Results tagged ‘ Joe McCarthy ’

April 30 — important day in Yankees history

Tuesday is April 30, which is one of the most significant calendar days in Yankees history. The franchise was introduced to New York City on that date 110 years ago, and one of its iconic figures began and ended his career on the same date 16 years apart.

The old Baltimore Orioles club that moved to New York City in 1903 at the start of the third season of the American League became known as the Highlanders because their playing field at the time was located in the highlands area on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that is now the central location of New York-Presbyterian Hospital at West 168th Street.

The Highlanders played their first home game at Hilltop Park April 30, 1903 and defeated the Washington Senators, 6-2. It was the Highlanders’ eighth game of the season and evened their record at 4-4 after opening the season by splitting a four-game series at Washington, D.C., and losing two of three games to the Athletics in Philadelphia.

Managed by future Hall of Famer Clark Griffith and featuring another future Hall of Famer, outfielder Willie Keeler, the team that would become known as the Yankees 10 years later finished with a 72-62 record and fourth of eight teams in the AL.

Moving forward 20 years, the Yankees signed a 19-year-old Columbia University pitcher and outfielder from Manhattan named Henry Louis Gehrig to a professional contract. Lou Gehrig’s reputation as a power hitter was established in the Ivy League, and before the 1923 season was over he made his first appearance in the major leagues. Gehrig got into 13 games that year for the Yanks and batted .423 with four doubles, one triple, one home run and nine RBI in 26 at-bats.

Gehrig spent most of the 1924 season in the minor leagues as well before coming up for good in 1925 and replaced Wally Pipp at first base every day for the next decade and a half. Sixteen years to the day he signed his first pro contract, Gehrig played in his last major-league game, a 3-2 loss to the Senators at Yankee Stadium in which he had 0-for-4. It was Gehrig’s 2,130th consecutive game, a record that stood until Cal Ripken Jr. broke it in September, 1995.

Gehrig was already suffering from the symptoms of arterial lateral sclerosis (ALS), the disease that forced him to out of the next game. May 1 was an open date for the Yankees. Gehrig was in manager Joe McCarthy’s starting batting order for May 2 at Detroit, but the “Iron Horse” took himself out of the lineup and never played again. Gehrig was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939 and died in 1941.

April 30: Lou’s career beginning to end

The date April 30 was a memorable one for the Yankees and Lou Gehrig at both the start and finish of his Hall of Fame career.

It was on this date in 1923 that Gehrig, 19, a native New Yorker and a pitcher-first baseman at Columbia University, signed a professional contract with the Yankees. At that time, Gehrig was the second greatest player in Columbia’s baseball history. Already a star in the major leagues at that time was White Sox second baseman Eddie Collins, then in his 18th season.

On this same date in 1939, Gehrig played in the last of his 2,130 consecutive games. He went hitless in four at-bats in a 3-2 loss to the Washington Senators at the original Yankee Stadium. The next day was an open date for the Yankees, who traveled to Detroit. Before the May 2 game against the Tigers, Gehrig asked manager Joe McCarthy to remove him from the lineup.

It was later learned that Gehrig was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The man known as “The Iron Horse” never played another game in the major leagues. The difficult to pronounce disease would soon bear his name as it does today and remains incurable.

At the 1939 Winter Meetings in Cincinnati, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America held a vote to elect Gehrig into the Hall of Fame. The proposal was passed unanimously, but Gehrig was never officially inducted.

Although he is usually listed in the class of 1939, the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies were during that summer when Gehrig was still on the Yankees’ roster. One of those 1939 inductees was Eddie Collins, along with Willie Keeler and George Sisler.

There were no Hall of Fame elections until 1942 when Rogers Hornsby was voted in by the BBWAA. By the time of that induction, however, Gehrig had already died of ALS June 2, 1941 at the age of 37.

The Major League Baseball schedule is made up annually without regard to such coincidences, but this May 2, which is Monday, the Yankees will once again find themselves in Detroit where one of the greatest careers in their franchise’s storied history came to an end.

Hanley Ramirez, the anti-Jeter

The soap opera surrounding Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez came to an end for now with his issuing an apology to his teammates Wednesday for loafing after a hit that he had kicked into the left field corner two nights earlier. I say “for now” because when a player treats the game with the disrespect Ramirez did by not hustling to prevent runs from scoring on the hit he is very likely to do it again.

This sort of behavior must come as a surprise to Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was Florida’s manager in 2006 and ushered Ramirez into the majors. They were award winners that year, Girardi as the National League Manager of the Year and Ramirez as the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year.

I remember when they were honored in January 2007 at the New York Baseball Writers Dinner. Girardi was already let go as the Marlins skipper by the time of the event. One of the most poignant moments came when Ramirez, in accepting his award, looked toward Girardi and said, tearfully, “I love you, Joe.”

There was every indication then that Ramirez was a respectful young guy who just might go on to the type of career that Derek Jeter has had for the Yankees. Obviously, that has not happened. Oh, the ability is there. A lot of people think Ramirez is the best shortstop in the NL. He was, after all, runner-up to Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols for the Most Valuable Player Award last year.

Ramirez’s leisurely jaunt for the ball Monday night was bad enough, but he compounded his mistake by ripping his manager, Fredi Gonzalez, who pulled him from the game and then benched him Tuesday night. While it is true that Ramirez had fouled a ball off his lower leg and may have still been hurting, there is no excuse to pursue a ball in that listless a fashion. Give it a try, at least. And if the leg was still barking, Ramirez should have told the manager about it to get a replacement.

Adding insult to injury, Ramirez showed his manager no more respect than he showed his procession, dismissing the discipline from Gonzalez by noting that “he never played in the big leagues.”

I’ve got news for you, Hanley. Neither did Earl Weaver, who took four Orioles teams to the World Series. Neither did Jack McKeon or Jim Leyland or Joe Maddon, who took teams to the World Series this past decade. Neither did Joe McCarthy, who won nine pennants in the 1930s and ’40s, eight with the Yankees. McCarthy and Weaver are in the Hall of Fame. Want me to go on?

Talking with Don Zimmer before Wednesday night’s game at the Stadium, we both came to the same conclusion. What Ramirez pulled the other night is something you would never see from Derek Jeter. Funny, isn’t it, that when the subject of hustle comes up, Jeter is at the top of the list.


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