I am someone who loves following prospects in their journey to the big leagues. I have ever since I was a kid collecting baseball cards, always wanting to get the rookie card of the hot new player. Plus, there were cool rookie cards like Donruss' Rated Rookies, Topps Rookie All-Stars (or as my brother and I called them, "the gold trophy cards") and Topps Draft Pick cards. I still always cherish my 1993 Topps Derek Jeter Draft Pick Gold rookie card. In high school in the late 1990s, I started reading John Sickels on ESPN's website, and followed him to his own site, SB Nation's Minor League Ball. It is one of the first places I go every morning, along with Pinstriped Bible.
I am also someone who loves the Yankees. I grew up in upstate New York – real upstate New York, or the North Country as we call it. It was actually pretty evenly mixed between Expos, Red Sox, and Yankees fans. But I gravitated to the Yankees, even though they were pretty bad during my formative years of the early 1990s. What really attracted me to the Yankees was their history, which no other team could match. I was, and still am, a history nerd, and originally was going to school to be a high school social studies teacher. When I was reading Abraham Lincoln biographies, and I think I read all of them that were in my library, I was reading books about the 1927 Yankees, about Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Whitey Ford, among others. I loved reading about the great teams and players of Yankees past.
So, how can I combine both these interests. Well, I have a lot of ideas, but for this article, I wanted to look at who were the youngest Yankees players in their history. Thanks to Fangraphs, that was easy enough. I looked at the youngest hitter and the youngest pitchers.
There were two pitchers that debuted with the Yankees during their age-18 season. However, only one of them was actually 18 at the time of their debut, one Cornelius Joseph Brady.
Neal Brady was born on March 4, 1897 in Covington, Kentucky to Cornelius and Cecelia Feeney Brady. He was the grandson of Irish immigrants, and one of nine children. He must have really loved baseball, because he was playing in Dallas in the Texas League in 1915 as a 18-year-old. He had a very good season, going 20-12 in 382.2 innings, being one of only five pitchers to win 20 games in the Texas League that season. This must have impressed the Yankees enough to sign him, as he made his big league debut that same season, on September 25, 1915. He finished his first year with the Yankees having pitched 8.2 innings over two games, including one start, at a league-average 100 ERA+.
Apparently, he impressed the team enough to get an invitation to try out in February, 1916. He didn't make the team, and spent 1916 in the International League, Playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. With Toronto, he pitched in 11 games and 70 innings, going 4-3. He joined the American Association's Toledo Iron Men in 1917 - somehow named that before Lou Gehrig ever played in the major leagues. Brady met his wife in Toledo, marrying Ida Tippett on September 4, 1918 in Lucas County, Ohio. They had two daughters, Cecelia and Frances Brady.
With Hall of Famer Roger Bresnahan's Iron Men in 1917, he put up a 9-20 record with a 3.29 ERA. As bad as that looks, Toledo was not a good team, having a 57-95 record, or a .375 winning percentage. He pitched the most innings on the team, and was second only to Ray Keating's 3.27 ERA among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched. Interestingly, Ray Keating was the second-youngest Yankees pitcher ever, making his debut in his age-18 season but after turning 19.
This earned him another chance with the Yankees in 1917, pitching nine innings in two games, going 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA. In 1918, Brady filled out his World War I registration card, and he became one of 14 Yankees to serve in WWI. He would not play for the Yankees after 1917. Instead, he spent the next three and a half seasons with Toledo, compiling a career record with the Iron Men of 49-83 with a 3.72 ERA. He spent half of 1921 with the Minneapolis Millers, going 5-14 with a 5.73 ERA. He pitched briefly with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1922 (3 games), and then went 9-9 with a 4.19 ERA in 159 innings pitched for the Southern Association's Atlanta Crackers in 1923.
There is no record of him pitching in 1924. He finished is major league baseball career in 1925, pitching 63.2 innings for the Cincinnati Reds at the age of 28. He had a 1-3 record, with a 4.66 ERA in 20 games, with most coming in relief. This brought his career record up to 2-3, with a 4.20 ERA, in 24 career games totaling 81.1 innings. He had one last run in the minors in 1926, going 2-1 in five games with the Newark Bears of the International League.
He and his family lived in Kentucky after that, and in the 1940 census he was listed as a personnel director for Coca-Cola, making $3900 in 1939, equivalent to $65,500 today. He died on June 19, 1947, in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, at the relatively young age of 50. While the promise he showed as a young Kentucky arm in Dallas didn't translate to his major league career, he will probably always be known as the youngest Yankees pitcher in their history.