Tuesday, December 6, 2016

12/6 Birthdays and a Death: HBD Tun, Walter, Frank, Tim & Adam; RIP Honus

  • 1867 - UT John Henry “Tun” Berger was born in Pittsburgh. He played for the Alleghenys in 1890, hitting .266 and playing all over the field for one of the worse teams (23-113) ever fielded. The following year, he became one of the original Pirates, hitting .239 and again playing just about everywhere. Tun played one more season, for Washington. He was a Pittsburgh guy all his life, working as a glassblower and dying at the early age of 39 from kidney disease. He was laid to rest at Mt. Royal Cemetery. As for his nickname, we can only speculate - a “tun” is an archaic name for a large cask or barrel (usually holding wine or beer) and our Tun was listed at 5’9”, 209 lbs. Perhaps one of his teammates noticed the similarity in shapes...
Walter Mueller 1926 (Charles Conlon/Baseball Magazine)
  • 1894 - OF Walter Mueller was born in Central, Missouri. He is best known as the first player to hit a home run on the first pitch thrown to him in the major leagues, and the only Pirate to do so until Starling Marté repeated the feat in 2012. Mueller played his entire career (1922-24, 1926) for Pittsburgh, hitting .275 - and he only blasted one more homer in those four years.
  • 1896 - OF Frank Luce was born in Spencer, Ohio. After a pair of .300+ minor league seasons and going 6-for-12 in a brief 1923 callup, Luce and Kiki Cuyler were the main candidates for RF in 1924. Kiki won the job and held it down for the next four years, blocking Frank. Luce hit .322 at the highest minor league level, AA, from 1925-29 but never got another call to the show.
  • 1950 - SS Tim Foli was born in Culver City, California. Tim played in Pittsburgh from 1979-81 with a brief return in 1985, hitting .269 and solidifying the Bucco infield with his glove after being flipped to the Mets for Frank Taveras. In 1979, his bat was hot in the NLCS and WS; he batted .333. Tim hit second for those clubs; his lack of speed and power was offset by his ability to move a runner, and he always put the ball in play, whiffing just 49 times as a Buc in over 1,500 PAs. His 16-year career ended in 1985 when he played his final couple of months with the Pirates and retired. He managed in the minors and coached in the show until the 2006 season, when a heart condition led him to permanent retirement from baseball.
  • 1955 - Carnegie Hall of Famer Honus (His given name was Johannes) Wagner died at the age of 81 and was buried at Jefferson Memorial Cemetery. Considered by many (including Bill James) to be the greatest shortstop in history, Wagner batted .327 over a 21-year career and retired with more hits, runs, RBI, doubles, triples, games and steals than any other NL player. After retirement, Wagner served as a Pirate coach for 39 years, primarily as a hitting instructor. He crossed into films, playing in 1919's Spring Fever and 1922's In the Name of the Law. His sporting goods company operated until 2011. The Flying Dutchman’s number 33 was retired and his statue has graced Forbes Field, TRS and PNC Park.
Adam Hyzdu 2003 Topps
  • 1971 - OF Adam Hyzdu was born in San Jose. A first round draft pick of the Giants in 1990, he was a reserve outfielder for the Bucs from 2000-03 with a .231 BA in Pittsburgh. He had his shining moment, though. Adam was the NL Player of the Week in July of 2002 when he hit .588 (10-for-17) with three homers, six runs and 11 RBI, with all 11 driven in during a two-game span when he homered three times against the Cards, including his first grand slam.

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