David Weathers made his big league debut in 1991 as a 20-year-old Toronto Blue Jay right-hander. The native of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee started out as a reliever, switched to starting when he was traded to the Marlins in 1993 and then went back to the bullpen permanently after he pitched poorly in his first four starts with the Yankees three seasons later.
In fact, he pitched pretty horribly for New York during both of the regular seasons he wore the pinstripes but he stepped up big time during the 1996 postseason. He got wins in both the ALDS and ALCS that year and pitched a total of eight innings of scoreless ball between the two. Joe Torre then used Weathers in Games 1, 4 and 6 of that year’s World Series against the Braves and he gave up only a single run. Given the fact that Yankee owner George Steinbrenner had publicly criticized the reliever after his poor start in the regular season that year, there’s no doubt Weathers’ fall ball heroics were the only reason he remained in the Yankees’ bullpen plans for 1997. Unfortunately, he got off to an even worse start that year and this time Steinbrenner got his wish. Weathers was traded to the Indians in early June of 1997 for outfielder Chad Curtis.
After leaving the Bronx, Weathers just kept pitching and pitching and pitching, going from Cleveland to Cincinnati, to Milwaukee, to the Cubs, back to New York with the Mets, and then return trips to the Reds and Marlins. In all he pitched in over 900 games before his career ended in 2009 and in 2007, his stick-to-it-ness paid off when he was made the Reds closer and saved 33 games.
Weathers was born on the very same day as this Hall-of-Fame Yankee shortstop, this former Yankee reliever/pitching coach and also with Robinson Cano’s predecessor as Yankee starting second baseman.
|CIN (6 yrs)||22||27||.449||3.97||341||9||157||0||0||61||398.2||388||188||176||39||164||283||1.385|
|FLA (5 yrs)||17||22||.436||5.16||105||55||11||0||0||0||359.0||425||227||206||33||159||216||1.627|
|MIL (5 yrs)||18||17||.514||3.53||237||0||71||0||0||7||298.2||282||129||117||30||120||223||1.346|
|NYM (3 yrs)||12||12||.500||3.22||180||0||42||0||0||7||198.2||197||82||71||17||91||161||1.450|
|NYY (2 yrs)||0||3||.000||9.57||21||4||4||0||0||0||26.1||38||29||28||2||21||17||2.241|
|TOR (2 yrs)||1||0||1.000||5.50||17||0||4||0||0||0||18.0||20||12||11||2||19||16||2.167|
|CLE (1 yr)||1||2||.333||7.56||9||1||2||0||0||0||16.2||23||14||14||2||8||14||1.860|
|CHC (1 yr)||1||1||.500||3.18||28||0||4||0||0||0||28.1||28||10||10||3||9||20||1.306|
|HOU (1 yr)||1||4||.200||4.78||26||0||9||0||0||0||32.0||31||20||17||5||13||26||1.375|
It took Al Gettel ten years to climb the rungs of the Yankees’ farm system ladder and make it to the Bronx. A big, good-looking farm boy from Kempsville, Virginia, he had been signed by New York in 1936, out of high school. That was right about the time Joe McCarthy had put together an outstanding Yankee pitching staff that would end up leading the Bronx Bombers to four straight World Championships. That great pitching at the big league level created a bottleneck for the organization’s good pitchers in the minors and Gettel found himself right in the middle of it.
He finally got called up in 1945 and McCarthy used him regularly as both a starter and reliever. He went 9-8 in his rookie season with 3 saves and a 3.90 ERA. He actually pitched better in his sophomore season for New York, lowering his ERA below three and hurling his first two big league shutouts. That was the same year the Yankees were sold to the triumvirate of Dan Topping, Del Webb and the unpredictable Lee MacPhail. McCarthy hated MacPhail and quit as Yankee skipper. Anxious to put his personal stamp on his new team, MacPhail was eager to make trades and Gettel’s lackluster 6-7 record in the just completed 1946 season had put a target on the pitcher’s back. A few weeks before Christmas that year, MacPhail completed a five player transaction that sent Gettel to Cleveland.
The six-foot-three-inch, two-hundred-pound right-hander then had the best season of his Major League career, going 11-10 for the Tribe in ’47 with a 3.20 ERA and two more shutouts. After a horrible start the following season, he was traded to the White Sox but did little to distinguish himself during the balance of his days in the big leagues.
He did, however become a star in the Pacific Coast League, where he continied to pitch until 1956. He also became a movie actor, scoring several minor roles in Hollywood westerns, thanks to his good looks and ability to ride a horse. It was during his movie days as a cowboy that he picked up the nickname of “Two Gun.” Gettel also made headlines in 2001 when he told a Wall Street Journal reporter that the 1951 New York Giants had concocted an elaborate scheme to steal the pitching signs of opposing teams. He had pitched out of the bullpen for that Giant team until he had been sold to the Oakland Oaks in the PCL in July of that ’51 season. Gettel lived until 2005, passing away at the age of 87.
|CLE (2 yrs)||11||11||.500||3.91||36||23||6||9||2||0||156.2||137||69||68||14||72||68||1.334|
|NYY (2 yrs)||15||15||.500||3.53||53||28||15||14||2||3||257.2||230||110||101||17||93||121||1.254|
|CHW (2 yrs)||10||15||.400||4.73||41||26||8||8||1||2||211.0||223||124||111||19||86||71||1.464|
|WSH (1 yr)||0||2||.000||5.45||16||1||8||0||0||1||34.2||43||24||21||4||24||7||1.933|
|NYG (1 yr)||1||2||.333||4.87||30||1||11||0||0||0||57.1||52||37||31||12||25||36||1.343|
|STL (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||9.00||8||0||4||0||0||0||17.0||26||18||17||6||10||7||2.118|
Every professional baseball player has the same exact basic goals. The first is to make it to the big leagues. Adam Warren checked that one off his bucket list in late June of the 2012 season, when the Yanks called him up from Scranton-Wilkes Barre to make an emergency start after both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte went down with injuries.
The second goal is to make a great first impression in your Major League debut. Warren screwed that one up. He got shelled by the White Sox in his first appearance, giving up eight hits, including two bombs and surrendering six earned runs, lasting just two and a third innings in the 14-7 Yankee loss. That disastrous first effort put a real quick kabosh on the third goal every professional baseball player shares, which is once called up, to stay in the Majors. The Yankees sent Warren down the next day.
It took Warren right up to the last day of the Yankees 2013 spring training season to convince Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild that he deserved a second chance. He’s been New York’s long relief guy out of the bullpen since. With a few exceptions, this right-handed native of Birmingham, Alabama has pitched well in that role and since Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes are in the last year of contracts, Warren’s next goal is to pitch well enough to earn a spot in next season’s version of the Yankee starting rotation.
Does he have a chance? Sure. He’s only 25-years-old, he’s now got some innings under his belt and he’s already on the team. A fourth round Yankee draft pick in 2009, Warren has a decent but not overpowering fastball so he must be able to hit his spots to win at the big league level. His control has been just so-so thus far during the 2013 season (22 unintentional walks in 62 innings.) From my perspective, Warren has to notch his game up to a higher gear before I think he’s ready to join a Yankee rotation.
There were no “Joba Rules” when today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant made his big league debut as an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher for the 1914 Cincinnati Reds. The team he joined at such a young age was horrible, finishing dead last in the National League, with a 60-94 record. Though Pete Schneider could only manage a 5-13 record that season, his 2.81 rookie year ERA was a better indicator of just how talented and advanced this Los Angeles native was on a pitching mound. During the next three seasons, he averaged close to 300 innings pitched per year and achieved an overall ERA of 2,40. Unfortunately, the Cincinnati offense provided him with pretty tepid run support and Schneider lost 19 games in each of those three seasons.
But he had also been able to win 20 games in 1917, after future Hall of Fame hurler Christy Matthewson had taken over as Reds’ skipper and Schneider’s future was looking much brighter. But those 300 innings pitched per year had taken a toll on the kid’s right arm and he went just 10-15 with a 3.83 ERA during the 1918 regular season. Yankee skipper, Miller Huggins was obviously hoping a change of scenery would revive Schneider when he had his Yankee front office purchase the pitcher’s contract from the Reds. Determined to pitch his sore arm back into shape, Schneider decided to pitch winter ball that offseason. It was a fateful decision. In his first winter ball start he blew out his arm. He would end up appearing in just seven games in pinstripes in 1919 and then would never again play in another big league game.
Instead he and his lame arm returned to his native California, where he decided to convert himself into a full-time outfielder. He actually did pretty darn good with that effort. During his first four years as a Pacific Coast League position player he hit in the mid .330’s and he averaged 16 home runs per season. On May 11, 1923 he gained national attention by putting on one of the greatest offensive performances in the history of professional baseball. In a game against the Salt Lake City Bees, Schneider belted five home runs and a double and drove in 14 runs. He continued playing minor league ball until 1928. Unfortunately, his life after baseball took a tragic turn. In 1935, he got into a bar fight, allegedly defending his wife’s honor and killed a guy. He was found guilty of manslaughter and served prison time in San Quentin, where he would become manager of the famed penal institution’s baseball team. He died in 1957 at the age of 61.
|CIN (5 yrs)||59||85||.410||2.65||200||153||35||84||10||4||1245.0||1180||527||366||15||476||476||1.330|
|NYY (1 yr)||0||1||.000||3.41||7||4||1||0||0||0||29.0||19||14||11||1||22||11||1.414|
When I first started watching Yankee baseball back in 1960, the Red Sox had a horrible team. Ted Williams was about to retire leaving behind a crippled Boston offense and the team’s solid pitching staff from the 1950s had faded away. They basically had three guys back then who were warriors. One was the Bronx born third baseman, Frank Malzone. For some reason, I loved the guy and was secretly wishing the Yankees would trade for him. In their bullpen was a fearsome save machine named Dick Radatz. Known as the “Monster”, the intimidating six foot six inch right-hander won forty games and saved 78 more during his first three years in the league, his ERA never went higher than 2.29 and he absolutely owned Mickey Mantle.
Today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant was the third stud on those mediocre Boston teams of the early sixties. Bill Monbouquette was a tough kid from Medford, Massachusetts who never gave into big league hitters. He credited Ted Williams with teaching him the most important lesson of his career, stay ahead of the hitters. The right-hander didn’t throw especially hard but he threw strikes and he wasn’t afraid to come inside on anyone. During his prime years in Beantown, from 1960 until 1965, he won 104 games for the Red Sox, including a twenty-win season in 1963 and a no-hitter in 1962.
Boston traded “Monbo” to the Tigers after the 1965 season. He had a rough first year in MoTown and instead of keeping him on as a bullpen pitcher, Detroit’s front office decided to give him his outright release in May of 1967 and the Yankees grabbed him immediately. I loved the move back then because the great Yankee pitching staffs of the early sixties had vanished. At first, New York skipper Ralph Houk used his new acquisition almost exclusively out of the bullpen. By mid-August, however, Monboquette had worked his way into the starting rotation and ended up winning four of his last six decisions, including an impressive complete-game shutout versus the White Sox. His final numbers during his first year in pinstripes included a 6-5 record, a save and an impressive 2.33 ERA.
Monbo couldn’t continue at that pace the following year and got traded to the Giants for reliever Lindy McDaniel in July of 1968. That would turn out to be his final big league season as a pitcher. He then got into coaching and eventually became Billy Martin’s Yankee pitching coach during the 1985 season.
One of the things I didn’t know about this guy until I researched his career for today’s post was how physically tough he was. On the day he signed with Boston in 1955, the Red Sox invited him and his family to stick around and watch that day’s Red Sox game at Fenway Park. During the contest, somebody spilled beer on Monbouquette’s mother and after a heated exchange, both the pitcher and his dad got into it with the rowdies and ended up in a police holding cell. Nine years later, Monbouquette was trying to parlay his twenty win season into a raise on his then $14,000 annual Red Sox salary. During his super-heated negotiations with Pinky Higgins, who was Boston’s GM at the time, Monbouquette actually decked the guy twice. In 2008, Monbouquette got into the biggest fight of his life when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He underwent a stem cell transplant and beat that too.
|BOS (8 yrs)||96||91||.513||3.69||254||228||8||72||16||1||1622.0||1649||755||665||180||408||969||1.268|
|NYY (2 yrs)||11||12||.478||3.19||50||21||6||4||1||1||222.2||214||86||79||13||30||85||1.096|
|DET (2 yrs)||7||8||.467||4.64||32||14||9||2||1||0||104.2||121||60||54||14||22||63||1.366|
|SFG (1 yr)||0||1||.000||3.75||7||0||4||0||0||1||12.0||11||9||5||4||2||5||1.083|
The Yanks let a very talented starting pitcher get away when they included today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant in a package of three pitchers they traded to the Senators midway through the 1951 season to acquire reliever Bob Kuzava. New York had signed Bob Porterfield to a minor league contract in 1946. He made his big league debut two years later when he went 5-3 for the 1948 Yankees after winning 15 games for the Yanks’ Newark Bears farm team that same season. Everyone thought this right-handed native of Newport, Virginia was headed for a great career in pinstripes but the truth was that back then, the Yankees didn’t need more starting pitchers. They already had the Holy Trinity of Raschi, Reynolds and Lopat at the top of their rotation and with blue-chippers like Tommy Byrne and Whitey Ford being groomed in their farm system, good young Yankee arms like Porterfield became very expendable. So after spending the next two seasons bouncing back and forth between the Bronx and Triple A, Porterfield was dealt to Washington.
During the next four years he won 67 games for a mediocre Senator ball club, including a breakout 22-win season in 1953 when he led the American League with 22 wins and 9 shutouts. In November of 1955, Poterfield was part of a huge nine-player swap between Washington and the Red Sox.The change of scenery proved disastrous to his career. He went 3-12 for Boston in 1956 and would spend the next three years with three different ball clubs, struggling to regain his form. He never did. He made his last big league appearance in 1959 with the Pirates and then spent two more years in the minors before hanging up his glove for good.
Porterfield eventually got a job as a welder with Westinghouse in West Virginia. He died in 1980 when cancer invaded his lymph nodes. He was just 56 years old at the time.
|WSH (5 yrs)||67||64||.511||3.38||146||138||7||78||19||0||1041.2||1020||437||391||62||343||366||1.308|
|NYY (4 yrs)||8||9||.471||5.06||40||22||5||5||1||1||158.1||171||93||89||10||74||66||1.547|
|PIT (2 yrs)||5||8||.385||3.63||73||6||24||2||1||6||129.0||129||55||52||10||38||58||1.295|
|BOS (3 yrs)||7||16||.304||4.65||55||27||9||7||2||1||232.1||237||138||120||30||94||82||1.425|
|CHC (1 yr)||0||0||11.37||4||0||0||0||0||0||6.1||14||9||8||1||3||0||2.684|
In my lifetime, there have been numerous Yankee starting pitching acquisitions that were considered “big busts” after joining my favorite team. There were many instances when I disagreed with how big of a bust the guy was in pinstripes but when a long-time Yankee fan like me hears names like, Javier Vazquez, Kevin Brown, Kenny Rogers, Eddie Whitson, and just about every starting pitcher the Bronx Bombers traded for during the decade of the 1980’s, the phrase “disappointing as a Yankee” comes to mind. The very first “disappointing as a Yankee” pitcher I can remember was the big Dodger right-hander, Stan Williams, who New York got for Moose Skowron in a 1963 trade. Yankee fans were told he was going to become a consistent 20-game winner in New York. Williams ended up winning a total of just ten games over the next two seasons before he was traded to Cleveland.
What is often overlooked when a pitcher performs poorly in Pinstripes by both merciless Yankee fans and the even more merciless Yankee media, is the toll it takes on these guys. Professional athletes are dependent on confidence and when that confidence is shaken by persistent boos and bad press, it can be mentally devastating. That’s why today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant called the two full seasons he pitched for the Yankees “the worst two years of my life!”
The Yankees wanted Fred Sanford badly. The young right hander had made the St Louis Browns starting rotation two years after returning from service in the Pacific during WWII and though he led the league with 21 losses in 1948, lots of scouts loved his stuff and thought he’d be a big winner on a better club than the lowly Browns. The Yankees agreed and gave up $100,000 and a package of three decent prospects to bring Sanford to New York, just before Christmas in 1948.
Sanford’s 1949 inaugural season in New York was also Casey Stengel’s debut year as Yankee manager. The Old Perfessor had the luxury of inheriting three of the best starting pitchers ever to appear in the same rotation, in Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds and Eddie Lopat. That left Stengel with one decision to make. Who would be the team’s fourth starter? Casey went with a left-hander, Tommy Byrne and put Sanford in the bullpen, using him for spot starts and long relief.
The Utah native actually did pretty well in that role. He went 7-3 in 29 appearances with a 3.87 ERA. That ’49 Yankee team did even better. They won the AL Pennant and the World Series. But Sanford didn’t get to throw a single pitch in that 1949 Series and after he went 5-4 as a spot starter again the following season, he didn’t get to pitch in the 1950 Fall Classic against the Phillies either. And though he was on the mound at the end of Yankee games 23 times during his first two years in New York, not one of those appearances was in a save situation. It was clear Stengel lacked confidence in the pitcher and the fans and press piled on. When New York Daily News’ columnist, Joe Trimble described Sanford as the Yankees’ “$100,000 Lemon” the label stuck and the pitcher’s days in the Bronx were numbered.
Those days ended on June 15, 1951, after Sanford had started his third Yankee season with an 0-3 record and experienced his first blown save under Stengel. The Yanks traded their deflated hurler to the Senators in a deal that brought reliever Bob Kuzava to the Bronx.
|SLB (5 yrs)||23||42||.354||4.42||91||66||14||21||3||6||472.1||499||254||232||42||203||158||1.486|
|NYY (3 yrs)||12||10||.545||4.18||66||25||13||5||0||0||234.2||218||124||109||20||161||115||1.615|
|WSH (1 yr)||2||3||.400||6.57||7||7||0||0||0||0||37.0||51||27||27||5||27||12||2.108|