Wednesday, October 24, 2018

10/24 Through the 1940’s: Take Me Out to the Ballgame; HBD Bill, Jay, Chicken, Heinie, Pete, Cal, Ding-Dong & Johnny

  • 1858 - 3B Bill Kuehne (his surname was an Ellis Island special; in Germany, it was Knelme) was born in Leipzig, Germany. He played every position but pitcher and catcher, hitting .240 in Pittsburgh (Alleghenys 1885-89, Burghers 1890). His best years were with the Alleghenys, hitting .299 in 1887 and leading the NL with 138 games played in 1888. 
Bill Kuehne 1887 Goodwin/Old Judge
  • 1859 - 1B Jacob “Jay” Faatz was born in Weedsport, New York. He began his four-year MLB career with a 29 game audition with the 1884 Alleghenys, batting .241 and then spending the next three years in the minors before getting another big-league opportunity. Faatz was an argumentative player with a knack for sticking out an elbow or knee and getting plunked, and that fiery temperament led him to become a ringleader in the Players League movement, which put an end to his career. He retired in 1894 after spending some time in the minors and moved to Syracuse to become a sales rep. His highlight came against his old Allegheny teammates in 1889 when he smoked a grounder to third that glanced off the fielder’s foot and kicked into temporary stands along the baseline; by the time the Pittsburgh infield could dig out the ball, Jay had a three-run homer (one of three career four-baggers) on a hit that never left the infield. 
  • 1870 - OF Phil “Chicken” Routcliffe was born in Frontenac, Ontario. Routcliffe got into one MLB game as an Allegheny in 1890, going 1-for-4 and HBP, scoring once, driving in a run and swiping a sack while corralling three balls in the pasture as the left fielder. Just 19 when he played (although his 1870 birthdate is questionable), he was thought to be a contender for a starting role, but was released shortly thereafter. The Alleghenys must have sensed something; he hit .213 in the Western League and was out of baseball two years later, working as a newspaper pressman and later as a policeman before being claimed by the 1918 flu epidemic at age 47. 
  • 1871 - 2B Heinie Smith was born in Pittsburgh. Heinie played for six MLB campaigns and spent 1899 with the Pirates, batting .283 in 15 games (a deceptive small sample; his career BA was .238). Smith had a disastrous turn as big league skipper, losing 27-of-32 games as the Giants player/manager in 1902. That didn’t deter him when his playing days ended; he was the minor league Buffalo Bisons’ manager for a decade and then coached the U of Buffalo for a couple of seasons after hangin’ up his glove. 
  • 1906 - PH Pete McClanahan was born in Coldspring, Texas. His only big league time came in 1930 as a Pirate, getting into seven games as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner. He went 2-for-4 with two walks and scored twice, so he did OK in that role. Pete’s calling card was his stick. In six farm seasons in the Texas, Lone Star and Dixie Leagues, he hit .317 before racking the bat for a final time after the 1933 campaign at age 26. 
Cal Hogue 1953 Topps
  • 1908 - Edward Meeker recorded "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" for the Edison Phonograph Company, the first recorded version of the tune (popularized by Billy Murray and the Haydn Quartet on Victor Records, who turned the song into a 1908 chart-topper). The melody was written earlier in the year by Tin Pan Alley vets Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer (“Shine On, Harvest Moon”) and became a vaudeville hit. Though it remained popular and was updated lyrically in 1927, it wasn't until 1976 that it became a big league ballyard standard. That’s when Chicago White Sox announcer Harry Caray began singing it during the stretch, accompanied by organist Nancy Faust, after he was, per baseball lore, urged on by Sox owner Bill Veeck. Norworth and Von Tilzer, incidentally, had never seen a ballgame before writing the song, and wouldn’t until decades later.
  • 1927 - RHP Calvin “Cal” Hogue was born in Dayton, Ohio. His MLB career spanned 1952-54, all spent as a Bucco, with a line of 2-10, 4.91 in 25 games (16 starts). He got a decent shot in his first campaign after a July call up while the next two seasons were cup of coffee stops. Cal’s issue was finding the dish - he issued 96 bases on balls in 113- 2⁄3 innings as a Pirate. He stayed in the system through the 1957 season before retiring; he returned to Dayton and worked as a pipefitter. 
  • 1933 - RHP Bill “Ding Dong” Bell was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Bell was one of two professional pitchers to throw three no-hitters in the same season (1952) as a member of Pirates affiliate Bristol in the Class D Appalachian League. Success there didn’t translate into a MLB career, though. Ding Dong was given a September call up at age 18 in ‘52 and resurfaced again briefly in 1955, going 0-1, 4.32 lifetime for the Bucs. He had a well deserved rep as a wild child on the hill, walking 14 during his 16-⅔ IP in the show. 
Johnny Jeter 1970 Topps
  • 1944 - OF Johnny Jeter was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. Johnny began his six-year MLB run with the Pirates, which had signed him out of Grambling, between 1969-70. He hit .252 in 113 games (30 starts) and got a couple of at-bats against the Reds in the 1970 NLCS. JJ got in a pair of seasons with the Padres and played for the White Sox and Indians before he retired.

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