Sunday, December 6, 2015

12/6: Hans Passes On; HBD Tun, Walter, Crazy Horse, Adam; Ribant, Lanning, Tudor; Heaton, Smith Sign; Meek Picked Deals,

  • 1867 - UT John Henry “Tun” Berger was born in Pittsburgh. He played for the Alleghenys in 1890, hitting .266 and playing all over the field for one of the worse teams (23-113) ever fielded. The following year, he became one of the original Pirates, hitting .239 and again playing just about everywhere. Tun played one more season, for Washington. He was a Pittsburgh guy all his life, working as a glassblower and dying at the early age of 39 from kidney disease. He was laid to rest at Mt. Royal Cemetery. As for his nickname, we can only speculate - a “tun” is an archaic name for a large cask or barrel (usually holding wine or beer) and our Tun was listed at 5’9”, 209 lbs. Perhaps one of his teammates noticed the similarity in shapes...
  • 1894 - OF Walter Mueller was born in Central, Missouri. He is best known as the first player to hit a home run on the first pitch thrown to him in the major leagues, and the only Pirate to do so until Starling Marté repeated the feat in 2012. Mueller played his entire career (1922-24, 1926) for Pittsburgh, hitting .275 - and he only blasted one more homer in those four years.
  • 1939 - The Pirates traded P Jim Tobin to the Boston Bees for P Johnny Lanning. Starter Tobin went 76-88 in six seasons after the deal. Lanning pitched four seasons for the Bucs (he missed two years because of WW2) and went 33-29/3.44 as a starter and long man. Lanning’s bread and butter was the curve; he threw a soft and hard hook.
Johnny Lanning (photo via NCS Baseball)
  • 1950 - IF Tim Foli was born in Culver City, California. He joined the Bucs in 1979 from the Mets after the Frank Taveras deal and his glove solidified the World Championship infield. He added some lumber in the ‘79 WS, collecting hits in six of the seven games against the O’s. Foli played four seasons in all for Pittsburgh (1979-81, 1985) with a .269 BA. His career stretched on for 16 years with a .251 BA. He played for six teams, and made two stops with the Bucs and Mets. Foli was known as “Crazy Horse,” wearing the tag thanks to a fiery temper that led him to butt heads with umps, opponents and his teammates.
  • 1955 - Carnegie Hall of Famer Honus (His given name was Johannes) Wagner died at the age of 81 and was buried at Jefferson Memorial Cemetery. Considered by many (including Bill James) to be the greatest shortstop in history, Wagner batted .327 over a 21-year career and retired with more hits, runs, RBI, doubles, triples, games and steals than any other NL player. After retirement, Wagner served as a Pirate coach for 39 years, primarily as a hitting instructor. He crossed into films, playing in 1919's Spring Fever and 1922's In the Name of the Law. His sporting goods company operated until 2011. The Flying Dutchman’s number 33 is retired and his statue has been featured at Forbes Field, TRS and PNC Park.
  • 1966 - The Bucs sent P Don Cardwell and OF Don Bosch to the New York Mets for P Dennis Ribant and OF Gary Kolb. Cardwell had three solid years with NY and appeared in the 1969 “Miracle Mets” World Series, while Ribant pitched for a year in Pittsburgh before leaving and being converted to a reliever by the Tigers. The OF players never panned out.
Dennis Ribant 1967 Topps
  • 1971 - OF Adam Hyzdu was born in San Jose. A first round draft pick of the Giants in 1990, he was a reserve outfielder for the Bucs from 2000-03 with a .231 BA in Pittsburgh. He had his shining moment, though. Adam was the NL Player of the Week in July of 2002 when he hit .588 (10-for-17) with three homers, six runs and 11 RBI, with all 11 driven in during a two-game span when he homered three times against the Cards, including his first grand slam.
  • 1983 - The Bucs traded OF Mike Easler to the Boston Red Sox for P John Tudor. Easler had a big year with the Red Sox before fading. Tudor went 12-11 in 32 starts for the Pirates in 1984, then was traded to St. Louis for OF George Hendrick. Tudor was brilliant in 1985 for the Cards, with 21 wins and 10 complete game shutouts. He led St. Louis to the World Series, and after pitching masterfully against KC in games 1 & 4, he fell apart in Game 7, losing 11-0. The lefty cut his pitching hand punching some locker room equipment while in a snit after the defeat and he never won more than 13 games afterward.
  • 1989 - Pittsburgh signed LHP Neal Heaton to a three year, $2.8M deal. He spent three years in Pittsburgh as a spot starter/reliever with a slash of 21-19/3.46 for the Pirates before being traded in 1992 to the Royals. He started out on fire after signing; the lefty began the 1990 season 9-1 with a 2.87 ERA and made his only All-Star roster in a career that spanned 12 years and seven teams.
Neal Heaton 1992 Donruss
  • 1990 - The Pirates inked LHP Zane Smith as a free agent for two years and $4.75M after getting him from the Montreal Expos for Moises Alou in the middle of the 1990 season. Smith pitched six of his final seven campaigns in Pittsburgh with a line of 47-41/3.35 and was part of the rotation for the 1990-92 playoff teams, winning 16 games in 1991. Though he was released in 1996 by the Bucs, he went out in style: his 100th and final win was in June of that year, a six-hit, complete game shutout of the San Diego Padres.
  • 2000 - The Pirates, with the second pick in the Rule 5 draft, selected RHP Evan Meek from Tampa Bay. He stuck for parts of five years with Bucs (2008-12), going 7-7-4 with a 3.34 ERA. After a breakout All-Star year in 2010 when he went 5-6-4 with a 2.14 ERA, arm injuries took their toll on the flame thrower’s (he could touch 98) career.

No comments: