Tuesday, November 7, 2017

11/7: No to Cuban; Cordova Deal; '83 FAs; HBD Kris, Todd, Dave, Andy, Stu, Fred, Ed & Only

  • 1857 - RHP Ed “The Only” Nolan was born in either Canada or Patterson, New Jersey; no one is quite sure. Nolan was a two fisted drinker who made a brief stop with the Alleghenys in 1883. The following is per the Baseball Reference Bullpen page: He lost the seven games he pitched, and then, after he was fined $10 for something, went on a drinking spree and put it on the team's tab. He was fined $100 and suspended for the rest of the season. One fan even sold a line of shirts featuring Nolan, Buttercup Dickerson and the 1883 Alleghenies as "The Hardest Drinking Team of All Time." There are several theories regarding his nickname. One says it was because he would demand to be the only pitcher employed by the teams on which he played. Others claim it was taken from a burlesque actor named "The Only Leon." The KISS explanation is that "The Only" was a commonly used term during Nolan's time, applied to anyone who excelled at something, and so Nolan took the moniker to feed his ego. In an “all the sinners are saints” twist, bad boy Nolan became a cop after he retired. 
Ed Mensor 1913 (photo Bain News Service/Library of Congress)
  • 1885 - SS/OF Ed Mensor was born in Woodville, Oregon. He played three years for Pittsburgh (1912-14) and hit .221 from the bench. Baseball players weren’t exactly noted for politically correctness back in the day; the 5’6” Mensor’s nickname was “The Midget.” Mensor factoid: Ed was the first Jewish switch-hitter in major league history per the Jewish Baseball Museum.
  • 1904 - C Fred Carroll died in San Rafael, California at the age of 40 after a heart attack. He was one of the top hitting catchers of his era, with a .284 BA, and had his hand in all the Pittsburgh franchises, playing for the Alleghenys, Burghers and Pirates for seven (1885-91) of his eight big-league years. He was a complete player - he also spent some time in the OF, corner IF and short while stealing 137 bases during his career and even umped a game in ‘87. Fred had nine hits during an 1886 twinbill and was the first Pittsburgh player to hit for the cycle (both as an Allegheny) in 1887. He’ll always be a part of local baseball lore for burying his pet monkey and team mascot under home plate at old Recreation Park before a game. He left baseball early, at age 26, partly because of a sub-par year with the Pirates (he hit .218) and partly because the Sacramento native wanted to return to the west coast. 
  • 1910 - 3B Bill Brubaker was born in Cleveland. He played nine years for the Bucs, from 1932-40, and batted .264 as a Pirate, earning most of his starts in 1936-37.(he was super in ‘36, hitting .289 w/101 RBI) After a couple of years in the service, he ended his career in 1943 with the Boston Braves. His grandson, Dennis Rasmussen, also played in the major leagues, putting together a 12-year career as a starting pitcher in the early 80s-to-mid 90s. 
Dick Stuart 1961 Topps
  • 1932 - 1B Dick Stuart was born in San Francisco. “Dr. Strangeglove” (the nickname was given to him by Henry Aaron; he also went by “Big Stu”) played in Pittsburgh from 1958-62, hitting .273 with 117 bombs as a Bucco, and was a 1961 All-Star after losing 35 baseballs. The slugger’s inability to field was legendary; he was once hit in the back when Roberto Clemente threw behind a runner, and received an ovation for spearing a hot dog wrapper as it blew past him at Forbes Field. He led the league in errors a record seven years in a row (1958-64), drove a car with the license plate "E3" and his 29 muffs at first base in 1963 remain the MLB record for the position. He said “As long as you drive in more than you let in, you get to play.” Oddly enough, he was the first 1B to record three assists in one inning; go figure. Stu also mashed 66 home runs for the Lincoln club of the Class A Western League in 1956, proving that his glove wasn’t the main reason he got a paycheck. 
  • 1966 - OF Andy Tomberlin was born in Monroe, North Carolina. The strong-armed and fleet Tomberlin spent parts of six seasons as a big league bench outfielder after being converted from a pitcher, beginning in Pittsburgh in 1993, where he hit .286. Tomberlin played most of his games in the minor leagues from 1986 through 2000 for eight different organizations. After his playing days, Andy scouted and coached in the minors for the Brewers and White Sox. 
  • 1967 - RHP Dave Wainhouse was born in Toronto, Ontario. The Montreal Expos selected Wainhouse with their first-round pick of the 1988 draft, making him the first Canadian-born player picked the first round. He put in seven years as a middle reliever, spending 1996-97 with the Bucs, going 1-1, 6.97 in 42 outings. He now operates a baseball academy and is an assistant baseball coach for Seattle University. 
Todd Ritchie 2000 Upper Deck Victory
  • 1971 - RHP Todd Ritchie was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. Ritchie went 35-32/4.29 for the Bucs from 1999-2001, winning 15 games in ‘99. In 2001’s off season, he was traded to the White Sox for Kip Wells, Josh Fogg and Sean Lowe. He signed again with Pittsburgh in 2005, but retired during camp. Todd’s final comeback effort was in 2008 with the Rockies; he lasted through five minor-league starts before leaving the slab for good. 
  • 1974 - RHP Kris Benson was born in Kennesaw, Georgia. The first overall selection of the 1996 draft, the Clemson grad pitched for the Pirates from 1999-2004 (missing 2001 after TJ surgery) with a line of 43-49/4.26. His “parking lot sex” and other such antics with wife Anna were sports page fodder throughout his career, culminating in a 2013 divorce. On the other side of the pillow, he and Anna also fronted many charitable causes and raised an estimated $750K in donations during his big league days. 
  • 1983 - Dave Parker, Jim Bibby, Kent Tekulve, Richie Hebner, Miguel Dilone and Dave Tomlin became free agents and entered the free agent re-entry draft; only Teke (three years + option/$1M per year) and Tomlin (who spent two years at AAA Hawaii) returned to the Pirates. Parker went to Cincinnati, Bibby to Texas, Hebner to the Cubs and Dilone to Montreal. 
Francisco Cordova 1998 Circa Thunder
  • 1997 - The Pirates reached agreement with RHP Francisco Cordova on a three year, $4.1M contract with an option year. Cordova went 11-8. 3.63 with a nine-inning no-hitter during the season. He went 27-32 over the three guaranteed seasons of the deal, but his ERA zoomed each year, from 3.31 to 4.43 to 5.21 as arm troubles limited his effectiveness. After his MLB days, the lefty tossed in his native Mexico from 2002 through 2011. 
  • 2005 - Owner Kevin McClatchy denied rumors that the Pirates had been sold to Dallas Maverick owner/Mt. Lebanon native Mark Cuban. McClatchy told Paul Meyer of the Post Gazette bluntly that “..the team was not for sale.” But the deck was being shuffled: by January 2007, Bob Nutting had taken over as the principal owner of the club.
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