Thursday, October 4, 2018

10/4 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: '02 Finale For Win 103; Tough End in '08; TOOTBLANs; HBD Billy, Red, Joe & Jim

  • 1874 - RHP Jim Gardner was born in Pittsburgh. He pitched for Pittsburgh in 1895, then again from 1897-99, going 24-20/3.91. The soft-tossing Gardner pitched for the local Pittsburgh Athletic Club and rejected offers to turn pro because he was attending law school and didn’t want to miss classes by travelling; in his first season, he struck a deal with the Bucs so that he didn’t have go to any away games at all. Jim didn’t hit much, but did play a couple of dozen games at 2B, 3B and the outfield. The Pirates released him after a bout of malaria (some bios report that he also suffered a serious beaning that season, but that’s unverified). He worked his way back to the show in 1902 with the Cubs but suffered a concussion when he was thrown from a carriage by a spooked horse. He passed away young in 1905 after surgery for an abscess (or lingering issues from the debated beanball, take your pick) led to fatal complications. Jim was buried in Homewood Cemetery. 
These Bucs were good to the last drop...
  • 1902 - The Pirates wanted to get their last game of the year in despite the rainy weather, as they were going for a record 103rd win; the Cincinnati Reds, according to the Pittsburgh Press “...wanted to go out and place a few bets on the races.” The game went on, and to show their chagrin the Reds pitched their first baseman, put a pitcher behind the plate, and player-manager Joe Kelley even stepped up to bat with a cigarette dangling from his mouth until threatened with ejection by ump Hank O’Day. Pittsburgh won easily 11-2. Per the Press’ Ralph Davis, owner Barney Dreyfuss refunded the fans’ money, and when the Reds business manager came looking for his team’s share of the gate, Dreyfuss just pointed to the now empty cash drawer. The Pirates won the NL by 27-½ games and had some great performances: Ginger Beaumont won the batting title with a .357 mark, Tommy Leach led the league in home runs with six, Honus Wagner led the league in RBI with 91, and Jack Chesbro led the league with 28 wins. The club scored 775 runs, which was 142 more than any other team, while the pitching staff allowed just four home runs during the season, the fewest in MLB history. 
  • 1905 - Charlie Case and the Pirates lost to the Boston Beaneaters and Chick Fraser 1-0 in 13 innings at Exposition Park. Pittsburgh had six hits and baserunning blunders cost them dearly. Heinie Peitz tripled but was called out for missing first base, Steamer Flanagan slid past third and was tagged out in the ninth and later made the last out of the game in the 13th trying to steal second. 
  • 1908 - Old-timey fans remember the Cubs and Giants “Merkle” playoff game for the 1908 pennant, but it was the Bucs that were ahead by ½ game on their final day when they lost to Chicago and Three Finger Mordecai before 30‚247 fans‚ the largest crowd ever at Chicago's West Side Grounds. Down 5-2 in the ninth, 2B Ed “Batty” Abbaticchio lined a ball down the line and over the fence with Honus Wagner aboard (the bases weren’t loaded, as sometimes reported for dramatic effect), but the drive was ruled foul. The Pirates argued that it was a HR, but ump Hank O'Day stood his ground and with that call went the Pirates last chance of taking the flag. There’s an urban legend that a lady in the stands was hit by the ball and later sued Batty. She claimed she was in fair side of the seats when the blast conked her, but that tale has never been substantiated. It was a tough loss; the Bucs had won eight in a row (and 13-of-14 contests) to get a half game lead on the Cubs (who were no slugs and went 16-3 down the stretch) going into the final game. Chicago had to win the next day to clinch, and the Bruins beat the NY Giants 4-2 to finish 99-55 to Pittsburgh’s 98-56 in one of history’s hottest pennant races. The Bucs may have been a game short, but Honus Wagner had a championship season. The Dutchman led the league with a .354 BA, 201 hits, .413 OBP, .542 slugging %, 109 RBI, 39 doubles, 19 triples, 308 total bases and 52 stolen bases. He was second with 100 runs scored and 10 HR. 
  • 1918 - RHP George “Red” Munger (he was a redhead) was born in Houston, Texas. After an eight-year run (with three All-Star nods) with St. Louis, Red joined the Bucs in 1952 via a deal for P Bill Werle. He returned for a final bow in 1956 at age 37 after posting some strong numbers in the Pacific Coast League (1953-55) where Pittsburgh had stashed him with the Hollywood Stars. He went 3-7-1, 4.66 for the Bucs in 40 games (17 starts) in ‘52 and ‘56. He retired in 1957 and became a Pinkerton investigator.  
  • 1960 - RHP Joe Boever was born in Kirkwood, Missouri. He closed out a 12-year career in 1996 in Pittsburgh where he appeared in 13 games, going 0-2-2, 5.40 after being a waiver claim from the Tigers. The palmballer retired after the campaign. 
  • 1960 - OF Billy Hatcher was born in Williams, Arizona. Billy spent the middle of his 12-year tenure with Pittsburgh in 1989 when they got him just after the deadline from Houston for Glenn Wilson. He hit .244 for the Bucs and in April of the following season was shipped to Cincinnati for Jeff Richardson. He spend a decade after his playing days coaching in the Tampa Bay organization and since 2006 has been on the Reds MLB staff.

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