Today would be former first baseman Dick Kryhoski's 83rd birthday, were he still with us. (He passed away last April 10.) A World War II veteran, he made his major league debut as a member of the 1949 World Champion New York Yankees. His best season was 1951, when he compiled career highs in several offensive categories, hitting .287 with 12 home runs and 57 RBI for the Tigers. His high-water mark in home runs would come two seasons later, when he belted 16 for the St. Louis Browns in their final year of existence. The following year, Dick followed the team to Baltimore, appearing in 100 games and hitting .260 with just one home run. In December of 1954, he was sent to the Yankees in a whopping seventeen-player trade, your standard 7-for-10 deal. The most notable players swapped were pitchers Bullet Bob Turley and future World Series perfect game architect Don Larsen going to New York, and slugging catcher Gus Triandos, shortstop Willie Miranda, and veteran outfielder Gene Woodling heading to Charm City. Kryhoski was sold to the Kansas City Athletics before the start of the 1955 season, and played 28 games for the A's before calling it a career. Kryhoski remained active in several ex-player organizations for the remainder of his life.
I chose Dick's card today because he shares a birthday with my younger sister, and according to Baseball Reference he is the only Oriole to have this honor. My sister has only been a baseball fan since high school, but I've had a great time going to games at Camden Yards with her in the subsequent years. I can remember baking in the bleacher seats during a sweltering Sunday afternoon game against Toronto a few years back (and all for the Orioles t-shirt giveaway), unabashedly getting drenched during a Friday night rain delay against the Devil Rays, and enduring the horrors of a tense seventeen-inning game against the Phillies on another Friday evening (much more about this game in another blog entry to come). Her favorite player by far is Melvin Mora, and if his strong performance this Spring is any indicator, he will hopefully be rewarding her loyalty in 2008. Happy Birthday, Liz; I hope it's a good one.