Tuesday, December 25, 2018

12/25: Ho Ho Ho - Big Poison Crown; Harris Humbugged; RIP Patsy; HBD Pud, Alex, Ed, Pinches, Big Train, Al, Gene, Rick & Scott

  • 1856 - RHP James Galvin was born in St. Louis. The Hall of Famer was MLB’s first 300 game winner and may have had the most nicknames of any player ever, going by "Pud," "Gentle Jeems," “Gentleman James” and "The Little Steam Engine." He threw 6,003 IP and 646 complete games, both of which are second only to Cy Young. Pud tossed seven years (1885-89, ‘91-92) for the Pirates, with the 1890 campaign lost when he jumped to the Pittsburgh Burghers of the rogue Player’s League. He was 126-110 with an ERA of 3.10 during his Buc career. As for his litany of nicknames, Charles Hausberg in Galvin’s SABR bio wrote “He may have been called Pud because of his ability to turn batters into pudding, or from his pudgy physique. He was presumably called “The Little Steam Engine” because he was small but powerful, and he was called “Gentle James” or “Gentle(man) Jeems” for his kind demeanor.” 
Pud Galvin 2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions
  • 1869 - LHP Alex Jones was born in Bradford, located in the northern tier in McKean County. Alex got into 26 games in four big league campaigns with five teams. His first was as a 19-year-old for the Alleghenys, giving up five runs (three earned) in a complete game win. He tossed for 11 pro seasons, missing several more with a variety of injuries, and finally called it a career after 1907 at age 37 when he tossed for the Class D Washington (PA) club of the Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland League. 1884 - LHP Ed Henderson was born in Newark, New Jersey. He tossed six games for the Federal League’s Pittsburgh Rebels in 1914 (0-1/3.94) and two more for the Indianapolis Hoosiers later in the season to close out his only big league campaign. Ed had started his pro career in 1907; it appears he concluded it as a 30-year-old after his lone MLB season. 
  • 1898 - RHP Earl “Pinches” Kunz was born in Sacramento, California. He worked one MLB campaign in 1923, going 1-2, 5.52 (per Baseball Reference; “Gold on the Diamond” cites a 2-4, 4.00 line). He preferred working out west, spending 10 years in the Pacific Coast League with half that time on the hometown Sacramento roster. The workhorse retired in 1930 at age 31 and spent his time raising and racing horses. His original nickname was Pinchers, as in the crab claws, and was shortened a bit; we’re assuming it came about because of his delivery/grip. 
  • 1912 - C Quincy “Big Train” Trouppe was born in Dublin, Georgia, the grandson of slaves. He worked for nine Negro League teams from 1930-49, including the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays in the early thirties, was an eight-time All-Star, played in the Mexican League, managed the Cleveland Buckeyes and had a cup of coffee in MLB when he caught six contests (10 games overall) for the 1952 Cleveland Indians. He was 39 years old when he made his big league debut and was behind the dish to catch "Toothpick Sam" Jones, forming the first black battery in AL history. Trouppe carried the the nicknames of "Big Train" and "Baby Quincy," probably because of his 6’2”, 225 pound frame. He was also an excellent boxer. 
Big Train chogglin' (photo Lauren County African-American History) 
  • 1934 - The NL released its final official figures confirming that OF Paul “Big Poison” Waner had won his second batting crown, compiling a .362 BA to defeat Bill Terry of the Giants at .354. Long-ago Pirate Kiki Cuyler, 35-years-old and in his seventh season with the Cubs, claimed the third spot by hitting .338. Pittsburgh was a good-swinging club that year; they finished second in the league with a .287 BA, just one point behind the pennant winning St. Louis Cards.
  • 1934 - As noted by John Dreker of Pirates Prospects, RHP Bill Harris was the only Pirate ever released on Christmas Day (what a grinch FO!) when he was demoted from the big club and sent to the farm at Buffalo. He had one more hurrah in the show in 1938 with Boston, but otherwise spent 1935-45 toiling in the minors, hanging up his spikes at the age of 45. 
  • 1935 - LHP Al Jackson was born in Waco, Texas. He was a Bucco product and worked his first two pro campaigns, 1960-61, as a Pirate, getting into 11 games and going 1-0, 4.75. He was then lost to the Mets in the 1961 expansion draft. Al started there, and while he suffered through a couple of 20-loss seasons, he also won 40 games in four years for the sad sack Metropolitans. He ended up with 10 campaigns in the show and then coached 20 more seasons with the Mets, Orioles and Red Sox. 
  • 1946 - Gene Lamont was born in Rockford, Illinois. After serving stints as Jim Leyland’s 3B coach, he took over the team reins in 1997. In his first year, Lamont finished second with a young, inexperienced team (“The Freak Show”) that was widely predicted to finish last, and he was runner up behind Dusty Baker for the Manager of the Year. That was the highlight; after the 2000 season, Lamont was fired after compiling a record of 295–352 and replaced by Lloyd McClendon. After coaching stops at Boston, Houston, and Detroit, Lamont moved to Kansas City in 2018 as a special assistant to the GM. 
Patsy Donovan 1898 Whitehead Hogue
  • 1953 - OF/Manager Patsy Donovan died at the age of 88 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Donovan played with the Pirates from 1892-99, putting together a stretch of six consecutive .300+ seasons and serving as player-manager in 1897 & 1899. That seemed to be Donovan’s niche; he was player/manager for four different clubs and managed two more after his playing days. The Pirates were sold late in 1899 to Barney Dreyfuss, who brought in Fred Clarke as, yes, player/manager, and the result was that Donovan was sent to the Cardinals to remove any potential friction. Fun fact: after Patsy retired, he coached for a bit at Phillips Academy in Andover, where one of his players was the future 41st President, George H.W. Bush. 
  • 1961 - Rick Renteria was born in Harbor City, California. The Pirates selected him 20th in the 1980 draft, and he was rewarded with a cup of coffee with the team in 1986, going 3-for-12 in 10 games. He went on to play parts of four more seasons in the show before taking coaching jobs with the Marlins and Padres. His latest gig was a one-year stint as manager of the Cubs, but despite doing a generally fine job with a rebuilding team, he was shown the door when Joe Maddon became available and RR became the White Sox’s bench coach. 
  • 1968 - OF Scott Bullett was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The Pirates signed Scott out of high school in 1988 and he was up-and-down in the minors. He got a couple of short visits to the big club in 1991 and again in 1993, batting .186 in 34 games. He fell behind other Bucco OF prospects like Midre Cummings, Al Martin and Trey Beamon and was traded to the Cubs for Travis Willis, a pitcher who couldn’t get past AAA. He put in two years with the Cubs and closed out his career playing in Japan and Mexico. He now runs a baseball development camp called Bullettproof Baseball Prospects. 

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