After failing to pick up a hit in Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays, Kyle Higashioka became the Yankee position player with the most plate appearances without a hit. If pitchers are included, there are still two players ahead of him. However, other than them, Higashioka holds this unfortunate record.
The position player who Higashioka passed was also a catcher. Roy Luebbe got 18 plate appearances for the Yankees, he walked three times, but never got a hit in his Yankee career. His time with the Yankees was brief, but his baseball career overall was eventful.
Luebbe’s play in the sandlots of Omaha eventually got him a professional contract with the Omaha Buffaloes in 1921. He wouldn’t make in into a game that season, only serving as a bullpen catcher. The following season he got a spot on the Waterloo Hawks. There he gained a reputation as a solid young catcher with a really good arm.
The Phillies invited Luebbe to spring training in 1923, and ended up putting him in their minor league system. However, they released Luebbe pretty quickly after he suffered a broken thumb.
After another spring with the Phillies in 1924, Luebbe returned to the Buffaloes. In the winter of 1925, he was reported to have been traded by Omaha to the St. Joseph Saints for an airplane. The story had been reported by the AP, but later turned out to be untrue, unfortunately.
In July of 1925, the Yankees purchased Luebbe from Omaha. The Yankees were having a disappointing season and were aggressive in signing young, minor league talent. Luebbe was originally supposed to finish the season in Omaha, but Miller Huggins instead opted to bring him to New York to get a look at him.
Luebbe made his debut on August 22nd, going 0-2 with a walk, however, he did throw out a runner. He went 0-2 the next day, and then came off the bench as a defensive replacement in the next two days.
His next start came September 8th. Luebbe once again did not record a hit, but walked once and actually recorded two RBI. He made three more appearances over the course of September, going 0-1, 0-3, and 0-4. Huggins decided he had seen enough, and Luebbe wouldn’t play a major league game again. He had 18 plate appearances in his career and never recorded a hit.
After 1925, Luebbe became a minor league journeyman. He spent a lot of time playing for various teams in North Carolina. In 1929, he made national news for cutting down a tree outside the Charlotte stadium because it was annoying him when he was at the plate.
He was again given a chance in a major league system when the Boston Braves signed him. However, he got hurt again and didn’t make it back to the majors.
After his professional career, he returned to Omaha and played for several semi-pro teams. During a semi-pro tournament he played in in 1935, he and an opposing catcher started fighting, leading to player and fans both storming the field during the chaos. He died in Omaha in 1985.
At least for right now, Roy Luebbe is no longer the holder of an unfortunate record in Yankees’ history.