Monday, April 18, 2016

4/18: HBD Steverino, Kiners First Blast, Pie's #20 Retired, Monroe's Big Day & More

  • 1886 - The Alleghenys played the only Opening Day doubleheader in Pittsburgh baseball history at Sportsman’s Park. It’s easy to see why it never caught on locally; the North Siders dropped both ends to the eventual American Association champion St. Louis Browns. They lost the opener 8-4 with Ed “Cannonball” Morris on the bump and went down 10-5 in the second game with Hall of Fame pitcher James “Pud” Galvin toeing the rubber. It was the last season the team played in the AA, moving on the the NL in 1887.
  • 1909 - Howie Camnitz spun an eight hit shutout as the Bucs whipped the Cubs 1-0 in twelve innings, besting Three Finger Brown at the West Side Grounds. The run scored when, as the Pittsburg Press wrote “(George) Gibson hit to (Chicago SS Joe) Tinker, who bungled and (Bill) Abstein scored…,” but the Pirates wouldn’t need much help that season as they won 110 games and the World Series from the Ty Cobb-led Detroit Tigers.
  • 1942 - Happy Birthday, Steve Blass, who was born on this date in Canaan, Connecticut. The Bucco announcer was an All-Star and World Series clinching pitcher for the Pirates from 1964-74. The righty won 103 games for Pittsburgh during his career to go with two Series victories against Earl Weaver’s Orioles in 1971.
Steve Blass 1974 Topps
  • 1946 - Rookie Ralph Kiner smacked his first big league homer off Howie Pollet in the eighth inning of a 4-2 loss to St. Louis at Sportsman Park. He would end his career with 369 long balls, 301 belted as a Bucco.
  • 1947 - The Pirates took the home opener from the Reds 12-11. The Bucs had added Hank Greenberg to their roster and shortened LF at Forbes Field for him. It kinda worked. Pittsburgh blasted five homers - rookie Wally Westlake had a pair - and three landed in the new Greenberg Gardens. Greenberg himself (and for that matter, Ralph Kiner) didn’t go long, tho the other Bucs apparently took a liking to the short porch. The season opener at Forbes Field drew a record crowd of 38,216.
  • 1950 - Pittsburgh played the first MLB season opener under the lights at St. Louis' Sportsman Park. The Cards won, 4-2, as Bob Chesnes gave up homers to Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst in the loss to Gerry Staley. Johnny Hopp had both Bucco RBI.
  • 1952 - In their home opener at Forbes Field before 29‚874‚ Bob Friend shut out the Reds‚ 5-0‚ on five hits. It was the second win in a row for the Pirates‚ and the “Rickey-Dinks” wouldn't have a win streak longer than two games all season (they finished 42-112), a 20th century MLB record for futility. In fact, they didn’t win back-to-back contests that year after August 9th!
Bob Friend 1952 Topps
  • 1955 - In his first major league appearance, 25-year old reliever Al Grunwald got just one batter out. He gave up a single to Don Mueller‚ a double to Monte Irvin‚ a triple to Willie Mays‚ and a homer to Whitey Lockman. The NY Giants “cycle” led to an eight-run fourth frame and eventual 12-3 victory over the Pirates. But there was a bright spot. Rookie Roberto Clemente hit his first home run, an inside-the-park 445’ shot that the weirdly configured Polo Grounds kept in the yard.
  • 1957 - The Bucs lost a ho-hummer to the Brooklyn Dodgers 6-1 at Ebbetts Field. The game marked the last time a Pirate pitcher batted eighth (Luis Arroyo, with Bill Mazeroski behind him) for over 50 years, until June 30th, 2008 when Paul Maholm batted ahead of Jack Wilson. Bobby Bragan made a habit of batting pitchers early in the fifties before John Russell again adopted the concept briefly.
  • 1972 - Pie Traynor’s number 20 was retired at TRS posthumously on Opening Day in front of 47,489. The Bucs could have used Pie, losing 6-4 to the Chicago Cubs despite Richie Hebner’s homer and Manny Sanguillen’s double and triple.
  • 1987 - Mike Schmidt hit his 500th career home run‚ a three-run shot off Don Robinson in the top of the 9th inning, to give the Phillies an 8-6 win at TRS. Schmidt became the 15th MLB player to reach the 500-HR mark. And though the Pittsburgh-Philly rivalry was pretty bitter during that era, the fans give him a warm ovation.
  • 2004 - Kris Benson tied a MLB record with 4 sac bunts as the Bucs topped the Mets 8-1. He became the seventh player to accomplish the feat‚ and only the second since 1920. For all of that effort, none of the four runners Benson advanced scored. Craig Wilson did the heavy lifting, going 3-for-5 with a homer, two runs and two RBI.
Kris Benson 2002 Fleer
  • 2009 - In the first Saturday afternoon game in Pittsburgh since 2005, Craig Monroe hit two three-run home runs in consecutive innings to give the Pirates their first back-to-back victories of the season by a 10-0 count over the Atlanta Braves at PNC Park. Ian Snell went seven innings and gave up three hits for the win.
  • 2011 - Seven Pirates had two hits as the Bucs spread the attack around in drubbing the Reds 9-3 at GABP. Kevin Correia went the distance, scattering four hits. Six different Pirates scored, and six contributed RBI in a true team effort at the dish.
  • 2014 - 1B Ike Davis was traded by the New York Mets to the Pirates for a PTBNL (LHP Blake Taylor) and RHP Zack Thornton. He hit .235 and was released at the end of the season, signing a deal with the Oakland Athletics.


WilliamJPellas said...

Interesting rundown today, Ron.

Re: Bob Friend, I don't know if he would have been a Hall of Famer had he not been cursed to pitch on so many truly terrible Pittsburgh teams in the 1950s, but I bet he would have received some consideration. He was a very good starting pitcher who deserved a better fate. In today's terms, his "peripherals" showed a much better hurler than his W-L record.

Re: Kris Benson, I saw where his ex-wife got out of prison and the psych ward. I'm just glad she didn't kill him. I'm being serious.

Re: Ike Davis, how long has it been since the Pirates had a reliable, full time starting first baseman? I guess Adam LaRoche was the last one. He was okay and had a respectable career, statistically speaking, but I always thought he was a guy who was less than the sum of his parts. Meaning, he seemed to do a lot of his damage in "garbage time", whether in individual games or in entire seasons. I dunno. Just never thought he put it all together, but that's not a scientific observation, just an impression.

Ron Ieraci said...

To be honest Will, I'm 66 and seen a lot of guys go through that position from Forbes Field to TRS to PNC. For my money, LaRoche, Bream and Young were nothing more than workmanlike at the position; the only two I really liked were Cap'n Willie, of course, and Donn Clendennon.