He was born in New York, New York and later his family moved to Brooklyn. He attended Franklin K. Lane HS and is a member of the PSAL Hall of Fame.
He was signed as an amateur free agent by the New York Yankees in 1948. His Major League debut was on April 18, 1954 for the Yankees. He wore uniform number 55 for the Yankees during his entire period on the team. He won 20 games (the first Yankee rookie to win 20 since 1910) and lost only 6 that year, with a 3.26 earned run average, and was voted American League Rookie of the Year, with 15 votes out of 24. He played in two World Series for the Yankees, in 1955 (against the Brooklyn Dodgers) and in 1957 (against the Milwaukee Braves). By 1957, because of arm troubles, he became an exclusive relief pitcher. He has been retroactively listed as leading the American League in saves in 1957 with 19 (At the time, saves were not a regularly calculated statistic). He was an All-Star in 1957.
On June 15, 1958, he was traded, along with Harry Simpson, by the New York Yankees to the Kansas City Athletics for Duke Maas and Virgil Trucks. The A's assigned him uniform number 34.
On April 5, 1960, he was traded by the Kansas City Athletics to the Cleveland Indians for Leo Kiely. The Indians assigned him uniform number 26.
On May 18, 1960 the Cincinnati Reds purchased his contract from the Cleveland Indians. He was assigned uniform number 46 by the Reds.
On July 29, 1960 the St. Louis Cardinals purchased his contract from the Cincinnati Reds. He kept uniform number 46 on the Cardinals.
He was released by the St. Louis Cardinals before the 1962 season, but on April 9, 1962 he was signed as a free agent with the Kansas City Athletics. He resumed the uniform number 34 on the A's, which he had worn earlier on that team.
His final MLB game was played on May 24, 1962. On May 31, 1962 he was released by the Kansas City Athletics. He died in Shawnee, Kansas.