Thursday, May 11, 2017

5/11 Through the 50s: HBD Rip, Mel & Mark; Homers, Gems & Windstorms

  • 1907 - RHP Truett Banks “Rip” Sewall was born in Decatur, Alabama. Sewall was the creator of the “ol’ eephus” blooper pitch, and in twelve seasons (1931-42) with the Pirates went 143-97/3.48, winning 21 games twice and selected as a member of three NL All-Star teams. Rip had pretty good baseball bloodlines as three of his cousins, Luke, Joe, and Tommy Sewell, also played in the show. He got his moniker from his wife Margaret, who told sportswriter Jimmy Dunn to call him "Rip" in a story about his final spring training game with the minor-league Bisons and the nickname stuck.
  • 1915 - Pittsburgh Rebel OF Jim Kelly bopped the first pitch of the game over the wall in left at Buffalo’s Federal League Park to defeat the Blues’ (aka Bisons) and pitcher Fred Anderson, 1-0. RHP Clint Rogge tossed the shutout for the Rebs.
Bill Virdon's 1973 Posse - Topps
  • 1928 - Coach Mel Wright was born in Manila, Arkansas. Mel tossed for the Cubs and Cards and became good friends with Bill Virdon. Virdon selected him as his pitching coach (replacing Don Osborn) when he managed the Buccos in 1973, and Mel subsequently followed The Quail to the Yankees, Astro and Expos before passing away in 1983.
  • 1937 - Cy Blanton fired a five-hit shutout as the Pirates beat Boston, 3-0, to increase their winning streak to four games. It was Blanton’s third complete game and second shutout of the year. Cy recorded a career-high 143 strikeouts and compiled a 14-12-4/3.30 slash in his standout season and was named to the NL All-Star team for the only time in his Pirate career.
  • 1953 - A tornado demolished the Class B Waco Pirates’ Katy Field, also destroying its equipment and offices. The damage was so complete that Pittsburgh’s Big State League club had to finish the season playing its games in Laredo, not returning to Waco until the following season after the field was rebuilt.
Danny Kravitz 1957 Topps
  • 1956 - Rookie C Danny Kravitz hit a walk-off grand slam, his first and only MLB granny, off Jack Meyer in the ninth to give the Pirates a 6-5 win over Philadelphia at Forbes Field. Dale Long added three hits as Luis Arroyo won the game that Vern Law started.
  • 1957 - Roberto Clemente hit an inside the park homer that went under the batting cage 457’ away at Forbes Field before CF Richie Ashburn could (almost literally) dig it out. The Phils, 7-2 winners, protested at the time, but the umps ruled that there was no ground rule to cover the situation and so the home run stood, with Philadelphia’s win making it a moot point. The Great One lined his four bagger off future teammate Harvey Haddix.
  • 1958 - Bob Porterfield, newly acquired from the Red Sox, won a duel with Curt Simmons at Forbes Field to take a 1-0 win over the Phils. RC Stevens drove home Dick Groat in the 11th inning for the walk-off win. It was a twinbill sweep as the Bucs won the opener 10-4 behind Bob Friend, who survived back-to-back first inning homers. Bob Skinner doubled, scored three runs and drove in a pair. Ted Kluszewski homered with three RBI, Frank Thomas drove in three more, Dick Groat tripled and scored three runs while Roberto Clemente had a double, triple, and plated a pair.
Bob Porterfield 1959 Topps
  • 1958 - RHP Mark Huismann was born in Littleton, Colorado. Mark tossed parts of nine seasons for six clubs, closing out his career with the Pirates in 1990-91. He slashed 1-0/7.88 in seven games over those two seasons, spending most of his time as an insurance policy in AAA Buffalo. That was par for the course; Mark spent just one campaign - 1986 with KC & Seattle - with more time on the big team than in the minors.

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