Thursday, November 11, 2021

Guest post: The worst Yankee teams

 From a friend of the blog, Dan R:

 OK, Yankee fans, so we all know we haven’t seen a Canyon of Heroes parade since 2009.

 And we also know that the way baseball is structured today, you can be good enough to make the post-season but still be bad enough to know you ain’t going nowhere. So I guess there are different levels of badness.

 I thought it would fun to stroll down memory lane and take a look at four indisputably bad (dare we say historically putrid?) Yankee teams from the past 60 years. None of these four were able to cobble together a winning percentage over .444.

 Leading off, we have the 1967 Yankees, owners of a 72-90-1 record and that highly coveted .444 winning percentage. Led by manager Ralph Houk and General Manager Lee McPhail, they finished ninth in the American League, but a comfortable 9 1/2 games above the basement dwelling Kansas City A’s.

 Where did that tie come from? It looks like the Yanks and Twins played on Tuesday July 25, 1967 and the game was rained out in the 9th inning with a 1-1 score. Harmon Killebrew homered for the Twins in the first off Al Downing, and the Mick crashed a 457-foot bomb off of Jim Kaat with two outs in the ninth to tie it.

 That 1967 team was led by Horace Clarke (.272 BA, 160 hits, and 29 stolen bases), Joe Pepitone (64 RBIs) and the Mick with 22 dingers in his next to last season.

 Mel Stottlemyre led the team in wins with a 15-15 record. Bill Monbouquette had the team low ERA at 2.36 and Dooley Womack was the bullpen stud with 18 saves.

 Next up is the 1966 Yankees with a 70-89-1 record and a .440 winning percentage. They finished dead last in the American League. Johnny Keane started the year as their manager, but was bounced after 20 games in favor of Ralph Houk. Dan Topping was the GM.

 Their offensive leaders were Mickey Mantle (.288 BA), Bobby Richardson (153 Hits), Roy White (14 SB), and Joe  Pep (31 HRs and 83 RBIs). Truth be told, pretty good numbers overall, don’t you think?

 When we take a look at the pitching staff, this is what we find - Fritz Peterson and Mel Stottlemyre led the team with 12 wins, but Fritz had a much higher win percentage at 12-11  (.522) than Mel did at 12-20 (.375). Attention youngins’-  go Google “Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich wife swap”, you can thank me later.

 The team ERA leader was Whitey Ford at 2.47 and Pedro Ramos was the save leader with 13.

 As we move further down the Yankee food chain, we see the 1991 Yankees, proud owners of a 71-91 record, and a .438 winning percentage that earned them a   5th place finish out of the 7 teams in the AL East. Stump Merrill was the Manager and Gene Michael was the GM

 Steve Sax led the Yankee attack (.304 BA and 198 hits). He also had 31 SBs, but top honors went to Roberto Kelly with 32. Matt Nokes and Kevin Maas socked 32 and 31 homers respectively, but Mel Hall cleared the bases more than anyone, knocking in 80 RBIs.

 Scott Sanderson led the pitching staff with 16 wins, Steve Farr was a bullpen force with a 2.19 team low ERA and 23 saves.

 Now we reach the bottom of the barrel -the 1990 Yankees, led by managers Stump Merrill and Bucky Dent plus GM Gene Michael. They finished with a  67-95 record, a .414 winning percentage, and a last place AL East finish - a mere 21 games behind the front running Red Sox.

 Roberto Kelly led the offensive charge with a .285 BA and 183 hits, Steve Sax swiped 42 bases, Jesse Barfield’s power clubbed 25 taters and knocked in 78 RBIs to lead the way. Side note, when we lived in Massachusetts, we always went to Fenway for the Yankee games. We were in the bleachers when Jesse Barfield hit a batting practice home run that bounced a few rows in front of us and drifted into my wife’s lap as if it was on a parachute.

 Lee Guetterman (my wife and I fondly called him Gutter Ball) was top man in wins with 11, Eric Plunk was low man in ERA with a 2.72 and Dave Righetti was the bullpen ace with 36 saves.

 So there ya go, hope you enjoyed this trip in the Wayback Machine to some truly bad Yankee teams and some memorable names from the past.

 What was interesting to me was that even on these horrid teams, there were some bright lights- an old crippled Mickey that still played his heart out, crafty Whitey Ford,  young bucks like Joe Pepitone and Mel Stottlemyre and Roberto Kelly. Go check out the team rosters for some true rabbit hole-diving fun and games.

Dan R is a life long Yankee fan going back to the days of Mantle and Maris. He grew up in the Bronx and took the subway to the games" 


Alphonso said...

Despite the numerical arguments, I think this team (2021) is the worst ever.

It has to do with how far they were from " meeting expectations." It has to do with how much they were paid to play baseball.

It has to do with how boring they were. To there point of "unwatchability." There were times when it was more exciting to watch the Home Shopping network.

Out has to do with ho terrible they were at the " game." They couldn't make contact; they disdained the idea of advancing runners; they couldn't catch the ball or throw it; they didn't know how to run the bases; and when they needed a strikeout, they gave up as home run.

The cherry on the cake was being humiliated in front of that Boston crowd. And slipping meekly into no where.

So we need look no further.

These guys were the worst yankee team

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

I didn't go to a lot of those games -- my dad worked for a living, and I wasn't going to ask for $$$ to go to the Bronx. But I did go to a few games each year. Tried to pick out scheduled double-headers, my mom packed some eggplant parmagiana sandwiches (on wonderful Italian bread made in the neighborhood). Paid 15 cents for the subway, $1.50 to get in (to see 2 games!), and I can't remember how little for a soda or two.

And boy-oh-boy, in the 2nd half of the 1960s, they sucked. Yes, even with Mickey on the field.

I'm not sure if this is quantifiable, but -- to me -- the dumbest ownership/GM moves came in the 1980s. Suddenly we fans were told that the Yankees were going for speed, not power.

I'm not sure how well they did that, but look at the records from the 1980s. Speed kills!!! They were in the World Series in 1981, and the next post-season appearance came in 1995.

See the team's season results (for ALL seasons) here:

. . . if it matters, both 81 and 95 were strike years.

Doug K. said...

Alphonso makes a good point.

I was too young to remember 1965 well but I'll bet the drop off from expectation after pennants in 60,61,62,63, 64 must have been insane.

This year's team was the worst team (for the reasons Alphonso stated) that I can recall. (My Yankee recollections begin in earnest in 1966 BTW)

Dantes said...

Ah, 1990. I remember taking the 4 train up to 20-25 games to be an anonymous bleacher creature kid. The rise of Maas, the idea that Kelly was our fixture in centerfield. Even had a Steve Sax shirt. Young and always looking forward to the next big rookie that would lead us out of the bottom
Didn’t go to a game this year, cut the cable cord so the only games I watched were a handful of the Amazon streamed games. Listened mostly to John struggling to follow the action. What I saw and heard was just joyless. Maybe I’m old but it seems like this team just doesn’t have a spark of life in it. That 90 team lost but it still had character

el duque said...

These are all great horrible teams. But what about the Pronk/Vernon Wells/Overbay squad?

The Archangel said...

In my naive youth, I rooted for those 60's teams with an unbridled passion. If the Mick hit a HR, it made my day.
Lots of 0's fans in my area because the Rock. Red Wings were O's farm team.They were brutal to us Yanks fans. I can literally remember being in the home of one of my best friends when the afternoon paper announced that the Yankees had had a day game the previous when only 300 or so people attended. I was mocked without mercy by the entire O's family.

Ahh, the good old days; when baseball mattered.

JM said...

I was an upstate kid so didn't get to see many games in person back then. But I do remember the empty stands for a Sunday doubleheader. You could hear the chatter on the field clearly. And while prices were incredibly reasonable compared to today, my Dad always bitched about the exorbitant cost of a not-so-cold beer at those games.

Those days, Schenectady boys could only see a few games a year on TV, but I had my transistor. Staying up late for a West Coast game while the rest of the family was in bed was great. Mantle hitting a HR late in a game to win or tie it was even greater. The greatest shocks of my young life were both Yankees-related. Seeing the "Mantle Quits" massive headline on a Sunday Daily News was one. Hearing that the Beatles had broken up on the car radio while heading for a game at the Stadium was the other.

The ugly, gnarled disappointment of recent teams doesn't even come close to those earth-shattering events.

By the way, the capcha text I had to type today was "forkstork." It's the first time it actually spelled anything that was actual English. And a fine algorithmic choice it was.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Archie, the notorious game you're referring to was Sept. 22, 1966. It was a Thursday afternoon make-up game, from a rainout two nights previously. The Yanks lost to the ChiSox, 4-1—and the attendance was only 413.

Worse than that, Red Barber insisted on trying to show the empty stands. The TV producer refused, and days later, Michael Burke, that genius, fired Barber.

HoraceClarke66 said...

1966-67 was when I came in, and man, it was hard—worse than the 1990s, because I didn't have any personal experience of winning yet. It was just love among the ruins.

To top it off, my family moved up to Massachusetts in 1967, The Impossible Dream summer. Awful.

But Archie, much worse than the Red Sox fans was that there was always a kid or two wearing a little Orioles hat, just because he was a frontrunner and they were the dominant team then. We ALL hated those kids; I wondered why they did it.

HoraceClarke66 said...

By the by:

OTHER worst Yankees teams ever:

1908—51-103, .331, 39 1/2 back. One of only 2 Yankees teams to lose over 100 games.

1912—50-102, .329, 55 back. Last year in Washington Heights. The VERY worst, in terms of winning pct., games behind, and likely all around talent. Last Yankees club to finish last until 1966.

Altogether: only 4 last-place finishes in 119 seasons. Not too shabby. The Red Sox finished last more than that in the 1920s alone.

The Archangel said...

I forgot that they fired Red Barber after that game. It all came back to me. I was at a Boy Scout patrol meeting when the newspaper was displaced to me at the home of my notorious O's fan friend. In fairness to him he was a lifetime O's fan who followed them religiously , as did his father , because of the AAA connection. His brother was a rabid Yanks fan, which made for great theater.

The Archangel said...

HC66, I also remember those frontrunners.
My keenest experience was when I returned to college in the Fall of 1976 and saw guys wearing new NY hats who in the Spring before did not know who played 3rd for the Yanks.
Wanted to do the Bicentennial equivalent to bitch-slap them all.
I'm sure they now wear Braves hats

HoraceClarke66 said...


Very true, Archie!