Thursday, April 17, 2014

4/17: Tommy Leach, Sam Leever, Honus, Elmer Ponder, Wrigley Opens, Preacher Roe, Roberto, Ninth Inning Bombs, Shea Opens, B2B HRs, AJ & More...

Tommy Leach, Sam Leever, Honus, Elmer Ponder, Wrigley Opens, Preacher Roe, Roberto, Ninth Inning Bombs, Shea Opens, B2B HRs, AJ & More...

  • 1902 - Tommy Leach scored the game’s only run in the third inning as Deacon Phillippe won a 1-0 duel against the Cards Stan Yerkes on Opening Day at Robison Field. The Bucs were 103-36 that year to take the pennant, but there wasn’t a World Series until the following season because of animosity between the leagues. 
  • 1908 - Sam Leever tossed a three hit, 3-0 shutout over the Cardinals at Robison Field to lead the Bucs to a series sweep. More importantly in the long run, though, was the signing of Honus Wagner, who had retired in March as a contract ploy. Barney Dreyfuss made him the highest paid player in baseball with a $10K deal, and The Flying Dutchman proved worth every penny. Bill James cited Wagner's 1908 campaign as the greatest single season ever for any player. Wagner hit .354 with 109 RBI in an era when half as many runs were scored as today. James wondered in his 2001 book Historical Baseball Abstract "if you had a Gold Glove shortstop like Wagner, who drove in 218 runs, what would he be worth?” 
  • 1920 - The Bucs Elmer Ponder and the Cards Jesse Haines carried a scoreless ballgame into the thirteenth inning at St. Louis’ Robison Park. The Pirates finally broke the ice with three runs in the lucky thirteenth, driven in by Max Carey and Billy Southworth, as Ponder finished up with an eight hit goose egg. 
  • 1923 - The Cubs opened newly remodeled Wrigley Field in front of 33,000 faithful, but the Bucs took the match 3-2 on Charlie Grimm’s three run, bases loaded double in the fourth. The Pirates only had three hits, but Johnny Morrison made them stand up, working a complete game and giving up just a pair of unearned runs. 
  • 1945 - The Bucs came out on the short end of the stick, losing 7-6 in eleven innings to the Reds thanks to a trio of improbabilities. With the Bucs up 2-0 in the fifth and two runners aboard‚ Frankie Zak called time to tie his shoe, and got it from the second base ump. But Reds pitcher Bucky Walters had his back to the play and delivered a pitch to Jim Russell. He knocked out of the park, but it didn’t count, and the Bucs stranded the runners. Next, Cincy’s Dain Clay drilled a grand slam that was his only HR of the year in 700 plate appearances. Finally, the win went to forty-six-year old Hod Lisenbee‚ who had been out of the majors for the past nine years, after working two innings of hitless relief to earn the last W of his career. 
  • 1947 - Hank Greenberg connected on his first Pirate homer as the Bucs whupped the Cubs 7-1. Pirate starter Preacher Roe was on cruise control; he didn't allow a hit until the seventh inning. 
  • 1951 - 25,894 hardy souls braved the snow to watch the Bucs win their home opener 5-4 over the Cards at Forbes Field. Murry Dickson pitched six innings and homered in the win; Wally Westlake also went long. It also marked the opening of live footage for the movie “Angels And The Pirates” (released as “Angels In the Outfield”), starring Paul Douglas and Janet Leigh.

 Wally Westlake - Topps 1951 Red Back series

  • 1955 - Roberto Clemente, a 20-year-old rookie from Carolina, Puerto Rico, made his MLB debut in right field at Forbes Field. In his first at bat, Clemente singled off the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Johnny Podres to start him on his journey of 3000 career hits. The Bucs were whipped 10-3, but better days were ahead. 
  • 1960 - LHP Joe Gibbon made his MLB debut in the second game of a twinbill against the Reds at Forbes Field, coming in to mop up with the Pirates down 5-0 in the eighth. He tossed a pair of scoreless innings and the Bucs scored six times in the ninth to give him the win. Hal Smith banged a three run pinch hit homer and Bob Skinner walked off after his game winning two run, two out blast off Ted Wieand. The Bucs won the opener 5-0 behind Bob Friend's four hitter. 
  • 1964 - Before 48‚736 fans, the Pirates defeated the Mets 4-3 in the first game played at Shea Stadium. Bob Friend was the winner over Cuban righty Ed Bauta. Willie Stargell hit the first home run ever at Shea Stadium off Jack Fisher. 
  • 2011 - Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata led off the game with back-to-back home runs off Edinson Volquez, the third time that had been done in club history. The Pirates scored four times in the opening inning and held off the Reds 7-6 at Great American Ball Park.
  • 2013 - AJ Burnett had a no-hitter going against the Cards at PNC Park, carrying the no-no into the seventh before Carlos Beltran banged a double. It was a big day for AJ; he also went over the 2,000 mark in career strikeouts. The Bucs won 5-0.

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