June 2 – Happy Birthday Art DelDuca

DukesIf you had to pick the top four Major League pitchers who ever made a start for the Amsterdam Rugmakers during their days as a Class C farm team for the New York Yankees, its an easy task. Vic Raschi, Lou Burdette, Bob Grim and Spec Shea all once wore the Amsterdam uniform and each of them went on to have very solid big league careers.

But ironically, none of them were the best hurlers on the Rugmaker teams they pitched for much earlier in their respective professional careers. In fact, Grim was pretty terrible during his one year in Amsterdam, compiling a 6-14 record, an ERA over six and a reputation for not being able to throw strikes. Burdette, who would go on to win over 200 games as a big league hurler after the Yankees traded him to the Braves, had a 9-10 record during his one season at Mohawk Mills Park.

The all-time starting rotation for the Rugmakers would instead include pitchers baseball fans outside of those who followed Rugmaker baseball during the team’s existence, never heard of.  At the top of that rotation would be Jackie Robinson (no not that Jackie Robinson) who became the only Rugmaker pitcher to win twenty games when he went 22-5 for the 1941 team. It would include Carl DeRose, who went 19-6 for the ’42 squad, with a sparkling 2.66 ERA and Herb Karpel, who went 19-9 for the ’39 Ruggies. Ken Rogers, who pitched with Burdette on the 1947 team earns a spot with his 18-6 record. Mike Rossi would beat out today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant for the fifth spot in the all-time Rugmaker rotation because of longevity. Rossi pitched parts of four seasons for Amsterdam, separated by his service in WWII. Rossi owns the career mark for most Rugmaker victories by a pitcher with 40…

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

April 18 – Happy Birthday Vince Ventura

Ventura_VinceAmsterdam fans loved the Rugmaker’s Vince Ventura for a couple of real good reasons. First of all, in addition to being a solid pitcher for the 1939 team, posting a 10-4 record with an ERA of just 3.31, the multi-talented New York City native also filled in at third base for manager Eddie Sawyer’s ball club and averaged .309 at the plate that season.

The second reason Ventura was a popular figure in the Rug City was his Italian heritage…

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