Tuesday, May 29, 2018

5/29 Through the 20s: Big Bill Taft; Brain Storm; Stuffy Signed; The Supremes Rule; Game Stories; HBD Jim & Hitch

  • 1884 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenys were no-hit by Columbus Buckeyes hurler Ed “Cannonball” Morris at Recreation Park during a 5-0 whitewash. Morris walked just one in a near perfect performance. The Alleghenys had been no-hit just five days earlier by Al Atkinson of the Philadelphia Athletics, who hit the first batter and was perfect the rest of the way. Cannonball joined the Alleghenys the following year and won 129 games over the next five seasons. He played a final year with the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Players League in 1890 before retiring to run his North Side bar. 
Jake Beckley 1887 Goodwin/Old Judge
  • 1895 - Jake Beckley blasted a three run homer in the ninth to give the Pirates an 8-6 win over the Washington Senators at Boundary Park. The 1B ended the year with five homers, second on the team to Jake Stenzel’s seven, with a club-leading 111 RBI. The win left the Pirates in first with a 22-8 slate, but it wouldn’t last. They had a piece of the top spot last on July 18th, then finished the rest of the year at 30-34 and in seventh place, 17 games behind the Baltimore Orioles (the NL version of the O’s were contracted out in 1899 when the league cut teams and was then reorganized and resurrected in 1901 as an AL franchise). 
  • 1901 - 3B Jim Stroner was born in Chicago. Jim hit .367 w/42 HR for Wichita in 1928 and the Pirates brought him to camp the following season to take Pie Traynor’s place; manager Donie Bush wanted to move Pie to SS to replace Glenn Wright. Despite the bona fides and the tutelage of Traynor, Stroner only lasted six games (he was 3-for-8 hitting, but made three errors in seven chances at the hot corner) before he was sent to the minors. He had a convergence of tough luck - he wasn’t nearly at 100% physically, having undergone an appendectomy in the off season, and he wasn’t quite there mentally either, still recovering from the loss of his mother and wife, both who had passed away in the past year. Stroner never got another shot at the ring; he played in the minors through 1939 before retiring. As for Pie, the SS thing didn’t work out; he hurt his back and moved back to third. 
  • 1905 - Dave Brain tied a modern-day MLB record with three triples in the same game when the Pirates lost a 6-3 decision to the St. Louis Cardinals at Exposition Park. Brain would repeat the feat in a game against Boston later during the season, becoming the first player to accomplish the triple-triple twice in one season. Oddly enough, it was feast or famine in regard to three-baggers for the infielder; they were the only six triples he hit during the campaign, the only one he spent with Pittsburgh. 
Big Bill Taft at Expo Park 1909 (photo Frank Bingaman/Pittsburgh Press)
  • 1909 - President William “Big Bill” Taft visited Exposition Park (Forbes Field would open a month later) to catch a Bucs-Cubs match, and made himself at home in the cheap seats, delighting the 14,091 fans. The Pirates weren’t so delightful, tho, as they went down to Three Finger Brown in 11 innings, 8-3, with Lefty Leifield taking the loss. The Prez must have made the Buccos nervous as the loss was the only time the team was defeated in a 19 game stretch. 
  • 1921 - At Redland Field‚ Clyde Barnhart hit a ninth inning inside-the-park homer to tie the game with the Reds 2-2. He scampered to his first ITPHR after his ball was swallowed up by the right field tarp, considered in-play by the ground rules. It didn’t help in the long run as Pittsburgh lost 4-3 in 13 frames. But the freaky dinger did spoil what would have been the longest no-homer streak of the modern era - it was the only four-bagger that Cincy twirler Eppa Rixey allowed in 301 IP. 
  • 1922 - In a decision that was pretty big for the Pirates as well as MLB, the US Supreme Court ruled that organized baseball was a sport, not a business, and exempted it from antitrust and interstate commerce laws. 
  • 1925 - 1B Jack “Stuffy” McInnis was signed as a free agent. The veteran was a reserve, getting into 106 games over two seasons, starting 64 of them. But his bat still held up; in 1925-26, he hit .337 for Pittsburgh, and .286 in the 1925 World Series against the Washington Senators. He played one more game after leaving Pittsburgh for his original club, Philadelphia, in 1927 before hanging ‘em up. 
Stuffy McInnis 1925 (photo George Bain/Library of Congress)
  • 1928 - 2B Norma “Hitch” Dearfield Whitney was born in McKeesport. She played fast-pitch softball as a youth and after tryouts at the hometown Renziehausen Park, Hitch got to play with the All American Girls Professional Baseball League’s Chicago Colleens in 1949 and the South Bend Blue Sox in 1950 (no stats available). An injury while with South Bend in 1950 forced her to retire. She returned home, coached girls softball and was a member of the board of directors of the McKeesport Softball League. 
  • 1929 - The Pirates leapfrogged the Cubs into a first place tie with the Cards after a 7-2 win at Forbes Field, their eighth victory in a row. Paul Waner had a triple, two runs scored, and two RBI. Pie Traynor added a pair of knocks with a three-bagger and three runs chased home; Dick Bartell also had a two hits. Rookie Steve Swetonic held the Cubs scoreless for seven frames before fading and got the W with help from Carmen Hill. Though the Bucs would jockey for first throughout July, they finished the campaign with just 88 wins, 10-½ games behind the Cubs. A blah August (13-16) dropped them out of contention.

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