Saturday, May 20, 2017

5/20 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Waner Doubles & Long HRs; HBD Horace, Moon & George; Game Stories

  • 1856 - Horace Phillips was born in Salem, Ohio. He was an early manager of the Alleghenys from 1884-89, and led them to their first winning season ever in 1885. His best finish was second the following year, when his team went 80-57. He shepherded the club from the American Association into the NL in 1887. Phillips was yellow rag fodder during the era for various financial peccadilloes, and the effect showed. After he quit managing, Phillips spent the rest of his years in various insane asylums.
  • 1891 - 1B Joe “Moon” Harris was born in Coulter (now part of South Versailles Township). Harris was a war hero, and recovered from serious injuries (in fact, his war record won him reinstatement to the majors after he had been suspended for playing with an indie team) to play MLB ball for five teams over 14 seasons, including the Pirates in 1927-28. He hit .329 in 145 games as a Buc and was part of the 1927 WS club. A local kid, Joe got his start playing for the McKeesport Tubers, and when he retired, he ran a pool hall/bowling alley in Renton. He went by the nicknames of “Coulter Joe” and “Moon,” one for his birthplace and who knows for the other.
Joe Harris 1927 (photo George Rinhart/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1896 - Per John Dreker of Pirates Prospects “This Date In Pirate History,” Pittsburgh played Brooklyn at Expo Park. The Bucs fell behind 6-0 after three innings when it began to rain and manager Connie Mack told his team to go easy in the field, hoping that the game would drag on and be called. Pirate pitchers started lobbing the ball over the plate, tho Brooklyn caught on quickly enough and tried to make outs to make sure the game reached five innings. It was never called as the weather cleared up, leaving the Pirates in a 17-0 hole after five innings. When they realized the game was going to be official they began to play hard again. The Bridesgrooms’ pitcher, Bert Abbey, was told not to strain his arm and began lobbing the ball too, allowing the Pirates to score six runs in the last two innings for a 25-6 final.
  • 1900 - 1B George Grantham was born in Galena, Kansas. He played seven years (1925-31) for the Bucs, hitting .315 with a .410 OBP. Grantham played for the 1925 and 1927 World Series clubs, hitting .364 against the Yankees in the 1927 match-up. His biggest season was 1930, when he hit .324 with 18 homers, 99 RBI and 120 runs.
  • 1932 - Paul Waner tied the MLB record with four doubles in five at bats during the Pirates 5-0 win over the Cards at Sportsman’s Park. Big Poison set an NL record that season with 62 two-baggers. Larry French fired a two-hitter for the win.
Paul Waner 1932 R328 US Caramel
  • 1947 - Talk about your small ball! The Bucs beat Milwaukee 4-3 at Forbes Field as the teams combined for 22 hits, and every one was a single. Hank Greenberg knocked home the winning run in the tenth, making Tiny Bonham a winner. The teams added nine walks, too, and stranded 20 runners between them.
  • 1948 - The Bucs bombed Boston 13-0 behind a big eight run fourth frame primed by a Ralph Kiner homer and double, while Elmer Riddle tossed a four hitter at Braves Stadium. Six Bucs had multiple hits, five had multiple RBI (led by Kiner’s three), and eight different players scored.
  • 1950 - An ugly brooming: The Bucs were no-hit for 9-2/3 frames by the Dodgers’ Ralph Branca‚ Jack Banta‚ and Dan Bankhead at Ebbets Field to lose the back end of a twin bill 4-3 in eleven innings. They dropped the opener to Brooklyn 3-2 when Gil Hodges pounded a two out, two run double in the eighth of Mel Queen; both runs were unearned.
Dale Long in the middle of his 1956 HR streak (photo via Baseball Hall of Fame)
  • 1956 - The Pirates drew their biggest crowd in five years (32‚326) and celebrated with a DH sweep over the Milwaukee Braves‚ 6-5 and 5-0, at Forbes Field. Dale Long homered in each game and drove in seven runs. Bob Friend won the opener and Ron Kline tossed a six hitter for the victory in the nitecap.
  • 1960 - The Pirates stretched their NL lead to 1-1/2 games by edging the Giants‚ 5-4‚ on Roberto Clemente's single in the 12th inning. Clemente had three hits to raise his average to .378. Willie McCovey's homer in the ninth tied it for San Francisco‚ and a score in the 12th put them ahead. Don Hoak's single and a run-scoring double by Dick Groat set the stage for Clemente’s game winner at Forbes Field.
  • 1962 - The seven and eight hitters for Pittsburgh, Don Hoak and Bill Mazeroski, went 4-for-7 with a walk, double, triple and homer, four runs scored and five RBI to carry the Bucs and Vern Law past the Reds 8-2 at Forbes Field.

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