Saturday, April 1, 2017

4/1 - Expo Park/Forbes Field Era: HBD Fred, Jake & Wille; Cronin & Watty Deals; Purkey Shines; Umps OK; Titusville April Fools

  • 1858 - OF Fred Mann was born in Sutton, Vermont. The centerfielder played two of his six MLB years with the Alleghenys from 1885-86. He hit .251 over that span, spent one more season in the show and left baseball after spending the following three years in the bushes. He was the first major league ballplayer to hail from the Green Mountain state.
  • 1904 - In what was considered the first major deal between the AL & NL after their 1903 truce, the Pirates bought Wyatt “Watty” Lee from Washington for $3,000. The P/1B had three solid seasons for the Senators, but was a flop for the Bucs, appearing in just eight games, five as a pitcher and three as a pinch hitter. Watty went 4-for-12 at the plate, but his pitching record was abysmal, putting up a slash of 1-2/8.74. It was the end of Lee's major league days though he went on to enjoy a long minor league career.
Steve Moore "In the Bleachers" 1992 Universal Press Syndicate
  • 1911 - Just to prove that umps’ eyesight has always been under suspicion, according to Charlton’s Baseball Chronology “NL president Tom Lynch reveals he had asked all umpires to produce certificates as to their eyesight; tests showed all have perfect vision.” Our only question is who tested the doctors?
  • 1926 - RHP Jake Thies was born in St. Louis. As a 28-year-old, he spent 1954 and one start in 1955 with the Pirates, slashing 3-10/3.90. He was dealt to Kansas City where he spent two years at AAA, returning to the Buc system for three games to close the campaign and then retired.
Jake Thies 1955 Topps
  • 1928 - The April Fool’s victim this year was the Pirates, who sold SS Joe Cronin to KC of the American Association, which then flipped him to Washington in July. In Pittsburgh, he was blocked at SS by Glenn Wright and manager Donie Bush preferred vet George Grantham at second base, so the Pirates deemed him to be excess baggage. They deemed wrong; after a 20 year career, seven All-Star games and .301 BA, he earned a plaque in the Hall of Fame.
  • 1948 - 1B Willie Montanez was born in Catano, Puerto Rico. Willie spent part of 1981 and 1982 with the Pirates at the tail end of his 14-year career after he was swapped from the Expos for John Milner. He seldom made the lineup but hit .271 off the bench before the Bucs released him. He closed out his MLB stint in ‘82 with the Phils.
  • 1957 - The Pirates and KC Athletics played an 18 inning, 0-0 exhibition game before darkness put an end to the match. The two teams collected 18 total hits, 16 of which were singles. The contest was just shy of lasting four hours before the managers called it a day. Ron Kline and Bob Purkey did the tossing for the Bucs, with long-shot Purkey winning a spot on the staff after his 10-inning whitewash performance.
    Bob Purkey 1957 Topps
  • 1963 - The Titusville Herald’s headline screamed “Pittsburgh Pirates To Move Club To Titusville.” The April Fools gag drew a chuckle but no interest from ownership and the Bucs remained firmly rooted in Forbes Field. Titusville’s population per the 1960 census was 8,356 souls; Forbes Field had an average attendance of 9,675 in 1963; maybe there was a match to be made.

No comments: