Sunday, June 25, 2017

6/25 Birthdays: HBD Bill, Ralph, John, Alejando, A-Ram, Paul & Bobby

  • 1895 - 2B Bill Webb was born in Chicago. His show time consisted of five big league games for the 1917 Pirates, but Webb became a baseball lifer. He managed in the minors and then coached third base for the White Sox for five years before becoming their farm director, a position he held until he had a fatal heart attack at the tender age of 43. His late season Bucco try out had its up-and-downs. Webb was 0-fer in his first four games, but in his last go, he went 3-for-4 with a run scored as the Bucs beat Boston, 2–0, at Forbes Field.
  • 1902 - LHP Ralph Lief Erikson was born in DuBois, Idaho. He went to Idaho State and toiled in the Class C Idaho-Utah League before the Bucs brought him to Pittsburgh in September, 1929. He lasted until mid-summer of 1930, getting into eight games with a 1-0/8.40 slash. Ralph was a workhorse starter on the farm after that trial and pitched through the 1934 season. He then went to Arizona and worked in the mining industry, which apparently agreed with him - he was MLB's oldest living player until he passed away in 2002 at the ripe old age of 100.
Ralph Erikson 1930
(photo Barbara Bow via David Cicotello & Angelo J. Louisa's "Forbes Field") 
  • 1943 - RHP John Gelnar was born in Granite, Oklahoma. The Bucs signed Gelnar out of Oklahoma in 1963; a year later he got a cup of coffee with the Pirates, working nine innings and giving up five runs. He got into 10 games in 1967, going 0-1, 8.05. In 1969-70, after a couple of trades, John pitched fairly well for the Seattle Pilots and then the Milwaukee Brewers. He got off to a rough start with the Brew Crew in ‘71, was sent down to AAA and then retired at the end of the 1972 campaign. He did get some recognition from Jim Bouton in “Ball Four” when Bouton wrote Gelnar used to bring binoculars to the bullpen when the pair were with Seattle so they could watch girls.
  • 1959 - RHP Alejandro Pena was born in Cambiaso, Dominican Republic. After helping whip the Pirates in the playoffs as a Brave in 1991, the Pirates signed him as a free agent after the 1992 season for $1.35M. He promptly sat out the year with elbow surgery and came back in 1994, going 3-2-7/5.02 and was released in June. The 15-year vet had a twisty road to join the Pirates - he was supposed, along with Kevin Mitchell and a PTBNL, to be part of a 1992 pre-season deal for Barry Bonds with Atlanta. The swap was agreed to in principle by GM Ted Simmons but nixed by Jimmy Leyland, who went over Simmons’ head to plead his case with team President Carl Barger. So the club, which apparently thought highly of Pena, later signed him as a free agent even tho he sat out the 1992 Bravo post-season with tendonitis.
  • 1978 - Aramis Ramirez was born in Santo Domingo. Signed as a 16 year old, he played five plus seasons (1998-03) in Pittsburgh with a .286/76/316 line before being sent to the Cubs in a salary dump that is still cited today as the epitome of the Dave Littlefield years. To close the circle, he finished his career in Pittsburgh in 2015, slashing .245/6/33 as a deadline pickup. The 18-year vet was a three-time All-Star who swatted 386 HR.
Paul Maholm 2009 Upper Deck
  • 1982 - LHP Paul Maholm was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. The 2008 first rounder spent seven seasons (2005-11) with the Pirates, going 53-73/4.35 during the span and starting 227 games for Pittsburgh before being non-tendered in 2012. He worked three more seasons for the Cubs, Braves and Dodgers.
  • 1986 - LHP Bobby LaFromboise was born in Downey, CA. A depth reliever and LOOGY for the Bucs in 2014-15, he appeared in 17 games, posting a 1.54 ERA. He’s now in the Texas system.

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