Tuesday, March 31, 2015

3/31:Opening Day Thrillas; Bell Released; Young Signed; Bigbee & PNC Park Born...

  • 1887 - RHP Chester “Chick” Brandom was born in Coldwater, Kansas. Chick tossed from 1908-09 for the Bucs, getting into 16 games and going 2-0-3 with a 0.94 ERA. The Bucs were loaded back then, and he was sent back to the minors despite that shiny record. But he may have a greater claim that his Bucco stint. David Hill, in a Rumbunter post, said that a 1908 picture of Chick shows him delivering a knuckleball, and that would make him the first known practitioner of that pitch, predating guys like Eddie Cicotte. 
  • 1895 - OF Carson “Skeeter” Bigbee was born. He played eleven years for Pittsburgh, his only MLB club, from 1916-26, and hit .287 lifetime. His best seasons were 1921-22, when he batted .323 and .350, scoring 213 runs over that span and leading the NL in singles both years. 
Carson Bigbee 1922 - The Sporting News Collection
  • 1945 - The Pirates traded OF Vince DiMaggio to the Philadelphia Phillies for P Al “Lefty” Gerheauser. Both were near the end of their playing days; DiMaggio hung up the spikes after the ‘46 season and Gerheauser won just seven more games in three years. 
  • 1984 - C Gene Tenace ended his 15-year career when he was released by the Pirates in spring training. He had hit .177 for the Bucs in 1983 as a 36-year old. 
  • 1988 - The Chicago Cubs traded minor league LHP Mike Curtis to the Pirates for RHP Mike Bielecki. Bielecki turned into a journeyman pitcher, working 14 years in MLB while Curtis never got out of AAA, ending his career as an Indy league pitcher. 
Mike Bielecki 1986 Fleer series
  • 1997 - The Pirates lured FA 1B Kevin Young back to Pittsburgh from KC with a $400K contract. He would sign two more deals with the Bucs worth $28M over the following six seasons before retiring after the 2003 campaign. 
  • 2001 - PNC Park hosted its first MLB baseball game when the Pirates and Mets played an exhibition. The game was a sellout as the Mets won 4-3. The Mets won the next day’s spring game too, 3-2, notable mainly because Aramis Ramirez hit the first HR in the park’s history.
  • 2002 - “Operation Shutdown” OF Derek Bell was released, telling the media he would sail into the sunset on his yacht rather than compete for a starting spot. His voyage as a ballplayer, tho, was scuttled as he never appeared in another MLB game. 2003 - Pittsburgh helped the Reds christen Great American Ballpark. Cincy played second banana for the yard’s opening act; the Bucs won 10-1 behind homers from Reggie Sanders, Kenny Lofton and Jason Kendall, all banged in a six-run second inning. 
  • 2008 - In an Opening Day shootout at Turner Field, the Bucs beat the Braves 12-11 in twelve innings. Damaso Marte and Matt Capps blew a 9-4 ninth inning lead, capped by a fly ball dropping between LF Jason Bay and CF Nate McLouth with two outs to tie the score. Pittsburgh reclaimed the lead in the top of the 12th on a Xavier Nady three-run bomb, but Atlanta almost tied it again with two runs in their half before Franquelis Osario nailed down the save. The X-Man had four hits while McLouth, Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Doumit had three to prime a 17-hit attack.
Xavier Nady 2007 Upper Deck series
  • 2014 - Neil Walker blasted a tenth inning, 3-2 changeup from Carlos Villanueva deep over the Clemente Wall to give the Bucs and Bryan Morris a 1-0 Opening Day win over the Cubs at PNC Park. Francisco Liriano and Jeff Samardzija started the game, leaving it for the bullpens to decide. It also marked the first use of expanded replay, which had been rolled out in the Arizona Fall League, when Cubs manager Rick Renteria challenged a double play in the top of fifth inning. The original call on the field of out at first was confirmed by replay.
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