Thursday, December 1, 2016

12/1: Matty, Maury & S-Rod Trades, ElRoy & Rocky Drafted, KY Inked, HDB Eppy & Cookie

  • 1900 - IF Eppy Barnes was born in Ossining, New York. A basketball and baseball star at Colgate, he got seven at-bats for the Pirates with a hit during 1923-24, but had a long and distinguished athletic career afterward. A noted semi-pro player, he was later the athletic director at his alma mater and the baseball coach, along with being the president of the NCAA for three years and Director of the 1968 US Olympic Committee. Eppy was named to the American Association of Baseball Coaches, United Savings-Helms Athletic Foundation and Colgate Halls of Fame.
Cookie Lavagetto (photo Leslie Jones/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1912 - IF Attilio Harry “Cookie” Lavagetto was born in Oakland, California. He started his MLB career as a Bucco bench player, batting .249 from 1934-36. He was then traded to the Dodgers, where he blossomed into a four-time All-Star before losing the next four years to WW2, then returning to Brooklyn for two more campaigns. In 1961, he became the Minnesota Twins first manager and was a coach for the New York Mets (1962-63) and San Francisco Giants (1964-67). He got his nickname as an Oakland Oak farm hand early in his career as a hand-me-down from team owner Cookie DeVincenzi, who was fond of the young Lavagetto.
  • 1952 - The Pirates drafted ElRoy Face from the Montreal Royals, the top minor league affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. During a 15-year career with the Pirates, Face led the NL in saves three times, collecting 100 wins and 188 saves as a Bucco while popularizing the forkball, a prototype of the modern day splitter. He retired to N. Versailles where he made his living as a carpenter. During his career, he was known as “The Baron of the Bullpen” thanks to Bob Prince and is still considered a pioneer in the closer’s evolution.
  • 1965 - The Bucs traded for Giants’ CF Matty Alou‚ who was coming off a .231 season‚ sending LHP Joe Gibbon and IF Ozzie Virgil to the Bay. Alou played five seasons in Pittsburgh, winning a batting crown in 1966 and putting up four straight .330+ years after manager Harry “The Hat” Walker retooled his batting approach. He finishing in the NL’s top five in hitting from 1966-69. In 2007, the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame inducted Alou into their Hall of Fame after he finished his 15-year career with a .307 BA.
Rocky Nelson 1980 TCMA
  • 1958 - The Pirates drafted Rocky Nelson from Toronto of the International League for a $25,000 fee in the minor-league Rule 5 draft. He was already 34, but spent three seasons with the Bucs, hitting .270 as a platoon player and pinch hitter. Rocky went 3-for-9 in the 1960 World Series with a home run.
  • 1966 - The Pirates sent 3B Bob Bailey and SS Gene Michael to the Dodgers for SS/3B Maury Wills. Wills hit .290 and stole 81 bases for the Bucs in his two seasons as the club’s third baseman. He was lost in the 1968 expansion draft, played a year with Montreal and then closed out his career where he started it, in Los Angeles. The highly-hyped Bailey had been signed out of Wilson High School in Long Beach in 1961 and was given the largest signing bonus ever paid up to that time, a reported $135,000, by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
  • 1997 - The Pirates signed 1B Kevin Young to a two-year, $3.7M contract after he hit .300 and led the team in homers (18) and RBI (74) during the season despite missing 35 games with a thumb injury. That worked out well; KY spent the next five years as a starter for Pittsburgh, mainly at 1B. They also inked free agent Doug Strange to a two-year, $1.1M deal after he hit .257 w/12 HR and 47 RBI as a part-timer at Montreal. That didn’t work out so well; Strange hit .173 in 1998 and collected his second year’s salary while playing at AAA Nashville.
Kevin Young 1998 Score
  • 2014 - The Pirates picked up utilityman Sean Rodriguez from Tampa Bay for minor league RHP Buddy Borden to replace newly minted starter Josh Harrison on the Buc bench. Rodriguez hit a career-low .211 in 96 games for the Rays in 2014, but set career highs in home runs (12) and RBI's (41). He became available after being DFA’ed when the Rays signed RHP Ernesto Frieri, who the Pirates had cut loose, so the move in effect was a Rodriguez-for-Frieri swap with Borden tossed in. S-Rod hit .246 for Pittsburgh in 2015 while playing every infield position and both corner OF spots but broke out in 2016, batting .270 with 18 HR. It was a grand encore; he signed a two year/$11.5M deal with the Braves for 2017.

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