Thursday, March 2, 2017

3/2: HBD Bill, Rip, Frank, Cal & Don; AA Flap; Spring Cultural Exchange

  • 1879 - RHP Joe “Chick” Robitaille was born in Whitehall, New York. He spent his two year MLB career as a Pirate (1904-05), going 12-8 with a 2.56 ERA before being released in August 1905. Chick signed on with the Washington Senators the following season as a free agent, but never returned to the big leagues.
Sam started quite a stir...1887 N175 Goodwin Gypsy Queen 
  • 1886 - The American Association met and overruled Denny McKnight, AA president and also owner of the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, on who owned the rights to 2B Sam Barkley, then suspended Barkley for signing with Pittsburgh. The issue turned around St. Louis Brown’s owner Chris von der Ahe, who had sold Barkley’s rights to Pittsburgh in January although Baltimore had sent him $1,000 for Barkley’s contract. The case was eventually resolved by allowing Barkley to play for the Alleghenys, sending Milt Scott from Pittsburgh to Baltimore as compensation and allowing von der Ahe to keep Baltimore’s check. After all that, Barkley hit .248 in his two years with the club, splitting time between first and second base.
  • 1891 - C Bill Fischer was born in NY City. Bill spent the last two seasons of his five year career in Pittsburgh (he was traded to the Bucs by the Cubs in July 1916 as the Pirates were stockpiling catchers to spell the aging George Gibson) and hit .277 in 137 games before hangin’ the spikes up after the 1917 campaign. Fischer had a career year in 1915 playing for the pennant-winning Chicago Whales of the Federal League, hitting .329.
  • 1898 - RHP Floyd “Rip” Wheeler was born in Marion, Kentucky. After winning 23 games in the minors, the Bucs called him up in late 1921. He gave up three earned runs in three frames and opened 1922 in the minors. He got one more inning in Pittsburgh before joining the Cubs, where he yo-yoed between the show and the farm for a couple of seasons. Rip quietly concluded his career after three more minor league years.
Frank Colman 1944 (photo Pirates)
  • 1918 - 1B/OF/PH Frank Colman was born in London, Ontario. He played for the Bucs at the start of his career (1941-46), getting just 373 PA and hitting .233. In 1947, Frank’s career ended with the Yankees when a leg injury followed by surgery finished his MLB playing days. Frank caught on as a player-manager in the minors for awhile, then bought the team he started out on, the London Majors. Frank later founded the Eager Beaver baseball group for kids, and for his efforts as a ballplayer and ambassador for the sport was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.
  • 1924 - OF Cal “Abie” Abrams was born in Philadelphia. He spent 1953 in Pittsburgh as the starting RF, hitting .286 with 15 HR, and was traded early in 1954 to Baltimore for P Dick Littlefield. Abrams hit .269 over his career, but drew 304 walks to just 290 whiffs and ended up with a .386 lifetime OBP in eight seasons with the Dodgers, Reds, Pirates, Orioles and White Sox.
  • 1936 - RHP Don Schwall was born in Wilkes-Barre. After an All-Conference basketball career at Oklahoma, he won the AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1961 with the Red Sox, beating out teammate Carl “Yaz” Yastrzemski. He settled into journeyman status and was converted to the bullpen later in his career by the Bucs. He was with Pittsburgh from 1963-66, going 22-23-4 with a 3.23 ERA.
Jim had no beefs w/the Japanese crew (photo via
  • 1996 - At St. Petersburg's Al Lang Field, two Japanese umpires worked the Pirates-Cards exhibition game along with two U.S. umpires as part of an exchange program that also had American umps working games in Japan. "I thought they (the Japanese) did a good job," said Pirates manager Jim Leyland. "And even if they didn't, you couldn't argue with them." Scott Zucker of UPI added that “(Tony) LaRussa offered that his only Japanese conversation consists of shaking his head 'yes' or 'no.' Keeping LaRussa quiet should be enough to keep any umpire, no matter what his nationality, happy.” The Bucs won the contest 11-2 behind Denny Neagle’s first spring start without any international incidents.
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