Friday, January 4, 2019

1/4: Bucs Add Starling, Sam, Skates, Lance & Shane; Keep Buffalo; HBD Cork, Brian, Jay & John

  • 1869 - SS Tommy “The Cork” Corcoran was born in New Haven, Connecticut. The Cork started his 18-year big league career, spent mostly with the NY Bridegrooms and Cincinnati Reds, as a 21-year-old rookie starting for the Players League Pittsburgh Burghers in 1890, batting .233 while playing 123 games. Corcoran featured a sweet glove - he set a still-current MLB record for shortstops with 14 assists in a nine-inning game (he started out fielding barehanded and eventually adapted to a mitt later in his career) - and as a leadoff man hit .256 with 387 stolen bases and 1,184 runs scored over his big league lifetime. Fun fact - he was involved in one of the odder sign-stealing scenes of early baseball. While in the field as a Red, he noticed the home third base coach tapping his leg before every pitch. Adding two and two, he went to the coaches’ box and started digging with his spikes. He found a shallowly-buried electronic box that was signaling pitches stole from the outfield to the coach through an gentle shock system and then sent from the coach to the batter. 
The Cork (photo by Moffitt's Studio)
  • 1886 - St. Louis owner Chris Von Der Ahe sold the contract rights of IF Sam Barkley to the Alleghenys despite the fact that the infielder had already signed a deal with the Orioles. Because the O’s were late in sending Von Der Ahe their check to buy Barkley’s rights, he unilaterally voided the contract and shipped him to Pittsburgh instead, triggering a brouhaha that wouldn’t be settled for weeks. The American Association eventually resolved the controversial case by allowing Barkley to play for the Alleghenys and sending 1B Milt Scott from Pittsburgh to Baltimore as compensation. Additionally, the Browns were allowed to keep the $1,000 they received from Pittsburgh for Barkley's reserve rights. For all that, Barkley hit .248 in his two years with the club, splitting time between first and second base. 
  • 1962 - RHP Jay Tibbs was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Jay tossed for parts of seven seasons in the show and spent his last five big league games as a Pirate in 1990, going 1-0/2.57. The Pirates sent RHP Dorn Taylor to the Orioles for him in June, and a month later Tibbs, who was coming off shoulder surgery, was done. Fun fact: Tibbs had a small roles the the 1994 Tommy Lee Jones flick “Cobb,” playing one of the Georgia Peach’s teammates. 
  • 1977 - LHP Brian O’Connor was born in Cincinnati. Brian’s MLB career consisted of six relief outings for the Pirates in 2000, picking up no decisions with a 5.11 ERA. Brian was an 11th round pick of the Pirates in the 1995 draft and pitched 12 pro seasons in the Pirates, Rays and Braves systems before retiring after being cut by his hometown Reds in 2007. 
  • 1984 - OF John Raynor was born in Memphis, Tennessee. The Pirates plucked the outfielder from the Marlins in the Rule 5 draft for the 2010 campaign. He made it through the spring and got into 11 games as a PH/sub, going 2-for-10. When Jeff Karstens came off the DL in early May, Raynor was returned to the Fish after the two teams failed to reach an agreement for the Bucs to keep him in their system. Florida stashed him away, then released him in 2011 as a late camp cut. The 27-year-old Raynor retired and returned to UNC-Wilmington, his alma mater, as a student/coach. 
John Raynor 2010 (photo Marc Serota/Getty)
  • 1991 - Buffalo, the minor-league leader in attendance and on the short list of possible expansion cities at the time, signed on with the Pirates for two more years as the AAA affiliate despite misgivings caused by executive churn in Pittsburgh and the erratic movement of players between levels that affected their competitiveness. The Bisons, Pittsburgh’s top farm club since 1988, stayed in the fold until 1995 when it joined with Cleveland and the Pirates moved to Calgary; the Buffs are now part of the Toronto system. 
  • 1993 - The Pirates signed OF Lonnie “Skates” (due to his somewhat awkward footwork and quirky routes while playing the outfield) Smith to a one year/$1M deal. He put up a line of .286/6/24, with a .422 OBP and nine stolen bases before he was flipped to the Orioles in September for two career minor leaguers, Terry Farrar and Stanton Cameron. The Pirates were Smith’s fifth team; he had reached the World Series with the first four (and was on the winning side for three of them) but his championship streak bottomed out as a Bucco. 
  • 1996 - Pittsburgh purchased the contract of free agent and eight-time All-Star catcher Lance Parrish from the Tigers. He had caught for the Bucs in 1994, hitting .270 in a backup role before Father Time caught up to him. The catcher was entering his age 40 season in 1996 and didn’t make it out of camp with the Pirates, marking the end of his career. Since then, he’s been an announcer, minor league manager, and MLB coach. Lance was a local boy, born in Clairton though raised in California. Parrish had a scholarship offer to play football at UCLA but made what proved to be a wise choice by focusing on baseball. 
Lance Parrish 1995 Fleer
  • 2007 - Rene Gayo signed Dominican OF Starling Marte for $85,000 in one of the top Latin signings of Dave Littlefield’s watch. Marte was sought by several teams, and his stock took off after he switched from SS to CF. The deciding factor was said to be that Gayo had a good working relationship with Marte’s buscon (agent), tilting the field toward the Buccos. 
  • 2018 - The Pirates claimed RHP Shane Carle from Colorado, where the Bucs had sent him in the 2014 off season in exchange for RHP Rob Scahill. The Bucs flipped him to Atlanta two weeks later for a PTBNL/cash after the team faced a 40-man roster jam following the Gerrit Cole trade, and Carle went 4-1-1/2.86 for the Bravos in 53 outings.
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