Sunday, April 2, 2017

4/2: Hans, Vern, Sudden Sam, HBD Jon, Strike Ends, Money Talks, Free Baseball, WENS-TV

  • 1942 - The Sporting News released a poll of 100 former major leaguers and managers voting for the best player of all time. Ty Cobb won easily, with Buc SS Honus Wagner second. The Flying Dutchman handily outpolled both Babe Ruth and Rogers Hornsby.
  • 1954 - Station WENS, the City’s first ABC affiliate, announced that it would broadcast 20-30 Pirates games during the season beginning with the April 17th Opener at Philadelphia. Bob Prince and Rosey Rowswell were the broadcast team.
  • 1963 - The Pirates made the decision to leave pitcher Vern Law at Daytona Beach to start the season for work on strengthening the lingering rotator injury he first suffered in 1960. What was hoped to be a two-week stay turned into a month, and Law made just 18 outings (12 starts) good for 76 IP and a 4-5/4.93 slash before he was shut down for good in early August. The long rest period paid off as he put together three solid seasons on the hill from ‘64-66, averaging a 14-10/3.20 line with 196 IP over that span and earning the NL Comeback Player of the Year award in 1965.
Vern Law 1963 Fleer
  • 1970 - RHP Jon Lieber was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The Pirates picked him up at the 1993 deadline as part of a trade for Stan Belinda with KC, and he pitched his first five (1994-98) seasons with the Bucs, going 38-47/4.36. Pittsburgh sent him to the Cubs for Brant Brown after the 1998 campaign. He spent another nine workmanlike years in the show, winning 131 games in 14 seasons, including 20 in 2001 for the Cubs.
  • 1975 - The Pirates signed pitcher Sudden Sam McDowell, a 32-year-old free agent who started out at Central Catholic. It would be the last hurrah of a 15-year career that saw him win 141 games and K 2,453 batters, mostly with the Indians. Sudden Sam was The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year in 1970 when he worked 305 frames and punched out 304 batters. But his bouts with the bottle caught up with him; he pitched well for the Pirates but was released in June. McDowell later went through rehab and turned his life around. The character Sam Malone, the bartender on the TV show “Cheers,“ was said to be loosely based on Sudden Sam.
  • 1995 - The players’ strike ended days after a court ruling undercut the owner’s position. Per Wikipedia, the 1994–95 strike was the eighth work stoppage in baseball history as well as the fourth in-season work stoppage in 22 years. The strike began on August 12th, 1994, and resulted in the remainder of that season being canceled, including the postseason and, for the first time since 1904, the World Series. After spending 232 days walking the picket lines, the walk-out was the longest such stoppage in MLB history. 948 games were lost and the MLB became the first major professional sports league to lose an entire postseason due to labor struggles. Because of the strike, neither the 1994 or 1995 seasons reached 162 games; the strike was called after most teams had played 113 games in 1994 and 144 games in 1995.
The Freak Show wasn't just underappreciated - they were underpaid, too!
  • 1997 - Per BR Bullpen, for the first time in major league history, the salary of one player was more than that of a team. The Chicago White Sox paid Albert Belle $10M for the season, which was $928,333 more than the entire Pirate “Freak Show” payroll.
  • 2014 - The Pirates and Cubs hooked up for the longest baseball game ever played in Pittsburgh, a 16 inning marathon that lasted five hours and 55 minutes before the Bucs could scrape out a 4-3 decision. Chicago tied it in the ninth and took the lead in the 12th, but the Bucs knotted the score again on a two-out single by Starling Marte. Tony Sanchez ended the longest day with a knock to drive home Jose Tabata. Stolmy Pimentel got his first MLB win while Carlos Villanueva dropped his second consecutive game as he was the losing pitcher on Opening Day.

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