Friday, March 31, 2017

3/31: Pre-PNC Park - KY Signs; Bielecki & Lefty Deals; Tenace Released; HBD Fred, Chick, Tom & Skeeter

  • 1886 - OF Fred Kommers was born in Chicago. He debuted with the Bucs in 1913, hitting .233 in 40 games. He jumped to the Federal League the following season, and though he hit better as a Fed than he did in the NL, it didn’t do much to advance his baseball career - it would be his last major league campaign.
Chick Brandom 1909 (Conlon Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1887 - RHP Chester “Chick” Brandom was born in Coldwater, Kansas. Chick tossed from 1908-09 for the Bucs, getting into 16 games and going 2-0-3 with a 0.94 ERA. The Bucs were loaded back then, and he was sent back to the minors despite that shiny albeit small sample record. But he may have a greater claim that his Bucco stint. A 1908 picture of Chick shows him delivering a knuckleball and if the date is right, that would make him the first known practitioner of that pitch, predating guys like Eddie Cicotte.
  • 1894 - RHP Tom Sheehan was born in Grand Ridge, Illinois. Tom pitched the final two years of a MLB career that began in 1915 for the Pirates (1925-26; 1-3-2, 4.08). He embarked on a long march as a baseball lifer after his playing days. Sheehan coached for the Reds and Braves, then spent many years as a minor league manager/ scout in the Giants system. In 1960, at age 66, he succeeded the fired Bill Rigney as the Giants skipper, becoming the oldest person to make his debut as a big-league manager. That gig didn’t work out, and after the campaign he was once again assigned to scouting.
  • 1895 - OF Carson “Skeeter” Bigbee was born. He played eleven years for Pittsburgh, his only MLB club, from 1916-26, and hit .287 lifetime. His best seasons were 1921-22, when he batted .323 and .350. He banged out 419 hits over that span, scored 213 runs and led the NL in singles both years. Bigbee stole 182 bases in his career, which earned him his “Skeeter” nickname.
Vince leaves town (photo The Sporting News)
  • 1945 - The Pirates traded OF Vince DiMaggio to the Philadelphia Phillies for P Al “Lefty” Gerheauser. Both were near the end of their playing days; DiMaggio hung up the spikes after the ‘46 season and Gerheauser won just seven more games in three years.
  • 1984 - C Gene Tenace ended his 15-year career when he was released by the Pirates in spring training after batting .177 for the Bucs in 1983 as a 36-year old. Tenace had a great eye and was an early OBP machine. His BA was just .241, but he had a .388 OBP for his career and nearly 1,000 walks. Even in his last season with the Bucs, he had more walks than hits.
  • 1988 - The Chicago Cubs traded minor league LHP Mike Curtis to the Pirates for RHP Mike Bielecki. Bielecki turned into a journeyman pitcher, working 14 years in MLB while Curtis never got out of AAA, ending his career as an indie league pitcher.
KY back in the 'Burg 1998 Fleer Ultra
  • 1997 - The Pirates lured FA 1B Kevin Young back to Pittsburgh from KC with a $400K contract. He would sign two more deals with the Bucs worth $28M over the following six seasons before retiring after the 2003 campaign. The 1B hit .259 over 11 years with the Pirates and is back with the club as a special instructor.

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