Thursday, April 20, 2017

4/20 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Pinheads, Hans & Pie, Sweet Steve, Gus, Rip's Day, Pops

  • 1916 - The Pirates lost the home opener at Forbes Field to St. Louis 5-0, held to five hits by Harry “Slim” Sallee in front of 20,000 or so on a sunny spring day. But there was some early excitement. With two on and a 3-1 count on the batter, manager Jimmy Callahan, coaching third, stepped out of the box to talk with baserunner Doc Johnston between pitches. He apparently placed his hand on Johnston during the chat and plate umpire Ernie Quigley called Doc out on coaches interference due to Callahan’s contact. The Bucs protested to no avail, and owner Barney Dreyfuss protested the game to NL President John Tener. Ralph Davis of the Pittsburg Press wrote that at a smoker that evening, Dreyfuss went on about a conspiracy with the boys in blue having secret league instructions (he didn’t disclose their nature) and went so far as to call them “ umpires.” Tener rejected the protest, though he did clarify that the rule was to be in effect only when the player was physically assisted leaving or returning to a base by a coach.
  • 1930 - Long-time baseball writer Irwin Howe of the Chicago Tribune picked his all-time MLB team, and it included SS Honus Wagner and 3B Pie Traynor. Howe was a baseball historian, the secretary for the Chicago chapter of BBWAA and the AL’s official statistician.
  • 1932 - Mt. Pleasant native and Pitt grad Steve Swetonic came as close as any Pirate pitcher (Bob Moose matched his feat in 1968) to tossing a no-hitter at Forbes Field. He surrendered a two-out knock in the eighth to the Card’s George Watkins that spoiled his bid. Though he gave up a couple of anti-climatic ninth inning singles, he cruised to a 7-0 victory. His career was short circuited after five years as he had to retire at the age of 28 because of a chronic sore arm.
  • 1936 - Overcoming an early six-run deficit, the Bucs’ Gus Suhr slugged a two-out, three-run homer in the ninth off Roy Henshaw to give Pittsburgh a 9-8 win over the Cubs at Forbes Field. Pep Young and Cookie Lavagetto also went long, and Bill Swift worked the final four frames for the win.
  • 1946 - Rip Sewell spun a four-hitter to win a duel against the Cards Bucky Walters 2-1. Walters scored his clubs’ only run by stealing home, but RBI from Bob Elliott and Elbie Fletcher sent the Forbes Field crowd of 27,891 (and Rip) home happy.
Rip Sewell 1947 D323 Tip-Top Bread
  • 1948 - Rip Sewell did it all; he tossed a complete game six hitter and homered as the Bucs won their home opener 3-2 over the Cubs. Rookie second baseman Monty Basgall had the game winner, his first big league homer, in the sixth inning.
  • 1970 - Willie Stargell belted a homer off Jim Bouton that cleared the RF roof at Forbes Field as the Pirates took a 3-1 decision from Houston. Dock Ellis went six innings for the win, with Dave Giusti covering the last three frames. The deed wasn’t witnessed by very many; there were only 4,015 fans in the house.

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