Monday, March 14, 2016

3/14: HBD Bunker, Earl; Roberto Injured; Kenny Lofton Signs

  • 1869 - RHP Billy “Bunker” Rhines was born in Ridgway, Elk County. He tossed for the Bucs at the end of his career in 1898-99, going 16-20 with a 3.95 ERA after twice leading the NL in ERA as a Cincinnati Red. Bunker did have one league leading stat as a Bucco in 1898 - he tossed 258 frames without allowing a homer. Couldn’t find any explanation for his nickname; perhaps it’s a corruption of his alma mater, Bucknell.
  • 1928 - OF Earl Smith was born in Sunnyside, Washington, and had a brief career in the show with the Bucs, going 1-for-16 in April 1955 before being sent back to the minors, never to return. But he is the answer to a trivia question. Smith was the last player to wear #21 on the Pittsburgh Pirates' roster before Roberto Clemente. The Great One was a rookie that year and began the season wearing #13, but he flipped to #21 (the number of letters in his full name, Roberto Clemente Walker) when Smith was sent down.
Earl Smith (Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
  • 1969 - After recovering from a right shoulder injury, Roberto Clemente banged his left wing chasing a foul pop during a spring game. He started the year 0-for-12, but roared back with a .345 BA, second to Pete Rose’s .348 in a race that went down to the last day. Roberto was hitting .363 in August, but a cranky back kept him on the bench for much of September and likely cost him the crown.
  • 2003 - OF Kenny Lofton inked a one year, $1.025M deal with the Pirates. He didn’t last quite that long, as he was traded to the Cubs on July 23rd with Aramis Ramirez for not much in Dave Littlefield’s most infamous salary dump.

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