Tuesday, November 6, 2018

11/6 Through the 1950's: Rickey GM; Bartell-Thevenow; Nealon Signed; HBD Candy Man, Tommy & Bob

  • 1877 - 3B Tommy Sheehan was born in Sacramento (some sources say his BD is on the 5th, c’est la vie). Tommy played for Pittsburgh from 1906-07 and hit .255. He also spent a year with the New York Giants and Brooklyn Superbas before and after his Bucco stint. He did get to play a lot of ball near home, though - he earned his daily bread with 11 years of minor league ball at Sacramento, Portland, Tacoma, Oakland and Stockton. A word of caution - make sure to keep your Sheehan’s straight - this one is not to be confused with Tommy Sheehan, pitcher from the mid-20s who tossed for the Bucs from 1925-26. 
Jim Nealon 1906 (photo George Burke)
  • 1905 - The Pirates signed a hot shot prospect, San Francisco Seals 1B Jim (aka Joe, his middle name) Nealon, for a reported $6,500 in a heated bidding battle with the Cincinnati Reds (the New York Highlanders, Boston Americans, St. Louis Browns and Chicago Cubs were also on his scent). Manager Fred Clarke spent a week by the Bay working on Nealon and his father, with the Reds rep arriving a little late on the scene. Signing Nealon allowed the Pirates to include 1B Dave Brain as part of a package to the Boston Beaneaters to add Vic Willis to their staff a month later without losing any offensive muscle. Joe led the NL in RBI in 1906, but reported to camp in 1907 overweight and with a bad hand, the result of a fracture suffered in the off-season. He also fell out of favor with management; as a son of wealth, they felt he didn’t have his focus on baseball but on business. Nealon retired after the season - the Pirates were already auditioning replacements - and returned to the coast, playing in the California State League. He died of typhoid fever at the age of 25 in 1910. 
  • 1925 - OF Bob Addis was born in Mineral Springs, Ohio. He closed out a four-year MLB career with Pittsburgh, going 0-for-3 with a pair of whiffs and one pinch-running assignment. Bob finished his pro career that season with Toronto of the International League. Addis was later the baseball coach and AD at Euclid (Ohio) HS, and was inducted into the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1975. 
  • 1930 - SS Dick Bartell was traded by the Pirates to the Philadelphia Phillies for SS Tommy Thevenow and P Claude Willoughby. Defensive whiz Thevenow spent six season with the Bucs and hit .251 while Willoughby went 0-2 for Pittsburgh in his final MLB season. Bartell played 14 more seasons, made a couple of All-Star teams and ended up with a .281 lifetime BA. But the seemingly one-sided swap of SS’s worked out OK - Thevenow hurt his leg in 1931, and in 1932 was replaced in the lineup by Hall-of-Famer Arky Vaughan. Tommy Thevenow factoid: he didn't homer in his final 3,347 at-bats, the most consecutive at bats without a home run in MLB history. 
Branch Rickey 1950 (cartoon Willard Mullin/The Sporting News)
  • 1950 - Branch Rickey signed a five-year contract with the Pirates to become the team executive vice president/GM, replacing Roy Hamey. His son, Branch Jr., was named Pittsburgh's VP and farm system director. Branch laid the groundwork for future success by developing a productive farm system, but the Bucs put together just a 269-501 record (.349) during his tenure as GM. 
  • 1953 - LHP John Candelaria was born in New York. The Bucs selected the LaSalle Academy (Brooklyn) star in the second round of the 1972 draft. In 12 years (1975-85, 1993) with the Pirates, his line was 124-87-16/3.17, with a 1-1, 3.91 ERA slash in his four post-season starts. The Candy Man tossed a no-hitter, led the MLB in ERA once, earned an All-Star nod and a won a World Series ring while a Bucco. Overall, he had a 19-year MLB career with the Pirates, California Angels, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Montreal Expos, Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays, and Los Angeles Dodgers. 
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