Position players pitching is usually a fairly amusing occurrence when it happens. Typically, a team does it when they’re down big and don’t want to risk using an actual pitcher in a blowout. We get to watch the backup right fielder or whoever it is throw up meatballs for an inning knowing that they can’t do any real damage, and maybe we get to see him strike someone out.
It’s also an occurrence that’s been happening more frequently over recent years. As a result of that, let’s make an entire lineup out of nine Yankee position players who had a go on the mound.
Catcher: Austin Romine
Romine has the, um, honor of not only being a Yankee position player pitcher, but doing it in a playoff game. In the disastrous 2018 ALDS Game 3, he was called on to get through the top of the ninth with the Yankees losing 14-1 to the Red Sox. He did so, but surrendered a two-run home run to Brock Holt in the process, allowing him to complete the first cycle in playoff history. The very next season, Romine came in for a similar situation against Boston, but that time allowed three runs in one inning pitched.
First Base: Nick Swisher
Yes, first base is hardly the position that Swisher was known for playing with the Yankees, but we’re putting him here for a couple reasons. One is that we need to save right field for another game. The other is that first base is where he started the 2009 game where he came in to pitch. Losing 15-5 to the Rays in the bottom of the eighth, Joe Girardi let Swisher handle the inning, creating one of the more memorable Yankee position player pitching moments.
Swisher threw a scoreless inning, striking out future manager Gabe Kapler in the process.
Second Base: Brendan Ryan
Multi-inning position player pitching outings are not unheard of, but fairly rare, especially in recent years. Yet, that’s what Ryan did on August 25, 2015, after having played seven previous innings at two different positions. After starting the game at second base, Ryan later moved to right field as the Yankees moved things around in the late innings of a blowout loss to the Astros. Then to finish things off, Ryan pitched the eighth and ninth innings, allowing just two hits in two scoreless frames.
Shortstop: Dean Anna
Anna once had the reputation as the “most underrated player in baseball” as a career minor league infielder who had never broken into the majors prior to making the Yankees in 2014. Yet for Yankees fans, his most famous moment will probably go down as the time he pitched. With the Yankees losing big, and some of us on recap duty just looking to get the game over and done with, Anna allowed two runs in the final inning of an eventual 16-1 loss.
Third Base: Wade Boggs
One of the other most notable Yankee PPP outings was Boggs in a 1997 game against the Angels. Boggs had reportedly asked managers over the years for a chance to pitch and show off his knuckleball. Joe Torre finally gave him the chance with the Yankees losing 12-4, and he came through with a scoreless inning where he recorded a strikeout.
Boggs was the last Yankees position player to pitch until Swisher in 2009, a good 12 years later
Left Field: Garrett Jones
Not his most used position, but we’re squeezing in Jones here as his did play 16.1 innings for the Yankees in left. Jones was brought in to try and get two outs in the top of the ninth in a 2015 game, moving over from first base. In conjunction with that move, Álex Rodríguez went from DH to first base, marking just the second time he played the position in his career.
Meanwhile, Jones recorded two outs as the Yankees lost 15-4 to the Rangers.
Center Field: Dewayne Wise
More known for saving runs heroically in the outfield, the Yankees used their bench outfielder Wise on the mound in one game in 2012. Against his former White Sox team, Wise retired both batters he faced to get the Yankees through the top of the ninth in a 14-7 loss.
Right Field: Rocky Colavito
Losing 5-0 in the fourth is not exactly a situation where you usually see a position player pitching, but the Yankees decided to do that on August 25, 1968. It’s a bit more understandable considering that they were playing a doubleheader that day, had played one two days before, and were due to play two more over the next two days. So in went outfielder Rocky Colavito to get two outs in the fourth and throw a scoreless fifth.
However a strange thing happened after that. The Yankees scored six runs over the fourth and fifth innings, taking the lead from the Tigers. As soon as that happened, Colavito was immediately removed and replaced by actual pitcher Dooley Womack. The Yankees proceeded to hang onto that lead over the remaining innings, and the official winning pitcher in that game was Rocky Colavito.
Designated Hitter: Babe Ruth
Alright, we’re throwing in a bonus Babe Ruth at DH even though the position was not close to existing when he retired. The reason is that I wanted to include his occasional Yankee pitching career in here somewhere. Even through Ruth quite famously transitioned to the outfield from pitcher by the time he came to New York, he still got a couple games in on the mound over the years. He appeared in five games over the course of his Yankee career, including a throwing a complete game in both 1930 and ‘35.