May 23 – Happy Birthday Bill Drescher

drescher222Bill Drescher was the starting catcher for the 1942 Amsterdam Rugmakers. It was the 21-year-old’s first season of professional baseball and according to his Rugmaker Manager, Tom Kain, the 6’2″ 190 pound son of a Congers, NY railroad watchman seemed like a natural both at the plate and behind it. Drescher had turned down a Villanova scholarship to sign with the Yankees and it looked like he made the right decision, after hitting .301 in 100 games for Amsterdam that first season. He played well enough here to be featured in a New York Times article that described him as “a carbon copy” of the Yankees’ Hall-of-Fame receiver, Bill Dickey. In fact, that same article went on to say that if Dickey, who was nearing the end of his outstanding career at the time, could hang on for two or three more seasons, it would be Drescher who would take his place as the Yankee starting catcher.

Kain absolutely loved Drescher. He told Recorder Sports Editor Jack Minnoch that his young catcher “hasn’t missed a foul ball all season, had a sharp throwing arm and does more work with his mind than his mouth.” He also predicted Drescher would be the guy who would take over for Dickey.

That became an even more likely scenario when Drescher failed his Navy physical due to an inner ear problem and was declared 4F. After his great year here in Amsterdam he enjoyed a solid season with Binghamton and an OK year with the Yankees’ top farm team in Newark, New Jersey. He then got his first taste of the big leagues when he made the Opening Day Yankee roster in 1944, but only because New York’s regular backup receiver started that season on the disabled list.

He would get his real shot the following year, when he caught 48 games for what would be Manager Joe McCarthy’s final full season as Yankee Manager. Drescher hit .270 and fielded adequately but the following year WWII ended and all of the Yankees’ catchers returned from service. Drescher ended up getting lost in that crowd and spending the rest of his professional playing career catching in the Yankee farm system. He died in 1968 at the very young age of 47.

Drescher shares his May 23rd birthday with this more than slightly eccentric former Mayor of Amsterdam.

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