- 1887 - RHP Jack Ferry was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He worked sparingly for Pittsburgh from 1910-13, posting a 10-6 record with a 3.02 ERA in 160-⅔ IP. Ferry’s claim to fame: he was the first Seton Hall grad to play MLB.
- 1932 - The Pirates obtained the rights to SS Arky Vaughan from Tulsa of the Western League through a working agreement between the clubs. The Hall of Famer spent the next 10 years in Pittsburgh, winning All-Star honors for eight consecutive years while piling up a .324 BA. He and Honus Wagner may be the best 1-2 punch at short for one franchise in the sport’s history.
|Arky Vaughan image by Deviant Art|
- 1933 - OF Bobby DelGreco was born in the Hill District. He spent two years with the Pirates in 1952 and 1956, hitting .219. His career spanned nine seasons, and he played regularly with the Phils and A’s. After finishing his playing career, his day job was as a delivery driver for the Pittsburgh Press and he moonlighted by tossing BP for the Bucs into the nineties.
- 1954 - 1B Dale Long announced that he wouldn’t take his demotion to the Hollywood Stars sitting down. He planned to file a protest with Commissioner Ford Frick, as the 28-year-old reigning PCL MVP said he had been claimed on waivers by the KC Athletics and should be in their big league camp instead of the minors. Didn’t work out for him, but he was back with the Bucs in 1955 after hitting 27 bombs for the Stars to begin a nine-year MLB run including a record-setting eight-game home run streak in 1956 as a Pirate.
- 1970 - After eight consecutive Opening Day defeats, the Mets finally won a lidlifter by beating the Pirates 5-3 at Forbes Field. It took 11 innings, but Ron Taylor, with a Tug McGraw save, beat Chuck Hartenstein. New York became the first team to have won a World Series (1969) before winning a season opener.
|Richie Hebner 1972 Topps|
- 1972 - Richie Hebner wore #3 for the first time (it was during a workout during the 1972 player’s strike) instead of his usual #20 out of deference to 3B Pie Traynor, who had passed away three weeks earlier. Although Traynor had told Hebner that he wanted him to keep his old number throughout his career, Richie said that “I just couldn’t do that after Mr. Traynor died.” He was the last to wear it as the number was retired on April 18th during the home opener.
- 1977 - Danny Murtaugh’s number 40 was retired on Opening Day in front of 35,186 fans at TRS the year following his death. He won a pair of World Series and was twice Manager of the Year. Known for his dry wit, The Whistling Irishman attributed his success to “brilliant managerial thinking and dumb Irish luck.” The game wasn’t much of a testimonial, though, as the Bucs lost 12-6 to the Cards, the last time St. Louis played a home opener in Pittsburgh until 2016.
- 1978 - The Candy Man tossed a seven-hit shutout to thwart Rick Reuschel and the Cubs 1-0 in the Pirates home opener at TRS. Bill Robinson was the hero; his hard slide into second after a Willie Stargell grounder broke up a potential inning-ending DP and allowed Frank Taveras to score the game’s only run. The Bucs collected just three hits on in front of 39,082 fans who got home happy and quickly; the game took one hour and 52 minutes to complete.
|Rick Rhoden 1981 Donruss|
- 1979 - The Pirates traded LHP Jerry Reuss to the Los Angeles Dodgers for RHP Rick Rhoden. Both sides got dependable starters out of the deal, as Rhoden won 79 games for Pittsburgh between 1980-86 (he was injured in 1979) and Reuss notched 84 victories in LA from 1979-85. Rick made one All-Star club with Pittsburgh and won three Silver Sluggers; he hit .251 as a Bucco and banged five long balls.
- 1983 - Rolls in, rolls in...Major League Baseball, ABC, and NBC agreed to terms of a six-year television package worth $1.2B. The two networks continued to alternate coverage of the playoffs, World Series, and All-Star Game through the 1989 season with each of the 26 clubs receiving $7M per year, up from the last package that netted each club $1.9M per campaign according to BR Bullpen.
- 1999 - Ground was broken for PNC Park after a five-year political battle. The event was marked by a big party with plenty of speechifying, the dedication of the Clemente Bridge (formerly the Sixth Street span) and a 10-minute fireworks fusillade celebrated by thousands of Pittsburgh fans.
|Willie Stargell statue (photo Sue Wagner)|
- 2001 - Two days before Willie Stargell died, his statue was unveiled at the Pirates' new stadium, PNC Park, as part of the opening-week ceremonies. Chuck Tanner and former players Bobby Del Greco and Nellie Briles were on hand, as was Vera Clemente, wife of Pirates' legend Roberto Clemente, and their two sons, Luis and Roberto Jr. Pirates GM Cam Bonifay, Pittsburgh city Councilman Sala Udin and the statue's sculptor, Susan Wagner, were also there to unveil the 12-ton statue on Federal Street.
- 2008 - The Pirates lost the first home opener of the Frank Coonelly/Neal Huntington era in exciting fashion, dropping a 10-8 decision to the Cubs at PNC Park in 12 innings. The Bucs fell behind 7-0, rallied to tie the score, and were set to win it in the ninth when Jose Bautista laid down a squeeze with Brian Bixler at third. Bix inexplicably lost his nerve and retreated back to the bag, costing Pittsburgh its last grab at the day’s brass ring.
- 2012 - Jeff Karstens and four relievers held the Phils scoreless for 9-2/3 innings to take a 2-1, ten-inning decision at PNC Park. After Juan Cruz stranded a pair in the top of the final frame, Rod Barajas led off the tenth with a double. Mike McKenry ran for him, and Alex Presley brought him home by legging out a bleeder to third with two outs for the walk-off win.