Sunday, May 21, 2017

5/21 Through the 50s: HBD Sure Shot,Bunny, Mace & Fitz; Kitty Calls; Shin Guard Skirmish; Game Stories

  • 1859 - IF Fred “Sure Shot” Dunlap was born in Philadelphia. The slick fielder played for the Alleghenys from 1888-90, hitting .240. He also managed the club to a 61-71 record as a player manager in 1889. His declining stick - he was still a whiz at defense - led to a contract cut in 1890, causing him to jump to the NY Giants of the outlaw Player’s League early in the season. Per Wikipedia, he earned the nickname "Sure Shot" for the strength and accuracy of his throws to first base, and was also sometimes referred to in the 1880s as the "King of Second Basemen."
Sure Shot Dunlap Goodwin Old Judge
  • 1891 - LHP Charles Bunn “Bunny” Hearn was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Bunny spent one of his six big league seasons in Pittsburgh with the Rebels in 1915, going 6-11/3.38. Hearn joined John McGraw's 1913 world touring team and during its London stop, Hearn demonstrated pitcher’s grips to King George V, leading to a lifetime humblebrag that he taught the King of England how to throw a curve. After his pitching days, he managed in the minors and at North Carolina University for 17 years where he won eight league titles.
  • 1907 - NL president Harry Pulliam dismissed the protest of Pittsburgh manager Fred Clarke over NY Giant’s C Roger Bresnahan's donning of shin guards. He was the first, and at the time only, receiver to add them to the tools of ignorance. A safety-first kinda guy, Bresnahan also developed a prototype batter’s helmet.
  • 1909 - RHP Mace Brown was born in North English, Iowa. He tossed seven years (1935-41) for the Pirates and in every role, from starter to closer, with a line of 55-45-29/3.67. Brown was an All-Star in 1938, when he led the NL in outings with 51, winning 15 games and saving five.
Mace Brown 1938 (photo Original News Service)
  • 1913 - The Pirates beat Brooklyn 5-2 at Ebbett’s Field and set a small-ball MLB record with four sac bunts in the eighth inning (two Dodger errors allowed the bunters to reach base). Babe Adams got the win. His curve was on, as noted in the Pittsburg Press: “Adams was working a big sweeping outdrop that he would swing across the plate time and time again…” One Dodgers batter, Jake Daubert, and the Pirates Dots Miller were both given the boot by ump Bill Klem for griping over strike calls. The Bucco victory snapped a seven game winning streak for Dodgers hurler Pat Ragan.
  • 1917 - Per BR Bullpen: The Giants took over first place with a 4-3 win over the Pirates behind the pitching of Big Jeff Tesreau and the iffy umpiring of Kitty Bransfield. Kitty made an out call in the ninth on a grounder that the Pirates Doug Baird clearly beat after earlier missing that G-Man Art Fletcher had left third base early before scoring on a sacrifice fly. Kitty was a former Bucco and didn’t harbor any grudges but was noticeably raw at calling a game. The Pittsburg Press wrote that “Kitty is a mighty fine fellow, but at the gentle art of umpiring, he still has considerable to learn.” In fact, Bransfield was teamed with the best-reputed ump of the era, Bill Klem, in order to bring his game up to speed. The contest itself was meaningless in the context of the season as the New York club finished first and the Pirates last, a whopping 47 games off the pace.
Kitty the ump 1994 Conlon Collection/TSN
  • 1924 - C Ed Fitz Gerald was born in Santa Ynez, California. He spent six (1948-53) of his 12 big league years in Pittsburgh mainly as a reserve, hitting .247. Ed had a career moment when he caught Cliff Chambers' no-hitter on May 6th, 1951. Fitz spent the second half of his career as a Washington Senator.
  • 1948 - Frankie Gustine went 5-for-5 to lead Pittsburgh to an 8-4 win over the Dodgers. He scored four runs and drove in a pair at Ebbets Field. 1B Max West helped the cause by blasting a two-out, three run homer in the fifth and Fritz Ostermueller picked up the win.
  • 1950 - The Pirates had a big day at the Polo Grounds, sweeping the NY Giants by 4-2 and 8-6 scores to even its record (tho not for long; the Bucs finished the year last with 57 wins and stayed below .500 from May 25th onward). The hero of the day was Ralph Kiner, who homered in the first game and had three hits in the nightcap, including a 475’ triple in the oddly shaped ballyard.

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