Saturday, January 14, 2017

1/14: Bucs Select Moises; Adam Re-Ups; HBD Billy, Chet, Hank, Terry and Steve

  • 1893 - Manager Billy Meyer was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. After his playing days and a long minor-league managing career, he became the Bucco skipper from 1948-52, with a dismal 317-452 record after a promising fourth place finish in his first year. In fact, the Yankees thought so highly of him that they asked if they could hire him after that season to replace Bucky Harris. NY was rebuffed and had to settle for Casey Stengel instead. After managing, Meyer scouted for the Bucs until 1955, and later had his jersey #1 retired.
Billy Meyer 1950 (photo Associated Press)
  • 1907- RHP Chet Brewer was born in Leavenworth, Kansas. While he pitched for a couple of dozen teams in the black leagues and Central America, the pitcher never toiled in Pittsburgh until his playing days were done. Brewer was a Pirates scout based in LA from 1957 to 1974 (he signed Dock Ellis) and later worked for the Major League Scouting Bureau, discovering players like Willie Crawford, George Hendrick, Eddie Murray, Reggie Smith and Roy White. His Chet Brewer Rookies program was the forerunner of MLB’s RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) project.
  • 1911 - RHP Hank Gornicki was born in Niagara Falls, NY. He pitched his final three seasons (1943-44, 1946) for the Bucs, with a two year break when he served during WW2. His slate as a Pirate was 14-19/3.38, and he was used primarily as a spot starter. He had a notable week in August of 1943. Gornicki won both ends of a doubleheader against Boston on the 17th, then lost both games of a twinbill on the 22nd against Brooklyn.
  • 1952 - LHP Terry Forster was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He came over in the Richie Zisk deal and like his trademate, Goose Gossage, worked one season in Pittsburgh and was released after slashing 6-4-1, 4.43. The FO may have given up on him too soon; the 25-year-old never became a closer like Goose, but did pitch nine more seasons and put up a lifetime ERA of 3.70, mainly as a set-up guy. And you didn’t have to worry about replacing him with a pinch hitter; he posted a .397 career BA.
Steve Cooke 1993 Flair
  • 1970 - LHP Steve Cooke was born in Lihue-Kauai, Hawaii. A 35th round draft pick in 1989, he spent five years with the Pirates (1992-97), going 26-36/4.31. 1993 looked like a breakout year when he went 10-10 with a 3.89 ERA and he was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie Team. But he had shoulder problems that surfaced in 1994, missed the 1995 season, and never again matched his rookie performance.
  • 1986 - The Pirates selected OF Moises Alou as the second overall pick in the draft, behind pitcher Jeff Shaw. He played two games for the Pirates in 1990 before being shipped to Montreal for Zane Smith. Moises went on to have a 17 year career, with six All-Star berths and a lifetime .303 BA. He’s the nephew of former Pirate Matty Alou and the cousin of former Bucco farmhand Mel Rojas, Jr.
  • 2008 - The Pirates re-signed 1B Adam LaRoche to a 1-year/$5M contract. He hit .270 with 25 homers, and was sent to Boston the following year. Baseball runs in his blood - literally. He’s the son of former MLB pitcher Dave and older brother of Andy, who is still bumping around in the minors.


Unknown said...

Not seeing worthiness of Billy Meyer's number being retired by Pirates. What am I missing ?

Ron Ieraci said...

You're not missing a thing. He was popular among the fans and writers but his number's retirement is a mystery. There is no date for the ceremony and in fact no ceremony or even an announcement to be found of the event. Some have suggested that since he was the last to wear #1 that someone compiling the Pirates retired number list added him by accident and he remained on the retired # roster. True or not, his major claim to fame was that everyone loved ol' Billy.

WilliamJPellas said...

Terry Forster had one of the more interesting major league careers that I've seen in my lifetime. You're right that he never became a closer of the caliber of Goose Gossage, but he still managed 127 career saves back when that stat actually meant something. His career ERA of 3.70 was okay if nothing special, though as a reliever for all but 39 games of his 620 career games, that number of course fluctuated more than it would have had he been primarily a starting pitcher. A quick look at his career numbers shows 575 relief appearances, plus 6 other games in which he played but didn't pitch. These, I'm guessing, were pinch-hitting appearances. You mentioned his .397 career batting average. Did you know that that is the all time major league record for ANY player with at least 50 career at bats or at least 15 years in the bigs? In fact, if he hadn't gone 0 for 5 in his second to last season, he would have finished with a career batting average of over .400. Truly incredible. I don't know why his managers didn't use him as a hitter more often, "fat tub of goo" or not! The Pirates sure have had some unusual players over the years, and Forster is near the top of that list.

WilliamJPellas said...

Woops, he was 0 for 4, not 0 for 5 in his last year in the National League, which was 1985, while with the Braves. He finished up with the Angels in '86, still effective and still not very old at 34. But the point still stands: he had a career batting average of just over .400 going into the '85 season. Only 78 career at bats, but still amazing, particularly for a relief pitcher. Dunno if his arm was hurting or he'd just had enough or what, but he looked like he still had some gas left in the tank when he quit.

Ron Ieraci said...

I liked him myself Will. The only bad streak of his career in the mid-to-late 70s coincided with his arm problems. Too bad the Bucs docs didn't spot that. He was, conditioning issues and all, a pretty good guy to have around in the late innings