Thursday, October 18, 2018

10/18: Cash-for-Brett; Chuck's Mom Buried; DC Snackin'; HBD Silent George, Andy, Cliff, Hans 2, Frenchy & Phil; More

  • 1859 - OF Cliff Carroll was born in Clay Grove, Iowa. Cliff closed out the first half of his career in 1888 with Pittsburgh, playing in five games and hitting 0-for-20. He was playing through some health issues and wouldn’t reappear until 1890 after a brief retirement to his farm. He played for four more campaigns, three quite solidly, before retiring with 11 years in the show. Cliff also influenced the design of baseball jerseys. In his day, the shirts had a pocket, and he had a ball that took a bad hop and got stuck in his. It caused a bit of embarrassment on the field and his owner fined him over the misplay, leading to some bitterness between the club and Carroll. The quirky incident led his squad, the St. Louis Browns, to eliminate the pocket from their uniforms and the rest of the league followed suit. It wasn’t his only moment - earlier in his career, Carroll had been shot at by a fan he had squirted with a hose during pregame warmups (it seemed to be the result of heckling repaid with horseplay). The bullet missed him and grazed SS Joe Mulvey, who was fortunately just scratched. 
Old buds Hans #2 & Hans #1 1938 (photo Transcendental Graphics)
  • 1881 - IF John “Hans” Lobert was born in Wilmington, Delaware. His family moved to Pittsburgh (Lobert went to Carnegie Tech) and he played for the semi-pro Pittsburgh Athletic Association nine, but went unnoticed until the PAA was playing in Atlantic City at the same time Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss was vacationing at the shore. He signed Lobert with the Bucs for a September 1903 audition when the team was running away with the pennant. He played everywhere after the Pirates had clinched, but the biggest impression he made was on Honus Wagner, who dubbed Lobert “Hans Number Two.” The pair remained friends throughout their lives. Lobert went to the minors for a year of seasoning, then spent the next 13 campaigns in the show with four different clubs, hitting .274 with 361 stolen bases. Lobert was noted for his fleet feet; he once defeated Jim Thorpe in a 100-yard dash. Hans #2 retired at the age of 35 in 1917, led West Point baseball for eight years and then he coached, managed the Phils for a year and finally scouted until he passed away at the age of 86. 
  • 1886 - RHP George “Frenchy” LeClaire was born in Milton, Vermont. He spent his career largely with the Pittsburgh Rebels of the outlaw Federal League from 1914-15, going 6-4, 3.81 in 36 games, 10 as a starter. After starting 1915 with the Rebels, he finished the campaign with Buffalo and Baltimore. When the league folded, Frenchy’s major league career came to an end. He died young at the age of 31, a victim of the 1918 flu pandemic that claimed an estimated 675,000 American lives and millions of souls world-wide. 
  • 1894 - RHP Phil Morrison was born in Rockport, Indiana. His MLB career consisted of one appearance lasting two-thirds of an inning (it was scoreless) for the Pirates in 1921, but with that outing he became one of the early Pirate family acts, joining his brother, pitcher “Jughandle Johnny” Morrison, on that season’s stat sheet. Phil was considered a top prospect with a good curve like his brother, but the Buc staff was loaded and he never got another chance to crack it though he posted some strong minor league numbers. At 25, he tossed his last full season as a pro, retiring to his wife and family in Kentucky and working as a blacksmith while tossing semi-pro ball. He made a comeback try in 1926 but fell short.
  • 1900 - The Brooklyn Superbas won the Chronicle-Telegraph Cup three games to one with a 4-1 win at Exposition Park as Joe McGinnity bested Sam Leever. The series was a challenge match sponsored by the Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph (bought by the Pittsburgh Press in 1924) between the top two NL teams in an era before post-season games. It was a fruitful learning experience for the runner-up Pirates, which went on to win the next three NL pennants and played in the first World Series in 1903. The Brooklyn club didn’t win another playoff set until 1955, when they claimed the World Series title as the Dodgers. 
George Hendrick 1985 Topps Traded
  • 1949 - OF George Hendrick was born in Los Angeles. The Pirates got him as part of the John Tudor deal with St Louis during the 1984 off season, but Hendrick hit just .230 with two homers in ‘85 and was sent to Angels at the deadline. He was nicknamed "Silent George" because he never spoke to the media. After his 18 year career ended, he landed coaching gigs with the Cards, Dodgers, Angels and Tampa Bay, where he still works as an advisor to the GM. 
  • 1951 - LHP Andy Hassler was born in Texas City, Texas. The veteran Hassler signed a six-year/$750K contract with the Bucs in 1979. It lasted for six outings and a 3.86 ERA before he was sent to California in June where he strung together three solid campaigns with the Haloes. He mostly struggled his last three seasons with the Angels & Cards, retiring after the deal expired to end a 14-year career. He became a ranch manager in Arizona. 
  • 1960 - Cause and effect: a little blowback from Maz’s home run took place when the Yankees let go of manager Casey Stengel, supposedly because he had passed the newly mandated Yankee mandatory retirement age of 65. The Ol’ Perfesser, who amassed a 1149-696 (.623) record while capturing ten AL pennants and seven World Series Championships in his 12 years at the NYY helm, said "Resigned, fired, quit, discharged, use whatever you damn please. I'll never make the mistake of being seventy again." His counterpart, Danny Murtaugh (The Whistling Irishman was just 42 years old), still had 11 seasons with a couple of service breaks and another WS title yet to be added to his Pirates resume. 
  • 1973 - The Pirates shipped 2B Dave Cash to Philadelphia in exchange for LHP Ken Brett. Cash was being phased out for Rennie Stennett, but still had seven years and three All-Star games left in him. Brett went 22-14 with a 3.32 ERA for Pittsburgh in two seasons and made an All-Star team before an elbow injury slowed him down, and like Cash still had a long shelf life. He pitched seven more years after leaving the Pirates, although he wasn’t really effective again after 1976. 
Ken Brett and bro George 1974 (photo Associated Press)
  • 1979 - Chuck Tanner returned to hometown New Castle 12 hours after the Pirates had won the World Series in Baltimore to bury his mom. She passed away before Game 5 with the Pirates down three games to one, and Chuck told his players in a quiet locker room before the contest that "My mother is a great Pirates fan. She knows we're in trouble, so she went upstairs to get some help." Tanner was quite close to his mom, but he insisted on managing through the series because he knew she would have wanted him to see it through. Judging by the results, that extra angel in the outfield sure proved handy. 
  • 1979 - Congressman Doug Walgren ate high off the hog thanks to the Pirates World Series win. Maryland congresswoman Barbara Mikulski paid off her losing bet with crabs, sausage and pastries while Ohio rep Tom Luken brought in some Cincinnati chili dogs after being dunned for the Reds NLCS defeat. Walgren sported a Pirates cap all day, and his phone’s background music was “We Are Fam-A-Lee.” Senator Richard Schweiker also got in on the action and was served a regional delicacy, Maryland beaten biscuits, by MD lawmaker Charles Mathias.

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