Saturday, January 21, 2017

1/21: Octavio, Schoolboy Sign; Frankie Enters HoF; HBD Jimmy, Fern, Danny & Jeff

  • 1895 - RHP Jimmy Zinn was born in Benton, Arkansas. Zinn worked three years for the Bucs (1920-22; 8-7-4, 3.54), with the last year being his only full season with the club. But he was a minor league legend. A fringe hurler in the majors, he tossed on different farm clubs for 25 years, collecting 279 wins and compiling a 3.49 ERA.
Fern Bell (photo George Burke)
  • 1913 - OF Fernando “Fern” Bell was born in Ada, Oklahoma. He spent his brief MLB career in Pittsburgh from 1939-40, batting .283. Fern was a long time minor leaguer when he got the call to Pittsburgh, and after cooling off from a red-hot start in ‘39, he was sold early in the 1940 season to the minor league Toronto Maple Leafs club. Two Fern factoids: his nickname was Danny and after baseball, he became a golf pro in California.
  • 1927 - IF Danny O’Connell (1927) was born in Paterson, New Jersey. As a Buc rookie in 1950, he hit .292 and finished third in the NL ROY voting. He spent the next two years in the Army during the Korean War but came back strong for Pittsburgh in 1953, hitting .294. The Pirates traded him in the off season to the Milwaukee Braves in one of MLB’s biggest deals, netting six players (Sid Gordon, Sam Jethroe, Curt Raydon, Max Surkont, Fred Waters & Larry Lassalle) along with $100,000. O’Connell hit .279 for the Braves in ‘54, then never had an average above .266 during the rest of his career. But he was steady and finished with a lifetime BA of .260 average over 10 years.
  • 1933 - Future Hall of Fame RHP Waite Hoyt was signed by the Pirates after being waived by the New York Giants. Working mostly out of the bullpen, he went 35-31-18/3.08 in his five-year Bucco career before being sold to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937. Hoyt was called “Schoolboy” because he signed with the Yankees as a 15-year-old. Waite was also known as "The Merry Mortician" because in the off season he was a funeral director by day and a vaudevillian by night, sharing the stage with the likes of Jack Benny, Jimmy Durante, and George Burns.
Frankie Frisch 1945 Play Ball
  • 1947 - The Baseball Writers selected Frankie Frisch to the Hall of Fame. Although the Fordham Flash spent his playing career with the Giants and Cardinals, he managed the Buccos from 1940-46. Five of his seven Pittsburgh clubs had winning records but finished higher than fourth just once when the team went 90-63 in 1944, coming in second to St. Louis, which won 105 games.
  • 1970 - RHP Jeff McCurry was born in Tokyo. A Pirate draft pick in 1990, Jeff worked his 1995 rookie campaign in Pittsburgh, then returned for the 1998 season. McCurry was a big ‘un at 6’7”, but it didn’t help his hurling noticeably as the reliever was 2-2-1, 5.38 in 71 Bucco outings.
  • 2010 - Free agent RHP Octavio Dotel agreed to a one-year/$3.5M deal with the Bucs, the only team that offered the right-hander the opportunity to save games rather than be a set-up guy. The 36-year old reliever hadn't been a closer since 2007 with Kansas City, but thrived in the role, saving 21 games before being traded at the deadline to the Dodgers.
Octavio Dotel 2010 (photo Jared Wickersham USA Today)

No comments: