Wednesday, September 21, 2016

9/21 Happenings: HBD Max, Sudden Sam, Jason & Antonio; Kendall Record Swipe; Connie Goes; Debs Takes Crown; Cincy History

  • 1896 - Manager Connie Mack (given name: Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy) announced that he was leaving Pittsburgh to guide the Milwaukee club of the Western League; the Pirates finished in sixth place with a 66-63 slate during his last campaign. Patsy Donovan took over the reins in 1897. Connie’s claim to fame was managing the Philadelphia Athletics for the club's first 50 seasons of play, starting in 1901, and he became a Hall-of-Famer in 1937.
Connie Mack via Field of Dreams
  • 1910 - RHP Max Butcher was born in Holden, West Virginia. He went 67-60/3.34 for the Bucs in seven seasons (1939-45), and had an ERA over 3.43 just once as a Pirate. His best year was 1941, when he went 17-12 with a 3.03 ERA. Though he was a big guy at 6’2” and 220 pounds, he averaged only 2.5 K/nine in Pittsburgh.
  • 1940 - OF Deb Garms went 5-for-6 in the second game of a twinbill split against the Cincinnati Reds to push his BA to .379. He doubled, scored three times and drove in a pair in the 8-7 win during the second game after going 0-for-4 in a 8-1 loss in the opener at Forbes Field. Though he wore an 0-for-23 collar over the remainder of the season, his .355 BA won the NL crown. He played just 103 games (100 games played was the accepted, although unwritten, standard) with 385 PA but was still awarded the title, eventually leading to minimum qualifying plate appearances for the batting championship.
  • 1942 - LHP Sudden Sam McDowell was born in Pittsburgh. Though he pitched only briefly for the hometown Pirates, he may be the most toolsy hurler the area ever produced. Sam went directly to the majors out of Central Catholic HS, signing with Cleveland. He played from 1961-75 with the Indians, Giants, Yankees and Bucs. McDowell struck out 2,453 batters in that span with a blazing fastball. His career was infamously short circuited by booze and pills, and he was said to be the inspiration for Cheers bartender Sam Malone. He beat his demons after retiring and became a MLB drug and alcohol counselor. His nickname was bestowed on him by The Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Bob Dolgan during Sam’s first spring training camp in 1961.
Sam McDowell 1975 (photo via Mainline Autographs)
  • 1947 - The Bucs were a part of Queen City broadcast history when their game against Cincinnati was broadcast on TV by W8XCT (WLWT), the first time a Reds game was aired. An estimated home audience of 10,000 viewers watched the Redlegs lose 11-7 at Crosley Field. Elbie Fletcher, Jimmy Bloodworth and Clyd Kluttz each had three RBI; Gene Woodling had the other pair. The opening game of the doubleheader wasn’t shown (we think), and it turned out better for the Reds, who won 3-1 as Ewell Blackwell bested Kirby Higbe.
  • 1969 - LHP Jason Christiansen was born in Omaha. The reliever worked six seasons (1995-2000) for the Pirates with a 14-20-10/4.13 line before being traded to the Cards at the 2000 deadline for SS Jack Wilson. He must have enjoyed working under the lights; after retirement, he became a co-owner and CEO of an LED company.
  • 1985 - LHP Antonio Bastardo was born in Hato Mayor del Rey, Dominican Republic. The mid-inning arm was obtained from the Phillies in December, 2014 for minor league pitcher Joely Rodriguez to replace Justin Wilson, who had been traded to the Yankees for C Francisco Cervelli. AB went 4-1-1 w/2.89 ERA in 66 Bucco appearances, a performance he turned into a two year, $12M free agent deal with the NY Mets. Wasn’t for long, tho - he came back to Pittsburgh when the Pirates returned ex-Met hurler Jon Niese at the 2016 deadline.
Antonio Bastardo (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • 1998 - The Pirates, playing out the string during a September freefall, were drubbed 8-1 by the Giants at 3 Comm Stadium. Jason Kendall provided the lone bright spot when he swiped his 26th base, breaking the modern stolen base record for NL catchers previously set by John Stearns in 1978. Kendall was quite adept at basepath larceny in his early years; he stole home twice during the ‘98 campaign.

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