Happy birthdays, bad contracts and odd 'n' ends:
February 20 - Happy birthday to a couple of Bucco stalwarts, All-Star third sacker and Oakland restaurateur Frankie Gustine (1920-1991), and the guy who put relievers on the map, the Baron of the Bullpen ElRoy Face (1928).
February 20, 1999 - The Pirates signed free agent SS Pat Meares to a
$1.5M contract. In April, they extended the deal through the 2003 season
for $15M. He broke his hand early in 1999, had surgery, and was out of
baseball by 2002, having played 240 games for the Bucs and hitting .238.
February 21, 2011 - Seven new members of the College Baseball Hall of Fame were
announced, including Duke and Bucco SS Dick Groat, who became the first player ever inducted into both the college basketball and college
February 23 - Happy birthday to early Pirate owner Barney Dreyfuss (1865-1932) and OF Bobby “Bo” Bonilla (1963).
February 23, 1888 - RHP James "Pud" Galvin signed with Pittsburgh for $3,000,
including $1,000 in advance. The club offered him $3,500 with no front money, but Galvin needed the grand to carry him through the off season. “Gentleman Jeems” ended up in the Hall of Fame; he was a much better pitcher than financial planner.
February 23, 2000 - The Bucs dealt Al Oliver to the San Diego Padres for OF John Vander Wal‚ and pitchers Jim Sak and Geraldo Padua. Oliver spent a decade with the Bucs putting up a slash of .296/.335/.717, and would play eight more years before retiring.
February 23, 2004 - The Pirates signed free agent OF Raul Mondesi to a $1.15M contract. He left the team in May to fight a lawsuit in his native Dominican Republic, didn’t return, and was released for breach of contract. Mondesi
suspiciously signed another deal with the Angels a few days later, but was out of baseball in 2005.
February 24 - Two Pirate greats were born on this date: On the short list of elite shortstops, Hall of Famer Honus Wagner (1874-1955) was born in Chartiers, now a part of Carnegie. And maybe the best Bucco pitcher of all time, RHP Wilbur Cooper (1892-1973), was born in Bearsville, WV. Cooper tossed for 13 years in Pittsburgh, winning 202 games, the most in team history, with a 2.74 ERA. They were teammates for several years toward the end of Wagner’s career and the start of Cooper’s.