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A farewell to the Yankees we lost in 2023

Some were always linked to the Yankees, while others passed through like ships in the night. We pay tribute regardless.

New York Yankees
Joe Pepitone (1940-2023)

On the final day of 2022, I started a new annual tradition at Pinstripe Alley of looking back at the Yankees who passed away over the course of the year. We’ve circled the sun since then, so it is again time to doff our caps one final time to the Yankees we’ve lost.

Below is the outline of details of this exercise, excerpted from 365 days ago:

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.

As I also wrote in 2022, 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.

Casey Cox (RHP)
July 3, 1941 - October 2, 2023
Yankees career: 1972-73
NYY statistics: 6 G, 1 GS, 0-1, 14.2 IP, 4.91 ERA, 4 K, 3.52 FIP, 1.500 WHIP

George Frazier (RHP)
October 13, 1954 - June 19, 2023
Yankees career: 1981-83
NYY statistics: 140 G, 8-9, 12 SV, 254.2 IP, 3.25 ERA, 164 K, 3.31 FIP, 1.249 WHIP
MLB honors: World Series champion (1987)

Jeff covered Frazier’s passing during the June 21st news roundup:

New York Post | Christian Arnold: George Frazier, former relief pitcher for the Yankees, passed away at the age of 68 per an announcement from the Rockies after battling an undisclosed illness. He had 140 appearances with the Yankees, the most with any team over his 10-year career. Frazier was somewhat infamously charged with three of the four losses in the 1981 World Series against the Dodgers, though George Steinbrenner later told him, “It wasn’t your fault, kid.” After his career ended with a 1987 championship in Minnesota, Frazier eventually became an announcer, spending 18 years in the Colorado booth and forging a new legacy.

Rob Gardner (LHP)
December 19, 1944 - October 21, 2023
Yankees career: 1970-72
NYY statistics: 23 G, 15 GS, 9-5, 107.1 IP, 3.19 ERA, 66 K, 3.47 FIP, 1.267 WHIP

Esteban covered the loss of Rob Gardner during the October 27th news roundup:

MLB Trade Rumors | Darragh McDonald: Former Yankees pitcher, Rob Gardner has passed away. Gardner played in the 1960s and 1970s, and was a journeyman reliever. He has a special place in baseball and Yankees history as being traded twice from the team to Oakland, but on top of that, he was traded for Felipe Alou and then his brother, Matty Alou the second time. That’s one of the most unique transaction paths in history.

Roger Hambright (RHP)
March 26, 1949 - April 15, 2023
Yankees career: 1971
NYY statistics: 18 G, 3-1, 26.2 IP, 4.39 ERA, 14 K, 4.96 FIP, 1.200 WHIP

Don Hood (LHP)
October 16, 1949 - June 10, 2023
Yankees career: 1979
NYY statistics: 27 G, 6 GS, 3-1, 1 SV, 67.1 IP, 3.07 ERA, 22 K, 4.08 FIP, 1.366 WHIP

John Miller (LF/1B)
March 14, 1944 - April 23, 2023
Yankees career: 1966
NYY statistics: 6 G, .087/.087/.217, 2 H, 1 HR

Long before the likes of Marcus Thames, Aaron Judge, and Jasson Domínguez homered in their first career at-bats, Miller was the first player in Yankees history to do so. He didn’t have much of an MLB career, but he did crush 79 long balls across three seasons in Japan with the NPB’s Chunichi Dragons from 1970-72.

Joe Pepitone (1B/CF)
October 9, 1940 - March 13, 2023
Yankees career: 1962-69 (PSA Top 100 Yankee)
NYY statistics: 1,051 G, .252/.294/.423, 967 H, 113 2B, 24 3B, 166 HR, 105 OPS+
MLB honors: 3x Gold Glove (1965-66 and 1969, all with NYY), World Series champion (1962 with NYY), 3x All-Star (1963-65, all with NYY)

The biggest Yankees name lost in 2023, we just ranked Pepitone 90th on our countdown of the Top 100 Yankees, so we have a great writeup on his life from Matt. Madison discussed his passing in the March 14th news roundup:

CBS Sports | Mike Axisa: The Yankees mourned the passing of one of their franchise’s most beloved players on Monday, when news came that Joe Pepitone had died at the age of 82. Pepitone was a mainstay of the team throughout the 1960s, winning two pennants with the organization as a player and returning briefly as a coach in the ‘80s. He was an Old-Timers’ Day regular and amusingly once made waves as the first player to bring a hair dryer into the locker room.
The Yankees put out a statement, not only praising the three-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner’s career accomplishments, but highlighting that “as a native New Yorker, he embraced everything about being a Yankee during both his playing career ... and in the decades thereafter.”
Rest in peace Joe. We all appreciate you for what you brought to the city and the game.

Lou Skizas (PH)
June 2, 1932 - November 17, 2023
Yankees career: 1956
NYY statistics: 6 G, .167/.167/.167, 1 H

Esteban covered Skizas’ passing during the November 28th news roundup:

Legacy | Chicago Sun-Times: One of the longest-living Yankees has passed away. Lou Skizas was signed by New York after graduating from Crane Tech in Chicago and worked his way up through the minors (playing alongside the likes of Mickey Mantle) to debut with them as a pinch-hitter in April 1956. He singled off Washington’s Chuck Stobbs in his first career at-bat, but his Yankees career lasted just six games before going back to the minors and getting dealt in one of many trades with the Kansas City A’s. Skizas stuck around as an outfielder and occasional third baseball through 1959, spending time in Detroit and back home with the White Sox. Following his retirement, he earned his Ph.D in kinesiology from the University of Illinois. Skizas was 92 when he passed away on November 17th.

Dave Wehrmeister (RHP)
November 9, 1952 - December 6, 2023
Yankees career: 1981
NYY statistics: 5 G, 7 IP, 0-0, 5.14 ERA, 7 K, 3.60 FIP, 1.857 WHIP

Other Notable Yankees Figures Lost in 2023

Pat Corrales
March 20, 1941 - August 27, 2023
Former Yankees coach (obit)
MLB honors: World Series champion coach (1995)

Joan Ford
September 26, 1931 - December 18, 2023
Widow of Yankees legend Whitey Ford

Arlene Howard
May 3, 1933 - December 18, 2023
Widow of Yankees legend Elston Howard

Frank Howard
August 8, 1936 - October 20, 2023
Former Yankees coach (obit)
MLB honors: NL Rookie of the Year (1960); 300-homer Club; World Series champion (1963); 4x All-Star (1968-71)

Tim McCarver
October 16, 1941 - February 16, 2023
Former Yankees announcer (obit)
MLB honors: 2x World Series champion (1964, 1967); 2x All-Star (1966-67)

George Rose
January 7, 1966 - August 27, 2023
Former Yankees Director of Pacific Rim Operations (obit)
MLB honors: World Series champion translator (1998-99)

Special thanks again to Sam Gazdziak.