Monday, August 07, 2006

August 7th, 1862/1977

Jim Gray/Tyler Yates Born

It's been a while since I've done a "linkage" blog, so this one will take along the path of common teammates from the oldest (well, dead-est, but you get the idea) player born on this date through to the youngest. Before we get to them, it's only fair to do introductions. Jim Gray played in only six career games, doing so at the rather wide age range of twenty-one, twenty-seven and thirty. He finished with a career batting average of .304, but given that's just seven for twenty-three; I'd take it with a grain of salt. Appropriately for the most recent player from August 7th, Tyler Yates is from our most recent state, Hawaii. After growing up and attending college there, Yates broke into the Majors with the Mets in 2004, and while he didn't see any time at the big league level last year, he's thrown around twenty-five innings for the Braves this season. Moving along to the list then:

Jim Gray played with Bill Wilson on the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys: The very next year the team would become known as the more familiar Pirates, but this year they were differently named. However, they had much in common with the modern Pirates, as they were an awful team, posting a winning percentage equal to fewer than thirty wins across 162 games. Bill Wilson was the team's primary bench player and didn't help much, hitting just .214

Bill Wilson played with Nick Altrock on the 1898 Louisville Colonels: Altrock, of course, has been written about at length both here and elsewhere. There has been less written about the 1898 Colonels, which is little surprise as they are a largely forgettable team, and might-be totally forgettable if not for being the home of Honus Wagner's first full season. (Incidentally, Wagner played first base, of all things, that year.)

Nick Altrock played with Sam West on the 1929 Washington Senators: Anything with Altrock is kind-of cheating, since he didn't really play with Sam West, but that's life. For someone I've never heard of--although I should do an all compass points team someday--West had a long career playing sixteen seasons and batting .299 over that time. The 1929 Senators were the first team managed by the Senators' former ace Walter Johnson. Johnson had a rough start, going just 71-81 that year, but would win ninety-two or more games the next three years.

Sam West played Early Wynn on the 1941 Washington Senators: Told you West had a long career. Although to be fair he had left the Sens for a five and a half stretch with the St. Louis Browns. Wynn would of course go onto a Hall of Fame career for the Indians and the White Sox, but at this point he was just a kid trying to make it in the big leagues. Wynn would go 3-1 with an outstanding 1.58 ERA in DC that year over forty innings. Unlike Wynn, the '41 Washingtonians were not-so-outstanding, losing eighty-four games.

Early Wynn played with Tommy John on the 1963 Cleveland Indians: Talk about your long careers, when Wynn began his career, Dwight Eisenhower was just an obscure Lieutenant Colonel toiling staff jobs in Washington. Over the length of Wynn's career "Ike" would rise to command the Allied armies in World War Two and serve two full terms as President and retired as a private citizen when Wynn was still pitching. Just like Wynn, Tommy John would go onto a great (arguably Hall of Fame caliber) career, but this was his rookie season as John went 0-2 with a 2.21 ERA over twenty innings. And like Wynn's first club, John's was not-so-good, losing eighty-three games.

Tommy John played Al Leiter on the 1989 New York Yankees: Continuing our theme here, we come to another pretty good pitcher in one of his first seasons. Leiter is not the pitcher Wynn or John were, but he had some damn fine seasons. 1989 was not one of them as Leiter posted a 5.63 ERA pitching for the Yankees and Blue Jays. Of course, this was not one of the Yankees' finest seasons either, as they lost eighty-seven games one of the highest totals in franchise history.

Al Leiter played with Tyler Yates on the 2004 New York Mets: And here we return to Tyler Yates and his debut season for the hugely mediocre 2004 Mets. Our chain of largely good pitchers debuting on bad teams is complete, and it's up to Tyler to continue that tradition. No pressure, kid.

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