Thursday, January 26, 2017

1/26: Ad Dealt; Cobra First to Make $1M; HBD Kaiser, Jeff & Josh

  • 1874 - RHP Irvin “Kaiser” Wilhelm was born in Wooster, Ohio. Kaiser tossed one year in Pittsburgh (1903), going 5-3/3.24 before bouncing around between the big leagues and the farm. He was quite the minor league arm, tho. While in the bushes, he authored a perfect game for Birmingham in 1906 and put together the minor league record (still standing) for consecutive shutout innings with 59 the following year, also as a Baron. And yes, his nickname was thanks to Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm.
  • 1895 - RHP Addison “Ad” Gumbert was traded to the Brooklyn Grooms for C Tom Kinslow. The deal stirred some controversy as the Reds protested, saying they had a prior handshake deal for Gumbert with manager Connie Mack that was denied by the league. Ad, only 26, had gone 26-21, 5.71 for the Bucs in 1893-94 and Kinslow was a back-up catcher. Neither team got much use out of the deal as both retired after the 1896 season. Ad was a local boy who was elected County Sheriff in 1906 & County Commissioner in 1915. He headed a variety of benevolent efforts - in fact, Pittsburgh Mayor William Magee once appointed him an Assistant Director of Charities - and belonged to many service groups, including the Masons, Shriners and Odd Fellows. Ad is buried in Homewood Cemetery.
Jeff Branson 2014 (photo Jeff Layton/Getty)
  • 1967 - Pirate hitting coach Jeff Branson was born in Waynesboro, Massachusetts. A second round draft pick of the Reds in 1988, he spent nine seasons in the show as a utility infielder, mostly with Cincinnati. After his playing days, Branson joined the Bucco minor league staff in 2003, working his way up from short-season ball to AAA. In late 2012, he was called up to the home club to serve as an assistant hitting coach under Jay Bell; when Bell left after the following year, Jeff was promoted to his position.
  • 1979 - Dave Parker of the Pirates became the first $1M per year player in sports when he signed a five-year/$5M contract after winning consecutive batting crowns and being named MVP. He didn’t get to enjoy it long - he had three straight All-Star seasons, but missed half of the 1981 and 1982 campaigns with injuries before having a full-time but poor, by his standards, 1983. Fans behaved even more poorly when they tossed batteries, nuts, bolts, cups and other assorted trash at him in the field. He signed with Cincinnati when the deal expired. As Lennon and McCartney so aptly noted, “Money Can’t Buy Me Love.”
  • 1981 - RHP Josh Sharpless was born in Beaver. Josh went to Freedom Area HS and was drafted in the 24th round of the 2003 draft out of Allegheny College, where he still ranks in the top five in several career pitching categories. He blew through the Pirates minor league system in three years, even pitching in the Futures game, and tossed briefly for the Bucs, going 0-1 with a 4.41 ERA between 2006-07 cups of coffee in the show. Sharpless still lives in the area and gives pitching lessons while helping coach the LaRoche College Redhawks nine.
Josh Sharpless 2006 Upper Deck

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