Sunday, July 30, 2017

7/30 Happenings: HBD Bill, Perfesser, Chuck, Hal, Johhny, Bill, Clint & Josh; Umps, Axes, ASG, Bing

  • 1886 - Enjoying an off day between games against the Metropolitans in New York, Allegheny pitcher Gentleman Jim Galvin decided to take in the NY Giants-St. Louis match at the Polo Grounds, and ended up with the best seat in the house. Still steaming over some verbal blasts unleashed during the prior day’s game, ump John Gaffney demanded a pre-game apology from the Giants. With none forthcoming, he stormed of the grounds, and Pud was pulled from the stands to ump. He must have done OK; the Giants edged the Maroons 2-1 and he escaped in one piece. 
Pud Galvin (artwork Dick Perez)
  • 1870 - C/1B Bill Merritt was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. The reserve played for the Pirates from 1894-97, with a brief stop in Cincinnati (Pittsburgh was one of Bill’s six MLB outposts). He hit .280 with the Bucs. 
  • 1890 - OF Casey Stengel was born in Kansas City, Missouri. The old Perfesser spent 1918-19 as a Pirate, with a .280 BA, and performed his famous “bird in the hat” stunt as a Bucco. He’s much more associated with New York, of course, than Pittsburgh. Between playing and managing, the Hall-of-Famer is the only person to have worn the uniforms of all four of New York's major league clubs - the Dodgers, Giants, Yankees and Mets. 
  • 1891 - The Pirates got off to a 31–47 start following a disastrous 23–113 season, demoted captain/manager Ned Hanlon (who had left the team in 1890 for the Pittsburgh Burghers of the upstart Players' League before returning to the Alleghenys after that league folded) and hired Bill McGunnigle as skipper. McGunnigle managed the club to a modest 24–33 record over the remainder of the year. He was replaced by Tom Burns, who didn’t make it through the 1892 season before losing his job to Al Buckenberger. 
Al Buckenberger Ars Longa
  • 1894 - IF Chuck Ward was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He started his six-year MLB career with the Pirates, playing 125 games and hitting 236 in 1917. The next five campaigns were spent with the Brooklyn Robins, where he became a deep bench player, batting 100 times in just one season. 
  • 1905 - C Hal Finney was born in Lafayette, Alabama. He was a reserve that played for the Bucs from 1931-34 & 1936. He spent his MLB career in Pittsburgh, finishing with a .203 BA. Finney came by that BA honestly - he held the record for non-pitchers for most at bats in a season without a hit from 1936, when he went 0-for-35, until 2011. His OBP was .000 as well, a futility mark that stood until 2008. 
  • 1912 - OF Johnny Rizzo was born in Houston. He burst on the scene in 1938, hitting .301 with 23 HR and 111 RBI as a rookie; his HR mark for a first year Pirate stood until Jason Bay bettered it in 2006. Rizzo drove in nine runs against the Cardinals in 1939, and that’s still the team’s single-game record. He cooled off after that red hot start, and early in 1940 was traded for Vince DiMaggio after putting up a line of .283 with 29 HR and 168 RBI while in Pittsburgh. Johnny joined the Navy in 1943 and played minor league ball upon his discharge, then worked in the sporting goods business. 
Bill Hall 1959 Topps
  • 1928 - C Bill Hall was born in Moultrie, Georgia. Hall signed as an amateur free agent with the Pirates in 1947 season. He got cups of coffee in 1954 and ‘56, then a longer look in 1958. In the three campaigns, he hit .262 in 57 games. Bill retired to his Georgia farm after the 1960 season. 
  • 1956 - Sports Illustrated wrote that “Bing Crosby, one of the 11-man syndicate that made the winning $5,500,000 bid for the Detroit Tigers, is also 16% owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. When baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled that Crosby could own an interest in only one club at a time, the Groaner said he would keep the Pirates.” 
  • 1957 - Clint Hurdle was born in Big Rapids, Michigan. After a 10 year stint as a player and then managing the Colorado Rockies from 2002–2009 with a World Series appearance, Hurdle took over the Pirate reins in 2011, replacing John Russell. He broke the Pirate 20-year losing season streak in 2013 when he guided the club to 94 wins and the playoffs. 
Clint Hurdle (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • 1962 - In the second All-Star game of the year, this one played at Wrigley Field, the AL bashed the NL 9-4. Dick Groat went 2-for-3 and was HBP while driving home two runs. Roberto Clemente went 0-for-2 and Bill Mazeroski 0-for-1. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy tossed out the first pitch.
  • 1978 - IF Josh Bonifay was born in Macon, Georgia. The son of Bucco GM Cam Bonifay, the Pirates drafted Josh in 1999. He had a long and successful minor league career, mainly at Altoona. He hung up the spikes after the 2007 season and became a coach in the Pirates system. In 2011, he moved to the Houston organization and now is with Texas.

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