When the Yankees Were on the Fritz: Revisiting the “Horace Clarke Era”

When the Yankees Were On The Fritz: Revisiting the This book is a players inside look at the Horace Clarke Era, a low point in Yankee history when the New York Yankees couldn’t win a pennant despite having one of the best right handed/and left handed pitching combinations in the game of baseball, Mel Stottlemyre and Fritz Peterson. It begins with the day Fritz Peterson entered the Yankee clubhouse in the spring of 1966 and goes through the day he, and 3 teammates were traded to the Cleveland Indians. Some of the characters Fritz met were amazing, from Mickey Mantle down to a minor leaguer named Luke Lamboley. You will learn that the Yankees were a real family during those days, unlike todays business entities who take their own limo’s to the airports for road games.

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Remembering Joe Lis,

Joe LisAs a two-time survivor of prostate cancer, I am always especially moved when I remember my former teammates who were not as fortunate. Today would have been the 69th birthday of Joe Lis, who died way too young five years ago after a long bout with prostate cancer. Joe played from 1970 to 1977, for the Phillies, Twins, Indians and for the first season of the Mariners franchise. The Tribe purchased Joe’s contract a month or so after I was traded to Cleveland and we became teammates until I was traded to Texas during the 1977 season.

The first time I ever faced Joe was on July 7, 1973, the first game of a double header against the Twins at Metropolitan Stadium. Joe hit an RBI single off me in the eighth inning, the third time he got on base that game. You can be sure I remember this game: I gave up nine runs and still pitched a complete game. How often do you see that anymore? I was facing Bert Blyleven, so what chance did I really have? We lost 9-1.

And I’ll never forget Joe’s first game with Cleveland. He hit a massive ninth inning Home Run against Kansas City Royals pitcher Paul Splittorff. Tribe fans loved him from that point on.

Happy Birthday, Tom Kelly

TOM KELLYHappy 65th birthday to Tom Kelly, best known as the manager of the Minnesota Twins for sixteen years and two World Championships. I remember him from his 49 games as a Twins player in 1975, and while I never got the chance to pitch to him, I did watch him play in five of those games.

Happy Birthday, Billy Conigliaro

BIlly ConigliaroHappy Birthday to Billy Conigliaro, the younger brother of Tony Conigliaro and an outfielder for the Red Sox, Brewers and A’s during a career that went from 1969 to 1973. I faced Billy for the first time in his third week as a major leaguer. It was April 28, 1969 and the Red Sox were playing at Yankee Stadium. Billy was a good hitter and had a lot of potential power, but in that game he went 0-for-3. I remember the game. We won 1-0. I pitched a three-hitter. Ray Jarvis, Boston’s starter, only gave up four hits, but two of them – a single by Bobby Murcer followed by Roy White’s RBI double – enabled us to win.

Happy Birthday, Bobby Treviño,

Bobby_Trevino1968aHappy Birthday to Bobby Treviño, the older brother of Álex Treviño. Bobby played in seventeen games for the California Angels in 1968 and I pitched in two of those games. Bobby was 2-for-7 against me (.286). The first time I faced him was June 7, 1968, the first game of a Sunday doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. With a runner on first and one out, he hit a single off me.

Happy Birthday, Duffy Dyer

Duffy DyerHappy 70th birthday to Duffy Dyer, who played on the 1969 Mets World Championship team. I never played with Duffy, but I met him several times since we were both playing in New York. He was popular with fans and was best known as Jerry Grote’s backup catcher. He had a nice fourteen-year major league career, followed up by coaching at the major league level and managing in the minors. I wish him the very best for many, many more years.

Happy Birthday, Cap Peterson

Cap PetersonFor the first four years of my career, I was one of two Peterson’s to play major league baseball. I want to remember the life of Cap Peterson, no relation, who played for the Giants, Senators and Indians during his eight year career. When I first came up with the Yankees, Cap was with the Giants. I met him in 1967, after San Francisco traded him for Mike McCormick. Cousin Cap was really tough on me in his first few plate appearances. It was April 12, 1967 at D.C. Stadium and I was matched up with Joe Coleman. I got jammed up in the first inning, when Frank Howard hit a two-out RBI triple, followed by me walking Cap. Fortunately I got Ken Harrelson to fly out. The second inning – my last one – was worse. After successive errors by Shortstop John Kennedy and First Baseman Ray Barker, I walked the pitcher to load the bases. Then I walked Ed Brinkman. Fred Valentine drove in two runs with a single to left. After intentionally walking Hondo, Cap drove in two more runs with a double to center. Jim Bouton came in relief, walked Harrelson, and Ken McMullen hit a grand slam Home Run. We lost 10-4. Cap hit a double in his next at bat against me a few weeks later, but he ended up with a .211 career average against me. Tragically, Cap died in 1980 of kidney disease at age 37. He would have been 73 today.

Happy Birthday, Tommie Reynolds

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AppleMark

Happy Birthday to Tommie Reynolds who played the outfield for the A’s, Mets, Angels and Brewers in a career that spanned eight years, from 1963 to 1972. I didn’t know Tommie well, but I liked him because he hit .118 against me in my career. But I remember one game he surprised me. He was back for his second tour of duty with the A’s in 1969 and they were playing at Yankee Stadium. The A’s pitcher, Lew Krausse, had tied the game with a Home Run, and Tommie followed up with a double. Luckily, I was able to calm down – credit for that goes to a kid named Thurman Munson, who was playing in his second major league game. We won the game 5-1, and I pitched a complete game.