Opening Day 1912: A good year for major league
debuts and uniforms, but little else.
By Barry Millman
As 24-year-old lefty James Pazos prepared to face his first big league batter Saturday in the ninth inning of a one-run game at Yankee Stadium, he found inner calm by repeating his mission to himself.
"All you gotta do is throw strikes," the former 13th-round pick smiled. Ten pitches and eight strikes later it was mission accomplished as he whiffed both Tampa Bays' Joey Butler and Daniel Nava.
Pazos' successful debut marked the 17th by a Yankees' rookie this season, matching the club's all-time season record for major league debuts set by the 1912 Highlanders; the final year the franchise would be known by that name and the first season the uniforms bore the now familiar home pinstripes and interlocking NY logo.
It's striking to note the difference between the composition of players who debuted on the struggling 1912 club and the division-contending 2015 Bombers of today. This year's first-timers have included eleven pitchers, four outfielders and two infielders while 103 years ago the mix was just five pitchers, five outfielders and seven infielders.
In 1912, the team's record rash of rookie debuts was largely driven by a rookie manager's ill-fated attempts to shake up a mediocre lineup but who instead drove it into the ground, finishing a whopping 55 games back in the Amerian League race with a 50-120 record. It would be the last time the team would see the cellar for more than a half century.
By contrast, this year's record-tying run of rookies being sent into the show has been primarily fueled by the need for fresh arms to replenish the pen and rotation for a furious divisional race that has taken its toll on both.
Below are the dates, players and positions of the major league debuts for both clubs.
2015 Yankees Major League DebutsApril 11 Matt Tracy, 26 LHP
24th round, 2011 amateur draft.
April 15 Branden Pinder, 26 RHP
16th round, 2011 amateur draft.
May 20 Slade Heathcott, 24 Outfielder
1st round, 2009 amateur draft.
May 25 Jacob Lindgren, 22 LHP
2nd round, 2014 amateur draft.
May 30 Ramon Flores, 23 Outfielder
Amateur free agent signed 2008.
June 12 Mason Williams, 23 Outfielder
4th round, 2010 amateur draft.
June 21 Danny Burawa, 26 RHP
12th round, 2010 amateur draft.
June 21 Jose De Paula, 27 LHP
Free agent signed 2014.
June 22 Diego Moreno, 27 RHP
Acquired as part of A.J. Burnett trade 2012.
June 23 Nick Rumbelow, 23 RHP
7th round, 2013 amateur draft.
July 11 Rob Refsnyder, 24 Second Baseman
5th round, 2012 amateur draft.
July 29 Caleb Cotham, 27 RHP
5th round, 2009 amateur draft.
July 30 Nick Goody, 24 RHP
6th round, 2012 amateur draft.
August 5 Luis Severino, 21 RHP
Amateur free agent signed 2011.
August 13 Greg Bird, 22 First Baseman
5th round, 2011 amateur draft.
September 2 Rico Noel, 26 Outfielder
Free agent signed 2015.
September 5 James Pazos LHP
13th round, 2012 amateur draft.
1912 Highlanders Major League Debuts
April 20 Benny Kauff. 22 Outfielder
April 24 George Shears, 22 LHP
April 25 Jack Martin, 25 Shortstop, Third Baseman+
May 11 Bill Stumpf, 20 Shortstop
June 5 Tommy Thompson, 22 RHP
June 19 Pat Maloney, 24 Outfielder
June 20 Dutch Sterrett, 22 Outfielder, First Baseman, Catcher+
July 2 Jack Little, 21 Outfielder
July 3 John Dowd, 21 Shortstop
July 4 Bill Otis, 22 Outfielder
July 16 George Davis, 22 RHP
September 12 Ray Keating, 19 RHP
September 25 Al Schulz, 23 LHP
September 28 George Batten, 23 Second Baseman
September 28 Klondike Smith, 25 Outfielder
October 5 Homer Thompson, 21 Catcher
+Positions played in 10 or more games listed.
You can email Barry Millman at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @nyyankeefanfore.