One of the signs I enjoyed seeing on display as I watched the Yankees in the eighties on WPIX in New York was one held up by a season ticket holder behind the righthanded batters box that read, “Baylor is a God.” The Yankees signed free-agent slugger Don Baylor to a five-year, $5 million contract to be their Designated Hitter on December 1, 1982. I guess the 71 dingers and 265 rbi’s over three years weren’t quite godlike. He was pretty good when the Yankees were going from great to several steps less than.
On December 1, 1954, the blockbuster 18-player swap that had been announced on November 18, which brought Bob Turley and Don Larsen to the Yanks and sent Gene Woodling and Gus Triandos to the Orioles, was completed. Bill Miller, Kal Segrist, Don Leppert, and two minor leaguers were included by the Yanks, and the Orioles sent Mike Blyzka, Don Kryhoski, Darrell Johnson, Jim Fridley, and Ted Del Guercio to New York.
Some pretty critical bookkeeping needed to get the 2008 Yankee roster constructed took place on December 1, 2007, when the Yanks offered salary arbitration to lefty starter Andy Pettitte, righty reliever Luis Vizcaino, third baseman Alex Rodriguez, and closer Mariano Rivera. But despite the fact that they declined to offer arbitration to righty Roger Clemens, southpaw Ron Villone, and catcher Jose Molina, the latter would play 100 games for them in the upcoming season.
On December 1, 2011, the Yankees signed free agent southpaw Michael O’Connor.
As major league baseball attendance declined in many cities in the numbers announced on December 1, 1949, the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees experienced an increase, both attracting more than 2.2 million fans in the recently completed season.
Slugger Jackie Jensen fared poorly in New York and soared in Boston, but the Red Sox did not get him from the Yankees; rather they acquired him in a December 1, 1953, swap with the Senators, as they sent Maury McDermott and Tom Umphlett to Washington for him. Jensen was the 1958 AL MVP for Boston.
Other future or former Yankees involved in December 1 transactions include the Phillies’ swap of outfielder/first baseman Danny Cater and shortstop Lee Elia to the White Sox for pitcher Ray Herbert and first baseman Jeoff Long in 1964; and the 1965 trade of Matty Alou from the Giants to the Pirates for hurler Joe Gibbon and infielder Ossie Virgil. In this category is also the Baltimore acquisition of pitchers Pat Dobson and Tom Dukes from the Padres for moundmen Tom Phoebus, Al Severinsen, and Fred Beene and shortstop Enzo Hernandez in 1970; the Braves re-signing free agent Otis Nixon in 1998. Nixon got his start playing 13 games for the Yankees 15 seasons earlier.
The Astros signed former Yankee hurler, and Cy Young Award winner with the Pirates, Doug Drabek, to a four-year contract on December 1, 1992.
Dave Winfield would be a routine Gold Glove winner with the Yanks, but he got his first one with the Padres on December 1, 1979.
One year and one day before the Yankees would acquire shortstop Gene Michael from the Dodgers, that West Coast team traded shortstop Maury Wills to the Pirates for “Stick” and third baseman Bob Bailey, on December 1, 1966.
Future Yankee reliever, the troubled Steve Howe, was with the Dodgers when he outpolled the Expos’ Bill Gullickson and Lonnie Smith of the Phillies in the National League Rookie of the Year voting on December 1, 1980. Also, both leagues awarded the rookie honor on this same day in 1956. Cincinnati’s Frank Robinson was a unanimous choice in the National League, while White Sox shortstop Luis Aparicio beat Tito Francona of the Orioles and Cleveland Indian Rocky Colavito in the American League.
Although Todd Hundley performed well for the Mets, the Flushing club has not done very well with the players they got when they traded him away on December 1, 1998. Although Roger Cedeno did OK with the club initially, he became a poor defensive outfielder whose contract it took years for them to move, and Charles Johnson was swapped to the Orioles for Armando Benitez. Despite lofty closer numbers in 2004, Benitez’s stay in New York did not work out either.
The official name change from Colt 45s to Astros on December 1, 1964, was the first of two League news items on this day in the sixties. On December 1, 1967, the franchise that would become the Seattle Pilots and then the Milwaukee Brewers was awarded to Pacific Northwest Sports.
Outfielder Buster Mills (1991) is the only Yankee player who has died on December 1. Stroking 25 hits in 63 at bats playing 34 games for the 1940 Yankees, Mills hit one home run and drove in seven runs. In a seven-year career from 1934-1946, he collected 14 long balls and 163 rbi’s overall playing for six different teams.
The list of noteworthy nonYankee players who have died on December 1 includes two lefthanded pitchers, a righthander, a shortstop, and four second basemen. Righthander George Earnshaw (1976) won 127 games, lost 93, and saved 12 from 1928-1936 throwing mostly for the A’s, the White Sox, and the Dodgers; while Dave Koslo (1975) posted a 92-107-22 mark pitching mostly with the Giants (10 years), and the Orioles (two years) from 1941-1955; and righty-hitting, lefty-throwing Dave McNally (2002) recorded almost of his 184 wins, 119 losses, and two saves from 1962-1975 with the Orioles. Second baseman Tony Piet (1981), who spent significant time at third base too, hit 23 home runs and drove in 312 runs from 1931-1938 with the Pirates, the White Sox, and the Reds; Fred Dunlap (1902) cracked 41 long balls with 366 rbi’s from 1880-1891 with the Blues, the Maroons, and the Wolverines; lefty-hitting Nellie Fox (1975) reached 35 fences and drove in 790 runs for the A’s and the White Sox from 1947-1965; and Gene Baker (1999) hit 39 roundtrippers and knocked in 227 runs from 1953-1961 with the Cubs and the Pirates. Finally, shortstop Germany Smith (1927) homered 47 times and delivered 797 runs from 1884-1898 with the Reds, the Trolley Dodgers, and the Bridegrooms.
Players Who Have Died This Day
We almost couldn’t be closer to having no Yankees born on a given day than is the case with December 1. Righty Cecil Perkins‘s (1940) entire big-league career consisted of two games with the 1967 Yanks. He started one of the two and retired with an 0-1 mark. Perkins was signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent before the 1962 season.
But there are two other guys birthdaying this day who spent time with the team. Righthander Tom Filer (1956) posted a 22-17 career mark through six years with the Cubs, the Blue Jays, the Brewers, and the Mets. A 1978 Yankees amateur free agent signing, Filer was lost to the A’s in the 1980 rule-V draft, returned in April 1981; he was then swapped to the Cubbies for catcher Barry Foote. Conversely, it was at the tail end of southpaw Dan Schatzeder‘s (1954) 15-year career that the Yanks signed him as a free agent and then released him, both in June 1991. Shatzeder won 69, lost 68, and saved 10 games for 11 teams from 1977-1991.
Other birthdays: Hall of Fame Dodger Manager Walter Alston (1911), who was hired by that club on his 42nd birthday; Cookie Lavagetto (1912); Marty Marion (1917); Cal McLish (1925); George Foster (1948); Herm Winningham (1961); Larry Walker (1966); Greg McMichael (1966); Reggie Sanders (1967); Kirk Rueter (1970); Dan Straily (1988); Taylor Guerrieri (1992); Bobby Poyner (1992); and Javier Baez (1992).
Players Born This Day