Monday, April 8, 2013

This Day In Bucco History

See-saw games, birthdays, a statue and a trip to rehab:

  • 1915 - RHP Kirby Higbe was born. He pitched for Pittsburgh at the tail end of his career as a mainstay of the rotation in 1947 and a swingman in 1948, but began losing it by 1949. The Bucs traded him to the Giants that season, and after 1950, he hung 'em up. The hard partying righty had a solid career - in a dozen seasons, he claimed 118 wins and won a World Series with Brooklyn in 1941. 
  • 1938 - Happy birthday to RHP Tom Butters, who spent his brief 4 year MLB career (1962-65) with Pittsburgh, compiling a 2-3 record with a 3.10 ERA. The fireballer was signed at age 17, and spent six years in the minors with control problems. He looked like he was going to get his shot to start after a strong 1964 season (2-2, 2.38 ERA) under Danny Murtaugh, but he was hurt in a car accident going to camp the following year and retired two months into the season because of the injury. Butters did go on to have a very successful career as a Duke athletic administrator after baseball. 
  • April 8, 1968 - Because of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., the Pirates vote not to play games on Monday - the day of the scheduled opener, which ended up cancelled league-wide - or Tuesday. They opened on Wednesday the 10th at Houston.
  • 1984 - Rod Scurry checked into a 30-day drug rehabilitation program to battle his cocaine demons. He returned to action on May 13th.
  • 1991 - The Bucs were one-hit on Opening Day by the Expos Dennis Martinez and a couple of relievers at TRS as Doug Drabek and the defending division champs went down 7-0. Barry Bonds had the only knock, a seventh inning single.
  • 1997 - The Pirates outpitched the Padres 2-0 behind Steve Cooke‚ Rich Loiselle‚ and John Ericks. They teamed up to toss a one-hitter, a single off Cooke by Steve Finley. Tony Womack was the Buc batting hero, driving in two eighth inning runs with a double to beat Sean Bergman at Qualcomm Stadium. (Ericks was a swingman who was injured early in the season and never pitched again.)
  • 2001 - The Pirates whipped the Astros 9-3 at Enron Field behind the smokin’ bat of 3B Aramis Ramirez, who slammed three HRs and drove in six runs. Joe Beimel was the winning pitcher.
  • 2002 - Lloyd McClendon’s Pirates earned a 1-0 victory against the Reds. Ron Villone, Mike Fetters and Mike Williams combined on a four hit shutout, running the Bucs winning streak to five and breaking a nine game home opener losing streak.
  • 2003 - The Bucs honored Hall of Famer slugger Ralph Kiner by unveiling a commemorative sculpture at their home opener. The bronze artwork is a bit oddball, showing just Kiner's hands gripping a Louisville Slugger bat. It’s in the left field rotunda, near the Willie Stargell statue. 
  • 2011 - The Bucs outlasted the Rockies 5-4 in a 14-inning, 5 hour, 11 minute overnighter when Jose Tabata doubled with two outs off Franklin Morales to score Josh Rodriguez. Rockies' manager Jim Tracy decided to work on JT rather than walk him, even though Pirate pitcher Garrett Olson was on deck and the Bucs didn't have any position players left to pinch-hit. The wily Clint Hurdle had Cutch swinging in the on-deck circle (he was the leadoff hitter) and some suspect a con job was being pulled. Still, the bullpen was the story of the game - six  pitchers tossed 11-1/3 frames of shutout ball after starter Ross Ohlendorf lasted just three innings after giving up a three run bomb to Jason Giambi in the opening round. The game was played in front of 29,192 at PNC Park; most bailed out early and  read about the big finish in the morning paper.

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