Monday, December 7, 2015

12/7: Five B-Days; The Cobra Leaves; Connie HoF; Torres, Lopez Dealt; Bedard Inked

  • 1847 - Hall of Famer C/3B James “Deacon” (he was a religious fellow) White was born in Caton, NY. He played as a 41 year old for the Alleghenys in 1889, and lasted one more season before ending his 20-year career with the Buffalo Bisons, retiring with a .312 BA. As a member of Forest City of Cleveland, White led off the opening game against the Fort Wayne Kekiongas with a double off Bobby Mathews, considered the first major league hit (the National Association of Professional Baseball Players was the first pro league), and banged into the first double play. Deacon also helped popularize the catcher’s mask and he was the first pitcher to go into a wind-up (he pitched twice, piling up 10 innings of relief work).
  • 1906 - 2B Tony Piet (Pietruszka) was born in Berwick, PA. Tony started his career with the Bucs, playing from 1931-33 and hitting a solid .298. He was traded in 1934 as part of the Red Lucas deal after he led the NL in games played in 1932 with 154.
  • 1915 - LHP Johnny Gee was born in Syracuse. In August 1939, the top minor league prospect was purchased by the Pirates for $75,000 and four players, the highest price paid by the Bucs for a player until the purchase of Hank Greenberg in 1947. Nicknamed “Gee Whiz,” he lasted parts of four seasons (1939, 1941, 1943-44) with the Bucs, winning five games. Also known as “Long John” (the bonus baby was also called the “$75,000 Lemon”), he never recovered his form after a 1940 arm injury. Gee was the tallest person at 6’9” to play MLB until 6’10” Randy Johnson debuted for the Montreal Expos in September, 1988. Not too surprisingly, he also went on to play pro hoops for the NBA Syracuse Nationals; he had been captain of his Michigan roundball squad.
Long John Gee - 1941 (photo via Out of the Park Development)
  • 1930 - C Hal Smith was born in West Frankfort, Illinois. Although the backup catcher only played two seasons (1960-61) in Pittsburgh, his three run homer in the seventh game of the 1960 World Series, overshadowed by Maz’s dramatic walk-off, may have been the key blow of the entire set. Mel Allen called it "one of the most dramatic base hits in the history of the World Series." It put the Bucs up 8-6 after eight innings and set the stage for Maz, whose blow nudged Smith from the history books.
  • 1935 - RHP Don Cardwell was born in Winston-Salem, NC. He spent four seasons (1963-66) in Pittsburgh, where injuries led to a lot of bullpen time. He was 33-33-1 with a 3.38 ERA in his time with the Pirates, winning 13 games in 1963 and again in ‘65 when healthy and starting, but was dogged by arm woes in 1964. Cardwell lasted 14 campaigns, tossing for five teams. He threw a no-hitter for the Cubs and won a ring with 1969 Mets.
  • 1937 - Connie Mack was announced as as a selection of the Centennial Commission to the Hall of Fame and was installed on June 12th, 1939, when the Hall officially opened. Mack's last three seasons in the NL were as a player-manager with the Pirates from 1894 to 1896, compiling a .242 BA, close to his career average, and a 149–134 (.527) record as a field general. In 1901 he became manager, treasurer and part owner of the new AL's Philadelphia Athletics. He managed the A’s through the 1950 season, compiling a record of 3,582–3,814 (.484) when he retired at 87.
Connie Mack 2012 Topps Archive
  • 1946 - The Indians sent rosy-cheeked OF Gene Woodling to Pittsburgh for veteran C Al Lopez. Lopez played just 61 games in 1947‚ and Woodling spent a season as a reserve, hitting .266, before the Pirates sent him to the minor league San Francisco Seals. Woodling joined the Yankees in 1949, and when he finally hung up his spikes in 1962, he had a 17 year career with three All-Star nods, five World Series rings and a lifetime .288 BA under his belt.
  • 1983 - After 11 years as a Pirate, OF Dave Parker ended his Pittsburgh era by signing a two year/$1.6M contract with the Reds. In Cincinnati, his hometown, he enjoyed his best season since he won the 1978 MVP with a .312 BA, 34 home runs, and 125 RBI. Parker finished second in 1985 MVP voting to Willie McGee. But the off season wasn’t all peaches and cream; he was a key witness the infamous coke trail held in Pittsburgh. The Cobra was originally suspended for a season as a regular user, but had the sentence reduced to community service and a 10% salary donation to drug treatment organizations.
  • 2007 - The Pirates dealt reliever Salomon Torres to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitchers Marino Salas and Kevin Roberts. In 2006, Torres was the Pirate set-up man, appearing in a record 94 games, and was anointed closer after the year. But after blowing four saves, he was replaced by Matt Capps and dealt in the off season. Torres tossed a solid season as Milwaukee's closer, saving 28 games, while Salas and Roberts floundered.
Marino Salas (photo: USA Today)
  • 2012 - The Pirates signed free agent LHP Érik Bédard to a 1 year/$4.5M contract. After going 7-14/5.01, he was released in August after beginning the year as the Opening Day pitcher. 14 of his 24 starts lasted five or fewer innings. His peripherals weren't bad, but the numbers didn't translate into very many Bucco victories. After a quick start - he had a 3.12 ERA at the end of May - the team lost 10 of his next 14 starts. .

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