Tagged: pitcher

February 26 – Happy Birthday Rip Collins

rcollins.jpg1920 was an historic year for the New York Yankee franchise. Major League baseball was in the throes of scandal over the alleged involvement of several Chicago White Sox players in a concerted effort to lose the 1919 World Series against Cincinnati. Fans all over the country were turning away from the game in disgust. That wasn’t the case in the Big Apple thanks to the Yankees’ acquisition of Babe Ruth from Boston in January of 1920. In his first season as a Yankee, Ruth stunned the nation by hitting the then unbelievable total of 54 home runs. That would be like someone hitting 180 home runs during the 2010 season, without the help of any pharmaceuticals.

New York set a franchise record by winning 95 games that year and although Ruth was clearly the driving force behind that success, New York had also assembled an outstanding pitching staff. Three veterans on that staff, Carl Mays, Bob Shawkey and Jack Quinn combined to win 64 games that season. The fourth starter was a young, whiskey drinking rookie from Texas named Rip Collins. He was a former Texas Aggie football player who was as tough as they come and he put together a fourteen-victory season during his first year in pinstripes. The following year, Ruth hit 59 bombs and the Yankees won the first AL Pennant in their illustrious history. Collins went 11-5 in his sophomore season and although he had a tendency to walk too many hitters, it looked as if he was in the infant stages of what promised to be a long and successful career with New York. But Yankee manager Miller Huggins had different ideas. From the moment Ruth came to New York, Huggins found it impossible to control this slugging wild man off the field. The manager knew he couldn’t trade Ruth so he did the next best thing. He started getting rid of the Yankee teammates that Ruth enjoyed partying with. Young Rip Collins was one such teammate. In December of 1921, the pitcher was part of a seven player swap with the Red Sox. He went 14-7 during his one season in Beantown but the same control issues that he had experienced as a Yankee followed him to Boston as he led the AL in bases-on-balls. Collins then spent the next five years in Detroit pitching for the Tigers. He then pitched in Canada in 1928 and then signed with the Browns, where he finished his big league career in 1931. Lifetime, Collins was 108-82. After he left baseball he began a career in law enforcement which included a job as a Texas Ranger. He died in Texas in May of 1968 at the age of 72.

Other Yankees born on February 26th include this most famous third string catcher in the team’s history and this former first base prospect.

1920 NYY 14 8 .636 3.22 36 18 12 10 2 1 187.1 171 83 67 6 79 66 1.335
1921 NYY 11 5 .688 5.44 28 16 4 7 2 0 137.1 158 103 83 6 78 64 1.718
11 Yrs 108 82 .568 3.99 311 219 49 84 15 5 1712.1 1795 926 760 73 674 569 1.442
DET (5 yrs) 44 40 .524 3.94 137 102 14 34 6 1 743.0 787 415 325 25 240 214 1.382
SLB (3 yrs) 25 18 .581 4.09 78 54 17 18 2 3 434.0 460 224 197 32 174 156 1.461
NYY (2 yrs) 25 13 .658 4.16 64 34 16 17 4 1 324.2 329 186 150 12 157 130 1.497
BOS (1 yr) 14 11 .560 3.76 32 29 2 15 3 0 210.2 219 101 88 4 103 69 1.528
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/2/2014.

February 18 – Happy Birthday George Mogridge

mogridgeMr. Mogridge was a tall and thin southpaw, who threw a decent spitball in his day. He made Yankee franchise history on April 24, 1917 when he threw the first no-hitter in the team’s history. It would take more than 66 years before another Yankee pitcher, Dave Righetti threw another one during the regular season.

A native of Rochester, NY, Mogridge made his big league debut with the White Sox in 1911 but he was not yet ready to stick. He returned to the minors in 1912 and it would take three more years for him to get back to the big dance and this time it was as a Yankee. His first Yankee skipper was Wild Bill Donovan who used Mogridge mostly as a starter in both 1916 and ’17. When Miller Huggins took over the team the following year, he used this lanky left-hander a lot in a closing role as well as a starter. The result was a 16-win season with a 2.18 ERA and 7 saves.

After another solid year in 1919, Mogridge’s performance slipped badly in 1920 and that December the Yanks traded him to the Senators. He quickly evolved into one of Washington’s most reliable starters, putting together back-to-back 18-win seasons during his first two years there and becoming one of the heroes of the Senators’ 1924 World Series victory. In that Fall Classic against the Giants, he started and won Game 4 and then pitched brilliantly out of the bullpen in Game 7, which Washington won in extra innings in a contest still considered to be one of the greatest in Series history.

Age began to catch up with Mogridge in 1925 and he was traded to the Browns that June. The Yankees actually re-aquired him in a trade with St. Louis the following February, but immediately put the by then, 36-year-old pitcher on waivers and he was claimed by the Braves. He pitched a couple more years for Boston, retiring after the 1927 season and returning to his native Rochester. He died in that city in 1962, at the age of 73.

Mogridge shares his birthday with this Hall of Fame Yankee second baseman, this former Yankee catcher and this former Yankee closer.

1915 NYY 2 3 .400 1.76 6 5 1 3 1 0 41.0 33 11 8 0 11 11 1.073
1916 NYY 6 12 .333 2.31 30 21 5 10 2 0 194.2 174 71 50 3 45 66 1.125
1917 NYY 9 11 .450 2.98 29 25 4 15 1 0 196.1 185 82 65 5 39 46 1.141
1918 NYY 16 13 .552 2.18 45 19 23 13 1 7 239.1 232 78 58 6 43 62 1.149
1919 NYY 10 9 .526 2.77 35 18 9 13 3 0 169.0 159 68 52 6 46 58 1.213
1920 NYY 5 9 .357 4.31 26 15 6 7 0 1 125.1 146 83 60 4 36 35 1.452
15 Yrs 132 133 .498 3.23 398 261 101 138 20 20 2265.2 2352 1003 812 77 565 678 1.287
NYY (6 yrs) 48 57 .457 2.73 171 103 48 61 8 8 965.2 929 393 293 24 220 278 1.190
WSH (5 yrs) 68 55 .553 3.38 145 136 6 72 12 1 1016.2 1104 453 382 38 273 284 1.354
BSN (2 yrs) 12 14 .462 4.30 59 11 40 2 0 8 190.2 221 105 91 10 51 72 1.427
CHW (2 yrs) 3 6 .333 4.19 21 9 7 2 0 3 77.1 81 42 36 3 16 36 1.254
SLB (1 yr) 1 1 .500 5.87 2 2 0 1 0 0 15.1 17 10 10 2 5 8 1.435
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/27/2014.

February 6 – Happy Birthday Bob Wickman

WickmanI was a fan of Bob Wickman, even if I couldn’t remember his name. Both my sons were avid Yankee rooters growing up and we used to spend many a summer evening sitting in front of our family room television, watching Bronx Bomber games together during the early 1990’s. Whenever a Yankee pitcher began struggling, I’d say to my boys, “They ought to bring in Wickham.” Both Matt and Mike would scream in unison, “Its Wick-MAN Dad, not Wick-HAM!”

This right-handed native of Green Bay, WI was originally a second round draft choice of the Chicago White Sox in 1990. Two years later, the Yankees acquired him, Melido Perez and another minor league pitcher named Domingo Jean in exchange for second baseman, Steve Sax. New York GM Gene Michael was desperate for pitching at the time and he was hoping Perez would become a solid long-time member of the Yankees’ starting rotation. But “the Stick” also liked Wickman a lot as a prospect and was thinking he’d be ready to contribute some wins at the Major League level two years down the road. It happened a lot faster than that.

One guy who didn’t like the deal was Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. He lambasted his GM publicly for getting too little in return for Sax, who had been New York’s only .300 hitter the season before. But it was Michael  who was proven right, when Perez developed into the Yankees best starter during that 1992 season while Sax’s batting average was plunging to .234 in the Windy City. Making the trade an even bigger-time win for the Bronx Bombers was Wickman’s surprisingly good 6-1 record after being called up that August and inserted into manager Buck Showalter’s starting rotation.

Wickman had lost part of the index finger of his pitching hand in a childhood farming accident. He credited that partially missing digit as the reason his sinker ball sank so dramatically. He really had that pitch working during his second year in pinstripes, as he went 14-4 over 41 games, including 19 starts. Showalter than converted him into a full-time reliever and he became a workhorse for New York in that role over the next three seasons, appearing in 174 games during that span.

There were times during his years with the Yankees that he struggled with his control and had stretches during which he surrendered a rash of home-runs but for the most part Wickman pitched effectively in the pinstripes. That’s why I can clearly remember being disappointed in late August of 1996, when I first heard the news that the Yanks had traded him and outfielder Gerald Williams to the Brewers for utility man Pat Listach and reliever Graeme Lloyd. Wickman had been a big reason why the Yankees found themselves heading for the AL East crown that season and he was well-liked by his New York teammates. The deal prevented him from pitching in the 1996 World Series but he did receive a World Series ring for his contribution.

By 1998, he had worked himself into the closer’s role with the Brewers. He went on to accumulate over 250 saves during the final nine seasons of his pitching career, including a league-leading 45 with the Indians in 2005.

Wickman shares his birthday with this Yankee God and this former Yankee back-up first baseman.

1992 NYY 6 1 .857 4.11 8 8 0 0 0 0 50.1 51 25 23 2 20 21 1.411
1993 NYY 14 4 .778 4.63 41 19 9 1 1 4 140.0 156 82 72 13 69 70 1.607
1994 NYY 5 4 .556 3.09 53 0 19 0 0 6 70.0 54 26 24 3 27 56 1.157
1995 NYY 2 4 .333 4.05 63 1 14 0 0 1 80.0 77 38 36 6 33 51 1.375
1996 NYY 4 1 .800 4.67 58 0 14 0 0 0 79.0 94 41 41 7 34 61 1.620
15 Yrs 63 61 .508 3.57 835 28 511 1 1 267 1059.0 1051 469 420 80 432 785 1.400
CLE (6 yrs) 8 16 .333 3.23 255 0 215 0 0 139 248.1 249 98 89 21 78 197 1.317
NYY (5 yrs) 31 14 .689 4.21 223 28 56 1 1 11 419.1 432 212 196 31 183 259 1.467
MIL (5 yrs) 21 25 .457 3.20 272 0 174 0 0 79 315.0 292 128 112 23 148 267 1.397
ATL (2 yrs) 3 5 .375 2.84 77 0 65 0 0 38 69.2 72 29 22 5 22 60 1.349
ARI (1 yr) 0 1 .000 1.35 8 0 1 0 0 0 6.2 6 2 1 0 1 2 1.050
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/18/2014.

January 25 – Happy Birthday Roy Sherid

sheridWhen Wilcy Moore’s sore right arm wasn’t feeling better by the end of the team’s 1929 spring training camp, Miller Huggins was asked who he would use in place of his ace relief pitcher. Moore had just helped the Yankees win two consecutive World Championships and was considered to be the best finisher in the game back then.The Yankee manager didn’t hesitate with his response. He told the reporters he’d use Yankee rookie Roy Sherid and then explained why; “Sherid is fast and he knows how to keep his fastball low, right down where they can’t get at it. I like the way he uses his head in working on batters, particularly his judgement of when to mix his slow ball with his speed. He looks like the right man to send into those late innings when things are tight and important.”

Those were certainly words of high praise, especially since they were coming from the mouth of the Yankee’s legendary manager. At the time, Sherid was just 22 years old and had pitched two seasons of minor league ball for the Yankees Newark farm club. He was a tall, well-built right hander who hailed from Norristown, PA.

As it turned out, Moore’s sore arm, Sherid’s development as his replacement, and all other matters of Yankee baseball would turn out to be the least of Huggins problems during that 1929 season. The diminutive skipper was felled by an eye infection and bad case of the flu that September and during a Yankee road trip, he was admitted to a St Louis hospital for treatment. Shockingly, he died a few days later at the age of 50. The A’s ended up steam-rolling the Yankees in the AL Pennant race that season, Sherid ended up going 6-6 that first year and Moore ended up getting sent back to the minors.

In 1930, new Yankee skipper Bob Shawkey used Sherid plenty as both a starter and reliever. He finished that year with a 12-13 record and an unimpressive ERA. The following season, Joe McCarthy began his Hall of Fame run as Yankee manager and the change in field bosses at first seemed to be just what Sherid needed. He won five of his first six decisions pitching for “Marse Joe” plus earned two saves. Unfortunately the magic didn’t last. During the next month and a half, Sherid got shelled and dropped four straight decisions. He spent the second half of the season pitching for Montreal in the International League and never again threw another pitch in the  big leagues. He passed away in 1982 at the age of 75.

Sherid shares his birthday with this long-ago Yankee starting catcherthis one-time Yankee reliever and this WWII era Yankee pitcher.

1929 NYY 6 6 .500 3.61 33 15 14 9 0 1 154.2 165 81 62 6 55 51 1.422
1930 NYY 12 13 .480 5.23 37 21 11 8 0 4 184.0 214 122 107 13 87 59 1.636
1931 NYY 5 5 .500 5.69 17 8 4 3 0 2 74.1 94 52 47 4 24 39 1.587
3 Yrs 23 24 .489 4.71 87 44 29 20 0 7 413.0 473 255 216 23 166 149 1.547
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/25/2014.

January 18 – Happy Birthday Michael Pineda


UPDATE 2015: Year three of the Michael Pineda-for-Jesus Montero trade was perhaps the most bizarre. Why? Because as the Yankees prepare for their 2015 spring training camp, they can now claim they are getting the better results from the three-year-old transaction despite the fact that during the 2014 season:

– In an April start against the Red Sox, in one of the strangest episodes I’ve ever seen on a baseball diamond, Pineda was caught pitching with a dollop of pine tar on his neck, one start after he was caught on camera, doctoring the baseball with pine tar, resulting in a ten-game suspension for the hurler.

– While trying to stay in shape during his suspension, Pineda injured his shoulder pitching a simulated game causing yet another stay on the DL that lasted until early August.

– Jose Campos, the highly regarded pitching prospect who came to New York with Pineda in the Montero deal, was released by the Yankees after a third straight injury plagued season in the minors.

Still, the Yanks can claim they are getting the better of the deal because in the 13 starts Pineda did make for New York in 2014, he showed distinct moments of the same brilliance on the mound he exhibited during his first half season with the Mariners, when he made the 2011 AL All Star team. Though his record was just 5-5, his 2014 ERA was just 1.89, giving Yankee fans a glimpse of just how good this big lug could be if he remains both injury and pine tar free for a full year.

Meanwhile, Jesus Montero made it even easier for Pineda to come out on top in their head-to-head comparison in 2014. The one-time catching prospect reported to Seattle’s spring training grossly overweight and failed to even make the parent club’s roster. A Mariner scout, angry at Montero’s refusal to work hard and hustle during a minor league game, sent the former Yankee an ice cream sandwich as a sarcastic signal of his displeasure. The effort backfired badly, when an irate Montero attempted to enter the stands and attack the scout.

Pine tar, ice cream sandwiches, injury-after-injury, the soap opera known as the Pineda-Montero trade continues. Tune into episode number 4, this time next year.

UPDATE-2014: Phase 2 is now over and its becoming even harder to believe that the trade that brought Pineda to the Yankees two years ago was considered a blockbuster. None of the players involved spent a majority of the season on their parent club’s active 25-man roster in 2013 and Pineda, once again, didn’t see an inning of regular season action for the Yankees. In fact, he only made 10 starts in the minors last season, finishing with a 2-1 record and a 3.32 ERA. as he continued his rehab from shoulder surgery. Despite his continued inaction, there’s a lot of talk among Yankee brass this offseason that they are expecting Pineda to grab a spot on in the rotation this spring. I hope so but I won’t believe it until I see him standing on the mound in the Bronx with the ball in his hand after the National Anthem ends. So how could the original trade now look better for the Yanks than it does for the Mariners? Not only was Montero sent back to the minors by Seattle early last season because he seemed to completely forget how to hit, he was also named as one of the “Biogenesis Boys” and suspended for 50 games for violating the league’s PED policy.

UPDATE-2013: Phase 1 of the Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda trade aftermath is over and the Mariners have taken the advantage. The two players they got in the deal, Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi at least both played for the Mariners last year, albeit not as well as Seattle hoped either would. Noesi had eighteen starts for his new team, going 2-12 with an ERA in the five’s and getting demoted to Tacoma for most of the second half of the season. Montero averaged .260 for Seattle in his official rookie season, with 15 home runs, 62 RBIs and an .OPS of just .685. Seattle’s Safeco Field has proven to be a tough park for home run hitters and the Mariners have decided to move the fences in for the 2013 season. I have no doubt Montero’s power production would have been significantly better if he spent his full rookie campaign in the comfortable confines of Yankee Stadium, especially with the way this kid showed Yankee fans he could punch opposite field drives over that short right field wall in the Bronx during his September 2011 debut. The real problem with Montero is that it looks like he may not have the ability to become a decent big league catcher, defensively. The Mariners were not happy with his game management skills or his arm and he spent most of his first regular season in the northwest DH-ing.

Meanwhile, Pineda never made it out of the Yankees’ 2012 spring training camp. First he reported overweight and then he had nothing but trouble trying to get his highly touted fastball to travel even 90 miles per hour. It was almost with relief that the Yankees announced he had a physical problem with his throwing shoulder and sure enough, doctors discovered a torn labrum muscle, which required season-ending surgery. The key concern I now have about Pineda is his maturity level. He turns just 24-years-old today. Has he figured out how to take care of his huge 6 foot 7 inch body and especially that golden right arm or will he just let nature take its course? Unfortunately, a warning signal occurred this past August when police arrested Pineda in the wee hours of the morning for driving recklessly and at high speeds. He was charged with DUI. Where was he at the time? In Tampa, where he was supposed to be working out and rehabbing his shoulder. Meanwhile, not quite a week after Pineda was sidelined, Jose Campos, the well-regarded minor league pitcher the Yanks acquired with Pineda, also went on the DL of his Class A minor league team with an arm injury that pretty much ended his season.

Let’s hope Phase 2 of the Pineda/Montero swap delivers better results for the Yankees. Here’s what I wrote for Pineda’s Birthday post last year:

When President Franklin Roosevelt died, his wife Eleanor met with his just sworn in successor and asked him how he was doing. Harry Truman, referring to the intense pressure he felt at being thrust unexpectedly into the world’s most important job during a time of world war, told the former first lady it was as if the sun and the moon and all the planets and stars had just fallen on him.

I’m hoping Michael Pineda doesn’t feel like old “Give em Hell Harry” did on that fateful day. A few days ago, he was the bright young pitching star of the struggling Seattle Mariners, coming off a very decent rookie season. Then suddenly, he found himself thrust into the number two spot of the New York Yankee starting rotation and the expectations on his right arm increased a thousand fold. If he finishes the 2012 regular season with the same record (9-10) that he put up for Seattle in 2011, he might very well get booed out of Yankee Stadium.

All indications are that this youngster is the real deal. “Nasty” seems to be the adjective used most when players who’ve had to hit against him, describe this native Dominican’s stuff. I can’t help remembering Derek Jeter using the same adjective in an interview a few years ago to describe the stuff of another just-acquired-Yankee pitcher named AJ Burnett.

I got my fingers crossed for Pineda (and the young minor league pitcher named Jose Campos who the Yankees also picked up in the same trade.) I was really pretty pumped about seeing Jesus Montero get a full season of at bats in pinstripes but now that is not going to happen. Instead, I can’t wait to see Pineda get that first start in April.

The only other Yankee I could find who was born on this date was also the last Yankee to wear number 5 before Joe DiMaggio.

Here’s Pineda’s Yankee stats:

2014 NYY 5 5 .500 1.89 13 13 0 0 0 0 76.1 56 18 16 5 7 59 0 0.825
2 Yrs 14 15 .483 3.17 41 41 0 0 0 0 247.1 189 94 87 23 62 232 5 1.015
NYY (1 yr) 5 5 .500 1.89 13 13 0 0 0 0 76.1 56 18 16 5 7 59 0 0.825
SEA (1 yr) 9 10 .474 3.74 28 28 0 0 0 0 171.0 133 76 71 18 55 173 5 1.099
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/18/2015.

January 4 – Happy Birthday Tom Gorman

tom.gormanHearing the name of today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant always confuses me. I think of Tom Gorman the long-time MLB umpire. I also get all anagrammic and think of Tom Morgan, another Yankee reliever from the 1950’s. Then there’s Tom Gorman, the tennis player, Tom Gorman the Mets’ pitcher from the 1980’s and even Gorman Thomas, who used to hit lots of homers for the Milwaukee Brewers a generation ago. See what I mean?

This Tom Gorman was the bespectacled right-hander who was called up to the Yankees for the first time in 1952, when the other New York pitcher with the same letters in his last name, Tom Morgan, was called into military service. Gorman was the only MLB ball player ever to come from Valley Stream, NY, a village bordering the New York City borough of Queens, that was also the hometown of Steve Buscemi, the lead character in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire series. Gorman was signed by the Yankees in 1946 and spent five and a half seasons in the organization’s farm system, so he was already 27-years-old when he finally got called to the Bronx.

For his first-ever big league appearance, Casey Stengel brought him into a game against the Indians in the seventh inning to protect a 3-2 lead. He blew the save on a force play but stayed in the game for two innings and got the win when the Yankees rallied. Two days later, Stengel gave Gorman his first start against the White Sox and he gave up three runs over seven innings and got the win.

He ended up appearing in 12 games during his first half-season as a Yankee, split evenly between starts and relief appearances. His 6-2 record earned him a spot on New York’s postseason roster and it was during the third game of the 1952 World Series, that he threw a pitch that could have made him one of the biggest “Goats” in Yankee postseason history.

Eddie Lopat had kept the Yankees in Game 3 against Brooklyn into the ninth inning with less than his best stuff. But after the crafty southpaw surrendered one-out back-to-back singles to Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson, Stengel called in his rookie right-hander, Gorman to keep New York’s deficit at one run.

The two speedy Dodgers immediately executed a double steal but Gorman was able to retire Roy Campanella on an infield pop-up. That brought Brooklyn’s Andy Pafko to the plate. With two strikes against the veteran outfielder, Gorman threw a pitch inside that seemed to cross up Yogi Berra, glancing of his gloved hand, ricocheting off his shin guard and getting passed the Yankee catcher. Both Reese and Robinson scored on the miscue, which was officially ruled a passed ball. The three-run lead proved insurmountable and Brooklyn took a two-games to one advantage into game 4.

There were two reasons why that pitch did not end up branding Gorman a perennial Goat in Yankee lore. The first was that Berra swore it was his fault. When asked after the game by reporters if the Gorman had crossed him up on the pitch, Yogi adamantly denied it and told the reporters to blame him and not the first-year pitcher, so that’s how it was written up. Since the Yanks rebounded to beat Brooklyn in that Fall Classic, the play also turned out to be a lot less costly and notable than it would have been if the Dodgers had been able to hang on and win that Series. A year later, Gorman told the Yankee media that he had in fact crossed Berra up on that pitch and described the Yankee catcher’s insistence on taking blame for the incident as “one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for him.”

Tom Gorman remained an effective member of the Yankee bullpen corps for the next two seasons, until he was sold to Kansas City in March of 1955. He pitched well for the A’s as both a reliever and a starter for the next four years before age caught up to him in 1959. He died back in his hometown of Valley Stream in 1992, at the age of 67.

He shares his birthday with this former Yankee front office whizz,  this former Yankee outfielder and this one-time Yankee starting pitcher.

1952 NYY 6 2 .750 4.60 12 6 3 1 1 1 60.2 63 34 31 8 22 31 1.401
1953 NYY 4 5 .444 3.39 40 1 15 0 0 6 77.0 65 32 29 5 32 38 1.260
1954 NYY 0 0 2.21 23 0 11 0 0 2 36.2 30 14 9 1 14 31 1.200
8 Yrs 36 36 .500 3.77 289 33 132 5 2 42 689.1 659 332 289 77 239 321 1.303
KCA (5 yrs) 26 29 .473 3.84 214 26 103 4 1 33 515.0 501 252 220 63 171 221 1.305
NYY (3 yrs) 10 7 .588 3.56 75 7 29 1 1 9 174.1 158 80 69 14 68 100 1.296
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/4/2014.

December 27 – Happy Birthday Herb Karpel

karpelNormally, a player with as few appearances as Herb Karpel had with the New York Yankees would not be featured on the Pinstripe Birthday Blog. You’re reading about him now only because he happened to have one of the greatest seasons of any pitcher in the history of the Amsterdam, Rugmakers. The Rugmakers were the Yankees’ old Class C affiliate in the Canadian-American League and I happen to have been born in Amsterdam, NY, which of course was the hometown of the Rugmaker team, from 1938 until the CanAm League was shut down after the 1951 season.

Karpel, a southpaw who was born in Brooklyn, NY and signed by the Yankees in 1937, spent the 1939 season with Amsterdam. He went 19-9 that year leading Amsterdam to the regular season pennant. During the next three seasons he climbed the rungs of New York’s farm system ladder, achieving double-digit victory totals at every stop. That’s when the US Army came calling. Karpel spent the next three years serving his country and when he was discharged in 1946, he was invited to New York’s spring training camp and pitched well enough to make the Opening Day roster.

He made his Yankee debut at the Stadium on April 19, 1946, in the eighth inning of the team’s home opener versus the Senators. He retired the only hitter he faced. New York skipper, Joe McCarthy threw him right back into the fire the next day, again against Washington, but this time with the Yankees trailing the Senators by a run. Karpel got hammered, surrendering four hits and two runs in his one-and-a-third innings of work. That turned out to be the last inning and a third he would ever pitch as a Yankee and as a big leaguer. McCarthy sent him to New York’s Triple A affiliate in Newark and Karpel went 14-6 for the Bears during the rest of that ’46 season.

He would keep pitching in the minors until 1951 before finally retiring. His footnote in Yankee history is that he was the last Yankee player to wear uniform number 37 before Casey Stengel put it on his back and made it famous.

He shares his December 27th birthday with this former Yankee postseason herothis great Yankee switch-hitter and this recent Yankee reliever.

1946 NYY 0 0 10.80 2 0 0 0 0 0 1.2 4 2 2 0 0 0 2.400
1 Yr 0 0 10.80 2 0 0 0 0 0 1.2 4 2 2 0 0 0 2.400
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/27/2013.