Wednesday, February 14, 2018

2/14: McClatchy Buys Bucs; NCBBL Forms; Barr Sold; HBD Morgan, Harry, Admiral, Jack, Earl, Frank, Wil & Damaso

  • 1867 - C Morgan Murphy was born in East Providence, Rhode Island. Murphy spent 11 seasons in the show, mostly as a reserve catcher. He spent five games of that career with Pittsburgh, going 2-for-16 after a trade with the Browns and was released after a month when Philadelphia claimed him. Murphy was best known a sign-stealer supreme, and was busted with the Phils in 1900 for running a telegraph wire underground from beyond the outfield wall, where he sat with binoculars to watch the catcher, to the third base box. He would then buzz a code to the coach who would get the signs through his feet. Tricky, but not tricky enough; it was found out during a game when an opponent tripped over a bit of the wire while rounding third. Prior to that, Murphy would sit behind an ad sign and reposition one of its letters to tip the batter. 
  • 1873 - P Harry Jordan was born in Titusville (or maybe Pittsburgh; there’s some disagreement among biographers). Manager Connie Mack pulled him out of the New England League to help his short handed staff finish the 1894 season and then from the Iron and Oil League the following year, again to plug a pitching gap as the campaign neared the tape. Harry went 1-2, 4.15 in his three career MLB starts, not a bad slash for a semi-pro hurler. 
Admiral Berry 1914 Team Photo
  • 1880 - C Claude “Admiral” Berry was born in Losantville, Indiana. He had a fairly undistinguished MLB career from 1904-07, playing three years and getting into 21 games. But when the Federal League started in 1914, the 35-year-old was apparently well rested - he signed on with the Pittsburgh Rebels and caught 221 games in the league’s two seasons, batting just .219 but throwing out 214-of-445 would-be base stealers, a 48% CS rate. In 1904, while playing for the Chicago White Sox, Claude became the first major league catcher to wear a protective cup. He also caught Frank Allen’s no-hitter against St. Louis in 1915. The Admiral closed out his career with a couple of years of AA ball. His family said that Berry got his nickname because he was a flashy dresser with his outfits sporting enough bling to compare to an admiral’s dress uniform. 
  • 1884 - Utilityman Jack Lewis was born in Pittsburgh’s South Side. He had an 18 game audition with the Red Sox in 1911, then got back in the groove with the Filipinos/Rebels of the Federal League, playing five positions and batting .245 from 1913-15, earning a spot on the Fed All-Star team in 1913 when it was still an indy league. Jack did play a lot of ball in his day; his career in the bushes began in 1901 and he didn’t quit playing until after the 1921 season. He didn’t retire voluntarily, either - he hung ‘em up after being banged up in a car accident. 
  • 1884 - In the first transaction in franchise history, the Alleghenys sold RHP Bob Barr to the Washington Nationals for $100 after he slashed 6-18/4.38 in his rookie campaign. Bob would pitch four more scattered seasons and win 43 more games, notching 28 of those victories for Rochester in 1890, its only season in the American Association (they were a replacement team during the Player’s League year of existence and were relegated back to minor league status when the PL folded). The genie quickly escaped - Barr got four more starts the next year for the NY Giants to end his big league career. 
  • 1887 - Per Wikipedia, the National Colored Base Ball League, the first attempt at a professional Negro League, was organized at a meeting in Baltimore. Eight clubs were represented, including the original Pittsburgh Keystones. The league quickly folded (the Keystones finished 3-4), but set a foundation that would eventually allow the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays to enter the baseball scene. The Keystones went semi-pro, then were revived professionally from 1921-22 to play in the Negro National League. Their home field was Central Park (also known as Keystone Park or Chauncey Street Park), located in the Hill at the corner of Chauncey Street and Humber Way. The park was built by black architect Louis Bellinger, who would later design Greenlee Field for the Pittsburgh Crawfords.
Earl Smith 1925 Pittsburgh Press
  • 1897 - C Earl Smith was born in Sheridan, Arizona. Smith spent five of his 12 big league years in Pittsburgh from 1924-28, hitting .315 over that span. He was a member of the 1925 World Series-winning club (he hit .350 v Washington) and the 1927 Series team that lost to the Yankees. Smith was suspended for a spell in 1925 for brawling with a fan in Boston; not only did he lose time to the league, but he was laid up briefly after the fact when a second fan clunked him with a chair! 
  • 1901 - C Frank Duncan was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He played for 19 years in the Negro and Latin leagues, mostly with the KC Monarchs. He spent 1932 with both the Homestead Grays (they used seven catchers that year) and Pittsburgh Crawfords (they went through five w/Duncan serving as Josh Gibson’s main backup), batting a combined .242. He retired in 1943, losing some time to WW2 and a stretch of semi-pro ball, managed for three years, umpired a bit and then settled in to run his KC tavern. 
  • 1952 - LHP Wil McEnaney was born in Springfield, Ohio. After some strong work for the Reds, he failed to impress at Montreal and was sent to the Bucs in 1978 for RHP Tim Jones. McEnaney lasted until June, but gave up 11 runs in 8-⅔ IP for a 10.38 ERA and was sent to AAA Columbus. After compiling a 6.24 ERA there, he was released. He was bedeviled by drinking and drug problems after a divorce & the death of his mother and got into a serious car wreck at the end of the year. That made him straighten up, and he tossed solidly one more year for St. Louis in ‘79 before bowing out of baseball. 
Damaso Marte 2007 Upper Deck
  • 1975 - LHP Damaso Marte was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He pitched for the Bucs in 2001, coming over from the Yankees for Enrique Wilson and then traded to Matt Guerrier to the White Sox for Matt Guerrier after the season. He returned for 2006-08 after spending four years with Chicago in exchange for Rob Mackowiak. Damaso went a combined 7-8-5 with a 3.52 ERA and struck out 200 batters in 186-⅔ IP. In 2008, Marte and Xavier Nady were traded to the Yankees for four prospects: José Tábata, Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, and Daniel McCutchen.
  • 1996 - Kevin McClatchy and partners purchased the Pirates from the Pittsburgh Associates for $90M with the understanding that a baseball-only stadium be built within five years. The sale saved the franchise from being moved out of Pittsburgh by other potential buyers and greased the wheels for a new ballyard, but proved a mixed competitive blessing under the perpetually cash-strapped McClatchy.
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