Sunday, November 30, 2014

11/30: Lefty Killen, Clyde Sukeforth, George Gibson, Pete Reiser, Craig Wilson, Russ Martin...

Lefty Killen, Clyde Sukeforth, George Gibson, Pete Reiser, Craig Wilson, Russ Martin...
  • 1870 - LHP Frank “Lefty” Killen was born in North Side, then known as Allegheny City. He spent six seasons with the Bucs (1893-98) and twice led the NL in wins, with 36 (a team record) in ‘93 and 30 in ‘96. Lefty’s Pirate slash was 112-82/3.97. The team released him during the 1898 campaign, and his last of 10 MLB seasons was 1900. He ended Wee Willie Keeler's 44-game hitting streak on June 19th, 1897 when Lefty and the Bucs stopped the Orioles 7-1.
Frank "Lefty" Killen 1896 Team Photo
  • 1901 - Pirate coach and scout Clyde Sukeforth was born in Washington, Maine. A long time member of the Brooklyn Dodger organization, he came to Pittsburgh as a coach/scout in 1952 and was said to be the main driver in the selection of Roberto Clemente in the 1954 Rule 5 draft. He turned down the chance to succeed Pirate skipper Bobby Bragan in 1957 and retired as a coach after the season, but remained with the Pirates as a scout and minor league manager through 1962.
  • 1931 - George “Mooney” (he earned the nickname either through his moon-shaped face or because one of his early teams was called the Mooneys; take your pick) Gibson returned for his second spin as Bucco manager, replacing Jewel Ens. He lasted until early in 1934, posting a 200-159 record and two second place finishes. Overall, the Canadian Gibson (he was from Ontario) had a 401-330 (.549) record with Pittsburgh. He got his start as a long-time Bucco catcher, playing from 1905-1916 in Pittsburgh, hitting .238 but leading the NL in fielding three times and had a toss-out rate of 46% against would-be base stealers. Mooney was the Pirates everyday catcher in 1909 when they won the World Series against the Tigers.
George Gibson (uncredited photo)
  • 1976 - OF/1B Craig Wilson was born in Fountain Valley, California. He played as a semi-regular for the Bucs from 2001-06 with a line of .268/.360/.486, 94 HR and 284 RBI, along with a 28% career K rate. Wilson tied the MLB single-season record for pinch-hit home runs with seven in 2001. Hand injuries in 2005 and shoulder surgery in 2007 ended his career.
  • 2012 - The Pirates signed free agent catcher Russell Martin, a three-time All-Star, to a two year, $17M deal, the largest free agency contract they had ever negotiated. He got a $2M signing bonus, $6.5M for 2013 and $8.5M for 2014. Russ was among the league's top defensive catchers and had a .290/.402/.430 slash in his final Pirate season. He left after the 2014 campaign, signing a five year, $82M deal with Toronto.
Russ Martin - photo by Jonathan Dyer USA Today Sports

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