Wednesday, April 19, 2017

4/19 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Hans Debut, Boot Hill, HBD Babe & RJ, Sports & Stage, Battlin' Bucs, Rip Gem

  • 1900 - The Pirates lost their opener to St. Louis 3-0 at Robison Field as Cy Young pitched a five-hitter and K’ed nine. The game was auspicious because it marked the Pittsburgh debut of SS Honus Wagner, who had played for Louisville of the American Association for three seasons. He didn’t disappoint, getting two of the Bucs five hits.
Hans with his 1900 teammates; he's front and center (photo via IDS)
  • 1902 - The Cardinals booted 11 balls in a 10-4 loss to the Bucs at Sportsman Park‚ setting a NL record. The Pirates mishandled four more plays to help set a single game NL record for errors. The Pittsburg Gazette described it as a “game that would make amateurs blush.”
  • 1908 - C Ernest “Babe” Phelps was born in in Odenton, Maryland. Babe finished his 11-year big-league career as a Pirate in 1942, hitting .284 with nine homers in 257 AB and sharing catching duties with former teammate Al Lopez. He batted .310 over his MLB years with a .362 OBP & .472 slugging %, joining the NL All-Star Team from 1938-1940. His moniker of "Babe" came about because of his resemblance the Bambino, whom he would become tight with later in his career. Cort Vitty of SABR wryly noted that “Later in his career, as his physique matured, Phelps would also be referred to as ‘Blimp.’"
  • 1912 - The Pirates and Cardinals spent the evening at the Lyceum Theater on Penn Avenue taking in “George Evans’ Honey Boy Minstrels” show per the Pittsburg Press. Evans was an entertainer with a jones for baseball. He awarded a loving cup to baseball’s leading hitter beginning in 1908, with Hans Wagner earning a pair and Ty Cobb the other two.
Stan was "most wanted" in Cincy - 1949 Bowman
  • 1948 - At Cincinnati‚ the Reds opened the season with a 4-1 win over the Pirates in a game delayed by a shower of bottles in the eighth frame. The Bucs went down fighting when Cincy’s Babe Young doubled after Hank Sauer’s homer and got tangled with Buc SS Stan Rojek. Young went after Rojek, failing to note that the ball was back in play, and was tagged out. A fan jumped the railing to go after ump Jocko Conlin, who had rung Young up. First base ump Beans Reardon came over to help get things in order, but instead got into a fight with the riled fan. Police restored peace while the Queen City faithful pitched a few bottles the Buccos’ way. The fighting fan, btw, was allowed to return to his seat. The game was noteworthy in another way - it marked the Pirates switch to black and gold trim from the traditional red and blue piping along with the introduction of the still-in-use block lettering instead of script.
  • 1949 - Rip Sewell whipped Dutch Leonard 1-0 in front of Governor Adlai Stevenson and Chicago Mayor Martin Kennelly at Wrigley Field. It was the third time Sewell blanked the Cubbies on Opening Day. The Pirates scored in the ninth when pinch-hitter Les Fleming’s grounder scored pinch runner Jack Cassini for an unearned run; he was in for Dixie Walker, who reached on an error.
  • 1959 - Robert James “RJ” Reynolds was born in Sacramento. The switch-hitter spent six seasons with the Pirates, hitting .269 as a platoon outfielder and pinch hitter from 1985-90. He often played with Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke, but age and Bobby Bo’s emergence was the beginning of the end for RJ, who finished his career playing in Japan and Mexico.

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