April 28 – Happy Birthday Tom Sturdivant

sturdivantThe only member of the Boston Red Sox all-time roster to celebrate his birthday on this date was born in Kansas in 1930 and then raised in Oklahoma. The Yankees originally signed Tom Sturdivant out of high school as an infielder but he didn’t hit well in the minors. When he came back to the organization after serving a year in the military, Sturdivant was switched to pitching. He could throw hard and he developed a signature slithering curve ball that eventually earned him the nickname “Snake.” The Yankees called him up for the first time in 1955 and pitched him pretty much exclusively out of the bullpen. In ’56, Casey Stengel began starting him and he did well enough to become a regular part of that year’s Yankee rotation, winning 16 games. He duplicated that win total in 1957, and his .727 winning percentage that season led the AL. Sturdivant was also one of the league’s best hitting pitchers in the days before the DH took hold. In 1956, this guy hit .313. Stengel absolutely loved him but according to my research could either never remember or pronounce his last name so the Ol Perfessor just took to calling Sturdivant, “Number 47.”

The winning didn’t last long. In 1958 he tore his rotator cuff. The following May, the Yankees traded him and second baseman Jerry Lumpe to the A’s for Hector Lopez and Ralph Terry. Kansas City used him both as a starter and reliever for the rest of that ’59 season and he didn’t do well in either role. The fact that the Red Sox were willing to give the A’s their  solid back-up catcher, Pete Daley for the struggling Sturdivant in December of 1959 is evidence of just how bad the Boston bullpen had been that year. Unfortunately, Sturdivant did not make it any better. He appeared in 40 games for Boston in 1960 and finished the season with a 3-3 record, one save and an ERA that was just a sliver under five. Though he claimed his arm had recovered completely, he certainly wasn’t proving it on the mound. The Red Sox left him unprotected in the 196o AL Expansion draft and he was selected by the Senators. When he started slowly for Washington the following year, he was traded to the Senators where he actually pitched decently for two seasons. He spent his final big league days in a Met uniform during the 1964 season. He retired with a 59-51 lifetime record with 17 saves. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 78.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s