Happy Sunday, everyone. Today’s installment brings us back to the late 40′s and early 50′s period of Yankee baseball. Today, we’ll honor left-handed starting pitcher Eddie Lopat. I chose him for this morning’s post for two (odd) reasons. First, he died on my fifth birthday, June 15, 1992. Second, he’s buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in my hometown of Greenwich, CT; all three of my deceased grandparents are buried there. They’re odd connections, but they’re connections nonetheless.
Lopat started his career at age 26 for the Chicago White Sox in 1944. He stayed there through the 1947 season, posting a 108 ERA+ in 893.0 innings. However, his first two years–104/80 ERA+–don’t do him justice. In the 1946 and 1947 seasons, Lopat threw to a 125 and then a 129 ERA+. He placed 7th and 4th in raw ERA those years, and also finished 6th in both seasons in K/BB. Just before the 1948 season was to start, the Yankees traded for Lopat.
In that 1948 season, Lopat regressed a little bit. He finished the year with just a 112 ERA+, down 17 points from the season before. However, he recovered in 1949 and put up a solid season with a 124 ERA+. He’d repeat that in 1950 before jumping up a notch in 1951 and 1952. He was at 132 and 131 respectively. Then as a 35 year old in 1953, Lopat had the best year of his career: he led the AL with an .800 winning percentage, a 1.127 WHIP, a 1.6 BB/9, as well as a 2.42 ERA/152 ERA+. Lopat also won Game Two of the World Seires against the Brooklyn Dodgers that year; for the record, the Yankees swept the Dodgers in the series that year.
Eddie spent just another year and a half with the Yankees after that. In the middle of the 1955 season, the Yankees sent him to the Orioles. The O’s released him in October of that year and that was the end of his Major League career.