Thursday, January 3, 2019

1/3 From 1970: Spanky, Joker, Jo Jo Inked; Prez Honors Arriba; HBD AJ & Mike

  • 1973 - President Nixon gave a $1,000 check in Roberto Clemente's memory to the Nicaraguan embassy. At the President's request, Dan Galbreath, owner of the Pirates, along with Dave Giusti and Steve Blass, met with him at the White House to discuss setting up a fund in Clemente's honor to aid the survivors of the earthquake. Thus was born the Roberto Clemente Memorial Fund to aid the earthquake victims with Tricky Dicky as the first donor. 
Batman (photo Dan Kubis/Pirates)
  • 1977 - RHP AJ Burnett was born in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The veteran tossed for two years in Pittsburgh (2012-13) after being obtained from the Yankees in a Gotham salary dump, with a line of 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA while averaging a whiff per frame. After a rough season in Philly, he returned for his final year in 2015. He went 9-7/3.18 in 26 starts, coming back in September from an All-Star break elbow inflammation to close out his 17th season, collecting 164 wins and 2,513 whiffs for five teams over that span. AJ was credited with leading the charge to reverse the team’s decades-long losing culture through his mentoring and clubhouse presence. 
  • 1979 - OF Michael Restovich was born in in Rochester, Minnesota. He spent parts of six seasons in the bigs, with the second half of 2005 in a Bucco jersey. He hit .214 in 52 games, mostly as a pinch-hitter, and moved on to the Cubs in 2006. After playing for seven different organizations (five at the MLB level) and in Japan, Restovich retired after the 2011 season. 
  • 1992 - GM Larry Doughty inked C Mike Lavaliere to a three-year/$6.3M contract that included a $600K signing bonus. It wasn’t one of Doughty’s better moves; the Pirates released Spanky in April of 1993 after he played one game, eating over $4M worth of Lavaliere’s salary. He finished out his MLB days in 1995 after a three-year run with the White Sox.
  • 2006 - 3B Joe Randa was officially signed as a free agent for his second go-around with the Pirates. He was inked to a $4M deal, nearly double his 2005 salary at Cincinnati. The Joker hit .267 in 89 games in what would be his last MLB season, losing his job to Freddy Sanchez and then announcing his retirement in November. 
The Joker 1997 Fleer Ultra
  • 2012 - LHP Jo Jo Reyes, who became famous when he tied a MLB record for consecutive starts without a win (28) between 2008-2010, signed a minor league deal with the Bucs. The 27-year-old was coming off a 7-11/5.57 AL campaign, but was given a shot to land a back end/long man spot for Pittsburgh. It didn’t happen; he had a lousy spring, was sent to Indy and never took the hill for the Pirates. After his November release, he worked one game for the Angels in 2015 and another for the Marlins in 2016, with most of his slab time spread among Korean, Mexican, and AAA ball.
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