Glancing Back, and Remembering Art Ditmar
Pitcher Art Ditmar was well acquainted with the A’s-Yankees shuttle. He split his entire nine-season major league career between those two franchises.
During the 1950s, the Yankees repeatedly turned to the Athletics for strategic trades that brought needed talent to New York. Ditmar was one of those acquisitions. He was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics in 1948 and, following four seasons in the minors and two in military service, he made his way to the A’s staff at the end of the 1954 season, going 1-4 with a 6.41 ERA in 14 appearances.
In 1955, with the Athletics now located in Kansas City, Ditmar gradually moved into a starting role, ending the season at 12-12 with a 5.03 ERA. In 1956, he led the American League in losses at 12-22, but he was also fourth in the league in games started (34) and sixth in innings pitched (254.1). His performance earned him a trip to New York, as the A’s traded Ditmar (with Bobby Shantz and Clete Boyer) to the New York Yankees.
As a member of the Yankees’ staff, Ditmar got fewer starts (and fewer innings) but consistently better results. Used primarily as a reliever in 1957, Ditmar went 8-3 with a 3.25 ERA and six saves. He went 9-8 in 1958, and moved into New York’s starting rotation in 1959, producing a 13-9 record with a 2.90 ERA.
Ditmar’s best season was 1960, when he led the Yankees staff in wins with a 15-9 record. However, his role as Yankees ace was short-lived. He was 2-3 for the Yankees in 1961 when he was traded with Deron Johnson back to the Athletics for pitcher Bud Daley, a 16-game winner for the A’s in each of the previous two seasons. Despite his success as a starter in New York, Ditmar found himself assigned to the Kansas City bullpen, and going winless for the rest of the 1961 campaign. He appeared in six games for the Athletics in 1962, and was released. He never pitched in the majors again.
Ditmar was 72-77 in nine major league seasons. He was 47-32 in his five seasons with the Yankees. His career earned run average was 3.98.