prowess and New York traded him to Philadelphia after that season. What a mistake that turned out to be for the Giants. All O’Doul did for the Phillies in 1929 was win the NL batting title with an incredible .398 average and a league-leading 254 hits. He belted 32 home runs, drove in 122 and scored 152 times himself and finished second in that year’s MVP voting to the immortal Rogers Hornsby. O’Doul had another great year in 1930, averaging .383 but the Phillies finished 40 games out of first place. Lefty’s defense was still dreadful however, and the Phillies needed pitching so they dealt O’Doul to Brooklyn for a couple of hurlers, a replacement outfielder and some much needed cash. During O’Douls three years with Brooklyn, he averaged .340 and won his second NL batting title with a .368 average in 1932. During the 33 season, he was traded back to the Giants and got the opportunity to play in the only World Series of his career. By then he was 36-years old and losing his hitting skills. He retired the following year and went back to his native San Francisco to manage the Seals, in the Pacific Coast League.
Lefty died in 1969. He shares a birthday with this other star from the 1920s and ’30s who like O’Doul, was known by his nickname and made brief appearances as a Yankee, early in his career.
|NYG (3 yrs)||275||848||760||125||239||32||8||26||127||12||77||32||.314||.380||.480||.860|
|BRO (3 yrs)||325||1394||1266||219||431||69||20||33||186||18||113||42||.340||.399||.505||.904|
|NYY (3 yrs)||40||39||37||4||9||2||0||0||6||1||2||5||.243||.282||.297||.579|
|PHI (2 yrs)||294||1338||1166||274||456||72||13||54||219||5||139||40||.391||.460||.614||1.074|
|BOS (1 yr)||36||39||35||2||5||0||0||0||4||0||2||3||.143||.189||.143||.332|
Today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant was the fourth outfielder on Joe McCarthy’s last pinstriped World Championship team, the 1943 New York Yankees. Roy Weatherly was a short and speedy native of Warren, Texas, who had made his big league debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1936 and had worked his way into the Tribe’s starting center-fielder’s job by 1940. A good contact hitter with a bit of power, he had his best big league season that year, when he averaged .303 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs. He was considered to be a solid defensive outfielder.
The Yankees got Weatherly in December of the 1942 season along with infielder Oscar Grimes in a trade that sent spare outfielder Roy Cullenbine and a decent-hitting backup catcher named Buddy Rosar to Cleveland. Some Yankee historians felt the deal was triggered by McCarthy’s anger at Rosar for leaving the Yankee ball club without permission during the ’42 regular season to take a civil service exam for a policeman’s job in Buffalo, NY. All four players involved in this trade were married and had children, which meant none of them were in danger of being drafted to serve in WWII, which was raging in both Europe and the Pacific at the time.
Both Joe DiMaggio and Tommy Henrich were lost to military service following the ’43 season, leaving the Yanks with a starting outfield of Charlie Keller, a former pitcher named Johnny Lindell and 28-year-old rookie, Bud Metheny. Weatherly, who hit from the left side of the plate, saw action in 77 games that season, as McCarthy platooned him with the right-hand hitting Lindell in center field.
He had a solid year for the Yankees, helping them get to their second straight World Series against the Cardinals that fall, but he only got one at bat in New York’s five-game victory over the defending champions. He then volunteered to serve his country in April of 1944 and spent the next two years in the US Army. When he was discharged in 1946, he tried to re-start his Yankee career but could not win a permanent spot on a Yankees outfield depth chart that had been replenished with returning soldier/athletes.
Instead of hanging up his cleats, Weatherly returned to minor league ball and continued playing into his forties. In 1950, his perseverance paid off when the NY Giants brought him up to be their team’s fourth outfielder that season, at the age of 35.
Weatherly passed away in 1991 back in his native Texas, at the age of 75. He shares his birthday with this former great Yankee outfielder, this one-time Yankee first baseman and this former Yankee skipper.
|CLE (7 yrs)||680||2616||2430||368||701||141||38||36||251||38||149||151||.288||.331||.422||.753|
|NYY (2 yrs)||79||309||282||37||75||8||3||7||28||4||18||9||.266||.312||.390||.702|
|NYG (1 yr)||52||82||69||10||18||3||3||0||11||0||13||10||.261||.378||.391||.769|