Results tagged ‘ Bob Lemon ’

Hall to honor 11 Yanks legends among WWII vets

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will salute the ballplayers who served during World War II and honor the contributions of a modern baseball pioneer’s legacy with two special recognitions during the annual Awards Presentation at Hall of Fame Weekend Saturday, July 25, in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The Hall will recognize all the players who served in World War II, with United States Navy Secretary Ray Mabus speaking on behalf of all military branches as America marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. More than 500 major leaguers joined the military during World War II, including Hall of Famers such as Bob Feller, who enlisted in the Navy just days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941; and Hank Greenberg, who re-enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 after being drafted and serving in the Army in 1941 before being honorably discharged Dec. 5, 1941.

Thirty-six Hall of Famers – more than 11 percent of all Hall of Fame members – served during World War II, including eight players with the Yankees: Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Johnny Mize, Phil Rizzuto, Red Ruffing and Enos Slaughter. Other Hall of Famers with Yankees connections who served during WWII were executives Larry MacPhail and Lee MacPhail and manager Bob Lemon.

The rest of the Hall of Fame roster of World War II veterans were Feller, Greenberg, Luke Appling, Al Barlick, Willard Brown, Nestor Chylak, Mickey Cochrane, Leon Day, Larry Doby, Bobby Doerr, Charlie Gehringer, Billy Herman, Monte Irvin, Ralph Kiner, Ted Lyons, Stan Musial, Pee Wee Reese, Robin Roberts, Jackie Robinson, Red Schoendienst, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, Bill Veeck, Ted Williams and Early Wynn.

The Museum will also pay tribute to the legacy and contributions of former Reds, Cardinals and Senators outfielder Curt Flood, whose test of the reserve clause via the United States Supreme Court in 1970 laid the groundwork for the advent of free agency several years later. Major League Players Association executive director Tony Clark will speak on behalf of Flood’s challenge of the system and contributions to the Supreme Court case that led to free agency.

A three-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove Award winner in center field, Flood petitioned the Court to allow him to choose his employer instead of being subject to a trade. Flood sat out the 1970 season. That year the Court ruled against Flood in a 5-to-3 decision. His efforts inspired pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally to pick up the fight five years later when they challenged the reserve clause through the players’ right to binding arbitration in 1975. Flood passed away in 1997.

These two special recognitions will join the Museum’s annual presentation of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence and the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing. Dick Enberg, the television voice of the Padres, will receive the Frick Award. Tom Gage, who covered the Tigers for the Detroit News for 36 seasons, has been selected the Spink Award winner by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Now in its fifth year, the Awards Presentation takes place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 25, at historic Doubleday Field, the day before the 2015 Induction Ceremony.

Admission for the Awards Presentation is free. The one-hour ceremony precedes the Hall of Fame Parade of Legends, featuring Hall of Fame members in a Main Street parade through Cooperstown.

The Class of 2015 at the Hall of Fame features Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martínez and John Smoltz, who were all elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA in January. More than 50 Hall of Famers are scheduled to be in Cooperstown to honor the Class of 2015 at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 26, at the Clark Sports Center, which is one mile south of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

For more information on Hall of Fame Weekend, please visit

Yankees keep their manager for four more years

Well, that was quick. All things considered, the Yankees were fortunate to keep their manager in place in a relatively quick period of time during an off-season that promises to be busy. Surely a fourth year on the contract extension was a deal doer. Other clubs – notably the Cubs, Nationals and Reds – as well as a television network or two may have had designs on Girardi, but four-year contracts at seven figures per annum are hard to come by, so the Yankees were able to retain the guy they wanted to continue running the club before his current pact was to expire Oct. 31.

Girardi was deserving of the extension. Even with the World Series championship of 2009 at the top of his accomplishments, Joe’s effort with the 2013 Yankees may have been his best work. It certainly was his most arduous. With the abundance of injuries the Yankees had to deal with, just running out a healthy lineup every day was an ordeal for the manager.

Much was made in the media of Girardi’s Illinois background and ties to the Cubs as a fan while growing up and as a catcher as a player being a temptation for him to go off to Wrigley Field. On a conference phone hookup Wednesday, Girardi emphasized it was a family decision. Mom and the kids were A-OK with the Yankees and New York. The Girardi’s have made solid roots in Westchester County.

And let us not forget that Joe Girardi despite all the Cubs history has become a part of Yankees history as well. He fits in very well come Old Timers’ Day as a player who was part of three World Series championship clubs as a player (1996, ’98-99) as well as his one as a manager. He pointed out that in his conversation with the family that getting to manage in the same place for 10 years, which would be the case if Girardi fulfills the whole contract, is pretty special.

Over his first six years as Yankees manager the club has led the major leagues in home runs (1,236), ranked second in runs (4,884) and seventh in hits (8,836) and batting average (.265). The Yankees have also committed the fewest errors (484) over the span with a majors-best .986 team fielding percentage.

In 2013, Girardi did a good job getting the beaten-up Yankees to an 85-77 finish and third-place tie in the American League East with the Orioles. He got his 500th win as Yankees manager May 10 at Kansas City. The club made just 69 errors in 2013, the third-lowest total in the majors and tying the franchise record for fewest in a season (also 2010). Their .988 fielding percentage set a franchise record, fractionally better than their .988 mark in 2010.

In 2009, Girardi became the ninth Yankees manager to win a World Series, and just the fourth to do so in his postseason managerial debut, joining Casey Stengel (1949), Ralph Houk (1961) and Bob Lemon (1978). Girardi also joined Houk and Billy Martin as the only men to win World Series for the club as players and managers.

Girardi was named the 32nd manager of the Yankees Oct. 30, 2007, becoming the 17th Yankees manager to have played for the club and the fourth former Yankees catcher to skipper the team, joining Bill Dickey, Houk and Yogi Berra.

In 2006, Girardi was named National League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America after guiding the Marlins to a 78-84 record in his first season as a big league manager. With the award, he matched the Astros’ Hal Lanier (1986) and the Giants’ Dusty Baker (1993) as the only managers to win the honor in their managerial debuts.

In 15 major-league seasons as a catcher, Girardi played for the Cubs (1989-92 and 2000-02), Rockies (1993-95), Yankees (1996-99) and Cardinals (2003) and batted .267 with 454 runs, 186 doubles, 36 home runs and 422 RBI in 4,127 at-bats over 1,277 games. He had a .991 career fielding percentage and threw out 27.6 percent of potential base stealers. Girardi was named to the National League All-Star team in 2000 with the Cubs.

With the Yankees, Girardi was behind the plate for Dwight Gooden’s hitter May 14, 1996 against the Mariners and David Cone’s perfect game July 18, 1999 against the Expos. In World Series Game 6 against the Braves in 1996, Girardi tripled in the game’s first run in a three-run third inning off Greg Maddux as the Yankees clinched their first championship since 1978 with a 3-2 victory. He has a .566 winning percentage with a 642-492 record as a manager and is 21-17 in postseason play.

Girardi bats pitcher 8th in inter-league lineup

The Yankees’ starting lineup Wednesday night at Denver’s Coors Field had an unusual look. Not only was a pitcher in the batting order in accordance with National League rules but also said pitcher, David Phelps, was in the eighth spot rather than the traditional 9-hole for pitchers.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s reasoning was pretty sound. With Robinson Cano batting second, someone other than the pitcher, in this case rookie catcher Austin Romine, gives the Yankees an additional hitter in front of Cano after the first time through the order. Girardi also wanted to avoid stacking left-handed batters near the bottom of the order because the Rockies have quality relievers from the left side.

It is not entirely uncommon for pitchers to bat somewhere in the lineup other than ninth. Good hitting pitchers such as Wes Ferrell, Warren Spahn, Bob Lemon, Don Newcombe, Don Drysdale, Don Larsen and Earl Wilson occasionally batted higher in the order than ninth. In more recent years, Tony La Russa often batted a pitcher eighth and a position player ninth in his time with the Cardinals.

Monahan to retire as Yanks’ trainer at season’s end

Gene Monahan, the last link to the first season George Steinbrenner took control of the Yankees, will retire as the club’s long-time head athletic trainer at the end of the season. This is Geno’s 49th season with the Yankees as the longest tenured employee in the organization. He began as a batboy and clubhouse attendant in 1962 as a 17-year-old high school senior in the Yankees’ first spring training in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., his hometown.

Monahan, 66, talked with general manager Brian Cashman, manager Joe Girardi and other team officials about his decision in recent weeks and made the announcement official in an impromptu meeting with the players before Tuesday night’s game against the Royals at Yankee Stadium.

He had gathered the players together to alert them to upcoming skin and oral cancer screenings and then added, ‘Oh, and by the way, this will be my last year with the team.”

That was so typical of Monahan, an admitted introvert who remained in the background except when doing his job – to keep players healthy over the course of the grueling, 162-game schedule. He followed the advice he received years ago from the Yankees’ legendary equipment manager Pete Sheehy – “Keep your ears open and your mouth shut.”

“I got a huge wakeup a year ago, and it had a profound effect on me,” said Monahan, who battled throat and neck cancer that is now in remission. “I realized there are other things in my life that I need to do – to spend more time with my kids, with my extended family. I need to have a dog, a house, a garden, a backyard, and maybe a pickup.”

Geno, as he was affectionately known over the years by managers, coaches and players, not to mention the principal owner, has lived in New Jersey most of the past 40 years but plans to move to North Carolina where he bought a house. That is in the heart of NASCAR country, which is appropriate for Monahan, a passionate auto racing enthusiast.

Monahan spent 10 years working in the Yankees’ minor-league system and graduated from Indiana University as a certified trainer along the way before he was named the team’s head trainer in 1973, the year a group headed by Steinbrenner bought the team.

“The Boss and I came on the scene together,” Monahan said. “We taught each other a lot of stuff. I was always grateful to him for the opportunity. I can’t thank him anymore, but I let his family know that all the time.”

Monahan said he made a point of not getting too close to players because they were all important to him, but he made special mention of a few over the decades – Bobby Murcer, Sparky Lyle, Thurman Munson and Jim “Catfish” Hunter. Monahan served under 16 managers from Ralph Houk to Girardi and including Billy Martin five times and Bob Lemon, Gene Michael and Lou Piniella twice apiece.

The announcement of Monahan’s retirement at season’s end comes the day after the May issue of Yankees Magazine hit the newsstands that features my profile of Monahan. Geno and I spent a couple of days together at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., back in February. The eldest son of a family of eight that migrated south from Pennsylvania, Monahan got a taste of baseball as a teenager and never looked back.

The normally reticent trainer let his hair down a little bit in the interview and takes us through a fascinating career on the front lines of a storied franchise that made a stirring comeback to major prominence during the Steinbrenner era. Look for Alex Rodriguez on the cover and enjoy a trip down Geno’s memory lane.

Monahan is the longest-tenured head athletic trainer in the majors, having worked in that capacity for the past 39 years. In December, he was honored along with longtime assistant Steve Donohue as the Best Athletic Trainers in Major League Baseball in 2010 by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainer Society. Other recent commendations include the 2009 Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award from the National Athletic Trainers Association and induction into the New York State Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 2007. Monahan and Donohue were also honored with Major League Baseball’s Athletic Training Staff of the Year Award in 1990.

Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement, “Gene Monahan embodies all the very best virtues that this organization strives to uphold. His devotion to his craft, passion for the game of baseball and tireless work ethic are only a few of the qualities that have made him a bedrock within this franchise for nearly 50 years. Gene has made a lifetime’s worth of sacrifices and contributions in order to best serve the Yankees, and our entire organization will always be grateful.”

Robin Roberts: A complete pitcher

Two days after the passing of broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell, baseball lost another of its greatest ambassadors with the death of Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts of natural causes at the age of 83. Roberts won 286 games pitching mostly with Phillies teams that except for the “Whiz Kids” year of 1950 when he pitched against the Yankees in the World Series were usually middle of the pack at best.

Roberts was also a member of the Hall’s board of directors and served last year on two Veterans Committees, the one for executives and the one for managers and umpires. I served with Robin on the latter committee and can attest that his views were thoughtful and direct. And there was never a finer dinner companion. Roberts lived in the Tampa area and occasionally accompanied Hall president Jeff Idelson and me to dinner while we were there with the Yankees during spring training.

“His legacy will be his Hall of Fame career and his important role in establishing the Players Association, but his hallmark was the class and dignity with which he led his life,” Idelson said Thursday.

Roberts, who was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in 1976 along with former Indians pitcher and Yankees manager Bob Lemon, was actually with the Yankees in spring training in 1962 when his old uniform No. 36 was retired by the Phillies, the first player for that franchise so honored. The ceremony took place at the Phillies’ facility in Clearwater, Fla., on a day in March when the Yankees were in town and Robin was the starting, and eventual winning, pitcher.

The Phillies had sold Roberts’ contract to the Yankees after his abysmal 1-10 season for last-place Philadelphia in 1961, but he never got to pitch for the Bombers. They released him in May. Roberts signed on with the Orioles and was 42-36 in 3 seasons in Baltimore.

Roberts was a dominant pitcher in the National League in the 1950s. The hard-throwing righthander was a 20-game winner six times and led the league in innings pitched and complete games five times each. He once pitched 28 consecutive complete games, a feat that will never be duplicated in this era of pitch counts, and ended his career with 305 complete games in 609 starts. That’s 50.1 percent!

Roberts’ 1952 season (28-7, 2.59 ERA, 30 complete games in 37 starts, 330 innings) earned him the runner-up finish to Cubs outfielder Hank Sauer for the NL Most Valuable Player Award. Roberts’ failure to win the MVP Award that year was among the reasons commissioner Ford C. Frick pushed for the BBWAA to establish an award for pitchers, which was adopted in 1956 and called the Cy Young Award.

Robin’s most notable achievement away from the field was his part in hiring Marvin Miller as executive director of the Major League Players Association in 1966. Roberts was the chairman of the committee that also included Jim Bunning, Harvey Kuenn, Brooks Robinson and Joe Torre, and had been led to Miller through contacts he had at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

When Robin was honored with the Casey Stengel “You Can Look It Up” Award at the New York Baseball Writers’ Dinner in 2003, Miller attended the affair out of respect for Roberts.

“Robin was so proud to be a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and he served as a Hall of Fame Board member with great distinction, thoughtfulness and a fondness for the Museum’s role in preserving the game and its history,” Hall of Fame board chairman Jane Forbes Clark said.

Here are some thoughts about Robin from other Hall of Famers:

Dennis Eckersley – “Robin was my favorite Hall of Famer. I felt a genuine connection with Robin. He had an ease about him and he transcended generations. He touched many lives, mine being one. I feel blessed to know him, and I will miss him deeply.”

Ryne Sandberg – “He was very supportive of my managing at the minor league level. He often told me to get your pitchers to throw as often as they can, all year around. He also said the best pitch in baseball was a fastball at the knees. He told me he became a Hall of Fame pitcher when he started pitching to contact, allowing his teammates to make the plays. I will miss him.”

Jim Bunning – “A truly great all-time pitcher and hall of famer in baseball, but even more, truly a great human being who I will miss dearly, as will all Phillies and baseball fans across America.”
George Brett – “I first met Robin in 1999 when I was inducted.  He welcomed me with open arms and I had the chance to get to know him over the years and even manage against him in Hall of Fame Fantasy Camps. I have never met a kinder, nicer, more genuine person in my life. He had that knack of being able to embrace you and become your friend, regardless of age.”

Johnny Bench – “Robin was a Hall of Fame person. He gave so much of his time and intellect to the game and the players. He will be missed for his smile and wit. His passing hurts so much.”

Ralph Kiner – “Probably the best fastball I ever saw was Robin Roberts’. His ball would rise around six or eight inches, and with plenty on it. And he had great control, which made him very difficult to hit.”