Monday, December 4, 2017

12/4: Briles, Robby, Cookie Go; Spanky, Sluggo, Ed & Alex Become Bucs; Waner MVP; AVS-GG; HBD Ted & Johnny

  • 1886 - The St. Louis Maroons traded 1B Alex McKinnon to Pittsburgh for 1B Otto Schomberg and $400. Schomberg was the Alleghenys starting first sacker who had some power and a great eye, but the 30 year-old McKinnon was considered a potential star. The Boston native was hitting .340 for the Pittsburgh club in July when he contracted typhoid fever and died 20 days after his last game. 
Alex McKinnon 1887 Goodwin Old Judge
  • 1892 - RHP Johnny Meador was born in Madison, North Carolina. After a good season at Galveston in the Texas League, the Bucs brought him up in 1920. He went 0-2, 4.21, and perhaps saw the handwriting on the wall when he left the team in July to play for independent Oil City, getting a $2,000 bonus for jumping ship and a two-year contract for $3,000 annually. C Cliff Lee was rumored to join him, causing the Pirates to give him a mid-season raise (he had leverage beyond Oil City’s offer; he was also the only healthy catcher on the roster at the time) and sending owner Barney Dreyfuss into a tizzy, threatening to sue the outlaw OC club for raiding his team. Meador never returned to MLB after switching leagues. 
  • 1925 - LHP/OF Ted Toles was born in Newton Falls, Ohio, near Warren. His pro baseball career began in 1946 with the Pittsburgh Crawfords and after a brief Negro League career, he played for the minor league affiliates of the Cleveland Indians (including a stop with the New Castle Indians in 1951), New York Yankees and Philadelphia Athletics. Ted also toured with the Jackie Robinson All-Stars with Robinson, Lary Doby, Satchel Paige and teammate Willie Pope when they barnstormed against different MLB all-star teams during the offseason. Toles was one of the last remaining links to the Negro Leagues and was featured in the book “Living on Borrowed Time: The Life and Times of Negro League Player Ted Toles Jr.” before passing away in April of 2016. 
  • 1927 - OF Paul "Big Poison" Waner finished ahead of the Card's Fordham Flash, Frankie Frisch, for NL MVP honors by 72 votes to 66; Rogers Hornsby made it a three-man race with his 54 votes. In his second year in the show, Waner hit .380, drove in 131 runs, scored 114 and banged out 237 hits to lead Pittsburgh to the NL title. He entered the Hall of Fame in 1952.
  • 1936 - The Brooklyn Dodgers traded LHP Ed Brandt for Pirates IF Cookie Lavagetto and LHP Ralph “Lefty” Birkofer. Lavagetto started for the next five years, hitting .275 for Brooklyn and making four All-Star teams before losing four years to the Second World War. Brandt lasted two years with the Bucs as a swingman, going 16-14 with a 3.23 ERA before he retired at age 34 after 11 MLB campaigns. While here, he tied a Bucco mark held by several by winning three 1-0 games in 1937, a record no Pirate has matched since. Lefty made 11 appearances for the Dodgers in 1937, his last year of MLB ball. 
  • 1973 - The Pirates traded P Nelson Briles and IF Fernando Gonzalez to the KC Royals for UT Ed “Spanky” Kirkpatrick, IF Kurt Bevacqua and minor league 1B Winston Cole. Briles lasted five more seasons, but posted an ERA under four just once in that span while none of the others became everyday contributors, though Spanky hung around as a utility guy with the Bucs until 1977. 
  • 1989 - The Pirates picked up C Don Slaught from the Yankees for RHPs Jeff Robinson and farmhand Willie Smith after New York had first turned down a reported package of RHP Randy Kramer and C Tom Prince. Slaught would form a platoon tandem with Spanky LaValliere through 1992, and remained with the Bucs until 1996 after being injured during most of the 1995 campaign, hitting .305 during his Pittsburgh tenure. Sluggo played for the Royals, Rangers, Yankees, Pirates, Angels, White Sox, and Padres in his 16 year career; a catcher with a .283 lifetime BA has an awfully long shelf life in MLB. Robinson tossed for three more seasons in the AL, while Smith threw seven frames in 1994 in his only taste of the show. 
Don Slaught 1991 Bowman
  • 1990 - CF Andy Van Slyke won his second straight Gold Glove and LF Barry Bonds earned his first. Barry’s dad Bobby had won GG’s in the seventies, and they became the first father-and-son team to be honored with the award.

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