Tuesday, November 1, 2016

11/1: HBD Mike, Ham, Larry, Miguel & Gary

  • 1872 - C Mike Hopkins was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He’s only one of eight native Scotsmen to play MLB, and that was just for one game. His family crossed the pond and took up residence in Chartiers; his dad was a miner and Mike became a railroader. He also played semi-pro ball for Chartiers and his neighbor, Honus Wagner, took notice and talked the team into taking him on a road trip in 1902, a year when the Pirates were waltzing away with the pennant. He got into a blowout game at Cincinnati’s Palace of the Fans and went 2-for-2. That was his career; he was married with a child on the way and had a regular job, so a baseball gig didn’t really appeal to him. Mike worked on the RR until the forties, played a little sandlot ball, and raised nine children who gave him and the missus 18 grandchildren and two great-grandkids before he passed away at the age of 79.
Ham Hyatt 1909 Pittsburg Press
  • 1884 - PH Robert Hamilton “Ham” Hyatt was born in Buncombe County, NC. Nominally a 1B/OF but used mainly as a pinch-hitter, Hyatt played for the Bucs from 1910-11, went to the minors for a year and returned from 1912-14, hitting .267 for Pittsburgh. Ham spent a couple of more years in the show and finished off his career with a PCL stint, as he and his wife made their home in her native Washington state.
  • 1907 - LHP Larry French was born in Visalia, California. He started his 14 year career in Pittsburgh (1929-34) and had a line of 87-83/3.50, winning 15 or more games four times as a Pirate. French won 197 games before he hung ‘em up and was an All-Star for the Cubs in 1940. He’s still remembered for his 1933 “Soap Game.” With the Bucs up 8-0 in the ninth, French ducked out of the bullpen to get to the hot water first. The pesky Boston Braves tied the game, and French was summoned from the bullpen with soap still dripping down his face. It didn’t hurt; he tossed 1-⅔ IP perfectly and got the win in ten innings.
  • 1954 - OF Miguel Dilone was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic. He played parts of five seasons for Pittsburgh, from 1974-77 and again in 1983, but mustered just 75 PA and a .145 BA over that span and was used primarily as a pinch runner, finishing with 23 swipes as a Bucco and 267 lifetime steals. Dilone carved out a 12 year MLB career and had a .265 lifetime BA while playing for seven teams. The speedster was know in the Dominican as the "Saeta Cibaeña" (the Cibao Dart; Cibao is the region where Santiago is located)) because of his baserunning chops. Sadly, he lost an eye in 2009 when a foul ball hit a post and ricocheted to hit him in the face while he was on the field helping coach younger players.
Gary Redus 1990 Topps Big Baseball
  • 1956 - 1B/OF Gary Redus was born in Tanner, Alabama. He was a minor league phenom who hit .462 while playing 68 games for the Pioneer League Billings Mustangs’ in 1978, setting a record for pro baseball that still stands, across all levels and all leagues. Redus played off the bench for five years (1988-92) with three division winning teams as a Pirate, hitting .255 in 398 Buc games. His biggest day as a Buc was on August 25th, 1989 when he hit for the cycle in a 12–3 victory over the Reds. Redus retired from playing in 1994, coached baseball for six years at Calhoun Community College in Tanner, Alabama and was an outfield instructor for Pittsburgh and Houston before retiring for good.

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