Wednesday, December 28, 2016

12/28: Cannonball, Dee for Klu, Leyland MoY, Hayes Signs, Bradenton Deal, HBD Hammer & Zane

  • 1888 - Responding to rumors he was called “nonessential” to the Alleghenys by skipper Horace Phillips after posting 29 wins the previous season, LHP Ed “Cannonball” Morris told the Pittsburgh Press “...They are not going to break my heart by giving me my release. My present relations with the club are not so cordial that I would long regret such a measure...let baseball rip.” The two sides patched up things enough to bring Cannonball, one of baseball’s elite early southpaws, back into the fold. But at the young age of 26, he was on the downslope in 1889 - his starts dropped from 55 to 21 and his win total nosedived to six while his ERA shot from 2.31 to 4.13. He tossed one more year for the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Players League before retiring to run his North Side hotel. Cannonball - he had a great heater - was a supernova in his five year Pittsburgh career. In 1886, he claimed 41 victories and even earned a save for good measure. Ed threw 500 innings in 1884 (with Columbus) and again in 1886 (for Pittsburgh) with 300 strikeouts in both seasons. And despite the battle of barbs, he and the team stayed tight. Morris remained a fan who rarely missed a Pirates game, and in 1934 he pitched an inning of the Silver Anniversary of Forbes Field at the age of 72.
Cannonball 1887-90 Goodwin Old Judge
  • 1949 - John Milner was born in Atlanta. “The Hammer” (he was a huge Henry Aaron fan growing up) was a platoon 1B/OF and pinch hitter for five years (1978-82) in Pittsburgh, hitting .263 with a .333 BA in the 1979 World Series. He had perhaps his best season during that championship year, hitting .276 with 16 HR and 60 RBI. His low point came during the coke trials, when he admitted to cocaine and amphetamine use.
  • 1957 - The Pirates swapped first basemen with the Reds. Pittsburgh acquired Ted Kluszewski, known for wearing cut-off sleeves to show off his pipes, and Cincinnati received seven year veteran Dee Fondy in return. Neither got much; Klu’s power days were behind him, and Fondy spent just one more season in MLB. Factoid: Klu’s last year was with the White Sox, and Bill Veeck introduced player names on the back of Chicago’s jerseys for the first time in MLB history. Kluszewski became the first player to appear in a game with his name misspelled (go figure), with a backwards "z" and an "x" instead of the second "k."
  • 1960 - LHP Zane Smith was born in Madison, Wisconsin. Smith came to the Bucs in 1990 in the Moises Alou deal with Montreal. He pitched well down the stretch in ‘90 and won 16 games in ‘91. Zane tossed five years (1990-94, 1996) for the Buccos, with a 47-41/3.35 line. He almost made history in a clutch September 1990 match against the second place Mets, giving up a leadoff single to Keith Miller, then holding NY hitless the rest of the way. The Bucs won his complete game outing 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth to stretch their NL East lead to three games.
Zane Smith 1991 Topps
  • 1993 - Jim Leyland was chosen as MLB’s top manager in a reader’s poll conducted by Baseball America, winning 33% of the total vote. The Pirates won the NL East for the third straight year in 1992 with 96 wins, but once again stumbled in the postseason, losing a seven-game NLCS to the Atlanta Braves. It would be the Bucs last winning season until 2013.
  • 1995 - IF Charlie Hayes was signed as a FA by the Bucs to a deal worth $1.75M, then flipped at the deadline to the New York Yankees for a minor leaguer, P Chris Corn. Hayes had a good September run with the Bronx Bombers, made the playoff roster and earned himself a World Series ring. His son Ke'Bryan, a third baseman, was selected 32nd overall out of high school by the Pirates in the 2015 draft and is a Top-100 prospect, tho he suffered through an injury-plagued 2016 season.
  • 2006 - The Pirates agreed to a 30-year spring-training lease with Bradenton after the City fathers voted to upgrade the ballyard facilities to the tune of $15M in time for the 2008 camp. The Bucs had called Bradenton their spring home since 1969, and the lease extended their presence until 2038.
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