Wednesday, October 24, 2018

10/24 From the 1950’s: Willy Deal; Maz Retires; New CBA; HBD Antelope, Junior, Reggie, Dave, Rafe, Chris & Arthur

  • 1952 - Pirate CF Omar Moreno was born in Puerto Armuelles, Panama. “The Antelope” played eight years in Pittsburgh (1975-82) and led the league in stolen bases twice, swiping 487 sacks as a Buc. Moreno played every game of the 1979 and 1980 seasons, led the National League in at bats both years and hit .333 against the Orioles in the 1979 World Series. Known as “The Antelope” for his speed both on the base paths and in center field, he also picked up the less PC fan nickname of “Omar the Outmaker.” Moreno hit or ran into an out 560 times in 1980, a major league record, and ended his career with a 79 OPS+. One of the good guys in the game, he and his wife Sandra began the Omar Moreno Foundation, a youth baseball charity for underprivileged kids in Panama, and the Antelope is still active in Pirates alumni and PR work. Moreno was inducted into the Latino Hall of Fame in 2014. 
Omar Moreno 1982 Fleer
  • 1952 - OF Reggie Walton was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Reggie had a 12-year pro career in the majors, on the farm and in Mexico, finishing his big league time with the Pirates in 1982, hitting .200 in 17 PAs. Reggie was a good stick guy with a .291 minor league BA, but half of his time was spent in the hitter-friendly PCL and he didn’t have much plate patience. He hung ‘em up after the 1983 campaign at age 30 after playing in Hawaii. 
  • 1959 - C Adalberto “Junior” Ortiz was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico. Junior caught for the Bucs from 1982-83 (.264 BA), spent a year with the Mets, and came back again between 1985-89. In seven seasons, the reserve hit .262 during his career. We’re not sure where Junior picked up his moniker (he’s not a junior by name, but he did start stateside in the minors at age 17 and reached the Bucs as a 22 year-old) but Ortiz embraced it; he even joked after the birth of his son, Adalberto Jr, that he was going to call him “Junior Junior.” 
  • 1959 - RHP Dave Johnson was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Dave got his first pro shot with Pittsburgh in 1987, giving up seven runs in 6-⅓ IP. He bounced back to have a couple of solid years for Baltimore before calling it quits after five tours of MLB duty following the 1993 season. His son, Steve, also worked in the show, tossing for Baltimore and Seattle. 
  • 1961 - SS Rafael Belliard was born in Pueblo Nuevo, Dominican Republic. He played his first nine seasons (1982-90) in Pittsburgh as a good glove shortstop, hitting .218 during that time but ranking first in the NL in fielding percentage in 1988. Belliard went on to play the second half of his career in Atlanta, and was part of the ‘91-92 teams that eliminated the Bucs in the NLCS. He’s coached for the Tigers in the majors & farm, and been an minor-league coach for Atlanta and Kansas City, his current club. 
Rafe Belliard 1989 Score
  • 1969 - LHP Arthur Rhodes was born in Waco, Texas. Rhodes spent 20 years in the show and pitched for nine teams. He was also a Bucco for a brief winter visit. The Pirates got him from Oakland in late November of 2004 along with Mark Redman for Jason Kendall; two weeks later he was on his way to Cleveland for Matt Lawton. He last tossed in the majors in 2011 and retired officially before the 2015 campaign. 
  • 1972 - Bill Mazeroski retired from the Pirates after 17 seasons. He only played 34 games and hit .188 in his final campaign as a bench infielder (.260 lifetime). The Hall-of-Famer left a legacy of 10 All-Star games, eight Golden Gloves and two World Series championships. His number #9 was retired in 1987 and his statue was erected at PNC Park in 2010. He still shows up in the spring to show the boys how to handle the pivot. 
  • 1978 - RHP Chris Bootcheck was born in LaPorte, Indiana. Chris worked parts of seven big league seasons (2007 with the LAA was his only full season in the show) and made a stop in Pittsburgh in 2009, earning no decisions while putting up an 11.05 ERA in 13 outings. Bootcheck did earn a paycheck for 14 professional seasons, including a couple in Japan, before retiring after the 2014 campaign at the age of 35. He’s now coaching at Georgia State University. 
  • 2006 - The Players Association and MLB announced that they had agreed on a new CBA that would run for five years through the 2011 season. It jiggled some items and finances, but there were no major changes except that the winning All-Star team would host the World Series and the removal of MLB’s chief threat to the union, contraction. The players voted on and ratified the new deal in December, marking an unbroken stretch of labor peace since 1995. 
Willy for a (image via Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • 2015 - The Miami Marlins traded RHP Trevor Williams to the Pirates for Rookie League P Richard Mitchell. The Fish had hired away Pirates pitching assistant Jim Benedict, and it was thought that swapping a potential MLB back-ender for a long shot prospect was compensation for the Marlins' luring Benedict away. Looks like a pretty good deal so far - Willy claimed a rotation spot and broke out in 2018 while Benedict was axed by the new Fish ownership.

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