Saturday, January 30, 2016

1/30: Smoky, Kitten & Tiger Come to Town; Pokey, Maholm, Hinske Sign; HBD Scat; Highpockets to HoF

  • 1947 - Pinch runner Matt (“The Scat”) Alexander was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. He spent the last four years of his career (1978-81) with the Pirates, and though he only got 27 at-bats during that time, he stole 30 bases (out of 37 tries) and scored 36 runs. During his nine year MLB career, he was in the field for just 138 games, while pinch-running 271 times.
Matt The Scat - 1981 Topps
  • 1959 - C Smoky Burgess (he was born in the Smoky Mountains region), LHP Harvey Haddix and 3B Don Hoak went from the Reds to the Pirates in exchange for RHP Whammy Douglas (his moniker came from his American Legion days; he said “I was striking everyone out, so they just started calling me ‘Whammy’”) , OF Jim Pendleton, OF John Powers and 3B Frank Thomas, providing three major pieces of the 1960 championship club. Slugger Thomas, the key figure in the deal, was the last to know - he was touring military bases in Germany when the deal was made, and the press had to get trade reaction quotes from his wife Dolores.
  • 1973 - The Veteran’s Committee selected 1B George “Highpockets” Kelly to the Hall of Fame. Kelly spent one season with the Pirates, more or less on loan from the NY Giants, to replace an injured Honus Wagner in 1917 (he was playing first in the twilight of his career). Highpockets was a slick fielder who played 16 MLB season with a .297 BA. He was inducted on August 6th. He got his nickname (he was also called Long George) because of his 6’4” frame.
  • 2002 - The Pirates signed FA 2B Pokey Reese to a two year, $4.25M contract with a 2004 club option. Pittsburgh was the fourth team for Reese since the end of the 2001 season. He finished the year with Cincinnati, and then was traded to the Colorado Rockies and the Boston Red Sox in a span of three days in December. Boston didn’t offer him a deal, making him a free agent. Pokey stuck with the Bucs for both seasons, although he lost all but 37 games to injury in 2003. His nickname dates back to his infancy. Reese was born chubby and also had a hernia (it wasn’t repaired until he was six) that caused his navel to poke out, so his grandma called young Calvin "Pokey."
Pokey Reese 2002 (photo Associated Press)
  • 2009 - The Pirates avoided arbitration by signing former first round pick LHP Paul Maholm to a three year, $14.5M contract, which included a team option for 2012. He was released after the 2011 season, playing for three different teams since. The lefty reinvented himself in 2014, switching to a bullpen role, but a late-year torn ACL (and 4.84 ERA) made that his last MLB campaign.
  • 2009 - OF/UT Eric Hinske signed a one year, $1.5M FA contract with Pittsburgh. Hinske was shipped to the NY Yankees before the deadline, hitting .255 with one HR for the Bucs. He retired after the 2013 season, having played 12 years for seven teams.

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