Thursday, May 25, 2017

5/25 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Jim's #200, Casey's Cap, Babe's Farewell, Basebrawl, HBD to John, Martin, Chet, Jimmie & Will

  • 1863 - RHP John Hofford was born in Philadelphia. His MLB career consisted of two short stays with the Alleghenys in 1885-86, posting a 3-9/4.16 line in 12 starts. Though he didn’t play the field, John was pretty handy with a stick, hitting .262 with five runs, five RBI, four extra-base hits and even stealing a couple of sacks in his dozen outings. Hofford was a minor league hotshot; the Alleghenys got him from the Southern League’s Augusta after the season ended in 1885 where he had slashed 38-13/0.59 with 389 strikeouts.
  • 1906 - Martin Dihigo was born in Matanzas, Cuba. Best known for his play in the Mexican League, he spent time in the Negro Leagues and in 1927-28 with the Homestead Grays. Dihigo was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977. The multi-talented Dihigo played all nine positions as a pro, usually as a pitcher or second baseman. He’s the only player ever to be inducted to the American, Cuban, Dominican, Mexican and Venezuelan Halls of Fame.
Chet Williams (photo Des Moines register)
  • 1906 - IF Chester “Chet” Williams was born in Beaumont, Texas. Chester’s beginnings are misty; he also has Lake Charles, New Orleans and rural Mississippi cited as birthplaces. But his Negro League career is certain when the infielder played from 1931-39 for the Pittsburgh Crawfords. It was tough at first to make a name for himself (and that was literally true - when he joined the team, other infielders on the roster were Bobby Williams, Harry Williams and Bucky Williams! He, Harry and Buck stayed together throughout his Crawford years.) He overcame that, earning several All-Star spots with the Crawfords and was a starter for the 1935 championship club, considered by many to be the best Negro League team ever assembled. Chet turned down an offer to skip to the Dominican in 1937 (though many of his teammates did take the money), but he did jump ship in 1940 to play in the Cuban League. He returned locally in 1941-42 to play for the Homestead Grays and retired after the 1943 campaign. Known as a free spirit, he opened a Lake Charles night spot after he hung up the spikes and on Christmas Day, 1952, he was shot to death in the club.
  • 1910 - OF Jimmie Crutchfield was born in Ardmore, Missouri. He played for the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1931-36 (with a brief stop with the Homestead Grays in 1932), jumping when the Crawfords offered him $150 per month, after he was pulling down just $90 per month with the Indianapolis ABCs. The lil’ guy (he was 5’7”) combined speed, defense and clubhouse leadership, and according to the StateMaster Encyclopedia “Teamed with Ted Strong and Cool Papa Bell, they formed what is considered the best outfield in the Negro Leagues. During this time, his performance earned him three appearances in the East-West All-Star game.” He played until he was 45, eventually retiring and taking a job with the Post Office.
Casey Stengel 1919-21 W514 Strip Card
  • 1919 - Casey Stengel, who had been traded to Pittsburgh by the Brooklyn Dodgers, returned to Ebbets Field for the first time and his old fans gave him the razzberries. Bowing to the grandstand, he doffed his cap to the 18,000 present, and out flew a sparrow (described as "irate but much relieved") that he had somehow picked up in the outfield. That prank was the highlight of Stengel’s day as he went 0-for-4 against Sherry Smith in a 5-0 loss.
  • 1935 - Babe Ruth hit his 714th and final home run off Guy Bush at Forbes Field in an 11-7 Boston Braves loss to the Pirates, a career record that would stand for almost 40 years before Hammerin' Hank claimed the crown. The Bambino went 4-for-4, hitting three home runs and driving in six runs. The final drive, launched in the seventh inning, cleared the right field roof, the first time that feat was ever done. Per local lore, the Babe’s ball didn't quit rolling until it bounced down Joncaire Street and into Panther Hollow.
  • 1940 - The Bucs broke an 18-for-21 losing spell with a 12-7 win over the Cubs at Forbes Field. Arky Vaughan had a HR, 3B, four runs scored and three RBI to lead the Pirate charge. Although he was roughed up, Joe Bowman went the distance for the win. Despite the dismal streak, the Pirates did end up with a 79-74 record at season’s end.
Fritz Ostermueller 1947 Bowman
  • 1947 - Pittsburgh got two very different pitching performances in splitting a twin bill against St Louis at Sportsman Park. Hank Behrman, who the Bucs had recently obtained from Brooklyn, gave up two homers in a 10-5 loss, making it five gopher balls surrendered in the 12-⅓ IP as a Pirate. He gave up one more in his next 12-⅓ frames, but was sent back to Brooklyn with a 0-2, 9.12 line. The Pirates then snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 win in the nightcap as 39 year-old lefty Fritz Ostermueller fired a three hitter, back by an Eddie Basinski homer and Frankie Gustine RBI knock.
  • 1953 - Ralph Kiner became the 12th MLB player to hit 300 HRs with a three-run, fifth-inning blast off the NY Giants Al Corwin in a 6-3 loss at Forbes Field.
  • 1958 - One of the largest bench clearing brawls in Bucco history erupted when manager Danny Murtaugh charged the mound after Ruben Gomez began headhunting. Orlando Cepeda, the Baby Bull, joined the melee with a bat before he was tackled by teammate Willie Mays. Murtaugh was ejected and Mays got an ovation. The bad blood was carried over from some beanballing during a recent visit to Candlestick Park between pitchers Curt Raydon and Marv Grissom. It apparently fired up the G-Men more than Pirates as they swept the doubleheader at Forbes Field 5-2 and 6-1.
Will Pennyfeather 1993 Topps Coming Attractions
  • 1968 - OF Will Pennyfeather was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Pennyfeather turned down a football scholarship with Syracuse to play baseball for the Orangemen, and after his sophomore year signed with the Pirates in 1988. Will played in short stints for the Bucs in 1992-94, getting into 40 games and batting .196. Afterward he played in the minors, in Taiwan & Mexico, and notably in the indie leagues, where he carved out a long local career before retiring after the 2006 season. He now runs the Sweet Spot Baseball and Softball Academy in his native New Jersey.
  • 1969 - Jim Bunning won his 200th game, scattering five hits and striking out eight in a 2-1 victory over Gaylord Perry and the Giants at Candlestick Park. It was a good day for the Bucs as they also took the nightcap of the twinbill by a 6-2 score behind Bob Moose. Matty Alou was the catalyst in both games. He scored the winning run in the eighth inning of the opener, chased home by a Willie Stargell double, and had three hits, including a double and triple, while scoring twice in the nightcap. Carl Taylor added a two-run long fly and Bill Mazeroski poked a solo shot in the second game.

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