Saturday, December 9, 2017

12/9 Happenings: Bert, Purkey, Walker Go, Smith, Hernandez Arrive; Tener NL Prez; MVP Crowd; Scoop Rumors

  • 1913 - Tyrone PA’s John Tener, a one-time pitcher who worked for the Pittsburgh Burgers of the Player’s League in 1890, became a congressman, and was currently serving as governor of Pennsylvania, was voted in as the National League president. John had maintained interest in the sport since his playing days, having founded the annual Congressional baseball game and then cracking down on baseball gambling as governor. He faced several player uprisings during his term (it became full-time in 1915 when his stint as governor ended) and quit the position in 1918 over a dispute with the AL. 
Kiki Cuyler 1925 Exhibits
  • 1925 - Rogers Hornsby won the NL-MVP by defeating runner up Kiki Cuyler of the Pirates by a 73-61 count. That’s the year Rogers hit .403; Cuyler batted a mere .357 with 220 hits, 144 runs scored and 102 RBI. Other world-champion Buccos who got votes were SS Glenn Wright, 3B Pie Traynor, CF Max Carey and P Vic Aldridge. 
  • 1957 - The Pirates traded RHP Bob Purkey to the Cincinnati Reds for LHP Don Gross. Gross won six games in three years as a Pirate while Purkey, a Pittsburgh kid who went to South Hills HS, won 124 games after the deal, appearing in a World Series and three All-Star games. GM Joe Brown later called it “the worst trade I ever made.” Purkey pitched his final season (1966) for the Pirates and then retired to Bethel Park, where he became a successful insurance broker. He died in 2008 at age 78 and was buried at Queen of Angels Cemetery. 
  • 1959 - The Bucs sent RHP Dick Hall, IF Ken Hamlin and a PTBNL (C Hank Foiles) to the Kansas City Athletics for C Hal Smith. The deal paid dividends when Smith’s three-run homer in the eighth inning of the seventh game of the 1960 World Series set the stage for Bill Mazeroski’s legendary blast. 
Todd Van Poppel 1998 (photo: The Sporting News/Getty)
  • 1976 - The Post-Gazette reported that Al Oliver was an item on the trade market, what the hottest rumor involving the Montreal Expos, which were said to be dangling C Gary Carter and P Dale Murray as bait. But GM Pete Peterson held onto Oliver through the 1977 campaign before sending him to Texas in the offseason. 
  • 1980 - The Pirates traded RHP Bert Blyleven and C Manny Sanguillen to the Indians for P Bob Owchinko‚ P Victor Cruz‚ C Gary Alexander‚ and minor league P Rafael Vasquez. The California Angels were set aback by the deal, as they had offered 1B/OF Don Baylor and P Mark Clear to Pittsburgh for Blyleven plus C Ed Ott and thought they had made the better offer, per published reports. Halo GM Buzzy Bavasi said at the time “Blyleven wanted to come to California. The Pirates sent him to Siberia.” There may have been some truth to that as Buc GM Pete Peterson and Bavasi were not thought to be on the best of terms and Blyleven had burned his Pittsburgh bridges. At any rate, disgruntled Hall of Famer Blyleven was the key and he went on to pitch 11 more seasons while winning 148 more games. The righty requested the trade, saying that manager Chuck Tanner didn’t show any confidence in him by not letting him go deeper into games, although the Frying Dutchman (named because he loved setting teammates’ shoelaces on fire - the “hotfoot” prank - rather than his temperament) averaged 233 IP per season under Tanner’s watch. Sangy was at the end of his days and was released in spring camp. For the Bucs, Cruz split his time between the minors and the parent club, going 1-1-1, 2.65 in 22 games and was sent back to Cleveland the next season for SS Nelson Norman. Owchinko was flipped for Ernie Camacho, who tossed seven games for the Pirates (0-1, 4.98). It was Alexander’s last go-around in the show; he hit .213 in 21 games. Vasquez had originally been signed by the Pirates and sent to Seattle in 1978 as part of the Enrique Romo deal. He pitched in AAA for Pittsburgh and then spent several seasons in the Mexican League.
Roberto Hernandez 2006 Upper Deck
  • 2005 - The Pirates agreed to sign free agent reliever RHP Roberto Hernandez, 42, to a one year‚ $2.75M contract (it was finalized a week later, on the 15th). The set-up man was flipped to the NY Mets, his old club, at the 2006 deadline as part of the Xavier Nady trade. 
  • 2015 - The Pirates traded 2B Neil Walker to the New York Mets for LHP Jon Niese. The Pittsburgh Kid (he went to Pine-Richland HS) had been a Bucco since he was selected in the first round (#11 overall) of the 2004 draft and took over the second base spot in 2010. Along with Robinson Cano, he was the only 2B with double-digit dingers for six straight seasons. From 2009-15, Walker put up a .272/.338/.431 slash for the Bucs, with 93 HR. Niese fizzled and was shipped back to the Mets while Walker remained injury-bitten and ended up with the Brewers.

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