Acquired: January 19, 1972: Fred was traded by the Baltimore Orioles to the New York Yankees for a player to be named later. The Yankees sent Dale Spier (career minor leaguer) to the Baltimore Orioles on April 10, 1972 to complete the trade.
Traded: April 26, 1974: Fred was traded by the Yankees along with
Steve Kline and
Fritz Peterson to the Cleveland Indians for
Dick Tidrow, and
Cecil Upshaw. This trade would prove to be one of the most influential in the Yankees re-ascendency to the top of the baseball world from 1976-1978.
Notes: "Let Fred Beene be a source of inspiration for all...who are 5' 8"...who weigh 143 pounds...and who think they can make it on
perseverance and desire. Because Fred Beene did. Obtained from the Oriole organization, Fred signed his first pro contract in 1964 following graduation from Sam Houston State College in his native Texas. An outstanding spring training [in 1974] earned Fred a spot on the Yankee pitching staff, and the Yanks were earning the benefits based on Fred's early season relief work." -
1974 Yankees Spring Training Scorebook
The 1974 Yankee Spring Training scorebook was probably taken from an old copy. In reality, 1974 was Fred's third season in pinstripes and had just come off of what would be his finest season in the big leagues. Fred had only pitched in 7 relief appearances from 1968-1970 for the Baltimore Orioles, a tough pitching staff to crack for a rookie. Tougher yet due to his diminutive stature. Despite stellar minor league numbers, Fred couldn't get to the big leagues thanks to a tag that he was too short to ever succeed in the majors. Despite this, scouts noticed enough of his talent that in his seven year MLB career, he would be a part of two very important deals.
On December 1st, 1970, Fred was traded from Baltimore along with SS Enzo Hernandez, starter Tom Phoebus and reliever Al Severinsen to San Diego in return Tom Dukes and more significantly, Pat Dobson who would go on to be one of Baltimore's four 20-game winners in 1971. However, on May 16th, 1971, Fred was returned to the Baltimore Orioles but wouldn't throw a pitch in the majors that season.
On January 19th, 1972, Fred was traded to the Yankees for a player to be named later (see above.) He was invited to spring training as a non-roster invitee and a longshot, especially considering the letter that invited him actually stated: "You probably will not get to pitch in any exhibition games."1
This proved not to be true. Due to injuries and ailments, Fred got into the very FIRST Spring game against the Twins and continued to pitch well and impress. It was several outings before he would surrender a run and when he did, he was convinced the outing would signal the end of his dream. It wasn't. The next day, manager
Ralph Houk informed him he made the team. He was so thrilled, his response was, "Ralph, if you want anybody killed, just tell me and I'll do it for you."2 However, the feeling that he was constantly on the brink of being sent down never left him throughout his career.
In his first season with the Yankees, he proved
Ralph made the correct decision. Though he didn't appear much, his 29 games was third best on the team out of the pen. Fred threw 57.2 innings, allowing only 55 hits, walking 23 and striking out 37 to a 1-3 record, 3 saves and a 2.34 ERA.
He improved on that in 1973 with some spectacular numbers, teaming for a second straight year with
Sparky Lyle and
Lindy McDaniel, a trio that
Ralph Houk called the best he'd ever managed.3 He only appeared out of the pen 15 times, but proved to be a valuable long reliever for
Houk. More importantly, he appeared as a spot starter four times. On May 20th in the opener of a double-header in Cleveland, Fred filled in for
Steve Kline, who was scratched at the last minute, and tossed six innings of shutout ball. Helped out by bullpen mates
Lyle, Beene's first victory of 1973 was secured. Six days later, he tossed 3.2 innings of two hit, one run relief of
Mel Stottlemyre to secure his first save and a 10-5 victory over the Texas Rangers.
In one of his most impressive outings, on June 12th, he came in to relieve
Steve Kline (who left in the second inning with an injury) against the World Champion Oakland A's. The Yankees would not be able to come back from the 3-0
deficit, but Beene was impressive, retiring the first 18 batters he faced, striking out seven, before
Bert Campaneris touched him for a single in the 8th inning.
That was the script for most of Beene's 1973 season. Stellar outings in long relief and spot starts. In fact, on August 8th against the Rangers in Yankee Stadium, he relieved
Fritz Peterson after the first batter of the game. Fred went the distance allowing one run to pick up a 3-2 victory for his 6th win on the year. In all, he tallied a 6-0 record, boasting a 1.68 ERA and throwing 91 innings, allowing only 67 hits.
Things seemed to be looking good for Beene as the 1974 season dawned. However, big changes were on the horizon. New owner George Steinbrenner was determined to put a winning team on the field by the time the renovated Yankee Stadium opened in 1976 and claimed that no player was safe from the possibilty of being traded. Manager
Ralph Houk was removed and replaced with
Bill Virdon. GM Gabe Paul was quick to pull the trigger on a trade. Finally, on April 26th, Fred was traded to the Cleveland Indians along with
Tom Buskey and
Steve Kline in return for
Dick Tidrow and
Chris Chambliss. It was a huge deal that would directly impact the Yankees 1976-78 AL pennants and 1977-78 World Championships. That left Beene little consolation. In fact, he was
devastated. "I was getting nauseous by the second, I really was. I'd had such a long, hard fight. I felt like I finally had a home. And then I was just blasted out of it."4
Fred never got on track in Cleveland. He put up a respectable 4-4 record in 1974, throwing 73 innings, all in relief, but with a bloated 4.74 ERA. In 1975, he allowed 63 hits in 46.2 innings (19 games), walked 25, only striking out 20 and mustered an awful 6.94 ERA. On September 28th, he threw the first two innings in the final game of the season against the Boston Red Sox. He allowed a run against a walk and three hits and two strikeouts. It would be the last game he would pitch in the majors.
1Dog Days by Philip Bashe, p. 250.
2Dog Days by Philip Bashe, p. 250.
3Dog Days by Philip Bashe, p. 249.
4Dog Days by Philip Bashe, p. 272.