Monday, February 11, 2013

The Week In Pirate History

Birthdays, spitballs, Dapper Dans, Hall of Fame, contract fracases, fractured skulls, trades, TRS blows up, the King whiffs the Great One...

  • February 6 - Whole bunch of Bucco birthdays: SS Glenn Wright (1901); 1B Dale Long (1926); C Smokey Burgess (1927); LF Richie Zisk (1949) and 3B Pedro Alvarez (1987).;
  • February 6, 2013 - Two-time All Star Andrew McCutchen was honored with the Dapper Dan Man of the Year Award. He hit .327/.400/.533 with 31 home runs in a break out 2012 season.
  • February 8, 1967 - Eddie Feigner, headliner softball pitcher of the King and his Court, appeared in a charity softball game at Dodger Stadium and struck out six MLB players in a row, including Roberto Clemente, with his 114 MPH underhand heater.
  • February 8, 1972 - C Josh Gibson and OF Walter “Buck” Leonard were selected for the Hall of Fame by the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues. Gibson, the Black Babe Ruth, played for the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords. His statue is at Nationals Park, where the Grays often played, and Ammon Field in the Hill District was renamed after him. The Grays’ Leonard batted behind him and was called the Black Lou Gehrig. The Thunder Twins were inducted on August 7th.
  • February 9, 1945 - Talk about your off season mishaps! Buc LHP Preacher Roe’s 148 strikeouts in 1945 led the NL and he was selected for the All-Star Game. But while coaching high school basketball after the season, Roe fractured his skull in a fight with a referee. His pitching fell off a cliff, dropping from 27 wins in 1944-45 to seven in 1946-47, and his ERA doubled. He was traded to Brooklyn, where he lasted seven seasons, winning 93 games with four All-Star berths. Some credit the comeback to a long recovery; others to his new pitch - the spitter.
  • February 9, 1971 - RHP Satchel Paige became the first Negro League star to be selected to the Hall of Fame. Satch pitched for both the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords, and was inducted on August 9th.
  • February 9, 1976 - The Hall of Fame Special Committee on the Negro Leagues selected OF Oscar Charleston for enshrinement. He was with both the Pittsburgh Crawfords (as a player/manager) and Homestead Grays, and was inducted on August 9th.
  • February 10, 1920 - The spitball, shineball, and emeryball are outlawed by the AL/NL Joint Rules Committee. Seventeen pitchers, including off-and-on Pirate Burleigh Grimes, are grandfathered so they can continue to toss a wet one. Grimes, who finished his career in 1934 with Pittsburgh, was the last man to legally throw a spitter.
  • February 10, 1975 - 3B Judy Johnson was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Negro League Committee. Playing in the 1920s and 1930s, Johnson was a defensive whiz who batted .309 over a 17 year career, including stops with the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords. He was inducted on August 18th.
  • February 11, 1928 - Pittsburgh sent RHP Vic Aldridge, who was fishing for a raise from owner Barney Dreyfuss, to the NY Giants for RHP Burleigh Grimes, who they had traded away nine years earlier. Grimes won 42 games in 1928-29 before being sent to the Braves after the Bucs reached a contract impasse with him. He returned in 1934 for his third Pittsburgh stint to finish his MLB career as a Pirate, the team he started with. The Hall of Famer won 48 of his 270 career victories as a Buc. Aldridge also bumped heads over money with Giants, held out and had a terrible year, prompting him to retire from baseball in 1929.
  • February 11, 2001 - Three Rivers Stadium‚ the home of the Pirates since 1970‚ was imploded before a full complement of TV cameras and thousands of onlookers. Roberto Clemente's 3,000th hit, Mike Schmidt's 500th home run and a couple of World Series teams are part of the park's legacy.

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