Wednesday, November 7, 2018

11/7 Through the 1960’s: Vote For Me; HBD Stu, The Only, Ed, Bill, Andy & Dave; RIP Fred

  • 1857 - RHP Ed “The Only” Nolan was born in either Canada or Patterson, New Jersey; no one is quite sure. Nolan was a two-fisted drinker who made a brief stop with the Alleghenys in 1883. The following is per the Baseball Reference Bullpen page: He lost the seven games he pitched, and then, after he was fined $10 for something, went on a drinking spree and put it on the team's tab. He was fined $100 and suspended for the rest of the season. One fan even sold a line of T-shirts featuring Nolan, Buttercup Dickerson and the 1883 Allegheny as “The Hardest Drinking Team of All Time." There are several theories regarding his nickname. One says it was because he would demand to be the only pitcher employed by the teams on which he played. Others claim it was lifted from a burlesque actor named "The Only Leon." The KISS explanation is that "The Only" was a commonly used term during Nolan's time, applied to anyone who excelled at something, and so Nolan took the moniker to feed his ego. Guy Smith, who wrote “Heroes of Baseball,” threw another iron in the fire, writing that he got the nickname as a minor league pitcher after he earned 11 straight wins, six by shutout, for Indianapolis. Ironically, in an “all the sinners are saints” twist, bad boy Nolan became a cop after he retired.
Ed Mensor 1913 (photo Bain News Service/Library of Congress)
  • 1885 - SS/OF Ed Mensor was born in Woodville, Oregon. He played three years for Pittsburgh (1912-14) and hit .221 from the bench. Baseball players weren’t exactly noted for politically correctness back in the day; the 5’6” Mensor’s nickname was “The Midget.” Mensor factoid: Ed was the first Jewish switch-hitter in major league history per the Jewish Baseball Museum. 
  • 1904 - C Fred Carroll died in San Rafael, California at the age of 40 after a heart attack. He was one of the top hitting catchers of his era, with a .284 BA, and had his hand in all the Pittsburgh franchises, playing for the Allegheny, Burghers and Pirates for seven (1885-91) of his eight big-league years. He was a complete player - he also spent some time in the OF, corner IF and short while stealing 137 bases during his career and even umped a game in ‘87. Fred had nine hits during an 1886 twinbill and was the first Pittsburgh player to hit for the cycle (both as an Allegheny) in 1887. He’ll always be a part of local baseball lore for burying his pet monkey and team mascot under home plate at old Recreation Park before a game. He left baseball early, at age 26, partly because of a sub-par year with the Pirates (he hit .218) and partly because the Sacramento native wanted to return to the west coast. 
  • 1910 - 3B Bill Brubaker was born in Cleveland. He played nine years for the Bucs, from 1932-40, and batted .264 as a Pirate, earning most of his starts in 1936-37.(he was super in ‘36, hitting .289 w/101 RBI) After a couple of years in the service, he ended his career in 1943 with the Boston Braves. His grandson, Dennis Rasmussen, also played in the major leagues, putting together a 12-year career as a starting pitcher in the early 80s-to-mid 90s. 
Big Stu 1962 Salada Tea Coin
  • 1932 - 1B Dick Stuart was born in San Francisco. “Dr. Strangeglove” played in Pittsburgh from 1958-62, hitting .273 with 117 bombs as a Bucco, and was a 1961 All-Star after losing 35 baseballs. The slugger’s inability to field was legendary; he was once hit in the back when Roberto Clemente threw behind a runner, and received an ovation for spearing a hot dog wrapper as it blew past him at Forbes Field. He led the league in errors a record seven years in a row (1958-64), drove a car with the license plate "E3" and his 29 muffs at first base in 1963 remain the MLB record for the position. He said “As long as you drive in more than you let in, you get to play.” Oddly enough, stick-first Stu was the first 1B to record three assists in one inning; go figure. Stuart also mashed 66 home runs for the Lincoln club of the Class A Western League in 1956, proving that his glove wasn’t the main reason he got a paycheck. The apt nickname for the poor-fielding 1B was adapted from the movie “Doctor Strangelove,” and at 6’4”, he was also known as Big Stu. Hank Aaron dubbed him “Stonefingers.” Per Wikipedia, other less well known but equally unflattering nicknames included "Iron Glove" and "The Ancient Mariner," a reference to an opening line in the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: "It is an ancient mariner, And he stoppeth one of three." 
  • 1966 - OF Andy Tomberlin was born in Monroe, North Carolina. The strong-armed and fleet Tomberlin spent parts of six seasons as a big league bench outfielder after being converted from a pitcher, beginning in Pittsburgh in 1993, where he hit .286. Tomberlin played most of his games in the minor leagues from 1986 through 2000 for eight different organizations. After his playing days, Andy scouted and coached in the minors for the Brewers and White Sox. 
  • 1967 - Bob Friend made the transition from Sennett to Ross Street seamlessly by winning his first political outing, running as the Republican candidate for County Controller. He defeated the incumbent, James Knox, in a horse race. Those ‘60 Pirates pitchers were quite the political powerhouse: Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell would become a North Carolina congressman, Ronnie Kline became the mayor of Callery, PA after he retired and Diomedes Olivo wasn’t elected to office but was appointed as Director of the Ministry of Sports by the Dominican President. 
Post Gazette 11-13-1967 Cy Hungerford
  • 1967 - RHP Dave Wainhouse was born in Toronto, Ontario. The Montreal Expos selected Wainhouse with their first-round pick of the 1988 draft, making him the first Canadian-born player picked the first round. He put in seven years as a middle reliever, spending 1996-97 with the Bucs, going 1-1/6.97 in 42 outings. He now operates a baseball academy and is an assistant baseball coach for Seattle University.
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