Sunday, October 28, 2018

10/28: TSN All-Stars; Leyland MoY; FA Bo; Dixie Sez No; Pie Slice; HBD Big Bob, Nate, Big Bill, Percy, Joe, Canena & Gair

  • 1867 - C “Big” Bill Wilson was born in Hannibal, Missouri. He played pro ball for 15 years, mostly in the minors, spending 1890 with the Alleghenys, which had been hard hit by defections to the Players League (he hit .214 and caught, played 1B and some OF) and then with the 1897-98 Louisville Colonels. He was argumentative and got into several donnybrooks during his career, stepping up to the world of crime when he retired. He was alleged to have been a member of Detroit’s “Purple Gang” and served time in Leavenworth. “Baseball” Wilson, as he was known to his associates in crime & law enforcement, met a brutal end when he was knifed to death in a St. Paul speakeasy in 1924. 
  • 1899 - LHP Percy Lee Jones was born in Harwood, Texas. Percy closed out his nine-year career, mainly spent with the Cubs, in Pittsburgh where he went 0-1/6.63 in nine games in 1930 before being sent down. He came to Pittsburgh in a deal for Burleigh Grimes with the Boston Braves. 
Joe Page 1954 (Photo Barney Stein/Fine Art America)
  • 1917 - LHP Joe Page was born in nearby Cherry Valley and was raised in the mining town of Springdale. He was signed by the Yankees in 1940, starting out for the Class D Butler Yankees. Joe’s career turned in 1947 when NY flipped him from a starter to to reliever, and he had several strong seasons before 1951 when his arm died. He worked in the minors to overcome the loss of his bread-and-butter heater, coming up with a sinker (and almost assuredly a spitter, too). The Bucs gave him a shot in 1954, but after a quick start he was rocked (11.17 ERA in 9-⅔ IP) and released. He returned home to Springdale and ran a pair of local watering holes. Joe was known as “Fireman,” not only because he was a reliever but because he used to sport a red FDNY tee-shirt in the clubhouse. He was also called the “Gay (as in light-hearted) Reliever” by his bud Joe DiMaggio because of his love of the night-life. 
  • 1924 - The Pirates got $16,545 for placing third in the NL race - they finished 90-63, three games behind the NY Giants - a bonus of $570 for the 27 players who earned a full share with a little left over for the staff and short-timers. The cash bonus was determined by World Series revenues. 
  • 1925 - OF Luis Ángel "Canena" Márquez Sánchez was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. One of the first Puerto Rican players in the MLB, he played for both the Homestead Grays (1946–1948) and briefly for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1956), going 1-for-9 with four walks as a Buc. Though he played just two MLB seasons and 68 games, he spent 14 years in the minors, with another four seasons in the Negro League. The municipal baseball stadium in Aguadilla is named for him. 
  • 1931 - IF Gair Allie was born in Statesville, North Carolina. The Pirates signed Allie out of Wake Forest in 1952 where he went to school with Arnie Palmer. He got a lengthy look in 1954, hitting just .199 in 121 games, and his chance to challenge in camp the following season was dashed by a broken ankle. He played well in the Southern League after he recovered and had a solid 1956 in AAA Hollywood, then lost a year to the service. Gair never put together a strong season after his return and retired, becoming a Falstaff/Lone Star Beer VP (not a bad fallback position!) and later operated a restaurant. 
Gair Allie 1955 Topps
  • 1935 - Big lefty Bob Veale was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He pitched 10-1/2 years for the Pirates (1962-72) with a line of 116-91/3.06 and 1,652 strikeouts. Veale led the league with 250 K in 1964 and had over 200 whiffs four times in his career; his 276 punchouts in 1965 are still a club record. He also led the league in walks allowed four times. After his retirement from pitching in 1974 after a shoulder injury, he returned to his hometown, working a few years as a coach for the Braves and Yankees. Veale stayed connected to his baseball roots by working as a groundskeeper at Rickwood Field, a ballyard he played on as a youth. In 2006, Veale was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. 
  • 1955 - Dixie Walker, manager of minor-league Rochester, pulled his hat out of the Bucco manager’s ring, telling Joe Brown that he was happy as part of the Cardinal organization and decided to stay after expressing interest in the job a couple of days earlier. His brother, Harry “The Hat” Walker, was also skippering in the Redbird system (and would take the Pirates helm a decade later in 1965). Dixie probably had a premonition; Bobby Bragan, an early front-runner, got Fred Haney’s job and didn’t last through the 1957 campaign. 
  • 1981 - OF Nate McLouth was born in Muskegon, Michigan. Drafted in the 25th round of the 2000 draft, he spent his first five big league years (2005-09) with the Bucs, hitting .256 and earning an All-Star spot in 2008. McLouth was traded to the Braves for Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke after his AS season when his value was high and Andrew McCutchen was ready to step in to play center field. Nate finished his 10-year career with Washington in 2014. 
Nate McLouth 2008 Upper Deck Documentary
  • 1991 - Bobby Bonilla became a free agent. In his six years with Pittsburgh (1986-91), Bobby Bo slashed .284/.357/.481 w/114 HR, 500 RBI, four All-Star nods and was twice a top-three finisher for the MVP. He signed with the Mets for five years/$29M, making him the highest paid player in baseball at the time. He got deferred money from that deal and more from a buy-out of his second contract that will pay him $1.19M annually until 2035. A couple of other Bucs, 3B Steve Buechele and P Bob Kipper, also declared for FA. Buechele returned while Kip went to the Twins. 
  • 1992 - Jim Leyland was named the NL Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America, the second time he won the award. Leyland received 20 of 24 first-place ballots to outpoll rookie manager Felipe Alou of the Expos. Pittsburgh won 96 games and the division, only to be derailed by Atlanta in a seven game NLCS. Leyland would remain with the Bucs through the 1996 campaign, never winning more than 75 games after the roster deconstruction, then moved on to Florida and renewed success. 
  •  2015 - CF’er Andrew McCutchen and closer Mark Melancon were named to The Sporting News' National League all-star team. Cutch hit .292 with 23 HR and 96 RBI, making his fourth straight appearance on the list, while Mark the Shark, who set a Pirate record and led the majors with 51 saves while appearing in 78 games & posting a 2.23 ERA, was a first-time awardee. It was a big day for Melancon; he also took home the 2015 Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year award.

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