Wednesday, April 12, 2017

4/12 Birthdays & Deaths: HBD Vic, Bill, Joe, Woodie, Tommie, Jerry, Jeff & DJ; RIP Cannonball

  • 1876 - Vic Willis was born in Cecil County, Maryland. The Hall of Fame righty spent four seasons in Pittsburgh (1906-09) with an 89-46/2.08 line and was part of the 1909 team that won the World Series against the Tigers, the first championship team from Pittsburgh. He won 249 games over a 13-year career.
Vic Willis 1910 Turkey Red (American Tobacco)
  • 1879 - 1B Bill Clancy was born in Redfield, New York. His MLB career consisted of one season (1905) with the Pirates, hitting .229. He was a highly touted minor-league player, and the Pirates grabbed him to replace the traded Kitty Bransfield at first. Clancy started off hot, but a broken finger in June cooled his stick and a couple of ill-advised drinking sessions earned him his release. But he did have a legacy - it’s thought that long-time Bucco catcher George Gibson was signed after a recommendation from Clancy. He was sometimes known as “William the Chicken-Hearted” because he turned down some MLB offers and chose to stay in the minors, a sign that he was afraid of the better competition per the sports writers. But fairly equal pay, a guarantee to play every day and his popularity among the farm fans rather than stage fright motivated him more than the level of play.
  • 1908 - RHP Antonio “Joe” (his middle name) Vitelli was born in McKees Rocks. Joe got into five games as a Bucco during the 1944-45 war years and did OK for a guy who didn’t sniff the majors until he was 36, posting a 2.57 ERA (he did give up six runs in seven IP, but four were unearned). His signing was interesting - Joe came back from the service and was originally used as a Buc BP pitcher; from there, he got his shot on the roster.
  • 1937 - Ed “Cannonball” Morris passed away in Pittsburgh. The lefty only worked five years for the Alleghenys but won 122 games over a four-year span (1885-88) while appearing in 220 games and working nearly 2,000 innings. Cannonball had two more seasons left in him but his workhorse days were done as his arm was shot at age 26. A Brooklyn native, he stayed in Pittsburgh after his baseball days as a North Side bar owner and a deputy warden. Ed was buried in Union Dale Cemetery.
Cannonball - 1889 Goodwin (Old Judge)
  • 1940 - LHP Woodie Fryman was born in Ewing, Kentucky. He started his career in Pittsburgh in 1966-67, going 15-17-2 with a 3.91 ERA. He was part of the Jim Bunning deal in 1968 and went on to have a breakout All-Star campaign with the Phils. Woodie pitched for 18 years and six teams (primarily Philadelphia & Detroit) before hangin’ them up at age 43.
  • 1942 - RHP Tommie Sisk was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The righty tossed seven seasons for Pittsburgh (1962-68) as a swingman after spending just two years in the minors. He went 37-35 with a 3.69 ERA. His best effort was against the Mets on September 20th, 1965 when he tossed a two-hitter.
  • 1964 - C Jerry Goff was born in San Rafael, California. The journeyman spent the middle of his six-year MLB career (1993-94) as a Pirate, batting .210. Sports chops run deep in the Goff genes - his son, Jared, was drafted first overall in the 2016 NFL draft and is a QB for the LA Rams.
  • 1976 - LHP Jeff Wallace was born in Wheeling, West Virginia. He tossed for the Bucs in 1997 and 1999-2000 after sitting out a year due to injury. His record with the Bucs was 3-0 with a 4.67 ERA, and control was his issue - as a Pirate, he walked 80 batters in 86-⅔ IP. Wallace worked 90 games with the Pirates without picking up a loss, the most appearances pitched without a defeat in team history.

  • Jeff Wallace 1998 Bowman
  • 1977 - RHP DJ Carrasco was born in Safford, Arizona. He only worked part of the 2010 campaign for Pittsburgh after signing on as a free agent and was solid, going 2-2/3.88 in 45 outings before being flipped to Arizona. The stint was a brief homecoming of sorts as DJ spent four seasons in the Pirates system before being lost to the KC Royals in the 2002 Rule 5 Draft.

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