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Yankees History: Pitchers with “perfect” careers in pinstripes

David McKay’s 1-2-3 inning currently has him in an odd club.

MLB: 2022 New York Yankees Media Day USA TODAY NETWORK

As part of a flurry of moves ahead of last Sunday’s doubleheader against the White Sox, the Yankees called up pitcher David McKay. The former Mariner and Tiger would make his Yankee debut in the second game of the day, throwing a 1-2-3 inning in an otherwise frustrating 5-0 loss.

After the game, he was optioned back to Triple-A, meaning that lone inning is, for now, the only action of his Yankee career. The reliever churn over the course of a season means there’s a decent chance he’ll be back at some point, even if it’s just for another inning or two in a pinch. If and until that happens, though, he has technically retired every single batter he’s faced as a Yankee.

As you might expect, the list of Yankees’ pitcher who’ve gotten out every batter they’ve faced is fairly small. Typically, when a pitcher does well, a team is going to give them more chances. Getting through one inning flawlessly is far from a given. Yet in the case of these eight pitchers, they finished their Yankee pitching careers with no hits, walks, hit by pitches, reached on errors, nothing.

As I alluded to, the pitchers on this list didn’t exactly throw many innings with the Yankees. The longest career in pinstripes where a pitcher retired every batter they faced belongs to Roger Slagle.

A 1976 secondary phase Yankees’ draft pick, Slagle worked his way through the minors, getting a September call up in 1979. In a September 7th game against the Tigers, Slagle was given his MLB debut, coming out of the bullpen with the Yankees trailing 6-0. The pitcher came in and retired all six Tigers he faced over the seventh and eighth innings, as the Yankees lost the game.

Slagle wouldn’t appear the rest of the season and ended up falling away once he returned back to the minors the next season. He never made it back to the bigs for the Yankees, or any other team, meaning his six up, six down performance against Detroit would be the extent of his MLB career.

The only other two actual pitchers on the list also never got another MLB shot after their “perfect” Yankees’ careers. All the way back in 1918 and then in 2011, Walter Berhardt and Steve Garrison made their MLB debuts with the Yankees, retired all the batters they faced, and then never played in the big leagues again. In each instance, they only went 0.2 innings, not even working a full frame.

For Berhardt, that was seemingly his only professional baseball experience at any level, as there are no other stats listed for him on Baseball Reference. Garrison played for a couple more years in the minors and in independent leagues after his brief 2011 stint. He’ll always get grouped with the rest of the early to mid 2010s random Yankee relievers, but he does have the notable status of being perfect, even though he probably would’ve liked to have stuck around longer.

The remaining “pitchers” who have done it were all normally position players. Hal Chase, Alberto González, Álvaro Espinoza, and Dewayne Wise all had “perfect” Yankee pitching careers, although none of them topped an inning.

Wise is the only person on the list besides McKay, who had thrown 26.2 innings in 2019 and ‘20, who doesn’t have a perfect MLB pitching career, as he made another appearance on the mound after the one with the Yankees. A few months after his stint with the Yankees in 2012, he also appeared as a pitcher with the White Sox. He both walked a hitter and allowed a single, but did induce a double play in a scoreless inning.

As you can tell by the names on the list, you don’t really want to end up on this list, because it means you didn’t get much of a chance in the majors. However, it’s still a notable fun fact.