Thursday, October 11, 2018

10/11: Cannonball's 41; Tracy Hired; Burleigh, Jerry Released; HBD Buttercup,Ty, Wayne & Shane; More

  • 1885 - OF Lew “Buttercup” Pessano Dickerson was born in Tyaskin, Maryland, and is one interesting dude who made a brief stop in the City. Dickerson hit .249 while playing five different positions for the Alleghenys in 1883, and during his career played in three different major leagues (The American Association, the National League and the Union Association.) His nickname "Buttercup" was given to him by his Cincinnati Reds teammates during the 1879 season, after the "Little Buttercup" character in Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta H.M.S Pinafore. No, we don’t why; Buttercup in the musical is described as a “bumboat woman.” On the other hand, Dickerson was known as a lush, league-jumper and all-around street hustler, so maybe he was a “bumboat” ballplayer. Also, he’s sometimes referenced as the first Italian ballplayer (he’s a member of the Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame, a gang that apparently doesn’t check ID very well), but it ends up the “Pessano” name associated with Dickerson is actually his given middle name, bestowed to honor Doc Pessano, who delivered him, as was the custom of the era. Ed Abbaticchio is generally recognized as the first paesano in baseball - pro football, too; he was an all-around athlete - and played for the Pirates from 1907-10. 
Cannonball 1888 Goodwin/Old Judge
  • 1886 - Lefty Ed “Cannonball” Morris claimed his 41st win of the year by a 4-1 score against the New York Metropolitans at Recreation Park, three days after he had shut them out to open the series. His 41 wins set an Alleghenys/Pirates record and led the American Association that season, as did his 12 shutouts and 1.032 WHIP. Cannonball also worked 555-⅓ IP in 64 appearances (63 starts and one save) and compiled a 2.45 ERA. 
  • 1900 - Rube Waddell punched out a NL season-high of 12 in a 2-1 win over the Chicago Orphans at Exposition Park. He led the senior circuit with a 2.37 ERA and was second with 130 strikeouts in 208-⅓ IP, even though his record was just 8-13. He had quite a year, leading the league with fewest hits allowed per nine (7.5), most strikeouts per nine (5.6; no other twirler averaged four) and WHIP (1.107). Rube only pitched twice for Pittsburgh in 1901 before being sold to the Chicago Orphans and embarking on a Hall-of-Fame career, mostly based on stints with the Philadelphia Athletics and St. Louis Browns. 
  • 1905 - With the season over, Hans Wagner took his barnstorming team of Buccos through a week-long schedule of local challengers both as a final bow after the campaign and a chance to make a little beer money to help carry the troops through the offseason. Other players on the touring team were Claude Ritchey, Tommy Leach, Otis Clymer, Heinie Peitz, George Gibson, Deacon Phillippe, Patsy Flaherty, Otto Knabe and one or two other Pirates tagalongs. This date opened the postseason tour with a game in Homestead. 
  • 1912 - RHP Wayne Osborne was born in Watsonville, California. Osborne made seven MLB mound appearances; two of them were with the Bucs in 1935, giving up a run in an inning and two-thirds while also getting a call to pinch-run once. He did have a long pro career, starting right out of high school in 1931 as a teen and tossing until he was 30 with 13 campaigns in the Pacific Coast League with Hollywood, Mission and Portland. Old age didn’t catch up to him; his ball playing days ended when he was drafted in 1943 at age 30. It was a surprise call up by Uncle Sam; Osborne was missing a finger on his pitching hand, which he used to his advantage in mastering the curveball per Donald Wells in “Baseball’s Western Front.” 
Burleigh Grimes (photo Harwell Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1934 - It was the end of an era as the Pirates released RHP Burleigh Grimes. The Hall of Famer was the last player to legally toss a spitter, one of 17 hurlers exempted when the pitch was outlawed in 1921. He finished the year as a Yankee, then went on to a long career as a coach, manager and scout. 
  • 1966 - The Pirates released one of baseball’s elite pinch hitters, Jerry Lynch, ending a 13-year MLB career that was evenly split between the Bucs and Cincinnati. He had 116 pinch hits during his tenure (.263 BA), which ranks him 10th all-time, and is third on the all-time pinch hit home run list (he was first when he retired) with 18. 
  • 1977 - IF Ty Wigginton was born in San Diego. He came over from the Mets as part of the Kris Benson deal and played for the Pirates from 2004-05, primarily at third, but hit just .237. He played 12 seasons before his last game in 2013, making stops at eight different cities. Ty’s now a high school coach, following in his dad’s footsteps. 
  • 1979 - LHP Shane Youman was born in New Iberia, Louisiana. Shane made 23 appearances (11 starts) in 2006-07 for Pittsburgh with a line of 3-7, 5.13, and that was the extent of his MLB career. He spent four years pitching in the indie leagues, another four campaigns in Korea, and spent some winters tossing for Latin clubs, with 2016 split between in the Mexican League and the winter Venezuelan League. He returned to Korea in 2018 at age 37. 
Jim Tracy 2006 Upper Deck
  • 2005 - The Pirates hired Jim Tracy as manager, signing him to a three-year deal. It was the first time in two decades, since the hiring of Jim Leyland from the White Sox, that Pittsburgh went outside the organization to select its field boss. He lasted two years, then signed on as a bench coach at Colorado and replaced Clint Hurdle as skipper of the Rox in 2009. Clint returned the favor by becoming the Pirates manager in 2011. May the circle be unbroken...
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