Thursday, July 13, 2017

7/13: Zeroes; Gems, Hans on All-Century Team, Littlefield Era; HBD Jiggs, Jeep, Rich & Clint

  • 1879 - 1B/C John “Jiggs” Donahue was born in Springfield, Ohio. He started his nine-year career with Pittsburgh as a LH catcher from 1900-01, going 2-for-10 before being released and catching on with Milwaukee. Donahue had his best years from 1904 to 1908 after switching to first base for the Chicago White Sox. His glove work was a key to the Sox 1906 World Series championship team (aka the “Hitless Wonders”) as he led AL 1B in fielding %, assists, and putouts from 1905-07; he was by consensus as the best fielder at first of his era and among the best at the spot all-time. He wasn’t lost at the plate, either, batting .267 during that span. Per Mark Miller of SABR, here’s how his moniker came about: As a teen, John worked at a cigar store and when the store wasn’t busy he stepped outside and did dance steps. Customers started calling him Jiggers, after the sand flea known as a jigger (apparently because of the hopping around he did while dancing). The nickname was later shortened to Jiggs. Donahue died young at age 34, the victim of syphilis he had contracted while living in the fast lane during his Chicago years. 
Harry Staley 1889 Police Gazette
  • 1888 - Harry Staley and Pud Galvin of the Pittsburgh Alleghenys became the first pitchers to toss a doubleheader shutout by blanking the Boston Beaneaters 4-0 and 6-0 at Recreation Park in front of 3,000 fans. It was the fifth shutout in six games for the Alleghenys as Staley fired a three hitter and Galvin gave up just an eighth inning knock. The Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette wrote the “If the Hubbys (Boston) came up on a goose egg hunt, they were eminently successful.” The paper also reported a pair of occurrences not usually seen in today’s game. Before the matches, the Boston mascot (who doubled as batboy) was found outside the park by Pittsburgh’s Galvin and Mike Donlin, who tossed him over the fence into the field. In the closer “The only mishap was reported by umpire Daniels who says some gentleman, or something else, stole his mask, thus leaving him exposed to the cold charity of the pitchers.” 
  • 1913 - IF Lee “Jeep” Handley was born in Clarion, Iowa. He was signed to a $20,000 bonus contract by the Pirates and played eight years (1937-46, with 1942-43 off for war duty) for the team. A slick fielder, he mostly played third, but also some middle infield, and hit .269 for Pittsburgh. A tough guy, Jeep survived a serious beaning and a car accident during his career. As for his nickname, the Uniontown Morning Herald in 1938 noted that “Lee (Jeep) Handley came to the National League in 1936, the year of (Eugene the) Jeep's appearance in Thimble Theatre (the original name of the Popeye cartoon strip).” Coincidence? We think not. 
  • 1930 - Brooklyn’s Jumbo Elliot tossed a four-hitter against the Bucs, but Larry French scattered nine knocks to earn a 1-0 win over the Robins at Ebbets Field. Charlie Engel opened the seventh with a single, went to third on a hit-and-run and scored on Paul Waner’s bouncer to second for the game’s only run. Brooklyn stranded 12 runners and had two more thrown out on the bases. 
Rich Aude 1994 Bowman
  • 1971 - 1B/OF Rich Aude was born in Van Nuys, California. Aude began as a second round pick of the Pirates out of HS in 1989, signing for $80K. A big kid at 6’5”, Rich flashed some power in the minors, but during his stints with the Bucs (1993, 1995-96) he hit two homers in 151 AB, with a .225 BA. He hung around in the minors until 1999 and then became a scout for Tampa Day with Delmon Young among his discoveries. 
  • 1972 - RHP Clint Sodowsky was born in Ponca City, Oklahoma. He tossed for the Bucs in the middle of a five-year career, going 2-2, 3.63 in 45 appearances in 1997. It was his best big league season and after struggling at Arizona and St. Louis, he toiled in the minors and indie ball through 2006. 
  • 1983 - The Bucs raced ahead of the Giants 5-0, but frittered away the lead by the ninth to fall behind 6-5 at Candlestick Park. With two down and Greg Minton on the hill, Johnny Ray bombed a tying homer to right, then the baseball gods smiled. Mike Easler hit a drive the opposite way that would have hit off the wall, but as LF Jeffrey Leonard tried for a leaping catch, the ball ticked off his glove and cleared the fence to give The Hit Man a game-winning four bagger. Kent Tekulve pitched a clean ninth to save the game for Manny Sarmiento. It gave the Pirates a three game sweep of San Francisco on their way to a 9-1 West Coast swing. 
Lee Mazzilli 1985 Topps
  • 1984 - The Pirates swept the Giants in a TRS twi-lite (it started at 5:05) double-dipper by 8-2 and 4-3 scores. The first game featured four RBI from Lee Lacy and three hits from Lee Mazzilli as John Candelaria got the win with help from Kent Tekulve. For Candyman, it was his 12th consecutive July win. The second one, well, that W was little tougher to come by - it went 18 innings and five hours, 11 minutes before Jason Thompson’s knock chased Mazzilli home with the game winner. It was Thompson’s second RBI; Jim Morrison also had two RBI while Tony Pena collected three hits and scored twice. The two teams used nine pitchers; Teke gave up runs in the eighth and ninth to let the G-Men knot the score. The bullpens ruled; San Francisco’s pen tossed 10 shutout innings; the Bucco relief corp put up nine zippos, seven by Don Robinson. The game ended at 1:32 AM; the Zambelli fireworks promised were still shot off, much to the dismay of the good ‘Burgers who were try to catch some shuteye - and per The Pittsburgh Press, most of the 22,176 stayed to the end to catch the whole shebang. 
  • 1999 - Honus Wagner was named a member of the All-Century team selected by fan vote and introduced at the All-Star game. Wagner came in fourth in the vote, but was included as a legend. Local players included on the ballot of the Greatest 100 Players were area Negro League standouts Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell and Josh Gibson, along with Buccos Wagner, Hank Greenberg, Pie Traynor, Barry Bonds, Roberto Clemente, Ralph Kiner, Willie Stargell and Paul Waner. 
  • 2001 - Todd Ritchie lost a no hitter against the Royals when Luis Alicea bounced a one-out ninth-inning ground-ball single. In the bottom half of the frame, Aramis Ramirez singled through a drawn-in infield to score Brian Giles for a 1-0 win at PNC Park. It was the Bucs second consecutive shutout win. Jimmy Anderson and Mike Williams had combined for a 2-0 sparkler over KC the day before, with Kevin Young’s two-run homer being the difference maker. 
Todd Ritchie 2001 Upper Deck Vintage
  • 2001 - Dave Littlefield began his term as GM, replacing Cam Bonifay. Hampered by ongoing financial restraints, he was noted for a stretch of losing seasons and the erosion of both the farm system and the Latino player market, although he did have some successes. He drafted Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker and hired Rene Gayo to scout Latin America. Littlefield was fired in 2007 and eventually replaced by Neal Huntington.

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