Saturday, August 5, 2017

8/5 Happenings: KD On the AIr; HBD Sonny, Pepper, Nellie, Rich & John; Max's Last Swipe, Kurt Deal

  • 1915 - OF Bill “Sonny” Randall was born in Hampton, Virginia. After a decade of playing for local Negro indie teams, Sonny was the Homestead Gray’s fourth outfielder from 1942-43 before entering the service, returning for the 1946 season. He had an odd career; he also worked for the government while a player and would rarely travel with the club (by then the club was the Washington-Homestead Grays) unless they were at home. Sonny turned down several offers with other teams because of that and “...the hard times that the black ballplayers had trying to make it riding up and down the road in those buses” per the Brent Kelley book “I Will Never Forget.” 
  • 1919 - C Lloyd “Pepper” Bassett was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Bassett played for the Homestead Grays in 1936 as a backup. The next year, he started for the Pittsburgh Crawfords and started at catcher in the East-West All-Star Game. He was back on the bench by 1938, jumped to Chicago the following season and became a Negro/Latin League nomad until he retired in 1950. 
Harold Arlin (photo/Library of American Broadcasters)
  • 1921 - KDKA aired the first broadcast of a Major League game as Harold Arlin described the action during the Pirates' 8-5 win over the Phillies at Forbes Field. Jimmy Zinn worked six innings of one run relief for the win and added two hits. That broadcast started a list of firsts for Arlin and KD: he followed with another first when he took his equipment to the Allegheny Country Club for a live broadcast of the Davis Cup tennis match between Australia and Great Britain the next day. In October, he and KDKA became part of a three-station Westinghouse network that broadcast the Yankee-Giants World Series for the first time. Then, later in October, Arlin returned to Forbes Field for another first, a college football game between Pitt and West Virginia. 
  • 1926 - OF Max Carey stole his last base as a Bucco against the Boston Braves during a 4-3 win at Braves Field. Carey is the all-time team leader in swipes with 688. He also had two of the Pirates six hits, as the Bucs gave Ray Kremer just enough support for the win. 
  • 1943 - RHP Nellie Briles was born in Dorris, California. He only tossed three years for the Bucs, from 1971-73 with a line of 36-28/2.98, but will be remembered for the two-hit shutout he spun in Game Five of the 1971 series. What isn’t as well known is that he called his own pitches for the last three innings, according to SABR Biography Project. After disagreeing on whether to go hard or soft (the original game plan), Manny Sanguillen refused to give him signs from that point on, and just played toss-and-catch with Briles for the remainder of the game. After he retired, he went into broadcasting briefly, then joined the Pirate executive team, founding the Alumni Association. Nellie passed away in 2005.
Nellie Briles 1971 (photo Pirates Photo Pack)
  • 1946 - Rich Donnelly was born in Steubenville. Rich was a minor league catcher who made his name as a coach, working for several clubs including the Bucs. He was part of Jim Leyland’s posse, coaching in Pittsburgh from 1986–96, then following Leyland to Florida and Colorado. Donnelly also made stops at Texas, Milwaukee, LA Dodgers and Seattle, with another gig as a Pirate from 2008-10 when he was a player development staffer. 
  • 1972 - RHP John Wasdin was born in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. John closed out his 12-year career in Pittsburgh, going 1-1, 5.95 in 2007 in a dozen appearances from the pen. Wasdin then bumped around for a bit, tossing in AAA and Japan, then taking a high school coaching gig. He joined the A’s as a pitching coach in 2011 and in 2017 jumped to the Orioles system. 
  • 1980 - The Bucs traded minor league OF Rick Lancellotti and IF Luis Salazar to the San Diego Padres for IF Kurt Bevacqua and RHP Mark Lee. Bevacqua, who had played for the Pirates in 1974, got in 51 games between 1980-81 for Pittsburgh w/.200 BA, then spent four more years with San Diego, all as a deep bench piece. Lee spent most of his time in AAA, working 16 times for the Bucs in 1980-81. Salazar, who had yet to play a MLB game, was the keeper of the deal, playing for five teams over the next 13 years and retiring with a .261 BA. 2005 - Hard-nosed Ty Wigginton was featured on the cover of The Sporting News in a collision at the plate for the story (and issue theme) “How’s That Feel?”
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