Saturday, July 2, 2022

7/2 Through 1974: In A Pinch; Thomas POTM; Scoring Streak; Kelley Miss; Game Tales; HBD Sean, Tony, Fred & Ed

  • 1859 - OF Ed Beecher was born in Guilford, Connecticut. Ed began his short but active MLB career with the Alleghenys in 1887, batting .210. He played for four years with four teams - Pittsburgh, the Washington Statesmen (twice), Buffalo Bisons and Philadelphia Athletics - in three different leagues, the American Association, National League, and the Players Association. He got into 283 games as a career reserve with a lifetime .269 BA. 
  • 1864 - C and utilityman Fred Carroll was born in Sacramento, California. In his seven years (1885-91) with Pittsburgh teams, he played for the Alleghenys, the outlaw Burghers and the Pirates, hitting .284 over his career. A bit quirky, at the beginning of the 1887 season Carroll buried his pet monkey, which had served as an unofficial team mascot for the squad, under home plate at Recreation Park in a pre-game ceremony per local lore. 
Fred Carroll - 1887 Goodwin/Old Judge
  • 1889 - The Pittsburgh Press front page headline read “Poor Phillies” as Pittsburgh took their fifth straight win from their cross-state rivals by a 10-5 score. The Alleghenys scored nine times in the last two innings on six hits (five singles and a double), abetted by two walks, two “muffs” and two “wild throws,” per the Press. Fred Carroll and Jocko Fields had three hits each and Harry Staley got the win in front of 1,500 fans at Exposition Park. 
  • 1892 - The Pirates bought the contract of minor league OF Joe Kelley from Omaha. Joe was a 20-year-old who had a cup of coffee with the Boston Beaneaters (Braves) in 1891. Kelley hit a lackluster .239 and in early September was traded, with cash, to the Baltimore Orioles for OF George Van Haltren. Kelley ended up in the Hall of Fame after 17 campaigns with a .317 BA while Van Haltren, another excellent player, stayed just through 1893, when he hit .338, and then was sold to the NY Giants. 
  • 1925 - The Bucs edged the Cards, 2-1, at Forbes Field as Tom Sheehan outpitched Dolf Luque. Kiki Cuyler tripled home Max Carey and then plated by Clyde Barnhart in the sixth for the Pirate scores. It marked the last stand of a NL-record 150-game scoring streak by the Pirates that began on July 4th, 1924 when the Reds shut them out the next day, 8-0. 
  • 1927 - Pittsburgh scored twice in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings to beat the Reds, 7-6, at Forbes Field after trailing 6-1. The clinching blow was Clyde Barnhart’s two-run homer to left field in the ninth off Art Nehf. Mike Cvengros tossed six shutout innings of relief and was rewarded with the win. 
Clyde Barnhart - 1925 photo via Prewar Sports
  • 1949 - The Cubs and particularly Andy Pafko had a bad day at Wrigley Field, losing 8-3. Pafko hit into a bases-loaded triple play in the third inning. He was called out in the dugout after Pete Castiglione at third knocked down his liner (actually, it popped out of his mitt), tagged the runner at third, then stepped on the base for the force. In the confusion, he then threw the ball to home, and the catcher went to first for the force on Pafko, who thought his drive had been caught cleanly and was wandering to the bench. After the umpires had a confab (“A crazy quilt affair that had to be unraveled by Umpire-in-Chief Lou Jorda,” per the Pittsburgh Press), the calls stood. Ralph Kiner hit his 20th homer as Tiny Bonham picked up the win. 
  • 1953 - OF Tony Armas was born in Puerto Piritu, Venezuela. The Pirates signed Armas in 1971 just before his 18th birthday and he spent six seasons in the minors before he got a September call-up in 1976, appearing in four games and going 2-for-6. He was traded in the off-season as part of the huge Phil Garner deal and developed into one of the AL’s top sluggers, leading the league in HRs twice and RBIs once playing for Oakland, Boston and California. He played for 13 seasons in the junior circuit, hitting 22+ dingers for six straight years and earning two All-Star slots. After Tony retired, he continued his career in Venezuela and continued to rake; he now coaches in the Venezuelan League. Tony is a member of the Venezuelan and Caribbean Baseball Halls of Fame. His son, Tony Armas Jr., pitched for 10 years in the majors, making a stop at Pittsburgh in 2007. 
  • 1958 - 3B Frank Thomas was named the NL Player of the Month for June. The 29-year-old had already been named to his third All-Star team and hit .275 with seven homers and 29 RBI during June. This was the first year for the award; Willie Mays had won the honor in April and Stan Musial in May; neither one got a vote in June. 
Frank Thomas - 1958 Topps
  • 1961 - In the eighth inning, pinch hitters Johnny Logan, Rocky Nelson and Smoky Burgess banged out consecutive hits, a Pirate record, to prime a four-run rally that led to a 7-6 win over the Giants at Forbes Field in the opener of a twin bill. Hal Smith added three RBI. The Bucs swept easily, rolling, 9-0, in the nitecap behind Bobby Shantz’s five-hitter and three RBI each from Roberto Clemente with a bases-clearing triple and Don Hoak. The Pirates overcame a pair of pretty fair pitchers, beating Mike McCormack and Juan Marichal. 
  • 1968 - The Mets scored a first-inning run off Al McBean, and that would be it as the Bucs eked out a 2-1 decision at Shea Stadium. Pittsburgh knotted the score in the sixth when Willie Stargell opened with a double off Dick Selma and plated on a Billy Maz knock, then got the game-winner thanks to a ninth-inning Met miscue. With two outs and Donn Clendenon on second, Manny Mota rolled one to short; Bud Harrelson booted the ball and Clendenon came home. ElRoy Face came in to work a 1-2-3 ninth to save the Pirates’ win, the Bucs fifth straight. McBean got the victory, tossing five-hit ball with seven strikeouts. 
  • 1974 - 1B Sean Casey was born in Willingboro Township, New Jersey and raised in Upper St. Clair. Casey played 12 years in the show and made a stop in Pittsburgh in 2006, batting .296 and lasting until the deadline when the Pirate wheelers-and-dealers moved him to Detroit. Sean is known as “The Mayor” because of his affability - no runner at first or fan he’s run across has ever been given the silent treatment by Casey - and the time he’s dedicated to community causes. He now is with the MLB Network and is busy on the speaker’s circuit.

7/2 From 1975: Fraze On Fire; Bay Day; Sluggin' Sluggo; Tomlin POTM; 1st Fireworks Nite; Game Tales; RIP Tom; HBD Nyjer & Jerad

  • 1976 - Bill Robinson’s pinch-hit homer game in the 10th inning gave the Pirates a 10-9 win over Philadelphia, fittingly on the first ever Fireworks Night at TRS. The Zambelli’s didn’t provide the only boomers. Robinson’s blast was one of three home runs for the Bucs as Willie Stargell connected in the first inning and Richie Hebner went deep in the eighth. The Bucs almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, blowing an early 6-0 lead before long-balling their way to the win. 
Tony Plush - 2009 Topps
  • 1980 - OF Nyjer Morgan was born in San Francisco. He hit .286 from 2007-09 for the Bucs and then became part of the Joel Hanrahan deal with Washington. “Tony Plush” (his alter ego’s self-given “gentleman’s name”) made the transition from junior hockey to the MLB. He played for the Pirates, Nats, Brewers and Indians in the MLB, along with stops in Korea, Japan and Mexico before his last at bat in 2017 at age 36. 
  • 1988 - A very wild pitch cost the Pirates a 2-1 decision against the Giants at Candlestick Park. Doug Drabek was working on a two-hit shutout in the eighth when he gave up a leadoff single and was pulled by Jimmy Leyland. A walk, bunt and intentional pass loaded the bases with an out, and Barry Jones climbed the hill. His 0-2 slider was in the dirt, hopped past C Junior Ortiz to the backstop and allowed two G-Men to score when Junior couldn’t find the bouncing ball quickly enough. His relay home to Jones to catch the second runner was late, wasting Drabek’s start and Darnell Coles’ solo shot. 
  • 1990 - RHP Jerad Eickhoff was born in Evansville, Indiana. A 15th round draft pick of Texas in 2011, he spent his first five MLB years (2015-19) with the Phils, making 80 starts and slashing 21-30-1/4.15. He got a brief stay with the Mets in 2021 and signed with the Pirates as a NRI for 2022. He was sent to Indy and called up in mid-June to take up the slack when Zach Thompson was injured. Eickhohh started and allowed 10 runs on 10 hits (two homers) in 4-1/3 IP, becoming the first Pirates pitcher to allow 10 runs in his first start. He was DFA’ed two days later. 
  • 1990 - The San Diego Padres took a 3-0 lead in the first inning but never scored again as the Pirates came back for a 4-3, 14-inning win at Jack Murphy Stadium. Jay Bell broke a 3-3 tie when he chased home Jose Lind with the winning run, his second RBI of the contest. Andy Van Slyke’s two-run homer in the sixth was the Buccos' big blow. Bob Patterson earned the win in relief after tossing three scoreless frames. 
Randy Tomlin - 1992 Topps Stadium Club
  • 1992 - LHP Randy Tomlin was named the Pitcher of the Month. The southpaw went 5-1/2.22 in June on his way to a 14-9/3.41 campaign, the only year he posted double digit victories. His career was shortened by a bum shoulder, and now Tomlin’s the skipper of Liberty Christian, a prep school in Virginia, after coaching at Liberty University and for the Nat’s organization. 
  • 1993 - Don Slaught had himself a day with two homers and seven RBI as he led the Pirates to a 10-9 win in the lidlifter of a twinbill with Cincinnati at Riverfront Stadium. Orlando Merced banged out four hits, scoring three times and plating a pair. Dave Otto got the win after relieving Zane Smith; Blas Minor earned a hold and Stan Belinda got the save. It was the first doubleheader for the Bucs since September of 1991; 1992 was the first season in the 20th century that the Buccaneers didn’t play two. The second game saw the Red bats continue the onslaught with a 9-1 decision over the Pirates and Tim Wakefield despite a two-hour rain delay. 
  • 2001 - The Bucs bopped the Reds, 10-5, at Cinergy Field with the spread provided by Aramis Ramirez’s five RBI. A-Ram had three hits and a walk, falling a triple shy of the cycle, with Jack Wilson and Brian Giles holding up their end, also collecting three hits apiece. Jason Kendall chipped in with three runs scored on two hits and a free pass. For Cincy, home was anything but sweet; they dropped to 10-29 at Cinergy with the loss to Jason Schmidt. 
  • 2002 - The Pirates were run over by the Brewers at PNC Park by a 12-6 count, but did their share to help break the MLB record for homers hit in a day when 53 batters blasted 62 long balls. The Bucs hit four - Kevin Young, Jack Wilson, Abraham Nunez and Adam Hyzdu all went long in the loss. For Wilson, Nunez and Hyzdu, it was their first home run of the season. 
Tony Alvarez - 2003 Fleer Prospect
  • 2004 - Jason Bay drove in eight runs for the second time in his career with a homer and added three doubles as the Bucs mashed the Brewers, 13-2, in the nitecap of a twi-lite DH sweep at PNC Park. He fell one short of Johnny Rizzo’s single-game RBI mark of nine for the franchise, set in 1939. Josh Fogg worked into the seventh to record the win. Pittsburgh took the opener, 8-1, behind Ollie Perez, who punched out 11 in seven frames, supported by CF Tony Alvarez, who homered and doubled to chase home four runs. 
  • 2012 - The middle of the Pirate order was on fire against the Astros at PNC Park, leading the way to an 11-2 win. Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Neil Walker and Casey McGehee went 12-for-20 with five doubles, two homers, nine runs scored and 10 RBI. James McDonald got the win with help from Jared Hughes. 
  • 2019 - Adam Frazier had himself a night at PNC Park. Reinserted back into the leadoff spot after being dropped to the 7-8 spots in the order, he followed a 5-for-6 game with a 4-for-4 night, hitting a three-run homer and scoring three times to lead the Bucs to a 5-1 win over the Cubs. The game was just three innings old when a two-hour rain delay hit; both teams had to switch starters after the down time. The Pirates used six pitchers to get through the game, with Clay Holmes getting the win, his second career MLB victory. As for Fraze, he became the first Buc to bang out seven straight hits since Freddy Sanchez in 2009 and the first to have back-to-back four-or-more-hits games since Neil Walker in 2015. He also jumped his BA from .254 before the two games to .276 after the hit barrage.
Adam Frazier - 2019 camp image/Pirates
  • 2021 - Early Pittsburgh player agent Tom Reich (Allderdice, Pitt, Duquesne) passed away in LA at age 82. He started his career in 1970, representing Dock Ellis, Dave Parker, John Candelaria and Manny Sanguillen of the Pirates. The feisty Reich also handled deals for stars like Joe Morgan, George Foster, Jack Clark and Sammy Sosa before branching into hockey.

Friday, July 1, 2022

7/1 Through the 1940s: Robertson-Ponder Swap; Bullet Joe Signs; Busy Day For Hans; Game Tales; HBD Gunner, Al, Dutch & Red

  • 1891 - OF Fritz “Dutch” Sheeren was born in Kokomo, Indiana. Fritz’s family moved into the Pittsburgh area when he was young and opened a saloon; from those beginnings Sheeren went on to Lafayette College, where he starred in baseball and football, and had a brief MLB career with the Pirates from 1914-15, hitting .265 in 15 games. He played through the 1916 season in the minors before getting on with his life’s work. It appeared he did remain a home boy; he died in Kittanning and is buried in Marienville outside the Allegheny National Forest. 
  • 1901 - The Bucs were blanked by the Phillies, 1-0, at the Baker Bowl, the only time during the 139-game season when Pittsburgh was shut out, setting a 20th century NL record. Jack Chesbro tossed a four-hitter for Pittsburgh, while the Bucs banged nine hits off Red Donahue but couldn’t dent home.
Honus Wagner - 1994 Upper Deck Salute
  • 1903 - Honus Wagner swatted four hits for a second straight game, missing the cycle by a double (The Pittsburgh Press sidebar story was “Wagner is After Batting Honors” and he did take the ‘03 NL crown with a .355 BA) as the Pirates rolled over the Brooklyn Superbas, 17-8, at the Washington Grounds. The game was never in doubt as the Bucs ran up a 13-0 lead before the Brooklynites got on the scoreboard. Fred Clarke and Ginger Beaumont also had four knocks as Pittsburgh banged out 19 hits, allowing Sam Leever to cruise to victory. 
  • 1911 - The Pirates dropped a hard-fought 3-2 decision to the Cardinals, in part because they lost a fight with the umpire. The rhubarbs began with a tag play at second that the Pirates figured they had made; the ump begged to differ. Infielder Bill McKechnie slammed his glove in disgust and was banished; a new rule made that action an automatic ejection. Manager Fred Clarke put in his two cents worth later about St. Louis doctoring the ball and was given the thumb too. Dots Miller was also given the heave-ho for tossing his mitt. As a result, Hans Wagner ended up playing three positions as the Pirates tried to cobble together a lineup (Clarke was a player/manager, so the Pirates had three starters kicked out, and benches were short in that era). There had been a bottle-throwing incident the day before, and Clarke told the Pittsburgh Press that he believed that had influenced the umpires, who didn’t want to risk running a gauntlet of missiles launched from the Robison Field stands again. 
  • 1913 - RHP Frank “Red” Barrett was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Frank worked during the war years of 1944-46 and tried to make a comeback in 1950 with the Pirates, going 1-2/4.15 in five outings after being purchased from New Orleans. Red had a long professional career, lasting from 1935-50 (he won 141 games in the minors), and afterward he was a farm league player/manager through 1953. He then moved back home and opened Red Barrett’s Drive In, a gas station/diner, in Leesburg, Florida, near Orlando. 
1915 Pittsburgh Rebels - photo JC Stewart
  • 1915 - It was a mixed bag for the Fed League Pittsburgh Rebels against the Baltimore Terrapins at York Road Park. In the opener of a twin bill, the Pittsburgh Feds were shut out 6-0 by Jack Quinn. A little break between games did the Rebs bats a world of good; they took the nitecap by a 13-5 tally, becoming the first big league team to score in every inning since 1894. It was the end of a long road trip, with the Rebels winning 11-of-18 matches after dropping 7-of-10 on a western swing (in that era, the far west was St. Louis, KC and Chicago) that opened their trek. Sadly, they were rained out in Pittsburgh upon their return and had to hop a train for four more games, splitting a set with the Chicago Whales before spending most of the summer at home, where they had 59-of-85 remaining contests booked at Exposition Park. 
  • 1916 - The Gunner, Bob Prince, was born in Los Angeles. Prince was an army brat and was always on the move; he graduated from Pittsburgh’s Schenley HS and went to Pitt, where he lettered in swimming. After gigs with WJAS and KDKA, he teamed with Rosey Rowswell in 1948 as a Bucco broadcaster, and became the main announcer in 1955 when Rowswell passed away. He and partner Nellie King were let go in 1975 after a long running dispute with KDKA management. Prince returned to the booth in May, 1985, just weeks before he died of cancer. 
  • 1916 - Behind a Honus Wagner homer and Ray O’Brien’s ninth-inning single, Al Mamaux’s four-hitter was enough to down the Reds and Elmer Knetzer, 2-1, at Redland Field. Mamaux was pretty good with the stick, too, hitting a double and triple while scoring the winning run with two down in the ninth. Hans’ fourth-inning homer made him the oldest player, at 42 years and four months, to hit an inside the park four-bagger. 
  • 1918 - RHP Al Tate was born in Coleman, Oklahoma. Al was a minor league hurler who lost three years to WW2 and returned to baseball in 1946. The Pirates inked him then and sent him to the minors; he got two Bucco appearances (one start) and went 0-1/5.00 in his only MLB duty. He spent 1947 as a Pirates farmhand at Albany and played one more year in the Pacific Coast League before he retired.
Hal Carlson - 1921 photo Bain/Library of Congress
  • 1920 - The Pirates played St. Louis in the Cards first game at Sportsman’s Park (also the home of the AL's St. Louis Browns; the Cards rented it off them) after the Redbirds flew the outdated Robison Field coop, which was built in 1893. The Bucs took the debut game, 6-2, in 10 innings, with Hal Carlson getting the win and Babe Adams picking up the save. The Pirates 10th had a little of everything - a walk, steal, error, two singles, a pair of doubles - and they added up to a big inning to send 20,000 plus St. Louis fans home disappointed. 
  • 1921 - The Bucs sent 28-year-old RHP Elmer Ponder to the Cubs for 31-year-old OF Dave Robertson. Ponder was coming off an 11-win/2.42 campaign for Pittsburgh and Robertson posted a .300/10/75 line for Chicago in ‘20, but both were approaching the end of their MLB trails. Elmer had a 3-6/4.74 slash with the Cubs to finish the year. They traded him to the Pacific Coast League LA Angels, and he spent the next six years working in the PCL. Robertson was hot, hitting .322/6/48 for the Pirates, then held out in the spring. The Pirates released him, and he was signed by the Giants. Used mostly as a bench bat, it was his swan song in the show, and he spent the next six seasons on the farm, mostly with Norfolk of the Virginia League, serving as player/manager for four years. 
  • 1926 - The Bucs broke an eight-game losing streak by spanking the Cards at Forbes Field, 7-3, as Kiki Cuyler and Pie Traynor each drove in three runs. Don Songer got the victory with Babe Adams picking up a save. In spite of that losing string, they claimed first place three weeks later before eventually fading to third with an 84-69 slate, five games out. 
Bullet Joe - 1992 Conlon/The Sporting News
  • 1926 - The Pirates signed Bullet Joe Bush, recently waived by the Washington Senators. Joe had won 107 games for three clubs from 1920-25, but the 33-year-old was in the midst of an 1-8/6.69 campaign for the Sens. The Bucs got their money’s worth as Bullet Joe went 6-6/3.01 for them the rest of the year, but fell apart in ‘27 and was released in June. He would appear in just 14 more games after that and was out of the league by the summer of 1928. 
  • 1940 - The Pirates scored once in the ninth to tie the game and added another in the 10th to nose past the Chicago Cubs, 4-3, at Wrigley Field. Vince DiMaggio was the hitting star, going 3-for-5 with a homer, double, two RBI and two runs scored. Mace Brown, the third Buc hurler, got the win in relief after pitching scoreless ninth and 10th frames.

7/1 From 1960: AS Fraze; Short Season; Bell Chimes; Granny Redbeard; Young Guns; Fryman Faces 27; Smith, Rook Gems; Game Tales

  • 1960 - Speed kills, and the Bucs proved it to LA at Forbes Field when they raced to a 4-3, 10-inning victory in front of 27,312 fans. In the extra frame, Joe Christopher was on second with two outs and the Pirates down 3-2. Roberto Clemente rolled one to SS Maury Wills and it hung up in his webbing for just a tick, but that was enough to allow the Great One to beat the throw by a whisker. Meanwhile, Christopher kept flying around the bases and slid in just ahead of Gil Hodges' toss to home to tie the game. C Johnny Roseboro jawed at ump Al Barlick, but the man in blue stuck to his call that Roseboro had missed the tag. Dick Stuart then blooped a single into short right and Frank Howard was a bit leisurely getting to the Texas Leaguer. Roberto, like Joe before him, had the pedal to the metal and the surprised Howard, seeing Clemente dashing plateward, gunned his throw up the third base line allowing Arriba to score standing up. In the clubhouse, Clemente said “My foot was sore...I didn’t want to play any more and I tried to end the game.” Mission accomplished, Roberto. Gino Cimoli drove home two runs in regulation while Fred Green earned the win in relief of Vern Law. 
  • 1966 - Rookie Woodie Fryman one-hit the Mets at Shea Stadium on the way to a 12-0 win. Fryman faced the minimum 27 batters and came within a gnat’s eyelash of perfection. Ron Hunt, who led off the game with a single, was caught stealing by C Jim Pagliaroni and Fryman mowed down the next 26 NY hitters. Jose Pagan chipped in with three runs scored, four RBI and one of the Pirates’ four homers. 
  • 1972 - Roberto Clemente’s seventh-inning homer helped the Bucs rally to take a 2-1 lead over the Cubs at TRS. After the Cubbies answered with a pair of their own to regain their edge, 3-2, Clemente homered again in the ninth with Milt May aboard for a walk-off 4-3 win. Both homers came off Fergie Jenkins, who lost to Dave Giusti in relief of Bob Moose. 
Jim Rooker - 1978 Topps
  • 1978 - It was a pitcher’s duel between Jim Rooker and the Mets’ Kevin Kobel at TRS. With the score 0-0 in the bottom of the eighth, Skip Lockwood took the ball for NY. An infield knock by Manny Sanguillen and two-out walk to Duffy Dyer set up Willie Stargell, who lined a single over second to chase home the Road Runner with the game winner. Rooker got the win and Kent Tekulve came in for the save. The two combined for a four-hitter to post the 1-0 victory. 
  • 1990 - LHP John Smiley came off the DL after breaking his hand in mid-May and was still rusty, giving up five runs in four innings against the Giants at Candlestick Park. But his teammates picked him up with homers from Barry Bonds, Jeff King, Sid Bream and Jay Bell (three of the blasts were two-run shots) as Pittsburgh rode the longball barrage to a 9-5 win against San Francisco and stayed a game up in the NL East standings. It was the first time the Pirates had gone long four times in a game since April. 
  • 1992 - Zane Smith tossed a 97-pitch, five-hit, complete-game gem in a 1-0 victory over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, walking one and fanning one (the last batter). St. Louis’ Mark Clark was the tough-luck loser, giving up four knocks in eight frames. It was the Bucs second straight shutout of the Redbirds, the only time during the campaign that Pittsburgh hurlers would put up consecutive zeros. The pitching for both teams was brilliant; the Pirates won the well-tossed series two games to one, outscoring the Cards by just four-runs-to-three during the set. Gary Varsho’s single in the fourth plated Andy Van Slyke, who had opened the frame with a double, for the game’s only tally. Back in the day when “pace of game” wasn’t a thing, the contest took just two hours and four minutes from opening pitch to the final out. 
  • 1996 - During a 4-1 win over Chicago at TRS, RF Orlando Merced pulled off an unassisted DP, catching Mark Grace's liner and then beating Scott Bullett to 1B. He also started another DP, gloving a short pop and catching Doug Glanville off second with his throw to Jay Bell. Merced added a pair of hits, two RBI and a run scored to help Danny Darwin pick up the win. 
Orlando Merced - 1996 Metal Universe
  • 2006 - The Pirates and sponsoring PNC Bank took trinkets to a new level with the “Young Guns - Doumit, Duke and Duffy” (Ryan Doumit, Zach Duke, and Chris Duffy) triple bobblehead giveaway. 37,111 fans flooded PNC Park (playing the Detroit Tigers, whose fans travel well, on a Saturday night helped the draw, too) to get theirs as the Bucs won, 9-2. Jose Bautista and Sean Casey each had three hits and Matt Capps got the win in relief of Tom Gorzelanny. One bummer: manager Jim Tracy missed the promo memo as none of the “Young Guns” played. 
  • 2014 - Down 2-0 in the ninth and held to just two hits over eight innings by Arizona’s Wade Miley, the Bucs made up for lost time in the ninth at PNC Park. Neil Walker opened with a single to center, then pinch hitter Gregory Polanco dumped a knock to left. With an out, Starling Marte chased a pair of sliders away, then reliever Addison Reed hung one over the plate and Marte bombed it for a two-run double off the center field wall. He scooted to third when SS Nick Ahmed's throw to the plate got away, then Andrew McCutchen was walked intentionally. Ike Davis hit for Gaby Sanchez and dropped a broken bat jam shot into right to plate Marte as the Bucs rallied to take an improbable 3-2 victory. Ernesto Frieri picked up his first win as a Bucco after tossing a scoreless ninth, with his bacon being saved by Josh Harrison, who threw out a runner at home from short right field. 
  • 2015 - The Buccos flexed their muscles against the Tigers at Comerica Field in a 9-3 win. The Bucs banged out 21 hits, their most since 2004, and drilled four homers. Two were by Neil Walker, and three were hit in one frame by Walker, Starling Marte and Pedro Alvarez. Every Pirate starter had a knock and seven had multi-hit nights against Detroit, led by The Pittsburgh Kid and Marte with four each while Gregory Polanco added three more. AJ Burnett coasted to his seventh victory, going the distance. 
  • 2018 - Colin Moran became the second Pirates player to hit two grand slams in his rookie season with a two-out, bases-juiced long fly off Tyson Ross in the fifth frame as the Bucs defeated the Padres, 7-5, at Petco Park. The first Bucco rook to hit two grannies in his debut year was Wally Westlake in 1947. Kyle Crick earned his first MLB win as one of seven Corsair hurlers to work the contest. Corey Dickerson and Elias Diaz also homered for Pittsburgh. 
Captain Redbeard - 2018 image/Pirates
  • 2019 - The Pirates put on a fireworks show a couple of days early by bashing the Chicago Cubs, 18-5, at PNC Park. Josh Bell, recently announced as a Home Run Derby contestant at the ASG, vouched for that decision by banging three homers, the first Bucco lefty since Wille Stargell against the Bravos in 1971 to loft three big flies, to bring his mid-season total to 25 dingers. He also added a personal best seven RBI. Adam Frazier had five hits, including four doubles, to tie an MLB record held by several; he’s the only Pirates player beside Paul Waner to accomplish that feat (later matched by Kevin Nerwman in 2021). Also drilling the ball all over the yard was Colin Moran, who also had five hits, including a pair of two-baggers. The Pirates collected 23 hits, the most ever by them against the Cubs, to allow Trevor Williams to claim a win on a day when he didn’t have his best stuff. It helped that the Bucs set season-high marks in runs (18), hits (23), doubles (seven) and homers (five). 
  • 2020 - The Pirates reported to Spring Training 2.0 at PNC Park for a proposed starting date of July 24th, with a 40-man roster to prepare for the coronavirus-shortened season, with 20 more top farmhands working out at PNG Park in Altoona (formal workouts began on the 3rd). And that was the Pittsburgh organization for the year; the minor league season was canceled, though the Bucs, like most of MLB, paid the farm hands under contract but without a team to play for a stipend of $400/week through July 31st. Spring training and the season had been on hold since March 24th before MLB struck a deal with the Player’s Association to play ball. 
  • 2021 - Pittsburgh’s 2B Adam Frazier won a spot as a starter for the All Star Game, batting .326 with 50 runs and 28 RBI out of the leadoff spot. He easily beat out runner-up Ozzie Albies and third-place finisher Gavin Lux to earn his first AS nod. Fraze collected a hit in the game that night against the Brewers, but the team didn’t fare as well, losing 7-2.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

6/30 Through the 1960s: Forbes Field Opener; Smokin' Smoky; Stu Comes Thru; Nixey Nixed; Game Tales; HBD Dave, Don, Tincan, Hal, Jovo & Davy

  • 1880 - OF Davy Jones was born in Manikota, Minnesota. After 13-years in the show, the 34-year-old Jones spent his last two campaigns (1914-15) with the Pittsburgh Rebels, where he hit .279 before an ankle injury led to his release. Jones had spent most of his MLB time fighting for a third outfield spot in Detroit between Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford and saw considerable time as the leadoff hitter, scoring at a good pace with those two Hall-of-Fame bats behind him and homered in the 1909 Series against the Pirates. That he ended up with the Rebels was no surprise. Per SABR’s Mike Grahek, “During his first years in the pros he jumped so many contracts that the press nicknamed him ‘The Kangaroo.’" 
Davy Jones - image via Sporting Life
  • 1892 - The Philadelphia Phillies were the home team at Expo Park for a twin bill, and they weren’t even playing the Pirates, but the Washington Senators! They were making up a pair of rain dates against the Sens while the Pirates were away playing the Cleveland Spiders (Pittsburgh won 6-5), as Washington just finished a set at Baltimore and the Phils were coming off a home series with a mutual off day. 1,200 fans showed up at Exposition Park to watch the double dipper split, with each side taking a 3-2 win. 
  • 1893 - The Pirates scored seven runs in the ninth inning at Expo Park and still lost to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms by a 22-16 count. It was the epitome of ugly baseball - 38 runs, 37 hits, 24 walks and 11 errors made for an amateur hour match. The Pittsburgh Press wrote of the walks (although noting that the ump seemed “a little off”) that “This beats anything in that line seen in a league game...Three pitchers were used by the Pittsburgs in one inning, and this, too, had never been heard of in the league.” The first six Pirates in the order combined for 16 hits, with George Van Haltren banging out four knocks in a losing cause. 
  • 1895 - RHP Johnny Miljus was born in Lawrenceville and went to Pitt, where he was a football and baseball star. Known as “Jovo” (short for Jovan, or John in Serbian) and “The Big Serb” (a nickname bestowed on him by Babe Ruth, per baseball lore), he got his start with an inning for the Pittsburgh Rebels of the Federal League in 1915, and later worked for the Bucs from 1927-28 (he fought in WW1 and was wounded in action, delaying his career), going 13-10-1 with a 3.53 ERA. He was a multi-role hurler, and did everything from start to close. He’s best remembered for his wild pitch that allowed the Yankees to sweep the 1927 Series. Jovo struck out Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel in the ninth of that game and got two strikes on Tony Lazzeri. But he muscled up on the next pitch (some say it was a spitter, though Johnny never 'fessed up) and it got past C Johnny Gooch, allowing Earle Combs to score the winning run. Miljus played through 1929 for seven MLB seasons, with his Pirates stint tucked between Brooklyn and Cleveland stops. Johnny was thought to be the first Serbian to play MLB. 
Johnny Miljus - 1927 photo Harwell Collection/Detroit Public Library
  • 1902 - RHP Harold “Hal” Smith was born in Creston, Iowa. Smith broke into the big leagues as a 30-year-old, and spent his four-year career (1932-35) as a Buc, although most of his twirling in the first and last year was done for the AA Kansas City Blues. He went 12-11-1 with a 3.77 ERA as a Pirate with his time split between starting and the bullpen. Hal played for the Blues again in 1936, then hung ‘em up. 
  • 1909 - The fans were pumped; they began lining up 6-1/2 hours before the game for tickets as an SRO crowd of 30,338 filled every nook, to date the largest gathering to ever watch a baseball game, to watch the Pirates fall to the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, in the debut of Forbes Field. Ed Reulbach tossed a three-hitter to top Pittsburgh’s Vic Willis, who spun a four-hitter. Honus Wagner collected two hits and scored a run in a game that was played in one hour and 50 minutes. Mayor William Magee threw out the first ball. He was in the second tier and lobbed the ball to John M. Morin, Director of Public Safety, on the field below. Morin then went to the mound and threw the first pitch to open the festivities. Danny Nirella and his band played on the occasion and performed during every Opening Day at Forbes Field for the next 45 years. The ball yard was one of the nation's first made completely of concrete and steel, featuring public phones, separate ladies room, ramps rather than stairs and even included a visitor’s clubhouse. FF’s firsts: the first radio broadcast in 1921, the first fan elevator installed in 1938, the first field tarps, the first pads to cushion the outfield wall in the forties and the first All-Star (1944) game played at night. It had a print shop (Banker’s Lithographing) in its interior and in the twenties, the space under the LF bleachers was used for car sales and repairs! It wasn’t exactly embraced at the beginning; it was often called "Dreyfuss' Folly" in its conceptual years. Some folly; the yard ended up as the Pirates’ home for 61 seasons. 
  • 1909 - LHP Harry “Tincan” Kincannon was born in parts unknown. He pitched for the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1930-36, being one of just three players to transition from the original independent club to the Negro National League. The curve-ball specialist made one All-Star appearance for the Crawfords before he was traded to the NY Black Yankees. He finished his career after the 1939 campaign. 
Nixey Callahan - 1916 photo Paul Thompson/Baseball Magazine
  • 1917 - Pirates skipper Jimmy “Nixey” Callahan was fired after the club staggered to a 20-40 start, and Honus Wagner took over as player-manager. The Wagner-led Bucs won 5-4 win over the Reds, with the Dutchman banging a two-run double. Wilbur Cooper went the distance for the win at Forbes Field. Wagner resigned after a five-game stint at the helm; he much preferred playing to filling out lineup cards, and business manager Hugo Bezdek took the reins. 
  • 1927 - Per BR Bullpen, SS Glenn Wright, on the way home from St. Louis after being beaned while batting against the Cards, was slightly injured when the train he was riding wrecked in Ohio. “Buckshot” lost two weeks to the twin traumas, not returning to the lineup until July 14th. Lee Meadows, who accompanied Wright on the trip home, escaped shaken but unscathed. 
  • 1931 - LHP Don Gross was born in Weidman, Michigan. Gross pitched from the pen for the Bucs from 1958-60, going 6-8 with a 3.82 ERA. The Pirates made one of their “whatever was I thinking” deals when they got him from the Reds; they sent RHP Bob Purkey to Cincinnati, who won in double figures for eight seasons and made three All-Star teams. 
  • 1933 - 1B/OF Dave Roberts was born in Panama City, Panama. After a couple of years playing off the Colt .45’s (Astros) bench, Roberts spent a year on the farm and joined the Bucs in 1966 via the Rule 5 draft, going 2-for-16 in his last MLB shot while spending most of the campaign at AAA Columbus. Afterwards, he played eight seasons in Japan (1967-74). 
  • 1934 - A small stone monument dedicated to Barney Dreyfuss was unveiled outside Forbes Field’s RF gates, leading to Schenley Park, on the 25th anniversary of the ballyard. The monument was later displayed in TRS and it’s now located at PNC Park, on the concourse behind home plate. The ceremony didn’t help the Bucs, who were 4-2 losers to the Cubs. 
Dreyfuss Memorial
  • 1960 - Dick Stuart bombed three consecutive HRs to key an 11-6 win as the Pirates split a DH with the second place Giants at Forbes Field. Stuart had seven RBI in the nitecap and joined Ralph Kiner as the second Pirate to hit three homers in a game at Forbes Field. Joe Gibbon worked 7-2/3 innings, giving up six hits and a run after Vinegar Bend Mizell was chased by the G-Men in the second frame. The Bucs were flattened in the opener, losing by an 11-0 count. 
  • 1962 - The Pirates clobbered the Cards, 17-7, at Busch Stadium. Smoky Burgess had two homers and a double, good for seven RBI. Roberto Clemente had a hot stick, too, going 4-for-5 with a homer, a double and five runs driven in. Dick Groat, Bob Skinner and Dick Stuart added three knocks apiece as the Pirates drilled 22 hits against St. Louis. 
  • 1965 - Post Gazette Sports Editor Al Abrams disclosed that in May, in the midst of an eight-game losing streak, the Pirates and the Braves were close to pulling the trigger on a Lee Maye for Vern Law, Donn Clendenon and Jerry Lynch swap. But the Bucs turned it around on the field and as the wins came, the deal (thankfully for Pittsburgh) fell in the rear view mirror. Milwaukee sent Maye to Houston instead for Ken Johnson/Jim Beauchamp and he never developed into more than a platoon guy and off-season singer with the Five Crowns & the Hearts. Law won 17 games in ‘65 and a dozen more the next season, Clendenon played through the 1968 campaign for the Bucs, and Lynch retired as a Pirate at age 35 in 1966.

6/30 From 1970: Hanny-Burney, McWilliams-Perez, Fryer-Hinske Deals; Walkout; Motown Mojo; Cobra Hurt; Game Tales; HBD Cole, Drew, Delwyn & Chan

  • 1973 - RHP Chan Ho Park was born in Kong Ju City, South Korea. He finished his 17-year MLB career in Pittsburgh in 2010 after being claimed from the Yankees, making 26 appearances and slashing 2-2/3.49. He tossed for two more years in Korea before retiring to focus on various children charities on behalf of his Chan Ho Park Dream Foundation. 
Chan Ho Park - 2010 photo via Signatures 4 U
  • 1978 - The Bucs lost both a ballgame and Dave Parker in the ninth inning at TRS. The Pirates were leading, 3-2, when two errors helped the Mets to four runs. The Pirates came roaring back. Frank Taveras and Omar Moreno singled with one out, and Parker followed with a triple to cut the lead to 6-5. Bill Robinson lifted a fly to RF Joel Youngblood, and his throw home beat the tagging Cobra, who tried to run through NY catcher John Stearns, a former defensive back in college. Instead Stearns exploded into him to make the tag, ending the game and breaking Parker’s jaw & cheekbone all in one fell swoop, then spiking the ball after the play. David returned 16 days after his bones were set and his jaw wired shut, wearing a goalie's mask, then a football helmet and later a cage to protect his puss. He slumped on his return - he was on a liquid diet and lost 20 pounds - but rediscovered his stroke in time to repeat as league batting champ (.334) and was voted the Senior Cicuit’s MVP. 
  • 1982 - The Atlanta Braves traded LHP Larry McWilliams to the Pirates for RHP Pascual Perez and minor leaguer Carlos Rios. Both pitchers were solid starters for a spell (each won 33 games during his next three seasons) in an even-up deal. 
  • 1982 - UT Delwyn Young Jr. was born in Los Angeles. A touted minor-league prospect, Delwyn was a AAA All-Star and played for Team USA, but the Dodgers outfield was loaded and Young was sent to Pittsburgh for Eric Krebs & Harvey Garcia. He became the starting 2B, replacing the traded Freddy Sanchez. Delwyn began on fire but faded during the dog days, relegating him to a utility role in 2010. His bat slipped - he hit .238 following a .266 season - and he became a free agent. Young had a couple of bites, but never caught on in the majors again. 
  • 1983 - UT Drew Sutton was born in El Dorado, Arkansas. Drew had a dizzy but brief Bucco stay. The Pirates purchased Sutton from the Braves on May 20th, 2012. Then Tampa Bay purchased Drew from the Bucs on the next day; the Pirates had let him go as a professional courtesy because the Rays were going to add him to their MLB roster. 18 games and a month later, Sutton was DFA’ed by Tampa and claimed by Pittsburgh. He became the stuff of local folklore when Drew hit his first career walk-off home run into PNC’s batter’s eye off the Astro’s Wesley Wright to give the Pirates a come-from-ahead win after a blown save by Joel Hanrahan. The victory gave the Pirates a share of first place. Drew left as a free agent after the year, spent one more season as a 30-year-old at AAA Pawtucket for Boston and then retired. 
Drew Sutton - 7/3/2012 photo Justin Aller/Getty
  • 1987 - IF Cole Figueroa was born in Tallahassee, Florida. He made three brief stops in the show between 2014-16 with his last hurrah in Pittsburgh. He got into 23 games in 2016, batting .154. He read the writing on the wall; he’s now with the Tampa Bay Rays, working in Baseball Research & Development and putting his Sports Management degree from Florida (he was selected to the All-SEC Academic Team) to good use. 
  • 1992 - Pittsburgh eked out a 2-0 win v St. Louis at Busch Stadium. Doug Drabek was the man, tossing a three-hit, complete game whitewash with nine strikeouts. It was the third time that Drabek went the distance on the way to a career-high 10 CGs during the season. The Bucs scored both runs in the sixth off Rheal Cormier when Cecil Espy and Chico Lind’s back-to-back two-out singles plated Lloyd McClendon and Don Slaught. Espy’s was a game-winning gift; his in-between hopper got through SS Tim Jones for a single and error to score the first run and set up the second. 
  • 1997 - Jon Lieber tossed a five-hit, 10-K, complete game 3-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox at TRS, backed by homers from Kevin Young and Dale Sveum. But the most memorable part of the afternoon was Lieber’s dominance of Albert Belle, whom he whiffed four times. The 28,070 fans loved it; Belle was in the first year of an $11M contract, while the “Freak Show” Pirates had a $9M payroll for the entire team. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette headline for Bob Smizik’s game story was “Pirates Clang Belle.” Lieber also held Frank Thomas, who was making a mere $7.15M, 0-for-2, though the Big Hurt did lift a sac fly to account for Chi-town’s only run. 
  • 1999 - The Bucs rode an eight-run fourth frame to a 9-1 win over the Phillies at TRS. Brian Giles had a three-run homer, Al Martin had a three-run bases-clearing double and Brant Brown doubled in another pair as the Bucs banged out six hits with three walks in their big frame. Jason Schmidt cruised to victory, with ninth inning help from Brad Clontz. 
Brad Clontz - photo via All Star Cards
  • 2006 - The hottest team in baseball, the Detroit Tigers (at the time, 54-25, and eventually World Series bound) rolled into PNC Park with a boatload of old Bucco honchos: Manager Jim Leyland and his coaches Gene Lamont, Lloyd McLendon, Andy Van Slyke, Don Slaught and Rafe Belliard. They won the opener, 7-6, and took 2-of-3 games of the series. Motown also rostered a bunch of future Buccos during the visit - Brandon Inge, Craig Monroe, Jason Grilli and Wil Ledzema all appeared and eventually donned a Pirates uniform.
  • 2007 - To protest the team’s small payroll and general ineptitude, a group called “Fans for Change” staged a walkout at PNC Park. Estimates ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand of the 26,959 on hand who strolled out of the park after the third inning. They picked a bad day for it, as the Bucs beat the Nats 7-2 behind Tom Gorzelanny, backed by a three-run homer by Adam LaRoche. Though the sentiment was widespread, the boycott had little effect. 
  • 2008 - The Pirates penciled a pitcher in the eight-hole for the first time in over 50 years when John Russell had Paul Maholm (.161) bat ahead of Jack Wilson (.312); Bobby Bragan had been the last Pittsburgh skipper to use the ploy during the 1957 campaign. It didn’t exactly juice the attack as the Bucs went down, 4-3, to the Reds at GABP after Matt Capps gave up a two-run homer in the ninth to Junior. Maholm went 0-for-3; Wilson 1-for-3. 
  • 2009 - The Bucs traded LF Nyjer Morgan and LHP Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals for RHP Joel Hanrahan and OF Lastings Milledge in a change-of-scenery swap. Hanrahan would become the major piece, eventually taking over as the Pirate closer. They also completed a minor deal the same day, shipping utilityman Eric Hinske to the Yankees for minor leaguers Eric Fryer and Casey Erickson. 
Eric Fryer - image via Positively Pittsburgh
  • 2013 - The Pirates won their ninth straight game, 2-1, in 14 innings over the Brewers at PNC Park. The yard was packed with 35,351 fans on a warm Sunday afternoon, but the game was delayed in the second inning by rain for nearly 2-1/2 hours, and the bullpens took over with Milwaukee ahead, 1-0. Andrew McCutchen tied the game in the eighth when his two-out knock drove in Starling Marte. The Pirates left the bases loaded in the 13th to miss a golden chance, but Russell Martin, the last position player remaining, singled home Gaby Sanchez, who had an infield knock and stolen base to open the frame, with the game winner in the following go-around. Tony Watson got the win after three scoreless innings. He followed five other Pirate relievers, and the ensemble tossed 12 innings of two-hit, shutout ball without issuing a walk, led by Vin Mazzaro’s perfect five-inning stint (it was the first Bucco five IP+ bullpen perfecto since Elmer Ponder did it in 1919). It was the first time in franchise history that the bullpen put up that many consecutive zeros in one game. 
  • 2017 - The Bucs were bombed by the Giants, 13-5, at PNC Park to complete a SF sweep, but the G-Men couldn’t slow down Andrew McCutchen. He went 2-for-2 with a walk to close out a red-hot June. He slashed .411/.505/.689 with six homers, 23 RBI and 22 runs scored, taking the Player-of-the-Month Award for a franchise record fifth time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

6/29 Through the 1960s: Sturdivant-Cheney; M00; Kiner Klobbers; SL Bake-Off; Bucs Close Expo Park; Game Tales; HBD Rock, Burgess, Heinie & Patsy

  • 1867 - IF Henry “Heinie” Reitz was born in Chicago. Heinie had established himself as a dependable .290 hitter over his first five years and the Pirates sent three players to Washington to get him. Father Time won this deal. The 32-year-old Reitz played just 35 games for the Bucs, hitting a career low of .262 and was traded to Milwaukee of the American Association for Harry Smith, who spent six years with the Bucs as a backup catcher. Heinie never played major league ball again after the deal and became a sad but historic footnote in baseball history when he died in 1914 at age 47, the first major league player to meet his Maker as the result of a car accident. 
Heinie Reitz - 1894 photo Alpha Studios
  • 1876 - LHP Patsy Flaherty was born in Mansfield (now Carnegie). The Flaherty and Wagner families were neighbors and Patsy & Hans were lifelong friends. Flaherty was a “quick-pitch” stylist and master of the pickoff (between pitching as soon as he got the ball back from the catcher and his deceptive pickoff move, it’s been alleged that he struck out at least two batters who swung at throws to first!) who was recommended to the Pirates twice by his homie Hans. He pitched for the Bucs in 1900 and then again from 1904-05. He went 29-19-1/2.85 in that span. When he retired after nine years of major league ball with a dead arm, he coached, managed and scouted for various clubs until 1940. 
  • 1907 - The Pirates edged the Cubs 2-1 at West Side Park when CF Tommy Leach threw out Chicago’s Harry Steinfeldt at the plate in the ninth inning. Per the Pittsburgh Press: “...the wee outfielder (Leach)...was as active as a cat all afternoon. Tommie grabbed the bounding sphere and hurled it to catcher (George) Gibson at the plate. It was a perfect throw and had ‘Steiny’ beaten by 20 feet.” Deacon Phillippe was the winner over Ed Reulbach, who had a 17-game winning streak snapped. 
  • 1909 - The Pirates won the final game they played at Exposition Park by an 8–1 count from the Chicago Cubs in front of 5,543 people, moving on to Oakland and Forbes Field the next day. George Gibson banged the final big league hit in the ballpark and Lefty Leifield earned the win over Three Finger Mordecai Brown. Lefty ended the game dramatically, striking out Jim Archer. Tommy Leach and Dots Miller, with four RBI, each collected three hits, and three other Bucs had a pair of knocks. The Park was ushered out in appropriate style - “Commodore” Charles Zieg played Taps as the flag was lowered after the contest. It was a fitting finale: the Cubs helped open the Expo in 1891 (against the Alleghenys as the Chicago Pirates - ironic, no? - opened the yard officially in 1890 against the local Player’s League club, the Burghers) and would perform the same honors for Forbes Field v the Pirates, both opening and closing the yard. 
Lefty Leifield - 1909 Sweet Caporal disk
  • 1910 - Burgess “Whitey” Whitehead was born in Tarboro, North Carolina. A good glove, erratic hitting infielder, Whitey put in eight years with the Cards and Giants, winning a World Series, three NL pennants and an All-Star selection. After missing three seasons while in the military, he returned in 1946 for a last hurrah with the Pirates, hitting .220 at age 36 and then retiring after two more years in the minors. Whitehead was elected into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1981 and was the last surviving member of the Gas House Gang when he died in 1993 at the age of 83. Fun Fact: He hit 17 career homers; they were all in the Polo Grounds (S/O to John Dreker of Pirates Prospects
  • 1915 - The Bucs and Cards split a doubleheader at Robison Field in less than ideal conditions. Today’s groundskeepers would be aghast, but the St. Louis crew used 300 gallons of gas to “bake” the infield after rain had turned it to mush. Doc Johnson of the Redbirds and the Buccos Hans Wagner both suffered minor leg injuries (they returned the next day) on the torched surface. Left fielder Max Carey, who had three assists in the two games, collected one with a helping hand from the hitter: the Cards LF Cozy Dolan's drive hit his own glove in the grass behind third base (it was common practice to leave your glove on the field between innings) and Carey took advantage of the deflection to throw Dolan out at second. Pittsburgh won the opener, 8-6, by scoring four ninth-inning runs. They were led by Hans Wagner and Carey with two hits and RBIs each; Babe Adams pitched the last two frames for the win. The Cards took the nitecap, 6-4, holding off the Pirates after jumping out to an early 6-0 lead. 
  • 1949 - Ralph Kiner had a feature article running in the current Saturday Evening Post and celebrated by driving in five runs with a grand slam (the fourth of his four-year career) and a double to lead the Bucs to a 7-3 win over the Reds at Forbes Field. Johnny Hopp led the hit parade with three knocks while Kiner, Pete Castiglione and Dino Restelli had a pair of raps. Vic Lombardi was given a six-run lead after two innings and coasted to the win, with a three-run dinger surrendered to Virg Stallcup his only major miscue. Kiner’s homer was his 19th of the year, tying him with Ted Williams for the MLB lead, and Ralph would eventually run away from the Splendid Splinter to take the title with 54 long flies, the still-standing Bucco record. 
Howie Pollet - 1952 Bowman
  • 1952 - The Bucs stopped the Cards, 2-1, at Forbes Field behind Howie Pollet. The game went just five frames as a thunderstorm washed away the final 12 outs. The rain also pulled the plug on Donora’s Stan Musial’s 24-game hitting streak; he walked and lined out in his only two at-bats before the weather turned soggy. 
  • 1961 - The Pirates traded RHP Tom Cheney, 26, to the Washington Senators for 32-year-old RHP Tom Sturdivant. Sturdivant slashed 14-7-3/3.49 for the Pirates in 65 games (23 starts) before being sold to the Tigers in 1963. Cheney lasted until 1966 with DC, and in an outlier to a journeyman career (19-29-2/3.77), set the single game MLB strikeout record, whiffing 21 Orioles batters on September 12th, 1962 in 16 innings, tossing a three-hitter in a complete game win. 
  • 1965 - 28,589 fans got their fill of baseball at Forbes Field when the Bucs split a twilight twin bill with the Reds. The contests started at 6:05 and ended at 1:42 AM, with the Pirates taking the opener, 2-1, in 16 innings and dropping the second game, 7-5. Cincy had 11 hits in the first game but went 1-for-11 w/RISP; the last of the Buccos six hits was a two-out rap by Roberto Clemente that scored Bob Bailey, making a winner of Steel City’s fourth hurler, Don Schwall. The Reds broke out of their malaise with a five-run fourth frame in game two to overcome two-hit outings by Clemente, Manny Mota and Donn Clendenon to hang a loss on Joe Gibbon. 
  • 1967 - John Wehner was born in Carrick. The Rock was drafted out of Indiana University by the Pirates in the seventh round of the 1988 draft and the infielder spent nine seasons (1991-96, 1999-2001) with the Bucs as a utilityman, hitting .250. On October 1st, 2000, Wehner hit the final home run smacked at TRS. He played every position except pitcher during his career. John shares the major league record of 99 consecutive errorless games at third base with Jeff Cirillo and has a 1997 World Series ring won with the Florida Marlins under Jim Leyland. After a couple of years as a Bucco hitting coach at Altoona, he became an analyst on the Pirates’ TV team. 
The Rock - 1993 Ultra (reverse)
  • 1968 - The Pittsburgh Press sports page lede was “M-000 000 000-se Blanks Phils” after Bob Moose twirled a two-hit, one walk, eight-K performance at Veterans Stadium to claim a 1-0 win. Both of the hits were weak, with one being a bad-hop single off Maury Wills’ mitt and the other a ball through the box that Moose didn’t react quickly enough to glove. His eight whiffs were of three Phillies - Dick Allen (4 times), Johnny Briggs (2) and pitcher Larry Jackson (2 - both on foul third strike bunts). The Buccos' only score came in the ninth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Matty Alou hit a two-hopper to seven-time Gold Glove winner Bill White at first; it went through his wickets to allow Wills to score.

6/29 From 1970: Clemente Park; Cutch/Pedro Show; Ouch Ollie; Stairs-Way To Victory; #400 For Pops; Game Tales; HBD Tony

  • 1977 - Pops Stargell became the first Pirates player to hit 400 career home runs when he connected in the fifth frame off Eric Rasmussen in a 9-1 win at Busch Stadium. Bill Robinson had a four-bagger and double while Phil Garner added a long ball against the Cards. Bruce Kison and Goose Gossage combined for a seven-hitter. Captain Willie finished his career with 475 bombs, far and away the most by a Bucco - Ralph Kiner is a distant second with 301. 
Tony McKnight - 2002 Fleer
  • 1977 - RHP Tony McKnight was born in Texarkana, Arkansas. Tony was a big righty who was a first round draft pick and pitched modestly well for Houston (5-1/3.91 in nine starts) in limited work. The Pirates took a dice roll on the 24-year-old by swinging a deadline deal that sent reliever Mike Williams to the ‘Stros for him. They rolled snake eyes; Tony went 2-6/5.19 in 12 starts with a 1.572 WHIP, then spent two years in the minors before moving on. He’s now a coach for the Texas A&M at Texarkana Eagles. 
  • 1978 - Rennie Stennett, gimpy but game with a bum ankle, came off the bench in the eighth and tripled in Phil Garner to give the Bucs a 4-3 win over the Mets at TRS. The drive gave Grant Jackson the win with a ninth-inning save by Ed Whitson after they took over from Bert Blyleven and Kent Tekulve. Willie Stargell had three knocks, including a homer and double, and Kenny Macha added three more, one a triple, to account for half of the Pirates 12 hits. 
  • 2000 - Jason Kendall put on a show with two hits, including a homer, walk, two stolen bases, three RBI and two runs as the Bucs outlasted the Cubs 5-4 in 10 innings at TRS. He capped the game with a walk-off single to bring home Mike Benjamin for the bonus baseball win. Marc Wilkins, the fourth Pirates pitcher, got the victory in a game started by Jose Silva. 
  • 2003 - Matt Stairs drove in four runs with a homer and double while Jason Kendall added four knocks to lead the Bucs to a 9-0 whipping of the Rockies at PNC Park. Jeff Suppan pitched a complete-game, four-hit shutout for the win. In other big news, veteran Kevin Young was released. He was hitting just .202 and the writing was on the wall, but KY was a respected clubhouse guy and mentor for many of the players in the organization as the 34-year-old had spent 11 of his 12 big league years with Pittsburgh. 
Ollie Perez - 2005 Upper Deck Origins
  • 2005 - LHP Ollie Perez was placed on the DL with a broken toe. He kicked a laundry cart in frustration after being pulled from a game in St. Louis on the 26th (an eventual 10-inning, 5-4 Pirate win) and was out of action for 10 weeks. 
  • 2006 - The Pirates edged the White Sox at PNC Park, 7-6, ending a club-record 13-game losing streak. Freddy Sanchez was the hero with four hits, including a walk-off ninth inning homer. He had help from the tres Jose's - Bautista, Castillo and Hernandez had two hits - and Jack Wilson, who also rapped out a pair of knocks. Mike Gonzalez got the win.
  • 2012 - The Pirates pounded four homers on the way to a 14-5 win at Busch Stadium. Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Clint Barmes and Alex Presley all went yard. Cutch had a 4-for-5 day with four runs and three RBI; Alvarez added four RBI. Kevin Correia went five frames for the win; Brad Lincoln and Chris Resop covered the final four innings. It was an early leg of a 24-of-35 winning streak that put them 16 games above .500 in early August, though a dog-day’s free fall left them at just 79 wins at season’s end. 
  • 2013 - A life-size statue of Roberto Clemente was unveiled at the 25-acre Roberto Clemente State Park along the Harlem River in the Bronx. The likeness, sculpted by Maritza Hernandez, was the first in New York to honor a person of Puerto Rican heritage, according to the park's director. The park opened in 1973 as the Harlem River Park before being renamed after Clemente, and holds an annual Roberto Clemente Week to celebrate its namesake. 
Roberto - 2013 Cover Baseball's Last Hero
  • 2021 - The hapless Bucs barely avoided being no-hit when Ka’ai Tom, batting .131 (he was in a 2-for-39 slump), lined a single to right to open the ninth against German Marquez at Coors Field for the Pirates sole knock. It was the only highlight of an 8-0 drubbing against Colorado, the second straight night they had been shutout by the Rox.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

6/28: Madlock-Whitson; Good Ump Show; Long Losing Streaks; Forbes Field Finale; Pops #300; Hans 3,000; Game Tales; HBD Michael, Kevin, Orlando, Mike & Frank

  • 1865 - IF Frank Scheibeck was born in Detroit. He spent parts of eight seasons in the show and sported the Bucco colors for 23 games in 1894, batting .353 as a utility guy who played five different positions. Frank stayed on in pro ball through 1906 and after his playing days, he went on to umpire. He later held hometown day jobs as a real estate salesman and as an auto plant assembler. 
  • 1880 - P Mike Lynch was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The righty pitched four seasons (1904-07) for the Pirates, picking up 32 wins and working over 400 innings in his first two years. He was still effective in his final two years with the team, but the Bucs had juiced up their staff and he became the odd man out, going to the Giants during the second half of ‘07 and then retiring to go into business. His career Pittsburgh line was 40-26/3.01. 
Mike Lynch - 1904 Pittsburgh Press photo
  • 1914 - Honus Wagner became the first 20th century ballplayer to collect 3,000 hits when he singled off of Cincinnati's rookie Pete Schneider in the second game of a twinbill at Redland Field. While a good day for Hans, it wasn’t such a good one for the Pirates. They lost both ends of the doubleheader to the Reds by 7-6 and 1-0 scores. The first loss was especially gruesome as the Bucs blew a 6-2 lead in the ninth triggered by a missed call. Up by a run with two outs and two aboard, a 3-2 foul tip was gloved by catcher Bob Coleman. The Reds on base started to run to the dugout, but the batter, Bert Niehoff, jogged innocently to first and the ump bought his act, calling it a check swing and ball four. A protest, made en masse by the Pirate infield and battery, was to no avail and a following single gave Cincy the game. The second was a pitching duel with Schneider’s three-hitter bettering the four-hit work of Marty O’Toole and Erv Kantlehner. In the long run, it made little difference as the Pirates finished seventh and the Reds last in the NL that season. (There have been a couple of June dates tossed around for Hans’ 3,000th hit. June 9th was the consensus, but this date is the currently accepted one following research of old-timey box scores, which are generally kinda sketchy, and we cite both in the blog.
  • 1916 - Cubs catcher Bill Fischer set a MLB record by catching all 27 innings of a doubleheader loss to the Bucs at brand new Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh won both games, 3-2, with the second game going 18 innings. The winning pitchers were Mike Prendergast and Tom Seaton with Prendergast pulling double duty, coming on to get the save in the nitecap. Impressed with Fischer's stamina, the Pirates traded for him at the end of July, and he played his last two seasons in the show for Pittsburgh. 
  • 1938 - C Orlando McFarlane was born in Oriente, Cuba. Signed by the Bucs as an infielder in 1958, he was converted to catcher and got a cup of coffee with the Pirates in 1962, playing a bit more in 1964 and hitting .208 in his 45-game Bucco career. He was lost in the Rule 5 draft and played three more years with Detroit and the California Angels, but he battled nagging injuries while his impressive minor league bat never carried over to the show. Orlando played 10 years in the bushes with more stops in the Latin leagues. 
Kevin Polcovich - 1998 Upper Deck Collector's Choice
  • 1970 - SS Kevin Polcovich was born in Auburn, New York. He spent his MLB career of two years (1997-98) with the Pirates, hitting .234. The University of Florida player was drafted in the 30th round by the Bucs in 1992, getting his call when Kevin Elster was injured, and would become a key member of the 1997 “Freak Show” that against all odds stayed in the divisional race until late September despite a $9M payroll. After he left the game, Kevin did some scouting and established the Icrush Bat Company, a manufacturer of maple bats. 
  • 1970 - The Pirates swept a twinbill from the Chicago Cubs, 3-2 and 4-1, in the last games played at 61-year-old Forbes Field in front of 40,918, the second largest crowd to gather at the ballyard. Al Oliver hit the last home run in FF history. Jim Nelson got the final win iced by a Dave Giusti save. It was a fitting finale; the Cubs were the first team the Pirates played at Forbes Field in 1909. Bill Mazeroski had the last Pirate hit there, a seventh inning double, and recorded the last put-out on a force play at second. It was the Pirates seventh straight victory and the Cubs 10th straight loss. The Bucs went on the road afterwards and opened TRS on July 16th, after the All-Star break. 
  • 1973 - Willie Stargell hit his 300th career home run as the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 6–0, at TRS. Al Oliver had a huge day, going 4-for-5 with a triple, two doubles and three RBI while Rennie Stennett added three hits to back Dock Ellis’ five hitter. 
  • 1979 - The Pirates traded pitchers Ed Whitson, Al Holland and Fred Breining to the Giants for P Dave Roberts plus infielders Bill Madlock & Lenny Randle. Mad Dog solidified the Bucco infield at third and spent six seasons with Pittsburgh, winning batting titles in 1981 (.341) and 1983 (.323). Roberts was workmanlike for the Bucs in ‘79-80, though at 35 he was near the end of his journey; 1981 was his last season. Randle wasn’t here long enough to find his way to the North Shore before he was sold to the Yankees. Whitson pitched through 1991, winning 126 games and saving eight more while Holland worked out of various bullpens for 11 more seasons. Breining had a shorter career, lasting five years as a multi-role hurler. 
Willie Stargell - 2002 Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball
  • 1992 - The Bucs jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead, but by the ninth, the Expos had cut the edge to a run at Olympic Stadium. The Bucs took away the drama when their first eight hitters reached in the ninth, highlighted by back-to-back triples by Andy Van Slyke and Orlando Merced, a couple of two-baggers, and Will Pennyfeather’s first MLB hit, a bunt single. The big frame ended prematurely with a Chico Lind DP ball, but was plenty enough to carry the Pirates to a 12-4 victory. Merced had a homer to go with his triple and four RBI to help Jeff Robinson to the win. Steve Belinda, who came on in the eighth, earned a save. 
  • 1993 - It took the Bucs nine innings to score five runs but just one frame to add four more as they rallied to take a 10-inning win from the Expos, 9-5, at Stade Olympique. There were two Buccos aboard via walks with two out in the ninth, and Orlando Merced was down to his last swing with the count at 1-2 when he flared a single to right to tie the game. The Pirates were aided by Montreal gifts in the extra frame, when a walk and a poor decision on a bunt, sandwiched around an infield knock, loaded the bases with no outs. Another free pass forced home the lead run and singles by Tom Foley & Jay Bell chased home three more Bucs. Tim Wakefield got the win in relief, with Stan Belinda picking up the save; Pittsburgh went through six pitchers during the contest and the final five covered five innings scorelessly. The hot Pirates took their ninth victory in 11 games and snapped a seven-game winning streak of Expo twirler Denny Martinez. The top of the order reversed roles; Tim Foley and Jay Bell did their job by reaching base five times but didn’t score; instead, they drove in five runs. 
  • 1993 - RHP Michael Feliz was born in Azua, Dominican Republic. Houston signed him in 2010 and he debuted in 2015. He averaged better than 13 K/nine innings with the ‘Stros from 2016-17 and was part of the Gerrit Cole package sent to the Pirates. He started as the seventh inning guy and was bumped up a notch when George Kontos was released, but hit on hard times and was removed from that role after compiling a 5.66 ERA. He was mostly in good graces in 2019, although still a roller coaster ride on the hill thanks to an excess of home runs and walks. Feliz missed most of 2020 with forearm issues and was claimed by the Reds after being DFA’ed early in 2021; he’s now in the Red Sox organization. 
Michael Feliz - 2016 Topps
  • 2006 - The Bucs set a team record with their 13th straight defeat, eclipsing the old mark set by the 1939 club when the White Sox edged them, 4-3, at PNC Park with Paul Maholm taking the loss. They walked off the next game by a 7-6 score on a Freddy Sanchez homer, but still stumbled to a 67-95 campaign. 
  • 2010 - The Pirates finally shook off a 17-game road losing streak that dated back to May 25th and defeated the Cubs by a 2-1 score at Wrigley Field. Jose Tabata was the man of the hour; his triple in the ninth chased home Ryan Doumit with the game-winner while he scored the first Pirates run back in the third frame, drawing a walk and coming around on Andrew McCutchen’s two-out three-bagger. Paul Maholm went eight innings for the win, with Octavio Dotel coming in for the save; he bopped the first Cub, then struck out the side swinging to bring it home. 
  • 2011 - Alex Presley was called up to replace an injured Jose Tabata and banged out a pair of hits, including his first MLB homer, while driving in three runs to lead the Bucs to a 7-6 win over Toronto at the Rogers Centre. An unlikely pair of batting heroes, Matt Diaz and Ronny Cedeno, combined for five hits, three runs and an RBI to help the cause against the Jays. Chris Resop, Jose Veras and Joel Hanrahan pitched three scoreless frames to preserve the win for Kevin Correia. 
  • 2013 - Gerrit Cole, the first overall pick of the 2011 draft, became the first Pirate rookie since Nick Maddox in 1907 to win the first four games he started when the Bucs shellacked the Brewers 10-3 at PNC Park in front of 36,875. Cole went six frames for the win, with Ryan Reid tossing three scoreless, two-hit innings to cruise home. They were supported by Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte, who each had three hits. Cutch had a double, homer, three RBI and a run while Starling added a double, triple, two runs and two RBI. 
Gerrit Cole - 2013 Topps Chrome
  • 2017 - Walking on the Roberto Clemente Bridge while on his way to work the Pirates-Rays game at PNC Park, umpire John Tumpane saw a woman scaling the span’s railing; she told him she wanted a better view of the river. Sensing that she was suicidal and ready to plunge into the Allegheny River, Tumpane grabbed one arm, passer-by Chris Dazen grabbed the other and a Tampa Bay staffer heading to the yard, Mike Weinman, joined in to keep her hogtied until emergency workers came to the rescue. John modestly said "I just happened to be there."