Monday, December 21, 2015

12/21: B-Days - Josh Gibson, AVS, Freddy Sanchez, Bugs, Danny & John; Gino, Frankie Deals

  • 1911 - Hall of Fame catcher Josh Gibson was born in Buena Vista, Georgia. Considered the top HR hitter (the “Black Babe Ruth”) of the Negro Leagues, he played for the Grays and Crawfords. Gibson was the second ballplayer, behind Satchel Paige, to be elected to the Hall of Fame because of their exceptional Negro League careers.
  • 1920 - LHP Bill Werle was born in Oakland, California. Werle was known as “Bugs” because he was an amateur entomologist (a bug collector). He spent from 1949-1952 with the Bucs, going 29-39-15 and working everything from starts to closing. Bugs got into some hot water with the Bucco suits in 1952, coming in late one night, was fined, suspended, and traded soon thereafter.
  • 1930 - C Danny Kravitz was born in Lopez, near Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The reserve catcher played five years (1956-60) for Pittsburgh, hitting .236, but missed out on the ‘60 Series when he was traded in June to KC for Hank Foiles. His first homer was memorable: it happened on May 11, 1956 in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded and the Pirates trailing the Phillies 5-2, and his walk-off grand slam gave the Pirates a 6-5 win.
Danny Kravitz 1957 Topps
  • December 21, 1959 - Deals made and not made: After Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh rejected the A's offer to deal Roger Maris for SS Dick Groat earlier in the month, Pittsburgh obtained OF Gino Cimoli along with RHP Tom Cheney from the Cardinals for RHP Ron Kline. Maris, who was dealt to the Yankees, had the first of his two consecutive MVP years in New York, while Groat played a key role for the World Champion Bucs the next season and was named the NL MVP.
  • 1960 - OF Andy Van Slyke was born in Utica, NY. AVS played eight years (1987-94) for the Bucs, hitting .283, earning three All-Star spots while winning five Golden Gloves and two Silver Sluggers during his stay. He was a mainstay of the Jimmy Leyland teams of the early nineties after coming over from the Cards in the Tony Pena deal.
  • 1970 - RHP John Hope was born in Fort Lauderdale. The high schooler was a second round draft pick in 1989, signing for an $85K bonus, but never panned out. He went through elbow and shoulder surgery, and in part of four seasons (1993-96) with the Pirates, the righty went 1-5 with a 5.99 ERA.
John Hope 1994 Fleer
  • 1977 - 2B Freddy Sanchez was born in Hollywood. In six years (2004-09) as a Pirate, he hit .301, winning the batting crown in 2006 with a .344 BA and appearing in three All-Star games. It was a dark day in the City when fan favorite Steady Freddy was traded to the Giants, where injuries derailed his career. He hit .292 for the G-Men in the 2010 World Series season, but shoulder and back surgeries followed in 2011-12.
  • 2012 - LHP Francisco Liriano reached an agreement to sign with the Bucs, pending his physical. He broke his right arm over the holidays, but he and and the Pirates worked out an alternate deal that was worth $7M over two years. The Cisco Kid won 16 games in 2013 and was the “Comeback Player of the Year.” After the 2014 season, he returned after testing the free agent market, inking a three year contract worth $39M.
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