Monday, October 22, 2018

10/22 Through the 1960’s: Rec Park WS Game; HBD Jughandle Johnny, Possum, Harry the Hat, Wilbur & Keith

  • 1885 - Pittsburgh hosted a world series that it wasn’t even part of. The 1885 World Series was an ad hoc post-season playoff roadshow between the NL champion Chicago White Stockings and American Association champion St. Louis Browns, played in four different cities. The fifth game was played at Recreation Park in Pittsburgh. The weather was cold and fewer than 500 people were present. Chicago won 9-2 in a shortened game that was called after seven innings because of darkness. 
Recreation Park (center left) from Observatory Hill (photo via Heinz History Center)
  • 1895 - RHP “Jughandle Johnny” Morrison was born in Pellville, Kentucky. He worked eight seasons (1920-27) for the Pirates with an 89-71 record and 3.52 ERA. In 1921, he was part of a Pirate brother act when sib Phil made the roster. Jughandle twice led the senior circuit in shutouts with three in 1921 and five in 1922. His best campaign was in 1923 when he was 25-13/3.49 w/301 IP. He led the NL in outings in 1924 with 41 and again in 1925 with 44. In 1925, Johnny was 17-14 for the pennant-winning Pirates and pitched three games in the World Series against the Washington Senators without a decision, striking out seven in 9-⅓ frames. He got his nickname from his sweeping curve that bent like a jughandle. 
  • 1916 - Announcer Jim Woods was born in Kansas City. He was a sidekick of Bob Prince at KDKA from 1958-69, where he was known as "The Possum." Woods worked for the Yankees, Giants and NBC before coming to Pittsburgh, moving later to the Cardinals, Athletics and Red Sox, then finishing his career as an announcer for the USA Network's Thursday Night Baseball games. Woods picked up his nickname of "Possum" while with New York. He had a slight overbite and close-cropped hair, and as he walked into the clubhouse fresh from a haircut, Enos Slaughter (or perhaps Whitey Ford; they're both suspects), looked him over and said, "I've seen better heads on a possum." Bob Prince picked up on the nickname, and the Gunner's wife Betty would even introduce Woods’ spouse Audrey as “Mrs. Possum.” 
  • 1916 - Harry “The Hat” Walker was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Walker was hired in 1965 to replace Danny Murtaugh, who stepped down for health reasons. The Pirates contended for the pennant during the 1965 and 1966 seasons, finishing third behind the left-coast one-two punch of the champion Los Angeles Dodgers and runner-up San Francisco Giants. But when the 1967 Pirates stumbled to a .500 mark in mid-season, Walker was let go in favor of his predecessor, Murtaugh. He did leave his mark, though, as an offensive mind on the organization. Walker got his nickname from his habit of constantly tugging on his cap between pitches during his playing days. 
Wilbur Wood (photo via Cooperstown Collection)
  • 1941 - RHP Wilbur Wood was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The knuckleballer spent four years with Boston and 1964-65 w/Pittsburgh (1-3/3.18 in 37 games), never finding a spot while mixing his regular stuff with the dancer. He was traded to the White Sox for Juan Pizarro. That’s where Hoyt Wilhelm convinced him into converting into a straight knuckleball tosser and his career took off. He made 292 relief appearances over four years for Chicago and then flipped to the rotation, where he made 40> starts for five straight years, work 300+ IP for four of those seasons and also won 20+ games four times (he won 16 times & threw 291 IP in 1975). He ended his 17-year career in 1978 at age 37 with 651 appearances (297 starts), 164 wins, a 3.24 ERA and 52.2 WAR. 
  • 1968 - C Keith Osik was born in Port Jefferson, NY. Osik played for the Bucs from 1996-2002 as a catcher and all around utility guy, even pitching twice in blowout games while hitting .231. He’s been a successful head baseball coach since 2008 at Farmingdale State College, a Division III school located on Long Island.

No comments: