Tuesday, January 31, 2017

1/31 - Through the 50s: Big Poison HoF; Wizard of Whiff Inked; HBD 'Death to Flying Things', Al, Don & Coral

  • 1845 - IF Bob Ferguson was born in Brooklyn. In a 14 year career with eight teams, he closed out his playing days in 1884 with the Alleghenys, getting into 10 games and hitting .146. But he did leave a legacy; he was the first recognized switch hitter in baseball, and also had one of the all-time great nicknames, “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson, because of his fielding prowess (although a more prosaic theory holds that he got the name because of his ability to swat flies in hotel lobbies). He managed a couple of years after hanging up the spikes and then moved on to umpiring.
Al Buckenberger Ars Longa Card
  • 1861 - Manager Al Buckenberger was born in Detroit. He managed the Pirates from 1892-94, coming in second in 1893 and posting an overall 187-144 slate while also serving as club president. He tried unsuccessfully to resurrect the old American Association, earning himself a brief league suspension during the 1894 off season.
  • 1899 - LHP Don Songer was born in Walnut, Kansas. He tossed three of his four MLB years with the Bucs between 1925-27, going 7-9-3/3.55. Songer was part of two World Series teams, but never got to participate, being off the playoff roster in his rookie year of 1925, then traded to the Giants before the 1927 year ended.
  • 1919 - P Ken “Coral” Gables was born in Walnut Grove, Missouri. Gables had a 13-11/4.69 slate before being traded to the San Francisco Seals and spent the last seven seasons of his career in the PCL. We can’t confirm it, but we’d guess is nickname is a nod to the Florida town. 
Paul Pettit 1951 (photo World Wide)
  • 1950 - The Pirates signed high school LHP Paul Pettit (“The Wizard of Whiff” pitched six prep no-hitters) for a record $100‚000 after buying his rights from film producer Fred Stephani‚ who had signed him to an exclusive contract as an athlete/actor. The lefty went 1-2/7.43 for the Pirates (1951, 1953) and retired in 1961 with arm problems that had first surfaced a decade earlier.
  • 1952 - RF Paul “Big Poison” Waner was elected to the Hall of Fame and inducted on July 21st. In a 20 year career, he led the NL in hitting three times and put up a slash of .330/.404/.473. His 2,868 hits as a Pirate are third on the team, behind Roberto Clemente (3,000) and Honus Wagner (2,970).

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