Monday, October 15, 2018

10/15 Birthdays: HBD Bob, Two Mules, Don, Bill, Gail, Red, Mitchell, Carlos, Mendy & Juan *whew*

  • 1887 - RHP Bob Harmon was born in Liberal, Missouri. He tossed for four seasons for the Pirates (1914-16, 1918), going 39-52 with an ERA of 2.60, splitting his time between starting and the pen. After his baseball career ended in 1918, he became a successful dairy farmer in Louisiana and stayed active in local sports. 
Bob Harmon 1916 National Biscuit
  • 1896 - RHP John “Mule” Watson was born in Arizona, Louisiana. He worked five games for the Bucs in 1920, one of three teams he played for that season. He didn’t impress, with the worst ERA (8.74) compiled for any of the four teams he spun for over a seven-year career. Mule did have a landmark moment, though - on August 13th, 1921, he started both games of a doubleheader, and did pretty well, too, winning 4-3 and 8-0 in a pair of complete game wins for the Boston Braves against Philadelphia. How’s that for saving the bullpen...? 
  • 1903 - OF George “Mule” Haas was born in Montclair, New Jersey. Haas was signed as a youngster by the Bucs and worked his way to the show in 1925, getting in four games and going 0-for-3. Haas was in a wrong-time,wrong place situation - the Pittsburgh OF featured Kiki Cuyler, Clyde Barnhart & Max Carey. Mule (he got his nickname in the minors when after homering, a local beat man wrote that his bat had the kick of a mule) was sold to Atlanta after the season more due to the logjam than poor performance. He played 11 more seasons for the Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago White Sox, hitting .292 and playing in three World Series. 
  • 1926 - RHP Don Carlsen was born in Chicago. Carlsen was signed by the Cubs as an IF, played a season and then went into the service, coming back two years later as a pitcher. He got in a game for Chicago, then in 1951-52 tossed for Pittsburgh, going 2-4, 5.43 in 12 games (seven starts). Don worked in the Pirates minors until 1957, retiring after that campaign. 
  • 1927 - LHP Bill Henry was born in Alice, Texas. The veteran reliever spent the latter half of the 1968 campaign with the Pirates. It was his 15th year in the show and the creaks showed as he had the worst line of his career, compiling no record but tossing to an 8.10 ERA and giving up 18 runs (15 earned) and 29 hits in 16-⅔ IP over 10 appearances. Bill got into three games with the Astros the following year and then hung ‘em up. Henry did have a nice run despite the messy finish; he ended his MLB days with 572 outings, 46 wins, 90 saves and a 3.26 ERA with an All-Star game and World Series under his belt. 
Bill Henry 1968 Topps
  • 1928 - OF Gail Henley was born in Wichita, Kansas. He hit .300 in his only year with the Pirates (and in the big leagues), 1954, but the spot he was auditing for was more than adequately locked up with the arrival of Roberto Clemente the next year. Henley did serve some minor league time, then managed eventual Pirates skippers Jim Leyland and Gene Lamont. After managing in the minors for the Detroit Tigers, Henley joined the Los Angeles Dodgers as a scout and organizational manager. He ended his baseball jones with a stint as a scout for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. 
  • 1936 - RHP Art “Red” Swanson was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was signed by the Pirates as a bonus baby in 1955 and spent the next two years (covering 1955-57) on the big league club as required by the signing rules. Red was sent to the minors when he was eligible where he pitched until 1963, but never got back to the majors; the time treading water in the majors was too much to overcome. His dad was AL “Red” Swanson, who coached baseball and basketball at LSU and from whom Red picked up his nickname. 
  • 1951 - OF/1B Mitchell Page was born in Los Angeles. A third round pick of the Pirates in 1973, he tore it up in the minors for two years before being shipped to Oakland in part of the big deal that brought Phil Garner to Pittsburgh. He spent seven seasons on the coast before returning to the Pirates in 1984. He went 4-for-12 as a late-season call up, spending most of his time at AAA Hawaii. Mitchell retired after the year and coached off and on for the Royals, Cards and Nats before passing away in 2011. He was known as "The Swinging Rage" in Oakland, a nickname dropped on him by A’s broadcaster Monte Moore. 
  • 1967 - IF Carlos Garcia was born in Tachira, Venezuela. In seven (1990-96) Bucco seasons, he hit .278. Carlos was named to the 1993 Topps All-Star Rookie Team and the NL All-Star squad in 1994. In 1995, he was a hitting machine who had a 21-game hitting streak in June and then a 15-game hitting streak in September. GarcĂ­a was the first base coach and infield instructor for Pittsburgh in 2010. He was named the manager of the Bradenton Marauders in December 2010, and in 2013-14, Garcia managed the Altoona Curve before being released by the Pirates. 
Carlos Garcia 1994 Panini
  • 1973 - IF Mendy Lopez was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Mendy got bits and pieces of seven campaign in the majors, with some of 2001-02 with the Pirates where he hit .217 in 25 games (he spent almost all of 2002 in AAA Nashville). Since he retired after the 2004 year, he’s played in Korea, Mexico and the Dominican. Currently, Mendy is the Pirates Latin American Field Coordinator. 
  • 1978 - RHP Juan Cruz was born in Bonao, Dominican Republic. Juan finished up his 12-year career in Pittsburgh in 2012, getting into 43 games and going 1-1-3, 2.78 with 14 holds as part of the support group of closer Joel Hanrahan. With several younger back-end options, the Pirates released him in late August and that was it for his MLB journey.

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