Monday, November 7, 2016

11/7: HBD The Only, Ed, Bill, Stu, Todd & Kris; FA Overload

  • 1857 - RHP Ed “The Only” Nolan was born in either Canada or Patterson, New Jersey; no one is quite sure. Nolan was a two fisted drinker who made a brief stop with the Alleghenys in 1883. The following is per the Baseball Reference Bullpen page: He lost the seven games he pitched, and then, after he was fined $10 for something, went on a drinking spree and put it on the team's tab. He was fined $100 and suspended for the rest of the season. One fan even sold a line of T-shirts featuring Nolan, Buttercup Dickerson and the 1883 Alleghenies as “The Hardest Drinking Team of All Time." There are several theories regarding his nickname. One says it was because he would demand to be the only pitcher employed by the teams on which he played. Others claim it was taken from a burlesque actor named "The Only Leon." The KISS explanations are that "The Only" was a commonly used term during Nolan's time, applied to anyone who excelled at something, and/or the theory that Nolan took the moniker to feed his ego. In an “all the sinners are saints” twist, bad boy Nolan became a cop after he retired.
Ed Mensor 1913 (photo: Bain News Service/Library of Congress)
  • 1885 - OF Ed Mensor was born in Woodville, Oregon. He played three years for Pittsburgh (1912-14) and hit .221 from the bench. Baseball players weren’t exactly noted for politically correctness back in the day; the 5’6” Mensor’s nickname was “The Midget.”
  • 1910 - 3B Bill Brubaker was born in Cleveland. He played nine years for the Bucs, from 1932-40, and batted .264 as a Pirate, earning most of his starts in 1936-37. After a couple of years in the service, he ended his career in 1943 with the Boston Braves.
  • 1932 - 1B Dick Stuart was born in San Francisco. “Dr. Strangeglove” played in Pittsburgh from 1958-62, hitting .273 with 117 bombs as a Bucco, and was a 1961 All-Star after losing 35 baseballs. The slugger’s inability to field was legendary; he was once hit in the back when Roberto Clemente threw behind a runner, and received an ovation for spearing a hot dog wrapper as it blew past him at Forbes Field. He led the league in errors a record seven years in a row (1958-64), drove a car with the license plate "E3" and his 29 muffs at first base in 1963 remain the MLB record for the position. He said “As long as you drive in more than you let in, you get to play.” Oddly enough, he was the first 1B’man to record three assists in one inning; go figure. Stu also mashed 66 home runs for the Lincoln club of the Class A Western League in 1956; his glove wasn’t the main reason he got a paycheck.
Dick Stuart 1977 TCMA
  • 1971 - RHP Todd Ritchie was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. Ritchie went 35-32/4.29 for the Bucs from 1999-2001, winning 15 games in ‘99. In 2001’s off season, he was traded to the White Sox for Kip Wells, Josh Fogg and Sean Lowe. He signed again with Pittsburgh in 2005, but retired during camp.
  • 1974 - RHP Kris Benson was born in Kennesaw, Georgia. The first overall selection of the 1996 draft, the Clemson grad pitched for the Pirates from 1999-2004 (missing 2001 after TJ surgery) with a line of 43-49/4.26. His “parking lot sex” and other such antics with wife Anna were sports page fodder throughout his career, culminating in a 2013 divorce. He and Anna also fronted many charitable causes and they raised an estimated $750K in donations during his big league days.
  • 1983 - Dave Parker, Jim Bibby, Kent Tekulve, Richie Hebner, Miguel Dilone and Dave Tomlin became free agents; only Teke and Tomlin returned to the Pirates.

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