Tuesday, May 15, 2018

5/15 Through the 40s: Game Stories; HBD Greenfield Jimmy, Alvin, Harry, Steve & Jimmy

  • 1855 - P Henry “Harry” Salisbury was born in Providence, Rhode Island. He tossed in 1882 for the Alleghenys in their first big-league (American Association) season. He started 38 games, slashed 20-18/2.63 and worked 335 IP, completing every start he made for a team that finished 39-39. During the campaign, he finished in the top ten in 18 pitching categories, including wins, strikeouts (135), and ERA. Harry was the first 20-game winner for the franchise that would become the Pittsburgh Pirates. Then at age 28 he disappeared, to later found an industrial glove-making company in Chicago. 
  • 1888 - IF Steve Yerkes was born in Hatboro, Pennsylvania. Toward the end of his fifth season with the Boston Red Sox, Steve, who played in the 1912 World Series and ended up as one of its heroes, jumped leagues to join with the Pittsburgh Rebels in 1914. Lured by a magnificent $5,000 salary, he stuck with them for the following season, hitting .300 in 160 Federal League games. He finished out his playing days with the Cubs and then went on to a long career as a minor-league player, manager, and scout. 
Steve Yerkes (image JS Paintings)
  • 1895 - IF James Smith was born in the rough-and-tumble neighborhood of Greenfield, forever answering to the nickname of “Greenfield Jimmy.” He played for Duquesne University, but though in an eight year MLB career, he only spent one season with the Pirates in 1916, batting .188. As a ballplayer, he was known for his suspect bat, strong glove, and feisty behavior, barbering and brawling with opponents and umps. His greatest claim to fame was a melee with his son-in-law, boxing champ Billy Conn, that left the fighter with a broken hand, delaying his title fight with Joe Louis. Smith later ran a speakeasy, and when he died in 1974, he was buried in Hazelwood’s Calvary Cemetery with “Greenfield Jimmy” etched on his tombstone. 
  • 1935 - The Pirates scored four runs in the first at the Baker Bowl; the Phils roared back with five in their half, chasing Guy Bush, who retired just one hitter. But the Bucs kept the beat going behind Bill Swift, who hurled 8-2/3 innings of six hit shutout relief while collecting three hits to win 20-5. Leadoff man Lloyd Waner plated five times during the game. 
  • 1915 - OF Jimmy Wasdell was born in Cleveland. In an 11-year career, he stopped in Pittsburgh in 1942 after being part of the Arky Vaughan deal. It was a brief visit as he was sold early in the 1943 campaign to the Phillies. He hit .260 as a Bucco and was best known as a hard-hitting loose cannon. Among his feats was slugging Vince DiMaggio for singing (and according to Wasdell, ruining his concentration) during a card game and once fielding a ball in front of first base and then hiking it between his legs like a football center, launching the horsehide into right field. 
Al McBean 1964 Topps
  • 1938 - Alvin O’Neal McBean was born at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands. He was one of scout Howie Haak’s better signings, agreeing to a $100 bonus, then pitching nine years (1961-68, 1970) for the Bucs, going 65-43-59/3.08. The righty won 28 games for Pittsburgh in 1962-63 with 11 saves, the first year as a starter and then from the pen as the heir apparent to ElRoy Face. In 1964, he was named The Sporting News Reliever of the Year, going 8-3-22 with a 1.91 ERA as the full time closer; Face was traded to Detroit the following season. McBean was eventually lost in the expansion draft. He was a popular Pittsburgh figure, always dressed modishly with a gregarious, playful personality whom the sportswriters and announcers often called by his full Alvin O’Neal McBean name. 
  • 1940 - During the Pirates 5-2 loss to the Giants at the Polo Grounds‚ only three Bucs batted in the second inning even though all reached base. Maurice Van Robays singled and was picked off; Vince DiMaggio walked and was forced at 2B by Frankie Gustine‚ who was then caught stealing. It was a bad day all around as the Bucs committed four errors, leading to three unearned runs.
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