Thursday, March 30, 2017

3/30: Omar, Ricardo & Brian Join Up; RIP Deacon; HBD Tom, George, Dutch & Ripper

  • 1857 - IF/manager Tom Burns was born in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. After spending the first 12 years of his career playing for Chicago clubs, he spent his final campaign as a player/manager of the Pirates in 1892. Though the team was considered a contender with two future Hall of Famers on the roster in Joe Kelley and Jake Beckley, it started slowly and after putting up a 25–30 record, Burns was axed in favor of Al Buckenberger. Tom moved on to manage in the minors, spent a couple of seasons as the skipper of the Chicago Orphans and finished his baseball career in 1901 as a farm club boss.
  • 1866 - OF George Van Haltren was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He played briefly for the Pirates in 1892-93, hitting .325, but was deemed expendable because of a deep Pittsburgh outfield. A borderline HoF player, Van Haltren was sold to the New York Giants, where he spent the next decade putting up a .321 BA. He started his career as a pitcher, and in 1888 tossed a rain-shortened no-hitter against the Alleghenys.
George Van Haltren (cartoon from the Daily Oregonian)
  • 1879 - Utilityman Arthur “Dutch” Meiers was born in St. Louis. A two-sport star at Princeton, Dutch spent just one year in the show, playing behind Honus Wagner and Fred Clarke in 1906. He hit a respectable .256 and got into 82 games. He earned his spot during the previous off-season when Meier showed his stuff by joining the team for exhibition and barnstorming games. After his Pittsburgh stint, he played for a variety of semi-pro clubs and served as baseball coach for his alma mater. And maybe even for his old team - it's speculated that Meier may have played additional seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates under a number of assumed names since he appears in team pictures as late as the 1912 season.
  • 1899 - IF Hal Rhyne was born in Paso Robles, California. He began his career in Pittsburgh (1926-27), coming over with Paul Waner from the San Francisco Seals, and hit .258. He was a .250 batter in his seven MLB years and a minor league lifer, spending 20 years on various farm clubs. Rhyne came to the majors with a reputation as a hitter. The back of a 1926 photo carries a caption that claimed his “magnetic eyes” made a ball look twice as large as normal. He might have been better off with a magnetic bat instead, although he did finish with a .291 career BA on the farm, playing until he was 41.
Hal Rhyne 1926 (photo Conlon Collection/TSN/Getty)
  • 1904 - 1B Jim “Ripper” Collins was born in Altoona. He made his name as a hard-hitting prankster of the Gas House Gang and spent his last MLB campaign as a Pirate in 1941 after taking a two-year hiatus in the PCL at Los Angeles. The Bucs brought him in to share some Elbie Fletcher’s workload at first, but at age 37 Collins’ best days were behind him and he batted just .211 in 49 games, mostly pinch-hitting. He stayed with the organization for several years as a player/manager at Class A Albany. Cort Vitty of SABR, citing The Sporting News, wrote “The nickname Ripper developed during an on-field incident that occurred when Jimmy was a young player. A ball rocketed off his bat and struck a nail protruding from the outfield fence; it caused the cover to partially tear. When asked who hit the ball, the retrieving outfielder saw the ball hanging and said, ‘It was the ripper.’”
  • 1952 - Deacon Phillippe passed away. The RHP tossed 12 seasons (1900-11) for the Bucs with a 168-92 record and 2.50 ERA, winning 20 games six times and never suffering through a losing season. He won three World Series games against Boston in 1903, beating Cy Young in the opener and tossing five complete games. Toward the end of his career, he worked six shutout innings in the 1909 Series against Detroit. In 1969, Pirates fans voted him as Pittsburgh's top all-time right-handed pitcher.
  • 1969 - Panamanian OF Omar Moreno was signed by the Pirates’ Howie Haak as a 16-year-old amateur free agent. Moreno, who was with the Pirates from 1975-82, led the 1979 World Series club in runs and hits. The speedster set the single-season Pirates record for stolen bases with 96 in 1980, and his 412 steals with the team ranks third overall behind Max Carey and Honus Wagner.
Omar Mareno 1981 Topps/Coke
  • 1997 - The Pirates purchased LHP Ricardo Rincon from the Mexico City Reds. In 1997-98, he went 4-10-18/3.17 for the Bucs and was then traded to Cleveland for Brian Giles in one of Pittsburgh’s better baseball deals.
  • 2002 - RHP Brian Meadows signed as a minor league free agent with the Pirates. He was called up mid-season and lasted four years with the club, converting from a starter to a reliever who made 133 appearances in his last two seasons with Pittsburgh. Meadows went 8-12-2 with a 4.20 ERA from 2002-05. He lasted one more year with Tampa Bay before retiring.

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