Bob Shawkey had been part of the Philadelphia Athletics last pennant winning team in 1914 and was toiling for a last-place club the following season when the Yankees rescued him from Connie Mack’s fire sale for $3,000.
It was money extremely well spent.
Shawkey came to New York and became the ace of the Yankees’ staff, leading the American League with eight saves while starting 27 games and relieving in 26 in 1916.
In 1920, Shawkey led the AL with a 2.45 ERA and posted a league-best 8.1 hits per nine innings in 1923.
With the exception of 1918, when he missed most of the season serving in the U.S. Navy at the Philadelphia shipyards during World War I, Shawkey logged at least 236 innings every season from 1916-23.
He won his only start in the 1923 postseason, when the Yankees won their first World Series title, allowing three runs and battling through 7.2 innings despite allowing 12 hits, walking four and hitting a batter.
Late in his career, Shawkey was a player-coach, pitching mostly in relief while serving as pitching coach.
In parts of 13 seasons for New York, Shawkey had a 3.12 ERA (117 ERA+) and 1.269 WHIP, going 168-131 in 415 appearances and 274 starts. He had 164 complete games, 26 shutouts and 27 saves while working 2,488.2 innings and striking out 1,163.
Released by the Yankees in November 1927, he was a pitcher-pitching coach for Montreal in the International League in 1928 before coming back to the Bronx as the full-time pitching coach in 1929.
Shawkey was named Yankee manager for the 1930 season, after the death the previous September of Hall of Fame skipper Miller Huggins. After a third-place finish, Shawkey was dumped as manager in favor of the more experienced Joe McCarthy, who had been let go by the Chicago Cubs.
According to the Society for American Baseball Research, Shawkey returned to the minors, managing in Jersey City and Newark from 1931-35 before retiring to a remote area of Quebec to manage a gold mine he had purchased.
He returned to minor league managing after World War II in Watertown, Tallahassee and Jamestown and was a roving instructor for both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers in the late 1940s.
He coached at Dartmouth College from 1952-56 before retiring. In retirement, he threw out ceremonial first pitches for the 50th anniversary of the first Yankee Stadium in 1973 and for its re-opening in 1976 following a renovation project.
Shawkey died Dec. 31, 1980, in Syracuse, New York at the age of 90.