So who were those guys from 1950?

    Saturday, July 17, 2010, 6:09 PM [General]

    Among the guests at Old Timers Day, there were members of the 1950 team that beat the Phillies in the World Series. Besides Whitey Ford and Jerry Coleman, there were a few I was not aware of.  They were the following: 

    Don Johnson
    Hank Workman
    Duane Pillette


    So who is Don Johnson the ballplayer?

    Johnson is from Portland Oregon and made his major league debut April 20. 1947 in the second game of a doubleheader at Shibe Park.  He pitched a complete game, going 10 innings and allowing two runs and 11 hits.  In 1950, he made eight appearances from 4/18-6/9. He pitched seven relief innings in one of the worst games of the year, a 16-2 loss to Cleveland and he gave up home runs to Jim Hegan and Joe Gordon.  By the time the World Series arrived, he was not one of the five pitchers used by Casey Stengal.

    The reason he didn't make the World Series was because he was traded to Washington with Pillette, Stuffy Stirnweiss and Jim Delsing along with $50,000 to the Browns for Tom Ferrick, Joe Ostrowski and Leo Thomas. Ferrick helped the Yankees by making 30 mostly decent relief appearances and another in the World Series.

    Ferrick was the winning pitcher in Game Three.  He pitched the ninth and retired Eddie Waitkus with two on in a tie game and when the Yankees won it on Jerry Coleman's single. 

    Back to Johnson, he moved around a little spending 1954 with the White Sox, 1955 with the Orioles and 1958 with the Giants in their first year in San Francisco.  He won five games with the Yankees and needed several appearances before winning at Yankee Stadium as a visitor.  That was April 27, 1954 when he started for the White Sox and allowed two runs and five hits in 7 2/3 innings.

    Nearly three months later, he allowed a game-winning home run to Mickey Mantle and made his final Yankee Stadium appearance on May 20, 1955 for the Orioles.

    If you want to read more about Johnson and his adventures in baseball, read the Times piece on him.

    As for Pillette, the Yankees signed him as a free agent in 1946.  What is interesting about him is that he is a second-generation player.  His father Herman played four seasons 1917 and then 1922-24 with the Tigers.  He led the league with 19 losses in 1923 and 28 years later with the Browns Duane led the league in losses.  They are the only father-son duo to do so.

    With the Yankees, Pillette debuted on 7/19/49 in relief of Allie Reynolds.  It did not go well as he gave up a game-winning home run in the ninth to Hegan. Four days later, he joined the rotation as a tough-luck loser, allowing just a two-run double to George Kell in a 2-1 loss at Briggs Stadium.

    His Yankee Stadium debut came against the White Sox on 7/31 and also was a 2-1 loss. He went 10 innings and allowed 10 hits and two runs.  He and Bob Kuzava turned in a scoreless nine-inning duel before Luke Appling hit a two-run home run.

    He finally won a game on August 5 and it actually was the worst of his four starts.  He lasted five innings and gave up five runs and 10 hits to the Browns but the Yankees emerged with a 10-5 win. That was his  last start and only win as a starting pitcher with the Yankees.

    After being traded, he for St. Louis before moving to Baltimore with the team.  In 1956, he pitched for the Phillies and had a 6.56 ERA.  In Yankee Stadium, he gave up eight runs in his return on 7/19/50, but on 6/12/51, he tossed a four-hitter. He also tossed an eight-inning complete game on 8/5/51 despite allowing four walks in the first inning.

    In 1953, he ended an 18-game winning streak by the Yankees by beating Whitey Ford and his final appearance was 6/29/1955 as a relief pitcher.

    As for Workman he might be the most obsure of everyone.  He was 1-for-5 with in two games.  He was a pinch hitter for Ferrick on 9/4 and made the final out of a 4-3 loss with a groundout off Alex Kellner. A month later on October 1, he was 1-for-4 in a 7-3 loss at Fenway and faced Harry Taylor four times.

    Workman played 735 minor league games for Newark, Kansas City, Binghamton, Syracuse and San Diego. He hit 115 home runs and drove in 370 runs. In 1950, some of his minor league teammates included Mantle, Billy Martin, Ford, Bob Cerv and Spec Shea.

    (Thanks to the SABR historical minor league directory on baseball-reference for that info).

    Before his professional career, Workman starred at USC and last year was honored by the school for being a member of the Trojans' Hall of Fame.  He was a star on the first College World Series team in 1948.

    So even if you never heard of players like I hadn't 24 hours ago, everyone has a story and that is the story.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Buckeye Magic

    Saturday, July 17, 2010, 1:57 AM [General]

    According to baseball-reference, 47 players have made the major leagues from Ohio State University.  Until Brian Cashman heisted Kenny Williams out of Nick Swisher in November 2008, none had played for the Yankees since George Steinbrenner became owner in 1973.

    And how is that relevant to a night when the Yankees won and remembered Steinbrenner?

    It is relevant because besides the Yankees, Steinbrenner's passion was Ohio State especially its football program. He was a man who often has been described as having a football mentality and coached at Northwestern at one point.

    The obvious ending to last night's game would be Derek Jeter getting the same game-winning single as Swisher and it seemed set up for that.  There's just one problem: even with all his years and accolades with the Yankees, Jeter remains a Michigan man.

    Of course when he struck out, nobody seemed to think of Swisher as a Buckeye, save for Joe Girardi, who said:

    "I was thinking how fitting it would be if Derek got the hit on a night like this, especially with Derek paying a tribute every day to Bob Sheppard and his love and affection for Mr. Steinbrenner,” Girardi said. “Derek had about five good swings. I thought for sure Derek was going to get it done. But George’s second love was the Buckeyes.”

    Swisher is one of the new breed of Yankees, who rarely had any contact with Steinbrenner.  Though during his college days, he almost had the chance but shyness got the best of him.

    The moment occurred sometime between 2000-02 when Swisher totaled 35 home runs and 156 RBI before being drafted by the Oakland with a compensation pick for losing Johnny Damon, his future Yankee teammate.

    Afterwards, an introspective Swisher referred to getting the game-winning hit as "Baseball heaven".  Considering how successful the Yankees have been in the last year and a half it would be difficult to argue.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Fasicination with the 1980s and early 1990s

    Friday, July 16, 2010, 6:44 PM [General]

    By all accounts, George Steinbrenner was a fascinating man.  I'll believe that because I never met him, only rode in a crowded elevator with him the night the Yankees won the AL East in 2001.

    To me the most fascinating time is not when the team started winning again.  I have enough of a good memory to recall dates, players and events.  Rather it is the 1980s and early 1990s when the franchise disintegrated into the laughingstock and constant hub of player movement. 

    I remember little of it, that's what happens when you are born in 1979.  All I remember is Phil Rizzuto in the broadcast booth of WPIX and names of certain guys.  What I do recall is thinking, when I went to a game on June 7, 1991.  It was an incredibly exciting one, down 4-0, the Yankees won it 5-4 in the ninth inning.  It was right around the time when some younger guys got a chance and Steinbrenner was out of the picture.  The Yankees were four games under after that win and actually reached .500 a few weeks later.  But at some point during those years, I was thinking the following:


    "This is the team of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle", how the &&&*** could they be so bad.  I doubt I actually said it that way, but certainly thought it and it was so fascinating. 

    Maybe because I used to write all sorts of meaningless recaps and previews of games such as Orioles-Devil Rays, Reds-Pirates, Mets-Expos between the years of 2001-04, I have become fascinated with dysfunctional teams.  Whatever the reason, the stories of all those players is a source of fascination. Not only what they did with the Yankees, what happened to them on and off the field.

    By being used to late hours, I can use that time to begin researching it.  Though I have no one to provide this info to since I don't work at Elias Sports Bureau or anywhere else doing research, I can only share it with myself.

    So sometime this week, I created an excel file with the list of every player who played for the Yankees since 1973 when Steinbrenner assumed ownership.  So far I am through 1984 and the most interesting ones are not Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson etc.  They're interesting in their own way obviously. 

    The ones who are most fascinating are guys who had a cup of coffee either a few at-bats or a few pitching appearances.  It takes a lot of looking on the internet for their stories and why they never made it with the Yankees or in baseball in general.

    The only clue I will provide is that Horace Clarke was the first player to appear in a regular-season game for the Steinbrenner Yankees.  The first at-bat of the Steinbrenner Yankees was a single to left field off Luis Tiant in Fenway Park on 4/6/73.  Of course Clarke was caught stealing, which seems appropriate since to many he is the symbol of those years 1965-1975 when the team did not reach the playoffs.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Page 16 of 16  •  Prev 1 ... 11 12 13 14 15 16