Monday, December 5, 2016

12/5: Welcome Wally, Enrique & Neal; Bye Big Poison; Charlie Hustle Trots Away...

  • 1940 - Paul Waner was released by the Pirates. The Hall of Fame OF’er played 15 seasons in Pittsburgh, hitting .340 with 2,868 hits, 1,627 runs and 1,309 RBI. A party-hearty type, Waner was famous for his ability to hit hung over. He gave up the bottle for a year in 1938 at management’s request, and only hit .280, the first time he failed to reach .300+. Needless to say, the teetotaler experiment ended after that campaign. Another bit of lore was that the Bucs discovered he was nearsighted late in his career and made him wear glasses. He gave those up when he found the large fuzzy object he had been swinging at all those years turned into a small spinning BB that was nearly impossible to hit when he had his peepers on. Paul and his younger brother Lloyd (Little Poison), one of baseball’s premier sibling duos, hold the career record for hits by brothers with 5,611.
Wally Westlake 1951 Topps Redbacks
  • 1946 - The Bucs sent Johnny Hutchings and $35,000 to Oakland of the PCL for OF Wally Westlake. Wally spent 1947-51 as the Bucs starting outfielder, hitting .281 with an All-Star nod, before being traded to St. Louis. He played through 1956, although he only had one strong season after he left the Pirates.
  • 1978 - 37-year-old Pete Rose signed a four-year, $3.2 million deal with the Phillies. He had been hotly pursued in free agency by several clubs, including the Bucs, and owner Dan Galbreath had even invited Rose to his Ohio horse farms. The Pirates admitted that their cash offer was half that of the Phillies, but didn’t confirm if any other sweeteners, especially those rumored to involve equine ownership as bait for Charlie Hustle, had been part of the proposed deal.
  • 1978 - Pitchers Enrique Romo and Rick Jones along with shortstop Tom McMillan were sent to the Pirates by Seattle, who got pitchers Rafael Vasquez, Odell Jones and shortstop Mario Mendoza in return. Romo pitched four years for the Pirates (1979-82) pretty effectively, going 25-16-26/3.56 and was part of the 1979 World Series club. Romo only tossed six seasons total in the MLB, but with good reason - he started late. He pitched 11 seasons in Mexican baseball prior to making his major league debut for the Mariners in 1977 at the age of 29. McMillan and Jones both ended up minor league players. Jones tossed six more years, including a brief 1981 return to Pittsburgh, Mendoza played for four more seasons and Vasquez appeared in nine 1979 games for Seattle, which proved to be his MLB career.
Neal Heaton 1991 Ultra (back)
  • 1989 - The Bucs signed LHP Neal Heaton to a three-year, $2.85M contract with incentives and a limited (eight team) no-trade clause after he went 6-7, 3.05 for the Pirates the previous campaign. Neal made the All-Star roster in 1990 but had a bumpy second year and was traded in the 1992 preseason for Kirk Gibson. His Bucco line was 21-19, 3.46 with 43 starts in his 114 outings. He finished out his career pitching for three AL teams from 1992-93.

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