Sunday, May 15, 2016

5/15: HBD Greenfield Jimmy & Alvin, Roberto Has A Day, Rough Losses, More...

  • 1895 - IF James Smith was born in the East End neighborhood of Greenfield, forever answering to the nickname of “Greenfield Jimmy.” He played for Duquesne University, though in an eight year MLB career, he only spent one season with the Pirates in 1916. As a ballplayer, he was known for his suspect bat, strong glove, and feisty behavior, barbering and brawling with opponents and umps. His greatest claim to fame was a melee with his son-in-law, boxing champ Billy Conn, that left the fighter with a broken hand, delaying his title fight with Joe Louis. Smith later ran a speakeasy, and when he died in 1974, he was buried in Hazelwood’s Calvary Cemetery with “Greenfield Jimmy” etched on his tombstone.
Greenfield Jimmy 1916 (Chicago News/Chicago Historical Society)
  • 1935 - The Pirates scored four runs in the first at the Baker Bowl; the Phils roared back with five in their half, chasing Guy Bush, who retired just one hitter. But the Bucs kept the beat going behind Bill Swift, who hurled 8-2/3 innings of six hit shutout relief while collecting three hits to win 20-5. Leadoff man Lloyd Waner plated five times during the game.
  • 1938 - Alvin O’Neal McBean was born at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands. He pitched nine years (1961-68, 1970) for the Bucs, going 65-43-59/3.08. The righty won 28 games for Pittsburgh in 1962-63 with 11 saves, the first year as a starter and then from the pen as the heir apparent to ElRoy Face. In 1964, he was named The Sporting News Reliever of the Year, going 8-3-22 with a 1.91 ERA as the full time closer. Face was traded to Detroit the following season.
  • 1940 - During the Pirates 5-2 loss to the Giants at the Polo Grounds‚ only three Bucs batted in the second inning even though all reached base. Maurice Van Roblys singled and was picked off; Vince DiMaggio walked and was forced at 2B by Frankie Gustine‚ who was then caught stealing. It was a bad day all around as the Bucs committed four errors, leading to three unearned runs.
  • 1956 - C Hank Foiles was traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Pirates for Preston Ward. Foiles, who mostly served as a back-up, started two years in Pittsburgh, and earned an All-Star spot in 1957, when he hit .270. He spent four seasons as a Buc, hitting .230 in 345 games before being traded during the 1959 off season to Kansas City. Utility man Ward would play until after the 1959 season, when he retired.
Hank Foiles 1957 Topps
  • 1967 - Roberto Clemente cracked three long balls plus a double off the scoreboard in left center to drive in seven runs while climbing the wall in the ninth to bring back a homer, but the one man show couldn’t carry the day as the Reds won in ten innings at Crosley Field‚ 8-7. Cincy scored twice in the ninth off Juan Pizarro on a Lee May homer to tie and then beat him in the extra frame.
  • 1982 - Talk about helping yourself! P Rick Rhoden doubled and homered in a nine run third inning, with Johnny Ray helping the cause by driving in five runs in the same frame. The Pirates held off a late Reds push - Cincy scored eight times in the last two innings - to take a victory 12-9 at TRS.
  • 1996 - Denny Neagle blanked the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on four hits through seven to win his fifth game in a row, 3-0, backed by Jeff King’s two-run homer off Steve Avery. The lefty lost his next outing, then rang up three more wins to sit at 8-2 in early June.
  • 2015 - The Pirates showed resilience at Wrigley Field Field, rallying from 7-1 and 10-5 deficits, but dropped an 11-10 decision in 12 innings to the Cubs. Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen homered while Fran Cervelli drove in four runs with a bases loaded double and two-out, ninth inning single to force the game into overtime. Chicago scored the winner when Gregory Polanco tripped while getting under a short pop fly, allowing Starlin Castro to score. But the day’s defeat was thanks to some shoddy mound work - eight Pirate pitchers gave up 15 hits, 10 walks, hit three batters and zinged two wild pitches while tossing an ungodly 263 pitches. The Pittsburgh bench was reduced to three starting pitchers by the game’s end. It was the Pirates sixth walk-off loss of the young season; the club had no walk-off wins.

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