After retiring and then un-retiring during the offseason, Roger Clemens came back to win his seventh Cy Young Award — and first in the NL — for the Astros in 2004, and he led the NL in era in ’05. Some of the “numbers” aficionados quibbled when the Rocket won his sixth AL Cy Young Award as a Yankee on November 15, 2001, complaining about his middle of the pack earned run average. But if you consider that the sport’s greatness is rooted in men excelling every once in a while in a game that is really mostly about failure, you realize that he was a lock based on the 20-1 mark he achieved to start the season, breaking an almost 100-year-old record. It was the kind of achievement the awards were made for.
Yankee third baseman Gil McDougald won the AL Rookie of the Year crown on November 15, 1951. He not only hit 14 homers with 63 rbi’s with a .306 batting average over 131 games, he finished in the Top Ten in a slew of offensive categories, including stolen bases, sacrifices, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.
The Yankees came to terms with outfielder Hideki Matsui on a four-year contract extension through the 2009 season on November 14, 2005. Hideki had a lost year in 2006 after breaking his wrist in early May. He was AL Player of the Month in July for the 2007 team, but struggled mightily with a bad knee down the stretch. Hideki had a good year going in 2008 until trouble with his other knee slowed him down. But even though he did not appear in the outfield at all, “Godzilla” had a huge comeback season in 2009, culminating with his World Series MVP.
The Yankees made another move that 2005 November day, though it is not likely that righty reliever Tanyon Sturtze, whose contract option they exercised that day, will return to the team. Sturtze, too, was lost to surgery early in the 2006 season.
I make no apologies for the delight I showed on November 15, 2008, when the Yankees sold the contract of righthander Darrell Rasner to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League. A succession of poor Rasner starts down the stretch of the 2008 playoffs-less Yankee season made me long for his departure from the team.
Randy Johnson became the second pitcher to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues when he garnered the NL prize on November 15, 1999; and Kansas City’s Bret Saberhagen became the fourth AL pitcher to win it twice when he won on the same day in 1989. And the Dodgers’ Don Drysdale outpointed Jack Sanford of the Giants for the Cy Young on November 15, 1962, back before there was one bestowed on a pitcher in each league.
Knowing that Roger Maris had bested Babe Ruth‘s single-season home run title with 61 in 1961, one might assume that he ran away with the AL MVP that year in the vote on November 15, but his winning total of 202 votes narrowly edged teammate Mickey Mantle‘s 198, and Baltimore’s Jim Gentile followed with a respectable 157.
Yankee DH/first baseman Jason Giambi, while still with Oakland, won the 2000 AL MVP Award on this day. There are four other AL November 15 MVP Award winners but only two NL, Kirk Gibson of the Dodgers in 1988; and Pittsburgh Pirate Dave Parker in 1978. The AL winners: Cal Ripken, Jr., of the Orioles in 1983; troubled Chicago White Sox first baseman Dick Allen in 1972; Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967; and Ted Williams, also representing the Red Sox, in 1946.
Former Yankee Jim Bouton‘s controversial (at the time) book Ball Four, took the form of a diary, and the first date listed in it is November 15, 1968.
After Yankee Manager Buck Showalter failed to come to an agreement on a 1996 contract with owner George Steinbrenner, the Bomber skipper who had just led the Yanks to their first postseason appearance in 14 years signed a seven-year contract to manage the Arizona Diamondbacks on November 15, 1995, even though the franchise would not field a team until 1998.
When a runoff election was added to the Hall of Fame voting process in 1945, it did not achieve its intended purpose of getting more players in. Late Yankee Manager Miller Huggins, Chicago infielders Frank Chance and Johnny Evers, and White Sox hurler Ed Walsh all fell short of being selected that November 15. The three players would be inducted one year later, but Huggins would not make it until 1964.
Until 2019, there were just two Yankee players who have died on November 15, neither of them long with the club, starting with southpaw Bill Karns (1941), who pitched three games (one start) for the 1901 Baltimore Orioles team that would be shifted to New York as the Highlanders in 1903. Karns, who pitched to no record, appeared in two other games that year, with no listed position. Lefthanded first baseman Klondike Smith (1959) played for the 1912 Highlanders only, but garnered no home runs or rbi’s while getting five hits in 27 at bats. But two players with solid Yankee cred have joined the list, lefthanded outfielder Irv Noren (2019) and righthander Jim Coates (2019), whose careers dovetailed in 1956. Noren hit 31 Yankee homers and drove in 198 playing in the Bronx from 1952-1956; and after three years with both Washington (where he debuted) and St. Louis, two with the Cubbies, plus two other stops, the numbers top off at 65 and 453. Coates debuted with the Yankees, pitching in 167 games (39 starts) from 1956-1962 to a 37-15 record with 12 saves; in 1960 and ’61 he went 13-3, then 11-5. After a 1965-1967 stint with the LA Angels (at the time) and two other stops the numbers increased to 43-22 with 15 saves.
The list of noteworthy nonYankee players who have died on November 15 includes two lefthanded first basemen, three outfielders, a third baseman, a catcher, and righthander Ed Klieman (1979), who threw to a 26-28-33 mark mostly with Cleveland from 1943-1950. Lefty-hitting outfielder Billy Southworth (1969) went yard 52 times and collected 561 rbi’s playing mostly with the Pirates, the Braves, the Giants, and the Cardinals (three years apiece) from 1913-1929; and Riggs Stephenson (1985) cleared 63 fences good for 773 rbi’s with the Indians and the Cubs from 1921-1934. First sacker Phil Todt (1973) hit most of his 57 long balls and 453 runs driven in from 1924-1931 with the Red Sox; and Charlie Grimm (1983) cleared 79 fences and knocked in 1,077 runs playing 12 years with the Cubs and six years with the Pirates, among others, from 1916-1935. Finally, catcher Earl Battey (2003) played five years with the White Sox and seven with the Twins from 1955-1967 while he was homering 104 times for 449 rbi’s; and third sacker Billy Nash (1929) smashed 60 roundtrippers and drove in 977 runs mostly with the Beaneaters and the Phillies from 1884-1898. The third outfielder on this list, Carmen Castillo (2015), played mostly for Cleveland and Minnesota from 1982 through 1991, and hit 55 home runs while driving in 197 runs.
Players Who Have Died This Day
A sinkerballing lefthanded reliever on three Yankee pennant winners, Joe Ostrowski (1915) is the one Yankee player (of three) born November 15 who actually played for the team. He posted a 9-7 record with 10 saves for the Bombers. He finished up his baseball career with the 1950-1952 Yankees after two seasons with the St. Louis Browns. He arrived in the Bronx in June 1950 with Tom Ferrick, Sid Schacht, and Leo Thomas in a trade in which the Bombers sent Jim Delsing, Don Johnson, Duane Pillette, Snuffy Stirnweiss, and cash to St. Louis. When Joe retired from the Browns, he was free to return to his “day job,” as the bespectacled professor taught high school mathematics during the off-season.
We start a report on two other birthdaying guys who spent time with the team with Randy Niemann (1955). Southpaw Niemann, a 1975 Yankees amateur draft (secondary phase) selection in the second round, was traded with Dave Bergman and Mike Fischlin to the Houston Astros for Cliff Johnson in June 1977. He posted a 7-8 record with three saves for the Astros, the Pirates, the White Sox, and the Mets from 1979-1987.
Righthander Darwin Cubillan (1972), a 1993 New York amateur free agent signing, was granted free agency by New York in October 1999. He would subsequently win one game in 56 appearances in Toronto, Texas, Montreal, and Baltimore from 2000 to 2004.
Other birthdays: Pat Ragan (1888), who played for Brooklyn and Boston (the Bees/Braves) from 1909-1923; Gus Bell (1928), grandfather of the three-generation Bell baseball clan; Pedro Borbon (1967); Ryan Jackson (1971); Kevin Gryboski (1973); Greg Jones (1976); Craig Hansen (1983); Duane Below (1985); Ben Rowen (1988); Trevor Brown (1991); Trevor Story (1992); and Dylan Bundy (1992).
Players Born This Day