Thursday, August 25, 2016

8/25 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Bobby, Wilbur, Ding-Dong, Suitcase & More

  • 1910 - In the 12th inning at Washington Park, Bobby Byrne legged out a hustle double, stole third, then swiped home to beat the Brooklyn Superbas, 4-3. It was the NL's first twentieth century extra-inning steal of home. The Superba’s skipper, Bill Dahlen, decided to intentionally walk the bases loaded after the steal of third (a decision that did not sit well with his pitcher, George Bell) to set up the force rather than face Fred Clarke and Hans Wagner. Bell got two strikes on John Flynn, then Byrnes took matters in his own hands and bolted home; the 0-2 pitch was wide and eluded the catcher, so Byrne’s timing was right. As for the Superba strategy, Ralph Davis of the Pittsburg Press wrote “ were calling Dahlen a dub, whereas if his plans had worked out right, they would be hailing him as a real genius and wonderful thinker.”
Bobby Byrne (photo Lantern Press)
  • 1912 - The Pirates traded for 20 year old LHP Arley “Wilbur” Cooper from Columbus of the American Association for a pair of PTBNL. He was arguably Pittsburgh’s best franchise pitcher. He’s the Pirates all-time leader in wins with 202, lasting 13 seasons (1912-24) as a Bucco, starting 369 games and appearing in 469 outings with a 2.74 ERA. He began his pro career in 1911 with minor league Marion, a club that was owned by newspaper publisher and future US President Warren Harding. Legend has it that Harding was the person who recommended Wilbur to the Pirates.
  • 1929 - The fans were able to hear the calls of home plate umpire Cy Rigler, who was wired for sound, a first in major league history. Wearing a mike and metal-plated shoes, standing on a flat metal sheet, Rigler's calls were broadcast over the Polo Ground speakers as he somehow avoided electrocution. The Giants topped the Pirates, 10-5 as the Bucs committed three errors and allowed six early unearned runs as the clang of their mitts resounded unaided throughout the Polo Grounds.
  • 1952 - 18 year old RHP Bill “Ding Dong” Bell tossed his third no-hitter as a member of the Pirates Class D Appalachian League affiliate Bristol, winning 4-0 in a seven inning game against Bluefield. Bell is one of two professional pitchers to toss three no hitters in the same season. He was called up in September by the Bucs after posting an 11-3/2.09 slash, though he did have one big red flag - in 112 IP, he had 194 whiffs, but also 113 walks. Ding Dong made it back to Pittsburgh for a short while in 1955, but his wildness continued - Bell was 0-1, 4.32 in his MLB career with 14 walks in 16-⅔ IP.
(photo via Diamonds In The Dusk)
  • 1959 - The White Sox sent 3B Bob Sagers and OF/1B Harry "Suitcase" Simpson packing to Pittsburgh in exchange for vet 1B Ted Kluszewski, looking to improve their bench. Klu hit .297 during the rest of the season and .391 with three homers in the World Series for the Sox. Simpson retired after the season and Sagers was a career minor leaguer.
  • 1962 - The Pirate players called off a threatened walkout in objection to a rained out game that was rescheduled as part of a Saturday doubleheader with another doubleheader already scheduled on Sunday. Bob Friend, team rep, was irked that the players were bypassed in rescheduling the game. Friend lost the opener 3-2 to St. Louis at Busch Stadium, giving up a run with two down in the ninth. The Bucs took the second game 4-0 behind Earl Francis, who tossed a three hitter and was backed by homers off the bats of Dick Groat and Dick Stuart. They also split the next day’s twin bill.
  • 1967 - Euclides Rojas was born in Havana. He was the Cuban National Team's all-time leader in saves before he left his homeland by raft in 1994, was rescued by the US Coast Guard, and emigrated to America. He’s been the Buccos bullpen coach since 2010, having served in the same position for the Red Sox and briefly, the Marlins. Rojas spent six years (2005-2010) as the Pirates Latin American Field Coordinator and also worked for Pittsburgh as a roving minor league instructor in 2002 with an emphasis on the club's Latin American program. Prior to that job, Rojas spent five seasons as a coach in the Florida Marlins organization.

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