Tuesday, February 13, 2018

2/13 Birthdays Through the 20s: HBD Bill, Crazy, Harl, Herman, Oad, Rocky & Pete

  • 1864 - C/OF Bill Farmer was born in Philadelphia (Baseball Reference cites his DOB as as 2/27 and sources seem split as to whether he came from Philly or Dublin, Ireland). Either way, he got into five MLB games, two with the 1888 Alleghenys, going 0-for-4. He had spent some of 1887 in the Central PA League and likely showed enough to get a look from Pittsburgh. It was a tough lineup for a catcher to crack as Fred Carroll was still playing and Doggie Miller had the top job locked down. Bill finished his big-league days with a short stay with the Philadelphia Athletics and retired a couple of seasons later after playing for St. Pauls of the Western Association. 
Clipping via Baseball History Daily
  • 1866 - LHP Frederick “Crazy” Schmit (often misspelled Schmidt) was born in Chicago. The lefty was unleashed on baseball first by the Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1890, when Crazy went 1-9, 5.83 in his rookie campaign. He tossed for five MLB seasons with a 7-36/5.45 line and 185 career walks to 93 K. One of Crazy’s idiosyncrasies was to warm up with a ball soaked in water so that when he got to the mound, a game ball would feel like a feather. He was also credited with being the first to keep an actual book on hitters out of necessity; it was said his memory was too poor to keep the info stored in his head so he wrote it down. One oft-told story has Crazy pitching against Cap Anson by the book. Schmit pulled his notes from his back pocket, looked up Anson, followed his finger and muttered “walk,” then tossed him four wide ones. His nickname was due to his eccentricities like the wet warmup ball, his book and also Schmit’s overblown sense of his abilities as a pitcher. He also answered to “Germany.” 
  • 1883 - OF Harl Maggert was born in Cromwell, Indiana.He got his first taste of the majors when he played two games for the Bucs as a 24-year-old in 1907, going 0-for-6, though he did walk twice and scored. He wouldn’t get another shot until five years later in 1912 with the Philadelphia Athletics, doing better by batting .256 in 74 games, but it wasn’t enough to earn any more big league time. From 1913-20, he played in the PCL when he got embroiled in a fixing scandal; he was acquitted in court but expelled by the league, ending his pro career while he squeezed out a few more seasons with outlaw league teams. His son Harl (not a junior, different middle names) got in a year of MLB ball, too, hitting .281 in 1938 for the Boston Bees. 
  • 1901 - OF Herman Layne was born in Gallipolis, Ohio. His big league time totaled 11 games for the Bucs in 1927, spent mainly as a pinch hitter/runner, going 0-for-6 with a walk and three runs scored. Herman did cobble together a 13-year pro career, playing mostly for Toronto of the International League along with Louisville & Indianapolis of the American Association. He was a star there, hitting .327 with 2,097 hits and 315 stolen bases in 1,696 games.The WVU grad hit over .300 for 11 consecutive years and played on five pennant winners. 
Oad Swiggart (photo via JG Preston Experience)
  • 1915 - RHP Oadis Swigart was born in Archie, Mississippi. Oad spent his brief MLB career as a Pirate, going 1-3, 4.44, from 1939-40. His ball playing days were short-circuited by Uncle Sam. The 26-year-old was with the Pirates for spring training in 1941 but was called into the Army on May 1st as the first Bucco player to be drafted. He wasn’t released from active duty until the 1946 season when he was 31, and he failed to make it out of camp. 
  • 1919 - IF Bobby “Rocky” Rhawn was born in Catawissa, Pennsylvania, along the Susquehanna River. He got parts of three seasons in the show, with his final year of 1949 being especially hectic as he went from the NY Giants to the Pirates (three games, 1-for-7) and finally to the White Sox. The Bucs got him and P Ray Poat from the Giants for P Kirby Higbe, then released Rhawn to Chicago 10 days later. 1949 was the last year of MLB ball for Shawn and Poat; Higbe lasted into July of 1950. 
  • 1921 - IF Pete Castiglione was born in Greenwich, Connecticut. He played seven years (1947-53) for the Bucs, mainly as a reserve, and hit .258 for Pittsburgh. Pete actually signed with the Pirates in 1940, but he joined the Navy in 1943 while in the minors and served two years in the Pacific. He participated in campaigns at the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, Palau Islands, Philippine Islands and Okinawa, and was stationed at Wakayama, Japan at the end of the war, so his best work may not have been at Forbes Field, but in the Pacific theater.
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