What would we do with a Yankee pitcher who turned in a 303-150 win-loss record? We would wax on into the night about the strength and drive of his fastball, the elegance of his big nose-to-toes slow-breaking curve, and wink at the cunning of his well-timed and devastating change. No, the Yankees have had no such phenom toeing the mound in the Bronx. But when considering Yankee birthdays for February 10, we come across a couple of guys who starred for two separate Pinstriped Dynasties, and their numbers, when grouped, are astounding. Lefty hurler Herb Pennock (1894) arrived on the Yankee scene on January 30, 1923, traded by the Red Sox to New York for Camp Skinner, Norm McMillan, George Murray, and cash just in time for the opening of the Yankee Cathedral in the Bronx. Herb dominated for years, and won five starts without a loss in World Series play. He also collected two WS saves along the way, the last in the Babe Ruth “Called Shot” game in Wrigley in 1932. Pennock had a classic start in the 1927 Series against the Pirates, when he retired the first 22 batters and ended with a three-hitter.
The second (and righthanded) half of this devastating February 10 duo arrived in October 1946 with the trade of Joe Gordon and Eddie Bockman to Cleveland for “Superchief,” Allie Reynolds (1917). In eight short years, Reynolds retired with more than 130 wins, 41 saves, and a 7-2 record with three saves in six World Series, all won by the Yanks. Allie threw two no-hitters and had a fastball that traveled more than 100 mph.
On February 10, 1971, TV station WPIX in New York announced Bill White as Phil Rizzuto‘s new Yankee announcer compadre.
In February 10 player moves affecting former and future Yankee players, the Dodgers swapped one ex-Yankee for another in 1971, sending outfielder Andy Kosco to Milwaukee for lefty Al Downing. The White Sox included hurler Hal Brown in a package to Washington for Vern Stephens in 1953; Brown would post an 0-1 record in two games for the 1962 Pinstripers. The Red Sox shipped backstop Muddy Ruel and hurler Allen Russell to Washington in 1923, receiving outfielder Howie Shanks plus two other players in return. Ruel hit one home run with 47 rbi’s for the Yanks from 1917-1920, and Russell began his career with the Yanks, pitching to a 16-26 record with 13 saves in New York from 1915-1919.
The Cubs reaped a bonanza from the sinking Chicago Whales of the Federal League in 1916 by purchasing 11 players, including infielder Rollie Zeider and pitcher George McConnell, once again, on February 10. Zeider toiled in the Yankee infield for 50 games in 1913, and McConnell’s three-season tally for New York on a tour that also ended in 1913 was 12-28 with three saves.
Lee Magee admitted on February 10, 1920, that he had tried to “toss” a June 1919 game his Reds played against the Braves, though the Reds won it in extra innings. Earlier in his career, Magee hit three home runs with 53 rbi’s for the Yankees in 1916-1917.
On February 10, 1975, the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues selected William “Judy” Johnson as the newest member of the Hall of Fame.
The legacy of Jackie Robinson has been carried and nurtured by his beloved wife, Rachel, since he passed away. It was on February 10, 1946, that Jackie and Rachel were married.
Perhaps the most poignant of the four Yankee February 10 deaths to fans of my generation is that of Tony Solaita (1990) simply because we heard so much about his power-hitting prowess in the minors for years and he sadly struck out in his lone Yankee at bat, in 1968. Tony did clear 50 fences good for 203 rbi’s from 1974-1979, equally divided between Kansas City and California. Another lefty-hitting first baseman remembered more warmly in the Bronx is Jim Spencer (2002), who hit 45 big homers with 124 rbi’s for playoff Yankee clubs from 1978-1981. Jim spent much of the rest of his 1968-1982 career with the Angels with lifetime marks of 146 long balls and 599 rbi’s. Outfielder George Whiteman (1947) had two runs driven in during 11 games for the 1913 Yankees. He played two years in Boston and finished with one home run and 31 rbi’s. Righthander Don Johnson (2015) had his major league debut with the Yanks in 1947 and 1950, going 5-3 with no saves in 23 games, eight of them starts. Wrapping up his 1950-55, 1958 career mostly with the Browns and Senators, Don pitched to an overall mark of 27-38, with 12 saves.
Worthy of mention among nonYankee February 10 player deaths is outfielder Rip Repulski (1993), who hit most of his 106 dingers with 416 rbi’s from 1953-1961 with the St. Louis Cardinals. Also, two second baseman, two outfielders, and righthander Elmer Jacobs (1958), who won 50 games, lost 81, and saved seven between 1914 and 1927 mostly with the Pirates, the Phillies, the Cardinals, and the Cubs. Second sacker Jack Farrell (1914) hit 23 home runs and drove in 370 runs from 1879-1889 with the Grays, the Senators, and the Orioles; and Eddie Moore (1976) bashed 13 roundtrippers with 257 rbi’s from 1923-1934 with the Pirates, the Braves, and the Dodgers. Portsided outfielder Johnny Bates (1949) hit 25 homers and knocked in 417 runs with the Reds, the Doves, and the Phillies from 1906-1914; and righthanded Johnny Mokan (1985) hit 32 long balls and drove in 273 with the 1921-1922 Pirates and the 1922-1927 Phillies.
Players Who Have Died This Day
The exploits of two stalwarts of the Yankee starting rotation in years gone by, described at the top of this column, are highlighted in the February 10 Yankee birthdays report. The names deserve yet another mention: Herb Pennock (1894) and Allie Reynolds (1917).
The only other Yankee player until the 2010 season born on February 10 was Alberto Castillo (1970), who served as Jorge Posada‘s backup at catcher for part of the 2002 season. He managed four rbi’s in 37 at bats.
New to the Yankee fold in 2010 was veteran Houston first baseman Lance Berkman (1976), who has hit 327 home runs with 1,099 rbi’s since his 1999 debut, with one and nine of those, respectively, for the Yanks. Lance got off to a slow start for the Yanks, but by the time the playoffs rolled around, he supplied a very welcome line drive bat.
And 2012 ushered in another Yankee February 10 birthdayer, this one a starting pitcher like the two Yankee greats mentioned above, as the team signed free agent Hiroki Kuroda (1975), a veteran righthander from Japanese baseball who posted a 41-46 record with the Dodgers from 2008-2011. So based on that, the fanbase was delighted with his 2012 performance in the Bronx, 16-11 with a 3.32 era. He struggled down the stretch to an 11-13 mark on the depleted 2013 team, but still pitched well. Despite the late ’13 struggles, Hiroki was great in 2014, going 11-9 in 32 starts on a team that continually failed to score runs for him. Alas, he will not be back in 2015.
And the pinstriped birthday club grew one more in 2013, as Luis Cruz (1984) was one of a slew of infielders slotted to fill holes in a year where the Yanks had to largely play without Alex Rodriguez at third, Derek Jeter at short, or Mark Teixeira at first. Playing the hot corner mostly, Cruz knocked in five runs in 16 games. Playing in the majors since 2008 with the Pirates, Brewers, Dodgers, and now the Yanks, Luis had amassed seven home runs and 157 rbi’s in 195 games when New York released him in August 2013.
Other birthdays: Hall of Fame Umpire Billy Evans (1884); lefty hurler Billy O’Dell (1932), who posted a 105-100 mark from 1954-1967, mostly with the Orioles and Giants; Jim Barr (1948); Larry McWilliams (1954); Lenny Dykstra (1963); Lenny Webster (1965); Ryan Bowen (1968); Bobby Jones (1970); Kevin Sefcik (1971); Ruben Mateo (1978); Cedric Bowers (1978); Cesar Izturis (1980); Alex Gordon (1984); Dalier Hinojosa (1986); Duke Welker (1986) Jeanmar Gomez (1988); Travis d’Arnaud (1989); Liam Hendriks (1989); Dayan Diaz (1989); Allen Webster (1990); Tim Hill (1990); Omar Navaez (1992); Brandon Woodruff (1993); Max Kepler (1993); and Jorge Lopez (1993).
Players Born This Day