Monday, April 16, 2018

4/16: Dazzy; Merced/Bell Grand Slams; DeLeon K-Fest; Bowman Deal; Game Stories; HBD Big Poison & Piggy

  • 1867 - Utilityman Frank “Piggy” Ward was born in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He made his first big league appearance at age 16 and played in 221 games over six years in the majors; six of them were with Pittsburgh in 1891 when he went 6-for-18 with three runs scored. Piggy set a record (since tied) in June of 1893 - he reached base a record 17 times (errors & force-outs not counted) in 17 consecutive plate appearances, with eight hits, eight walks and one hit by a pitch. To top it off, his three-day spree started as an Oriole and ended as a Red. Ward's overall pro career ran from 1883 to 1906, and he didn’t last many moons beyond it. A fall off a telephone pole he was working on in 1909 left him paralyzed and he finally passed away in 1912. 
Deacon Phillippe 1903 E107
  • 1903 - The Pirates started the season off right, defeating the Reds 7-1 behind a Deacon Phillippe two-hitter. Playing before 12‚000 fans at Cincinnati’s Palace of the Fans, it was the first of four straight wins over Cincy to open a season that would eventually take the Bucs to the first World Series against the Boston Americans. The team arrived with an entourage of 50 Pittsburgh rooters who came for the games and the action - one fan was said to have offered $1,000 wager on the game; there was no report on whether he found a Cincinnati taker. 
  • 1903 - Pirate Hall-of-Fame OF Paul "Big Poison" Waner was born in Harrah, Oklahoma. He had a 20-year big league career, with the first 15 spent in Pittsburgh. As a Pirate, Waner compiled a line of .340/.407/.490 as one of the greats to don a Bucco uniform. He was also the elder half of a legendary Bucco brother act, spending 14 years in the pasture with baby bro “Little Poison” Lloyd, who was also Cooperstown-bound. 
  • 1912 - The Bucs booked the rare 5-3-7 DP at Redland Field, with LF Max Carey sneaking behind second base to finish the twin killing. The Pirates took an 8-2 decision for their first victory after four defeats while handing Cincy its first loss. Marty O’Toole got the win, giving up five hits although walking seven; three DPs help keep him out of trouble. Honus Wagner, Max Carey and George Gibson each had two hits to pace the Pittsburgh attack. 
  • 1915 - The Pirates gave 24-year-old rookie Dazzy Vance his first and only Pittsburgh start; he lost 4-2 to the Cincinnati Reds, facing 14 batters and walking five of them. They quickly sold him to the Yankees, who also gave up on him. But Dazzy was a classic late bloomer: when he was 31 and after arm surgery, he hit his stride with Brooklyn, winning double-digit games 10-of-11 years. Vance tossed until he was 44 on the road to 190 victories and a spot in the Hall of Fame. 
Pie Traynor 1928 W513
  • 1929 - The Cubs drew their largest Opening Day crowd to date, estimated at 46,000, but lost to the Buccos 4-3 at Wrigley Field. Burleigh Grimes went the distance for the win while Pie Traynor banged out three hits and scored twice. 
  • 1935 - The Reds lobbied to have their home opener moved up to this day (the two teams were the only NL clubs not scheduled to open on the 16th), and the league office agreed. In a classic case of being careful what you wish for, Pittsburgh clocked Cincinnati 12-6 in front of 27,400 at Crosley Field. Sam Byrd homered for the Bucs and Waite Hoyt picked up the win. The game was played on a cold, raw day that the Pittsburgh Press said was “...better suited for football than baseball.” The next day, the two teams travelled to Forbes Field in Pittsburgh where the original season’s lidlifter was booked, and the Reds had better luck, taking a 7-4 decision. 
  • 1937 - The Pirates traded 1B/RF Earl Browne to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for LHP Joe Bowman. Bowman worked five years for the Bucs with a 33-38/4.35 record, splitting his time between starting and the pen while Browne’s last big league season was 1938. Bowman swung a good stick, too, batting .281 for the Pirates as an often-called-upon pinch hitter with 322 PA. 
Joe Bowman 1937 (photo Mears Collection/The Sporting News)
  • 1953 - The Pirates beat the Phils in a 14-12 barnburner on Opening Day at Forbes Field. The Phillies scored nine runs in the top of the fifth and the Pirates came back with six in the bottom half to tie the NL record for runs in an inning. The Bucs added five more in the sixth to pull away. It was a team effort; all nine members of Pittsburgh’s starting lineup had at least one hit. Cal Abrams led the pack with three knocks while Danny O’Connell had three RBI. 
  • 1958 - The Bucs opened the season by edging the defending World Series champs, the Milwaukee Braves, 4-3, at County Stadium. It took 14 innings before RC Stevens’ single chased home Dick Groat with the winner. The game was started by Warren Spahn and Bob Friend with the Bucs holding a 3-2 lead after scoring in the ninth, but the Braves tied it with three singles against ElRoy Face. Rookies Ron Blackburn and Curt Raydon tossed zeroes over the final four frames, with Blackburn getting the win and Raydon the save. 
  • 1962 - Roberto Clemente's three-run homer in the fifth propelled the Bucs to a 6-5 win over Chicago at Wrigley Field, redeeming himself for a first inning error that allowed a run to plate. Diomedes Olivo got the win in relief of Bob Veale. Bill Virdon had three knocks while Dick Groat, Dick Stuart and Don Hoak each chipped in a pair of hits. 
Jose DeLeon 1985 Fleer
  • 1985 - Jose DeLeon tied the Bucco record for most strikeouts thrown in a game by a right-handed pitcher (Bob Moose set the mark in 1969) as he whiffed 14 Mets at TRS. He gave up four hits without a run or walk in eight innings of work. The effort fell short, though, as the Pirates went down 1-0, victims of a Ron Darling/Jesse Orosco one-hitter. John Candelaria took the loss in relief. 
  • 1996 - Orlando Merced and Jay Bell both hit grand slams at Busch Stadium to lead the Bucs to a 13-3 win over the Cards. Merced had three hits and five RBI while Zane Smith earned the W.
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