Sunday, December 14, 2014

12/14: Barney Dreyfuss, Wee Willie, Jerry May, Lefty, The Kitten, Jon Lieber, Wil Cordero & More...

Barney Dreyfuss, Wee Willie, Jerry May, Lefty, The Kitten, Jon Lieber, Wil Cordero & More...
  • 1896 - C Charlie Hargreaves was born in Trenton, New Jersey. He caught for Pittsburgh at the end of his career from 1928-30, and was a solid defender and hitter for the first two seasons before fading in 1930, putting up a .273 BA over that period. Charlie did rejoin the organization briefly, managing the Bucs’ Class C Keokuk Pirates squad of the Central Association in 1949. 
  • 1898 - 2B Henry "Heinie" Reitz was traded by the Washington Senators to the Pirates for OF/3B Jack O'Brien, IF Dick Padden and OF Jimmy “Rabbit” Slagle. It wasn't a very good deal for Pittsburgh; Reitz played 35 games and was traded at the end of the 1899 season. O’Brien was a journeyman, Padden had three solid seasons remaining, and rookie Slagle went on to have a 10 year career, mainly with the Cubs, and a lifetime .268 BA.
Heinie Rietz 1894 Alpha Photo Engraving Company photo via Wikipedia
  • 1911 - Pirate owner Barney Dreyfuss proposed that each team in the World Series turn over one-fourth of its share of the gate to the league, to be divided among the other teams. It marked the beginning of changes that ultimately gave players of the top four finishers a percentage of the World Series money.
  • 1918 - RHP Willie Pope was born on Birmingham, Alabama and raised in Library. The 6-foot-4 Pope (known as "Wee Willie") began his career as a pitcher with the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1946 but was mostly known for playing with the Grays during the 1947-48 seasons. During the 1947 campaign, the right-hander notched a 6-7 record, but pitched a no-hitter against the New York Cubans. In the 1948 season he was major contributor to the Grays team that won the last Negro National League Pennant and won the Negro Leagues World Series against the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League. He played a couple of years in the minors while his brother Dave played for Cleveland and Baltimore. Willie remained in the City after his career as a player in Pittsburgh ward politics and a local black baseball historian. He passed away in 2010 at the age of 91. 
Willie Pope 1947-48 (photo uncredited)
  • 1923 - LHP Paul “Lefty” LaPalme was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Lefty began his career in Pittsburgh (1951-54) and was a starter in the last two seasons, with a Pirate line of 14-33-2 and a 4.99 ERA. The knuckleballer was traded to the Cards in 1955, converted to a reliever, and put together several decent seasons from the pen. 
  • 1943 - C Jerry May was born in Staunton, Virginia. May was a back-up catcher from 1964-70 (he started in ‘67-68) for the Bucs, hitting .237 in his seven year Pittsburgh stint. He was signed by Syd Thrift out of high school and tossed several no-hitters as an American legion pitcher; the Bucs converted him to catcher and he was behind the dish for Dock Ellis’ infamous 1970 no-hitter. May was bumped out of the starting role by Manny Sanguillen. Jerry was a good tactician and glove guy throughout his 10 year MLB career, throwing out 42.57% of the base runners who tried to steal a base on him, good for 11th on the all-time list. He led NL catchers in 1970 with a 50% caught stealing percentage.
Jerry May 1967 Topps series
  • 1963 - The Pirates sent P Harvey Haddix to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for IF Dick Yencha and cash. Haddix, then 38 and a reliever, spent the last two years of his career in Baltimore as a reliever going 8-7-11/2.63 while Yencha never made it to the MLB. Haddix later followed his namesake Harry Brecheen (as St. Louis teammates, veteran Breechen was "the Cat” and the rookie Haddix "the Kitten”) as a major league pitching coach, working with the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, and Pirates before passing away in 1994. 
  • 1998 - RHP Jon Lieber was traded to the Chicago Cubs for OF Brant Brown. Lieber tossed nine more years in the show, winning 20 games for the Cubs in 2001 while Brown was one and done in Pittsburgh, with 2000 being his last campaign. After his 2001 breakout campaign, workhorse Lieber had TJ surgery and only reached the 30-start, 200 IP standard once more in his career. 
  • 1998 - The Pirates chose LHP Scott Sauerbeck from the New York Mets in the Rule 5 draft. Sauerbeck stuck with the Pirates until 2003, going 19-15-5/3.53 in his 4-½ year Bucco career before he was traded to Boston. Sauerbeck missed 2004 after surgery, and after a fairly ineffective campaign in 2006, the LOOGY’s MLB career ended. 
  • 1999 - “Wil Cordero, a good hitter who has had difficulty staying healthy and out of trouble, signed a $9 million, three-year contract yesterday with the Pittsburgh Pirates -- his fourth team in four years” per the New York Times. Cordero in reality was a good sign, as he banged 16 HR with 51 RBI before he was traded in late July to the Indians for Alex Ramirez (who hit .209 and was out of baseball the following year) and Enrique Wilson, a reserve infielder who hit .262 in a 1-½ Pirate seasons. Cordero ended up with one more strong year left in him as a Montreal Expo in 2003 (.278/16/71). 
Wil Cordero 2000 photo Peter Diana/Pittsburgh Post Gazette
  • 2010 - The Pirates agreed to terms with 1B Lyle Overbay on a one-year, $5M contract; he was waived in August after hitting .227. The Bucs also signed 32-year old OF Matt Diaz to a two year deal worth up to $5M. He was sent back to the Braves at the following deadline for P Eliecer Cardenas after hitting .259 with no homers.


Lee Foo Rug Bug said...

I have that Jerry May baseball card in a box in my basement. Classic 60s catcher pose.

Ron Ieraci said...

Lee - I picked that graphic because of the backward cap; you're right - that is a classic down and dirty catchers pose. And yep, too bad that Mrs. Bell didn't name her son Jeff, lol! Woulda made it the perfect deal!