Thursday, November 8, 2018

11/8: Jay Bay RoY; Starling GG; Scout Scrams; HBD Nick, Wally, Rex & Bill; RIP Little All Right

  • 1870 - RHP Bill Hoffer was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Bill started out on fire, winning 78 games for the Orioles from 1895-97 before the bottom fell out. He worked for Pittsburgh from 1889-90, going 11-10/3.33, but was near the end of his career, pitching MLB ball again in 1901 as his swan song. He also played some outfield, but put up a measly .186 BA. Bill retired back to Iowa and became an engineer/conductor on the interurban railway between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City and was later named to the Des Moines Register Iowa Sports Hall of Fame. 
  • 1920 - OF Wally Westlake was born in Gridley, California. He played 4-1/2 seasons for the Pirates (1947-51) and hit .281 with 97 HR in that span as an everyday player. Wally was an All-Star in 1951, the season he split between the Pirates and Cardinals, and played through the 1956 season. Wally retired and returned to the coast as a labor foreman and dedicated fisherman/hunter. 
Rex Johnston (image via Steelers.com)
  • 1937 - PH Rex Johnston was born in Colton, California. Rex was signed for $40K but only played briefly for the Bucs, going hitless in seven at-bats in 1964. In 1960, the former two-sport Southern Cal star played as a kick returner for the Steelers (he was behind John Henry Johnson & Tom “The Bomb” Tracy in the backfield) during the minor league off-season and thus became the only athlete to date who suited up for both the Bucs and the Steelers. Rex retired after the 1966 season and went back home to California to run the family painting business. Johnston factoid: he was teammates with the Phil’s Hall of Fame GM Pat Gillick, who was a lefty pitcher when USC won the 1958 College World Series. 
  • 1951 - Claude “Little All Right” Ritchey passed away; the hard-drinking player fell victim to cirrhosis of the liver at age 78. Ritchey manned the middle of the Pittsburgh infield for seven seasons (1900-06) at the turn of the century, a solid defender who hit .277 in 977 games. He was part of the big trade that sent most of the Louisville Colonels roster to the Pirates before being sent to Boston as part of the Ed Abbaticchio deal. He spent his retirement (1912 was his last comeback effort) in his hometown of Emlenton (Venango county), where he worked a variety of jobs, mainly in the oil industry. His nickname, per teammate and oftentimes roomie Hans Wagner, came about because "Claude was never a great hitter except in a pinch. But then is when you could bet on him. That is why the fans gave him the name of Little All Right.” 
  • 1991 - RHP Nick Kingham was born in Houston, Texas. Kingham was drafted by the Pirates in the fourth round of the 2010 draft out of high school and was put on the 40-man in 2014. The next year, he was about to get the call when his arm gave out and he had TJ surgery. Pittsburgh petitioned the league for an extra option year and got it. Good thing, too - he made his MLB debut in 2018 and took a perfect game through 6-2/3 innings to earn his first win as a Bucco. The rest of the campaign didn’t go as smoothly, and he’ll enter 2019 on the bubble and out of options. 
Jay Bay poster (via Sports Collectibles)
  • 2004 - Jason Bay, who hit .282 with 26 HRs and 82 RBI, became the first Pirate (and Canadian) player to win the Baseball Writer’s NL Rookie of the Year Award (Johnny Ray won The Sporting News ROY award in 1982). Although he didn't begin his year until May while recovering from shoulder surgery, Jay led all NL rookies with a .550 slugging percentage, 54 extra base hits and 226 total bases. Bay also took home RoY honors from TSN and the Players Association. He had a pretty good week; he married his college sweetie Kristen two days before winning the award. Bobby Crosby won the AL honors; he would become a Bucco briefly in 2010. 
  • 2016 - Starling Marte became the ninth Pirate to win multiple Golden Gloves as he was selected for his second straight Rawlings GG award. Starling threw out 17 runners - 16 without a relay man - topping his previous best of 16 assists. He was the first Pirate since Andy Van Slyke (1988-92) and Barry Bonds (1990-92) to win consecutive honors. 
  • 2016 - Greg Schiltz, who began his scouting career at Pittsburgh in 2004 and worked his way from amateur bird dog to Northern Regional Supervisor, was hired away by the Phils to become their National Scouting Coordinator; he’s now their Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting.
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