Saturday, February 10, 2018

2/10 TRS-PNC Park Era: Judy HoF; Hernandez Deal; Kendall DD MoY; HBD Ruben, Cesar, Justin, Luis, Duke & Jeanmar

  • 1971 - The Pirates made one of their better deals when they sent minor league lefty Danilo Rivas to the Mexico City Reds for LHP Ramon Hernandez. The southpaw was a bullpen anchor from 1971-76, going 23-12-39 with a 2.51 ERA before being sold to the Red Sox in 1976. The trade was a homecoming of sorts; the Pirates had originally signed Hernandez as an 18-year-old out of Ponce De Leon, Puerto Rico, in 1959. 
Ramon Hernandez 1975 SSPC
  • 1975 - 3B Judy Johnson was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Negro League Committee. Playing in the 1920s and 1930s, Johnson was a defensive whiz who batted .309 over a 17-year career, including stints with the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords. He was inducted on August 18th. His nickname came from his first Negro league club, the Hilldale Daisies, because he resembled Chicago American Giants’ player Judy Gans. 
  • 1978 - OF Ruben Mateo was born in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. Mateo was highly touted, but after breaking his leg in 2000 never seemed to regain his edge and became a AAAA player, suiting up for four teams in six MLB campaigns. He made a brief, 19-game stop in Pittsburgh, hitting .242 in 2004 before being sold to the Royals; it would be his last big league stop at the tender age of 26. He spent the next dozen years playing in the minors, Korea, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and mainly in the Mexican League before retiring after the 2015 season. 
  • 1980 - SS Cesar Izturis was born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He spent 13 seasons in the big leagues, with a stop in Pittsburgh in 2007. He hit .276 after the Pirates bought his rights from the Cubs in mid-July but was released after the year (Jack Wilson was the #1 guy with Brian Bixler in the pipeline) and signed with St. Louis. He had three strong seasons left in him with the Cards and Orioles before becoming a bench guy in 2011; 2013 would be his last MLB campaign. 
Justin Meccage 2014 Go Sports
  • 1980 - Coach Justin Meccage was born in Billings, Montana. After a brief minor league pitching career and a couple of college coaching stops, he was hired by the Bucs as the pitching coach for the Bradenton Marauders (2013-2014), was promoted to Altoona (2015-2016), became the minor league pitching coordinator in 2017 and was named assistant pitching coach as Ray Searage’s right hand man for the Pirates in 2018. 
  • 1984 - SS Luis Cruz was born in Navojoa, Mexico. He was signed as a minor league free agent by Pittsburgh in 2008 and spent most of his two-year stay in the minors, seeing action in 27 games for the Bucs and hitting .214. He did have an auspicious start to his career, smacking a single in his first MLB at-bat off Aaron Harang. Luis played for the Brewers, Dodgers and Yankees before going international in 2014, playing four seasons in Japan before returning home to suit up in the Mexican League this year. 
  • 1986 - RHP Duke Welker was born in Kirkland, Washington. A second round pick in the 2007 draft, the 6’7” pitcher was a hot prospect who never panned out. He got into two games with the Bucs in 2013, then was involved in a bizzaro trade. He was sent to the Minnesota Twins as part of the deal that had brought 1B Justin Morneau to Pittsburgh. The two teams changed their minds a few weeks later, and in November, Welker was sent back to the Bucs in return for P Kris Johnson. But fate trumped his return as Duke had TJ surgery in 2014. The Bucs released him, and he was signed and cut by the Giants in 2016. 
Duke Welker 2014 (photo Elsa/Getty)
  • 1988 - RHP Jeanmar Gomez was born in Caracas, Venezuela. The long man went 5-2-1 with a 3.28 ERA in 78 outings for Pittsburgh from 2013-14 after coming over from the Indians. Gomez became a free agent in the 2014 off season and signed with the Phillies, joining the White Sox system this year. 
  • 2001 - C Jason Kendall was honored as the Dapper Dan 2000 Sportsman of the Year. He made rehabbed a gruesome ankle injury and came back to hit .320, score 112 runs and steal 22 bases, then made a long-term commitment to the Pirates by signing a six-year/$60M contract extension. He was the first Pirate to win the award since Jim Leyland in 1990.
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