When Brian Gordon throws a pitch in this afternoon’s game against the Rangers, he’ll become the oldest rookie to make his first major league start in pinstripes. Born in New York and raised in Texas, Gordon’s return to the big leagues has all the makings of a TV movie, but for now, the Yankees will gladly settle for a five inning matinee.
Oldest Rookies to Make First Start as a Yankee, Since 1919
|Orlando Hernandez||32.235||1||6/3/1998||TBD||W 7-1||68|
|Joe Vance||32.008||12||9/24/1937||BOS||W 5-1||70|
|Jose Contreras||31.175||9||5/30/2003||DET||W 6-0||78|
|Ernie Nevel||31.045||3||10/1/1950||BOS||L 3-7||27|
|Dan Giese||31.033||12||6/21/2008||CIN||L 0-6||65|
|Kemp Wicker||30.260||8||4/30/1937||WSH||L 1-4||48|
|Wilcy Moore||30.008||14||5/28/1927||WSH||L 2-3||63|
Gcar=Career game; GSc= Game Score.
Gordon’s journey to the mound at Yankee Stadium has been a long one. The 32-year old right hander, who was originally drafted as an outfielder by the Diamondbacks, has now played for six different organizations in 14 different cities (see map below), so to call him well traveled would be an understatement. As far as the Yankees are concerned, however, all that matters is where he goes from here.
Brian Cashman would obviously be thrilled if Gordon goes down the same path as Aaron Small, another of the general manager’s journeyman acquisitions. With the back end of the Yankees’ starting rotation in shambles during the 2005 season, Cashman turned to the 33-year old right hander as a stop gap. Almost 10 years removed from the only three starts in his major league career, Small’s ascension to the Yankees’ rotation was surprising to say the least. The real shock, however, was what followed.
Coincidentally, Small also made his Yankees’ debut against the Rangers, an 8-4 victory in which the crafty veteran surrendered three runs in 5 1/3 innings. It’s very likely that the Yankees would sign up for the same effort from Gordon this afternoon, especially if foreshadows what Small did over the rest of the 2005 season.
Following his debut victory against the Rangers, Small was shifted between the bullpen and rotation and excelled in each role. Over 76 innings, the veteran posted a perfect 10-0 record with an impressive 3.20 ERA. Unfortunately, in 2006, the clock finally struck midnight on Small’s Cinderella story. After only 27 2/3 innings, over which he pitched to an 8.46 ERA, Small was finally demoted to triple-A. His last game in the majors was June 15, 2006, exactly five years before Gordon’s Bronx debut. Another coincidence? Or, perhaps a karmic passing of the baton?
Can the Yankees catch lightning in a bottle once again? Considering Cashman’s recent Midas touch with pitching reclamation projects, why not? All season, Yankees’ fans have been waiting for a big midseason acquisition, but as we all learned in 2005, sometimes small is better.