Tuesday, March 8, 2016

3/8: HBD Coldwater, Bill, Al & Toby; HoF For Casey

  • 1869 - RHP James “Coldwater Jim” Hughey was born in Wakeshma, Michigan. A journeyman, he pitched for the Pirates from 1896-97, going 12-18 with a 5.03 ERA. Coldwater (named for his first minor league outpost and eventually where he settled) is the last pitcher to lose 30 games, doing so for a historically terrible 1899 Cleveland Spider club that finished 20-134 (he did lead the club in ERA and wins). Because of poor attendance, the Spiders played only 42 home games, setting an untouchable record of 101 road losses!
  • 1917 - C Bill Salkeld was born in Pocatello, Idaho. He began his career as a Pirate, batting .293 from 1945-47 as a spare catcher and pinch hitter. Salkeld retired from baseball in 1953 after spending some time in the minors and died young from cancer at the age of 50 in 1967. His grandson Roger, born four years after Bill passed away, was chosen by the Seattle Mariners in the first round of the 1989 MLB Draft, and pitched in 45 games for the Mariners and Cincinnati Reds during the mid-1990s.
  • 1922 - OF Al Gionfriddo was born in Dysart, in Cambria County. He played four years (1944-47) as a spare OF’er and pinch hitter for the Bucs, batting .276, but made his mark after being traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He played in the World Series that year and made a famous fence-kissing catch of a Joe DiMaggio blast to rob Jolting Joe of extra bases. As Red Barber called it on Mutual Radio: "...back goes Gionfriddo! Back, back, back, back, back, back...he makes a one-handed catch against the bullpen! Ohhh-hooo, Doctor!”
Al Gionfriddo (photo via Main Line Autographs)
  • 1924 - C Maurice “Toby” Atwell was born in Leesburg, Virginia. A strong defensive guy behind the plate, Atwell was a part-time Bucco catcher from 1953-56, batting .250. His career ended the next season; he had injured his knee in the minors and never recovered 100%. Toby also answered to “Buster,” after silent film star Buster Keaton, because he spoke so little, per ex-Bucco Nellie King. Lloyd Larsen of the Milwaukee Sentinel added that the Cubs called him “Three Word’ because that’s all he said - “hello” when he arrived at camp and “good bye” when the season ended.
  • 1967 - RHP Joel Johnston was born in West Chester. He was a Penn State grad and highly touted KC prospect, breaking into Baseball America’s Top 100 (#59). After a poor showing with the Royals, he was traded to the Pirates in 1993 with P Dennis Moeller for José Lind, and he rebounded with a line of 2-4-2/3.38 in 33 games. But he bombed the next year and was released in May 1994.
  • 1966 - The Hall of Fame Special Veterans Committee elected Casey Stengel to the Hall. He broke his hip in 1965, ending his managerial career, and the Committee waived his waiting period to make him immediately eligible for Cooperstown. He was inducted July 25th. Stengel was a Pirate outfielder from 1918-19; his famous "sparrow under the hat" antic was as a Bucco. 
Casey's rep preceded him, even in 1919.

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