Sunday, September 6, 2015

Yankees Match 103-year-old Record For MLB Debuts, But For Different Reasons

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 Debuts 

April 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 13    Curt Coleman, 25    Third Baseman

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 and follow him on Twitter at @nyyankeefanfore.