July 30 – Happy Birthday Gus Triandos

triandos2It it wasn’t for Yogi Berra, the most popular player in Rugmaker history probably never would have played for Amsterdam. Let me explain.

Yogi Berra became the full-time starting catcher for the New York Yankees in 1949 and remained in that position for a total of 12 seasons. He would become one of the top five catchers in baseball history, winning three MVP Awards and helping the Bronx Bombers win 10 Pennants and 7 World Series during his time as their starting receiver. But what he also did was create a stockpile of talented catching prospects in the Yankees’ farm system and today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant was one of them.

The Yankees signed Gus Triandos, a strapping Greek-American native of San Francisco, in 1948 when he was just 17 years old and before they knew Berra would become their behind-the-plate superstar. They assigned the youngster to their C-level club in Twin Falls, Idaho where Triandos smashed 18 home runs and averaged .323 in his first-ever season of professional ball. The next year he did even better, belting 26 home runs with a .307 average and showing great skill behind the plate. That got him pushed up to the A level of the Yankees’ farm system, where he started the 1950 season in Binghamton. That’s where he ran into the “Berra factor.” Two other catching prospects ended up on that year’s Binghamton roster, Lou Berberet and Hank Foiles and both would end up averaging over .300 that season. So when Triandos averaged just .048 in his first eight games with the club, instead of being patient with their young prospect, the organization demoted him back to C ball and gave him a bus ticket to Amsterdam.

He spent the balance of that 1950 season playing for the Rugmakers. He hit an amazing .363 and smashed 11 home runs in that half-season and impressed every baseball-lovng fan in Amsterdam with his shotgun arm and powerful swing. He also impressed the ladies of the Rug City…

You can read the rest of my story about this Amsterdam-born restauranteur in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

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