December 2 in Yankee History

  • Just the other day we commemorated the trade that brought Graig Nettles to the Bronx. You win some, you lose some. On December 2, 1971, the Yanks pulled off one of their worst swaps ever. Just three years after Stan Bahnsen had won the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and following three winning seasons out of four, the Yanks sent the hard-throwing righty to the White Sox for third-base candidate Rich McKinney. Bahnsen would fashion 91 major-league wins after leaving the Bronx, and go 21-16 in Chicago in 1972. McKinney, on the other hand, hit one homer with seven rbi’s in 37 games in the Bronx, 33 of them at third, where he made eight errors. And he would be out of baseball in six years, not nearly soon enough for some who watched him play the not-so-hot corner in Yankee Stadium.
  • On December 2, 2016, first baseman Chris Carter, coming off a 41-homer season with Milwaukee, elected free agency. Unfortunately, the Yankees soon signed him to back Greg Bird up at first, only to lose Bird for most of the season coming out of Spring Training. Carter would strike out in almost half of his at bats, and be released in July 2017. On the same day, Yankee lefty Jacob Lindgren elected free agency. He would be signed by Atlanta, but not pitch in the bigs in 2017.
  • On December 2, 2014, several Yankee minor leaguers selected free agency, though a few of them would be retained. In this group were righthanders Jose Campos and Chaz Roe; lefthander David Huff; and outfielder Slade Heathcott.
  • On December 2, 2013, the Yankees traded catcher Chris Stewart to the Pittsburgh Pirates for player to be named later; and the club signed free agent shortstop Brendan Ryan. Two minor league players in the organization elected free agency: third baseman David Adams and righthander Matt Daley.
  • Mitigating that unfortunate exchange to some degree, the Yanks did manage to get some real third-base help that same 1971 day. They shipped pitchers Terry Ley and Gary Jones to Texas for Bernie Allen. While Allen did not post great numbers in New York, he did manage nine homers and 21 rbi’s in 44 games at third base in 1972, supplying some of the play the Yanks failed to get from McKinney. Further enhancing the value of the Allen swap, neither Ley nor Jones would throw another regular-season pitch after the trade, in Texas or anywhere else. The Bombers sold Allen’s contract to Montreal in 1973.
  • The Yanks signed Kyle Farnsworth to a three-year contract on December 2, 2005. The hard thrower routinely breaks 100 mph on the speed gun, and saved six games in the Bronx in 2006. But fans who had issues with his wildness that year, and with his balky back, were absolutely livid with his 2007 season, during which he notched just 65 percent of the strike outs from the year before. He had a fine comeback year in 2008, setting up Mariano Rivera effectively, until a late-season swap sent him to Detroit for catcher Ivan Rodriguez.
  • Reliever Lindy McDaniel was traded by the Cubs to the Giants on December 2, 1965. His next stop would be the Bronx during the 1968 season in exchange for Bill Monbouquette. Lindy set records for appearances without starts, and for scoreless consecutive innings, and in 1970, fashioned a 9-5 record with 29 saves in the Bronx. Three years later the Yanks would send him to Kansas City for line-drive hitting outfielder Lou Piniella.
  • Former Yankee starter Scott Kamieniecki was signed by the Indians to a two-year free-agent contract on December 2, 1999.
  • In his last stop before the Bronx, third baseman Robin Ventura was coaxed into signing a three-year deal with the Mets on December 2, 1998.
  • Two years before the Yankees would finally sign Elston Howard as the first black player to play in Pinstripes, a storm continued to brew in New York over Jackie Robinson‘s accusations that it was a racist organization. On December 2, 1952, Dodger Exec Buzzie Bavasi dismissed Yankee GM George Weiss‘s defense of the club. They were not proud days in Yankee land, but soon to improve.
  • Two of three transactions that occurred on December 2, 2010 had to do with players who would make significant contributions in the Bronx in 2011, but the other was the loss of righthanded swingman Dustin Moseley when he elected free agency. The other two: Righty reliever Cory Wade, who would be plucked from the Rays midseason, was assigned to Tampa Bay; and former Dodger catcher Russell Martin elected free agency.
  • Wil Nieves was not handling the 2007 backup catcher role, which made the minor transaction one of some importance. The Yankees signed catcher Raul Chavez to a minor league contract and invited him to Spring Training on December 2, 2006. But the acquisition of Jose Molina from Anaheim solved the problem and Raul was released after a stay in the Yankee minors. He signed with and played for the Pirates in 2008.
  • Fernando Valenzuela became the third consecutive Dodger to be honored with the National League Rookie of the Year Award on December 2, 1981.
  • The two Most Valuable Player Awards announced on December 2 went to National League players, both of whom played for the Cardinals. First baseman Jim Bottomley beat Giants third baseman Fred Lindstrom for the award in 1928; and Stan “The Man” Musial won it on this day in 1948. This was Musial’s third MVP, and he got it in a season in which he returned to the outfield from first base, where he played when he won the honor for the second time, in 1946. Stan was thus one of the three stars to have copped that honor playing in two different positions before Alex Rodriguez became the fourth when he won it at third base in 2005.
  • Three of four major leaguers who changed teams on December 2, 1971, would later play for the Yanks. Tommy John (moved to the White Sox), Doyle Alexander (traded to the Orioles), and John Mayberry (sent to the Royals). Dick Allen, traded to the White Sox, never played for the Yanks.
  • Ray Walston, perhaps most famous for playing in TV’s My Favorite Martian and in the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but who also played the “devilish” Mr. Applegate in the musical, Damn Yankees, was born on December 2, 1914.
  • And speaking of theater, the play Cobb had its premiere on December 2, 1994.
    Players Who Have Died This Day

  • It was just three days ago that we were relating the Pinstriped (and other) exploits of lefty reliever Steve Hamilton on the occasion of his birthday. Alas, it was on this day in 1997 that the originator of the “Folly Floater” passed away from cancer at the age of 63. He posted a fine 34-17 mark with 33 saves for the Yankees from 1963-1970. Brief stops with the Indians, the Senators, the White Sox, and the Giants brought his overall record to 40-31-42. The first of two lefty-hitting outfielders to die December 2, Tom Daley (1934) ended his career playing 79 games for the 1914-1915 Yankees. He used 53 hits in 199 at bats to collect 10 rbi’s. Stops with Cincinnati and Philly (the A’s) increased his rbi total to 29, but Tom never did hit a major league home run. Frank Kane (1962) crowned his brief career playing one game with the 1919 Yankees, for whom he failed to get a hit in one at bat playing one game. Frank had garnered two rbi’s on two-for-ten hitting with the 1915 Brooklyn T-Tops; he played just three games with that Federal League franchise.
  • Pittsburgh Pirates Manager Danny Murtaugh passed away on December 2, 1976, just a short while after retiring. A second baseman with the Phillies, the Braves, and the Pirates from 1941-1951, Murtaugh hit eight home runs and 215 rbi’s before managing 15 years, when he would win the 1960 and 1976 World Championships with Pittsburgh. The only other noteworthy nonYankee player to die December 2 is righthander Art Herring (1995), who won 34 games, lost 38, and saved 13 games pitching for Brooklyn in 1934 and in 1944-1946 after having started with the 1929-1933 Tigers.
    Players Born This Day

  • Of the four December 2 Yankee birthdays, the first two made solid, if short, contributions. Lefty-hitting second baseman/shortstop Ray Morehart (1899) ended his career by smacking one homer with 20 rbi’s for the 1927 team after two years with White Sox. The Yanks got Ray and Johnny Grabowski from the Sox for Aaron Ward in January 1927.
  • Righthander Don Brennan (1903) debuted with the 1933 Yanks with a 5-1 record and three saves before pitching for the Cincinnati Reds for the next four seasons.
  • Righty Bob Kammeyer (1950), a 1972 Yankee amateur draft selection (in the 21st round), did his only pitching for the 1978-1979 club, and not to much effect. But at least he had his seven games in the first year to offset the disaster that occurred in his only work in the latter. Kammeyer allowed seven hits and eight runs in his sole 1979 appearance without ever recording an out.
  • The newest player born December 2 to the Yankee fold had the briefest of stays in 2014, as promising catching prospect Gary Sanchez (1992) had but two at bats, pinch hitting in separate games, with one strike out and no hits. But 2016 was a totally different story, as he took the sport by storm, stroking 20 home runs and 12 doubles with 42 rbi’s in 53 games. Gary, who was signed by the Yanks as a free agent in 2009, displayed a cannon for an arm as well. Despite struggling a little defensively in 2017, he would again excel at the plate, with 33 home runs and 90 rbi’s, this despite missing a month with a shoulder injury. Gary’s 2018 season was affected both by poor receiving (his 18 passed balls led the league), and DL stints; he played in just 89 games. More disappointing still was his offense, as he batted just .186, though the 18 home runs and 53 rbi’s showed promise. He exhibited improved defense in 2019, while his offense continued to be a mixed bag: 34 home runs and 77 rbi’s exceeded catching numbers in both leagues by quite a bit, but he did not hit much in the post. Still, few (one hopes) in Yankeeland are giving up on Gary just yet.
  • Other birthdays: Pedro Borbon (1946); Julio Cruz (1954); Chip Hale (1964); Darryl Kile (1968); Mark Kotsay (1975); Peter Moylan (1978); Eric Reed (1980); Wyatt Toregas (1982); Brett Eibner (1988); and Charlie Tilson (1992).