Friday, October 12, 2018

10/12: Wood Deal; HBD Casey, Pop, Pete, Erv, Joe, Chuck, Frank, Joe & Sunset Jimmy

  • 1854 - Utilityman Charlie Morton (no relation to later Bucco P Charlie “Ground Chuck” Morton) was born in Kingsville, Ohio. He got his brief career off to a fine start by batting .296 in 1882 for the Alleghenys, but was released in July and finished the year with St. Louis. He spent a year in the bushes and played in 54 more games for Toledo and Detroit as player/manager for both clubs to close out his MLB days; his Pittsburgh stint was the only time he hit over the Mendoza Line. After some managing, Charlie later went on to found the Ohio-Pennsylvania League and was its president during its existence from 1905-12. Over that time, it hosted a lot of local Western PA ball clubs (Braddock, Butler, Homestead, Mansfield/Carnegie, McKeesport, New Castle, Pittsburgh, Sharon and Washington). In fact, it was home to 40 teams from 20 towns in those eight years. 
Pop Smith 1887 Buchner Gold Coin
  • 1856 - Charles “Pop” Smith was born in Digby, Nova Scotia. He played the infield for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys from 1885-89. Pop wasn’t much with the bat, hitting .220 for the Alleghenys, but could run (117 stolen bases in 557 games) and was a good glove man who could play second or short equally well. Smith was one of the earliest Canadian major league players, joining the show in 1880 as a Red. 
  • 1860 - 1B/C Frank Ringo was born in Parkville, Missouri. He didn’t make much of a dent in Pittsburgh, getting into just 18 games for the Alleghenys from 1885-86 and batting .209. Ringo was an alcoholic who couldn’t conquer his demons and in 1889 became the first known major league player to take his own life, via a morphine overdose. 
  • 1874 - 3B “Sunset Jimmy” Burke was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Burke spent seven years in the show with part of 1901 (Pittsburgh was his third team that season) and all of 1902 as a Bucco and hit .276 in 74 games before he was traded to his hometown St Louis club. He played in the NL until 1905, then spent time mostly in the American Association until 1913. Sunset Jimmy was a player/manager for the St Louis Perfectos, coach for the Detroit Tigers, manager for the St. Louis Browns, and a coach for the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees, finally retiring in 1933. Jimmy got his nickname from a superstition/habit of his, believing it was unlucky to eat dinner until after sunset. 
  • 1882 - Negro League OF and manager John Preston "Pete" Hill was born in Culpepper County, Virginia, but was raised in Pittsburgh after arriving in town as an infant. He played for 11 teams during his Hall of Fame career, getting his first taste of organized ball as a teen with the semi-pro Pittsburgh Keystones in 1899. A reader poll by the Pittsburgh Courier in 1952 selected Pete as the fourth best outfielder in the history of the Negro Leagues, behind only Oscar Charleston, Cristobal Torriente and Monte Irvin. 
Erv Brame 1928 (photo Conlon Collection/Getty)
  • 1901 - RHP Erv Brame was born in Big Rock, Tennessee. He spent his five-year MLB career (1928-32) with Pittsburgh, going 52-37-1 with a 4.76 ERA, mostly as a starter who was converted to the pen in his last season. He was 16-11 in 1929 with 19 complete games in 28 starts, then posted a 17-8 record and led the NL with 22 complete games in 29 starts in 1930. Erv had a nice stick, too, as his career batting mark was .306 with 21 doubles, eight homers, 43 runs scored and 75 RBIs. 
  • 1906 - SS Joe Cronin was born in San Francisco. He spent his first two seasons (1926-27, .257 BA) of a 20 year career in Pittsburgh, getting in 50 games before being sold. The Bucs should have exercised a little more patience. During the next 18 seasons, Joe made seven All-Star teams with Washington & Boston, eventually entering the Hall of Fame. 
  • 1930 - RHP Joe Trimble was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Joe was a standout in high school and signed with Cincinnati. He lasted until 1950 but had arm woes; he left baseball and joined the Marines, seeing action in Korea. The time off strengthened his arm; he came back and was signed by the Bucs in 1954. Trimble was later lost to Boston in the Rule 5 Draft, but they returned him to the Pirates after a brief MLB look. Following a year at AAA Hollywood, he got some work for Pittsburgh in 1956, but went 0-2/8.24 in five games (four starts) with his arm again failing him. That finished him in baseball, although he did pretty well afterwards, going to night school and eventually becoming a local VP for Coca Cola in Providence. He also ran the John Trimble Fund Pro-Am Golf Tournament for Autism, which has raised more than a million dollars to help fight autism.
Wilbur Wood 1965 Topps
  • 1966 - The Pirates traded out-of-options RHP Wilbur Wood to the White Sox for cash and a PTBNL (Juan Pizarro). Chicago converted him to a straight knuckleball guy and he responded by becoming a rubber-armed reliever before being flipped to a 300 IP starter later in his career. The Bucs were rumored to have been offered a Wood-for-Hoyt Wilhelm deal earlier, but that was nixed because the Pirates lacked a knuckleball receiver, greasing the skids for Wood. In a little bit of baseball irony, Wilhelm tutored Wilbur when he arrived in Chi-town. 
  • 1982 - 1B/3B Casey McGehee was born in Santa Cruz, California. Casey played eight years in the majors, making a Pittsburgh stop in 2012. The Pirates got him from the Brewers before the campaign for P Jose Veras; after hitting .230 w/eight HR, the Bucs moved him at the deadline to the Yankees for P Chad Qualls. Casey played for the Tigers some in 2016 and spent 2017-18 in Japan.

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