Thursday, January 3, 2019

1/3 Through the 1960’s: Looking at Rajah; Ka-Ching; HBD Gus, Luis, Mark, Dick, Harry & Red

  • 1894 - RHP Kirby “Red” White was born in Hillsboro, Ohio. Kirby tossed most of 1910 and a bit in 1911 for the Bucs. He was traded to the Pirates by the Boston Doves early in 1910 and went 10–9 with a 3.46 ERA in 30 games. In 1911, he was used for just three innings, going 0-1, 9.00, and was released, spending the next four seasons in the minors. We assume he was red-haired; Kirby also went by “Buck.” 
  • 1906 - 1B Gus Suhr was born in San Francisco. He spent 9-1/2 seasons (1930-39) with the Pirates, hitting .279 with a .386 OPB and driving in 818 runs, earning an All-Star berth in 1936. Suhr started 1,389 games at first base for Pittsburgh, a team record, and once held the NL standard of 822 consecutive games played, which lasted until 1957. The record-snapping game he missed wasn’t due to injury; he took off to attend his mother’s funeral. 
Gus Suhr 1934-36 Chickle Diamond Stars
  • 1920 - Ralph Davis of the Pittsburgh Press wrote “...it is generally believed that the Pirates have been casting longing eyes in the direction of Rogers Hornsby and Milton Stock of the St. Louis Cardinals...but (St Louis) President Branch Rickey is apparently determined to demand a ‘pound of flesh’ if he relinquishes his hold…” No wonder; 2B Hornsby went on a six-year batting title streak beginning during the 1920 campaign to go with a 13-year .300+ skein (including three .400+ years) on his way to the Hall of Fame. It would have been a sweet sight to see Hornsby and Pirates SS Rabbit Maranville together in the middle for five years had the deal been consummated. The lesser-known 3B Stock started for the next six years while batting .299 for the Cards and Dodgers, but the Pirates had an in-house replacement in the pipeline. After a 1920 apprenticeship, Clyde Barnhart took over the hot corner for the Bucs (he moved to the OF when Pie Traynor arrived) with a .295 BA over nine seasons.  
  • 1926 - PH/RHP Harry Fisher was born in Waterloo, Ontario. He was a two-way guy and appeared in 18 MLB games with the 1951–52 Pirates, ten as a pinch hitter and eight as a pitcher. Harry hit .278 for the Bucs, and went 1-2, 6.87 on the hill. He made his last appearance in August of 1952 before returning to minor league baseball, where he played through 1959 and split time between the mound and the pasture. 
  • 1944 - RHP Dick Colpaert was born in Fraser, Michigan. Dick toiled in the minors for 13 years, 10 as a member of the Pirates system. He got his taste of the bigs in the late summer of 1970 after a hot start at AAA Columbus, getting into eight games and going 0-1/5.91, not as bad a line as it looks at first blush. He had seven effective outings (2.89 ERA), including his win over Atlanta when he blew through Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda and Clete Boyer, until the Mets beat him up in an August appearance, blowing up his ERA and sending him packing back to the farm. He retired in 1974 at age 30 and did some scouting for San Diego and the MLB combine. 
Dick Colpaert 1971 Topps
  • 1961 - The Pittsburgh Press reported that the Pirate owners collected their first dividend check since buying the club from the Dreyfuss family in 1946, citing the increased attendance thanks to the 1960 World Series championship. They got $4/share. The Galbreath family held majority team ownership from 1946-85. 
  • 1965 - RHP Mark Dewey was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mark went 3-3-8/3.23 for the Bucs out of the pen from 1993-94, with ‘93 being a particularly strong campaign as he converted seven saves with a 2.36 ERA. After six years in the show, he retired and since has coached for the Washington Wild Things and is now with the Brewers organization. 
  • 1965 - IF Luis Sojo was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He spent 13 years in the show, the last eight with the Yankees except for a 61-game spell in 2000 when he was briefly a Bucco. He hit .284 here after signing as a FA, and in August the Yankees got him back by sending RHP Chris Spurling to the Pirates. He retired from the Pinstripe Mob in 2003 and has coached in their system since them except for a break as the manager of the Venezuelan national/WBC squad.
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