Monday, July 31, 2017

7/31 Happenings: HBD Joe, Peanuts, Elmer, Vic, Frank & Mike; ASG, HoF, Bad Behavior & More...

  • 1870 - C/1B Joe Sugden was born in Philadelphia. Sugden spent the first five seasons (1893-97) of his 13 year big league career with Pittsburgh, hitting .277. Joe went on to become a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals. 
  • 1892 - LHP Erv ”Peanuts” Kantlehner was born in San Jose. Working mostly as a starter for the Bucs from 1914-16, he went 13-29 with a 2.85 ERA. Erv later coached high school baseball. He was said to have gotten his nickname in the minors for reasons unknown - it was certainly not his size, as he was a six-footer.
Frank Killen (photo via Baseball Revisited)
  • 1896 - Per Gregory Wolf of SABR: “In a game against Cincinnati at League Park, (Pirates pitcher) Lefty Killen charged home plate to argue with umpire Bud Lilly, who had changed his call on a fly down the left-field line from foul to hit. According to the Pittsburgh Daily Post, Lilly ‘let go at’ Killen, apparently under the impression that the pitcher would strike him. Killen retaliated by landing ‘a couple of blows on (Lally’s) face’ before a riot erupted with players, spectators, and police rushing onto the field. When order was finally restored, Killen was under arrest and escorted to the local police station. Killen was ultimately fined $25 while team owner William Kerr publicly condemned the umpire for provoking the incident.” Pittsburgh won in spite of the rhubarb, 9-7, over the Cincinnati Reds at League Park. The incident wasn’t out of character for the short-fused Killen. Wolf noted “The ‘grave objection to Killen is his temper,’ opined Sporting Life. ’He is as obstinate as a mule.’” 
  • 1914 - RHP Elmer Riddle was born in Columbus, Georgia. The 10-year veteran tossed his last two campaigns (1948-49) in Pittsburgh, winning an All-Star berth the first season while posting a 12-10, 3.49 line. He faded badly in ‘49, winning just one game in his final year while hobbled by a bum wheel. He toiled briefly as a scout for Kansas City afterward and then worked for United Oil in his hometown of Columbus. 
  • 1936 - OF Vic Davalillo was born in Churuguara, Venezuela. He played for the Bucs from 1971-73, hitting .290 while a platoon player in the outfield and first. Vic played on two Pirate playoff clubs and when he was traded to Oakland in 1973, he joined a third. Davalillo was a motherland hero; he played 30 seasons in the Venezuelan Winter League and still holds a handful of career records, including a .325 BA. In 2003, Vic was selected in the inaugural class of the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame.
Vic Davalillo 1972 Topps
  • 1944 - RHP Frank Brosseau was born in Drayton, North Dakota. A first-round pick of the Bucs in the 1966 secondary draft, he was inked from the U of Minnesota as an OF’er. When his bat proved weak, he was converted to the mound. That got him a shot in the show with the Pirates, albeit for three games in 1969 and 1971, working 3-2/3 IP and giving up two runs. He finished his pro career in 1971 at AAA Charleston. 
  • 1957 - Manager Bobby Bragan was ejected for arguing a call (actually, he held his nose) during a 4-2 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. After being tossed, he went slightly bonkers. Bobby got an orange drink from the stands; the umps told him to take it into the clubhouse, and he offered them all a sip and ordered hot dogs for the boys in blue, but they weren’t placated. After their report to the league, Bragan was fined $100 and threatened with suspension if he didn’t clean up his act. After the game, Bragan was quoted by the Pittsburgh Press’ Les Biederman as saying “My only regret is that the hot dog didn’t arrive in time.” Bragan was fired three days later and replaced by Danny Murtaugh on a temporary basis. The fill-in Murtaugh managed until 1964 and was brought back as skipper three more times after that. 
  • 1959 - RHP Mike Bielecki was born in Baltimore. His first four years (1984-’87) were spent in Pittsburgh, where he went 10-17 with a 4.57 ERA. He was the Pirates first round pick in the 1979 draft (secondary phase) and went on to have a workmanlike 14-year MLB career. 
Mike Bielecki 1988 Score
  • 1961 - C Smoky Burgess, OF Roberto Clemente, P ElRoy Face and 1B Dick Stuart repped the Bucs in the second All-Star game of the year at Fenway Park, a 1-1 tie called after nine innings because of rain. The next tie wouldn’t be until 2002 when the game was controversially called after the sides ran out of pitchers. Clemente went 0-for-2, Burgess & Stu 0-for-1, and the Baron of the Bullpen was uncalled upon by manager Danny Murtaugh. 
  • 1976 - Al Oliver was featured as the cover story of The Sporting News in an article titled “Batting Demon.” It was his third AS year, and he finished the season with a.323 BA and .839 OPS. He played 18 years of MLB ball and finished up with a .303 lifetime batting average, .795 OPS and seven All-Star appearances. 
  • 1981 - The player’s strike ended after 42 days. In the settlement, teams that lost a top free agent would be compensated from a pool of players left unprotected from all of the clubs (who could protect 26 players) rather than just the signing club, a procedure that lasted until 1985. The union agreed to restrict free agency to players with six or more years of major league service. Reportedly, the negotiations were so bitter that after the deal, Players Association rep Marvin Miller and the owners' negotiator Ray Grebey refused to pose with each other for the traditional “done deal” photo. The year became “split season” with first-half winners meeting second-half titleists to determine the champs. It was a weird year; the Pirates and Cards played 102 games during the season while the Giants got in 111. 
  • 1988 - Willie Stargell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as the sole honoree that year. Stargell played his entire career (1962-1982) with the Pirates, batting .282 with 2,232 hits, 475 home runs and 1,540 RBI. His home run and RBI totals remain first on the club’s all-time list, in addition to his 937 walks and 953 extra-base hits.

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