Friday, August 4, 2017

8/4 Happenings: HBD Jake, Paddy, Hicks, Cliff & Luke; Daddy Walker's No-No; 1901 Moves; Ump Show

  • 1867 - 1B Jake Beckley was born in Hannibal, Missouri. “Eagle Eye” played eight seasons (1888-96) for Pittsburgh, with a year off in 1890 when he suited up for the Pittsburgh Burghers of the outlaw Player’s League. He hit 113 triples as a Buc and had four 100+ RBI years. Jake could glove it, too. He’s the all-time leader for putouts and top 20 in assists for MLB 1B’men. After his 20 year career was done, he was eventually selected in 1971 to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee with a lifetime .308 BA. Jake got his nickname because of his batting eye; he was a contact hitter who finished his career with more walks than whiffs. 
Jake Beckley (photo via Baseball Hall of Fame)
  • 1879 - C Patrick “Paddy” O’Connor was born in County Kerry, Ireland. A little used catcher for the Pirates from 1908-10, he hit .250. He played one more season in Pittsburgh, albeit with the Rebels of the Federal League, batting .228. Paddy got a lot of mileage out of baseball, with a playing career that spanned from 1901-21 counting his bush league years. 
  • 1883 - RHP Lew “Hicks” Moren was born in Pittsburgh and attended Duquesne University. He pitched exactly two games for the Pirates between 1903-04, but was more successful with the Phillies, picking up 48 wins and 10 shutouts while pitching to a 2.88 ERA from 1907-10 before arm problems ended his career. He was one of the first to feature a knuckle ball, after its original practitioner, Eddie Cicotte. Hicks (no clue as to how he got that moniker) lived to the ripe old age of 86 and is buried in Homewood Cemetery. 
  • 1896 - Utilityman Cliff Lee was born in Lexington, Nebraska. Cliff began his eight-year run in the show at Pittsburgh in 1919-20 after being drafted from Portland and then putting in military time. He hit .213 before being claimed by the Phillies and putting up three consecutive .300+ campaigns in Philadelphia, playing OF, C and 1B. His splits aren’t available, but it appears he never caught on as a regular because he was a platoon guy that could maul southpaws but righties, not so much. He played in the minors until 1930. 
  • 1897 - In the second inning of the second game of a doubleheader between the Pirates and Reds at League Park II, fans threw a beer bottle at umpire Tim Hurst. Hurst picked it up and tossed it right back in the crowd (he had a long and combative career in blue before being fired in 1909 for spitting at Eddie Collins). He was arrested and fined $100 for assault and battery after the bottle hit a spectator and opened a cut over his eye, per BR Bullpen. The Bucs dropped the opener 14-3 and got out of town with a 4-4 draw in the nitecap. 
Sam Leever 1901-10 (Conlon Collection/Detroit Publcic Library)
  • 1901 - The Bucs made a couple of moves. First, they brought in veteran C George Yeager from the Cleveland Blues on a try-out basis after Chief Zimmer, the Bucs starting catcher, was spiked and put out of action (he would break a rib in a fall three weeks later). George passed the test and finished the year with the Bucs, hitting .264 in 26 games. On the same day, P Sam Leever requested an unpaid leave of absence because of a sore arm. The Goshen Schoolmaster told club secretary Harry Pulliam, as reported by the Pittsburg Press, that “I am not in a position to earn my salary and in justice to the Pittsburg club I think I should take a vacation at my own expense. Just lay off me, Harry, until I send you word that my arm is right.” The Bucs granted his leave, with Pulliam replying “You will get your salary if you do not pitch another game this season.” He didn’t but came back strong the following year and in fact tossed for the Pirates through 1910. 
  • 1915 - 1B Luke Easter was born in Jonestown, Mississippi. The slugger played for the Homestead Grays from 1947-48. He hit .363 and led the Grays to a win over the Birmingham Black Barons in the 1948 Negro League World Series, the last one held. The Grays sold him to Bill Veeck and he went on to play for the Cleveland Indians, but age (he was 34 when he made his MLB debut) and injury limited him to just a couple of productive seasons.
Luke Easter 1948 (photo Richard Merkin Collection)
  • 1971 - OK, this is stretching Pittsburgh baseball history a bit, but blood is blood... Tom Walker of Dallas-Fort Worth in the Texas League pitched a 15-inning no-hitter in a 1-0 win over Albuquerque. Tom is Neil Walker’s dad, and after spending six campaigns in the show, his last pro season was with Pittsburgh’s AAA Columbus club in 1978. He retired, moved to the City, and you know the rest of the tale.

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