No matter the era, it takes a lot of talent to make the major leagues. Plenty of blood, sweat, and tears go into the effort, and while most careers are short, they’re all special to the people who mean the most to them.
That’s why I’m going to try to start a new Pinstripe Alley tradition as we close out 2022. In this post, I’ll quickly run through the Yankees we lost this year with at least some form of extended reading if you have any interest (the work of Sam Gazdziak at RIP Baseball is much appreciated here). Are some of these players mostly anonymous? Of course. But they were still someone’s brother, father, uncle, grandfather — you name it. If by some off-chance those relatives or friends stumble upon this corner of the internet, know that they are appreciated and remembered.
These men wore Yankees pinstripes, just like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Thurman Munson, and all the other legends who are no longer with us. Even if it was just for a day, imagine how amazing a feeling that must have been.
Jim Bronstad (RHP)
June 22, 1936 - April 9, 2022
Yankees career: 1959
NYY statistics: 16 G, 0-3, 29.1 IP, 5.22 ERA, 14 K, 3.91 FIP, 1.602 WHIP
#RIP to Jim Bronstad, pitcher for the #Yankees & Senators over parts of 3 seasons in the 1950s/60s. He died on April 9 at the age of 85. A native of Fort Worth, he retired from baseball when he was 29 to work back home in the construction industry. https://t.co/fANPFOfsBc— RIP Baseball (@rip_mlb) April 17, 2022
Bill Burbach (RHP)
August 22, 1947 - July 20, 2022
Yankees career: 1969-71
NYY statistics: 37 G, 28 GS, 6-11, 160.2 IP, 4.48 ERA, 95 K, 4.94 FIP, 1.600 WHIP
Burbach was the Yankees’ very first MLB Draft pick, back in 1965. Matt discussed his career a few years ago as part of a retrospective on that initial class:
The Yankees had the 19th selection, having lost the World Series in 1964. With their first round pick, they took Bill Burbach. The pitcher out of a Wisconsin high school would go down in history as the first ever Yankee draft pick.
After a rough start in the minors as a 17-year old, Burbach started steadily putting up solid numbers over the next couple seasons. He would make the Yankees to start the 1969 season, getting the start in the fifth game of the season. Burbach allowed just two runs, one earned, on five hits in six inning in his debut. He got a no decision as Lindy McDaniel would blow a save, only to get the win when the Yankees scored seven runs in the eighth and ninth innings.
Burbach would throw 140.2 innings across 31 games (24 starts) in his rookie year. His 3.65 ERA was slightly below average for the era, but he seemingly didn’t have a bad year for a 21-year old playing in his first season.
For whatever reason, Burbach would only get 19.2 innings across the next two years. (Allowing 23 runs in those innings probably had something to do with it.) He was traded to the Orioles in 1971 and never played in the majors after leaving New York.
RIP to Bill Burbach, who pitched for the #Yankees from 1969-71. He died on July 20 at age 74 from natural causes. Burbach was the Yankees' first-ever draft pick in 1965, and he was Satchel Paige's last-ever professional pitching opponent in 1966. https://t.co/2ZgAxPNo2m— RIP Baseball (@rip_mlb) July 25, 2022
John Cumberland (LHP)
May 10, 1947 - April 5, 2022
Yankees career: 1968-70
NYY statistics: 18 G, 8 GS, 3-4, 70 IP, 4.11 ERA, 39 K, 4.22 FIP, 1.257 WHIP
RIP to John Cumberland, pitcher for the #Yankees, #Giants, #Cardinals & #Angels between 1968-74. He died on April 5 at the age of 74. After his playing career, he became a pitching coach, notably helping Dwight Gooden hone his killer instinct. https://t.co/lNQqnaTcOC— RIP Baseball (@rip_mlb) May 11, 2022
John Ellis (C/1B)
August 21, 1948 - April 6, 2022
Yankees career: 1969-72
NYY statistics: 235 G, .260/.317/.391, 172 H, 33 2B, 3 3B, 16 HR, 105 OPS+
Jake wrote about Ellis in the news roundup on April 9th:
New York Post | Ted Holmlund: Former Yankees catcher John Ellis passed away earlier this week at the age of 73 from a recurrence of cancer. Ellis came up through the Yankee system and debuted with the club in 1969, playing four seasons. He managed a 105 OPS+ in that time, before being traded to Cleveland as part of a deal that brought Graig Nettles to New York.
RIP to John Ellis, C/1B for the #Yankees, #Guardians & #Rangers from 1969-81. He died April 5 at age 73 from cancer. Ellis founded the Connecticut Cancer Foundation, which raised almost $7 million to help cancer patients & their families financially. https://t.co/k73vsxxre3— RIP Baseball (@rip_mlb) April 11, 2022
Héctor López (UTIL)
July 8, 1929 - September 29, 2022
Yankees career: 1959-66
NYY statistics: 864 G, .262/.324/.399, 658 H, 94 2B, 21 3B, 69 HR, 7 SB, 101 OPS+
MLB honors: 2x World Series champion (1961-62, with NYY)
Peter wrote about López in the news roundup on October 1st:
MLB.com | Julia Kreuz: Former Yankee Héctor López passed away on Friday at the age of 93. López became the second Panamanian player in MLB when he debut with the Kansas City Athletics in 1955 and was the first Black manager in Triple-A, six years before Frank Robinson became the first Black manager in MLB in 1975. López won two World Series with the Yankees in 1961 and 1962 as the third man in the outfield alongside Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and was a regular sight at Old-Timers’ Day (attending as recently as 2019). Our thoughts go out to his family and loved ones.
The Hall of Fame remembers two-time Yankees World Series champion and 12-year MLB veteran Héctor López, who has passed away at the age of 93. pic.twitter.com/N2m731LrA4— National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ⚾ (@baseballhall) September 30, 2022
Gaylord Perry (RHP)
September 15, 1938 - December 1, 2022
Yankees career: 1980
NYY statistics: 10 G, 8 GS, 4-4, 50.2 IP, 4.44 ERA, 28 K, 3.28 FIP, 1.638 WHIP
MLB honors: Hall of Fame (1991); 300-win Club; 3,000-K Club; 2x Cy Young (1972, 1978); 5x All-Star (1966, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1979)
Matt went deep on Perry’s brief cameo with the Yankees in this article, which I highly recommend. Here was my news entry from the next day:
MLB.com | Chris Haft: The news this morning ends on a downer, as Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry has left us. The two-time Cy Young Award winner passed away on Thursday morning at age 84. The modern-day master of the spitter (or at least psychological warfare on the mound) spent a month and a half in pinstripes in 1980 for the eventual AL East champions, though it was just one late stop on the road of a helluva career.
The Hall of Fame remembers Gaylord Perryhttps://t.co/Vm0vNhwRDa pic.twitter.com/fcLNiuwKfe— National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ⚾ (@baseballhall) December 1, 2022
Jack Reed (OF)
February 2, 1933 - November 10, 2022
Yankees career: 1961-63
NYY statistics: 222 G, .233/.308/.326, 30 H, 5 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 7 SB, 76 OPS+
MLB honors: 2x World Series champion (1961-62, with NYY)
Matt coincidentally wrote about Reed — affectionately known as “Mantle’s Legs” for his substitutions for the ailing legend — just a couple months before he passed away:
There are a couple role players every year who end up not getting much chances to hit despite playing in several games. One #Yankees outfielder from the 1960s made a career of that statistical anomaly: https://t.co/J9F55xUKf0— Pinstripe Alley (@pinstripealley) September 18, 2022
Dick Schofield (SS)
January 7, 1935 - July 11, 2022
Yankees career: 1966
NYY statistics: 25 G, .155/.265/.190, 9 H, 2 2B, 37 OPS+
MLB honors: World Series champion (1960)
Dick Schofield is part of a long baseball legacy, with four generations of pro ballplayers. Dick, who had a 19-year career in the majors, died on July 11 at the age of 87. He won a World Series with the #Pirates in 1960 and hit .333 as a valuable backup. https://t.co/Zab9EwhxhG— RIP Baseball (@rip_mlb) July 20, 2022
Bill Short (LHP)
November 27, 1937 - February 2, 2022
Yankees career: 1960
NYY statistics: 10 G, 10 GS, 3-5, 47 IP, 4.79 ERA, 14 K, 5.29 FIP, 1.681 WHIP
MLB honors: World Series champion (1966)
We remember Bill Short - @Yankees 1960; @Orioles 1962, 1966; @RedSox 1966; @Pirates 1967; @Mets 1968; @Reds 1969. Made 10 starts for AL champion #Yankees in 1960. Was Most Valuable Pitcher in Triple-A International League in 1959, going 17-6 (2.48) for Richmond. #RestInPeace pic.twitter.com/4iUldnob8O— Baseball Digest (@BaseballDigest) April 1, 2022
Ralph Terry (RHP)
January 9, 1936 - March 16, 2022
Yankees career: 1956-57, 1959-64
NYY statistics: 210 G, 161 GS, 78-59, 1,198 IP, 3.44 ERA, 615 K, 3.68 FIP, 1.151 WHIP
MLB honors: World Series MVP (1962); 3x World Series champion (1956 and 1961-62, all with NYY); 2x All-Star (1962)
I wrote about Terry in the news roundup on March 17th:
The Yankees lost one of their longest-living players yesterday, as pitcher Ralph Terry passed away at age 86. The All-Star right-hander had two separate stints with New York, as he was signed by them a couple months shy of his 18th birthday and debuted in 1956. Terry was sent to the Kansas City A’s for seasoning in June of ‘57, only to have the essential farm club trade him back to the Bronx in May of ‘59.
Terry came into his own in 1960 but was the unfortunate man on the mound when Bill Mazeroski broke New York hearts in Game 7 of the World Series. Some players might’ve faltered and let that define their baseball life, but not Terry. He was one of the main starters on the ‘61 champions and had a career year in ‘62, leading the AL with 23 wins, 39 starts, and 298.2 innings. The All-Star was tapped for three World Series starts against the fierce Giants of Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, and he was brilliant. Terry was named the Fall Classic MVP with a 1.80 ERA across 25 innings, twirling a four-hit shutout in Game 7 and surviving a scary McCovey drive to clinch the Yankees’ 20th World Series title.
That was the apex of Terry’s career, and after pitching for two more AL pennant-winners in ‘63 and ‘64, the Yankees dealt him to Cleveland. He played for three more seasons and called it a career after two games with the ‘67 Mets. Terry found new life in another sport, golf, as he competed in 106 PGA events, including many years on the Senior Tour. He retired to Larnard, Kansas, where he resided at the time of his passing. Rest in peace, Ralph Terry.
The Hall of Fame remembers former All-Star pitcher and World Series MVP Ralph Terry, who passed away on Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/LSDRLorNAv— National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ⚾ (@baseballhall) March 17, 2022
Lee Thomas (RF/1B)
February 5, 1936 - August 31, 2022
Yankees career: 1961
NYY statistics: 2 G, .500/.500/.500, 1 H
MLB honors: World Series champion (1961, with NYY), 2x All-Star (1962)
RIP to Lee Thomas, an All-Star with the #Angels and the 1993 Executive of the Year. He died Aug. 31 at the age of 86. A former 1B/OF with the Angels, #Yankees, #RedSox, #Braves, #Cubs & #Astros, he assembled the 1993 pennant-winning #Phillies as the GM. https://t.co/99FrwyKubt— RIP Baseball (@rip_mlb) September 4, 2022
Pete Ward (1B)
July 26, 1937 - March 16, 2022
Yankees career: 1970
NYY statistics: 66 G, .260/.333/.377, 20 H, 2 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 100 OPS+
RIP to Pete Ward, the 1963 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up. He died March 16 at age 84. He came up with the #Orioles but found stardom with the #WhiteSox before injuries curtailed his effectiveness. He finished his career with the #Yankees in 1970. https://t.co/p3Niirtney— RIP Baseball (@rip_mlb) March 22, 2022
Gerald Williams (OF)
August 10, 1966 - February 8, 2022
Yankees career: 1992-96, 2001-02
NYY statistics: 384 G, .241/.298/.420, 159 H, 46 2B, 9 3B, 18 HR, 21 SB, 85 OPS+
MLB honors: World Series champion (1996, with NYY)
Sadly the youngest man on this roll call, Williams came up to the majors around the same time as Bernie Williams (no relation) and also became one of Derek Jeter’s closest friends. He was traded midseason during the Yankees’ 1996 World Series run but was always a respected figure in that clubhouse. I wrote a full obit on him back in February:
Gordie Windhorn (OF)
December 19, 1933 - May 21, 2022
Yankees career: 1959
NYY statistics: 7 G, .000/.000/.000
RIP to Gordon Windhorn, outfielder for the #Yankees, #Dodgers, #Athletics & #Angels from 1959-62. He died May 21 at age 88. Windhorn, a former track star turned outfielder, also had a 6-year career with the Hankyu Braves of the Japan Pacific League. https://t.co/Q0nmRXAicX— RIP Baseball (@rip_mlb) May 27, 2022
Special thanks again to Sam Gazdziak.