Wednesday, April 1, 2015

4/1: The Kid's Grand Slam; Gustine & Lynch Die; Pena Trade; Good Deals, Bad Deals & More...

  • 1904 - In what was considered the first major deal between the AL & NL after their 1903 truce, the Pirates bought Wyatt “Watty” Lee from Washington for $3,000. The P/1B had three solid seasons for the Senators, but was a flop for the Bucs, appearing in just eight games, five as a pitcher and three as a pinch hitter. Watty went 4-for-12 at the plate, but his pitching record was abysmal, putting up a slash of 1-2/8.74. It was the end of Lee's major league days, though he went on to enjoy a long minor league career. 
  • 1911 - Just to prove that umps’ eyesight has always been under suspicion, according to Charlton’s Baseball Chronology “NL president Tom Lynch reveals he had asked all umpires to produce certificates as to their eyesight; tests showed all have perfect vision.” 
  • 1928 - The April Fool’s victim this year was the Pirates, who sold SS Joe Cronin to KC of the American Association, which then flipped him to Washington in July. In Pittsburgh, he was blocked at SS by Glenn Wright and manager Donie Bush preferred vet George Grantham at second base, so the Pirates deemed him to be excess baggage. They deemed wrong; after a 20 year career, seven All-Star games and .301 BA, he earned a spot in the Hall of Fame. 
Joe Cronin 1927 via Out of the Park Development
  • 1957 - The Pirates and KC Athletics played an 18 inning, 0-0 exhibition game before darkness put an end to the match. The two teams collected just 18 total hits between, 16 of which were singles. The contest was just shy of lasting four hours before the managers called it a day. Ron Kline and Bob Purkey did the tossing for the Bucs, with long-shot Purkey winning a spot on the staff after his effort. 
  • 1972 - The first players' strike in baseball history began, wipeing six-to-eight games off the schedule, that were never made up. This resulted in teams playing a different number of games during the 1972 season and led to the Detroit Tigers edging the Boston Red Sox by only one-half game to win the AL East Division championship. The strike settlement required the team owners to add salary arbitration to the CBA, and increased pension fund payments, per Wikipedia
  • 1979 - The Pirate Parrot was “hatched” at Three Rivers Stadium as a response to the Phillie Phanatic, introduced the year before. The concept of a parrot came from Robert Lewis Stevenson’s pirate tale “Treasure Island.” 
The Parrot is hatched in 1979 (photo Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
  • 1981 - 1B Jason Thompson was traded by the California Angels to the Bucs for LHP Mickey Mahler and C Ed Ott. Thompson took control of a muddled first base situation in Pittsburgh and held the starting job through 1985 (Sid Bream replaced JT in 1986). 
  • 1987 - St. Louis sent OF Andy Van Slyke‚ C Mike LaValliere‚ and RHP Mike Dunne to Pittsburgh in exchange for All-Star C Tony Pena. Van Slyke thought it was an April’s Fool joke when first told of the trade, and Pena cried at the press conference when the deal was announced. 
  • 1991 - Frankie Gustine died at the age of 71. The versatile infielder was a three-time All Star who played a decade for the Pirates (1939-48), compiling a .268 BA. After his MLB career, Gustine coached at local Point Park College from 1968-74 and owned a popular Oakland restaurant on Forbes Avenue located just a hop, skip and jump away from the ballyard. 
Frank Gustine (photo The Sporting News Collection)
  • 2011 - Neil Walker hit his first career grand slam on Opening Day at Wrigley Field off Ryan Dempster. He became the second player in team history to hit a grand salami on Opening Day, joining Roberto Clemente, who drilled one to start the 1962 season. It was the key blow in a 6-3 win over the Cubs behind the pitching of Kevin Correia and four relievers. 
  • 2012 - One of the games great pinch-hitters, Jerry Lynch, died at the age of 82. He started and ended his career as a Pirate, spending seven seasons with the Bucs. He came of the bench to collect 116 pinch hits during his career, 18 of which were homers. Lynch lived in Allison Park when he passed away, and was part owner of Champion Lakes GC.

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