Tuesday, October 21, 2014

10/20-21: Jocko, Marc Wilkins, Guisti Deal, Frankie...

Jocko, Marc Wilkins, Guisti Deal, Frankie...
  • October 20, 1864 - UT John “Jocko” Fields was born in Cork, Ireland. Jocko played everything on the field, hitting .265 as a member of the Alleghenys (1887-88), the Burghers of the Players’ League (1889) and the Pirates in 1890. 
Jocko Field 1887 Old Judge Cigarettes series
  • October 21, 1970 - RHP Marc Wilkins was born in Mansfield, Ohio. He spent his entire six season MLB career (1996-2001) as a Bucco reliever (he started two games as a rookie), putting up a line of 19-14-3/4.28 and appearing in 70 outings during 1997. 
  •  October 21, 1969 - RHP Dave Giusti and C Dave Ricketts came over from from St. Louis for 1B/OF Carl Taylor and OF Frank Vanzin. Giusti spent seven years in the Buc bullpen and collected 133 saves. 
Dave Guisti 1971 Arco series
  • October 21, 2013 - LHP Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02) was named The Sporting News “Comeback Player of the Year” for 2013. The runner up was RHP Mark Melancon, the Bucs set-up/closer arm, and third place went to OF Marlon Byrd, who the Pirates picked up from the NY Mets during the stretch run in late August.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

10/19: Tom McCreery, Don Leppert, Harry the Hat, Joey Bats & J-Mac...

Tom McCreery, Don Leppert, Harry the Hat, Joey Bats & J-Mac...
  • 1874 - OF Tom McCreery was born in Beaver. The local kid played from 1898-1900 for the Pirates, batting .303. He later became head baseball coach at Pitt for the 1912 season. 
  • 1931 - C Don Leppert was born in Indianapolis. He had a brief four year MLB career as a reserve catcher, starting with Pittsburgh in 1961-62 and batting .266. But he made the record books by hitting a home run on the first pitch thrown to him in the show on June 18th, 1961, against Curt Simmons of the St. Louis Cardinals in a 5-3 Bucco win. Leppert managed the Pirates’ Class A Gastonia club in 1967 and then served as a MLB coach for Pittsburgh from 1968–1976. 
Don Leppert via Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers
  • 1964 - Harry “The Hat” Walker was named manager of the Pirates, replacing Danny Murtaugh after an 80-82 season and sixth place finish in the NL. 
  • 1980 - 3B/OF Jose Bautista was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He played for the Bucs from 2004-08, and hit .241 with 43 HR during that time. He blossomed after being traded to Toronto, leading the AL in homers twice. 
Jose Bautista 2004 Bowman Chrome series
  • 1984 - James McDonald was born in Long Beach, California. The righty came to Pittsburgh in 2010 as part of the Octavio Dotel deal, and was an up-and-down member of the rotation until 2013, going 27-24/4.21 in his Pirate years. He had a breakout campaign in 2012 until after the All-Star break when the wheels fell off, and he never recovered.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

10/18: Phil Morrison, Bucs Lose Cup Finale, Cash-for-Brett...

Phil Morrison, Bucs Lose Cup Finale, Cash-for-Brett...
  • 1894 - RHP Phil Morrison was born in Rockport, Indiana. His MLB career consisted of ⅔ IP for the Pirates in 1921, but he became one of the early Pirate brother acts with that appearance, joining his brother, pitcher Jughead Johnny Morrison, on that season’s stat sheet. 
  • 1900 - The Brooklyn Superbas won the Chronicle-Telegraph Cup three games to one with a 4-1 win at Exposition Park as Iron Man Joe McGinnity outpitched Sam Leever. The series was a challenge match sponsored by the Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph (bought by the Pittsburgh Press in 1924) between the top two NL teams in an era before post-season games. It was a fruitful learning experience for the runner-up Pirates, which went on to win the next three NL pennants and played in the first World Series in 1903. The Brooklyn club didn’t win another postseason set until 1955, when they claimed the World Series title as the Dodgers. 
  • 1973 - The Pirates shipped 2B Dave Cash to Philadelphia in exchange for LHP Ken Brett. Cash was being phased out for Rennie Stennett, but still had seven years and three All-Star games left in him. Brett went 22-14 with a 3.32 ERA for Pittsburgh in two seasons and made an All-Star team before an elbow injury slowed him down, and like Cash still had a long shelf life. He pitched seven more years after leaving the Pirates, although he wasn’t really effective again after 1976.
Ken Brett 1974 Topps series

Friday, October 17, 2014

10/17: Bucs Win 1971 & 1979 WS, Lose 1991 NLCS...

Bucs Win 1971 & 1979 WS, Lose 1991 NLCS...
  • 1900 - Pittsburgh avoided being swept in the Chronicle-Telegraph Cup series by nickle-and-diming Harry Howell for 13 singles and 10 runs. Tommy Leach reached base five times and scored four runs. Ginger Beaumont had three hits, and Claude Ritchey, Honus Wagner and Bones Ely added a pair. Deacon Phillippe threw a six-hit shutout for the win at Exposition Park, although the Pirates still trailed the best-of-five series two games to one. 
  • 1971 - Steve Blass hurled a four-hitter and Roberto Clemente homered as the Pirates won Game Seven of the World Series, 2-1, at Baltimore, earning Pittsburgh its fourth World Championship. The winning run scored in the eighth, when Jose Pagan doubled home Willie Stargell. Clemente hit safely in all seven games of the series, a feat he also accomplished in 1960 against the Yankees, extending his consecutive Fall Classic hitting streak to 14 contests. He also became the first Latino player to earn World Series MVP honors after batting .414. Bruce Kison and his best man Bob Moose were taken from Memorial Stadium by helicopter to a waiting Lear Jet to attend his wedding in Pittsburgh; the groom arrived just 33 minutes late. And though it was a bright moment for the club, it wasn’t for some fans. After the game‚ 40‚000 people ran wild downtown; many were arrested and at least 100 were injured‚ some seriously. 
  • 1979 - In Game Seven at Baltimore, President Jimmy Carter opened the game with a ceremonial pitch and Willie Stargell finished it by going 3-for-4 with his third World Series homer, lifting the Pirates to a 4-1 win and their fifth World Championship. Captain Willie gave the Bucs a 2-1 lead in the sixth with his blast. Kent Tekulve worked out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth and Pittsburgh tacked on a pair of ninth inning insurance runs to take a 4-1 victory, with Grant Jackson earning the W. Pops was named Series MVP after the Pirates erased a three-games-to-one deficit to rally past the Orioles. 60,000 fans greeted the team at the airport when they arrived home at 3AM, with thousands more lining the parkway. Baltimore, which planned a victory parade two games prior, still held one the next day and drew 125,000 for their beloved and now bedraggled Birds. The game was big - an estimated 80 million people, then the largest TV audience in the history of the World Series, watched the showdown. 
  • 1991 - In Game Seven of the NLCS, Brian Hunter's two-run shot in the first inning off John Smiley was all John Smoltz needed as he tossed a 4-0, six hit whitewash against the Bucs at TRS. Atlanta won their first NL pennant since their move from Milwaukee as the Pirates failed to score in the last 22 innings of the series. The Braves lost the World Series to the Minnesota Twins four games to three in one of the most dramatic championships in the MLB annals.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

10/16: Pirates Win First Title in 1909, '71, '79 WS, '91 NCS, Cutch Baseball America RoY & More...

Pirates Win First Title in 1909, '71, '79 WS, '91 NCS, Cutch Baseball America RoY & More...
Honus Wagner via Extravaganzi
  • 1898 - According to Charlton’s Baseball Chronology, Honus Wagner hurled a baseball 403 feet 8 inches in a throwing contest at Louisville's League Park (teams often featured races and long-toss exhibitions back in the day) to beat the record of 400' 7 1/2" set by the Brooklyn Mutuals' John Hatfield in 1872. Wagner's distance throw was‚ in some histories‚ topped by Larry LeJeune’s toss 435 feet on October 3rd‚ 1907, although that distance is not universally accepted. 
  • 1900 - The Bucs committed six errors against the Brooklyn Superbas at Exposition Park during the Chronicle-Telegraph Challenge series and lost 4-2 as Fred Kitson got the better of Sam Leever. Pittsburgh was held to four hits, with Honus Wagner’s double leading to one run and Jack O’Connor driving in Tom O’Brien for the other tally. 
  • 1909 - In a World Series showdown between two of baseball's premier players, Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb, the Pirates downed the hometown Detroit Tigers, 8-0, in game seven to become World Champions for the first time. The real star of the Series, though, was rookie pitcher Babe Adams, who notched three victories, including the decisive seventh game six-hit shutout. The Pirates were helped by Tiger wildness; the Bucs banged out just seven hits, but the 10 walks were the killers for Motown (Fred Clarke got zero official at bats; he walked four times and scored twice). Honus Wagner and Dots Miller had a pair of RBI, while Clarke and Tommy Leach scored twice. It was the first World Series to go seven games. The Flying Dutchman, battling injuries in his first World Series in 1903, bounced back this time around. Hans hit .333, with seven RBIs and six stolen bases to outshine Ty Cobb, who hit .231 with six runs driven home and two steals. 
Babe Adams in his final season of 1926 (photo uncredited)
  • 1928 - P and scout Lenny Yochim was born in New Orleans. He had a brief career with the Pirates (1951, 1954, 1-2, 7.62 ERA), but a long and fairly shiny one in the minors, where he once tossed a no hitter. After his playing days, Yochim rejoined the Pirates in 1966 as part of their baseball operations department. He served in various scouting positions before moving into the front office in 1994, where he worked as a senior adviser for player personnel through 2004. 
  • 1971 - The Baltimore Orioles came back from a 2-0 hole to take a 3-2, 10 inning win from the Bucs at Memorial Stadium and forcing the World Series to a seventh game. The Pirates left the bases loaded in the 10th. Baltimore didn’t. Brooks Robinson’s short sac fly to center off Bob Miller barely brought in Frank Robinson; Al Oliver had been removed in a double switch just that inning, putting the weak-armed vic Davalillo in center. Robinson paid a price; he injured his hamstring and reaggravated an Achilles injury, limiting him severely in the decisive game. Roberto Clemente had a homer for Pittsburgh and also had a highlight throw in the bottom of the ninth, a one hop strike to home that froze Mark Belanger, who represented the winning run, at third after Don Buford’s two-out double. Bob Moose became the Bucs sixth different starter when he took the hill in the first, as the scheduled pitcher, Dock Ellis, was scratched with an injury. 
  • 1979 - With Baltimore papers planning the Orioles’ World Series victory parade, the Bucs rode John Candelaria and Kent Tekulve to a 4-0 win at Memorial Stadium to square the series at three games each. The top of the order (Omar Moreno & Tim Foli) and the bottom (Ed Ott & Phil Garner) combined for nine hits and scored all four runs. 
John Candelaria 1980 O-Pee-Chee series
  • 1991 - For the second time in the series, the Bucs were 1-0 losers to the Atlanta Braves to send the NLCS to a seventh game. The Pirates were held to four hits by Steve Avery and Alejandro Pena at TRS. The game’s only tally came with two outs in the ninth when Greg Olsen doubled home Ron Gant to hand Doug Drabek the defeat. 
  • 2009 - Andrew McCutchen was named the Baseball America Rookie of the Year for 2009, and finished fourth in the NL ROY balloting.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

10/15: Pirates Whip Big Train To Win '25 Series, Bucs Lose Silver Cup, Alleghenys Join AA, Carlos B-Day...

Pirates Whip Big Train To Win '25 Series, Bucs Lose Silver Cup, Alleghenys Join AA, Carlos B-Day...
  • 1881 - H. D. "Denny" McKnight resurrected the Allegheny Baseball Club of Pittsburgh (it had disbanded after the 1877 season) to join the newly formed American Association. In 1887 they joined the NL, and in 1890 morphed into the Pittsburgh Pirates
 Denny McKnight from the Baseball Hall of Fame collection

  • 1892 - On the last day the season, Cincinnati pitcher Charles “Bumpus” Jones no-hit Pittsburgh at League Park in his first major league start. Bumpus won 7-1, fanning three and issuing four walks. His MLB career lasted eight games and he won just one other decision. Still, he remains the only player to pitch a no-hitter in his first MLB appearance.
  • 1900 - The Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph offered a silver cup to the winner of a best-of-five series at Exposition Park between the NL’s top two teams, the Pirates and the Brooklyn Superbas; Brooklyn won the 1900 title by 4-½ games over the Bucs during the regular season. Two future Hall of Famers faced off in the opener as NL ERA leader Rube Waddell (2.37) went against “Iron Man” Joe McGinnity, who topped the league with 28 wins. McGinnity shut out the Pirates for eight innings before two unearned runs in the top of the ninth cost him the shutout. Not only was he hurt by shoddy fielding, but he had been knocked out briefly the inning before during a rundown when he was accidentally kneed. He refused to come out after he came to, and went the distance for a five-hit, 5-2 victory, with Claude Ritchey banging a pair of knocks in a losing cause.
  • 1925 - In Game Seven of the World Series at Forbes Field, played on a muddy track soaked by a two day rainstorm, Kiki Cuyler laced an eighth-inning, two out, bases loaded double off Washington's Walter “Big Train” Johnson to lead the Pirates to a 9-7 comeback victory and their second World Championship, made all the sweeter by rallying from an early 4-0 deficit. Ray Kremer got the win, his second of the Series, with four innings of relief after pitching a complete game win two days before. Errors by SS Roger Peckinpaugh, the AL MVP, in both the seventh and eighth innings led to four unearned runs. He had a tough Series in the field, committing a record eight errors. The Bucs became the first team to win a World Series after being down three games to one. The Series also was a financial hit‚ grossing a record-setting $1.2M. Winning shares were $5‚332.72 while the losers pocketed $3‚734.60.
Kiki Cuyler 1926 publicity photo
  • 1967 - IF Carlos Garcia was born in Tachira, Venezuela. In seven (1990-96) Bucco seasons, he hit .278 and was an All-Star in 1994. García was the first base coach and infield instructor for Pittsburgh in 2010. He was named the manager of the Bradenton Marauders in December 2010, and in 2013, he was promoted to manager of the Altoona Curve (he was relieved of his duties after the 2014 season).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

10/14: Sid's Slide, '09, '71, '79 WS, '91 NLCS, Scoops & Other B-Days, Transactions...

Sid's Slide, '09, '71, '79 WS, '91 NLCS, Scoops & Other B-Days, Transactions...
  • 1909 - The Pirates scored three times in the first inning, but the Detroit Tigers came back to take a 5-4 win at Bennett Park to force a seventh game in the World Series. The Cats used a balanced attack, banging out 10 hits, five of which were doubles, to give George Mullin the win and send Vic Willis to defeat. 
  • 1915 - LHP Ken Heintzelman was born in Peruque, Missouri. He pitched for Pittsburgh from 1937-42, was off during the war years, and then returned for 1946-47. In eight years, the southpaw made 154 appearances with 86 starts and went 37-43 with a 4.14 ERA. 
  • 1946 - OF/1b Al “Scoops” Oliver was born in Portsmouth, Ohio. He played 10 of his 18 big league years in Pittsburgh with a line of .296/135/717 and three All-Star berths. Scoops was a key member of the early seventy clubs that won a World Series and five pennants in six seasons. 
Al Oliver 1976 Topps series
  • 1952 - 22 year old Pirate OF Gus Bell was traded to the Giants for outfielders Gail Henley and Cal Abrams, along with C Joe Rossi. Bell spent the next 13 years in the show, nine with the Reds and four as an All-Star, and belted double figure homers for the next eight seasons with a high of 30 in 1953. 
  • 1968 - The Pirates lost OF Manny Mota, 1B Donn Clendenon and 3B Maury Wills to the Montreal Expos along with pitchers Dave Roberts, Al McBean and Ron Slocum to the San Diego Padres during the expansion draft. 
  • 1971 - Nellie Briles tossed a two hit shutout at the Baltimore Orioles, and the 4-0 win put the Pirates up three games to two in the World Series. Every Pirate batter reached base during the game, with Bob Robertson hitting a solo shot at TRS in front of 51,377 Pittsburgh fans. 
Nellie Briles via Fans From the Stands blog
  • 1971 - OF Midre Cummings was born in Christiansted, St. Croix, in the US Virgin Islands. A first round pick of the Twins in the 1990 draft, he came to Pittsburgh as part of the John Smiley deal. Between 1993-97, he barely got over 500 AB for the Bucs, hitting .217. After the Pirates let him go, he played until 2005, having just one season hitting under .275, although in reserve roles. 
  • 1979 - Staring at elimination, Jim Rooker and Bert Blyleven tossed a combo six hitter against the Orioles at TRS as the Bucs stayed alive with a 7-1 victory. Tim Foli tripled and had three RBI while Bill Madlock went 4-for-4, with Baltimore still ahead in the WS three games to two. 
  • 1991 - The Pirates Zane Smith was the victor as the Bucs took a 1-0 win over the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and a 3-2 lead in the NLCS. Tom Glavine was the loser, touched up only in the fifth when Chico Lind singled home Steve Buechele. The Braves lost a run when David Justice missed 3B while heading home on a two-out, fourth inning single in a call that was controversial and replay inconclusive. 
Zane Smith 1993 Ultra series
  • 1992 - Pittsburgh lost the seventh game of the NLCS to the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium 3-2 when Sid Bream scored in the ninth, barely beating Barry Bond's off-line throw and Spanky LaValliere’s lunging tag to begin a two-decade long Bucco Dark Age. Pittsburgh carried a two run lead into the last frame when a Chico Lind error and two walks proved fatal. The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Bravos four games to two in the World Series, taking all four of their victories by one run and three of those wins came in their last at bat.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pittsburgh Infield - 2015

The Pirates' Opening Day lineup across the infield was 1B - Travis Ishikawa, 2B - Neil Walker, SS - Jordy Mercer and 3B - Pedro Alvarez. It sure looked different in October, and will morph again in 2015.


The fielding: One Josh entered the lineup (or perhaps when Pedro left it) the Pirates solidified in the infield. Jordy was a pleasant surprise, proving he not only could hit at the MLB level, but more importantly hold his own with the glove. He and Josh provided a solid left side in the final few weeks of the season, and their glovework was one of the reasons the pitching staff improved down the stretch as they converted grounders into outs.

The right side, though, wasn't nearly as strong. Neil Walker was steady, but didn't show much range.  That's not unexpected - he is 6'3", 210 lbs and a converted catcher. Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez were competent with the leather, but neither was very nimble.

UZR/150 (250+ innings)
Josh Harrison 3B (7.0)
Jordy Mercer SS (0.5)
Gaby Sanchez 1B (-3.2)
Ike Davis 1B (-8.1)
Neil Walker 2B (-8.4)
Pedro Alvarez 3B (-12.4)

The Ultimate Zone Rating confirms the tale: the left side was pretty good, the right side, not so much.

The hitting: The infield sticks proved to be much better this season than in 2013. Jordy outpaced Clint Barmes' production, Josh and The Kid had career years, and first base...well, that was a bit disappointing.

OPS+ (250+ PA)
Josh Harrison 134
Neil Walker 127
Ike Davis 104
Pedro Alvarez 102
Jordy Mercer 95
Gaby Sanchez 91

So the Bucs had a couple of guys performing well above league average in Josh and Neil, a couple at league average and a couple just beneath (with Mercer's OPS+ about mid-range for his position). First base is the sore spot; it's a premium offensive position and the Pirates are decidedly so-so with the bat there.

What to watch for in the offseason: Neil Walker has two arb years remaining; if the Pirates are going to make him an offer, it will be this off season. Alen Hansen is on the horizon, so The Kid's heir-apparent should be honing his game at Indy this year and ready for prime time in 2016.

Walker is under team control during that timeline, and the Pirates may feel no urgency to ink him past arbitration. So while many expect his long term future to be at third base as his range diminishes, the truth is that he may not have a long-term future in Pittsburgh.


The real donnybrook will be at first. Pedro has two years of arb left, and Scott Boras has let it be known that his client would rather be at the hot corner than first. A ploy to move him? Maybe, but it's no secret that the right offer, and El Toro will be Pittsburgh history.

Logic would dictate that despite similar slashes (Ike has an average 111 OPS+; Pedro 105; Ike's career WAR is 5.8; Pedro's is 5.9), the Bucs would keep Pedro over Ike because of upside, if nothing else. He'd also, oddly enough, probably provide a defensive upgrade - Alvarez may have trouble throwing, but he has a better glove and superior range than any other Pirate 1B candidate.

But if he becomes a distraction and they could get a little value back, they would move him. A deal would likely, but not absolutely, assure Ike the first base spot. Andrew Lambo should again get a spring camp look, and he looked a lot more poised this September than he has in past MLB auditions.

While many have written off Gaby, our guess is that the Pirates will try to keep him if he meets their price. All the first base pieces in the Bucco jigsaw are lefty, and the market isn't all that alluring, so he could remain in a 200-to-250 at-bat, platoon/bench role. Tony Sanchez will catch if Russ walks, and the odds seem to favor that scenario.

First base has been a developmental problem spot for the Pirates seemingly forever. And it's still the same. There is no real in-house help ready; maybe Josh Bell or Stetson Allie will one day be the answer, but neither are now.

Jordy has taken shortstop and made it his after a dismal April, and we give the Pirates credit for letting him play through the early jitters. His 2015 job is to repeat his performance and give the Bucs some confidence that he will be a consistent hitter with some pop and steady defensive skills.

Ditto with Josh at third. His job will be to prove he's an everyday bat in 2015; he proved he can handle the hot corner defensively. We don't expect expect another run at a batting crown, but a .285 BA is certainly attainable. And he does have to keep on hitting; he had a 4% walk rate, so all his value comes via counting numbers.

Another issue will be a reserve middle infielder; Clint Barmes was hurt for a few weeks and didn't get much time when healthy. Michael Martinez has opted for free agency, Chase d'Arnaud will likely join him, while Brent Morel is entering his first arb year and is unlikely to be tendered.

So it looks like another year of Clint, and he's fine for the role. Behind him, JaCoby Jones is making the most noise. Whether he can challenge for a starting MLB spot or is a utility guy down the road is the question; he has the speed and pop to earn a big league check, but was a college player at the A level, so he's still got challenges ahead of him.

The outlook: The infield is solid but not very deep, and the left side is held by two young guys who have to prove they can repeat an impressive first-year campaign. There's not much in the way of help in the pipeline for 2015, but there are a couple of guys coming up that could be just a couple of seasons away. Once the Bucs decide what to do with Pedro, the pieces should fall together.


10/13: MAZ!!! & Game 7 Gang, '03, '09, '25, '71, '79 WS, '91, '92 NLCS, Rube & More...

MAZ!!! & Game 7 Gang, '03, '09, '25, '71, '79 WS, '91, '92 NLCS, Rube & More...
  • 1960 - Game Seven of the World Series at Forbes Field ended with this call by NBC’s Mel Allen “There's a drive into deep left field, look out now… that ball is going, going gone! And the World Series is over! Mazeroski… hits it over the left field fence…” Bill Mazeroski led off the bottom of the ninth with the most dramatic home run in Series history, a blast off Ralph Terry, breaking a 9-9 tie with the Yankees and bringing Pittsburgh its third World Championship. It’s still the only walk-off homer to win a seventh game in the ninth inning. Hal Smith hit a key two out, three run blast in the eighth to give Pittsburgh a short-lived lead. Harvey Haddix, the fourth Pirate hurler, recovered from a blown save to get the win thanks to Maz, who also cost Casey Stengel his job; the Ol’ Perfessor was “retired” as NY manager five days after the loss, telling the media "I wasn't retired - they fired me." Other factoids: Bobby Richardson of the Yankees was named MVP of the Series, the only time that someone from the defeated team has been so honored, and it was the only World Series game played without a strikeout recorded by either club.
Maz rounds third...from CORBIS Images
  • 1876 - LHP George “Rube” Waddell was born in Bradford, Pennsylvania. He pitched just two season for the Pirates (1900-01), but his legend deserves mention. He wore out his welcome with Pittsburgh, getting into two games in 1901 after leading the NL in ERA (2.37) the year before with the Bucs. His eccentricities: He was a fire fanatic in a good way; Rube always wore a red t-shirt so he could join up with any fire-fighting brigade that he found in action. Though he never showed up drunk at a game, he was a heavy drinker - The Sporting News called him a “sousepaw” - and was distracted by crowds, who would mesmerize him by flashing shiny objects at him. In exhibition games, he had his teammates sit around him on the mound. Waddell wrestled alligators in the off season. Current baseball historians believe he was autistic or had ADD before the conditions were commonly diagnosed. But Rube could throw a baseball. He won 193 games and struck out 2,316 batters in his career (349 batters in 1904 alone). Rube K’ed three batters on nine pitches in 1902. He was one of the great drawing cards of early baseball, and is in the Hall of Fame. The story of his life was in the stars: Rube was born on Friday the 13th and died on April Fools Day (4/1/14) 

Rube Waddell's Hall of Fame plaque
  • 1899 - Smoky City, indeed. Per Charlton’s Baseball Chronology, the Louisville Colonels scored four runs in the ninth to take a 6-5 lead over the Pirates at Exposition Park‚ as thick‚ black smoke from the steel mills settled over the field. The game was called before the Bucs could bat because of poor visibility (darkness, technically), and the score reverted to the last full frame, the eighth inning, giving Pittsburgh a 5-2 victory. 
  • 1903 - Boston won the first World Series five games to three (it was best-of-nine) with a 3-0 win at the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds in a battle between Deacon Phillippe and Bill Dinneen. The key blow was Hobe Ferris’ two run single. Dinnen tossed a four hitter, and ended the game with his seventh K, whiffing Honus Wagner. Even in that rubber-armed era, it was too much for Phillippe, who started five of the eight games (and went the distance in all of them) because of an injury to Sam Leever’s shoulder, the mental breakdown of Ed Doheny, a 16-game winner during the season, and the defection of 1902 rotation members Jack Chesbro and Jesse Tannehill to the American League. Pirate owner Barney Dreyfuss added his share of the gate receipts to the players' share, so the losing team's players actually finished with a larger individual share than the winning team's ($1,316.25 to $1,182.00). Dreyfus also gave Deacon Phillippe a bonus and 10 shares of stock in the Pirates for his yeoman efforts. 
  • 1909 - The Pirates broke out the bats at Forbes Field to take a 3-2 lead in the World Series with an 8-4 win over the Tigers. Fred Clarke had a homer and three RBI to lead the offense while Babe Adams cruised to his second WS win. 
Babe Adams - Dan Austin Virtual Card Collection
  • 1925 - Pittsburgh evened the World Series at three games each as they downed the Washington Senators 3-2 at Forbes Field. Ray Kremer bested Alex Ferguson, giving up six hits, among them a homer to Goose Goslin and a RBI double to Roger Peckinpaugh. Leadoff man Eddie Moore had two hits, including a homer, two runs scored and an RBI; Pie Traynor and Clyde Barnhart drove in the other tallies. All the scoring was in the first five innings. The Sens’ Joe Harris doubled with an out in the ninth, but Kremer routinely retired Joe Judge and Ossie Bluege to seal the deal. 
  • 1925 - The Pirates purchased SS Hal Rhyne and OF Paul Waner from San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, then an unaffiliated independent organization. Rhyne played a couple of years for the Bucs and had a seven year MLB career while Big Poison went on to the Hall of Fame after spending 15 of his 20 big league seasons with Pittsburgh. 
  • 1937 - The Bucs got OF Johnny Rizzo from the Cards for 1B Bernard Cobb, C Tom Padden, OF Bud Hafey and cash. The rookie Rizzo hit 23 homers in 1938, a team record that lasted for nearly a decade, but was traded early in 1940 for Vince DiMaggio. 
Johnny Rizzo 1939 Play Ball series
  • 1942 - 3B Bob Bailey was born in Long Beach. He began his 17 year pro career in Pittsburgh (1962-66) where he hit .257 with occasional power. Bailey had his best years with Montreal in the early seventies, with three 20+ HR seasons and three more with 80+ RBI.  
  • 1967 - Larry Shepard was named manager, replacing Danny Murtaugh, who in turn had replaced Harry Walker earlier in the year. 
  • 1971 - Roberto Clemente had three hits while Milt May drove in the winning run with a pinch-hit single in the eighth as the Pirates rallied to defeat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 in Game Four of the Fall Classic. Luke Walker gave up three runs in the first frame before heading to the showers with two outs, but Bruce Kison came to the rescue, tossing 6-⅓ one hit innings, then Dave Giusti saved it by pitching perfect ball over the last two frames. It was the first night World Series game in baseball history and evened the Series at two games at TRS before a house of 51,378. 
  • 1979 - The Bucs took a 6-3 lead into the eighth against the Orioles in the fourth game of the World Series, but they and 50,883 fans were stunned by a six run eighth by the O’s and a 9-6 loss snatched from the jaws of victory at TRS. Kent Tekulve, inheriting a mess from Don Robinson, gave up a pair of two run doubles to Terry Crowley and John Lowenstein to take the defeat. The Pirates banged out 17 hits, but stranded 10 with two DP, a caught stealing and a throw-out at home. Willie Stargell had three knocks, including a homer and double, but Pittsburgh fell into a three games to one deficit against Baltimore. 
  • 1985 - Saul Finkelstein sat at the base of the flagpole by the Forbes Field wall outside Schenley Plaza and listened to a taped NBC radio broadcast of Chuck Thompson and Jack Quinlan calling the seventh game of the 1960 World Series on his boombox. Since that day, it has since evolved into an annual ceremony open to all under the auspices of the Game Seven Gang, often drawing members of the championship team. 
They still celebrate...Photo via Historic Pittsburgh
  • 1991 - Pittsburgh evened the NLCS at two games with a 10 inning, 3-2 win at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium over the Braves. Mike LaValliere’s two out, pinch hit single off Mark Wohlers scored Andy Van Slyke, and Stan Belinda tossed two scoreless frames for the win. Steve Buechele's three hits gave him five straight over two games to tie an NLCS record. 
  • 1992 - The Pirates pounded the Braves 13-4 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to even the NLCS series at three games each. Tim Wakefield won his second game while Jay Bell, Barry Bonds and Lloyd McClendon homered. The Bucs ran away with the game after an eight run second inning, featuring a pair of hits by Bonds And McClendon during the frame.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

10/12: Bucs Stay Alive in '71, '09, '25, '60, '79 WS, '90, '91 NLCS, B-Days & More...

Bucs Stay Alive in '71, '09, '25, '60, '79 WS, '90, '91 NLCS, B-Days & More...
  • 1856 - Charles “Pop” Smith was born in Digby, Nova Scotia. He played the infield for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys from 1885-89. Pop wasn’t much with the bat, hitting .220 for the Alleghenys, but could run (117 stolen bases in 557 games) and was a good glove man who could play second or short equally well. 
  • 1882 - Negro League OF and manager John Preston "Pete" Hill was born in Culpepper County, Virginia, but was raised in Pittsburgh after arriving in town as an infant. He played for 11 teams during his Hall of Fame career, getting his first taste of organized ball as a teen with the Pittsburgh Keystones in 1899. 
  • 1901 - RHP Erv Brame was born in Big Rock, Tennessee. He spent his five year MLB career (1928-32) with Pittsburgh, going 52-37-1 with a 4.76 ERA, mostly as a starter who was converted to the pen in his last season. 
Erv Brame (1928) from The Sporting News 1993 Conlon Collection series
  • 1909 - The Tigers, behind George Mullin’s five hit whitewash, evened up the World Series at two games with a 5-0 win at Bennett Park. Deacon Phillippe tossed four shutout innings for Pittsburgh after relieving starter Lefty Leifield. The Buc fielders didn’t help out as they committed six errors during the contest. 
  • 1925 - Five different Pirates banged out a pair of knocks as Pittsburgh used a 13 hit attack to defeat the Washington Senators 6-3 at Griffith Stadium and stay alive in the World Series, although down two games to three. Vic Aldridge went the distance for the win. Clyde Barnhart had a pair of hits, two RBI and a run scored while Joe Harris homered to lead the offense. 
Joe Harris (l) with brother Alexander via Bumblebeagle Baseball page
  • 1960 - Whitey Ford again owned the Bucs in the World Series, tossing a seven hitter as New York blanked Pittsburgh 12-0 at Forbes Field to stave off elimination and force a seventh game. Bobby Richardson tripled twice and had three RBI as the Bronx Bombers amassed 17 hits. Roberto Clemente and Hal Smith had a pair of hits each for the Pirates, who shot themselves in the foot by bouncing into three double plays. 
  • 1963 - The final baseball game at the Polo Grounds was the Hispanic American All-Star game, the only one held in MLB history. The roster of Latino stars included Pirates Roberto Clemente, Manny Mota, who delivered a clutch two-run pinch-hit single, and Alvin McBean, who got the W in a 5-2 NL victory. 
  • 1971 - The Bucs broke open a duel between Mike Cuellar and Steve Blass by scoring three times in the seventh on the way to a 5-1 World Series win at TRS in front of 50,403 fans. Bob Robertson blasted the deciding three-run homer came after he missed a bunt sign. Steve Blass was sitting next to Danny Murtaugh in the dugout at the time, and told the skipper: "If you fine him (Robertson, for missing the bunt sign), I'll pay." Murtaugh didn't. The three-hit victory left Pittsburgh with a pulse, as they were now down two games to one in the Fall Classic. 
Bob Robertson catches Steve Blass after clinching 1971 World series (AP photo)

  • 1979 - The Pirates brought the World Series back to TRS and 50,848 fans, but were run off the field 8-4 by Baltimore, which lit up John Candelaria with a five run fourth inning. The Birds were led by Kiko Garcia, who drove in four runs with four hits. For the Bucs, Willie Stargell had a pair of hits and scored twice while Phil Garner chipped in with two RBI and Omar Moreno added a pair of doubles. It was too little, too late against Scott McGregor as the Orioles went up two games to one.
  • 1990 - Danny Jackson‚ Norm Charlton‚ and Randy Myers combined on a one-hitter as Cincinnati beat the Pirates 2-1 to win the NLCS in six games. 1B Carmelo Martinez had the only Bucco hit, a double that scored Barry Bonds (aboard on a walk) as Zane Smith took the loss at Riverfront Stadium. Jim Leyland started a back-end reliever, Ted Power, in order to keep the Reds from using their favored platoon lineup (he followed him with LHP Smith) and it almost worked. The game clincher was an over-the-fence catch by RF Glenn Braggs, robbing Carmelo Martínez of a two-run homer with an out in the ninth, to preserve the win in dramatic fashion. The Reds would go on to sweep Oakland in the World Series. 
  • 1991 - The Braves returned to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and pasted the Pirates 10-3 to take a 2-1 lead in the NLCS. Pittsburgh had 10 hits, but stranded 11 runners as John Smoltz took the win from John Smiley. Jay Bell and Orlando Merced homered for Pittsburgh, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a four run first and an eighth inning, three run pinch hit homer by Sid Bream.