Friday, June 2, 2017

6/2 Birthdays & Draft Picks: HBD Peach Pie, Stick & Darnell; Welcome Mark(s), Clint, Bobby & Paul

  • 1866 - C John “Peach Pie”/“Rowdy Jack” O’Connor was born in St. Louis. He served as a rotating backstop for the Bucs from 1900-02, hitting .239 as a Bucco. He skipped to the AL’s NY Highlanders after the ‘02 season. He may be best known as the St. Louis Brown manager in 1910 who tried to steer the batting title to Nap Lajoie through a couple of different underhanded ploys, and was blackballed from MLB for his efforts. According to Charles Faber’s “Baseball Prodigies,” Jack became Peach Pie because as a teen, he played for a local semi-pro club called the Peach Pies. The “Rowdy” nickname was thanks to his aggressive, spikes-up style of play.
Gene Michael 1966 East Hills SC Promo
  • 1938 - IF Gene Michael was born in Kent, Ohio. Signed by the Bucs as an amateur, ”Stick” (he was 6’2” and on the underfed side) played his 1966 rookie campaign in Pittsburgh, hitting a measly .152 in 30 games. The Pirates sent him to the Dodgers as part of the Maury Wills deal after the season and the following year LA sold him to the Yankees, where he spent seven of his 10 MLB seasons, five as NY’s starting shortstop. After his playing days, he coached, managed and was an exec for the Bronx Bombers except for a two-year interlude (1986-87) when he was the Cubs skipper.
  • 1962 - OF Darnell Coles was born in San Bernardino, California. He arrived in Pittsburgh in August, 1987, as part of the Jim Morrison deal with the Tigers and left in late July of the following season, traded to the Seattle Mariners for Glenn Wilson. Darnell played outfield and some corner infield for the Bucs and hit .230 during his stay, with a highlight three-homer day against the Cubs in 1987. He carved out a 14-year MLB career with eight different clubs. Coles played in Japan for a couple of seasons and since has been the hitting coach for the Tigers and Brewers.
  • 1987 - HS outfielder Mark Merchant was the Bucs top pick and second overall in the draft. The Pirates signed him for $165,000, he but never played an inning in the majors after a ten year minor league career. Pittsburgh’s seventh round pick, Kittanning SS Mickey Morandini, spent 11 years in MLB, mostly with Philadelphia where he was an All-Star in 1995, and OF Wes Chamberlain and SS Brian Williams also spent a few years in the majors. The Pirates actually had a worse record than the Mariners did in 1986, but the AL and NL alternated years with the top pick during this era, and so the Pirates lost their chance to land Donora-born Ken Griffey Jr. to Seattle.
Jimmy Anderson 1997 Bowman
  • 1994 - High school QB & SS Mark Farris was the Pirates first selection (#11; $820K signing bonus); he left the Bucs after hitting .273 in AA to attend Texas A&M as a football player in 1999. It was a sparse draft for the Pirates; only LHP Jimmy Anderson and last round pick UT Brandon Larsen played in the majors.
  • 1998 - The Pirates picked LHP Clint Johnston of Vanderbilt first (#15; $1M signing bonus); he ended his career pitching indie ball, never advancing past AA. Johnston was an OF’er/closer the Bucs wanted to convert to full time pitching, noting that he threw 90-94 and that “big strong left handers were hard to find” per scouting director Leland Maddux. In fact, none of the Bucs’ first 14 picks never played a MLB game. Later pitching picks Joe Beimel, Jeff Bennett, Dave Williams and Jon Switzer were the highlights of that draft day.
  • 1999 - The Bucs selected RHP Bobby Bradley as their first pick (#8; $2.3M signing bonus) in the draft; he topped out with a cup of coffee in AAA after undergoing three surgeries. They had more success in the second round, choosing C Ryan Doumit. They also chose LHP Brian Tallet in the middle rounds; he didn’t pitch for the Bucs but did end up with nine seasons in the show. Multi-sport all-star JR House was signed in the fifth round. Pittsburgh even went over slot then; they signed 39th round pick Patrick O'Brien, a big high school RHP, for $500‚000, but he never made it past AA.
Paul Maholm 2004 Bowman Special Edition
  • 2003 - Lefties Paul Maholm (#8; $2.2M signing bonus) and Tom Gorzelanny (#45; $750,000 signing bonus) were the first two Pirate picks of the 2003 draft. Later selections Matt Downs, Jeremy Horst and Josh Sharpless also saw time as major league pitchers.

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