February 1 in Yankee History

  • Wally Pipp, who lost his first base job to Lou Gehrig and The Streak, was sold to the Reds on February 1, 1926. A Forgotten Man, so to speak, in the Yankee past, Pipp contributed a very impressive 80 home runs and 826 rbi’s in the Bronx from 1915-1925. Wally had been the Yankee Opening Day first baseman for 11 consecutive years.
  • We’ll intro one of the birthdays listed below to tell a tale of two prospects. After the stellar 1991 season young righty Darrin Chapin (born 2/1/66) had in Columbus (10-3, 12 saves), the Yanks, anxious for third base help after two years of trying to fill Mike Pagliarulo‘s shoes with Mike Blowers and Jim Leyritz, traded the young hurler to the Phillies for Charlie Hayes. Hayes hit 18 homers with 98 rbi’s in the Bronx in 1992 before being lost in the expansion draft the following season, while Chapin lasted about a month with Philly before wildness and injuries ended his career.
  • And it’s fitting as we ponder Hayes at the Hot Corner when we report on a swap that is Yang to that move’s Yin that occurred on the February 1, 1999. The Yanks traded young third bagger Mike Lowell to Florida for former Mets can’t-miss southpaw Ed Yarnall plus Mark Johnson and Todd Noel. Yarnall played in Japan after bombing in New York, and also failed in an attempt at a comeback with the 2003 Oakland A’s. Lowell, on the other hand, held down third base in Florida. He struggled mightily in 2005, and but was a force from the right side playing in Fenway Park for the Red Sox in 2006-2007. Injuries ruined his 2008 season; a shell of his former self in 2009, the Sox used him as a part-timer and tried to trade him until he recently retired after the 2010 season.
  • On February 1, 2016, the Yankees designated Lane Adams for assignment, and claimed infielder Ronald Torreyes, who had just been taken days earlier, off waivers from the Angels.
  • On February 1, 2013, the Yankees made two roster moves, one of which they hoped would have a huge effect on the 2013 team’s prospects going forward. First they designated left fielder Russ Canzler, whom they had grabbed from Cleveland just weeks before, for assignment. And then the team signed free agent DH Travis Hafner. The power-hitting portsider would give the team just the lefty firepower they needed initially, but a back injury in early May sent Hafner spiraling into a lost season where he was no more effective when activated from the DL than he was while recuperating on it.
  • On February 1, 2015, the Yankees signed free agent lefthander Anthony Marzi to a minor league contract.
  • On February 1, 2012, the Yankees outrighted righthander Kevin Whelan to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
  • Center field play figures in Yankee history for February 1. Borrowing from the day’s birthday list (below) again, we report that it is the day in 1944 that slick-fielding Paul Blair (Yankee years: 1977-1979) was born. And on February 1, 1970, “The Kentucky Colonel,” Earle Combs was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Not a power hitter (58 homers/12 years), Combs amassed a lifetime batting average of .325, with 670 walks and only 278 strike outs.
  • The Yankees signed catcher Chris Widger to back up Jorge Posada in the coming season on February 1, 2002.
  • Few would have guessed that once the Yankees outrighted righty starter Matt DeSalvo to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on February 1, 2007, that he would start six games for the parent club in a few months. DeSalvo, who was designated for assignment in December 2007, won one game and lost three.
  • As with January 31, this is another active day when it comes to Hall of Fame selections. Former Commissioner Ford Frick and Jesse Haines joined Combs in the induction ceremony in 1970. Negro Leagues and New York Giants star Monte Irvin was honored in 1973; and Brooklyn Dodgers, Superbas, and Robins outfielder Zack Wheat was elected on February 1, 1959.
  • In February 1 moves that affected former or future Yankee players, St. Louis sent four players, including lefty Dave LaPoint (13-19 for the Yanks in 1989-1990), to San Fran for Jack Clark (who would play for the Yanks in 1988) in 1985; and the Browns swapped pitcher Joe Bush and outfielder Jack Tobin to the Senators for hurlers Tom Zachary and Win Ballou in 1926. Both Bush and Zachary excelled while towing the mound for a few years in New York. “Bullet” Joe went 62-38 for the 1922-1924 Yankees, and Zachary included a 12-0, 1929 record in his 16-4 mark with three saves from 1928-1930. And center fielder Kenny Lofton fits this category now after his 2004 service in the Bronx; he signed a free agent contract with the White Sox on February 1, 2002.
  • Olympic Medal winner Jim Thorpe signed with the Giants on February 1, 1913, but his major league baseball career was more a curiosity than a success.
  • In one of major league baseball’s more unique trips abroad to sow interest in the game elsewhere, the White Sox and the Giants played to a 3-3 tie in Cairo on February 1, 1914.
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    Players Who Have Died This Day

  • Three Yankees players have died on February 1, if you include righty Dad Hale (1946), who lost one of three games (two starts) he pitched for the 1902 Baltimore Orioles, the team that would be moved to New York as the Highlanders in 1903. Hale won one and lost four for the Boston Beaneaters in 1902 also, his only big-leagues year. Southpaw Jake Wade (2006) won two, lost one, and saved one in 13 games (one start) for the 1946 Yanks. Most of Wade’s 27-40 mark from 1926-1946 was earned with the White Sox and Tigers. No several-game stint in the Bronx for lefty-hitting third sacker Jack Saltzgaver (1978), though, as he played with the Yanks from 1932-1937. He hit 10 homers with 72 rbi’s in New York, and added 10 rbi’s with the 1945 Pirates.
  • Hall of Fame 19th-Century player and 20th-Century Manager (1907-1920 Tigers) Hughie Jennings (1928) also died February 1, as did Chicago Colts outfielder Walt Wilmot (1929), who hit 58 home runs with 594 rbi’s from 1888-1898. Jennings, who played shortstop most of the time, hit 18 long balls and drove in 840 runs primarily for the Orioles, the Tigers, and the Colonels from 1891-1912 and in 1918. Finally, righthander Sam Weaver (1914) won 69 games and lost 80 playing with five different teams from 1878-1886, with two seasons spent in Philly with the A’s.
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    Players Born This Day

  • Paul Blair (1944) may be the most fondly remembered of the eight Yankee players who celebrate February 1 as their birthday. Although the six homers, 38 rbi’s, and four stolen bases he contributed to the Pinstripe cause may not sound like a lot of offense, he was as smooth a centerfielder as you’re likely to see, and he had a knack for coming through with big base hits, particularly in the postseason. He is best remembered for plying his trade in Baltimore for 13 seasons to begin his career, and he hit a game-winning home run in a World Series shutout over the Dodgers in 1966; he also played part of a season in Cincinnati. Blair, who went 3-for-9 for the Yanks in the 1977 postseason and also kicked in three hits against the Dodgers in the Series the following year, was acquired from the Orioles for Elliott Maddox and Rick Bladt in January 1977.
  • Despite just a .186 average in spot play over 31 2010 games, lefthanded outfielder Colin Curtis (1985) turned quite a few heads and might have a nice future for himself in the Bronx. Colin was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 50th round of the 2003 amateur draft, but did not sign. The Yanks took him in the 4th round of the 2006 amateur draft. Working against a pinstriped future for Curtis, who hit one home run and drove in eight runs in 2010, is that he is a portsider, with the Yanks fielding two full-time lefties and a switch hitter in the outfield on the big club now.
  • Tall, lean reliever Cecilio Guante (1960) was also a valuable contributor in the Bronx, where he posted an 8-8 record with 12 saves in 1987 and 1988. From 1982-1986, he pitched in Pittsburgh, from whom he was acquired (in a bad Yankee trade) in 1986 with Pat Clements and Rick Rhoden for Doug Drabek, Brian Fisher, and Logan Easley. Guante pitched in Texas in 1988 and 1989 once the Yanks sent him there for Dale Mohorcic; he finished up with a season in Cleveland.
  • Outfielder Ron Woods (1943) collected 10 taters, 36 rbi’s, and six stolen bases for the Bombers from 1969-1971 once he arrived from Detroit in a trade for Tom Tresh. The Yankees shipped Woods to the Montreal Expos for Ron Swoboda in 1971, and he played there until he retired after the 1974 season.
  • One-time infield prospect Erick Almonte (1978), a 1996 amateur free agent selection, showed some flashes with his bat once he was pressed into action in 2003 after shortstop Derek Jeter was injured in the season’s first game, but he also committed 14 errors in 39 games. Almonte played a bit in 2001 too, and accumulated a homer, 11 rbi’s, and three stolen bases in the Bronx before his release. To the surprise of all, Erick reappeared in the bigs in 2011 following an eight-year absence, playing in 16 games, 14 of them in the outfield, with Milwaukee.
  • Yankee fans held their collective breaths when the team shipped righty prospect Darrin Chapin (1966) to Philly for Charlie Hayes after the rookie had lost one game in three appearances for the 1950 team (in addition to his great marks the following year in AAA), but Hayes performed well in the Bronx and Chapin suffered injuries that limited him to one game with the 1992 Phillies. And righty Dave Madison (1921) debuted with the 1950 Yankees, for whom he played one game; he played for the Browns in 1952, and Detroit in 1952-1953. Madison’s career mark was 8-7 with no saves.
  • Speaking of Detroit brings us to one-time big Yankee prospect center fielder Austin Jackson (1987), who was drafted by the Bombers in the eighth round of the 2005 amateur draft. Austin was traded along with lefty Phil Coke to the Tigers following the 2009 Championship in exchange for Curtis Granderson. Despite a high strike out total, Jackson did well in Detroit in 2010, hitting .293 with four home runs and 41 rbi’s. The numbers the Tigers like most, however, are the 27 steals and the 103 runs the speedy outfielder scored. Although Detroit is happy with Jackson, it needs to be pointed out that, following a middling year adjusting to his new digs in 2010, Granderson had a terrific 2011 season in the Bronx, and contested for the MVP award all year. But Curtis had a bad second half in 2012, while Austin had a good year. Jackson was traded to Seattle in 2014, to the Cubs in 2015, and played on the South side of Chicago in 2016.
  • Other birthdays: Outfielder Carl Reynolds (1903) accumulated most of his 80 dingers, 699 rbi’s, and 112 steals in Chicago from 1927-1939, both with the White Sox and the Cubs; catcher Harry Bemis (1874), who contributed five taters, 234 rbi’s, and 49 stolen bases playing exclusively for Cleveland from 1902-1910; Eduardo Zambrano (1966); Tim Naehring (1967); Kent Mercker (1968); Edwin Hurtado (1970); Rich Becker (1972); Hector Luna (1980); Jean Machi (1982); Dane de la Rosa (1983); Elian Herrera (1985); Justin Sellers (1986); Kristopher Negron (1986); Joe Mahoney (1987); Brett Anderson (1988); Stolmy Pimentel (1990); Darnell Sweeney (1991); and Sean Manaea (1992).