On the morning of Wednesday, August 12, 1964, the Yankees were languishing in third place, trailing the Orioles by 3 1/2 games and the White Sox by 2 1/2. The Yankees were in the last days of a great dynasty, having won 13 American League pennants and nine World Series in the previous 15 years.
That day a tall, slender right-hand pitcher named Mel Stottlemyre was called up to make his major league debut. Aided by a tape measure home run by Mickey Mantle, Stott pitched a complete-game, seven-hitter and beat the ChiSox, 7-3, for his first big league win. He even singled in his first at bat. .
That was 51 years ago, but the Yankees made arguably their most important pitching call-up since then when they brought up highly touted Luis Serevino, pictured below, in early August. Although Severino didn’t fare quite as well as Stottlemyre in his debut, he did pitch well, striking out seven batters, walking none, and allowing only two hits and one unearned run in a 2-1 loss to the Red Sox.
The Yankees have had plenty of starting pitching prospects since then. But outside of a few notable exceptions, like Ron Guidry and Andy Pettitte, few have lived up to expectations. Home-grown talent like Jim Beattie, Scott Kamieniecki, Sam Militello and later Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, have struggled in the Bronx. And then there was the sad tale of Brien Taylor, the top overall pick in the 1991 draft, who injured his shoulder in a bar fight and never pitched in the majors.
Stott down the stretch
Back to 1964. Stottlemyre went 9-3 down the stretch that year and was a major force as the Yankees advanced to the World Series against the Cardinals. He beat the Orioles, 3-1, just three days after his debut.And on August 22, in his third start, he righted the ship and stopped a six-game losing streak with an 8-0 shutout win over the Red Sox. The Yankees won 30 of their last 41 games to take the flag.
Stottlemyre won six more games in 1964, highlighted by a 7-0 shutout of the Washington Senators on September 26 in which he allowed just two hits. But the kicker was at the plate, where Stott went 5-for-5 and drove in a pair of runs.
In the World Series that October, the Yankees became heavily dependent on Stottlemyre after Whitey Ford was injured in the opener. Mel beat Bob Gibson in Game Two, a complete game 8-3 victory. Despite pitching seven strong innings in Game Five, he came away with a no decision. Finally, pitching on just two days rest, he lost to Gibson and the Cardinals 7-5 in Game Seven.
Stottlemyre would pitch 10 more years in the Bronx and never saw the playoffs after 1964. Severino’s fate is still TBD.
Related blog: Mel Stottlemyre’s inside-the-park grand slam.
Phil Hughes 0-3, 8.82 ERA, Ian Kennedy 0-2 9.04 ERA. Do you think Hank Steinbrenner is keeping an eye on Johan Santana and reminding Brian Cashman about the trade that was never made….like every 10 minutes or so. That’s what George would have done.
Hughes’ blog sure gets more hits than sportslifer…..but he gives up more hits too.
We’ve seen just about enough of Jason Giambi in the middle the of the Yankee lineup. He can’t hit, he can’t field, he can’t throw and he can’t run. Other than that, he’s a great guy.
But now that A-Rod has a strained quad, we’ll no doubt be treated to even more of the Giam-balco. Unless the Bombers decide to bring back Joe Pepitone.
Considering the lack of starting pitching, clutch hitting, and a lot of road games, it’s amazing the Yankees are 10-10.
Over the years, Yankee fans have come to take the playoffs for granted. The last time they failed to make the playoffs was 1993 (remember 1994 was the strike year). There are college kids who can’t remember the last time the Yankees didn’t get into the post-season.
Suns vs. Spurs has to be one of the best first-round series in NBA history. Double OT in Game One. Remindful of some of those Knicks-Bullets encounters of the late 60s and early 70s.
Speaking of past Knicks, loved the headline the New York Post on Saturday — BYE-SIAH! Wish GO-LAN for James Dolan was next.
German Pope visits the White House and Yankee Stadium, baseball season opens in Japan. The world has changed since WWII. And that’s a good thing.
Rangers over Devils was not a surprise — Rangers dominated the regular season, and had more firepower. The surprise was the sieve-like effort turned in by Marty Brodeur, who has carried the Devils on his back all these years.
Brodeur missed a bunch of pucks throughout the series, and he missed Sean Avery’s handshake on the receiving line at the end of Game 5.
Couple of dozen blogs ago, sportslifer posed the question: Name the only college football team to have three players make the NFL Hall of Fame? The answer: the 1951 University of San Francisco Dons, with Gino Marchetti, Ollie Matson, and Bob St. Clair.