Saturday, October 27, 2018

10/27 From the 1940’s: Billy MoY; Curt Flood Law; HBD Pete, UL, Mike, Jason & Jon

  • 1948 - Manager Billy Meyer was selected as The Sporting News MLB Manager of the Year, edging out Boston’s Billy Southworth by an 89-87 vote tally. After 22 years in the minors, he improved the hapless Pirates by 21 games to fourth place with an 83-71 record, 8-½ games behind Southworth’s first place Braves (and just 2-½ out on 9/12 before a late season nose dive). The glow wore off quickly after new GM Branch Rickey dealt the vets and rebuilt; Meyer and his Pirate puppies lost 112 games in 1952, and Billy resigned. 
Billy Meyer 1952 Topps
  • 1952 - RHP/coach Pete Vuckovich was born in Johnstown. In his 11 year MLB career, he never tossed for the Pirates, but in 1992 he was hired by Pittsburgh as a pitching instructor. Vuckovich served as the pitching coach during the 1997–2000 seasons for Gene Lamont, then worked his way through the organization to become the Special Assistant to the General Manager until joining the Seattle organization in 2012. Pete also had a role in the movie “Major League,” uttering the snarky “How’s your wife and my kids?” line. Vuckovich is a member of the Clarion University Sports Hall of Fame, the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. 
  • 1953 - IF UL Washington was born in Springtown, Oklahoma. He closed out his 11-year big league visit in 1986-87 with the Pirates,batting .207 off the bench. After ending his playing career, Washington coached in the minors for the Pirates (1989), Royals (1991–98), Dodgers (1999), Twins (2001–02) and the Red Sox (2003–present). Two UL factoids: UL isn’t shorthand for anything; it’s actually his given name. Also, the toothpick he always had in his mouth was a by-product of Astroturf. UL had always played with a blade of grass in his mouth until he got to the pros and there were no more grass fields; he substituted a toothpick. 
  • 1962 - RHP Mike Dunne was born in South Bend, Indiana. The US Olympian from 1984 came to the Pirates as part of the Tony Pena trade and paid immediate dividends, going 13-6 with a 3.03 ERA in 1987 and finishing second to Benito Santiago in the Rookie-of-the-Year balloting. He then encountered arm problems and couldn’t match his first-year numbers, winning just eight more games before being traded to Seattle in 1989. His Pittsburgh slash was 21-18/3.65. Dunne’s last MLB campaign was in 1992 with the White Sox, and he went on to coach at his alma mater, Bradley University. 
  • 1973 - RHP Jason Johnson was born in Santa Barbara, California. He was signed by the Pirates in 1992 out of high school and made his debut in 1997, working six innings and giving up four runs before being lost to Tampa Bay in the expansion draft. He turned into a journeyman, working 11 seasons for eight teams and spending another year in Japan. Jason played through lifelong Type 1 diabetes; he was the first MLB player to wear an insulin pump on the field. 
Jon Niese 2016 Topps
  • 1978 - LHP Jon Niese was born in Lima, Ohio. After working eight years as a Met, Niese was traded to Pittsburgh for Neil Walker in 2016. He was 8-6 for the Bucs, but a 4.91 ERA and 1.545 WHIP were more indicative of his performance than wins and losses. On August 1st, the Pirates sent him back to NY for Antonio Bastardo, a trade tree Neal Huntington would like to forget about. The Mets bought him out after the season, and he signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees but was let go in June. He didn’t have any better luck in 2018, signing with the Rangers but being released in camp. 
  • 1998 - Per the NY Times, President Bill Clinton signed the Curt Flood legislation that overturned part of baseball's 70-year-old antitrust exemption, putting baseball on a par with other professional sports on labor matters after Congress approved it unanimously earlier in the month. The new law overrode part of a 1922 Supreme Court ruling that exempted baseball from antitrust restrictions on grounds that it was not interstate commerce. The law took three sessions of Congress to pass and revoked the antitrust exemption only for labor relations, not for matters involving relocation, league expansion or the minor leagues.

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