March 14 in Yankee History

  • Hall of Famer George Weiss, whose Yankee teams won 10 pennants and seven World Series, including five in a row, during his general managership from 1947 to 1960, became the first president of the Mets on March 14, 1961, once he was coaxed from the roles of retirees.
  • Two-rbi base hits from Doug Bernier and DeWayne Wise in the seventh were not enough to bring the Yanks back from a big deficit in a 7-5 loss to Toronto on March 14, 2012. An Edgar Encarnacion home run and Brett Lawrie double were the big blows in a four-run fifth inning against Manny Banuelos.
  • On March, 13, 2016, the Yankees optioned righthander Vicente Campos to the Tampa Yankees.
  • On March 14, 2015, center fielder Mark Payton and shortstop Ali Castillo were assigned to the Yankees.
  • On March 14, 2014, lefthander James Pazos was assigned to New York Yankees minor leagues.
  • Genius Albert Einstein would have been 125 years old on March 14, 2004, so what better day to focus a bit on players who used the “tools of ignorance” and the guys who defend the dish, which, judging by the amount of catchers who go on to manage in the big leagues, are anything but. To begin with, Butch Wynegar, who served well (not brilliantly but well) as Yankee starting catcher from 1982 through 1986, was born on this day in 1956. He hit 27 homers while driving in 168 runs, stealing two bases during that time. The Yanks got him from the Twins with Roger Erickson for John Pacella, Larry Milbourne, Pete Filson, and cash in May 1982, and sent him to the Angels for Alan Mills and Ron Romanick in June 1987. Four additional Yankee player birthdays are covered below.
  • Catcher Ernie Lombardi was traded by the Dodgers to the Reds along with outfielder Babe Herman and third baseman Wally Gilbert on March 14, 1932, for infielders Joe Stripp and Tony Cuccinello and catcher Clyde Sukeforth. It was a great trade for the Reds as Lombardi would hit .311 over 10 seasons and win the batting title and MVP in 1938.
  • Catcher Bill Holbert (1855) is the first major leaguer listed in March 14 birthdays. He served as the only starting catcher for the New York Metropolitans (1883-1887), who played at the St. George Cricket Grounds. Bill holds the major league record for all players with the most at bats in a career (2,335) without ever having hit a home run. Holbert played for 13 seasons from 1876 to 1888 in 623 games.
  • It was goodbye to a guy Yankee fans had hoped for years would succeed in pinstripes when the Braves signed free agent first baseman Eric Duncan on March 14, 2010.
  • It seemed a routine roster move when the Yankees reassigned righthanded pitchers Matt DeSalvo, Phil Hughes, and Ross Ohlendorf and lefty Chase Wright to minor league camp on March 14, 2007. Who could have guessed that all but Ohlendorf would be starting in the Bronx by May, and that he would be in the pen when the Yanks started the ’07 postseason? That”s a place he’s not likely to revisit wearing his 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates uniform.
  • It sounds promising when I report that the Yankees reassigned veteran righthander Scott Strickland to Major League camp on March 14, 2008, but he never made the big club. And in a bigger headline, if a smaller team transaction, the club released “infielder” (and comedian) Billy Crystal that same day.
  • In the first of two March 14 incidents to affect eventual Yankees while they were still starring for the crosstown Mets, Darryl Strawberry charged Al Nipper on the mound, precipitating a bench-clearing brawl, on this day in 1987.
  • Dwight Gooden, Vince Coleman, and Darryl Boston of the Mets were accused of rape on March 14, 1992, a particularly bleak time in that team’s recent history.
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    Players Who Have Died This Day

  • All three Yankee players who have died on March patrolled the outfield, starting with the lefthanded Danny Hoffman (1922), whose 136 games with the 1906-1907 Highlanders fell midpoint between longer stays in Philly with the A’s and St. Louis with the Browns. Hoffman, who hit five home runs good for 79 rbi’s playing in New York, accumulated 14 long balls and delivered 235 runs from 1903-1911. Switch-hitting Lee Magee (1966) followed a similar career path, and played some at second base too. His 1916-1917 output in New York was five cleared fences with 53 rbi’s, numbers that grew to 12 and 177 overall from 1911-1919, with the first four years spent with the Cardinals in St. Louis. And lefty hitter Al Wickland (1980) drove in one run in closing his 1913-1919 career in 26 games with the Yanks. He hit 12 homers and drove in 144 overall, and played much of his time with the Whalers.
  • Yankee enthusiasts might be surprised to hear that Al Gionfriddo (2003), who famously robbed a World Series home run from Joe DiMaggio in 1947, played just that season with the Dodgers. Gionfriddo spent three-plus years with the Pirates for career numbers of two and 58. Another noteworthy ballplayer who died on March 14 was third baseman Heinie Zimmerman (1969). The 58 long balls and 796 rbi’s were earned during nine-plus years with the Cubs, then capped by three-plus with the Giants. We’ll list five more nonYankee March 14 deaths, three righthanded pitchers, an outfielder, and an infielder. Nat Hudson (1928) won 48 games, lost 26, and saved one with the 1886-1889 Browns; and Kent Greenfield (1978) posted most of his 41-48-1 mark from 1924-1929 with the Giants and the Braves. Switch-hitting outfielder Earl Smith (1943) hit most of his nine long balls and 186 rbi’s from 1916-1922 with the Browns; and shortstop/third baseman Terry Zeb (1988) hit two home runs and knocked in 216 runs for four teams from 1916-1922, most of it in Chicago with the Cubs and the White Sox. And newest to the club is righty Bob Bruce (2017), who spent most of his career from 1959 through 1967 playing in Houston for both the Colt 45′s, then the Astros, but also had a short stay with the Tigers; Bob won 49 games, lost 71, and saved one.
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    Players Born This Day

  • We acknowledged the birthdaying Butch Wynegar‘s (1963) contribution to the Yankee cause above. We’ll include lefty outfielder Jalal Leach (1969) in the Yankee birthdays even though he never played for the team in the bigs on the basis of his selection by the Bombers in the seventh round of the 1990 amateur draft. Jalal appeared in 10 games for the Giants in 2001.
  • Acquired before the 2004 season for Jeff Weaver, starter Kevin Brown (1965) had amassed a 197-131 record in the bigs with the Rangers (nine years), Orioles (one), Marlins (two, with a Championship), Padres (one), and Dodgers (five) before he arrived. But much of his 10-6, 2004 mark came in the season’s first half. Most noteworthy about Brown’s demeanor upon his arrival in New York was that he didn’t seem to be enjoying playing here (or anywhere). By the time he retired following the ’05 season, with a two-year Yankee mark of 14-13, that feeling had become contagious: Nobody rooting for the Bombers enjoyed his appearances either.
  • First baseman/outfielder John Miller (1944) had two hits and drove in two runs with the 1966 Yankees, and played for the Dodgers in 1969 after the Yanks shipped him there with with Jack Cullen and cash for John Kennedy in April 1967. An amazing Miller stat involves his two big-league home runs: He hit one in his first game with the Yanks, and the other in his last game with the Dodgers.
  • And finally, all three of the games in which lefthanded outfielder Gene Layden (1894) appeared in came with the 1915 Yanks; he managed two hits in seven at bats.
  • We’ll return the focus to catching as we begin the list of other March 14 baseball birthdays with Jerry Willard (1960), a poor thrower and handler of pitchers, who used a decent bat to carve out an 11-year career with Cleveland, Oakland, the White Sox, Atlanta, Montreal, and Seattle. And Steve Lake (1957) was a better catcher but weaker hitter with the Cubs, Cards, and Phils over that same 11-year span. Others: Billy Rhines (1869); Marty McManus (1900); Jack Rothrock (1905); Bill Kennedy (1921); Dave McKay (1950); Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett (1960), who tragically passed just eight days before his 46th birthday in 2006; Brent Gates (1970); Matt Kata (1979); Bobby Jenks (1981); Randor Bierd (1984); Steven Hill (1985); Blaine Hardy(1987); Josh Stinson (1988); and Marwin Gonzalez (1989).