Thursday, March 19, 2015

3/19: Paul Smith, Jose Castillo B-Days, O'BrienTwins Inked & Bill Landrum Cut

  • 1931 - 1B/OF Paul Smith was born in New Castle. He was used sparingly in his Buc career (1953, 1957-58), though his stick was solid, hitting .275 for Pittsburgh. He was among the local boys such as Ron Kline, Ron Neccai, Tony Bartirome and Bobby Del Greco that Branch Rickey brought to camp to try out for a spot on the club in 1952 and cracked the roster the following season, hitting a career best .283 in 110 games. 
  • 1953 - The Pirates signed bonus baby twins Eddie and Johnny O’Brien, multi-talented basketball (They were both All-America, led the team to a pair of tournaments and even beat the Harlem Globetrotters!) and baseball stars at Seattle University for a reported $25,000 each. They could both pitch and play infield, but neither made much of a mark with the Bucs. 
O"Brien twins around manager Fred Haney (photo via David Eskenazi Collection)
  • 1981 - 2B Jose Castillo was born in Las Mercedes, Venezuela. He was considered the long-term answer at second, but after four Bucco years (2004-07) and a .256 BA, he was released and replaced by Freddy Sanchez. He closed out his baseball career with gigs in Taiwan and Japan. 
  • 1992 - The Pirates released RHP Bill Landrum, who had won 13 games and saved 56 more over the prior three seasons, tossing to a 2.39 ERA. He was due $1.7M, and by releasing him this early in camp, the Bucs were on the hook for just a quarter of his salary. That caused a bit of a media & fan kerfluffle, but Landrum only lasted two more years in the show after his release. Performance, along with wear & tear (he was thought to have shoulder and knee problems) also played into the decision to let him go. 
Bill Landrum 1991 Studio series


WilliamJPellas said...

Landrum was one of the more underrated Pirates of recent times, in my view. Definitely a very effective reliever for a few seasons. A shame his body broke down; I thought at the time, also, that he was a guy who just really enjoyed playing in Pittsburgh and I thought it probably took a lot of the wind out of his sails when they cut him. He had a respectable career, all things considered.

Ron Ieraci said...

He was quite solid over a three year stretch, Will, and said that he was "stunned" when the Pirates released him. Two knee operations did him in; bad wheels led to a bum arm, and that's how quickly a career can end in the show.