Monday, June 1, 2020

6/1 Through the 1930’s: Shibe Under Lights; Old Timey Ump Shows; HBD Bad Bill, Harry, Al, Hal & Lou

  • 1869 - 2B “Bad Bill” Eagan was born in Camden, New Jersey. Per David Nemec of SABR, “He got the nickname ‘Bad Bill’ the hard way: He earned it through regular, rowdy behavior.” Eagan was like many old-timey players - a heavy drinker, gambler, and general thorn in the side of umpires & management. He was also a ball magnet, even practicing getting hit by pitches in BP by crowding the plate, leading umps to often allow him to get brushed a couple of times before yielding to the inevitable and awarding him a base. Though he was briefly the Bucs starting second baseman and hit .328 in 1898, he was sent down to the minors after a drinking bout. It was a familiar pattern; in his 13-year pro career he wore out his welcome often and only got three years and 107 games in the majors. Bad Bill, after a tumultuous private life, died of consumption in 1905. 
  • 1887 - RHP Harry Gardner was born in Quincy, Michigan. His MLB career consisted of 14 outings with the Pirates from 1911-12 with a 1-1/4.46 line. Harry did have a long baseball stint, pitching 16 minor league seasons and winning 206 games. He spent his last nine years working in the Pacific Coast League before retiring at age 37 after the 1924 season. 
Sometimes a good ump is hard to find - Steve Moore 1992 United Press Syndicate
  • 1897 - The Pirates were cruising along with a 7-0 lead in the sixth at the Polo Grounds when the NY Giants put up four runs and were still going when an ump show broke up the game. A Giant runner was tagged on the way to second on a grounder. Umpire McDermott, with whom the Pirates had a run-in with the previous game and had a history of controversy, didn’t make a call. The runner, Lucky Holmes, held second, the ump eventually ruled him safe and according to the Pittsburgh Press “...he (Lucky) laughed uproariously and danced a jig.” The resulting discussion over the call led to the ejection of four players. One of the Pirates bench subs was injured, and that left Pittsburgh one shy of a full nine. McDermott then forfeited the game to the Giants. The Pirates protested to no avail, and the Press headline the following day read “An Immense Steal - Umpire McDermott Robbed The Pirates Of Yesterday’s Game. His Work Was The Worst Exhibition Ever Seen On Any Ballfield.” 
  • 1899 - 1B Al Niehaus was born in Cincinnati. He started 15 games for the 1925 Pirates, batting .219, before he was traded to the hometown Reds. Niehaus hit .299 there but was replaced by a vet and sold to St. Paul after the season. He was in the minors from 1921-29 and had several .300+ campaigns, but his glovework - he made 11 errors between the Pirates and Reds in 1925 - held him back. The DH arrived a few decades too late to help him along. 
  • 1901 - The Bucs lost to the Reds 4-3, following a disputed call by rookie umpire Bert Cunningham, a pitcher whom the Pirates got in an off-season trade and then cut to end his playing career. Cunningham ruled Kitty Bransfield out at first on a questionable bang-bang call, costing the Pirates the tying run and ending the game. 2,000 fans stormed the field at Exposition Park after the decision, suspecting a bit of payback figured in the ump’s call, and Cunningham had to be led to the locker room by Fred Clarke and Honus Wagner to escape mob justice. It made the front page of the Pittsburgh Press which described the scene: “...an angry crowd followed umpire Cunningham and the Cincinnati players and despite the efforts of the Pittsburg players to protect the official and their visitors managed to land a few blows...The disgraceful scene occurred under the very eyes of President NE Young of the National League, who came here yesterday to investigate the reports about the poor umpiring of Nash (Cunningham’s partner in blue) and Cunningham, two recent additions.” 
  • 1911 - LHP Lou Tost was born in Cumberland, Washington. Lou had tossed for the Braves in 1942 (he also tossed in three games in ‘43 before becoming a sailor) and got a final appearance for the Bucs in 1947, giving up a run on three hits in his last MLB outing. He was another wartime guy who lost 1943-45 to the service; the Bucs purchased him from the Braves Sacramento club in the PCL after the 1946 season. In all, he played pro ball from 1934-49 except for his service years. 
Lou Tost with Oakland - 1949 Remar Baking
  • 1936 - C Hal Smith (not the Pirates World Series Smith but a Redbird namesake) was born in Barling, Arkansas. Smith was a Cardinals catcher from 1956-61 before he was forced to retire and enter the coaching ranks with a heart condition. Smith appeared in four games in July 1965 for the Bucs as a player-coach after Jim Pagliaroni, Del Crandall and Ozzie Virgil were injured, catching 12 frames and going 0-for-3 before returning as a member of Harry Walker's staff. He left to join the Milwaukee Brewers after the ‘67 campaign and finished his career as a scout for the Cardinals. 
  • 1939 - Pittsburgh beat Philadelphia in the Phillies’ first night game at Shibe Park, 5-2, as Rip Sewell took the W. The Bucs only had seven hits, but eight walks and a beaned batter gave them plenty of runners. Bill Brubaker homered while Paul Waner & Arky Vaughan scored the other four runs from the top of the order.

6/1 From 1950 Through the 1980’s: Fam-A-Lee; Friendly Forbes; Veale's 16; Manahan da Man; Game Stories

  • 1954 - Montreal Royals OF’er Roberto Clemente, who the Dodgers had sent to Canada, was nevertheless found out (Roberto was on several radar screens) by Pirate scout Clyde Sukeforth. Sukeforth, ironically, wasn’t even a scout but a Pittsburgh pitching coach on special assignment in Richmond, where the Royals were playing, to check out pitcher Joe Black. Sukeforth strongly recommended that the Bucs take Clemente in the upcoming minor league draft, based more on his pre-game eyeball scouting of Roberto throwing and running than his actual performance, and the rest is history.
  • 1960 - Bob Friend gave up a leadoff single to Eddie Kasko, but the Reds would find him hard to hit the rest of the way as the Bucs beat Cincinnati 5-0 at Forbes Field. Friend tossed a three-hitter, walking only one, and none of the Redlegs reached second base. Four Pirates had two hits, with Roberto Clemente driving home a pair of runs and Don Hoak plating twice.
Smoky Burgess - 1961 Topps
  • 1961 - The Bucs entertained 19,128 Forbes Field faithful by thumping the Milwaukee Braves 8-2. Smoky Burgess with two homers and Dick Groat with another got the crowd on their feet; both had three RBI on the day. Roberto Clemente got them out of the seats with his fielding. He ran down a Joe Adcock shot and taught rookie Joe Torre a lesson in baserunning as described by the Pittsburgh Press beatman Les Biederman: “Torre singled to right...rounded first and Dick Stuart cut off Clemente's throw home and politely tagged out Torre.” Harvey Haddix got the win; he tossed shutout ball after the first inning. 
  • 1963 - The Pirates had the best of both worlds, banging out four homers and getting a two-hitter from Bob Friend in a 10-1 runaway against the Mets at the Polo Grounds. The dingers were launched by Bill Virdon, Willie Stargell, Jerry Lynch and Bill Mazeroski. The Bucs collected 16 hits, with four from Donn Clendenon and three each from Lynch and Ducky Schofield. Friend struck out eight in the complete game victory. 
  • 1965 - Bob Veale set the Pirate nine-inning strikeout mark when he K'ed 16 Phillies at Forbes Field in a 4-0 victory, even though he sat through two rain delays that added two hours to the game. The big lefty also struck out 16 Reds in 12 innings on September 30th, 1964. Back before the gun, the 6’6” lefty was estimated to throw a heater in the 97-98 MPH range. The five-hitter was the Bucs 12th consecutive win; it came right on the heels of an eight-game losing streak. The Bucs lost the next day but still took eight of the next 10 games. The early hole they dug eventually did them in - although they won 90 games, they finished third behind the Dodgers. 
  • 1971 - Dock Ellis tossed a three-hitter as the Bucs bombed the Cardinals 9-0 at TRS. It was a team effort - every Buc had a hit, all but Ellis scored, and six had RBI. Richie Hebner and Dave cash had three hits while Manny Sanguillen and Vic Davalillo added a pair. It was the third straight shutout authored by the Bucs as Steve Blass and Bob Moose zipped the Cubs leading into the series. 
  • 1978 - The Pirates released reserve infielder Jim Fregosi at the behest of California Angels’ owner Gene Autry. It was a good faith request - Fregosi, 36, replaced Dave Garcia as Angels manager the next day. 
  • 1979 - The Pirates scored four times in the ninth inning to rally past the San Diego Padres 9-8 at TRS. Dave Parker cranked a one-out, three-run homer off John D'Acquisto to tie it, and Lee Lacy drew a bases-loaded free pass with two away off Rollie Fingers for the win after Ed Ott had been intentionally walked before him. Phil Garner went 4-for-5 and scored twice. Teke gave up four runs in three innings of work, but it was good enough for the win. After the game, Willie Stargell belted out a tune he thought exemplified the club - “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge - and it caught on, not only among Pirates Nation but the public at large, selling a million copies each of the LP and single after it had sputtered out (although Kim Sledge, who along with her sisters were from Philadelphia, said “The Phillies...should have used our song.”) 
  • 1986 - Jim Morrison showed the way in a 12-3 win over the LA Dodgers at TRS, hitting a grand slam that he almost lost when when he passed Tony Pena for a heartbeat during his trot around the bases (Tony was standing on first and ready to tag if the big fly was caught, which was his bad, but the umps didn’t see it), a double and triple with seven runs chased home. How often does a guy fall a single short of the cycle? RJ Reynolds also had three knocks and Rick Rhoden went the distance for the win. 
  • 1988 - The Pirates drafted prep SS Austin Manahan first in the draft (his bonus wasn’t released; Manahan said in an interview that it was “six figures”); he never made it past AA, and in fact Pittsburgh’s first five picks never made the show. They did hit on a couple of later selections, selecting Tim Wakefield, Randy Tomlin, John Wehner and Blas Minor.

6/1 From 1990: Kendall #1; Mo Moved; Frankie & Wags K-Men; Streaks; Game Stories

  • 1992 - Prep C Jason Kendall was selected in the first round (#23) of the draft and signed for a $336K bonus in one of Pittsburgh’s more enlightened picks. He spent nine of his 15 MLB seasons with the Pirates, hitting .306 and earning spots on three All-Star teams. After him came a group of reserves - OF’ers Adrian Brown and Trey Beamon, pitcher Marc Wilkins, and infielders Lou Collier and Kevin Polcovich. 
  • 1996 - Paul Wagner tossed a one-hitter with ten K for seven innings at TRS, but lost to Colorado 2-0. He couldn’t find the plate in the third; two walks followed by a wild pitch cost him as Dante Bichette hit a ball through the shortstop hole to score the pair. The Bucs had nine hits, but stranded 10 in the whitewash. 
Paul Wagner - 1996 Fleer Ultra (reverse)
  • 1998 - Jason Schmidt won his seventh straight game, 4-3, against the Mets at TRS, breaking a nine-game string of victories by New York. The righty scattered six hits and fanned eight, with ninth inning help from Ricardo Rincon, who earned a save. The Bucs were led at the plate by Tony Womack, who had two hits and a homer; Al Martin and Mark Smith also had a pair of knocks. Schmidt was 8-1/3.59 at this point but would go on to drop his next eight decisions. He wouldn’t win another game until August 12th and finished the season 11-14/4.07. 
  • 2005 - Florida lost its ninth straight game at PNC Park‚ 9-1. Rob Mackowiak hit his second career grand slam and Jack Wilson went 4-for-4 to pace the attack behind Josh Fogg and Salomon Torres’ pitching. The last Marlin win in Pittsburgh was September 8th‚ 2002; they snapped the streak the next day by a 6-3 count. 
  • 2006 - The Pirates swept the Milwaukee Brewers in a four-game set by scoring twice in the ninth to take a 4-3 decision at PNC Park. With two away, Jose Castillo doubled home Jeromy Burnitz, followed by the game winning knock by Ryan Doumit, both off Derrick Turnbow. The Pirates outscored the Brew Crew 34-8 in the series. 
  • 2010 - Pittsburgh fell behind Chicago 2-0 on a two-run, third-inning blast by ex-Pirate Xavier Nady. A homer by Garrett Jones in the next frame halved the lead and in the eighth inning, a blast to left center by Neil Walker off Ted Lilly with Cutch on ahead of him was enough to give Joel Hanrahan a 3-2 win over the Cubs at PNC Park. Octavio Dotel earned the save for his set-up man (and future closer) Hanny thanks to The Pittsburgh Kid’s first MLB homer. 
  • 2013 - Francisco Liriano tied the franchise record by striking out seven consecutive Reds, but Mike Leake won the duel at PNC Park by a 2-0 count. Liriano went six innings, giving up a run on four hits and a walk, punching out 11. Not a ball left the infield in the inning he surrendered the run, and only a disputed two-out call at first allowed Cincy to score at all. 
ryan Morris - 2013 Panini Prizm
  • 2014 - Miami got righty reliever Bryan Morris for a competitive balance selection (#39) that turned into first baseman Connor Joe, who was flipped to the Braves in 2017 for Sean Rodriguez. Morris retired in 2017 while Joe is in the Dodgers system. 
  • 2015 - A left coast Bucco fan helped his boys during their 4-3 win over the Giants at AT&T Park. In the eighth, with two gone and the G-Men within a run, a foul ball drifted down the right field stands and was snagged by a fan decked out in a Pirates cap and tee. He leaned over, snagged the ball over a low railing and bumped into Gregory Polanco, who was tracking the fly. After an ump review, Pittsburgh was awarded the third out and the fan was awarded an unceremonious ejection from the park. In the game, the Giants had jumped out to a 2-0 first inning lead; the Bucs answered with three in the fifth, capped by Neil Walker’s two-run, two-out double off of former and future Pirate Ryan Vogelsong. Chris Stewart collected three hits and Andrew McCutchen had the other pair of RBI. Gerrit Cole took home the win and Mark the Shark Melancon earned the save.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

5/31 Through the 1930’s: Twin Bill Babe; Two-Bag Waner; Game Stories; HBD Russ

  • 1888 - The Alleghenys forfeited a game to the New York Giants when they failed to show up at the Polo Grounds while it was raining, staying high and dry in their hotel. The Pittsburgh Press wrote “Manager Phillips claimed that he had word that there would be no game and that it rained from 3:30 to 4 (the game’s starting time). President Nimick will protest the game.” He did; the league didn’t buy the alibi and the Pittsburgh nine forfeited the match. 
He stuck - 4/7/1909 Pgh Press snip
  • 1909 - Babe Adams won both ends of a doubleheader at Exposition Park against the Cardinals. He worked the final two frames of a 5-4 win in the opener, then tossed a complete game 4-2 victory in the second match. Dots Miller had five hits during the twin bill with Hans Wagner adding three more knocks. The two games drew 20,633 fans. 
  • 1915 - The Pirates swept the first place Cubs by identical 1-0 scores at Forbes Field in front of 15,000 fans as Wilbur Cooper (three hits, eight K) and Al Mamaux (five hits, five K) hurled complete game whitewashes. The Pirates won the first game when RF Bill Hinchman was plunked with the bases loaded to force home C George Gibson (they wouldn’t win another 1-0 game via the plunk again until 2017) and the second on a wild pitch that allowed Hinchman to plate from third. As Ralph Davis of the Pittsburgh Press noted, “This was getting the breaks...it was the luck of the Buccaneers to profit twice from slips made by Chicago twirlers.” 
  • 1927 - The Pirates overcame a 6-1, sixth-inning deficit by scoring nine times in the final four frames to nip the Cubs 10-9 at Forbes Field. 1B Joe Harris was on fire, going 5-for-5 with two triples, a double, four RBI and two runs scored. Carmen Hill, Pittsburgh’s fourth pitcher, got the win after K’ing a pair while posting a quiet ninth. 
  • 1930 - Umpire Russ Goetz was born in McKeesport. After 13 seasons of honing his craft in the minors, he was an AL umpire from 1968 to 1983. Goetz was part of the blue crew for two All Star Games, four AL playoff series, and two World Series, including the Bucs 1979 battle against the Baltimore Orioles. Russ went into umpiring after serving in the Navy during the Korean War with deployments in Korea and China. He started his sporting days as a basketball player for the Tigers and remained in Tube City after he retired. 
  • 1932 - Paul “Big Poison” Waner banged out his 20th double of the month at Forbes Field in the fifth inning against Cincinnati’s Red Lucas to set the MLB record. The Pirates won the game 4-1 as Waner went 3-for-4 with a run and two RBI to back Larry French’s mound work. During the month, Big Poison collected 43 hits in May - 21 singles, 20 doubles and two triples. 
Pep Young - 1936 National Chicle
  • 1937 - The Reds beat the Pirates 8-3 in the opener of a doubleheader at Crosley Field. It was the only game Cincinnati won against the Pirates that season. Starting with a 7-5 loss in the nightcap - Pep Young’s three-run homer was the big blow - Cincy lost the next 17 straight to the Buccos, and dropped 21 of 22 games‚ tying the MLB record set by the Cubs over the Braves in 1909 and the Yankees over the Browns in 1927. In fact, the Reds would drop the first three to open 1938 for a 20 game losing streak against Pittsburgh, another MLB record.

5/31 From 1940 Through the 1960’s: Satch Back; Two-Sport Vic; Game Stories; HBD Kenny & Joe

  • 1942 - Satchel Paige rejoined his old Grays teammates when they played against the Dizzy Dean All-Stars in an exhibition game at Washington’s Griffith Park. The match drew 22,000 fans (the major league Senators averaged just 5-6,000 per game) and the Satchels beat the Dizzys, 8-1. Clark Griffith, the Sens’ owner, told Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard after the game that he was going to “break up your league” and sign black ball players, but he never made good on the promise. 
Satchel Paige - 1936 Crawfords photo Leon Day Foundation (filter ColouriseSG)
  • 1948 - At Wrigley Field‚ the Cubs set a paid attendance record when 46‚965 fans passed through the turnstiles during a doubleheader split with the Pirates on Memorial Day. The Bucs lost the opener 4-3 after Chicago scored in the ninth off Kirby Higbe. Pittsburgh rallied in the nightcap behind Elmer Riddle to win 4-2. Danny Murtaugh chased home a pair of runs and scored once to provide Riddle with some working space. 
  • 1953 - Vic Janowicz became the first Heisman Trophy winner to play MLB when he appeared as a pinch runner for the Pirates in the opening game of a doubleheader loss to the Dodgers. He was a better gridder than ballplayer; he hit .214 in his 1953-54 MLB stint with the Buccos. He went on to play a little NFL ball, but a car accident in 1956 ended his pro sports days. 
  • 1961 - Pittsburgh bashed out nine doubles (two by Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski, with one each from Joe Gibbon, Dick Groat, Hal Smith, Gino Cimoli and Dick Stuart) in a 9-1 laugher at Forbes Field against the Milwaukee Braves. Joe Gibbon tossed a six-hitter with 10 strikeouts to earn the win over Warren Spahn. 
  • 1962 - Joe Orsulak was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. A sixth round pick of the Pirates in the 1980 draft, he was seen as the Bucs future lead-off man and CF’er. In his four years in Pittsburgh (1983-86) he never managed to secure the job, though he did hit .272. He lasted 14 years in the show, hitting .273 lifetime as primarily a bench/platoon outfielder while playing with the Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, Florida Marlins, and Montreal Expos. 
  • 1964 - Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers beat the Pirates 6-4 at Forbes Field, but had to survive a towering blast by Roberto Clemente to do it. The Great One hit a ball halfway up the light tower 450’ away in center field. Post Gazette writer Jack Herndon estimated the drive would have traveled 500’ if the lights hadn’t been in its way; the Dodgers beat man Frank Finch of the LA Times agreed. 
Kenny Lofton - 2003 Upper Deck Vintage
  • 1967 - OF Kenny Lofton was born in East Chicago, Indiana. The Bucs signed him as a free agent for $1.025M and he had a nice year in 2003, hitting .277 with 18 swiped sacks. He was lost in an epic Bucco salary dump when he was traded to the Cubs at the deadline with Aramis Ramirez for Bobby Hill, Jose Hernandez and Matt Bruback; Lofton and A-Ram helped Chicago to the 2003 NL Central title. Kenny played until he was 40, retiring after the 2007 campaign with 17 seasons, 11 playoff years and six All-Star berths on his resume. After Lofton left baseball, he went into film and television, his major at the U of Arizona. He does some media gigs and founded FilmPool Inc., a movie company.

5/31 From 1970: Clemente Day; Review Preview; Pops Rocket; Jose Streak; BB's 1st; Coke Trail Over; Game Stories

  • 1973 - The Bucs topped the Atlanta Braves 3-1, backing up Nellie Briles three-hitter with Willie Stargell’s three-run blast in the eighth at TRS. Stargell’s ball went 468’ and landed in the upper deck. Of the 12 shots that carried into the cheap seats in TRS history, Pops launched the most; this was his fourth and final second-tier homer. It broke up a gem by Gary Gentry; he had a shutout going into the eighth when a one-out infield single and 3-2 walk that raised the hackles of Bravo manager Eddie Matthews was followed by Willie’s blast. Briles went the distance for the win, sending Atlanta to their seventh straight loss. 
Willie Stargell - 1973 Topps Pin Up
  • 1985 - A Federal grand jury indicted seven for cocaine distribution and sales in baseball, none of which were Pirates (the players that testified were granted immunity). GM Joe Brown hoped the indictments would “...remove the shadow that has existed over the Pirates…” but his hope was in vain. The coke trials tainted the team’s freewheeling clubhouse culture and several Bucs, notably Dave Parker and Rod Scurry, in the eyes of the fans. 
  • 1986 - Barry Bonds collected his first MLB hit, a first-inning double off Rick Honeycutt, as the Bucs beat the LA Dodgers 4-0 at PNC Park. Bonds must have been excited; he was picked off a batter later. BB had debuted a day earlier, but went 0-fer. Bill Almon’s two-run homer and Bob Kipper’s eight shutout innings keyed the win. Bob Kipper got the victory and Pat Clements earned the save. 
  • 1994 - It wasn’t a good day to be a Pirate pitcher. San Diego scored 13 runs in the second inning on the way to a 15-5 whipping of the Bucs at Jack Murphy Stadium. Steve Cooke and John Hope were the hapless hurlers in that unlucky frame. 
  • 1999 - Umpire Frank Pulli anticipated video review by a decade when he looked at a TV replay of a disputed home run in the Marlins-Cards game at Pro Player Park. The dispute was whether a ball Cliff Floyd drilled cleared the scoreboard or not. The blue crew met, reversed themselves, and apparently still uncertain, peeked at a monitor in the St. Louis dugout to get the call right, ruling it a double. The league tut-tutted the procedure, but allowed it to stand. Pulli told the Washington Post that "I sure don't want to make a habit of it, but at that moment, I thought it was the proper thing to do. ... I hope I don't have to go to the replay again.” He didn’t; home run video reviews didn’t become MLB law until 2009, well after he retired. 
  • 2006 - Jose Castillo homered in his fifth straight game as the Pirates defeated Milwaukee 6-1 at PNC Park. Castillo hit a two-run shot off Chris Capuano in the second inning to continue a streak that began on the 26th against Houston’s Taylor Bucholtz, the third longest in franchise history behind Dale Long’s eight game streak and Jason Bay’s six-gamer (which had ended the day before). Ian Snell and three relievers combined on a three hitter against the Brew Crew. 
Jose Castillo - 2007 Topps
  • 2008 - SS Luis Rivas had four RBI, two runs scored, a homer and double as the Bucs pounded St. Louis 14-4 at Busch Stadium to ruin Tony LaRussa’s 2,000th game as St. Louis skipper. Ronny Paulino added three RBI with three hits and a homer of his own while Jose Bautista chipped in with four raps. Xavier Nady and Freddie Sanchez had three hits each as the Pirates pounded out 19 knocks. 
  • 2016 - Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that this date would be Roberto Clemente Day throughout Major League Baseball. The highlight of the celebration was to be a game between the Pirates and Miami Marlins at San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Unfortunately for Roberto’s homeland, the game was moved to Miami after a Zika outbreak on the island, and his special day was pushed back. The day of remembrance began in 2002, and beginning in 2009 was marked by pre-game ceremonies around MLB with the teams presenting their Roberto Clemente Award to its nominee, with the overall winner announced after the World Series.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

5/30 Through the 1920’s: Leach Traded; Fido Tosses Two; Triple Threats; HBD Turkey & Al

  • 1878 - OF Mike “Turkey” Donlin was born in Peoria, Illinois. Mike played one of his 12 big league campaigns in Pittsburgh, hitting .316 as a 34-year-old in 1912. Known as "Turkey Mike" because of his strut, Donlin’s baseball career was held back by his bid for stage stardom. While a player, he spent three off seasons touring in a play called “Stealing Home” and after his retirement moved to Hollywood, where he appeared in 50+ films but as a bit player. 
  • 1892 - Mark “Fido” Baldwin, a native Pittsburgher alleged to have the best fastball in the league, tossed both ends of a Pirates doubleheader sweep of the Baltimore Orioles at Exposition Park, winning 11-1 and 4-3. Baldwin went 26-27/3.47 with 45 complete games and 440 IP in ’92. 
Jake Beckley - 1994 Origins of Baseball

  • 1893 - From Baseball Chronology: "Jake Beckley successfully pulls the 'ancient’ hidden-ball trick on Baltimore Oriole Joe Kelley as Pittsburgh wins 9-1.” The Bucs swept a doubleheader from the Birds (they were managed by former Pittsburgh field general Ned Hanlon, who in a three-year span skippered the Alleghenys, Burghers and Pirates) at Exposition Park, also claiming a 10-3 victory. It was a pretty good Pirates club; the team finished 81-48, five games behind the NL Champs, the Boston Beaneaters. 
  • 1894 - RHP Al Mamaux was born in Pittsburgh. He went to Duquesne University and pitched for the Pirates from 1913-17. Mamaux was 49-36/2.61 during that time, and had strong seasons in 1915-16, going 42-23 with back-to-back 21 win campaigns. He spent the off-season as a crowd pleaser of another sort, touring as a vaudeville singer touted as "The Golden Voice Tenor.” 
  • 1912 - In a not-so-sweet deal, the Pirates sent veteran 3B/OF Tommy Leach and P Lefty Leifield to Chicago for UT Solly Hofman and P King Cole. Leach, 34, started the next two years for the Cubs and came back to retire as a Pirate in 1918. Lefty pitched five more seasons, going 57-25. Cole lasted one year in Pittsburgh, going 2-2/6.43 while Hoffman played two years for the Pirates, getting into 45 games and hitting .246. 
  • 1921 - There were four NL doubleheaders on this date, and all four resulted in a sweep. The Pirates did their part by taking two from the Chicago Cubs at Forbes Field, 13-0 and 6-3. Jimmy Zinn tossed a five hitter in the opener, backed by four RBI from George Cutshaw and Possum Whitted, with Max Carey scoring four times. The nitecap was led by Whitted and Walter Schmidt who both went 3-for-4, with Possum scoring three times and Schmidt driving in a pair. Chief Yellow Horse, the third Pirate pitcher, went 7-⅔ shutout innings for the win and recorded the only strikeout of the day by Pittsburgh’s moundsmen. 
  • 1925 - The Pirates set a MLB record by hitting eight triples against the St. Louis Cardinals in spacious Forbes Field during the nitecap of a twinbill. Max Carey and Clyde Barnhart each banged out a pair of three-baggers while Kiki Cuyler, Pie Traynor (who added two doubles), Glenn Wright and Eddie Moore each had one. Barnhart had four hits, four runs and five RBI in the game as the Bucs ran their win streak to seven with a 15-5 romp. The Bucs took the opener 4-1 behind Emil Yde and four DPs. Max Carey had a pair of RBI and George Grantham had three hits, including two doubles, in that match. Every Pirates started reached base safely; the club stranded 12 runners and had two more tossed out on the basepaths. The Pirates collected 32 hits during the day. 
Clyde Barnhart - photo 1925 Bain/Library of Congress (filter ColouriseSG)
  • 1927 - The Bucs lost the opener of a Forbes Field Memorial Day doubleheader to the Cubs 7-6 in 10 innings, ending the Pirates 11-game win streak. The big play was made by Cubs’ SS Jimmy Cooney, who snared Paul Waner's liner, stepped on second to double up Little Poison, and then tagged Clyde Barnhart coming from first for an unassisted triple play. Pittsburgh came back to win the nitecap‚ 6-5‚ also in 10 innings. Lloyd Waner collected seven hits during the twin bill.

5/30 From 1930 Through the 1970’s: Rizzo Chases Home 9; Moose Surgery; Scoops Triple Play; Cobra Cover; Game Stories; RIP Max; HBD Tony

  • 1939 - Johnny Rizzo set a club record that still hasn’t been matched by driving in nine runs against the St. Louis Browns in a 14-8 win at Sportsman's Park, gaining a doubleheader split for the Bucs. He banged a pair of homers and two doubles. 
  • 1958 - The Milwaukee Braves beat the Bucs and ElRoy Face 7-4 at Forbes Field, scoring four times in the ninth to rally for victory. The Baron of the Bullpen, Elroy Face, gave up the runs, two of which were unearned, but came back strong; he wouldn’t lose again until September 1959, claiming 22 straight wins. The game hinged on two muffed pop ups, both fully weaponized by the Braves. The second game went the Bucs way 12-6; Pittsburgh banged out 18 hits w/five doubles and two three-baggers to overcome four solo homers by Milwaukee. Dick Groat and Bill Mazeroski each had four Pirate knocks, combining to score seven times and chase four runs home. Howie Goss got the win; Curt Rayburn started while Ron Blackburn worked in between the two. The Memorial Day twin bill drew 32,428 fans. 
The Baron of the Bullpen Was About to Start a Record Streak - 1958 Hires
  • 1969 - Al Oliver started a triple play that saw him get two putouts and two assists during the action against Houston at Forbes Field. With Jesus Alou at first and Doug Rader at second, Johnny Edwards grounded to Scoops, who took the out and then relayed the ball to Gene Alley at second. Alley chased Alou back and flipped to Oliver for the tag. Meanwhile Rader, who had stayed on second thinking Edwards had hit a line drive, broke for third late when the light went on but Oliver gunned him down with Richie Hebner slapping the tag. The Bucs won the twinbill opened 9-3. Al had two of the Bucs 17 hits as Jim Bunning cruised to victory. The nightcap didn’t go so well as Bob Moose and Chuck Hartenstine got roughed up in a 9-6 defeat. Matty Alou and Billy Maz each had three hits but the Pirates couldn’t outscore the ‘Stros in a shootout. M
  • 1971 - Willie Stargell launched a Ken Holtzman pitch into the upper deck in right field, the third of four that he’d ship to the top tier at TRS in his career, to cap a 10-0 win over the Cubs. Roberto Clemente and Bob Robertson also went long. Bob Moose didn’t need much help; he fired a three-hitter and fanned seven.
  • 1974 - Bob Moose had surgery to remove a blood clot from his arm after it had swollen to double its size. The clot wasn’t thought to be baseball related, but it cost Moose the rest of the season as one of his ribs also had to be removed. He was having an outlier year anyway, with a 1-5 record and 7.57 ERA, easily the worst numbers of his career and related to his arm woes. Moose never again reached the 100 IP mark after averaging 213 IP and 30 starts in 1972-73 before meeting a tragic end in a car wreck after the 1976 campaign. 
  • 1976 - OF Max Carey passed away in Miami. In 17 Pirates seasons, he hit .287 (a strong average for the deadball era; his OPS+ was 111) with 688 stolen bases and a reputation as the best center fielder in the game who was nicknamed “Scoop” for his ability to catch balls hit in front of him. Max won a NL-record 10 stolen base titles and ranks among the top ten all-time in outfield chances per game (6,937 total), seventh in assists (339), and third in double plays (87). After he retired following the 1929 campaign, Carey went on to be a Pirates coach in 1930, then was the skipper of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1932-33. After baseball, he was involved in Florida real estate, wrote a book and several sporting articles, was a horse racing commissioner, and dabbled in politics. Carey was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1961 by the Veterans Committee. 
  • 1977 - Dave Parker was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the story “Battle Royale In the East.” The Buccos finished second in the NL East race with 96 wins, five games behind the Phils. The Cobra played in a team-high 159 games with 21 HR and a .338 BA. 
  • 1985 - LHP Tony Watson was born in Sioux City, Iowa. The ninth round pick of the 2007 draft was a converted starter that moved to the pen, and made his debut with the Bucs in 2010, evolving into a solid bridge man for the Pirates and then taking over the eighth inning role in spectacular fashion, posting a 1.63 ERA with a couple of saves, 34 holds and 9.4 K per nine innings to earn a spot on the 2014 All-Star team. The media coined the phrase "It's elementary, Watson" to describe his consistent excellence. Tony took over the closer’s role in the summer of 2016 and held it until he was traded to the Dodgers at the deadline in 2017 (he notched 30 saves as a Bucco) and was replaced by Felipe Rivero (Vazquez). He’s now with the Giants.

5/30 From 1990: Kenny's 26-Gamer; Arrivederci Raul; El Coffee's 1st Granny; Game Stories; HBD Luis

  • 1996 - RHP Luis Escobar was born in Cartagena, Columbia. He signed with the Pirates as an international free agent. Despite having played just 20 or so games combined at the AA and AAA levels, he was briefly called to Pittsburgh in 2019. Luis, 23, tossed goose eggs in his first three outings while dodging raindrops (he ended up with a 2.471 WHIP) before the Cards roughed him up, and after that he was returned to Indy. 
Luis Escobar - 2018 Bowman Chrome Refractor
  • 1998 - Jason Kendall hit a walk off, bases-loaded single to cap a three-run ninth and give the Pirates an 8-7 win over the Montreal Expos at TRS. It was Kendall’s third hit of the day and his second RBI. Manny Martinez hit a two run homer and Kevin Young banged out four hits. Three Pirate relievers tossed four goose eggs, with Jason Christiansen earning the victory. 2003 - Kenny Lofton homered against the Cards in a 7-3 win by Jeff Suppan to keep his 26-game hitting streak alive, tying Danny O’Connell’s modern-day mark set in 1953. He would go 0-fer the next day against the Cards Woody Williams and Jeff Fasaro, falling a game short of tying the club record, set by Jimmy Williams in 1899, during a 5-4 Pirate victory tossed by Kip Wells. 
  • 2004 - The Raul Mondesi saga officially ended when the outfielder signed a $1.75M deal with the Anaheim Angels. He left the Pirates on May 7th after signing as a free agent ($1.15M) to return home to deal with a lawsuit and family safety issues. He never came back; it was all a ploy to get out of the Pirates agreement and head for greener pastures. Pittsburgh could have opted to keep him on the restricted list until the cows came home (and in hindsight, should have; that way they might have gotten some compensation for his flip) but instead washed their hands of him when he failed to report on the team-mandated “drop dead” date of May 18th, terminating his contract the next day. 
  • 2006 - The Bucs walloped the Milwaukee Brewers 12-1 at PNC Park behind a pair of Jose Castillo homers. Jose added a single and double to chase home six runs while scoring three times. Freddy Sanchez also had four knocks and Jack Wilson added three as the Pirates collected 17 raps, seven for extra bases, to help Victor Santos to victory. 
  • 2013 - For the second time in three days, the Pirates defeated the Detroit Tigers, 1-0 in 11 innings. The Bucs used four pitchers - Mark Melancon got the W - and a Neil Walker homer to win at Comerica Park on the 28th, then came home to PNC Park and won with Bryan Morris and five other pitchers, cinched by a Russell Martin walk-off single off the wall in left center field. This one was a stolen win as the Tigers stranded 11 runners during the game. The squeaker was the club’s fourth 1-0 win in an 11 game span and their 16th win in the past 20 contests. 
Jeff Locke - 2016 Topps Heritage
  • 2016 - The Pirates rolled over Miami at Marlins Park 10-0. Gregory Polanco hit his first MLB grand slam, Sean Rodriguez added a two-run blast, and David Freese went 4-for-5 with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored. The big story was lefty Jeff Locke, who pitched a complete game shutout, the first time he had gone the distance in 101 career starts. It was the Bucs first CG since 2014, when Vance Worley went wire-to-wire. Locke gave up three hits without a walk, and thanks to two DPs, faced the minimum amount of batters until two were gone in the ninth when he was touched for a bloop single. It was a textbook example of pitching to contact; the Pirate southpaw had just one K.

Friday, May 29, 2020

5/29 Through the 1910s: Big Bill Visits; Brain Burst; Game Stories; HBD Jim

  • 1884 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenys were no-hit by Columbus Buckeyes hurler Ed “Cannonball” Morris at Recreation Park during a 5-0 whitewash. Morris walked just one in a near perfect performance. The Alleghenys had been no-hit just five days earlier by Al Atkinson of the Philadelphia Athletics, who hit the first batter and was perfect the rest of the way. Cannonball joined the Alleghenys the following year and won 129 games over the next five seasons. He played a final year with the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Players League in 1890 before retiring to run his Northside bar.  
  • 1895 - Jake Beckley blasted a three-run homer in the ninth to give the Pirates an 8-6 win over the Washington Senators at Boundary Park. The 1B ended the year with five homers, second on the team to Jake Stenzel’s seven, with a club-leading 111 RBI. The win left the Pirates in first with a 22-8 slate, but it wouldn’t last. They had a piece of the top spot last on July 18th, then finished the rest of the year at 30-34 and in seventh place, 17 games behind the Baltimore Orioles (the NL version of the O’s were contracted out in 1899 when the league cut teams and was then reorganized and resurrected in 1901 as an AL franchise). 
Jake Beckley - Dick Perez illustration
  • 1901 - 3B Jim Stroner was born in Chicago. Jim hit .367 w/42 HR for Wichita in 1928 and the Pirates brought him to camp the following season to take Pie Traynor’s place; manager Donie Bush wanted to move Pie to SS to replace Glenn Wright. Despite the bona fides and the tutelage of Traynor, Stroner only lasted six games (he was 3-for-8 hitting, but made three errors in seven chances at the hot corner) before he was sent to the minors. He had a convergence of tough luck - he wasn’t nearly at 100% physically, having undergone an appendectomy in the off season, and he wasn’t quite there mentally either, still recovering from the loss of his mother and wife, both who had passed away in the past year. Stroner never got another shot at the ring; he played in the minors through 1939 before retiring. As for Pie, the SS thing didn’t work out; he hurt his back and moved back to third. 
  • 1905 - Dave Brain tied a modern-day MLB record with three triples in the same game when the Pirates lost a 6-3 decision to the St. Louis Cardinals at Exposition Park. Brain would repeat the feat in a game against Boston later during the season, becoming the first player to accomplish the triple-triple twice in one season. Oddly enough, it was feast or famine in regards to three-baggers for the infielder; they were the only six triples he hit during his sole campaign with Pittsburgh. 
  • 1909 - President William “Big Bill” Taft visited Exposition Park (Forbes Field would open a month later) to catch a Bucs-Cubs match, and made himself at home in the cheap seats, delighting the 14,091 fans. The Pirates weren’t so delightful, though, as they went down to Three Finger Brown in 11 innings, 8-3, with Lefty Leifield taking the loss. The Prez must have made the Buccos nervous as the loss was the only time the team was defeated in a 19 game stretch.