Tuesday, September 12, 2017

9/12: HBD George, Joe & Trench; Kiner Klobbering; Pitching Gems; Caveman Slam; Forbes Field Fans & More

  • 1883 - The Union Association, a short lived baseball league, was formed in Pittsburgh. It had a bit of local flavor, as one of the original clubs was the Altoona Mountain City, which folded after 25 games, and later the Pittsburgh Stogies, a club that formed after the Chicago Browns franchise relocated to the Steel City. 
  • 1891 - The Pirates and hometown pitcher Mark “Fido” Baldwin had a contentious relationship during his three year (1890-92) Buc career. At one point, the team fined him $50, leading him to request his release. Instead, manager Ned Hanlon decided to work Fido like a dog; he started and won a pair of complete game victories on this date against the Brooklyn Bridegrooms at Eastern Park, and claimed 26 victories during the campaign. The Penn State grad retired the following season, came back for a game, and the Bucs released him. He finished the season with the NY Giants and then retired from MLB for real, became a doctor, and lived out his days in Homestead. He’s buried at Allegheny Cemetery. 
Gene & George Freese 1955 (photo via Main Line Autographs)
  • 1926 - 3B George Freese was born in Wheeling, West Virginia and attended both WVU and Pitt where he was a football & baseball star. George spent parts of three seasons in the show, with his most active campaign being in 1951 with the Bucs when he hit .257 and started 49 games at the hot corner. George played 17 years in the minors for six different organizations with a .301 lifetime BA. After his playing days ended, Freese coached for the Cubs and managed for a dozen years in the minor leagues. The older brother of 3B Gene Freese (who actually started ahead of him for the ‘55 Pirates), George made his home in Portland after playing four years of minor league baseball for the Portland Beavers. In 2008 he was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. 
  • 1933 - Pitching is the name of the game, and the Bucs had plenty against the Brooklyn Dodgers, sweeping a twin bill by 1-0 and 2-0 tallies at Forbes Field. Heinie Meine’s five hitter topped Sloppy Thurston in the opener, with Meine scoring the game’s only run in the ninth, driven in by Pie Traynor. Lloyd Waner went 4-for-5 at the top of the order. Waite Hoyt tossed a four hitter in the nitecap to best Dutch Leonard as Traynor and Tommy Thevenow drove in seventh and eighth inning scores for the sweep. 
  • 1943 - Bob Elliott's eighth inning double was the Pirates only hit as the Reds Elmer Riddle outdueled Rip Sewell 1-0. The bats woke up in the second game at Crosley Field to split the DH with a 7-0 win, powered by Jim Russell’s three run homer and Xavier Rescigno’s four hit shutout. 
Bob Elliott 1942 Baseball Magazine
  • 1947 - Ralph Kiner hit two homers against Boston Braves’ pitcher Red Barrett in a 4-3 win at Forbes Field to set a record of eight home runs in four games. (Tony Lazzeri had hit seven round-trippers in four games in 1936.) Kiner had three of the four Bucco RBI while Rip Sewell went the distance for the win. The day before, Kiner had tied the MLB record for homers in a doubleheader with four, a record that’s since been eclipsed. Big Ralph had three long balls the day before, making it the second time in the campaign that he had five homers in back-to-back games. 
  • 1948 - The Pirates whipped the Cubs 7-3 at Wrigley Field as Rip Sewell won his 11th game and the Chicago staff generously donated 14 walks to the Bucco cause. Pittsburgh was within sniffing distance of first, sitting just 2-1/2 games behind league leading Boston. But that was as close as they were to get, fading badly down the stretch to lose out to the “Spahn, Sain, and pray for rain” Braves. They finished fourth with 83 wins and 8-1/2 games out. 
  • 1951 - Scout Joe Niederer was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania. He went to Duquesne University and began his baseball career as a ticket seller for the Pirates in 1973. Four years later, he became a scout, signing Stan Belinda and operating a series of Tri-State scouting camps. After leaving the Bucs in 1986, he bird-dogged for the California Angels and Seattle Mariners before passing away in 2009. 
They filled Forbes Field in 1960 (photo George Silk/Life Magazine)
  • 1960 - A crowd of 21,261 cheered the first-place Pirates over the Giants 6-1 and set a new Pittsburgh home attendance record of 1‚521‚251, edging the old mark set in 1948. The final attendance for 1960 was 1,705,828, which would be the highwater mark until the 1988 Pirates drew 1,866,713 at TRS. 
  • 1960 - OF Trench Davis was born in Baltimore. He was signed in 1980 out of Southern HS as a 19-year old. He got on the radar as a speedy stolen base machine on the farm and had a cup of coffee in with Pittsburgh in June. He played in 15 games for the Pirates in May 1986, hitting just .130 (he hit 4-for-30 in his Pirates stint with one stolen base), and become part of a Bucco footnote when he was optioned back to the minors to make room for Barry Bonds. He signed with the Braves in 1987, spent most of the season on the farm and played out his career in the Mexican League. 
  • 1969 - Doing it with their arms and sticks, pitchers Jerry Koosman and Don Cardwell not only pitched 1-0 wins but drove in the winning scores to lead the Mets to a DH sweep of the Bucs. Bob Moose and Dock Ellis took the losses at Forbes Field. Moose threw a five hitter with 10K; Ellis a six hitter with 11 whiffs. The game were the second and third in a row that Buc starters had fanned 10+ hitters; Bob Veale started the string the day before with 12 K in a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. 
Don Robinson 1985 Topps
  • 1985 - The Bucs banged out three homers to rout the Cubs 10-2 at TRS. RJ Reynolds and Mike Brown connected off Dennis Eckersley, but the big blow was a two out grand slam by reliever Don Robinson off Warren Brusstar in the eighth frame. He also picked up the save for Rick Rhoden, tossing two innings of one hit ball with three whiffs. Robinson became one of just five Pirates pitchers to clean the bases. Though The Caveman hit well for a hurler (.238 in ‘85), that was his only homer and RBIs on the year.

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