Saturday, July 22, 2017

7/22 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: HBD Mooney, Pretzel, Larry, RC & Denny; Stargell Cycle; O'Toole Buy; Game Stories

  • 1880 - C George “Mooney” Gibson was born in London, Canada. He played a dozen years for the Bucs (1905-16) as a defense-first catcher, batting .238 but tossing out 949 runners. He had a 46% throw-out rate back in the days when baseball was a go-go league - 1,101 runners actually did steal off him against the Pirates. He was durable, too, once catching 140 straight games. Mooney finished his career as a NY Giant and later returned to Pittsburgh as a manager, first in 1920-22, then from 1932-34, finishing second three times with a record of 401-330. Gibson was the first baseball player elected to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. Per Wiki, his nickname may have been inspired by his round, moon-shaped face, though other sources claim he picked it up because he had played on a sandlot team known as the Mooneys. 
Elmer Knetzer 1914 Cracker Jack
  • 1885 - LHP Elmer Knetzer was born in Carrick. He tossed for the Pittsburgh Rebels of the Federal League from 1914-15 with a 38-26/2.73 slash, with six years in the NL sandwiched on either end of that stint. Knetzer was the first active player to jump from the NL to the FL after Brooklyn lowballed him during contract time. He went by “Pretzel” and “The Baron” - Pretzel because of the way his curveball twisted, while Baron goes unexplained. He stayed a hometown boy, and when he died in 1975, he was buried in St Wendelin Cemetery in Carrick. 
  • 1885 - OF Sheldon “Larry” LeJeune was born in Chicago. He played for parts of two seasons in the show, his last being in 1915 for the Pirates, hitting .161 and committing five errors in 61 chances. Still, he came to Pittsburgh with a pretty good resume - he had led the Central League in batting from 1912-1915 and in homers in 1910 and 1912. Larry did make the record books, tho - in 1910, he hurled a baseball 426’ 9”, a record that stood until minor-leaguer Don Grates broke it (434’) in 1952. 
  • 1899 - The Pirates rolled over the Philadelphia Quakers by an 18-4 count at Exposition Park. OF Ginger Beaumont went 6-for-6 at leadoff and scored six times without hitting a ball out of the infield. Rookie second baseman Jimmy Williams drove in three runs with a pair of triples.
Ginger Beaumont 1906 Fan Craze
  • 1910 - Deacon Phillippe hit a second-inning inside-the-park grand slam off Brooklyn’s Fred Miller as part of a 14-1 win at Washington Park as the Pirates swept the Superbas in a four game set. Mel Stottlemyre was the next MLB pitcher to hit an inside the park grannie - in 1965! Phillippe was the first Bucs hurler to empty jammed bases; there are only five in franchise history with grand slams. 
  • 1911 - The Pirates paid St. Paul of the American Association $22‚500 for RHP Marty O'Toole‚ the most expensive purchase of a player to that date. Barney Dreyfuss spent another $5‚000 for his battery mate Bill Kelly. In 1912‚ O'Toole went 15-17 and lead the NL with 159 walks and was out of Pittsburgh by 1914, winning a total of 26 games while walking 300 batters in 599-1/3 IP. Kelly was a reserve catcher, hitting .290 for Pittsburgh and out of MLB after 1913. 
  • 1934 - 1B RC Stevens was born in Moultrie, Georgia. The 6’5” slugger was signed out of Moultrie HS, but his one-trick stick wasn’t enough to earn him a starting spot in the show. As a back up, he hit decently, with a .260 BA and eight homers in 108 PA in 71 games from 1958-60, but he couldn’t outpace Ted Kluszewski, Dick Stuart and Rocky Nelson in the first base race. 
Lee Handley 1940 Play Ball
  • 1939 - Boston committed seven errors in a 9-3 loss to the Bucs at Braves Field, allowing five unearned runs to cross the plate. One frustrated Bee’s fan jumped out of the stands and took a swing at Braves’ catcher Al Lopez after he dropped a popup. But it wasn’t entirely bad glovework. The Bucs also banged out 13 hits, led by Lee Handley’s 3-for-4 effort. Chuck Klein ran his hitting streak to 21 games with a 2-for-5 performance before the Bees stopped him the next day. 
  • 1939 - Girls baseball never caught on in Pittsburgh, but softball was red hot here. The Duquesne Gardens hosted a pair of games touted as “Girls Indoor Baseball” (never mind that it was softball) on back-to-back days with the championship New York City Roverettes going against the Pittsburgh All-Stars. Pittsburgh won the opener 2-1 behind SS Ann Giaciach, who had four hits, but was thumped in the rematch 10-1. 
  • 1963 - Utilityman Denny Gonzalez was born in Sabana Grande de Boya, Dominican Republic. He played parts of four seasons as a Buc (1984-88) but never spent a full campaign on the active roster, hitting .206. After his playing days, Gonzalez scouted for the Chicago White Sox and runs the Sox' Dominican Academy. He also has taken the Dominican National team reins in international play. 
Denny Gonzalez 1985 Donruss
  • 1964 - Pittsburgh scored four runs in the first and never looked back as they whipped the St. Louis Cardinals 13-2 at Busch Stadium. Bill Mazeroski knocked in five runs with a double and homer while Willie Stargell hit for the cycle with four runs scored and three more driven in. Jerry Lynch also went yard and added three ribbies as Bob Veale cruised to victory.

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