Friday, March 16, 2018

Notes: Bucs v Braves; Pinstripers Pound Pirates; Camp Battles & Kids 'R' Us.

Today: The Bucs entertain the Braves at LECOM Field, first pitch at 1:05. Jameson Taillon will start for Pittsburgh, with Josh Smoker and Tyler Eppler also booked. It's the big boy lineup today as the season approaches. The game will be aired by AT&T SportsNet and MLB Network with audio coverage via (via

Yesterday: Joe Musgrove showed his good and bad in his first outing. He gave up a first inning run on a walk/double combo, struck out the side in the second (he had five whiffs), then walked two-of-three to open the third (he walked three during the outing), earning a pitch count hook. Brett McKinney came in and a bopped batter/homer later, the Yankees were off and running. They piled it on Felipe Rivero in the next frame; he was given the hook after three walks (one forcing in a run) and an error; Sean Keselica was beat around a little more as NY jumped up 8-3 on the way to a 9-5 win. Kyle Crick (two IP) and Kevin Siegrist shut the door; Dovy Neverauskas gave up a ninth inning homer. It was four errors Wednesday followed by nine walks yesterday, not a great look with the season approaching. Cervy and Jose Osuna smacked two-run, two-out homers for the Pirates, who only had six hits.

  • William Boor of picks out 25 prospects who have impressed him this spring - the Bucs have Colin Moran in the "break camp" category and Austin Meadows part of the "ETA - later this year" group.
  • The camp battles to date are shaking out some, per WTM of Bucs Dugout
  • How young is the Pirates pitching staff? All these guys were born in 1991 or later - Steven Brault, Kyle Crick, Michael Feliz, Tyler Glasnow, Chad Kuhl, Joe Musgrove, Felipe Rivero, Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams, along with eight other pitchers currently on the 40-man roster. The only pitchers born in the eighties are Ivan Nova, George Kontos, AJ Schugel and Josh Smoker.  Among the bubble NRI's only Bo Schultz ('85) has some gray - Kevin Siegrist, Tyler Jones and John Stilson were 1989-90 babies. The 40-man position players are split a little more evenly, with 10 from the nineties and nine from the eighties.

3/16: Honus Quits; Look Into the Crystal Ball; HBD Lloyd, Patsy & Abraham; RIP Pie

  • 1865 - OF Patrick “Patsy” Donovan was born in Queenstown, Ireland. He played for the Pirates from 1892-99, hitting .307, and spent 17 years in the big leagues with a lifetime .301 BA. He put up six consecutive .300+ seasons and served as player-manager from 1897-99. Patsy managed in the show for 11 seasons, became a minor league skipper and eventually a high school coach at Phillips Academy in Andover, where he coached the future 41st President, George HW Bush. 
Patsy Donovan Badge 1898 Pepsin Gum
  • 1906 - OF Lloyd “Little Poison” Waner was born in Harrah, Oklahoma. The Hall-of-Fame OF had a .319 BA over 17 seasons with Pittsburgh. He batted .316 with 2,459 hits, striking out just 173 times in an 18-season major league career. Lloyd and his sib Paul set the record for career hits by brothers in MLB with 5,611 knocks. Little Poison worked as a scout for the Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles after retiring as a player and was elected into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1967. 
  • 1908 - Honus Wagner announced his retirement at the age of 34, citing arthritis and the need to rest his body. The Pittsburg Press wrote that “Some hope is still expressed that the mighty Teuton will see...the error of his way and return to the game.” He did after sitting out spring training. Hans played in 151 games in 1908, matching his 1898 high when he was just 24, and led the NL in batting average (for the sixth time at .354), hits (201), total bases (308), doubles (39), triples (19), RBIs (109), stolen bases (53), slugging % (.542), OBP (.415) and OPS (.957). The Flying Dutchman finished the year two homers short of winning the Triple Crown. Honus retired several times in a regular rite of spring, but didn’t actually hang up his spikes until after the 1917 campaign. 
  • 1956 - The Pirates 10-5 exhibition win over the Tigers in windy Fort Myers gave long-suffering Bucco fans a rosy glimpse of the future. Les Biederman, beat man for the Pittsburgh Press, wrote “(Roberto) Clemente brought down the house when he twice tripled with two aboard and the 1,289 fans gave him the glad hand. (Bill) Mazeroski, the 19-year-old former Wheeling resident who is here for a long look, contributed two singles and played expertly in the field.” The Great One was in the second of 18 seasons with the Pirates while Maz would be called up in July to begin a 17-year Pittsburgh run. Both men ended up with retired numbers, ballyard statues and Hall of Fame plaques. 
Pie Traynor as a baseball talk host 1951 (photo via Jeff Roteman)
  • 1972 - Pie Traynor died at age 72 in Pittsburgh. The 3B played 17 years for the Pirates, his only team, with a .320 BA and had a second career as the "Who Can? Ameri-can" spokesman. He managed the Bucs after he hung ‘em up and later served as a Pirate scout before taking a job as a radio sports director in 1944. His show (he was on KQV, hosting the The Pie Traynor Club) was popular with fans and he remained at the job for 21 years. In 1948, Traynor was selected to the Hall of Fame, being the first third baseman to be chosen by the Baseball Writers Association of America. In 1969, as part of the centennial of professional baseball, Traynor was named the third baseman for MLB's all-time team. 
  • 1976 - IF Abraham Nunez was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The utility man - he played SS, 2B and 3B - spent eight seasons (1997 - 2004) with Pittsburgh and hit .238. His big league career ended in 2008 and after a 2010 fling in the indie leagues, Nunez retired. He now coaches in the Kansas City organization and manages in the Dominican League.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Notes: Pirates Spanked, Take on Yankees Today; More Cuts 'n' Stuff

Today: The Pirates travel to Tampa's Steinbrenner Field to play the Yankees at 1:05. Joe Musgrove starts in his first Pirates outing with Felipe Rivero, Kyle Crick, Kevin Siegrist and Dovydas Neverauskas to follow. Sonny Gray opens for the Bronx. The audio will be streamed by (available via

Yesterday: The Bucs were pretty much crickets in a 9-3 behind-the-woodshed whipping by the Rays. Ivan Nova gave up three runs in five innings, Nick Kingham was slapped around, and George Kontas & Casey Sadler were each touched for a run while Michael Feliz was the only Pirate pitcher to post a zero in a clean inning. Four errors don't help the cause; the Pirates haven't been very tight with the leather so far this spring and with two weeks to go before the opening gun, that's a concern. J-Bell had two hits for the Pirates and Eric Wood went long.

  • Tyler Glasnow, out recently with the flu, will throw a bullpen today while AJ Schugel, who's missed all of camp with a sore shoulder, will begin light tossing.
  • Ivan Nova isn't all that concerned with results yet; with a guaranteed roster spot, he can spend time on the finer points of his game. Adam Berry of notes that he's working on his change and using the inside half of the plate during the spring to better combat lefties and batters sitting on the outside edge against him.
  • Cut list: P Yeudy Garcia, 2B Kevin Kramer, P Alex McRae & IF Kevin Newman have been reassigned to minor league camp after respectable spring showings. Pirates City will be hummin' like a bee hive now that the roster is shrinking & the minor league spring schedule has kicked off. 
  • Sights you never thought you'd see - Neil Walker in a Yankee uni taking balls at first base.
  • This season, the minors are beginning what IMO is the dumbest "pace of play" rule ever written - starting extra innings with a runner on second. Why don't they just have a home run derby in the 10th? Too much vid game tinkering by MLB HQ.

3/15: Snell, Bibby Sign; Hit Man & Scrap Iron Deals; HBD Steve, Nellie, Jimmie, Bill & Red

  • 1876 - OF Bill Hallman was born in Philadelphia. He played four MLB seasons, two with the Pirates (1906-07). Bill hit .233 and those years ended his big league days, though he had a long minor league career that spanned from 1894-1914 before he hung up the spikes. Be careful not to confuse him with his uncle Bill Hallman, an infielder who was born in Pittsburgh and played for 14 seasons, mostly with Philadelphia clubs. 
  • 1902 - OF Fred “Red” Bennett was born in Atkins, Arkansas. He played in 39 MLB games, 32 of them with the Pirates in 1931, batting .281 for the Buccos. He was part of a lawsuit after the Pirates had offered Wichita Falls, his minor league club, $10,000 for his contract in 1929 only to see it sold to the Cardinals for half the price with Bennett reassigned to the minors. Commissioner Landis voided the deal, his radar set off because St. Louis’ owner, Phil Ball, also owned the Wichita Falls club. The Cards sued Kenesaw Mountain and in April of 1931, lost their case. Red became a Pirate and Landis’ unilateral power granted under “the best interests of the game” clause, cited in the decision, became a powerful weapon in the Commissioner’s Office arsenal.
1991 Rom Lewis Post Card
  • 1910 - OF Jimmie Crutchfield was born in Ardmore, Missouri. He played for the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1931-36 (w/a brief stay with the Homestead Grays in 1932 before returning to the Crawfords), earning three All-Star berths. Per BR Bullpen, James Riley, author and director of the Negro League Museum, wrote that Crutchfield was often compared to Lloyd Waner in skill set for being a small ball expert with speed and defensive skills but not much power. Additionally, they both played center field in Pittsburgh in the same era. He retired in 1945, losing a couple of years to the service during WW2, and closed out his days working for the Post Office. 
  • 1928 - Nellie King was born in Shenandoah, near Pottsville. As a righty, he had a four-year (1954-57) MLB career, all spent in Pittsburgh, going 7-5-6/3.58. He later was Bob Prince’s announcing sidekick from 1967-75 on KDKA and moved on to work at Duquesne University as their long-time Sports Information Director. Nellie returned to the Pirates' broadcast booth as a guest commentator for the final game at TRS on October 1st, 2000. 
  • 1977 - IF Phil Garner, P Chris Batton and IF Tommy Helms were traded to the Bucs by Oakland for OF Tony Armas, P Doug Bair, P Dave Giusti, P Rick Langford, P Doc Medich and 1B Mitchell Page. "Scrap Iron" (a moniker earned through his scrappy, hard-nosed approach to the game) was a mainstay of the 1979 World Series infield. But he came at a high price - Armas, Bair, Langford and Medich had long, solid post-Pirate careers, with just Giusti at the end of his string. 
Scrap Iron 1978 Hostess
  • 1982 - RHP Steve Jackson was born in Sumter, South Carolina. The Yankee product via Clemson tossed two MLB seasons, both for the Bucs, in 2009-10 with a 2-4/4.31 slash. In 2011, he tossed in the minors for the Dodgers, Reds and Bucs in his last professional season. 
  • 1978 - The Pirates signed free agent RHP Jim Bibby. In five years with the Bucs, the big righty went 50-32 with a 3.53 ERA. Originally inked to be a closer, he instead became a key member of the 1979 World Series rotation and was an All-Star in 1980. He missed all of 1982 with a shoulder injury that in effect ended his career. He put up a 6.69 ERA in 1983 and was let go; he pitched eight more times afterward before hanging up the spikes. 
  • 1979 - The Pirates sent minor leaguers George Hill and Martin Rivas along with cash to the Red Sox to get back OF Mike Easler, who had been sold to Boston during the off season. Good thing the FO had a change of heart. Easler ended up a .302 hitter with the Bucs between 1979-83 and was a key bench/platoon player for the 1979 World Series club, also earning an All-Star bid in the shortened 1981 season. The “Hit Man” (so named because of his sweet gap-to-gap swing and .293 lifetime BA) went back to Boston after the ‘83 season for P John Tudor. 
Ian Snell 2008 Upper Deck Spectrum
  • 2008 - Five days after unilaterally renewing his contract, the Pirates signed RHP Ian Snell to a three-year deal worth $8M with options for 2011-12. The 26-year old, who was arbitration eligible after 2009 season, had a 24-26 record after two years in the show. He was dismal in 2008 and was sent to Class AAA at his request. Snell was traded to Seattle in 2009 at the deadline for a boatload of prospects, the best being Ronny Cedeno.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bucs v Rays, Camp Notes

Today: The Pirates host the Rays at 1:05 at LECOM Park, with the game on AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan. Opening Day starter Ivan Nova hits the hill, followed by Felipe Rivero, George Kontos, Michael Feliz and Nick Kingham.

Yesterday: A day of rest; no game scheduled.

  • As it gets closer to rug-cutting time, here are the players on the 40-man who are out of options and either have to make the team or risk being lost: OF Bryce Brentz, C Elias Diaz, P George Kontos, P AJ Schugel & P Nik Turley. Diaz and Kontos are locks to go north, Brentz is on the bubble and Shugel (shoulder) & Turley (post-TJ) injured.
  • Anthony Castrovince of MLB. com picks each team's most indispensable player ("...whose long-term absence or major performance decline would have their clubs scrambling, if not stumbling.") and selects Starling Marte as the Buccos' MIP. 
  • 2B Dilson Herrera has cleared waivers after being outrighted by the Reds. He was once the Pirates next big thing.

3/14: Kenny Signs, Roberto Hurt; RIP Harold; HBD Butch, Earl & Bunker

  • 1869 - RHP Billy “Bunker” Rhines was born in Ridgway, Elk County. He tossed for the Bucs at the end of his career in 1898-99, going 16-20 with a 3.95 ERA after twice leading the NL in ERA as a Cincinnati Red. Bunker did have one league leading stat as a Bucco in 1898 - he tossed 258 frames without allowing a homer. The nickname “Bunker” may be a corruption of Rhines' alma mater, Bucknell, although that is uncertain.
  • 1928 - OF Earl Smith was born in Sunnyside, Washington. Smith had a brief career in the show with the Bucs, going 1-for-16 in April 1955 before being sent back to the minors, never to return. But he is the answer to a trivia question. Smith was the last player to wear #21 on the Pittsburgh Pirates' roster before Roberto Clemente. The Great One was a rookie that year and began the season wearing #13, but he claimed #21 (the number of letters in his full name, Roberto Clemente Walker) when Smith was sent down. 
We hope Butch is in his easy chair for his b-day (photo Pirates)
  • 1956 - C/coach Harold “Butch” Wynegar was born in York, Pennsylvania. He had a 13-year career with the Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees and California Angels, twice being named an All Star. Butch added more miles after his playing days, coaching with the Orioles, Rangers, Brewers and Yankees organizations before becoming the Pirates AAA hitting coach at Indy in 2015 before moving on to Bradenton this campaign. Sports Illustrated’s Douglas Looney wrote that he was “Nicknamed ‘Butch’ by a grandmother who stared into the crib of Harold Delano Wynegar, Jr. and declared ‘You look like a Butch.’” 
  • 1969 - After recovering from a right shoulder injury, Roberto Clemente banged his left wing chasing a foul pop during a spring game, which prompted a trip back home to Puerto Rico to visit his own doctor. He started the year 0-for-12, but roared back with a .345 BA, second to Pete Rose’s .348 in a race that went down to the last day. Roberto was hitting .363 in August, but a cranky back kept him on the bench for much of September and likely cost him the crown. 
  • 1986 - Harold Arlin passed away at age 90 in Bakersfield, California. On August 5th, 1921, Arlin announced the first MLB game ever broadcast on radio for KDKA, an 8-5 Bucco win over the Phils at Forbes Field, providing a template that was copied throughout baseball. He was heard across the nation and did games through 1925, when he retired from radio and took a day job in Mansfield, Ohio. He returned to the format for a last hurrah in 1972 at Bob Prince’s invitation, doing play-by-play with The Gunner as his grandson, Steve Arlin, was on the hill for the San Diego Padres against the Pirates at TRS. Harold also did college football, boxing and tennis matches, was the first to do celebrity interviews and also the first to announce the results of a presidential election over the airwaves.
The Gunner & Harold Arlin 1972 (photo via Baseball Hall of Fame)
  • 2003 - OF Kenny Lofton agreed to a one-year/$1.025M deal with the Pirates. Kenny took over in center, bumping Brian Giles to left and Reggie Sanders to right. They formed a sweet swinging if somewhat grizzled trio (Lofton was age 36, Sanders 35, & Giles the baby at 32) with some punch. But Lofton didn’t last out the year as he was traded to the Cubs on July 23rd with Aramis Ramirez for not much in Dave Littlefield’s most infamous salary dump. Kenny hit .277 with 18 swiped sacks and nine long balls in his abbreviated Bucco tour of duty.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Notes: Day Off After 8-5 Loss to Birds; Team & League Stuff

Today: It's an off day for the Buccos.

Yesterday: Two in a row...not, as Pittsburgh lost to Baltimore 8-5. After Alex McRae gave the Bucs three innings of one-hit ball, Dovy Neverauskas was bombed for five runs (four earned) and later in the game, after the Bucs pared the lead to one run, Jordan Milbrath gave up a pair in 1/3 IP on two hits and two walks, wasting zeroes put up by Kyle Crick and Josh Smoker. Gregory Polanco, Corey Dickerson, Josh Harrison, Colin Moran and Fran Cervelli each had a pair of hits. Jose Osuna had a rap in his only appearance, singling home a pair of runs with two outs. The Pirates banged out 13 knocks, including five doubles, but went 3-for-14 w/RISP.

  • Cervy went 2-for-2 and now has five hits in his last eight at bats.
  • Clint confirmed that George Kontos will be the eighth-inning set up man for Felipe Rivero when the season starts.
  • Bill Baer of NBC Sports has the Pirates 2018 preview and writes "It’s a team that is just adequate all the way around."
  • The Yankees reportedly signed Neil Walker to a 1-year/$4M guaranteed deal plus $125K for 425, 450, 475 and 500 plate appearances gravy. This year's market has been brutal between overblown expectations and low ball bidding. In Walker's case, he's remained a consistently solid hitter but back woes in the last two seasons have made teams wary of the 32-year-old's lasting power. But still...
  • Remember the old Knothole Gang at Forbes Field? The Orioles are bringing back the concept, offering free tickets to kids nine-and-under for certain games.

3/13: Roberto Stays in Vegas; Crystal K; HBD Jason, Al, Gary, Eddie & Chappie

  • 1875 - RHP Charles “Chappie” McFarland was born in White Hall, Illinois. After four years with the Cardinals, he spent his final campaign of 1906 spinning for three clubs; six of his last season’s outings were with the Bucs. He went 1-3, 2.55, with five starts after the Bucs sent Ed Karger to the Cards for his services in June; by August he was waived and finished his MLB days with Brooklyn. Chappie had a brother, Monte, who tossed for the Cubs. After McFarland's baseball career, he stayed in show biz by opening the first vaudeville theater in Houston, then becoming a movie theater manager in charge of several houses. 
Eddie Pellegrini 1953 (photo via Out of the Park Development)
  • 1918 - Utilityman Eddie Pellagrini was born in Boston. He lost four years to the service but still put in eight seasons in MLB, his last two (1953-54) with the Bucs, hitting .237. After retiring, Pellagrini spent 32 years as the manager of the Boston College Eagles. Fun fact: in 1946, Eddie hit a home run in his first MLB at bat with the Red Sox. 
  • 1939 - OF Al Luplow was born in Saginaw, Michigan. He closed out his seven-year MLB career as a Buc in 1967 after the Pirates bought his contract from the Mets, hitting .184 in 55 games. Al made one of baseball’s great grabs in 1963 when he went flying over a five-foot fence in right to steal a three-run homer from Boston's Dick Williams at Fenway Park, landing in the bullpen and climbing back over the wall with the ball raised in his hand. And yes, they’re related: Pirates OF’er Jordan Luplow is his great-nephew. 
  • 1940 - All-purpose player Gary Kolb was born in Rock Falls, Illinois. Kolb played all three OF spots, 2B, 3B and catcher for the Bucs in 1968-69 (he played every position in the minors and all but pitcher and short in the majors). But while the glove was willing, the bat was weak and he hit just .186 as a Pirate, ending his MLB career. His cousin Danny, a RH reliever, also finished his nine-year run in the majors as a Bucco in 2007. 
  • 1975 - Roberto Clemente and 13 others were inducted into Las Vegas’ Black Athletes Hall of Fame. James Brown hosted the ceremony and Aretha Franklin provided the entertainment as Roberto (in memory), Roy Campanella and a dozen other athletes were honored during the affair at Caesar's Palace Convention Center. 
Jason Rogers 2016 (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • 1988 - 1B Jason Rogers was born in East Point, Georgia. He was traded by the Milwaukee Brewers for OF Keon Broxton and P Trey Supak depth during the 2015 off season as the Pirates were looking to fill a void at first base. However, Jason was bumped from the mix when the Bucs later signed veteran free agents John Jaso and David Freese, then shot himself in the foot by going 2-for-25 in 2016. Rogers was released the following year and took his game to Japan. 
  • 2008 - In a spring game against the Pirates, comedian and lifelong Yankee fan Billy Crystal led off as the DH after signing a one-day contract with New York. He made contact, fouling a fastball up the first base line, but was eventually struck out by Paul Maholm on six pitches. He joined Garth Brooks, Tom Selleck and Will Ferrell as celebrities who appeared in a MLB exhibition game.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Notes: Bucs v Os; Jays Thumped 5-0; More Cuts; Camp Notes

Today: The Bucs entertain the Orioles at LECOM Park at 1:05. Alex McRae kicks it off (Tyler Glasnow was scheduled but has the flu) followed by Kyle Crick, Kevin Siegrist, Jordan Milbrath, Edgar Santana and Josh Smoker. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet and aired by 93.7 The Fan.

Yesterday: As Clint likes to say, the Pirates showered off Saturday's twin embarrassment and broke quickly from the gate to drop the Blue Jays by a 5-0 count. Fraze scored on a J-Bell sac fly in the first, then the Bucs opened it up in the second go-around. Kevin Kramer tripled home Austin Meadows and plated when Fraze homered; for good measure, Gregory Polanco made it back-to-back bombs and the pitching took it home from there. Clay Holmes worked the opening three frames, followed by Casey Sadler, Damien Magnifico, Jack Leathersich, Johnny Stilson and Brett McKinney, who ensemble tossed a five hitter.

  • Some prospect cuts today: Clay Holmes, Jack Leathersich (too many walks) and Austin Meadows (nice spring; .368 BA) were assigned to Indy. Reassigned to minor-league camp were Cole Tucker, Christian Kelley, Jason Martin, Bryan Reynolds and Damien Magnifico.
  • Frazier has collected 10 hits in his last 15 at bats and is hitting .435; Starling Marte is 10-of-18 and batting .526.
  • Pittsburgh has homered in nine straight games.
  • Doc Emrick is visiting camp today.
  • Kramer started showing some pop with the lumber last year, but as he told's Adam Berry, it has nada to do with the launch angle trend. He made an adjustment with his hand action and got more aggressive in his mentality at the dish.
  • John Watson of Yardbarker has a look at at the NL Central teams' off season; the Pirates are a mixed bag.
  • Frankie Liriano has earned a spot in the Tigers rotation per skipper Ron Gardenhire.

3/12: Klein HoF; Ladies' Day; HBD Deacon, Phil, Denny, Reb, Lefty, Greg, Dave & Raul

  • 1865 - LHP Phil Knell was born in San Francisco. In a six-year career, he made a pair of stops in Pittsburgh. He started out as a 23-year-old rookie for the Alleghenys in 1888, going 1-2, 3.76, and pitched briefly for the Pirates in 1894, appearing in one outing and getting whacked. But during 1890-91, he won 50 games for the Philadelphia Quakers and Columbus Colts. At 5’7” and 155 pounds, he didn’t cut an intimidating figure, but no one in the box was comfortable facing him. In those two halcyon seasons, the wild child bopped 82, walked 392 and tossed 39 wild pitches in 748-⅔ IP. Phil started 52 games and worked 426 innings for the Colts in 1891 alone while setting the season record for hit batsmen with 54. 
Denny Lyons (photo via The New York Public Library)
  • 1866 - 3B Denny Lyons was born in Cincinnati. He played four seasons for Pittsburgh (1893-94; 1896-97) and mustered a .299 BA during that span. He put together a 52-game hitting streak, largely ignored because back in the day because a walk was considered the same as a hit. Still, it was a pretty impressive on-base skein. Lyons played for 13 campaigns, quitting only after a fastball thrown by Amos Rusie broke two of his fingers which never fully healed. 
  • 1894 - The Pittsburgh Pirates issued free season tickets for ladies, good for Tuesday and Friday games at Exposition Park, per Baseball Almanac. The New York Gothams introduced the ladies day concept in 1883 and Pittsburgh eventually bought into the concept. 
  • 1899 - OF Ewell “Reb” Russell was born in Jackson, Mississippi. Russell started as a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox in 1912 and was a good one, but developed arm trouble in 1918 and was released. While in the minors, he converted to playing the outfield and became an accomplished hitter. Reb got back to the show with Pittsburgh in 1922-23, and in 511 at-bats hit .323 with 21 HR/113 RBI. His downfall was that though he hit like an outfielder, he played the outfield like he was a pitcher. Still, Russell returned to the minor leagues American Association and was a highly paid star in the AA through age 40, even winning the league batting title when he was 38 years old with a .385 BA. Ewell was nicknamed “Reb” for his Mississippi roots. 
Reb Russell 1923 (photo Bain Collection/Library of Congress)
  • 1907 - LHP Leroy “Lefty” Matlock was born in Moberly, Missouri. After a cup of coffee with the Homestead Grays in 1932, he closed out the second half of his Negro League career with the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1933-38, winning 51 games in his first four years and being named to three All-Star teams. He put together a 26-game winning streak from 1934-36 per his Baseball Reference bio (although BR’s stat page shows different results, so...). He was suspended early in the 1937 season for playing on a Dominican League team and won just four more games in his final two campaigns. 
  • 1930 - RHP Vern “The Deacon” Law was born in Meridian, Indiana. The righty pitched 16 years for the Pirates (1950–1951, 1954–1967), putting up a 162-147/3.77 line and winning the Cy Young in 1960 with a 20-9/3.05 mark for the World Series champs. Law infamously hurt his ankle during some horseplay after clinching the pennant. A true trooper - he pitched through it during the Series, won twice and left Game #7 with a three run lead - he tore muscles in his shoulder while compensating for the ankle. Both injuries lingered on for most of the remainder of his career, and his arm woes led him to briefly retire in '63. He had one more strong campaign afterward, going 17-9/2.15 in 1965 when he was named the Comeback Player of the Year. Law was also selected twice as an All-Star. "The Deacon" came by his nickname honestly; a devout Mormon, Vernon was a church deacon.
  • 1971- OF Raul Mondesi was born in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. The Pirates signed the 33-year-old vet in 2004 and he had a good month, batting .283 w/two homers & 14 RBI before going home to handle a personal issue; he never came back, as it was ploy to get out of his contract. It worked - he was released in May and signed with Anaheim 10 days later, hit .118 and was cut in August. In 2005, the Braves became his last stop in a 13-year career; he batted .211 and was released in May. Mondesi became mayor of San Cristobal after baseball but couldn’t quite shake his shady ways. In 2017, a Dominican court handed him an eight-year sentence and fined him $1.3M for embezzling funds while in office. 
Raul Mondesi 2004 Topps
  • 1971 - RHP Greg Hansell was born in Bellflower, California. He closed out a four-year MLB run in 1999 with the Pirates with a 1-3, 3.89 line in 33 outings after a June call up from AAA Nashville. In December, Hansell was purchased from the Bucs by the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese League. He tossed there through 2002, but big league comeback attempts in 2003 & ‘04 fell short; he settled for two more minor league seasons and retired after the 2004 campaign. 
  • 1979 - LHP Dave Williams was born in Anchorage, Alaska. He spent four seasons (2001-02, 2004-05) with the Bucs, going 17-26 with a 4.25 ERA, and got to play with high school teammate Ian Snell. Williams was traded to Cincinnati for Sean Casey after the 2005 season. He had surgery for a herniated disc in his neck in 2007 and never was sharp afterward. Williams ended his career after the 2009 season following a 2008 stint in Japan, then a year in the minors. 
  • 1980 - OF Chuck Klein was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Klein batted .320 over a 17-year career with the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and one season with the Pirates, 1939, when he hit .300. He was inducted on August 3rd.