Friday, June 30, 2017

6/30: Birthdays & Happenings: HBD Kangaroo, Jovo, Hal, Tincan, Don, Delwyn & Drew; Trades & More

  • 1880 - OF Davy Jones was born in Manikota, Minnesota. After a 13-year career in the show, the 34-year-old Jones spent his last two campaigns (1914-15) with the Pittsburgh Rebels, where he hit .279 before an ankle injury led to his release. Jones had spent most of his MLB time fighting for a third outfield spot in Detroit between Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford, and saw considerable time as the leadoff hitter, scoring at a good pace with those two Hall-of-Fame bats behind him. He even homered in the 1909 Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That he ended up with the Rebels was no surprise. Per SABR, “During his first years in the pros he jumped so many contracts that the press nicknamed him ‘The Kangaroo.’"
Johnny Miljus 1927 (photo from Harwell Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1895 - RHP Johnny Miljus was born in Lawrenceville and went to Pitt, where he was a football and baseball star. Known as “Jovo” (short for Jovan, or John in Serbian) and “The Big Serb” (a nickname bestowed on him by Babe Ruth, per baseball lore), he got his start with an inning for the Pittsburgh Rebels of the Federal League in 1915, and later worked for the Bucs from 1927-28 (he fought in WW1 and was wounded in action, delaying his career), going 13-10-1 with a 3.53 ERA. He was multi-role hurler, and did everything from start to close. He’s best remembered for his wild pitch that allowed the Yankees to sweep the 1927 Series. Jovo struck out Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel in the ninth of that game and got two strikes on Tony Lazzeri. But he muscled up on the next pitch (some say it was a spitter, tho Johnny never 'fessed up) and it got past C Johnny Gooch, allowing Earle Combs to score the winning run. Johnny was thought to be the first Serbian to play MLB.
  • 1902 - RHP Hal Smith was born in Creston, Iowa. Smith broke into the big leagues as a 30 year old, and spent his four year career (1932-35) as a Buc. In that span, he went 12-11-1 with a 3.77 ERA with his time split between starting and the bullpen.
  • 1909 - LHP Harry “Tincan” Kincannon was born in parts unknown. He pitched for the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1930-36, being one of just three players to transition from the original independent club to the Negro National League. The curve-ball specialist made one All-Star appearance for the Crawfords before he was traded to the NY Black Yankees.
Jimmy Callahan (image from Baseball History Daily)
  • 1917 - Pirates skipper Jimmy Callahan was fired after the club staggered to a 20-40 start, and Honus Wagner took over as player-manager. The Wagner-led Bucs won 5-4 win over the Reds‚ with the Dutchman banging a two-run double. Wilbur Cooper went the distance for the win at Forbes Field. Wagner resigned after a five-game stint at the helm; he much preferred playing to filling out lineup cards, and business manager Hugo Bezdek took the reins.
  • 1931 - LHP Don Gross was born in Weidman, Michigan. Gross pitched from the pen for the Bucs from 1958-60, going 6-8 with a 3.82 ERA. The Pirates made one of their “what was I thinking” deals when they got him from the Reds; they sent RHP Bob Purkey to Cincinnati, who won in double figures for eight seasons and made three All-Star teams.
  • 1934 - A small stone monument dedicated to Barney Dreyfuss was unveiled outside Forbes Field’s RF gates, leading to Schenley Park on the 25th anniversary of the ballyard. The monument was later displayed in TRS and it’s now located at PNC Park, on the concourse behind home plate. The ceremony didn’t help the Bucs, who were 4-2 losers to the Cubs.
Delwyn Young 2010 Upper Deck
  • 1982 - UT Delwyn Young Jr. was born in Los Angeles. A touted minor-league prospect, Delwyn was an AAA All-Star and played for Team USA, but the Dodgers outfield was loaded and he Young was sent to Pittsburgh for Eric Krebs & Harvey Garcia. He was the starting 2B for a spell, replacing the traded Freddy Sanchez. Delwyn began on fire but faded during the dog days, relegating him to a utility role in 2010. His bat slipped - he hit .238 following a .266 season - and left at the end of the year as a free agent. He had a couple of bites, but never caught on in the majors again.
  • 1982 - The Atlanta Braves traded LHP Larry McWilliams to the Pirates for RHP Pascual Perez and minor leaguer Carlos Rios. Both pitchers were solid starters for a spell (each won 33 games during his next three years) in an even up deal.
  • 1983 - UT Drew Sutton was born in El Dorado, Arkansas. Drew had a dizzy but brief Bucco stay. The Pirates purchased Sutton from the Braves on May 20th, 2012. Then Tampa Bay purchased Drew from the Bucs on the next day; the Pirates had let him go as a professional courtesy because the Rays were going to add him to their MLB roster. 18 games and a month later, Sutton was DFA’ed by Tampa and claimed by Pittsburgh. He became the stuff of local folklore when on July 3rd, 2012, Drew hit his first career walk-off home run into PNC’s batter’s eye off the Astro’s Wesley Wright to give the Pirates a come-from-ahead win after a blown save by Joel Hanrahan. The victory gave the Pirates a share of first place.
Drew Sutton (photo Jason Alter/Getty)
  • 2009 - The Bucs traded LF Nyjer Morgan and LHP Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals for RHP Joel Hanrahan and OF Lastings Milledge in a change-of-scenery swap. Hanrahan would become the major piece, eventually taking over as the Pirate closer. They also completed a more minor deal the same day, shipping utilityman Eric Hinske to the Yankees for minor leaguers Eric Fryer and Casey Erickson.

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