Yankee starting pitchers with the greatest teammates: Bullet Joe Bush and Mike Torrez

17 10 2015

This continues my series on Yankee starting pitchers.

Bullet Joe Bush and Mike Torrez didn’t spend long with the Yankees (or many teams). But they pitched well for New York. And they have two of the most amazing groups of teammates of any players in major league history.

This is perhaps the oddest post in this series, but it’s a topic that has fascinated me for years: the coincidence of players’ intersecting careers. And since two of the players with the most awesome collections of teammates in baseball history were briefly starting pitchers for the Yankees, I couldn’t resist. I think these two might have the best teammate collections. Or two of the best three.

Bullet Joe Bush

New York Yankees

Bullet Joe Bush

Wikimedia photo

Bush pitched three solid years for the Yankees, going 26-7 in 1922, 19-15 in ’23 and 17-16 in ’24. His Yankee teammates included Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Earle CombsHome Run Baker, Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock.

The Yankees were managed by yet another Hall of Famer, Miller Huggins.

Another Yankee teammate, Lefty O’Doul, might have made the Hall of Fame if he had started out playing the outfield. He was a fellow pitcher of Bush’s with the Yankees at age 25, but O’Doul was an unremarkable pitcher, going 1-1 and getting only one start in four years with the Yankees and Red Sox. He finally made it back to the majors as an outfielder in 1928 at age 31 and won two batting titles, hitting .398 in 1929 and .368 in 1932. His .349 career batting average is the fourth-highest of all time, behind Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby (both Bush teammates, as you’ll see shortly) and Shoeless Joe Jackson.

O’Doul might be second to Babe Ruth among players who both pitched and played other positions in the major leagues. Which tells you how great Ruth was. O’Doul was an awful pitcher who revived his career by moving to the outfield. Ruth was a Hall of Fame pitcher who was such a great hitter they had to play him every day.

Philadelphia A’s (second time)

In his final year, Bush was lucky to play with the most amazing collection of offensive talent I’ve found in any team, the 1928 Philadelphia A’s (I wrote a story on this team for Baseball Digest back in the 1980s). Unfortunately, most of this talent wasn’t in its prime, so the A’s finished second that year, behind the Yankees. But these were Bush’s Hall of Fame teammates that year: Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, Eddie Collins, Tris Speaker, Al Simmons and Lefty Grove. (Speaker, along with Cobb, Hornsby and O’Doul makes four of the top six all-time leading batters who played with Bush. Throw in Ruth and Bush played with five of the top 10.)

Seriously, we’ve just covered four years of Bush’s 17-year career, and his teammates already include the all-time leaders (still) in batting average, slugging, OPS and doubles, former longtime record holders in hits, homers, stolen bases and grand slams, plus two other players with 3,000 hits, one more with 500 homers and a 300-game winner.

From just these two teams, Bush had 13 Hall of Fame teammates. (Plus Huggins, but I’ll count managers separately.)

And, just as an oddity, Jimmie Foxx might rank higher than O’Doul among the players who both pitched and hit. He certainly was a better hitter. He didn’t try pitching as long as O’Doul and won only one game. But his final season, 1945, Foxx pitched nine games, mostly in relief, with impressive results. As John Bennett explained in Foxx’s SABR biography:

What made his final season unique was his turn on the pitching mound. Volunteering to help the team out in any way he could, Foxx pitched 23 innings, with a 1-0 record and 1.59 ERA. His high point on the mound came in the second game of a doubleheader on August 19, when Foxx pitched five no-hit innings in an emergency start.

I haven’t studied everyone who pitched and played positions, and perhaps you’d have to rank some 19th-Century players higher than O’Doul or Foxx. But they were excellent hitters who certainly would rank in the top five at least since 1900, and maybe would rank 1-2-3 with Ruth. And they all were teammates of Bullet Joe.

We’ll take the rest of Bush’s teams in order:

Philadelphia A’s (first time)

The A’s were bookends of Bush’s career. He started pitching for the A’s from 1912-17. His Hall of Fame teammates during that stretch: Chief Bender, Eddie Plank, Nap Lajoie as well as Pennock, Baker and Collins (whom he played with later, but we’ve already counted them). We’re up to 16 Hall of Famers, adding another 3,000-hit batter and another 300-game winner.

Both of Bush’s hitches with the A’s came during the record 50-year managing tenure of Connie Mack.

Bush won Game Three of the 1913 World Series his rookie year at age 20, earning a headline in the Boston Globe: “Giants Slain By Mere Boy.”

Boston Red Sox

Bush pitched for the Red Sox from 1918-21. Which meant, of course, that he played with Ruth both as a fellow pitcher and an outfielder. He also played with Pennock and Hoyt in Boston, but we already counted them as Yankee teammates. The only Hall of Fame teammate to add to our list from Bush’s years with the Red Sox was Harry Hooper (who would make almost anyone’s list of the five most questionable Hall of Famers). Which brings us to 17.

Bush’s Red Sox managers, Ed Barrow and Hugh Duffy, are also in the Hall of Fame, but neither for their managing. Duffy made the Hall as a 19th-Century player and Barrow for his role as an executive.

Though not a Hall of Famer, Ernie Shore was a notable Red Sox teammate of Bush’s. He was the relief pitcher who entered a game in the first inning after Ruth was ejected for arguing after he walked the leadoff hitter. Shore picked the runner off first base and retired the next 26 batters, getting credit for baseball’s most bizarre near-perfect game.

St. Louis Browns

After the Yankees, Bush joined the St. Louis Browns in 1925. This added George Sisler to his list of Hall of Fame teammates. Sisler twice hit .400 and held the record of 257 hits in a season for 84 years until Ichiro Suzuki broke it with 262 in 2004.

Bush’s Hall of Fame teammate count is now up to 18. Sisler was a player/manager for the Browns that year, but is in the Hall of Fame as a player, so I’m only counting him there.

Washington Senators

Bush pitched only 12 games for the Washington Senators, going 1-8. But he added Walter Johnson to his list of Hall of Fame teammates. The Big Train won 417 games, held the career strikeout record for 56 years and still holds the record of most shutouts, 110.

Hall of Famers Stan Coveleski, Sam Rice, Goose Goslin and were also Senators teammates. We’re up to 22 Hall of Fame teammates for Bush.

Bucky Harris, player/manager for the Senators that year, is in the Hall as a manager, so he goes into my separate manager count. Harris managed the Yankees in 1947-48.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Bush was a Pirate for parts of 1926-27. So he played with four Hall of Fame outfielders: Paul Waner (another 3,000-hit teammate), brother Lloyd WanerMax Carey and Kiki Cuyler. Throw in Pie Traynor, the best third baseman of his era. The Waners remain the only brothers in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Young Joe Cronin also played for the Pirates in 1926-7.

And the count is at 28.

Bush also played in Pittsburgh for another Hall of Fame manager, Bill McKechnie.

New York Giants

Bush pitched only three games for the 1927 Giants. But that made him teammates of a Hall of Fame infield: Bill Terry (who three years later became the last National Leaguer to hit .400), Rogers Hornsby (who hit .400 three times), Travis Jackson and Freddie Lindstrom. Seriously, Bush played with a Hall of Fame outfield and a Hall of Fame infield in the same season. Throw in outfielder Edd Roush and pitcher Burleigh Grimes. Even 18-year-old Mel Ott (another 500-homer player) played on that Giants team.

That’s 13 Hall of Fame teammates in a single year.

I think I can count Giants manager John McGraw as one of Bush’s Hall of Fame managers. He managed 122 games that year, but Hornsby managed 32. McGraw’s Wikipedia entry doesn’t explain the replacement, though McGraw continued managing the Giants through 1932. Hornsby’s Wikipedia entry says he filled in because of unspecified health problems for McGraw. An uncredited article I found that mentioned the situation said it was toward the end of the year. Since Bush was with the Giants from June 28 to July 19, I’m counting McGraw as one of his managers.

That’s 35 Hall of Famers who played with Bullet Joe Bush, including at least one at every position. Maybe a few were borderline Hall of Famers who wouldn’t have made it to Cooperstown with similar careers in other eras (Jackson, Lindstrom and Hooper, for starters). But Cobb, Ruth, Johnson, Grove, Hornsby, Gehrig, Collins, Speaker, Cochrane, Foxx and Lajoie at least, maybe a few more, are part of any best-ever discussion among hitters, base runners, pitchers or players at their positions.

And Bush played for five Hall of Fame managers, including the two winningest managers (Mack and McGraw), but not counting Sisler, Duffy and Barrow.

Bush’s career

Bush, just 5’9″ tall, had a respectable pitching career, though nowhere near joining all his Hall of Fame teammates. He finished 196-184, and had nine seasons with 15 or more wins.

He was a wild thing, though, leading his league three times in wild pitches and once in walks. In fact, he nearly had as many walks (1,263) as strikeouts (1,318).

I addressed his nickname in the post on nicknames. Yes, it came from his fastball.

Mike Torrez


It’s not fair to compare Torrez‘s count of Hall of Fame teammates to Bush’s, because Torrez played 50-plus years later, so his borderline teammates haven’t had as much time to get voted into the Hall of Fame. Plus, the standards for Hall of Fame selection of players before baseball integrated were much lower, as I documented in my series on racial discrimination in the Hall of Fame. But, both in terms of playing with all-time greats and Hall of Famers, Torrez had a remarkable collection of teammates that stacks up with Bush’s.

I broke Torrez’s teammates down somewhat differently in an earlier post on the best players who played for both the Yankees and Red Sox.

Yankee year

Torrez was a Yankee for only one season, a respectable 14-12 performance followed up with two World Series wins, including the Game Six clincher.

Hall of Fame teammates that year were Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson (his three homers kinda helped in that clincher). But, as I’ve noted in the past, anti-Yankee bias in Hall of Fame voting hurt this Yankee team. Ron Guidry, Thurman Munson and Graig Nettles all belong in the Hall of Fame.

Jackson matches one of Bush’s 500-homer guys, and Guidry, Munson and Nettles at least give Torrez a Cy Young, an MVP and a home-run king among his teammates, not to mention a bunch of Gold Gloves (Cy Young and Gold Glove Awards started long after Bush’s career ended, but I will mention them occasionally here to offset the extra time Bush’s teammates have had to receive Hall of Fame consideration and the lower Hall standards for players of that era).

Boston Red Sox

My Bucky Dent bobblehead.

My Bucky Dent bobblehead.

Of course, Torrez’s place in Yankee lore is not so much from his year in pinstripes, but for the next year. He joined the Red Sox as a free agent and had a respectable 16-12 record after 162 games. And the Yankees and Red Sox were dead even.

So Torrez started the 163rd game, facing Guidry. Torrez took a 2-0 lead into the seventh inning, exactly what you want from your starter in a one-game playoff. But Boston manager Don Zimmer stayed with his starter too long. After singles to Chris Chambliss and Roy White, Torrez faced No. 9 hitter Bucky Dent with two outs. Dent, a .243 hitter with only four homers, didn’t seem like much of a threat. A right-handed batter, Dent hit even worse against right-handers, .221. But he pounded a homer over the Green Monster, acquiring a new middle name among Red Sox fans and a special niche forever in Yankee lore.

After a walk to Mickey Rivers, Torrez gave way to Bob Stanley, perhaps two or three batters late. Munson doubled Rivers home and Torrez was charged with four runs and the loss in a 5-4 Yankee win.

But this post is about great teammates, and Torrez added a few Hall of Fame teammates in his five years in Boston: Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, Tony Perez, Wade BoggsDennis Eckersley (a good starter for the Red Sox, but he became a Hall of Famer by moving to the bullpen at age 33 and becoming baseball’s best closer for about five years).

This gives Torrez eight Hall of Famers from these two teams, and some easily comparable players to some of Bush’s teammates.

Yaz and Boggs give Torrez two 3,000-hit teammates. Fisk, like Cochrane, was one of the best catchers of his time and likely on anyone’s list of 10 best catchers ever. Eck can’t compare to any of Bush’s teammates, because the closer role didn’t develop until Torrez’s time.

Rice falls somewhere between Simmons (not quite as good as him) and Goslin (Rice was better). All three were excellent, power-hitting outfielders who fell short of those career marks (500 homers, 3,000 hits) that made Hall of Fame selection automatic in their day. They all were on the writers’ ballot for several years, but eventually were elected to the Hall of Fame by the writers.

Perez is comparable to Terry, neither the greatest first baseman of his day, but both excellent hitters elected by the writers after several years on the ballot.

Luis Tiant probably has as strong a Hall of Fame case as Hoyt or Coveleski, and Dwight Evans had about as many hits as Lloyd Waner, with more power and a great arm. Evans won eight Gold Gloves. He was way better than Hooper. Tiant and Evans definitely would be Hall of Famers eventually if their era were held to the standards of Bush’s time. But fewer borderline Hall of Famers are making it today, so I don’t count them, just mention them here as notable Torrez teammates. I won’t mention all the borderline candidates Torrez played with (as I didn’t with Bush), but I think those two illustrate Bush’s advantage in the lower standards for his time.

I don’t think Fred Lynn has a shot at Cooperstown, but he was an MVP, so I’ll mention him, too.

St. Louis Cardinals

My Steve Carlton autograph

My Steve Carlton autograph

We jump back now to the start of Torrez’s career, with the 1967-70 Cardinals. He played with Hall of Famers Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Orlando Cepeda, Steve Carlton, Joe Torre (who made the Hall of Fame as a manager, but could have made it as a player).

The Cardinals’ manager, Red Schoendienst, made the Hall of Fame as a player (I was there for his 1989 induction ceremony, the only time I’ve visited Cooperstown).

Since I’m counting managers separately, I’ll leave Torre and Schoendienst out of the player count, so we’re up to 12 Hall of Fame teammates.

Brock gives Torrez a third 3,000-hit teammate and Carlton a 300-game winner. Torrez also was teammates as a Cardinal with the players who broke Cobb’s career stolen-base record (Brock) and Ruth’s single-season home run record (Roger Maris, who isn’t in the Hall of Fame, but should be. He’s another MVP teammate of Torrez’s.) I kind of like that tie-in to Bush’s teammates. For extra measure, Brock also broke the single-season stolen-base record of the player (Maury Wills) who broke Cobb’s record.

Curt Flood was another Cardinal teammate who should be in the Hall of Fame for his combination of a great start to his career and his contribution to baseball history by challenging the reserve clause.

Montreal Expos

The Cardinals traded Torrez to the Expos during the 1971 season, the first of four he spent in Montreal. The Expos haven’t produced a lot of Hall of Famers, but Torrez at least caught Gary Carter‘s rookie season. This brings the Hall of Fame teammate count to 13.

Baltimore Orioles

Torrez pitched only one year for the Orioles, his only 20-win season. But he was teammates with future Hall of Famers Jim Palmer and Brooks Robinson. MVP Don Baylor and Cy Young winners Mike Cuellar and Mike Flanagan also joined the Torrez teammate collection.

The Hall of Fame teammate count is at 15.

And the Orioles’ manager was Hall of Famer Earl Weaver.

Oakland A’s

In a rare April trade, Torrez joined the A’s for the 1976 season. Though Charlie Finley was breaking up his 1970s dynasty (Jackson went to Baltimore in the trade), the ’76 A’s still included Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, plus two aging Hall of Famers, Billy Williams and Willie McCovey (another 500-homer guy).

That makes 18 Hall of Fame teammates. Plus MVP/Cy Young winner Vida Blue, who appeared headed to Cooperstown, before he began using cocaine.

And, in another comparison to stars of Bush’s era, Bert Campaneris is less than 100 career stolen bases behind Carey. Campy wasn’t as good a hitter, and Carey led his league in steals more times, but they were comparable players.

And Sal Bando, who won’t make the Hall of Fame, clearly was a better third baseman and hitter than Lindstrom.

New York Mets

Jumping ahead past Torrez’s Yankee and Red Sox years, he joined the Mets in 1983. This gave him another 300-game winner and Hall of Fame teammate, Tom Seaver. So we’re at 19 Hall of Fame teammates.

The Mets of 1983-4 were loaded with players who tantalized with their talents, either falling just short of Hall of Fame standards (George Foster, Dave Kingman, Rusty Staub) or pissing away their talent on cocaine (Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry) or both (Keith Hernandez). Foster and Hernandez won MVPs and Gooden a Cy Young. Some of them had careers that would have made the Hall of Fame in Bush’s day.

Oakland A’s, Act II

The Mets released Torrez in June 1984 and he caught on for a little over a month with the A’s for the end of his career.

This added Rickey Henderson to his list of teammates (who broke Brock’s single-season and career stolen base records and also gives Torrez a fourth 3,000-hit teammate).

In addition, Joe Morgan was wrapping up his Hall of Fame career with the A’s then.

So Torrez has 21 Hall of Fame teammates so far. Nowhere near Bush’s 35, but Torrez’s total will grow.

Torrez played for and with three managers in the Hall of Fame, Schoendienst, Torre and Weaver. And other managers of his, including Gene Mauch, Billy Martin and Ralph Houk are worthy of consideration and may make it to the Hall of Fame someday.

Torrez’s career

Torrez finished with a solid 185-160 record. He struggled early and late in his career, but had seven seasons from 1972-79 with 15 or more wins, including his 20-win season in 1975 for Baltimore.

Like Bush, Torrez had control issues, leading his league in walks three times and wild pitches once. His walks, 1,371, also almost equaled his strikeouts, 1,404.

Torrez had high trade value. Among the players he was traded for were Jackson and three All-Star pitchers: Ken Holtzman, Dock Ellis and Dave McNally.

How they stack up

Obviously Bush wins on the total count of Hall of Fame teammates. I think Torrez’s will grow, but I doubt he has 14 remaining teammates who will be chosen on future Hall of Fame ballots. But he could narrow the gap enough that Bush’s advantage is completely based on the lower Hall of Fame standards for his era. So let’s break down their teammates a few different ways.

Relief pitching

Easy win here for Torrez, since relief pitching wasn’t a specialty for premier pitchers in Bush’s day, and Torrez was teammates with two Hall of Famers, Fingers and Eck, not to mention Sparky Lyle (in his Cy Young year), Jesse Orosco and some other good relievers.

Starting pitching

Bob Gibson's autograph, with some Cardinal teammates, on a ball belonging to my son Joe.

Bob Gibson’s autograph, with some Cardinal teammates, on a ball belonging to my son Joe.

Bush played with eight Hall of Fame starters (listed in order of career wins): Johnson, Plank, Grove, Grimes, Pennock, Hoyt, Coveleski, Bender.

Torrez played with five Hall of Fame starters: Carlton, Seaver, Palmer, Gibson, Hunter.

Bush had more Hall of Famers and more 300-game winners (3-2). But he also played in an era when wins were more plentiful. I don’t think anyone would argue that Palmer, Gibson and Hunter, all of whom fell short of 300 wins, weren’t better than all of the bottom five pitchers on Bush’s Hall of Fame list. I might argue that they were comparable to Plank and possibly Grove.

And Torrez played with several pitchers who won Cy Young Awards but didn’t make the Hall of Fame: Guidry, Cuellar, Flanagan, Blue and Gooden.

I was tempted to swing this Torrez’s direction. But Walter Johnson makes it a push: 417 wins, two 30-win seasons, 12 20-win seasons (10 of them in a row), six times leading the league in wins, five ERA crowns, 12 strikeout crowns (including two seasons over 300), 110 career shutouts. Even given the difference in eras and the fact that he was pitching during segregation, that’s dominance that no one Torrez played with approached.

Torrez played with more all-time great pitchers and more near-great pitchers. But Bush played with maybe the greatest ever and a hell of a supporting cast. I call this a draw.

Sluggers

Torrez and Bush each played with a man who held the single-season homer record for decades (Ruth and Maris). But Bush played with three 500-homer sluggers (Ruth, Foxx, Ott) and Torrez played with just two, Jackson and McCovey. Ruth, Gehrig, Cobb and Foxx are in the top 10 in RBI, all ahead of Yaz, the most prolific run producer Torrez played with. Torrez’s teammates led their leagues an incredible 22 times in homers. But Babe led the American League 12 times himself. Add another five just for Ott and I could see that Bush’s total would pass Torrez. I counted 37 homer crowns for Bush teammates, and I’m not sure I didn’t miss one. Bush wins the power category.

Batting

Batting averages were so much higher in Bush’s era that it’s unfair to compare actual averages, where he wins easily.

But Cobb won 11 batting titles, a string interrupted only by other Bush teammates, Speaker and Lajoie. And Lajoie had four batting titles before Cobb’s string started, and Sisler was the batter who ended Cobb’s run (the first of his two titles). Add batting crowns for Ruth, Foxx, Simmons and Gehrig, and you have a string of 38 years in which Bush teammates won 26 American League batting titles.

That doesn’t count the National League, where Hornsby won seven, and Roush, O’Doul, Waner and Terry pushed the total to 15. That’s 41 batting titles won by Bush teammates.

Torrez’s teammates didn’t do nearly as well at leading their leagues in batting. Boggs won five times, Yaz three, and a few other teammates pushed the total to 12.

Bush was teammates of one of the two batters with 4,000 hits (Cobb) and four others topping 3,000 (Speaker, Collins, Lajoie and Waner). Torrez had four 3,000-hit teammates: Yaz, Boggs, Brock and Henderson.

Batting is another easy win for Bush.

Base stealing

Lou Brock's autograph, with some Cardinal teammates', on a ball owned by my son Joe.

Lou Brock’s autograph, with some Cardinal teammates’, on a ball owned by my son Joe.

Here the advantage shifts back to Torrez. Cobb set all-time records for career and single-season stolen based. But Lou Brock, an early Bush teammate surpassed them both, and Rickey Henderson, a late Torrez teammate, broke Brock’s records.

Collins, Carey, Sisler and Cuyler added some depth to the speed of Bush’s teammates, but Morgan and Campaneris add depth to Torrez’s. Of the top 14 in career steals, Torrez played with four, including the top two. Bush played with three.

Cobb led his league six times, Carey 10, Collins and Cuyler four each and Sisler three. That was some serious speed.

But Henderson led his league 12 times, Brock eight, Campy six. Davey Lopes, a 1984 A’s teammate of Torrez, led the National League twice in steals (and ranks well ahead of Sisler and Cuyler on the career charts). Morgan topped 50 stolen bases five straight years without ever leading the league.

Bush’s teammates were damned impressive here, but it’s an easy win for Torrez.

Catchers

Bush played with one Hall of Fame catcher, Cochrane. Torrez played with two, Fisk and Carter. Plus MVP Munson. And Torre also had some All-Star years at catcher. Advantage Torrez.

First base

Bush wins easily with Gehrig, Foxx, Sisler and Terry, though Torrez makes it close with McCovey, Cepeda, Perez and Hernandez.

Second base

An easy call again for Bush, with Hornsby, Lajoie and Collins. Morgan belongs with them in the best-ever discussion, but they have him outnumbered.

Shortstop

Travis Jackson is one of those marginal Hall of Famers from the 1920s. Campy easily surpassed him for hits and runs. Neither had excellent averages for their times and neither hit for power. Jackson never led his league in any offensive category. Campy led his league in hits once, stolen bases six times and sacrifices three times.

And Campy was a good fielder, playing shortstop into his late 30s. Jackson was probably a better fielder briefly, getting over 500 assists three different seasons, a level Campy never reached. Jackson also made 58 errors one year and had three seasons in the 40s, again a level Campy never reached. Jackson moved to third base at age 31. He’s a contender for the most marginal selection in Hall of Fame history.

But Cronin was a valid and strong Hall of Famer at shortstop, so Bush gets the edge here.

Third base

Baker and Traynor were the best third basemen of their times, but Lindstrom was nearly as marginal a Hall of Famer as Jackson.

Boggs was a far superior hitter to any of them and Robinson is regarded as the best defensive third baseman ever. And Torre was an MVP at third when he played with Torrez. Throw in Nettles and batting champ Carney Lansford, who played with Torrez in Boston, and Torrez easily played with more third-base talent.

Outfield

Curt Flood's autograph, with some Cardinal teammates, on a baseball owned by my son Joe.

Curt Flood’s autograph, with some Cardinal teammates, on a baseball owned by my son Joe.

An outfield that has Yaz, Brock, Henderson, Rice and Williams fighting for time in left and Jackson, Maris and Strawberry competing for right field is really tough to beat. Henderson would probably move to center (which he played a while for the Yankees), unless you wanted to keep Flood’s amazing glove (and good bat) in there.

Torrez truly played with an abundance of outfield talent.

But Bush’s outfield teammates start with Ruth, Cobb and Speaker. Game over. Add in Simmons, Waner, Goslin, Combs, Rice, Carey, Cuyler, Roush and Ott, and you have to give Bush the edge.

The only reason I would give it any pause is that Bush’s teammates played in the segregated era, when players like Brock, Henderson, Jackson, Rice, Strawberry and Flood played only in the Negro Leagues. I could truly discount all of the statistical advantages for the Bush teammates because they weren’t playing against all the best players of their times. But I think it’s enough to note that, and I won’t try to figure out how to compensate. I took a serious look at racial discrimination in the Hall of Fame earlier this month. This post about intersecting with great teammates is all in fun.

Designated hitter

This is another gimme for Torrez, since Bush didn’t even play in the DH era. Surely lots of those hitters he played with would have excelled at DH. But, since I’m not compensating for racial segregation, I’ll give Torrez credit for playing with some pretty good DH’s: Rice (530 games at DH), Jackson (630 games), Baylor (1,287) and Kingman (434 though he was essentially a DH playing in the National League for most of his career, carrying a glove into the field because the rules required it).

Managers

Torrez’s lineup of managers was impressive, but a lineup that starts with Connie Mack and John McGraw is nearly impossible to beat.

Who else?

Orlando Cepeda's autograph (above Manager Red Schoendienst's) on a ball autographed by members of the 1967 or '68 Cardinals. The ball belongs to my son Joe.

Orlando Cepeda’s autograph (above Manager Red Schoendienst’s) on a ball autographed by members of the 1967 or ’68 Cardinals. The ball belongs to my son Joe.

Orlando Cepeda played with a similar cast of teammates (with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Lou Brock, Carl Yastrzemski and George Brett, Cepeda matched Bush with five 3,000-hit teammates, and with Aaron, Mays, Willie McCovey and Reggie Jackson, Cepeda had more 500-homer teammates, for starters. And he played with more 300-game winners than Bush: Gaylord Perry, Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton, Phil Niekro.

I won’t go into details, since this post is already long and the series is about Yankee starting pitchers, which Cepeda wasn’t. But he’s the only player I know of whose teammate collection could compete with Bush’s and Torrez’s. And since he played with Torrez on the Cardinals, they almost certainly were the teammates with the most impressive collections of teammates.

In time, I may want to check out how many teammates of Jesse Orosco, Gary Sheffield and Johnny Damon (and maybe a few other well-traveled players) end up in the Hall of Fame.

Who else can you think of who played with an amazing set of teammates?

Also in this series

Other posts in this series on Yankee starting pitchers:

Source note: Unless otherwise noted, all statistics cited here come from Baseball-Reference.com.

Correction invitation: I wrote this series of blog posts over several months, mostly late at night while unable to sleep while undergoing medical treatment. I believe I have fact-checked and corrected any errors, but I welcome you to point out any I missed: stephenbuttry (at) gmail (dot) com. Or, if you just want to argue about my opinions, that’s fine, too.

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18 10 2015
Yankees’ 300-game winners: Clemens, Niekro, Perry, Johnson | Hated Yankees

[…] Yankee starting pitchers with the greatest teammates […]

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18 10 2015
Yankees among the best almost everywhere but starting pitcher | Hated Yankees

[…] Yankee starting pitchers with the greatest teammates […]

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19 10 2015
The Yankees’ 50 best starting pitchers | Hated Yankees

[…] Bullet Joe Bush […]

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20 10 2015
Comparing Yankees to other teams in starting pitchers in the Hall of Fame | Hated Yankees

[…] Yankee starting pitchers with the greatest teammates […]

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21 10 2015
Does pitching really win championships? Yes, but … | Hated Yankees

[…] strong fifth pitcher gets you to the post-season, but travel days might limit his role in October). Mike Torrez was only the Yankees’ fourth-best pitcher in 1977 (Guidry, Ed Figueroa and Don Gullett all […]

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