Tuesday, April 18, 2017

4/18 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: HBD Jack, Steverino & Angelo; Kiners 1st; Forbes Field Gets A Name & More...

  • 1886 - The Alleghenys played the only Opening Day doubleheader in Pittsburgh baseball history at Sportsman’s Park. The North Siders dropped both ends of the twin bill to the eventual American Association champion St. Louis Browns. They lost the opener 8-4 with Ed “Cannonball” Morris on the bump and went down 10-5 in the second game with Hall of Fame pitcher James “Pud” Galvin toeing the rubber. The Alleghenys team was pretty strong; they went 80-52 on the year, but still ended up 12 games behind the Browns. It was the last season the team played in the AA, moving on the the NL in 1887.
  • 1872 - 1B Jack Rothfuss was born in Newark. Rothfuss tore it up in the for the Atlantic League’s Newark Colts, was bought late-season by the Bucs for $2,000 and made his MLB debut on August 2nd, 1897. Jack hit .313 and was the frontrunner to become Pittsburgh’s next starting first baseman. Alas, Rothfuss never played in the majors again after contracting dysentery late in the season. (He blamed on the city's water, telling The Sporting Life “...the water in Pittsburgh is atrocious." And at that time, he may have been right.) He was sold to minor-league Kansas City, recovered and bolted back home to play for Newark. Jack returned to KC the next year, but jumped back-and-forth among minor league/indie clubs he until finally hung up the spikes in 1907.
Howie Camnitz 1909-11 T206 Piedmont
  • 1909 - Howie Camnitz spun an eight-hit shutout as the Bucs whipped the Cubs 1-0 in twelve innings, besting Three Finger Brown at the West Side Grounds. The run scored when, as the Pittsburg Press wrote “(George) Gibson hit to (Chicago SS Joe) Tinker, who bungled and (Bill) Abstein scored…” but the Pirates wouldn’t need much help that season as they won 110 games and the World Series from the Ty Cobb-led Detroit Tigers.
  • 1909 - The Pirates announced that their new Oakland ballyard, which opened on June 28th, would be called Forbes Field. The team and the Pittsburgh Press held a contest for the naming rights, and out of 100,000 entries, seven (who won season tickets) chose Forbes Field. Owner Barney Dreyfuss’ name seemed to be the top vote-getter, but he passed on the honor, saying that his decision was reached after “I considered it from a historical, euphonious and appropriate viewpoint.”
  • 1942 - RHP & Root Sports talking head Steve Blass was born in Canaan, Connecticut. The Bucco announcer was an All-Star and World-Series-clinching pitcher for the Pirates from 1964-74. The righty won 103 games for Pittsburgh during his career to go with two Series victories against Earl Weaver’s Orioles in 1971 and has been associated with the Pirates in one way or another for over 50 years.
Steve Blass Pittsburgh Heroes Deck
  • 1946 - Rookie Ralph Kiner smacked his first big league homer off Howie Pollet in the eighth inning of a 4-2 loss to St. Louis at Sportsman Park. He would end his career with 369 long balls, 301 belted as a Bucco.
  • 1947 - The Pirates took the home opener from the Reds 12-11. The Bucs had added Hank Greenberg to their roster and shortened LF at Forbes Field for him. Greenberg himself (and for that matter, Ralph Kiner) didn’t go long, tho the other Bucs apparently took a liking to the short porch. Pittsburgh blasted five homers - rookie Wally Westlake had a pair while Billy Cox, Roy Jarvis & Jim Russell went yard too - and three of the balls landed in the new Greenberg Gardens. Cox became the first Pirate in history to lead off a Home Opener with a dinger when he took Joe Beggs deep. The season lidlifter at Forbes Field drew a record crowd of 38,216.
  • 1950 - Pittsburgh played the first MLB season opener under the lights at St. Louis' Sportsman Park. The Cards won, 4-2, as Bob Chesnes gave up homers to Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst in the loss to Gerry Staley. Johnny Hopp had both Bucco RBIs.
Bob Friend 1952 Bowman
  • 1952 - In their home opener at Forbes Field before 29‚874‚ Bob Friend shut out the Reds‚ 5-0‚ on five hits. It was the second win in a row for the Pirates‚ and the “Rickey-Dinks” wouldn't have a win streak longer than two games all season (they finished 42-112), a 20th century MLB record for futility. In fact, they didn’t win back-to-back contests that year after August 9th!
  • 1955 - In his first major league appearance, 25-year-old reliever Al Grunwald got just one batter out. He gave up a single to Don Mueller‚ a double to Monte Irvin‚ a triple to Willie Mays‚ and a homer to Whitey Lockman. The NY Giants “cycle” led to an eight-run fourth frame and eventual 12-3 victory over the Pirates. But there was a bright spot. Rookie Roberto Clemente hit his first home run, an inside-the-park 445’ shot that the weirdly configured Polo Grounds kept in the yard.
  • 1957 - The Bucs lost a ho-hummer to the Brooklyn Dodgers 6-1 at Ebbetts Field. The game marked the last time a Pirate pitcher batted eighth (Luis Arroyo, with Bill Mazeroski behind him) for over 50 years, until June 30th, 2008 when Paul Maholm batted ahead of Jack Wilson. Bobby Bragan made a habit of batting pitchers early in the fifties before John Russell again adopted the concept briefly.
Angelo Encarnacion 1996 Fleer Ultra
  • 1969 - C Angelo Encarnacion was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Angelo was a back-up catcher for the Bucs from 1995-96, batting .238 over that span. He’s best know for a 1995 blooper when he scooped up a short blocked pitch with his mask with a runner on third in extra innings. That’s a no-no by the rule book and the nonchalant play allowed the winning run to score on the technical foul. He played for the Angels in 1997 and then went the minor league/indie route, shedding the tools of ignorance after the 2003 campaign.

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