Saturday, July 20, 2024

7/20 Through the 1970s: Dillinger Arrives; Rennie Hot, 'Pen, Big Bob, Joe Gems, Game Tales; HoF Game, Club Ball; HBD John, Heinie & Henry

  • 1880 - RF Harry Cassady was born in Bellflower, Illinois. Out of Illinois Wesleyan, he got into 22 games in the show; 12 of them were with the 1904 Pirates, hitting .205 in 44 at bats. Cassady went on to spend three years in the American Association (1905-07) and then six seasons with Denver of the Western Association (he was a much better hitter in the high minors, batting .288), retiring after the 1912 campaign at age 31. He passed on in 1969 at the age of 88. 
  • 1882 - Nearly 3,000 fans watched the Pittsburgh Alleghenys earn the first home walk-off win in franchise history when they defeated the Cincinnati Red Stockings, 3-2, at Exposition Park. On the wrong end of a pitching duel and down 2-1 in the ninth inning, Billy Taylor drilled a one-out, game-tying homer. Rudy Kemmler’s single became the game-winning run when Chappy Lane’s two-out rap sent him home. Denny Driscoll got the win with a complete game three-hitter. 
  • 1894 - Cincinnati defeated Pittsburgh, 7-6, in 10 innings when George "Germany” Smith homered with two outs. Pirate OF Elmer Smith was prevented from retrieving the game-winning hit in the field-level Left field bleachers, as permitted per Cincinnati’s League Park ground rules, by zealous Reds fans defending the ball. One of them allegedly pulled a revolver on Smith after he wrestled with several other rooters in an attempt to reach the ball, per Charlton’s Baseball Chronology. The Pittsburgh Press just diplomatically reported that Germany “...drove one into the seats." It was the NL’s first extra-inning game of the year. 
  • 1901 - Hall of Fame LF Heinie Manush was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Manush spent the last two years of his career (1938-39) in Pittsburgh as a pinch hitter, getting just 28 PA (four hits, three walks) before being released, ironically enough for another future HoF’er, Chuck Klein. He was a .330 hitter during his 17-year career with 1,183 RBI and 1,287 runs scored. 
Heinie Manush - 1940 Play Ball
  • 1905 - Club baseball was serious biz (especially for the men in blue) back in the day, like the big rivalry game between the local nines of the Western Union and the Postal Telegraph Co, played at Bedford Park in the Hill District. The Pittsburgh Press description: “The rival managers had bowed gravely to each other as befitted the leaders of baseball gladiators. The umpire had made his will and left it with his wife...it was time to play. There was some terrible slugging (and) thus the battle went on until the 11th inning…” Then a couple of spectators got into a brawl, the ballplayers intervened, and a riot ensued as bricks flew (“The women screamed and fled”) until police calmed things down. The game was called a draw, and the Press reported that “...the umpire has sent word to the managers of the two clubs that if there is another game to be played, he wants time to take out an accident insurance policy and get it mentioned in his will.” 
  • 1946 - RHP John Lamb was born in Sharon, Connecticut. John came from a Northeast prep powerhouse, Housatonic Valley HS, which produced several players including the Pirates Steve Blass (John was his brother-in-law) and Tom Parsons; Pittsburgh had a bit of an edge as their coach, Ed Kirby, was also a part-time Buc scout. He was signed out of high school in 1964 and debuted in 1970, working parts of three seasons (1970-71, 1973) with a slash of 0-2-5/4.07, and was part of the Bucs triple mound entree of Moose, Veale and Lamb. It’s hard to tell where his career may have gone if he hadn’t suffered a brutal camp accident - in 1971, he fractured his skull when a Dave Cash liner found him during spring training. He missed most of the year, spent ‘72 in the minors and his last MLB season was 1973. He went on to be a high school coach. 
  • 1950 - It was the classic slugfest as the Philadelphia Phillies banged out a double, triple, and three homers on their way to eight runs; the Bucs answered with six two-baggers and a long ball of their own to outlast the Brotherly Love gang by a 10-8 score at Forbes Field. Six Pirates had multi-hit games, with three collecting a trio of knocks (Ted Beard, Gus Bell and Danny O’Connell) while Ralph Kiner went long and doubled with Stan Rojek and Johnny Hopp joining the two-hit parade. Murry Dickson, who followed Cliff Chambers and Vern Law, tossed the final 2-2/3 frames scorelessly to get the win while the Phils used five hurlers, with the Buccos scoring off four of them. 
Bob Dillinger - 1951 Bowman
  • 1950 - The Bucs purchased 3B Bob Dillinger, a 1949 All-Star, from the Philadelphia Athletics for $40,000 and he became the sixth player to start at the hot corner for Pittsburgh in four months. A good contact man (he ended his career with a .306 BA), he batted .288 for the Pirates during the dog days, but after a slow start in 1951, Pittsburgh sold him to the White Sox in May. That was his last MLB campaign; he finished out by playing four years in the PCL. 
  • 1955 - The bench to the rescue: the Bucs were down, 3-0, in the seventh inning when pinch hitter Preston Ward smacked a three-run dinger off the Milwaukee Braves’ Ray Crone at Forbes Field. Another bat called off the bench, Jack Shepard, singled off Dave Jolly with the bases loaded in the final frame to earn the Pirates and Dick Littlefield a 4-3 comeback win. 
  • 1959 - As part of the Hall of Fame ceremonies, the Pirates played the Kansas City Athletics in Cooperstown. The game only lasted until the sixth; a rainstorm washed out the rest of the contest with the score tied, 5-5. The Bucs were in second place going into the exhibition; they returned to action the next day, lost nine straight matches and dropped 12-of-13. They straightened up in August and finished 78-76 on the year with their eye on the prize in 1960. 
  • 1961 - Joe Gibbon tossed a four-hitter with nine whiffs as the Bucs beat the Chicago Cubs, 4-0, at Forbes Field. The big blow was Bill Mazeroski’s two-run single in the fourth inning. Gibbon’s win was a rare ray of sunshine for the Pirates - the club had lost three games prior to the win, and would drop six more afterward. The defending champs ended up in sixth place with 75 wins. 
Matty Alou - 1968 Topps
  • 1968 - Bob Veale spun a five-hitter and Matty Alou produced both runs as the Bucs eased by Phil Niekro and the Braves, 2-1, at Atlanta Stadium. Alou tripled and scored the first run when the throw caromed off his leg, then singled home Maury Wills with the game winner, with both hits coming with two strikes. Alou and Wills each had two hits to snap Niekro’s four-game win streak. 
  • 1973 - The Bucs tied the first game of a twin bill against San Diego in the eighth inning and went on to win, 5-4, in 10 frames at Three Rivers Stadium. Rennie Stennett went 4-for-5 with a walk-off homer to end the overtime clash. The Pirates had an easier time with the Padres in the second game, winning 7-0. Stennett had three more hits, including another homer, and Jim Rooker tossed a six-hit complete game with eight whiffs to complete the sweep of the Friars. 
  • 1974 - Willie Stargell homered in the 11th inning to give the Pirates a 7-6 win over the Braves at Atlanta Stadium. Pops also cranked out a double and single, scoring three times with two RBI. Richie Zisk added three hits and three runs chased home. Bruce Kison started and was chased in the second inning, but John Morlan, Ramon Hernandez and the eventual winner, Dave Giusti, tossed 9-1/3 IP of one-run, five-hit ball. The game started off with plenty of fireworks - the Bucs scored four runs in the first frame and the Bravos answered with five in the second.

7/20 From 1980: Mike Goes; Bam A-Ram, 9-Run Opener, Holy Hyzdu, Berra Bash, Game Tales; Wild ASG, Willie Stamp, Olympics; RIP John; HBD Duane & Anthony

  • 1980 - After scoring four times in the first, the Pirates had to plate a pair in the bottom of the ninth to salvage an 8-7 split against the Dodgers at TRS. Lee Lacy was 5-for-5 and a homer away from the cycle, while Bill Robinson homered and Ed Ott had the walk-off, bases-loaded single to earn Grant Jackson the win. Pittsburgh lost the opener, 4-2, as LA’s Burt Hooton and Steve Howe kept the Bucco bats under control. The double dipper was a big to-do in other ways, too. It was Willie Stargell Day with a ceremony between games, and was also the game that Dave Parker, fresh off signing his $1M/year contract, had a Duracell battery tossed at him while in the outfield. 
  • 1983 - Dale Berra did the heavy lifting by driving in five runs with a homer and single as the Bucs dropped the Dodgers, 7-3, at TRS. Rick Rhoden was tagged for 12 hits in eight innings but dodged most of the raindrops before Kent Tekulve took care of the ninth. With the victory, Pittsburgh moved into first place by .001 percentage points over the Cards but would finish the season six games behind the Phils, which lost the “I-95” World Series to the O’s in five games. 
  • 1988 - 90-year-old John Galbreath passed away in Galloway, Ohio. He owned the Pirates from 1946-85, buying them from the Dreyfuss clan for $2.5M. Galbreath put a price tag of $35 million on the Pirates after the 1984 season, but accepted the $22M offer of a coalition put together by Mayor Richard Caliguiri so that the team remained in Pittsburgh. He made his fortune in construction & real estate, and was an avid racing fan, owning the Darby Dan stables which produced Triple Crown winner Chateaugay and Kentucky Derby champ Proud Clarion. 
  • 1993 - Randy Tomlin outdueled old Bucco ace Doug Drabek as the Pirates squeaked by the Astros, 2-1, at TRS. Jeff King was the man of the hour. With two outs in the fourth, Al Martin blooped a double and King singled him home, then Jeff scored the insurance run when Don Slaught singled him home in the seventh. Tomlin gave up just four hits to earn the dub, with his only miscue a home run ball served to Jeff Bagwell in the ninth to add a bit of drama for the fans. 
Anthony Alford - 2022 Topps Heritage
  • 1994 - OF Anthony Alford was born in Columbia, Mississippi. A college quarterback, he signed a deal after being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays to allow him to play both sports (he quit football after the 2014 season). He was fairly highly rated by the prospect gurus, but proved to be inconsistent in limited MLB opportunities, with a pretty high K rate. He was waived and claimed by the Bucs, joining the club in September of 2020 with the team hoping to turn his potential into performance. He won the 2021 starting job in camp, holding off challenges by Brian Goodwin and Dustin Fowler. None of the trio lasted long; Goodwin was released in May and the other pair ended up at Indy in late April after failing Pirates job auditions. Alford went north with the team in 2022, was DFA’ed in late April, signed with Cleveland, jumped to the Korean League and is now in Mexico. 
  • 1996 - In the opening game at the Olympics in Atlanta, the US team topped Nicaragua, 4-1, behind future Pirate pitcher Kris Benson’s seven-hitter. Benson was 2-1 during the games in three outings with 17 strikeouts in 17 IP as the United States won the bronze medal. 
  • 1999 - RHP Duane Underwood Jr. was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was a second-round pick of the Cubs in 2012 out of high school. Duane debuted in 2018, but only got into 30 games in the next three seasons, slashing 1-1/5.20. Chicago traded him to the Bucs for Shendrik Apostel in March, 2021. The Pirates were intrigued enough to take a rider on him and DFA’ed another project, Carson Fulmer, to add Underwood to the MLB roster. He went 2-3/4.33 and earned a spot as a mid-inning guy for 2022. The results were pretty similar as he slashed 1-6-1/4.40 in 51 games, although he had a bit of bad luck as his FIP was a career-best 2.92. He got off to a rough start in 2023 (1-0-2/5.18 in 20 outings) and was sent down to Indy in late May. Duane was released after the season and is now toiling in the New York Yankee organization. 
  • 2002 - OF Adam Hyzdu had a day to tell his grandkids about at PNC Park. He drove in seven runs on four hits, including a pair of HRs, in a 15-6 pasting of first-place St. Louis Cards. Hyzdu became the first Buc since Don Slaught nine years earlier to chase home seven runs, and the crowd of 35,101 called him out of the dugout. The performance came on top of a four-RBI game the day before. It was the Pirates eighth win in 10 games, attracting a walkup sale of 7,650 rooters (over 35,000 fans attended) to witness Kris Benson’s third straight victory. 
Adam Hyzdu - 2002 photo/Sports Memorabilia
  • 2003 - The Mike Williams era ended in Pittsburgh when he was sent to the Phils for LHP Frank Brooks, who had a cup of coffee in the show. Williams, a righty closer, went from setting the Pirate saves record in 2002 with 46 closeouts and back-to-back All Star appearances to a guy with 25 saves but a 6.27 ERA in 2003, his last of a dozen MLB seasons. Williams saved 140 games in six seasons for Pittsburgh; he only posted four more saves in his six non-Pirates seasons. 
  • 2004 - Montreal’s Livian Hernandez made one mistake, a first-inning change up to Rob Mackowiak, with Jason Kendall on first. Mack whacked the ball 430’ over the wall in right center at PNC Park, and that was the difference in a 2-1 Bucco win. Hernandez only gave up two more hits after that, but Sean Burnett danced through eight hits and three walks to hold the Expos to one run in seven frames, followed by Brian Meadows, Mike Gonzalez and Jose Mesa with the save. 
  • 2009 - The Bucs finally broke a 17-game losing streak to the Milwaukee Brewers with an 8-5 victory at PNC Park. Cutch had three hits and Delwyn Young tacked on three RBI with a homer. Jesse Chavez had the fans sweating it out on the edge of their seats by giving up three runs in the ninth, but he struck out Prince Fielder to keep the final result in the win column. 
  • 2010 - The Pirates scored nine runs in the first inning and hung on for an 11-9 victory over the Brewers at PNC Park. The scoring in the opening frame was highlighted by Pedro Alvarez’s first career grand slam, one of two Alvarez long balls smacked during the game. El Toro finished with five RBI and Neil Walker went 5-for-5 with a double against Milwaukee. They needed the quick start as the Brewers cut the lead to 10-9 by the sixth, but were blanked on two hits in the final three frames by Evan Meek, Joel Hanrahan and Octavio Dotel, who worked the ninth to pocket the save. 
  • 2012 - The US Postal Service issued a set of four commemorative stamps depicting Willie Stargell along with Ted Williams, Larry Doby and Joe DiMaggio. The stars’ USPS release party was held in Cooperstown as part of the Hall's annual induction week-end celebration. 
  • 2017 - The Pirates rallied to take a 4-2 win from the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park and sweep the four-game visit. For the Bucs, it was their 11th win in 13 games and 6-of-7 during a two-set homestand, pulling the club to .500 for the first time since mid-April and three games behind the front-running Brew Crew. Pittsburgh was adept at playing on-the-edge contests; all six of their victories on the Allegheny’s shore were after the foe had drawn first blood, with three being walk-off wins. Jameson Taillon was credited with the victory and Felipe Vazquez posted the save. Gregory Polanco homered while Chris Stewart went 3-for-3. 
  • 2022 - The Frontier League Washington Wild Things hosted the league All-Star Game at Wild Things Park. The club, formed in 2002, featured a five-day program of events including celebrity softball, a concert and even a wrestling show to benefit various charities. The ASG players donned jerseys to represent Negro League teams from their area and fans got to bid on the jerseys through an auction for the Josh Gibson Foundation. The Frontier League is loosely affiliated with MLB as a Partner League to provide mutual marketing and promo opportunities.

Friday, July 19, 2024

7/19 Through the 1960s: Duke Arrives; Dueling, Moose, Law Gems, Ralph Rippin', Arky Cycle, Hans Debut, Game Stories; NY Vibes; Frank Goes; HBD Vincente, Nick, Earl, Clint, Jeff, Jasper, Jim & Bill

  • 1865 - RHP Bill Hart was born in Louisville. He played for Pittsburgh in 1895 and again in 1898, going 19-26-2/4.77 from the bump. He also played some OF during his eight-year career, but was strictly a hurler for the Bucs. Bill hit .237, marking him as a journeyman both on the rubber and at the dish. Hart was twice traded by the Pirates and they landed a pair of very good players in exchange, IF Bones Ely in 1896 and then OF Ginger Beaumont after the ‘98 campaign. 
  • 1865 - 3B Jim Donnelly was born in New Haven, Connecticut. The son of immigrants, Jim played pro ball at some level from the time he was 18 in 1884 until 1902 when he was 36. He spent parts of 11 seasons in the show, split into two eras: 1884-91, when he was a regular for a while, and then after a four-year run in the minors, he returned as purely a big league bench guy from 1896-98. Jim spent part of that second stay with the Pirates in 1897, hitting just .193 before being shipped to the New York Giants in mid-season. He arrived in town with Steve Brodie from Baltimore as the O’s trade return for Jake Stenzel. Neither Donnelly nor Brodie made it to 1898 with the Bucs while Stenzel played on for three more seasons, batting .309 over that span. 
  • 1873 - OF/1B Harry “Jasper” Davis was born in Philadelphia, with some sources citing the 18th as his birthdate. Jasper played early in his 22-year MLB stint for the Bucs, from 1896-98. He came to Pittsburgh in 1896 in a deal for Jake Beckley, and the 22-year-old hit .190 to finish the campaign before blooming in ‘97, batting .305 and then .293 in 1898. He was sent to the Louisville Colonels, and from there, he bounced around, landing with the Athletics in 1901 after taking a year off to work on the railroad. Harry played 16 of his next 17 seasons in Philadelphia (he had a hiatus in 1912 with Cleveland as a player/manager), batting .279 before retiring in 1917 at the age of 43. From 1912 on, his ballfield action was limited as he served as a player/coach for Connie Mack for most of that period. Fun fact: Jasper had a four-year run of leading MLB in long balls from 1904-07, yet hit just 75 homers between 1895-1917. He never launched more than 12 four-baggers in a single season, and in fact finished with double-figure dingers only twice. His nickname was given by his Girard College days schoolmates for reasons unknown. 
The Flying Dutchman - Ars Longa
  • 1887 - Honus Wagner made his National League debut with the Louisville Colonels, owned by Barney Dreyfuss. He got a hit and stole a base in a 12-2 win over the Brooklyn Grays. In 1900, Dreyfuss bought the Pittsburgh franchise and maneuvered most of the Louisville club onto the roster, including the Flying Dutchman, in a pretty astute bit of FO wheelin’-and-dealin’. 
  • 1888 - C Ed “Jeff” Sweeney was born in Chicago. The defensive specialist spent eight years with the NY Highlanders/Yankees, two more in the minors, time in the Navy during WW1 and then finished his nine-year MLB run with the Pirates in 1919, getting into 17 games and hitting .095 before being sent to the PCL. He spent one more year in pro ball before calling it a career. 
  • 1889 - RHP Francis Clinton “Clint” Rogge was born in Memphis, Michigan.The long-time minor league twirler (he beat the bushes from 1909-23) got his first big league ( Federal League) taste during the 1915 campaign when he was part of the Pittsburgh Rebels’ rotation. He held up fairly well against Fed batters, slashing 17-11/2.55 in 31 starts, compiling five shutouts and 254-1/3 IP. After that campaign, he started a long run with the Indianapolis Indians of the now minor-league American Association, getting one brief return to the show in 1921 with the Reds. 
  • 1891 - LHP Earl Hamilton was born in Gibson, Illinois. The little southpaw spent six of his 14 big league seasons (1918-23) as a Pirate, putting up a line of 55-55-7/3.35 as both a starter and a long man. He won 115 MLB games overall, tossing for four clubs. Earl had a couple moments in the sun - he spun a no-hitter for the St. Louis Browns in 1912 and went 16 scoreless frames for the Bucs in a 1920 start, only to run out of gas and drop the decision in the 17th inning. 
  • 1893 - From Charlton’s Baseball Chronology: “Pittsburgh used 19 hits – all singles – to win in Cleveland, 10-6. Pittsburgh was further aided by the defense of LF Elmer Smith, whose use of green glasses to fend off the sun greatly helped him in his fielding.” Lefty Killen went the route for the win and every Pirate had a hit, with six collecting multiple knocks. It was a noteworthy contest in that the game may be the first time that an outfielder fought the daytime sun with shades. 
Mike Lynch - 1904 photo/Pgh Press
  • 1904 - The Pirates rallied for a pair of runs in the ninth inning off Giants ace Christy Mathewson to take a 2-1 victory at the Polo Grounds. Shut out on five hits going into the final frame, Honus Wagner tripled to left to ignite Pittsburgh, and an out later Jimmy Sebring banged out another three-bagger, ripping a shot off the first base bag that rolled into the corner. Pinch hitter Claude Ritchey followed with an RBI knock, and Mike Lynch made it stand up in the bottom half, tossing a complete game four-hitter against New York. The heated series featured manager John “Mugsy” McGraw and Mathewson getting into a jawing match with the hometown crowd the day before, a verbal (and profane) sparring session that lasted until they got back to their hotel. The Pittsburgh Press had a couple of juicy lines regarding the affair: “McGraw is not liked here...Some day he will carry things too far, and some husky Pittsburger will thump him” and then threw some shade at Christy: “ Matty... has to buy a cap a size larger after every victory…” 
  • 1905 - Pittsburgh pulled to within five games of New York by overcoming a 5-2 deficit at the Polo Grounds to rally past the Giants, 8-5. It was Pittsburgh’s third straight win against the defending champions. Umpire Bill Klem was the target of a barrage of tossed garbage from the New York fans after ejecting Dan McGann and “Turkey Mike” Donlin from the game. They yapped their way into Klem’s bad graces as the Pittsburgh Press game story explained: “Umpire baiting was plentiful, with Taylor (the pitcher), McGann and Donlin the chief offenders of this style of play.” Sam Leever got the win, coming in as a second-inning reliever, while the offense was led by Otis Clymer’s three hits. The Bucs pounded out 15 knocks as five Pirates had multi-hit outings. 
  • 1935 - C Nick Koback was born in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1953, at the age of 17, Koback signed with Pittsburgh as a bonus baby out of Hartford HS. Per bonus baby rules of the era, he made his MLB debut before playing in the minors and was the youngest player in the league As you might imagine, teenage Nick wasn’t quite ready for showtime. He got some quick sips of coffee with the Bucs from 1953-55 and went 4-for-33 (.121). It was his only big league time with most of his career spent in the farm leagues and Mexico. He earned a reputation of a good hitter - of Titleists, not baseballs (his minor league lifetime BA was .243), and he became a golf pro after he left baseball. 
Nick Koback - auto card
  • 1939 - Arky Vaughan led the Pirates 19-hit parade at the Polo Grounds, going 5-for-5 while hitting for his second career cycle as Pittsburgh banged the New York Giants, 10-3. Arky scored four times with two RBI and Chuck Klein extended his hitting streak to 18 games. Elby Fletcher slammed a long ball among three hits; Ray Berres added three knocks, and Fern Bell chased three teammates home with the well-supported Mace Brown going the distance for the win. Vaughan’s cycle was the first posted by a Pirate since 1933 - and that one belonged to Arky, too. 
  • 1950 - Frank E. McKinney resigned as president of the Pirates. He sold his interests in the club to partners John Galbreath and Tom Johnson, with Galbreath assuming the presidency. Vice President Bing Crosby retained his minority interest. That group had bought the Bucs in 1946 from Barney Dreyfuss’ family and ran it until 1985 when the Pittsburgh Associates took over. 
  • 1950 - The Pirates purchased 3B Bob “Duke” Dillinger from the Philadelphia Athletics for $35,000. The 31-year-old slap-hitter played 70 games from 1950-51 for the Bucs, batting .279. An All-Star (1949) and league hits leader (1948) for the St Louis Browns, Bob had also claimed the American League stolen base crown from 1947-49, but his wheels were wearing thin and he only swiped six sacks as a Bucco. The Pirates sold him to the Chicago White Sox in 1951, and that was his last hurrah after six MLB seasons. Two things conspired against Dillinger - he got to the show late, spending three years in the service, and he later developed an early case of “Steve Sax” disease, often unable to make the throw across the infield, and he wasn’t very much of a fielder even before the yips hit. He spent his final four years in the PCL with Sacramento. 
  • 1952 - It wasn’t, as usual, a very good day for Pittsburgh as the Brooklyn Dodgers spanked them at Forbes Field by a 9-1 score. But it was another good day, also as usual, for Ralph Kiner. The Pirates slugger homered for the fourth time in four games and the seventh time in his past dozen outings. He would keep on and claim the home run title for a seventh straight year with 37 bombs and make his fifth consecutive All-Star appearance, all while playing for a horrible Bucco club that won just 42 games all year and finished 54-1/2 games behind the Dodgers. 
Ralph Kiner - 2020 Topps Tradition
  • 1955 - Vern Law pitched 18 innings against the Milwaukee Braves in front of 7,900+ Forbes Field fans. And he didn’t even get the win; Bob Friend worked the 19th frame to get credit for the 4-3 victory. Law left after giving up two runs - one was unearned - on nine hits with two walks and 12 whiffs. Friend came in and gave up a score, but the Bucs came back with a pair of tallies on Gene Freese’s single, Dale Long’s double that chased home Freese, and the game-winning knock by Frank Thomas. It wasn’t even Law’s day to pitch - he took the hill on just two days' rest; he got the call to the slab when the scheduled hurler, Joe Gibbon, became ill. 
  • 1963 - RHP Vincente Palacios was born in Manlio Fabio Altamirano, Mexico. He tossed five years (1987-88, 1990-92) for the Bucs as a spot starter and long man while a member of the Jimmy Leyland teams, slashing 12-8-6/4.03. His career was hampered by a pair of shoulder surgeries, and after his Pirate days, he yo-yoed between MLB and the Mexican League. 
  • 1967 - The Pirates Dennis Ribant and the Giants Mike McCormack hooked up in a taut Forbes Field pitchers duel that wasn’t decided until the 11th frame. Pittsburgh scored in the first inning on a passed ball and the G-Men got a homer from Tom Haller in the second frame; it was a long line of zeroes after that. Ribant scattered nine hits while his teammates left the bases loaded three times after plating that first run. The fourth try proved the charm when Jerry May led off the 11th with a triple and a pair of intentional walks jammed the sacks again. Frank Linzy took McCormack’s spot to face Gene Alley, who singled home the game winner. The 2-1 win put the Pirates one game over .500 and that’s about how they finished; the club was 81-81 at the end. 
  • 1968 - Rookie Bob Moose tossed a four-hitter as the Bucs dropped the Braves, 2-0, at Atlanta Stadium. Moose also issued four walks but was never in trouble; no Brave reached third base. It was the 20-year-old’s third whitewash of the season. The Bravos’ Ron Reed was tough, too, as he scattered eight hits, allowing Donn Clendenon (who had two knocks) to score on a Bill Mazeroski single and later giving up an insurance run when Willie Stargell went deep.

7/19 From 1970: Cesar Joins; Dewey Duo, Candy, Brett Gems, Game Tales; Rafe Streak, ASG; HBD Ernesto, Phil & Brian

  • 1972 - RHP Brian Smith was born in Salisbury, North Carolina. The Pirates picked Smith up as a 26-year-old Rule 5 player in 1999 from the Toronto Blue Jays, and after shoulder surgery, he had a strong comeback campaign at AA Altoona in 2000. He got a three-game cup of coffee with the Bucs in September (0-0/10.58), was released, re-signed and spent two more seasons toiling in the Pirates system. Smith then pitched in 2003 with the Colorado Rockies organization and in the indie Atlantic League before hangin’ ‘em up and retiring from baseball at age 30. 
  • 1974 - Ken Brett worked 8-1/3 frames while leading the Pirates to a 2-0 shutout victory against the Braves at Atlanta Stadium. The Pirates scored first in the fifth inning when Frank Taveras led off with a triple and scored on Brett’s sacrifice fly, and the Buccaneers added an insurance marker in the ninth frame on Bob Robertson’s two-out double that plated Ed Kirkpatrick. The five-hit win upped Brett’s record to 12-6 while Dave Giusti picked up his fifth save. 
  • 1977 - The National outslugged the AL, 7-5, at Yankee Stadium during the All-Star game. Dave Parker went 1-for-3, while Bucco closer Goose Gossage made it interesting by giving up a two-run homer in the ninth. John Candelaria was also on the squad, but didn’t see any action. 
  • 1982 - LHP Phil Coke was born in Sonora, California. Phil was a Bucco target early in his career as a Yankee in 2008, but remained in pinstripes when a medical question went unresolved. After bouncing around the league for nine years, he ended up back with New York, and they sold him to the Pirates in 2016. The 33-year-old tossed four scoreless innings in three outings, but walked four to go with three hits, and that ended his MLB days. He toiled in Japan the following year and then in Mexico in 2018 to finish his playing days atop the hill. 
Phil Coke - 2016 photo/Pirates
  • 1983 - The Pirates won their eighth in a row in workmanlike fashion over the Dodgers, 4-1, at TRS. Brian Harper went 2-for-3 with a homer to lead the attack while John Candelaria notched the win with relief help from Rod Scurry. The streak ended later that night when Alejandro Pena and the LA bullpen edged the Bucs in 11 innings, 3-2, in the nitecap of a twilight twin bill. 
  • 1984 - John Candelaria pitched a three-hitter and connected off Tim Lollar for his first and only MLB home run to do it all for the Pirates in a 5-1 win against the San Diego Padres at TRS. Tony Pena and Dale Berra also homered for the Bucs. The 7-8-9 hitters (Berra, Marvell Wynne and Candy) went 5-for-10 with two homers, a double, a triple, three runs scored and four RBI. 
  • 1985 - RHP Ernesto Frieri was born in Arjona, Colombia. He was the Angels closer who hit on hard times and in June, 2014, Frieri was traded to Pittsburgh for another change-of-scenery candidate, Jason Grilli. Frieri gave up 12 runs in 10-2/3 innings for the Pirates and was DFA’ed & outrighted to AAA Indianapolis in August, then released three weeks later. Frieri then bounced around, making a couple of big league stops, and his last season was spent in Mexico in 2018. 
  • 1988 - Rafael Belliard enjoyed the last day of an eight-game hitting streak that started on July 8th. In true Raffy style, his first eight hits were infield singles. He went 13-for-31 during that span, with two grounder-through-the-infield knocks, a bloop, a liner, and his only extra base hit, a triple, following his eight leg hits. It didn’t help a whole lot; he still hit just .213 during the season. The Bucs split a doubleheader with San Diego, and Raffy’s string ended in the second game. The Pirates had their own streak of nine straight wins snapped in the first-game. 
  • 1997 - The Pirates jumped out to an 8-0 lead at Veterans Stadium and kept the petal to the metal, pounding the Philadelphia Phillies, 13-3. All eight Bucco position players hit safely, and seven had multiple hits. All eight also plated and six of them had RBIs. Three was the day’s magic number: that’s how many hits Jason Kendall had, how many runs Kevin Young and Dale Sveum chased home, and how often Turner Ward crossed home plate. It was also how many tallies Steve Cooke surrendered as he cruised for six frames on the way to his eighth win of the year. 
A-Ram - 2001 Fleer Tradition
  • 2001 - The Pirates overcame a 2-0 deficit by scoring three times in the sixth and seventh innings, ending a five game losing streak by defeating the Cubs, 3-2, at PNC Park. The key blow was a two-out, two-run single by Aramis Ramirez off a 1-2 pitch from Julian Taveras. It came with the bases loaded in the sixth following an intentional walk to John Vander Wal to set up A-Ram. 
  • 2002 - Adam Hyzdu went 3-for-5 with a homer, four RBI and three runs to lead the Bucs to a 12-9 slugfest win over St. Louis at PNC Park. After the Cardinals tied the game with five runs in the seventh, Rob Mackowiak countered with a two-run pinch hit homer in the Pirates half. Brian Giles and Pokey Reese also had three hits to help Scott Sauerbeck win his third game. 
  • 2005 - The sad sack Pirates were swept by the Astros, 9-3 and 6-4, in a PNC Park twin bill, but it was a coming out day for 24-year-old rookie C Ryan Doumit, who slugged his first two MLB homers in the lidlifter. Dewey spent seven campaigns toiling with Pittsburgh, though he never developed into a big bopper despite that promising start, swatting just 67 long flies as a Bucco. 
  • 2006 - As the deadline approached, the Pirates had several irons in the fire per Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette. They were one of four teams lined up for 26-year-old Rox prospect 1B Ryan Shealy; no specific details were leaked, but the Bucs matched up with Colorado, which was thought to be looking for bullpen help. The reliever payback was on target, although not Bucco arms: Shealy went to KC for Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista. The Yankees, who missed out on signing Roberto Hernandez as a FA in the offseason, were in talks to get him to the Bronx; the Pirates were looking to perhaps shuffle some of Jeremy Burnitz’s contract to the Big Apple. Right city; wrong team - the Bucs couldn’t unload Burnitz, but Hernandez, with Ollie Perez, was enough to reel Xavier Nady in from the Mets. Finally, it was rumored that they were dangling Sean Casey on the market. That rumor bore fruit; The Mayor went to Motown for RHP Brian Rogers. 
Cesar Izturis - 2008 Topps
  • 2007 - The Pirates purchased SS Cesar Izturis from the Chicago Cubs, firing up the rumor mill concerning Jack Wilson’s future in Pittsburgh where he was reportedly barely holding off Brian Bixler. As it ended up, it was Izturis who left at the end of the year when Pittsburgh didn’t renew his contract. Jack also outlasted BB and made it to 2009 before the Buccos’ FO sent the 32-year-old to Seattle to usher in the Ronnie Cedeno era. He retired after the 2012 campaign, worn down by injuries and age. He now coaches for a variety of developmental leagues. 
  • 2011 - The Bucs shut out the Reds for the second straight game, beating Mike Leake, 1-0, at PNC Park to claim sole possession of first place in the NL Central for the last time. James McDonald, with help from Joe Beimel, Chris Resop and Joel Hanrahan, got the win when a soft roller to short by Cutch in the first inning cashed in Josh Harrison, who was on third after Neil Walker doubled. Charlie Morton and Joel Hanrahan teamed up for a 2-0 victory the game before. 
  • 2014 - It took 11 innings, but the Bucs finally topped the Colorado Rockies, 3-2, at PNC Park on Jordy Mercer’s walk-off double. Charlie Morton and Brett Anderson were hooked up in a duel, both lasting seven innings with the Rox up, 2-1. The Bucs tied it in the eighth when Gaby Sanchez’s double plated Neil Walker and the bullpen took over. Ernesto Frieri, Mark Melancon, Justin Wilson and Jared Hughes needed just 33 pitches to cover the last four frames. Hughes got the win, but had the baseball gods on his side when with runners on the corners, a one-hop bullet back to the box stuck in his mitt and he turned it into an inning-ending double play. 
Jordy Mercer - 2014 Topps
  • 2016 - Josh Harrison scored on a throwing error in the ninth inning to post his sixth career walk-off hit as the Pirates beat the Brewers, 3-2, at PNC Park. Harrison led off the ninth with a triple to center field off Milwaukee’s Tyler Thornburg. Second baseman Scooter Gennett’s relay throw skipped into the Pittsburgh dugout as J-Hay slid into third, sending him home for the club’s second walkoff of the year. Mark Melancon got the blown save/win combo after giving up a run in the ninth (he was dinged by a two-out, two-strike rap by Hernan Perez). The Shark had followed Tony Watson, Neftali Feliz and rookie starter Jameson Taillon on the bump.
  • 2022 - Giancarlo Stanton (MVP) and Byron Buxton went long back-to-back in the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium to propel the AL to a 3-2 win in the Midsummer Classic. Closer David Bednar was the Bucs only rep, and he worked the ninth inning, giving up a walk amid three bouncers. The night before, Juan Sota won the Home Run Derby, topping Julio Rodriguez.

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Draft: Prep Star Konnor Griffin #1

2024 Pirates Draft Pool Money is $14,000,500. The recipients:

1: SS/CF Konnor Griffin (First Round #9, $6,216,600 slot - Jackson Prep, MS), a LSU commit. He's considered the consensus top prep prospect; his only question is whether his bat will hold up; consistent contact is a concern.
2: RHP Levi Sterling (Competitive Balance, #37, $2,511,400 slot - Notre Dame HS, CA.) Levi's a Texas commit that features a heater (90-92), curve and splitter. 
3: SS Wyatt Sanford (2nd Round #47, $1,984,800 - Independence HS, TX), a Texas A&M commit. His selling card is that he has a good glove and should stick at short, although some believe he profiles as a utility guy because of his uncertain stick, so that will be his determinant tool.
4: LHP Josh Hartle (3rd Round #83, $920,800 - Wake Forest). He was hot in '23 (11-2/2.81 & an All-American) and stumbled in '24 (6-3/5.79); the Bucs are taking a roll on a rebound from the lefty. He's the only college pick among the Bucs Top Five.
5: SS Eddie Rynders (4th  Round #112, $649,700 - Wisconsin Lutheran  HS). He has power and is likely to switch to 3B, and was an overdraft per most scouting services.
6: CF Will Taylor (5th Round #145, $471,400 - Clemson). Will started out as a football/baseball guy for the Tigers and settled on baseball; that parlay worked out pretty well for Bubba Chandler. But it is tough on the bod; he's already had ACL surgery and broke his wrist in April. He's another who needs to show some consistency after an up-and-down college career.
7: RHP Matt Ager (6th Round #174, $359,900 - UC Santa Barbara). He's hit 95 on the gun and lasted a couple of rounds later than expected, so he may be a steal. But he's another wait-and-see guy; his 2024 campaign was a disappointment compared to '23. 
8: RHP Connor Wietgrefe (7th Round #204, $281,500 - Minnesota). He was converted to F/T starter this year and responded with a slash of 8-4/2.77 ERA, both second in the Big Ten.
9: RHP Gavin Adams (8th Round #234, $224,500 - Florida State). Adams underwent TJ surgery in March, but in '23 lit it up with 100 MPH gas. He also has a serviceable slider and appears to be a bullpen project after rehab, although he has been a career starter. 
10: IF Duce Gourson (9th Round # 264, $196,100 - UCLA). Like Ager, Gourson fell to the Pirates two or three rounds later than expected. A contact-style hitter, he batted .288 for the Bruins.
11. C Derek Berg (10th Round #294, $183,800 - Army). He's versatile (also plays 1st & 2B) while hitting .290 with 15 homers in 200 ABs.

The remaining 10 players drafted on the third day slot up to $150,000 plus whatever crumbs remain from the Top 10 rounds. MLB's Draft Tracker list of Bucco selections  

irates Image
Griffin has the potential to be star stuff, keepin' in mind that he's just 18, while the Pirates stuck to their script of collecting college pitchers and versatile middle infielders in the prime rounds. The Bucs took a few guys that had been hot news in 2023 who then faltered during their junior seasons, with a lot of projection and development involved with this year's top guns. A couple of third day guys to watch are VCU soph RHP Brian Curley (6-0-3/2.87, K per inning) and the only prep kid of the day, Woodward KY 6'-5" RHP/3B Taylor Penn (.375 at the dish, 7-1/0.40 on the hill with 89 K in 52 IP). Both should require a hefty bonus. Righty swinger Ian Farrow of Florida Gulf Coast College (.379/15 HR) offers a big bat as a corner OF/DH.

This year the draft room looked like a luau, per Kevin Gorman of the Trib. Area scout Dan Radcliff, who has been with the club since 2015 and habitually wore a Hawaiian shirt to every draft day, was missing this year as he battles cancer. The other scouts honored their AWOL bud by wearing their own Hawaiian shirts this year to let him know he was missed.

7/18 Through the 1950s: Ralph #100 & 3 HR-7 RBI, Game Tales; FF @ Nite/Grays-KC, Max Dangled; HBD Windy, Al, Hippity, Mayor & Bill

  • 1894 - C Bill Haeffner was born in Philadelphia. Bill had a three-year major league career, spread out over 14 years. He got a cup of coffee with Philadelphia in 1915 and with the New York Giants in 1928 while seeing his biggest chunk of playing time with Pittsburgh in 1920, batting .194 in 54 games. What he did in between is a mystery; Baseball Reference and the other chroniclers don’t have any record of him playing in the minors/indies, so we assume he played semi-pro. We do know that Haeffner served as the head baseball coach at La Salle University. 
  • 1894 - Wilbur “Mayor” Fisher was born in Green Bottom, West Virginia. His MLB career consisted of one at bat for the Bucs in 1916 as a 21-year-old. He played for Marshall University as a P/OF and the last pro listing for him was in 1917 as a member of the Petersburg Goobers of the Virginia League. Like many area breadwinners, he worked in the coal mines after playing ball. 
  • 1905 - The Bucs collected eight hits, including a home run by George Gibson, in a 2-1 victory over New York and Christy Mathewson at the Polo Grounds. The game was halted for a time by umpire Jim Johnstone after a Giants fan tossed a bottle at Pirate RF Otis Clymer while he was chasing a ball. Clymer had already made one great play in the pasture and apparently the home crowd didn’t want another. Charlie Case and Mike Lynch tossed a five-hitter for the win. 
  • 1914 - The frustrated Pirates were probably tired of Forbes Field after splitting a twin bill with Brooklyn, winning the opener, 3-0, and losing the evening game, 6-5, in 10 innings. The first game of the series on the day before went 21 frames, and that followed the Pirates losing a pair to the NY Giants the day before. So the Bucs and Big Apple nines played five games in a span of three days that lasted for 58 innings, the equivalent of three double headers. It was a frustrating stretch: Pittsburgh lost four of the matches, two in extra innings and another by a run, with the only Bucco victory being Bob Harmon’s complete-game, six-hit shutout OTD. The contests were part of a 19-of-20 games homestand (they had one road game in Chicago) that finished 7-13, though they did end the season 39-36 in their Oakland yard. The Bucs finished seventh with a 69-win season. 
Max Carey - 1914 Baseball Mag/Paul Thompson
  • 1914 - The Pittsburgh Press reported that a Brooklyn paper, the Eagle, was floating around a possible deal for young Bucco center fielder Max Carey. The 24-year-old was hitting just .212 for a club that was going nowhere and Superba skipper Wilbert Robinson was looking for another man to add to the pasture. But Barney Dreyfuss and Manager Fred Clarke resisted the offer, and Carey wore a Pirates uniform until 1926 while on the way to 2,665 hits, 688 stolen sacks and the Hall of Fame. Ironically, after 17 years as a Corsair, Carey did end up in Brooklyn (by now, the Robins), where he played out his final 3-1/2 MLB seasons. 
  • 1916 - OF Johnny “Hippity” Hopp was born in Hastings, Nebraska. He played three years in Pittsburgh (1948-50) with a .291/24/244 line as a Bucco. During his 14 year big league career, Hopp played in five different World Series with the Cards and Yankees and was an All-Star in 1946. Hippity had a kind of odd stay with the Pirates. In 1949, he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Marv Rackley, but three weeks later, the trade was voided (Branch Rickey claimed Rackley had a bum arm, though he disagreed) and the two players were returned to their original teams. As a Bucco in 1950, Hopp had a streak of eight straight hits before the New York Yankees got him back by purchasing his contract at the beginning of September. Besides answering to “Hippity,” he was also known as “Cotney” (as in cottony) due to his prematurely white hair. Johnny was a coach through the fifties for Detroit and St Louis before getting a day job and teaching at baseball camps. 
  • 1918 - RHP Al Lyons was born in St. Joseph, Missouri. He put in four big league years with a stop with the Pirates. In August of 1947, Pittsburgh purchased his contract from the New York Yankees for and he appeared in thirteen games, going 1-2/7.31 over 28-1/3 IP, and hitting his only MLB homer as a Bucco. The Yankees won the pennant and World Series that year while the Pirates finished in last place, but the Bronx Bombers remembered their ol’ bud and voted Lyons 1/2 World Series share ($2,915). After the season, the Pirates sent him to Boston as part of the Johnny Hopp/Danny Murtaugh deal. He got into a handful of games for the Braves and then spent several seasons in the PCL, where he became an OF/P, hitting 99 homers and winning 47 games over seven seasons. He retired after the 1956 campaign and served for years as a Mets scout. 
Windy McCall - April 20, 1950 Press clip
  • 1925 - LHP John “Windy” McCall was born in San Francisco. He worked part of seven years in the majors, with a brief stop at Pittsburgh in 1950, getting no decisions and tossing to a 9.25 ERA in two outings while pitching injured; a line drive hit him in the hand and he was bruised so badly that he couldn't grip the ball. He was sent to Indianapolis to recover and was later sold to the Giants. He was a Marine during WW2 who served in the Pacific Theater, delaying his entry into pro ball. McCall played in the majors until 1957 and closed out in the PCL after the 1959 campaign. Windy got his nickname from Ted Williams; McCall said “I guess they think I talk too much.” 
  • 1930 - George Grantham and Adam Comorosky each homered and combined with Pie Traynor to go 9-for-14 with nine RBI and seven runs scored to power the attack as the Pirates defeated Boston, 12-4, at Braves Field. Glenn Spencer went the distance on the bump for the win. 
  • 1930 - While the Pirates were away, the Homestead Grays played. And it was a historic game, as the Grays squeaked out a 5-4, extra-inning win against the storied Kansas City Monarchs in the first night game ever played at Forbes Field (KC was credited w/hosting the first night baseball game earlier in the year) in front of 6,000 fans. Homestead fell behind 4-0, but put up a pair in the fifth and then rallied to tie the game in the ninth before Buck Ewing’s infield hit scored George Scales with the game winner in the 12th. Leadoff men Jake Stephens and Vic Harris provided the juice, collecting five hits and scoring four runs. 34-year-old George Britt went the distance, as did the Monarch’s Chet Brewer, who would spend almost 20 years as a Pirates scout after his playing days. The illumination was provided by 35 sky-high “projectors” with three lights each; apparently the only issues were with the electrical cables laid along the park railings and foul pops behind the plate. The teams played a day-night doubleheader the next day. Bucco owner Barney Dreyfuss was at the game and told Ralph Davis of the Pittsburgh Press “It is interesting, and provides entertainment for many people who cannot get away from work for afternoon contests...(but) I don’t think night baseball will ever replace the daylight brand in popularity.” It would take the Pirates another decade (6/5/1940) before they hosted their first home night game. 
FF's First Night Game - Grays v KC 7/19/1930 Post-Gazette
  • 1948 - It was a bad day at the office for the Pirates as they dropped a twin bill to the Boston Braves by 10-2 and 3-1 scores at Forbes Field. But it was a record setting afternoon for Ralph Kiner, who hit a solo shot in the ninth in the nitecap for his 100th career homer in 385 games, a pace that wasn’t surpassed until Ryan Howard did it in 325 games in 2007. 
  • 1951 - Ralph Kiner drove in seven runs and hit three HRs, including his 10th grand slam, in a 13-12 slugfest win over the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. His final bomb, a solo shot in the eighth, broke a 12-12 tie. In Kiner's final at bat in the ninth, he almost did it again as Carl Furillo hauled in his long drive near the centerfield gate. Ralph set the franchise record by notching his fourth game with three homers, later to be tied by Willie Stargell. Joe Garagiola and Gus Bell also went long to help the Bucs and Junior Walsh to victory. 
  • 1956 - Dick Groat’s two-run double in the 10th inning snapped a six-game losing streak for the Bucs, leading the club to a 4-2 win at Busch Stadium. The Pirates ran themselves out of chances to win in regulation by losing overly rambunctious runners at second, third and home during the match. It ended a streak for Bob Friend, too - the two runs for the Redbirds ended his scoreless skein against them at 32 innings. On the bright side, the complete game four-hitter was his 12th victory of the year, one that took him a while to earn - his 11th win was on June 16th. 
  • 1957 - Ernie Banks and future Bucco skipper Chuck Tanner of the Cubs hit inside-the-park homers at Forbes Field during a come-from-behind rally that the Pirates eventually claimed, 6-5, when Pittsburgh scored four runs off three Chicago pitchers in the ninth inning. Dick Groat’s two-run triple tied the game and he crossed the plate with the game winner following Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off single. Luis Arroyo was credited with the victory in relief of Bob Purkey.

7/18 From 1960: Skenes Signed, The Hat Goes, Pops & Dave AS; Luke, Charlie Gems, King Konks, Big Daddy's #400, Game Tales; Scolding, 11 Straight

  • 1964 - The Milwaukee Braves got blown out at County Stadium, losing 8-2 to the Pirates, paced by Bob Bailey and Roberto Clemente’s three hits to back Bob Veale’s seven-hitter. Despite the loss, Braves legend Warren Spahn reached a career milestone. Seven of Pittsburgh's 15 hits came against the southpaw, who lasted just 3-2/3 frames, but he managed to complete his 5,000th MLB inning, putting him in an elite group; he still ranks eighth all-time in IP (sixth since post-1900) and joined a club with just a dozen other 5K workhorse members. The Hall-of-Famer usually fared pretty well against the Buccos; he defeated them 49 times over his two-decade career. 
  • 1967 - Harry “The Hat” Walker was fired as manager amidst reports of team dissension when the Bucs started out 42-42, despite winning 182 games and finishing third in back-to-back seasons. Old standby Danny Murtaugh returned to the bench in his stead until the year’s end. 
  • 1969 - Roberto Clemente ruined Bob Gibson’s day as the Bucs defeated the Cards at Forbes Field, when Arriba’s two-run homer and productive bouncer plated three of the Pirates' runs in a 4-1 victory. He remained a burr in Gibby’s side; his three-run homer at St. Louis did Gibson in, 3-0, the week before, the first two long flies he had ever hit off the ace. Dock Ellis was the recipient of Arriba’s largesse as the Docktor scattered seven hits in a complete game victory. 
  • 1971 - The Bucs won their 11th straight game when they swept a DH from the Dodgers, 3-2 and 7-1, at TRS. The Pirates took the opener when Gene Alley opened the ninth with a triple and plated on Gene Clines' tapper. Dave Giusti got the blown save/win in relief of Bruce Kison. Luke Walker had a no-hitter going into the ninth inning during the second game, losing the no-no on a homer by Joe Ferguson. Richie Hebner and Milt May went long for the Buccos. 
Willie Stargell Profile - March 16, 1973 Post-Gazette
  • 1973 - Willie Stargell went 4-for-4 with a double and a homer, Rennie Stennett went deep and Bob Robertson doubled in a run as the Pirates defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-2, at Three Rivers Stadium. Dock Ellis won the mound battle against Tommy John, with Dave Giusti coming on for the save. The two men of the hour, Willie and Giusti, got their league letters notifying them that they had made the All-Star team. The Bucs pranked Giusti; he had been bypassed for AS honors the past couple of seasons despite strong credentials, and his teammates hid his notification and then razzed him about missing the boat again until they finally disclosed the good news. 
  • 1986 - Rick Reuschel made the 400th start of his big league career a winner, allowing three runs in seven innings to earn a 12-7 decision over the San Diego Padres at Three Rivers Stadium. UL Washington led the way for the Pirates, going 3-for-4 with four RBI, Jim Morrison collected three hits with three RBI and Sid Bream had three knocks and scored twice. The game was a laugher at 10-0 in the fifth; the Friars scored four times in the ninth off Barry Jones to save some face. Big Daddy would finish his 19-year career with 529 starts and 214 victories. 
  • 1987 - Pittsburgh rallied for a pair of eighth inning runs to drop LA, 4-2, at Dodger Stadium. Doug Drabek won his first game since April 19th and got beaned in the process while SS Felix Fermin, called up 10 days before and batting .316, fouled a bunt off his thumb and was lost for two months. The Dodgers jumped ahead, 2-0, on a first inning, two-run shot by Pedro Guerrero before Fermin’s two-run single tied it in the second. It was zeroes until the eighth, with the main excitement being DD’s beaning in the seventh by Orel Hershiser. It wasn’t a payback pitch; Drabek was served an inside curve and ducked right into it. As Bob Hertzel of the Press wrote, Doug was “...probably the first player in baseball history to be hit in the head with a knee-high breaking ball.” He shook it off, although Barry Jones came on to work the last two innings for the save as the Pirates plated a pair in the next frame on three singles, a walk and passed ball. Bobby Bonilla led the batsmen with three hits and scored twice. Pittsburgh was its own worst enemy during the match, stranding 10 runners, hitting into a double play and going 0-for-2 in steal attempts. 
Jim Leyland - 1989 Veryfine Juice
  • 1989 - After a 17-4 loss to the San Diego Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium, Jim Leyland held a closed door team meeting and per the Pittsburgh Press’ Bob Hertzel, “...informed his team that it was, in no particular order, selfish, dumb, unprepared, a disgrace and probably unkind to animals.” Despite this being a team family trip, he also called for an afternoon practice before the next game, spoiling any last minute outings with the clan. The Pirates didn’t seem to take much umbrage at the wake up call, nor did it seem to have much effect - they were 13 games under .500 before the chat, lost the next night, 9-1, and then finished the year that same 13 games under. But Leyland was playing the long game, and was laying the groundwork as the Pirates went on to win the next three division titles, claiming at least 95 victories per season, between 1990-92. 
  • 1990 - Jeff King hit his first career grand slam and added five RBI to lead the Pirates to an 11-2 win over San Francisco at Three Rivers Stadium. Sid Bream and Chico Lind also chipped in with long balls. Doug Drabek allowed two runs in eight innings while improving to 11-4. 
  • 2000 - The Bucs snapped a six-game losing streak with an 8-6 win over Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. The Pirates scored five times in the first two innings, but the Dodgers came back with a six-spot in the third frame. The Bucs finally prevailed thanks to three RBIs each from Jason Kendall and Wil Cordero, both of whom also homered. Five Pirate relievers combined to toss seven innings of scoreless three-hit ball to cement the win, which went to Jose Manzanillo. 
  • 2009 - Charlie Morton went seven innings of three-hit ball to stop the San Francisco Giants, 2-0, at PNC Park. Matt Capps made the finish exciting, putting runners on second and third with an out in the ninth frame, but came back to get a whiff and grounder to preserve the win. Ryan Doumit scored and had an RBI to provide a spark to the otherwise listless attack. 
Charlie Morton - 2010 Topps Anniversary
  • 2011 - The Pirates took a 2-0 decision at PNC Park against Cincinnati as Charlie Morton tossed a three-hitter against the Reds. The Bucs played small ball in the fourth inning for the win. Chase d’Arnaud and Neil Walker led off with singles, with The Kid taking second behind the play when the throw targeted d’Arnaud going to third. Andrew McCutchen’s tapper drove in Chase with one run, Matt Diaz’s sac fly scored Walker, and that was it for either squad’s lumber. 
  • 2012 - The Pirates spent their final day tied for the top of the NL Central after taking a 9-6 decision from Colorado at Coors Field as Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez, Casey McGehee and Rod Barajas homered for the Bucs. Pittsburgh collapsed like a house of cards after that, going 28-43 the rest of the way to finish with 79 wins and their 20th straight losing campaign. 
  • 2023 - The Pirates signed first round and first overall draft selection Paul Skenes, RHP from Louisiana State. His bonus of $9,200,000 broke the signing record set in 2020 by IF Spencer Torkelson, who inked his $8,416,300 deal with the Detroit Tigers. Still, it was under the $9,721,000 slot value of the selection, leaving the Pirates with plenty of room for a couple of yet-unsigned Top 10 picks and a pair of high school players who were taken in the later rounds.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

7/17 Through 1974: Dock's Lucky #13, #1,000 For Mr. Swat, 21-Frame Duel, 300 Game Winners Meet, Game Tales; FF Ablaze, Hans Day; HBD Jerry, Chummy & Jim

  • 1866 - RHP Jim Handiboe was born in Columbus, Ohio. Jim’s big league stay consisted of a season with the American Association Alleghenys in 1886, where the 20-year-old put up a 7-7/3.32 slash, going the distance 12 times. That gave him an OPS+ of 100, making him the poster boy for a league-average pitcher. Apparently the team thought he needed a little more seasoning; Jim toiled in various whistle stops until 1901, retiring at age 34. 
  • 1873 - RHP George “Chummy” Gray was born in Rockland, Maine. His tale is that of a AAAA pitcher getting his moment in the sun. After back-to-back 20 win seasons, Gray tossed a no-hitter with one walk for Buffalo in 1899. He got his reward when the Pirates brought him up for the last month of the season. Gray went 3-3/3.43 in nine games, completing six of his seven starts. Chummy then rattled around the minor leagues for a few more years, but never again returned to the majors before hanging up the spikes after the 1901 season. He passed away in 1913 at age 40 in Rockland of TB. 
  • 1888 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenys lost, 2-0, to the Philadelphia Quakers, dropping a three-game set at Exposition Park by 1-0, 1-0, and 2-0 counts. The middle game was the most frustrating when a ninth-inning hit-and-run single followed by an unpopular safe call at third led to the game’s only run. The Pittsburgh Press described it this way: “ …the umpiring...looked to be decidedly against the locals in the ninth inning. Twice it looked like Andrews (Quaker CF Ed Andrews who scored the game winner) was out. The first time on strikes (and)...again in deciding him safe at third when Billy Kuehne (Alleghenys’ 3B) had touched him fully two feet from the base. It looked as though another serious mistake had been made in favor of the visitors by the tenth man...There is little wonder that the indignation of the crowd knew no bounds but let it be said to its credit no act of violence was done.” For his part, the ump was indignant at the fans’ reaction and said he called the game in good faith while Philly manager Harry Wright claimed the “locals had no business to kick.” The Alleghenys batsmen then shook their lethargy, going on to win 11-of-13 while averaging 5-1/2 runs per game, although they were whitewashed 20 times during the year. 
Pud Galvin - Helmar Oasis
  • 1890 - For the first time, two eventual 300-game winners were opponents as Tim Keefe of the Giants faced Pittsburgh's Jim 'Pud' Galvin in a Players League (which was considered a major league) match-up. New York easily beat the Burghers, 8-2. O’Keefe did his part, tossing a four-hitter (The Pittsburgh Press wrote “the wonder is that the Pittsburgs were allowed to score at all.”) while Pud was rattled for a dozen knocks. They met again in 1892, and after that, the next time two 300-winners went head-to-head was in 2005 when Greg Maddux met Roger Clemens. 
  • 1907 - “The veteran Vic Willis was on the slab...and he tied knots in the home bunch from first to last. He allowed but two hits, one a scratch...” per the Pittsburgh Press, and he led the Bucs to a 2-0 win over Christy Mathewson and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds. Matty only allowed four hits, with the Pirates not lighting up the scoreboard until the eighth inning with an unearned run. The insurance marker came in the ninth frame when Ed Abbaticchio bounced a drive off the wall; it caromed into a dirt pile by the fence and it took two Giants to eventually dig it out. By the time the excavated ball was quarried and made it back to the infield, Abby had rounded the bases. 
  • 1908 - It was Honus Wagner Day at Exposition Park, and before the game, players from both teams lined up to honor him. He was speechified, then gifted with a $700 gold watch and an Elk’s pin with a diamond worth four bills. The tribute was originally scheduled for the 16th, but Hans asked that it be moved so it wouldn’t conflict with the annual orphan’s picnic. The Boston Doves won the game 4-0 behind ex-Pirate Tommy McCarthy’s five-hitter. It could have been worse - the Doves tacked on six more runs in the eighth, but the game was called because of darkness before the Pirates could bat, nullifying the six-pack. Hans went hitless. 
Hans - 7/17/1908 Pgh. Press
  • 1914 - In one of the great pitching duels of early baseball, Babe Adams lost to the Giants Rube Marquard, 3-1, in 21 innings at Forbes Field. Babe surrendered 12 hits without a walk; it’s the longest outing without a free pass in MLB history. New York’s Larry Doyle's inside-the-park home run was Babe’s downfall. The key play was when Honus Wagner was called out for interference in the sixth inning. He slid into third and headed home when the ball disappeared from view; it ended up tucked in his uniform. Wagner was, per the Pittsburgh Press “...trying to hide a ball and score off the trick...” and ump Lord Byron rang him up for the subterfuge. As the Press reported “...the decision caused a mighty howl, which was participated in by many of the players and by Manager Fred Clarke, who applied a flow of profanity to the umpire, which was anything but pleasing to the disgusted spectators. Clarke’s language on this occasion...will not win ball games.” The Pirates appealed Byron’s call of Hans' suspected hidden ball trick (he apparently pleaded that the ball got caught up in his flannels) to the league with no luck. 
  • 1930 - OF/PH Jerry Lynch was born in Bay City, Michigan. Lynch started (1954-56) and ended (1963-66) his career in Pittsburgh, spending the seven middle years with the Cincinnati Reds. He hit .263/45/188 as a reserve Pirate outfielder and primo pinch hitter. Lynch had 116 pinch hits during his 13-year big league tour with 18 HR, and is still high on the hit lists for PH. 
  • 1936 - 1936 NL MVP Carl Hubbell of the NY Giants started a 24-game winning streak with a 6-0, five-hit win against the Pirates at Forbes Field, the longest victory run in MLB history. He was finally stopped by the Brooklyn Dodgers on May 31st, 1937. In his 28 outings during the span, he had 24 wins, two saves and just two no-decisions with 19 complete games in 24 starts. 
  • 1939 - Newly acquired Bucco outfielder Chuck Klein made his first appearance back in Philadelphia since leaving the city where he spent 10 years as a player. He celebrated the homecoming by jacking a pair of homers to lift the Bucs to a 7-4 win at Shibe Park. The Bucs released Klein in August and he returned to his old club, retiring in 1944 as a Phil. 
Chuck Klein - 1939 Play Ball
  • 1952 - Ralph Kiner hit a two-run shot in the ninth frame to walk-off the Phils at Forbes Field, giving the Bucs a 4-2 victory and sweep of a twin bill. He also joined the 1,000 hit club; he would end his career with 1,451 knocks. The blast off Karl Drews made a winner out of Ted Wilks, who tossed a scoreless inning in relief of Woody Main. Clem Koshorek and Pete Castiglione joined Ralph by banging a pair of hits. The Pirates took the opener, 2-1, behind Cal Hogue’s four-hitter. Catfish Metkovich singled home rookie Dick Groat in the third frame to knot the score, and Groat drove in Clyde McCullough two innings later with the game winner. It was a rare twin win day as doubleheaders weren’t the clubs’ strong suit; they swept just three in 23 double dip tries. 
  • 1966 - The Pirates swept a twin bill from San Francisco at Forbes Field, 7-4 and 7-1, to vault over the Giants into first place behind the pitching of Steve Blass and Tommie Sisk. Matty Alou and Donn Clendenon collected four hits during the DH, with Clendenon homering. In a wild race, the Bucs would finish third with a 92-70 slate, three games behind the Dodgers. 
  • 1970 - Roberto Clemente led the Bucs to a 4-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Forbes Field with three hits, falling a double short of the cycle. He tripled and scored the tying run in the sixth, homered for the eventual game winner in the eighth, and threw out Tommy Helms at the plate in the ninth. Dave Giusti, the Bucs third pitcher, ran his record to 8-0 with Roberto’s help. 
  • 1971 - A deserted Forbes Field was lit up by a fire under the right field stands. It was the second blaze and left such severe structural damage that its demolition, already scheduled by its new owners, Pitt, began almost immediately. Now the former ballyard’s footprint is the site of Posvar Hall, with home plate still showcased in the building and a bit of the brick & ivy wall still remains standing. 
  • 1971 - Dock Ellis won his 13th straight game without a defeat over the Padres at Three Rivers Stadium, 9-2, with Bob Robertson’s three-run homer providing all the scoring the Docktor would need. Manny Sanguillen had four knocks and Roberto Clemente added three more raps to aid the cause. Dock’s next outing would be a no decision before the Dodgers ended his streak.