Sunday, June 18, 2017

6/18: HBD Ben, Chippy & Ron; One-Punch Earl; Conn KO's Game; One-Swing Don & Game Stories

  • 1893 - 1B/C Ben Shaw was born in La Center, Kentucky. Ben’s MLB career was a short sip of sarsaparilla, lasting for four months and 23 games with the Pirates from 1917-18 while batting .184. Not much is known of him after that other than he managed some in the late 20s-early 30’s in the low levels of the farm.
  • 1890 - RHP George “Chippy” Britt was born in Macon, Georgia. He pitched for the Homestead Grays from 1926-33 and again in 1940 earning one all-star appearance; the stats on his career are wildly incomplete. He played with 16 teams from 1917 to 1945 and manned every position on days that he wasn’t on the hill. His nickname was well-deserved. Per Baseball Reference “He was known as one of black baseball's ‘four big bad men’ along with Jud Wilson, Oscar Charleston and Vic Harris, and someone once said ‘he could whip the whole ballclub.’ In Mexico City, he once was declared ‘Public Enemy Number One’ when he challenged some armed revolutionaries in the crowd.” When Chippy retired, he took a job as a nightclub doorman.
Chippy Britt (photo via Find A Grave)
  • 1927 - Continuing a feud that dated back to Pirate C Earl Smith's days with the Braves‚ Smith dropped Boston manager Dave Bancroft with a right to the kisser after they jawed in the seventh inning. Bancroft was carried off the field, and Smith drew a $500 fine and 30-day suspension. The Pirates won 7-4 at Forbes Field. Smith went 1-for-2 before being ejected, with Ray Kremer taking home the victory with Johnny Gooch as his replacement battery mate.
  • 1932 - Minor league legend RHP Ron Necciai was born in Gallatin, Fayette County. In 1952, Necciai struck out 27 batters while throwing a 7-0 no-hitter for the Bristol Twins and followed that with a two hit, 24-K performance. The Bucs called him up later from Class A, but the 20 year old Necciai posted just a 1-6 record with 31 strikeouts and a 7.08 ERA in 54-2/3 IP from August 10th to September 28th, 1952, the span of his entire MLB career. He went into the service in 1953, and chronic ulcers and a torn rotator cuff ended his career before it could begin.
  • 1941 - Local boxer Billy Conn fought Joe Louis at New York City's Polo Grounds in a legendary slugfest for the heavyweight championship. The Pirates and the New York Giants, playing at Forbes Field, were called into their dugouts while the 24,738 fans in attendance listened to the radio broadcast of the 56 minute bout. The game went 11 innings and was called with the score tied 2-2 at 1:10 AM.
Wally Westlake 1947 W461 Exhibits
  • 1948 - The Pirates spoiled Robin Roberts five-hit debut‚ beating the Phils' rookie 2-0 at Shibe Park behind Elmer Riddle’s five hitter. Wally Westlake homered and Frankie Gustine singled home Ed Fitz Gerald for the Bucco runs. But Roberts was in the show to stay. He lasted 19 years, won 286 games and entered the Hall of Fame.
  • 1960 - The Bucs were down 3-0 in the ninth at LA Memorial Coliseum with two outs and Gino Cimoli up with one swing left, behind in the count 1-2. That ignited a fast and furious comeback against the Dodgers when Cimoli eked out an infield hit to short and Hal Smith homered. Don Hoak singled, Maz walked and Smoky Burgess tied the game with another knock. Smith was the hero again in the 10th, banging a ground ball single to left off Larry Sherry that brought home Roberto Clemente and gave the Bucs an in-and-out of the jaws of death 4-3 win. ElRoy Face picked up the victory.
  • 1961 - C Don Leppert made his MLB debut a memorable one with a HR in his first at bat off Curt Simmons in a 5-3 win over Cards at Forbes Field in the opener of a DH. The Bucs dropped the nightcap by a 7-3 count.
Don Leppert 1962 Topps
  • 1966 - Roberto Clemente was a cover story (“Some Swinger”) for The Sporting News. The blurb was a little misleading. The actual article was written by local TSN correspondent/Pittsburgh Press beat writer Les Biederman and titled "Clemente Uses Bat to Send ‘All Well’ Message to Family." No need for them to worry - Clemente won the league's MVP Award that season, hitting .317 with 29 home runs and 119 RBIs.
  • 1971 - The Pirates stormed back in the late innings to force the Montreal game into extra time and eventually took a 9-8 Friday night victory at TRS. The Pirates scored twice in the eighth on Al Oliver’s two-out single and four more times in the ninth when Bill Mazeroski singled home a run followed by back-to-back homers from Dave Cash and Richie Hebner off Mike Marshall. Cash had the walk-off winner when he singled home Gene Clines, who had led off the 11th frame with a triple off Claude Raymond, making Dave Giusti a winner.
  • 2005 - The Pirates whipped the Red Sox at Fenway Park by a 2-0 count, scoring single runs in the eighth and ninth on Humberto Cota and Ryan Doumit knocks. Three Bucco pitchers - Dave Williams, Rick White and Jose Mesa - combined on a six hitter to stop Boston.
Humberto Cota 2005 Topps Total
  • 2010 - The sad sack Pirates lost their 12th straight game by a 4-3 count to the almost equally inept Cleveland Indians at PNC Park. All the scoring was in the seventh inning, with the Bucs scoring on a bases loaded double by Ryan Church and the Tribe answering. The Pirates came back to take the next two games from the Indians, followed by a six-game losing streak.
  • 2013 - After a defeat at Cincy during which Andrew McCutchen was HBP and Neil Walker was knocked down, Charlie Morton plunked the first Red to step to plate and then led the Bucs to a 4-0 win at GABP. Morton and three relievers combined on a four hitter. The Bucs never looked back, scoring three times in the first, keyed by a two run, bases loaded knock by Pedro Alvarez.
  • 2015 - Behind the pitching of Gerrit Cole, Arquimedes Caminero and Mark Melancon, the Bucs upended the Chicago White Sox 3-2 at US Cellular park. The Pirates scored three times in the first off an Andrew McCutchen RBI single and two-run homer by Jung-Ho Kang to win their eighth in row and their third straight series sweep. The victory was Cole’s MLB-leading 11th. It was also the sixth straight win by the Bucs when scoring three or fewer runs. Finally, it was a red letter day for C Francisco Cervelli. He caught his 56th consecutive scoreless inning, matching Ed Phelps' behind-the-plate shutout streak of 1903.
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