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A rotation of Hall of Fame aces with brief Yankee careers

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Their bronze plaques do not carry the interlocking NY. Well, one does.

Dazzy Vance Dodgers Portrait

The Yankees have had scores of Hall of Famers don the pinstripes over the years. Although most of them had long and storied careers with the Yankees, not all of them fit that bill. Some had very brief careers in New York. That’s especially so when it comes to pitchers. For some fun, here is an entire rotation (plus some bonus names) of pitchers who threw 60 or fewer innings with the Yankees.

1. Dazzy Vance (30.1 IP)

The only person here to play for the Yankees in the beginning of his career, Vance is arguably one of the biggest misses in franchise history.

After buying the 24-year-old from the Pirates shortly after his major league debut, Vance made three starts for the Yankees in 1915, but failed to impress. He then spent several years in the minors, finally resurfacing in the majors in 1918. The following year, they sold him to a Pacific Coast League team, ending his tenure with the Yankees.

In 1922, the Dodgers purchased him, and he quickly turned into one of the best starters in the majors, winning MVP in 1924, and leading the league in strikeouts seven times and in ERA three times.

While the Yankees quite obviously missed on him, his career reportedly turned around after getting his arm examined, revealing an underlying injury. Why did he need his arm examined to begin with? He hurt it at a poker game, obviously.

2. Gaylord Perry (50.2 IP)

After a legendary career with the Giants, Perry became a highly successful journeyman, winning Cy Youngs in both leagues with the Indians and Padres. In 1980, the Yankees acquired him to try and help in their AL East race. They ended up winning the division, but Perry was less than stellar and wouldn’t be re-signed after the season. He must not have had any good foreign substances to apply to the ball in New York, allegedly.

3. Burleigh Grimes (18 IP)

Grimes came to prominence with the Brooklyn Dodgers before recording two MVP-level seasons with the Pirates from 1928-29. He continued to wander around the National League before signing with the Yankees as a 39-year-old in 1934. He made 10 appearances out of the bullpen, but struggled and was released a little over two months later. After his playing career, he would do some scouting work for the team.

4. Stan Coveleski (58 IP)

A World Series winner with Cleveland in 1920, Coveleski was decently successful against the mid-to-late 1920s Yankees’ teams. However, in 1927, he missed most of the year and was released in June due to a sore arm. He attempted a comeback the following season with the Yankees, but continued to struggle and was cut loose in August.

5. Babe Ruth (31 IP)

A three-time World Series champion pitcher with the Red Sox, Ruth was acquired in his prime at age 25 in 1920 and was well-established as one of the top southpaws in the American League. However, he only threw 31 innings in his Yankee career, though the team kept him around all the way through the 1935 season. It’s unclear why.

Closer: Lee Smith (8 IP)

When Mariano Rivera set the all-time saves record in 2011, it was not the first time that the person who held that mark wore pinstripes.

In the midst of an AL East race with the Blue Jays, the Yankees acquired then-saves record holder Lee Smith in a trade with the Cardinals. He was excellent, throwing eight scoreless innings and striking out 11 while tacking on three more saves (including his 400th). The rest of the team did not keep that up, and they fell away with Smith signing elsewhere in the offseason.

Bonus: Wade Boggs (1 IP)

Sources

https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/dazzy-vance/

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/perryga01.shtml

https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/burleigh-grimes/

https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/stan-coveleski/