Monday, August 7, 2017

8/7 Happenings: Birthdays, RIP Wilbur, Trades, Stargell Signing

  • 1862 - IF Jim “Reddy” Gray was born in Pittsburgh. Gray was a local kid that “who helped in an emergency” whenever a Pittsburgh club was short handed, per Frederick Lieb in his book The Pittsburgh Pirates. Playing in six games - not many emergencies back in the day, we guess - he got 23 at-bats and hit for a .304 average (His fielding was unfortunately kinda brutal at .719; the infielder made nine errors in 32 chances). He played for the Alleghenys in 1884 & 1890, the Player’s League Burghers, also in ‘90, and finally for the Pirates in 1893. He spent a short time umpiring in the minors, then came home and spent the next 50 years as a City employee. 
  • 1864 - P William “Adonis” Terry was born in Westfield, Massachusetts. He tossed for 14 big league seasons, working for the Pirates from 1892-94. He was excellent in ‘92 (17-7, 2.51) but went downhill in his last two seasons, still putting up a respectable slash of 30-16/3.45 as a Buc. Terry received his “Adonis” nickname for the obvious reason - the handsome hunk of hurler was reputed lady killer. 
Bill McKechnie (photo Harwell Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1886 - Bill McKechnie was born in Wilkinsburg. A backup infielder for Pittsburgh (1907, 1910-12, 1918, 1920), he began 1922 as a Pirate coach. McKechnie replaced George Gibson as manager in midseason, and the team improved from fifth place to a tie for third. The club got better in each of the next few seasons before capturing the NL pennant and the World Series crown in 1925. But after the Pirates fell to third place in 1926, McKechnie was fired. He resurfaced and became the only skipper to win pennants with three different NL clubs - Pittsburgh (1925), St. Louis (1928), and Cincinnati (1939-40). A popular and quiet man, Bill McKechnie earned the nickname Deacon because he sang in his church choir and lived a quiet lifestyle. He’s the namesake for Bradenton’s McKechnie Field and was selected to the Hall of Fame in 1962. 
  • 1904 - The Pirates sent IF Jimmy Sebring to the Reds, Cincy sent Mike Donlin to New York, and the Giants then sent OF Moose McCormack to the Bucs. The deal was the seed that sprouted this trade tree: the Pirates flipped Moose for IF/OF Del Howard, who become part of the 1905 deal with Boston that landed Hall of Fame RHP Vic Willis, who won 89 games for Pittsburgh in four seasons and was part of the World Series Champs of 1909. 
  • 1913 - The Pirates announced that they had purchased pitcher Erv “Peanuts” Kantlehner from Victoria in the Northwestern League. Peanuts went just 13-29-5 between 1914-16 for the Bucs, but had a respectable 2.84 ERA. He split his time starting and relieving, ending up with five saves and five shutouts. 
  • 1930 - The Pirates traded Fred Brickell to the Phillies for Denny Sothern in a swap of not-ready-for-prime-time outfielders. Sothern played 17 games for Pittsburgh and hit .176 while Brickell at least remained useful as a bench player for Philly, hitting .258 in 236 games over four campaigns. 
Jim Sadowski 1974
  • 1951 - RHP Jim Sadowski was born in Lawrenceville. A nephew of the local MLB clan of Ed, Ted and Bob Sadowski, he played for Central Catholic HS. Ed signed with the Pirates in 1969 and while not as successful as his uncles, he did get into four games with the Pirates in 1974, going 0-1, 6.00 in nine innings of work. He spent a decade on the farm, playing in the Pirates, Kansas City Royals and Cincinnati Reds systems. Jim’s now a financial consultant. 
  • 1954 - OF Steve Kemp was born in San Angelo, Texas. He played for the 1985-86 Pirates and hit .246 before being released in early 1986. He joined the club as part of the deal that brought Tim Foli back to Pittsburgh during the 1984 off season. After a stint in the Senior Baseball League, Kemp has coached at the amateur level and is a regular at Tigers fantasy camps, but is otherwise merrily retired. 
  • 1958 - The Pirates signed Willie Stargell as a free agent out of Encinal HS in Alameda, California. Pirate scout Bob Zuk got the 17-year old’s name on a contract for a very well spent $1,500 bonus, quite a bargain for a Hall of Famer who belted 475 HR and chased home 1,540 runners.
Willie Stargell 1964 Topps
  • 1973 - RHP Wilbur Cooper passed away at the age of 81. Wilbur tossed for 13 years (1912-24) for Pittsburgh, slashing 202-159/2.74 and winning twenty or more games four times. He’s the only pitcher to win 200+ games as a Pirate and is second in career IP with 3,199, behind only Bob Friend & also in games pitched with 469, also trailing Friend. 
  • 1977 - RHP Tyler Yates was born in Lihue, Hawaii. He pitched for the Bucs from 2008-09 after coming over in a deal with the Braves. The reliever went 6-5-1, 5.06 in 87 appearances over that span, but 2009 was his swan song as he underwent a second TJ surgery and never made it back to the show. 
  • 1984 - LHP Wade LeBlanc was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The Pirates picked up the 31-year-old, eight-year veteran long man/spot starter from Seattle in 2016 and he’s in his second campaign as a long/middle man from the pen. The Bucs are his eighth team, and they took a chance on him after he rejuvenated his career in 2015 with a strong season in Japan. After impressing the FO, he signed as an FA in 2017 ($750K) with a $1.25M option for 2018. 
Darnell Coles 1988 Topps
  • 1987 - The Pirates traded 3B Jim Morrison to the Detroit Tigers for OF Darnell Coles and a PTBNL (LHP Morris Madden). Cole played 108 games in 1987-88, batting .230, Madden pitched 14 times for the Pirates (2-2, 5.91), and Morrison was about at the end of his MLB career. 
  • 2000 - The Pirates sent IF Luis Sojo to the Yankees for P Chris Spurling. For Sojo, a bench player, it was a return home, and he lasted three more seasons as a backup utility guy for the Bronx Bombers. Spurling was lost to the Braves in the 2002 Rule 5 draft and went on to pitch four MLB seasons as a reliever for Detroit and Milwaukee (6-8-3, 4.82).
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