Tuesday, March 7, 2017

3/7: Freddy, Vic Willis HoF, Modern Ball, HBD Doc, Junior & Dick

  • 1881 - RHP Doc Scanlan was born in Syracuse. He started his career in Pittsburgh, tossing sparingly from 1903-04 before being sold to the Brooklyn Superbas. Doc was 1-4 with a 4.65 ERA here, but was steady for some bad Brooklyn teams over the next 6-½ years, winning 64 games with a 2.96 ERA and over 1,200 IP. He made baseball history in 1905 when he became one of only a handful of NL hurlers in modern major league history to win two complete games in one day, beating St. Louis, 4-0 and 3-2 on October 3rd. Doc’s nickname was straightforward enough; he became a doctor after he hung up the spikes.
  • 1893 - Baseball began to take on its modern form. The NL eliminated the pitching box, a 6’ x 4’ area the pitcher could throw from, and replaced it with the pitcher's rubber, establishing both a set position for pitchers and today’s pitching distance of 60’ 6”. Also, bats had to be rounded - the semi-cricket style of one side being flat for ease of slapping/bunting was made illegal.
Junior Walsh (photo via PC Antiquities in Philly)
  • 1919 - RHP James “Junior” Walsh was born in Newark. Junior pitched in 1946, returning during 1948-51, for the Bucs and not very effectively; he never had an ERA lower than 5.05. In five years, his line was 4-10-1/5.88.
  • 1931 - C Dick Rand was born in South Gate, California. Rand got into 60 games for the Bucs in 1957, batting .219 and ending his MLB career after three years. He’s noteworthy as part of the cattle call of catchers the Pirates trotted out in 1957 after starter Jack Shepherd earned a masters degree and retired to go to work for his alma mater, Stanford. Rand joined Hank Foiles, Danny Kravitz and Harding “Pete” Peterson, who would find more success in the front office (he eventually became the Pirates GM) than on the field.
  • 1995 - The Veterans Committee selected RHP Vic Willis for the Hall of Fame. Willis pitched from 1906-09 with Pittsburgh, going 89-46 with a 2.08 ERA. The workhorse curveballer was inducted on July 30th with 249 career victories on his resume. Vic also was one of eight pitchers who tossed over 300 innings in a season without giving up a homer when he threw 322 frames in the 1906 campaign without surrendering a long ball.
Freddy Sanchez 2007 Upper Deck Pennant Chasers
  • 2007 - The main topic in the papers was whether or not the Bucs should keep defending NL batting champ Freddy Sanchez at second base; both the media and the team had questions about his legs being able to take the physical beating dished out to middle infielders on plays at the bag. Freddy proved tough enough. He spent 2006 much like 2005, splitting time at 3B-SS-2B, and then closed out the rest of his career as a second sacker. Injuries to his arm and then to his back eventually did end his MLB days.
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