Sunday, March 15, 2015

3/15: Whoa Nellie, Scrap Iron, Jim Bibby, The Hit Man, Ian Snell

  • 1928 - Nellie King was born in Shenandoah, near Pottsville. As a righty, he had a four year (1954-57) MLB career, all spent in Pittsburgh, going 7-5-6/3.58. He later was Bob Prince’s announcing sidekick from 1967-75 on KDKA, and moved on to work at Duquesne University as their long-time Sports Information Director. Nellie returned to the Pirates' broadcast booth as a guest commentator for the final game at TRS on October 1st, 2000. 
  • 1977 - IF Phil Garner, P Chris Batton and IF Tommy Helms were traded to the Bucs by Oakland for OF Tony Armas, P Doug Bair, P Dave Giusti, P Rick Langford, P Doc Medich and 1B Mitchell Page. "Scrap Iron" was a mainstay of the 1979 World Series infield. But he came at a high price - Armas, Bair, Langford and Medich had long, solid post-Pirate careers, with just Giusti at the end of his string.
Phil Garner - Opeechee 1977 series
  • 1978 - The Pirates signed free agent RHP Jim Bibby. In five years with the Bucs, the big righty went 50-32 with a 3.53 ERA. Originally inked to be a closer, he instead became a key member of the 1979 World Series rotation and was an All-Star in 1980. He missed all of 1982 with a shoulder injury that in effect ended his career. He put up a 6.69 ERA in 1983 and was let go; he pitched eight more times before hanging up the spikes.
  • 1979 - The Pirates sent minor leaguers George Hill and Martin Rivas along with cash to the Red Sox to get back OF Mike Easler, who had been sold to Boston during the off season. Good thing the FO had a change of heart. Easler ended up a .302 hitter with the Bucs between 1979-83 and was a key bench/platoon player for the 1979 World Series club, also earning an All-Star bid in the short 1981 season. The “Hit Man” went back to Boston after the ‘83 season for P John Tudor.
Mike Easler in a somewhat confused Opeechee card from 1984
  • 2008 - Five days after unilaterally renewing his contract, the Pirates signed RHP Ian Snell to a three-year deal worth $8M with options for 2011-12. The 26-year old, who was arbitration eligible after 2009 season, had a 24-26 record after two years in the show. He was dismal in 2008, and was sent to Class AAA at his request. Snell was traded to Seattle in 2009 at the deadline for a boatload of prospects, the best being Ronny Cedeno.


WilliamJPellas said...

Lots of memories in this post. Easler sure could hit. He didn't really get established as a big leaguer until his late 20s and so his career totals don't look that impressive---unless you realize how short his career was. He was one of the better pure hitters I've seen in my lifetime.

Didn't realize Garner cost the Pirates so much. I am thinking they wouldn't have dealt for him if Rennie Stennett hadn't gotten hurt so badly. Interesting alternate reality, that one.

Snell had some talent and the Pirates tried everything with him, including giving him quite a lucrative deal considering how young he was. Unfortunately nothing clicked. I think he had some significant personal issues and hope he has gone on to deal effectively with them.

Ron Ieraci said...

Garner did cost a bundle. The infield was a mess in '78 - Rennie was at second but hit just .245, Frank Taveras was at short and Scrap Iron at third. They moved Phil to second, brought in Mad Dog Madlock and Tim Foli and took off. They weren't playing for the future.

I always enjoyed Easler, and Snell was indeed the poster child for MLB head cases.