Todd Zeile had a very impressive first game as a Yankee. The Bronx Bombers had signed this native of Van Nuys, California in December of 2002, when he was a 37-year-old, fourteen-year veteran coming off a strong year with the Colorado Rockies. New York intended to use him as a back-up to Robin Ventura at third base. Ventura had done better than any body expected during his first season in the Bronx, smashing 27 home runs and driving in 93, but he too was getting up there in years. Having the right-hand hitting Zeile spell him against the occasional southpaw seemed like a great idea at the time.
He made his first start for New York in Game 3 of that 2003 season against the Blue Jays in Toronto. He homered against the huge left-hander Mark Hendrickson, in his first-ever pinstriped at bat. He also hit two doubles and drove in three runs that night. That debut performance turned out to be the highlight of his single-season Yankee career. When the Yankees released him that August, he was hitting just .210, with 6 home runs and 23 RBI’s in 66 games. Worse yet was the fact that Ventura also had stopped hitting that season, leaving the Yankees scrambling to come up with offense from the third base position. They solved that problem at the trading deadline when they acquired Aaron Boone from the Reds. The rest of course is Yankee history.
Zeile was picked up by the Expos and then finished his big league career the following year in a Mets’ uniform. He shares his September 9th birthday with this Hall of Fame pitcher, this Hall of Fame manager and this former Yankee center fielder.
|STL (7 yrs)||757||3087||2694||356||719||149||13||75||394||33||346||410||.267||.349||.415||.764|
|NYM (3 yrs)||441||1631||1423||163||368||77||4||41||176||4||191||270||.259||.348||.405||.753|
|TEX (2 yrs)||208||869||768||106||219||55||2||30||126||2||84||126||.285||.355||.479||.834|
|LAD (2 yrs)||200||842||733||111||194||23||1||38||117||9||95||136||.265||.352||.454||.806|
|COL (1 yr)||144||580||506||61||138||23||0||18||87||1||66||92||.273||.353||.425||.778|
|PHI (1 yr)||134||572||500||61||134||24||0||20||80||1||67||88||.268||.353||.436||.789|
|MON (1 yr)||34||127||113||11||29||2||2||5||19||1||10||18||.257||.331||.442||.773|
|CHC (1 yr)||79||325||299||34||68||16||0||9||30||0||16||53||.227||.271||.371||.642|
|NYY (1 yr)||66||214||186||29||39||8||0||6||23||0||24||36||.210||.294||.349||.644|
|FLA (1 yr)||66||270||234||37||68||12||1||6||39||2||31||34||.291||.374||.427||.801|
|BAL (1 yr)||29||132||117||17||28||8||0||5||19||0||15||16||.239||.326||.436||.762|
These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Known as “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon,” this verse was written by a newspaper reporter who had been born in Chicago but later moved to the Big Apple. He wrote it in 1902, when he was on his way to the Polo Grounds to watch his original hometown’s Cubs play his adopted home town’s Giants. The poem wasn’t published until eight years later, in 1910, inside a New York newspaper. It became an instant nationwide hit; think “Take me Out to the Ballgame” level of popularity without the music.
Tinker, Evers and Chance were respectively the starting shortstop, second baseman and first baseman for Chicago from 1902, when they were still known as the Chicago Orphans, until 1911 (they switched to “Cubs” in 1903). That remains the golden decade of the franchise till this day.Their full names were Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance. All three ended up in Cooperstown but it was Chance, today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, who was the best all-around player of the three and it was Chance who would also become the most successful Manager in the team’s history.
He took over as Skipper during the 1905 season and continued starting at first base. During the next eight seasons, he led the Cubs to a cumulative won-lost record of 768-389, while capturing four NL Pennants and consecutive World Series victories in 1907 and ’08, the latter of which remains the last world championship in that franchise’s history.
No modern ballplayer would have stomached playing for Chance. Why? Put it this way, if Chance were in Joe Girardi’s shoes today, he’d probably have gotten into at least one fistfight with Derek Jeter by now. Why? Because he had a strict rule against “fraternizing” with the opposing team’s players before, during or after a game and if he caught one of his players violating that rule he’d fine him. He was known to go after frequent offenders physically in the clubhouse. Chance was also accused of inciting on-the-field riots to get his players pumped up and on occasion, he was known to throw beer bottles at heckling fans in the stands.
As his record as Cubs’ manager indicates, Chance’s tactics were effective. His players may have hated him but they also respected him. That’s probably because as player manager, Chance was able to prove he was only asking his teammates to play the game the same hard-nosed, take no prisoners way he played it himself. One of the toughest brawlers in baseball, Chance actually took off-season boxing lessons from former heavyweight champion John Corbett. As a hitter, he would famously crowd the plate and dare opposing pitchers to try and back him off it. Many of the National League’s mounds-men certainly tried, because he was hit by pitches 137 times during his playing career and was a victim of head beanings so frequently that blood clots formed in his brain and he was forced to undergo emergency surgery during the 1912 season to save his life. It was while he was in the hospital recovering from that surgery that he was dismissed as Cubs manager for arguing with the owner about player trades being contemplated.
That’s when the Yankees hired the man who by then had become known as “the Peerless Leader.” Still considered a player manager, Chance would only appear in 13 games during his almost two full seasons in New York. He was relatively successful during his tenure. By the second year, his 1914 Yankee team had won 20 more regular season games than the 1912 Yankee team had won just before he became the team’s skipper. The problem was that 1912 Yankee team had only won 50 games. He was replaced as skipper by his shortstop, Roger Peckinpaugh during the final month of his second season. He would later manage the Red Sox and be hired to skipper the White Sox as well. But before he managed his first game for Chicago’s southside team, he came down with pneumonia and died at the age of 48.
I found much of the information used in this post in Frank Ryhal’s article on Frank Chance, published by the Society for American Baseball Research.
Here’s Chance’s limited player stats as a Yankee plus his more impressive lifetime totals:
|CHC (15 yrs)||1275||5070||4275||795||1269||200||79||20||590||402||548||319||.297||.394||.395||.789|
|NYY (2 yrs)||13||33||24||3||5||0||0||0||6||1||8||1||.208||.406||.208||.615|
Here’s Chance’s managerial record:
|9||1913||36||New York Yankees||AL||153||57||94||.377||7||Player/Manager|
|10||1914||37||New York Yankees||AL||1st of 2||137||60||74||.448||6||Player/Manager|
|Chicago Cubs||8 years||1178||768||389||.664||1.8||4 Pennants and 2 World Series Titles|
|New York Yankees||2 years||290||117||168||.411||6.5|
|Boston Red Sox||1 year||154||61||91||.401||8.0|
|11 years||1622||946||648||.593||3.2||4 Pennants and 2 World Series Titles|
Another gift from the Red Sox, the Yankees obtained this right-hander in 1920 in a seven- player deal a year after they purchased Babe Ruth from Boston. The Yankees also were able to steal Hall of Fame hurlers, Herb Pennock and Red Ruffing and five-time 20-game winner Carl Mays from the Red Sox during the same ten-year period.
In his very first season in Pinstripes, Hoyt won nineteen regular season games and then pitched three complete games against the Giants in the 1921 World Series winning two and not allowing an earned run in any of them. He pitched for New York for ten seasons, winning 157 games, which places him in ninth place on the Yankees All-Time victories list. Hoyt pitched a total of twenty seasons in the big leagues including stints with all three of the New York City teams, retiring in 1938. He then became the first ex big-leaguer to make the move into the broadcast booth. He spent 21 years doing Reds’ games and became an institution in Cincinnati.
A huge drinker who beat the habit, the colorful Hoyt was also a great storyteller and had plenty of stories to tell. During the off-season he worked in both a funeral parlor and in Vaudeville. He had one of the closest relationships with the great Ruth of any ballplayer and his stories about the Bambino were considered classics. Hoyt’s ability to entertain Reds’ fans with tales of his past during rain delays were so entertaining, recordings of the sessions became best-selling records. Hoyt died in 1984.
|NYY (10 yrs)||157||98||.616||3.48||365||276||70||156||15||28||2272.1||2405||1035||879||93||631||713||1.336|
|PIT (5 yrs)||35||31||.530||3.08||156||45||69||23||4||18||616.1||635||250||211||25||115||270||1.217|
|BRO (3 yrs)||8||13||.381||3.94||41||24||7||10||1||1||210.0||242||119||92||9||47||54||1.376|
|NYG (2 yrs)||5||7||.417||3.39||19||12||4||3||0||0||98.1||103||43||37||6||25||31||1.302|
|BOS (2 yrs)||10||12||.455||3.85||35||22||12||12||3||1||226.2||222||114||97||3||69||73||1.284|
|DET (2 yrs)||12||16||.429||5.22||42||32||9||13||1||4||227.2||300||159||132||9||79||35||1.665|
|PHA (1 yr)||10||5||.667||4.22||16||14||0||9||2||0||111.0||130||60||52||9||37||30||1.505|
Jerry Mumphrey was a speedy, singles-hitting outfielder with the Cardinals during the first six years of his big league career. He got traded to San Diego in 1980 and had his best big league season for Manager Jerry Coleman’s Padres, hitting .298 and stealing 52 bases for a team that led the NL in thefts that season. George Steinbrenner had become convinced that his Yankee team needed to employ more of a small-ball strategy so his front office engineered a six-player swap that exchanged New York’s 1980 starting center-fielder, Ruppert Jones for Mumphrey. Mumphrey hit .307 for the Yankees in the strike shortened season of 1981 but played poorly in the postseason. In fact, his failure to hit got him benched for the fourth game of that year’s Fall Classic with the Yankees holding a two games to one lead over LA. With New York leading by three runs, Manager Bob Lemon had the opportunity to insert Jerry Mumphrey in center when Bobby Brown pinch ran for Oscar Gamble late in the game. Instead, Lemon put Brown out there and he misplayed a ball that led to three Dodger runs and an eventual Yankee defeat that changed the momentum of the Series to the Dodgers’ favor. Jerry had his best season in pinstripes in 1982, leading the team with a .300 batting average and driving in what was then his career high of 68 runs. But when he slumped at the plate during the first half of 1983, the Yankees sent him to Houston for the Astros’ center fielder, Omar Moreno. Mumphrey finished his fifteen year big league career with two good years in Houston and three more with the Cubs.
|STL (6 yrs)||522||1739||1571||222||434||60||22||8||134||66||42||144||205||.276||.336||.358||.694|
|CHC (3 yrs)||292||758||684||81||206||32||4||18||85||3||4||68||108||.301||.362||.439||.801|
|NYY (3 yrs)||286||1185||1063||161||311||46||19||22||136||27||15||102||126||.293||.351||.434||.785|
|HOU (3 yrs)||325||1241||1111||135||323||55||7||18||161||26||14||115||159||.291||.354||.401||.755|
|SDP (1 yr)||160||622||564||61||168||24||3||4||59||52||5||49||90||.298||.352||.372||.724|