I always liked Rex Hudler, despite the fact that he never turned into the all star big league player the Yankee front office promised fans he would when he was selected as the team’s first round draft choice in 1978. Bronx Bomber fans are used to first round picks not fulfilling their potential. Remember Steve Chilcott; Dave Cheadle; Doug Heinhold; Dennis Sherrill; Jim McDonald; Steve Taylor; Todd Demeter; Steve Madden; Tim Birtsas; Jeffrey Pries; Rick Balabon; Brien Taylor; Matt Drews;Brian Buchanan; Shea Morenz; Scott Bradley; Tyler Godwin; Andy Brown, Dave Walling; Dave Parrish; Jon Skaggs; Bronson Sardinha; Eric Duncan; Jon Peterson; should I keep going? These are the names of Yankee number 1 draft picks most of you have never heard of. Though he never made it big as a Yankee, at least today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant ended up playing in the big leagues for over a decade.
“Wonderdog” was a great high school athlete in Fresno, California who turned down Division 1 football scholarship offers to play baseball for the Yankees. It became pretty clear, pretty quick that Hudler was not superstar material when he struggled to hit the pitching he faced at the lowest minor league levels. But the guy never quit. He gave 150% on every play he was involved in and just kept battling his way up New York’s alphabet ladder of farm teams until he got his first chance to play in pinstripes during September of the 1984 season. He struck out in his first big league at bat but doubled off of Boston’s Al Nipper in his second.
He got into a total of nine Yankee games during that 1984 season and 24 more the following year, never getting his big league average above .157. That December, he was traded to the Orioles. For the next ten seasons he was employed by five different big league teams playing every position except pitcher and catcher. He also spent a year (1993) playing in Japan.
When he hung up his spikes for good after the 1998 season he went into broadcasting as a color commentator for the Angels. He now announces for the Royals. Rex Hudler was a great teammate. He was always upbeat and also sort of crazy. Once, while sitting in the Cardinal dugout, Hudler captured a june bug that had landed his cap. When his St. Louis teammates dared him to eat it he started bidding up the challenge. By the time he popped the big ugly flying insect in his mouth and swallowed it, he had earned $800.
Hudler and his wife are the parents of a child with Down Syndrome and have both worked tirelessly on efforts to raise funding, awareness, and support for Down Syndrome children and their families.
|STL (3 yrs)||251||558||522||68||132||25||4||11||42||32||24||83||.253||.288||.379||.667|
|CAL (3 yrs)||232||694||649||107||190||44||3||30||87||29||25||130||.293||.325||.508||.834|
|MON (3 yrs)||173||395||374||60||98||21||2||10||27||44||16||58||.262||.293||.409||.702|
|PHI (2 yrs)||75||175||163||19||32||5||0||5||12||1||10||40||.196||.247||.319||.566|
|NYY (2 yrs)||29||66||58||6||9||1||1||0||1||0||2||14||.155||.197||.207||.404|
|BAL (1 yr)||14||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
Before Marvelous Marv Throneberry established his legacy with the Amazin Mets he was a phee-nom prospect in the powerful New York Yankee organization. In fact, from 1955 through 1957, he played first base for Manager, Ralph Houk’s Denver Bears, the Yankees’ Triple A affiliate at the time and averaged 39 home runs and 128 RBIs per season in the thin air of the Mile High City. Throneberry got good long trials with the parent club in both 1958 and ’59 but he couldn’t hit for average (just .238). Besides, the Yankees already had Moose Skowren at first base so they made Throneberry one of four players they sent to Kansas City for Roger Maris in December of 1959. He did OK for the A’s in 1960, hitting 11 home runs, but again failed to hit for average. The A’s traded him to Baltimore during the 1961 season and then Baltimore traded him to the Mets for catcher Hobie Landrith.
Reunited with Casey Stengel, Throneberry became “Marvelous Marv.” He struck out too much and made 17 errors in just 89 games and Met fans instantly fell in love with him. Some of his most memorable moments came during rundowns he was involved in. During one, instead of throwing the ball to a teammate covering home plate, Throneberry chased an aging Stan Musial all the way to home plate without catching him. In another, Marv ran into the runner without the ball causing the umpire to call interference, making the runner safe. My favorite story about Throneberry’s misfortunes as a Met was the time he won a $6,000 sailboat. First of all, he lived in an area of Tennessee in which filled bathtubs were the largest bodies of water available. He had won the boat by hitting a clothing store billboard in the old Polo Grounds. Teammate Richie Ashburn won the same prize when Mets fans selected the outfielder as the teams first MVP. A lawyer for the Mets told Throneberry he had to claim his boat as income because he “earned” it by hitting the sign while Ashburn got his boat as a gift and didn’t have to declare it on his taxes. Throneberry died in 1994, at the age of 60.
|NYY (3 yrs)||141||389||344||58||82||11||2||15||44||2||37||91||.238||.311||.413||.724|
|NYM (2 yrs)||130||411||371||29||89||12||3||16||50||1||35||88||.240||.302||.418||.720|
|KCA (2 yrs)||144||410||366||46||90||11||3||17||65||0||42||90||.246||.323||.432||.754|
|BAL (2 yrs)||65||121||105||10||20||3||0||5||11||0||16||26||.190||.298||.362||.659|
The great Yankee Manager Joe McCarthy was not particularly fond of managing ballplayers born in the south. He felt too many of them played the game with too much emotion and were difficult to control. That’s one of the reasons he told Yankee GM Ed Barrow, to go ahead and trade a very good Yankee pitcher named Johnny Allen for two Cleveland Indian pitchers named Monte Pearson and Steve Sundra right before Christmas in 1935. Allen was born in North Carolina and he had a mean temper. Pity one of his infielders who made an error while he was on the mound because Allen would actually scream at the guy in front of a full stadium crowd.
Pearson, on the other hand, was born and raised in laid back California. He had been an 18-game winner for Cleveland in 1934 but when he slumped to 8-13 the following year Cleveland let him go. Pearson didn’t have a bad temper but he did have a strange tendency to miss starts because of an assortment of crazy illnesses. But he stayed well often enough to win 19 games during his first season in pinstripes. During his five seasons with New York the right-hander went 63-27, including a no-hitter in 1938. He also was a perfect 4-o in World Series as a Yankee, winning one game each in four straight Fall Classics, all of which ended with New York championships.
After he tore a shoulder ligament during the 1940 season, he was not the same pitcher and New York traded the then 32-year-old right-hander to the Reds. He retired after a bad 1941 season with Cincinnati and went back to California where he began a long career as a public official. That career ended badly when he was convicted of accepting a bribe and sentenced to eight months in jail.
Pearson shares his September 2nd birthday with this one-time Yankee who was nicknamed “Marvelous” and this former number 1 Yankee draft pick.
|NYY (5 yrs)||63||27||.700||3.82||121||114||5||54||4||2||825.2||793||391||350||48||426||406||1.476|
|CLE (4 yrs)||36||31||.537||4.21||96||73||16||39||1||2||579.2||577||315||271||31||299||289||1.511|
|CIN (1 yr)||1||3||.250||5.18||7||4||3||1||0||0||24.1||22||15||14||3||15||8||1.521|