Wednesday, June 15, 2016

6/15 Transitions - Birthdays & Trades: Gene, Babe, Ducky & More...

  • 1912 - 1B Babe Dahlgren was born in San Francisco. He played for the Pirates from 1944-45, hitting .271 and earning an All-Star spot in 1944. Babe was famous for two things: He replaced Lou Gehrig in 1939, ending the Iron Horse’s 2,130 game playing streak, and was credited as being the first MLB player to take a drug test for a non-performance enhancing drug. He took it voluntarily in 1943 to dispel rumors that he was a pot head.
  • 1925 - Gene Baker was born in Davenport, Iowa. The back-up infielder played for the Bucs from 1957-58 and 1960-61 with a .259 BA. In 1961, he became the first African-American manager in organized baseball when the Pirates named him skipper of their Batavia farm club in the New York-Penn League. In 1963, the Pirates promoted him to the big team as the second black coach in MLB, behind Buck O'Neil by three months. When Danny Murtaugh was tossed by an ump, Baker became the interim manager for two games, making him the first black to manage a team in a major league game. Baker managed Batavia again in 1964, and served as a minor league coach and manager. He then returned to Davenport and became the Bucs’ top midwest scout for 23 years. 
Gene Baker (Illustration - Des Moines Register)
  • 1939 - The Pirates picked up 1B Elbie Fletcher from the Boston Bees for IF Bill Schuster and cash. Fletcher played seven seasons for Pittsburgh (he missed three because of WW2) and hit .279 with 60 HR and 464 RBI for the Bucs. Broadway Bill Schuster was a sub who also missed three war years, and hit .234 over a five-year career.
  • 1941 - RHP Bruce Dal Canton was born in California, PA. Dal Canton was signed by the Bucs out of California State College and tossed his first four big-league seasons (1967-70) in Pittsburgh, finishing with an 11-year career as a starter and long man.
  • 1951 - The Pirates received RHP Ted Wilks, IF Dick Cole, C Joe Garagiola, OF Bill Howerton and LHP Howie Pollet from St. Louis for LHP Cliff Chambers and OF/3B Wally Westlake. Pollet and Chambers ended up as washes on the hill, but Westlake played seven more seasons and retired with a lifetime .272 BA.
Joe Gargiola 1953 Bowman
  • 1958 - SS Johnny O’Brien and 3B Gene Freese were traded to the Cardinals for IF Dick “Ducky” Schofield, who would play a key role in the Bucs 1960 NL championship as a sub for the injured Dick Groat during the stretch run for the pennant.
  • 1961 - Pittsburgh traded OF Gino Cimoli to the Milwaukee Braves for IF Johnny Logan. Cimoli was a bench player for the Braves, then went on to start for KC in 1962-63. Logan’s All-Star days were behind him and he spent three seasons with the Bucs as a reserve infielder.
  • 1966 - The Atlanta Braves traded LHP Billy O'Dell to the Pirates for RHP Don Schwall. Digger O’Dell was effective in ‘66, making 37 appearances with a 2.78 ERA, but that doubled the next season, his last in the majors. Schwall went 3-3 in eight starts for Atlanta, and pitched one game in 1967 before his career ended.
  • 1980 - C Erik Kratz was born in Telford PA. The journeyman is making his second appearance as a Bucco in 2016; he caught nine games in 2010 as a rookie.

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