Wednesday, August 2, 2017

8/2 Happenings: HBD Bucky, Wilmer & Tim; Hot Hans; RIP Harry; Derailed Big Train; Trio of Cover Boys; Candyman Trade

  • 1881 - RHP Frederick W. “Bucky” Veil (he went to Bucknell) was born in Tyrone. He only pitched two MLB seasons (1903-04), both for the Bucs, as his career was cut short by malaria bouts. He did have a good arm; Honus Wagner predicted "...A brilliant future for the promising star..." in the Pittsburg Press, although his health held him to just five career victories. He does hold the distinction of being the first relief pitcher in a World Series, when he tossed seven innings against Boston in 1903 after replacing an injured Sam Leever in game two, giving up just one run. 
Bucky Veil 1903 (photo via SABR)
  • 1905 - Temper, temper, Hans: In the course of a 3-1 loss to the New York Giants, Honus Wagner was called out on a bang-bang play at first. Hot at the decision, he fired a baseball past umpire George Bausewine’s noggin during warmups the next inning. The Flying Dutchman was ejected, then later suspended for three games and fined $40 by the league. 
  • 1907 - The Big Train, Walter Johnson, lost his debut 3-2 to Ty Cobb’s Tigers. But he was this close to being a Bucco instead of a Senator: according to, the Pittsburgh Pirates had wanted to sign him, but refused to guarantee his $9 train fare back home if he didn't make the team. Instead, Johnson signed for $350 a month, a $100 bonus and the train fare with Washington. The Big Train went on to win 417 games in 21 seasons for Washington. 
  • 1909 - NL President Harry Pulliam was buried in Louisville. In his honor (and for the first time in baseball history) both National and American League games were postponed. Harry had been the Pirates team president prior to that, and is widely credited with convincing Honus Wagner to leave Louisville and join him in Pittsburgh. 
Wilmer Fields (photo via National Pastime Museum)
  • 1922 - RHP Wilmer Fields was born in Manassas, Virginia. Fields was a 6’3”, 220 lb. quarterback at Virginia State when the Homestead Grays discovered him and his fastball. Wilmer spent from 1940-48 with the team as a two-way player: not only did he win 102 games from the hill, but he was used as a utility/spot starter off the bench, playing 2b, 3b, SS, catcher and the OF. After the Grays folded he went on to win an amazing seven MVP awards in four different Latin and indie leagues. Though in the right era, he never played MLB ball, turning down several offers because the pay was too low ($4,500 was the going rate for rookies in those days) and also because as an indie player his wife could attend all his games, an impossibility for a major-league spouse. A Wilmer factoid: He was variously known as Bill, Red and Chinky. The last two were in reference to his light skin color, which led him to become known jokingly among his teammates as “the man who integrated the Homestead Grays.” He also continued his college education during the off-season, and after his playing days became an alcohol abuse counselor, wrote his autobiography & helped found and served as the first president of the Negro League Baseball Players Association. 
  • 1966 - Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was born in Melbourne, Florida. The RH spent his first two seasons (1992-93) as a Buc and went 14-12 with a 4.17 ERA. After a fairly terrible year in AAA Buffalo in 1994, he was released and then spent the next 17 years in Boston, winning 187 games and making an All-Star appearance before hangin’ ‘em up after the 2011 season at the age of 44. Tim is now the NESN studio analyst for the Boston Red Sox. 
Tim Wakefield 1994 Pinnacle
  • 1969 - Matty Alou was featured on the cover of The Sporting News for the story “Pirate Treasure.” He was a treasure in his second All-Star season, leading the league in hits (231), appearances (746) and at-bats (698). 
  • 1971 - Willie Stargell was the cover boy for Sports Illustrated as part of the feature article “Pittsburgh Overpowers the East.” The Bucs did take the division crown, NL title and World Series and Captain Willie led the way with 48 HR, 125 RBI, .295 BA and a .628 slugging %. 
  • 1975 - Dave Parker was featured on the cover of The Sporting News for the story “Lethal Punch.” In his third season, the Cobra put up a .308/25/101 slash for the division-winning Pirates. 
  • 1985 - The last-place Pirates dumped a trio of players, trading pitchers John Candelaria and Al Holland along with OF George Hendrick to the Angels for OF Mike Brown and pitchers Pat Clements and Bob Kipper in a move to add some youth to the roster.
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