Sunday, October 14, 2018

10/14 Through the 1950’s: '09 Draw; Gus Bell Dealt; HBD Oscar, Ken, Scoops,Tom, Fireman, Norm & Oda,

  • 1863 - LHP (as speculated by SABR; his pitching side is not known for sure) Norm Baker was born in Philadelphia. He got his first taste of the pros with the Alleghenys in 1883, going 0-2, 3.32 in a three game tryout and getting released before he put in 10 days on the roster to qualify for a contract. (His ERA wasn’t very indicative of his pitching; he gave up seven earned runs but 16 tallies overall and yielded 24 hits and 11 walks in 19 IP). Baker went on to pitch for the American Association’s Louisville and Baltimore franchises, although he was best known for irritating teammates (he was described as a “contrarian” who argued for the sake of arguing) and a man who never let a contract stand in his way - he switched among amateur, independent and minor-league clubs as freely as the law allowed and then some. He was injured in 1889 in a train accident and tried to come back, but his arm never recovered. Baker umped and managed briefly afterwards, then went on to have a career as a music store salesman - he was a pretty good musician - presumably keeping a lid on his contrarian nature. 
  • 1886 - IF Ona Dodd was born in Springtown, Texas. The TCU alum got into five games for the Bucs in 1912 after being selected from Waco, went 0-for-9, and that ended his MLB journey. He played in the Texas League afterward through 1918. Dodd was the second player from Texas Christian to reach the show, and the only one of over three dozen MLB players produced by that school to play for Pittsburgh. 
Oscar Charleston Heroes of the Negro Leagues
  • 1896 - CF Oscar Charleston was born in Indianapolis. The Hall of Famer played for the Homestead Grays from 1930-31, and from 1932-37 was the player/manager for the Pittsburgh Crawfords during their heyday years. He consistently hit .340+ for the Crawfords, with a .363 BA in 1932. That club, with brother Hall of Famers Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, and Judy Johnson on the roster, is considered among the best Negro League teams ever fielded. 
  • 1909 - The Pirates scored three times in the first inning, but the Detroit Tigers came back to take a 5-4 win at Bennett Park to force a seventh game in the World Series. The Cats used a balanced attack, banging out 10 hits, five of which were doubles, to give George Mullin the win and send Vic Willis to defeat. The Pirates scored three first-inning runs, keyed by a Hans Wagner double, and almost pulled it out in the ninth. Leadoff singles and a misplayed bunt brought the Bucs within a run with runners on the corners and no outs, but Pittsburgh couldn’t cash in. Bill Abstein was tossed out at home on George Gibson’s bouncer to first and Ed Abbaticchio banged into a game-ending DP to kill the golden goose. It was also the first series to go the full seven-game limit (with the caveat that World Series only began in 1905). 
  • 1913 - RHP Hugh “Fireman” Casey was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Casey was a nine-year vet (he lost a couple of years to the war) who spent most of his time with the Dodgers; he played with the Bucs for most of his final campaign in 1949, going 4-1-5, 4.66 before being released to the Yankees for his final four outings. He had started as a fireballer, but an arm injury made him go to a curve and a new pitch, the splitter (although most opponents considered it a spitter, not splitter). Hugh was also noted for once getting into a brawl with author Ernest Hemingway in Cuba where the Dodgers were training. He got his nickname because he was an early baseball fireman, doing what a reliever should - putting out fires. Hugh came to a sad end, committing suicide in 1951 after losing a paternity suit and being sued for back taxes due from his bar/restaurant. 
  • 1915 - LHP Ken Heintzelman was born in Peruque, Missouri. He pitched for Pittsburgh from 1937-42, was off during the war years, and then returned for 1946-47. In eight years, the southpaw made 154 appearances with 86 starts and went 37-43 with a 4.14 ERA. His son Tom, went on to play MLB ball with the Cardinals and Giants as an infielder between 1973 and 1978. 
Tom Cheney 1961 Topps
  • 1934 - RHP Tom Cheney was born in Morgan, Georgia. Cheney put in eight seasons of MLB ball, working the Bucs in 1960 and a bit in ‘61 (2-2,4.67) before going to the Senators for Tom Sturdivant. Tom had control issues throughout his career but terrific stuff, and holds the record for most K in a game with 21 in a 16-inning, 228-pitch win for Washington in 1962. Still, he only won 19 games in 71 starts over those eight years. He appeared to have turned the corner in 1962-63, but in August of the ‘63 campaign blew out his elbow and only got into 18 more games. 
  • 1946 - OF/1B Al “Scoops” Oliver was born in Portsmouth, Ohio. He played 10 of his 18 big league years in Pittsburgh with a line of .296/135/717 and three All-Star berths. Scoops was a key member of the early seventy clubs that won a World Series and five pennants in six seasons. He hit the last home run at Forbes Field off Cubbie Milt Pappas and also drove in the first run ever scored at Three Rivers Stadium, doubling in Richie Hebner against the Reds’ Gary Nolan. Al was dubbed “Scoops” as a minor league player at Gastonia because of his glove work at first. And his leather was excellent; how many first basemen can you think of who played 840 MLB games in center field? 
  • 1952 - 22 year old Pirate OF Gus Bell was traded to the Giants for outfielders Gail Henley and Cal Abrams, along with C Joe Rossi. Bell spent the next 13 years in the show, nine with the Reds and four as an All-Star, belting double figure homers for the next eight seasons with a high of 30 long balls in 1953. Abrams hit well in his two Bucco years before being traded to Baltimore, Henley got 30 MLB at-bats and Rossi was a wash-out.

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