Tuesday, June 20, 2017

6/20 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Short Cut; Hans the Thief; Triple-Chief; Max Cycle; HBP Cum, John, Bill, Scooter & Gary

  • 1890 - Cumberland Willis “Cum” Posey was born in Homestead. He was an outfielder, manager and eventual owner of the Negro League powerhouse Homestead Grays from 1911-1946. At one time or another had 11 of the 18 current Negro leagues Hall of Famers playing for him. He also wrote a regular sports column for The Pittsburgh Courier.
  • 1894 - Per Baseball Chronology: “Denny Lyons scores the winning run in the ninth inning to lead Pittsburgh to 7-6 win over Washington. Lyons gets into scoring position by running from 1B to 3B - across the pitcher’s mound – on a fielder’s choice. The umpire did not see Lyon’s transgression, a common one in the 1890s.” The Pittsburg Press in its game story didn’t include Lyons shortcut but did castigate the ump for missing a call at third. In a separate notes column, the paper mentioned that “Dennis Lyons was accused of cutting second base in running to third on (Jack) Glassock’s sacrifice but he could have scored from second, however, on (Lou) Bierbauer’s hit.” Despite the skulduggery, it was a nice win for Pittsburgh which overcame a 6-1 deficit to rally for the decision at Exposition Park. It took a few more sleight-of-hand tricks by the players for it to come about, but in 1898 the league went to a two umpire system partly because of “transgressions” like these.
Denny Lyons (photo NY Public Library)
  • 1901 - In a 7-0 win against the Giants at the Polo Grounds, Honus Wagner became the first player in the 20th century to steal home twice in one game. Jack Chesbro tossed the shutout.
  • 1902 - IF John Beckwith was born in Louisville. Considered one of the great sluggers of black baseball (his nickname was “The Black Bomber”), John played with the Homestead Grays in 1924, again from 1928-29 and for a last stint with them in 1935 toward the end of his 23-year career. He rarely stuck around for long periods with one club; he was a jack of all trades but master of none as an infielder and had a sometimes disruptive clubhouse attitude.
  • 1912 - In a doubleheader at Cincinnati’s Redland Field, Owen “Chief” Wilson hit two triples in the opener, including a big blow the 10th to key a 6-4 win, then bopped another in the nitecap, a 5-3 loss. It was his fifth straight game with a three-bagger. Wilson swatted 36 triples that season, a major league record, although he never hit more than 14 in any other year of his career. Chief was a pretty big guy for the era and not much of a speedster, but he was a slugger; many of his triples weren’t gappers but balls drilled over the outfielder’s heads in an age of deep pastures. Forbes Field was chief among the spacious yards and the Pirates joined with Chief to set the MLB team triples record with 129 that year.
Chief Wilson 1911 Turkey Red
  • 1919 - RHP Bill Clemensen was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He pitched for the Pirates in 1939, 1941 and 1946, going 1-1, 5.57 in 15 appearances. He was a guy whose potential career was cut short by WW2. Bill’s best season was 1941 (1-1, 2.77 in 13 IP) and he looked like he would break camp with the Pirates for the ‘42 campaign, but Uncle Sam had different plans and he ended up spending four years in the Army Air Corps. Even though he played Army ball, he couldn’t overcome the layoff after his military stint. Clemensen made one more MLB outing and spent the rest of 1946-47 in the minors before leaving the game.
  • 1925 - Max Carey became the first switch hitter to hit for the cycle during the Pirates 21-5 victory over the Brooklyn Robins at Forbes Field. Carey went 4-for-6 with four RBI and two runs, and shared the spotlight with a pair of teammates. Glenn Wright, who was a single shy of the cycle, drove in five runs and scored three times. Kiki Cuyler carried the biggest stick of the day, hitting two homers, one a grand slam, and a triple with six RBI and five runs scored. Babe Adams went the distance for the win. And the Buc bats weren’t done - they lit up the scoreboard for 24 more runs in the next game against St Louis.
  • 1925 - IF Clem “Scooter” Koshorek was born in Royal Oak, Michigan. Clem played pretty regularly in 1952, batting .261, but in 1953 got into one game for the sum of his MLB career after losing a competition for the SS spot to Dick Groat. Clem was 5’4”; hence his nickname.
Clem Koshorek 1953 Bowman
  • 1934 - Newly named player/manager Pie Traynor, replacing George Gibson, gave his charges a short pep talk (“Hustle”) and then let his stick provide the leadership. Pie banged out three doubles & a single, then scored the winning run in the ninth inning in a 6-5 win over the Boston Braves at Forbes Field, ending a five-game skid. Arky Vaughan went 4-for-4 to help Traynor in the transition. Leon Chagnon, in relief of Red Lucas, was the winner.
  • 1948 - Ralph Kiner homered twice in a 7-5 win over the Phillies at Shibe Park. It capped a remarkable streak of Sunday homers; he went eight consecutive Sundays with long balls during May and June, finishing the year with 17 round trippers in 38 Sunday games.
  • 1961 - OF Gary Varsho was born in Marshfield, Wisconsin. He played three years for the Bucs, in 1991-92 and 1994 with a .251 BA as a pinch-hitter and extra outfielder, appearing in the 1991 and the 1992 NLCS. He was the Pirates bench coach during manager John Russell’s regime, serving from late 2007 until August, 2010 and returned to the club in 2016 as a scout.

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