Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

A big Happy and Healthy New Year to the readers of My Pinstripes and their families. New Year's eve is an important date in New York Yankees history. It was 35 years ago tonight, December 31, 1974, that the Yankees changed the make up of the ball club for the better.

That night the Yankees announced their first big free agent signing in the George Steinbrenner Era. Jim "Catfish" Hunter was a winner. The three time world champion (with the Oakland A's) was a money pitcher. He had won 20 games four times and was a six time All-Star before arriving in New York. More importantly, he was a positive influence on the field and in the clubhouse, and an even better person than he was a ball player.

The Yankees were in the midst of the "declinasty", a period that began in 1964. Since their loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Seris that year, the Yankees hadn't won anything. Not a championship, not a pennant, or the newly formed divisions that came into existance in 1969. But Hunter was the first piece towards changing all that.

Catfish would win 25 games in his first year as a Yankee. And he completed 30 games. Those of you under the age of 25 read that correctly. Starters finished games back then. One year later the Yankees would win the pennant and two years later, the first of back to back championships. It might not have been possible at the Yankees not signed the future Hall of Famer.

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