- 1956 - SS Joe Cronin and OF Hank Greenberg were elected to the Hall of Fame. Both were considered to be among the top RH hitters of their era and had brief stops in Pittsburgh. Cronin started as a Pirate in 1926-27 and played sparingly before breaking out for Washington and Boston, while Greenberg spent 1947, his last MLB season, as a Bucco, hitting 25 HR and served as a mentor to up-and-coming slugger Ralph Kiner. They were inducted on July 23rd.
- 1964 - Former Pirate coach Gregg Ritchie was born in Washington DC. Ritchie played in the Giant system, reaching AAA, and then went on to coach in the White Sox organization for a decade before joining Pittsburgh. In 2006, Ritchie became the Bucs roving minor league hitting coordinator and later the hitting coach for the big club during the 2011-12 seasons. He left to take George Washington University’s baseball manager job.
|Gregg Ritchie (photo J Meric/Getty)|
- 1967 - Roberto Clemente signed a $100,000 contract, then the highest in Pirate history. The Great One’s payday topped Ralph Kiner’s $90,000 deal of 1952. He joined the MLB’s top shelf of players with a six-figure deal; the others paid at that rate were Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson. His salary helped boost the total Pirates payroll for the year to over $800,000, considered by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to be an “elite” amount for a third place club. It was certainly a different era - the combined total payroll of MLB in 1967 was about $9.5M.
- 1974 - LHP Dan Serafini was born in San Francisco. Though he got just 104 appearances in parts of seven big league seasons (he was a Pirate in 2000, going 2-5, 4.91, in 11 starts), he deserves a tip o’ the cap for perseverance. Drafted out of HS, he pitched from 1992-2013 professionally from the age of 18 until he was 39, with nine AAA seasons, 10 years in foreign (Mexico, Japan, Venezuela) leagues and even a couple of years of indie ball; that’s one dedicated ball tosser.