Saturday, November 5, 2016

11/5: Syd & JR Hired, HBD Tommy & Lefty, Gunner Parade, Manny Deal and More...

  • 1877 - 3B Tommy Sheehan was born in Sacramento. Tommy played for Pittsburgh from 1906-07 and hit .255. He also spent a year with the New York Giants and Brooklyn Superbas before and after his Bucco stint.
  • 1908 - LHP Ralph “Lefty” Birkofer was born in Cincinnati. Lefty worked for the Bucs from 1933-36 and slashed 31-26-2/4.04, splitting time between starting and the pen, finishing his career in 1937 as a Dodger.
Lefty Birkofer 1933-36 (photo Harwell Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1922 - RHP Jim Bagby Sr. was claimed by the Pirates after being waived by the Indians. Bagby won 31 games for Cleveland in 1920 and 122 games for the Tribe over the last six years, but at age 33 was done. He finished 3-2, 5.24 in 23 appearances for Pittsburgh and retired at the end of the campaign. His son, RHP Jim Bagby Jr., also played for the Pirates in 1947.
  • 1975 - After KDKA fired Pirate announcers Bob Prince and Nellie King days earlier, rival station WEEP organized a downtown parade in their honor that drew thousands of fans and featured both Pirates & City politicos as supporters. While the parade was a success, it didn’t move the station or team off their position. The Gunner wouldn’t broadcast a Bucco game again until 1985, after he had been diagnosed with throat cancer; he died a few days later.
  • 1976 - The Pirates sent catcher Manny Sanguillen and $100,000 to Oakland to land manager Chuck Tanner. It was the second player-for-skipper deal in MLB history (excluding player/managers), the first being in 1967 when the Mets sent RHP Bill Denehy and cash to the Washington Senators in exchange for manager Gil Hodges.
Manny Sanguillen (photo via Tracy Stallard Sports)
  • 1985 - The Pirates hired Syd Thrift as their GM, replacing Harding Peterson. Syd only lasted until 1988 after a contentious relationship with the owners, but laid the groundwork for the powerhouse early-ninety clubs. Thrift traded for Doug Drabek, Bobby Bonilla, Andy Van Slyke and Mike LaValliere, then hired Jim Leyland to stir the pot.
  • 1992 - Rod Scurry, one of the main figures of the infamous Coke trials in Pittsburgh during the eighties, died of a heart attack in Reno, Nevada. He was 36 years old. Scurry pitched for the Bucs from 1980-85, going 17-28-34 with a 3.15 ERA.
  • 2007 - The Pirates named third base coach John Russell as manager, replacing Jim Tracy. The Bucs' new skipper was the 2006 International League Manager of the Year at Scranton. He never was given much to work with, and in 2010 was fired as the Pirates manager after a 105 loss season and an overall record of 186-299, replaced by Clint Hurdle.
John Russell (photo Associated Press)
  • 2013 - LHP Francisco Liriano was named the Baseball Writer’s “Comeback Player of the Year,” the second time he took the honor, having earlier won the same recognition from The Sporting News after a 16-8, 3.02 ERA, 9.1K/game campaign.
  • 2014 - C Russ Martin was named the Wilson Major League Defensive Catcher of the Year after losing the Golden Glove award to Yadier Molina the day before.
  • 2015 - 3B Aramis Ramirez retired after 18 years in the show. A-Ram Ramirez, 37, hit .283/.341/.492 with 386 home runs. He made his debut with the Pirates in 1998 and played here for parts of six years before being traded to the Chicago Cubs in a salary dump that still rankles. He returned as a stretch run rental from the Brewers in 2015, hitting .245 with six long balls. Ramirez played his first 17 seasons as a third baseman, never taking the field at another position other than DH, until September; he manned 1B for the Bucs five times in his final go-round.
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