Saturday, January 5, 2019

1/5 From 1960: Bert HoF; Ravello & Gary Inked; So Long Gravedigger; RIP Phil; HBD JR, Danny, Mark, Roger & Danny

  • 1961 - Manager John Russell was born in Oklahoma City. While with the Rangers, he caught Nolan Ryan's sixth career no-hitter in 1990. He ended his 10-year career with a .225 batting average, 34 home runs and 129 RBI in 448 games. After hanging up the spikes, he made several coaching stops and managed the Bucs from 2008-10 during some dark seasons, with a record of 186-299. It wasn’t his first gig in Pittsburgh; JR had been Lloyd McClendon’s third base coach from 2003-05. He’s currently the Baltimore Orioles bench coach. 
JR 2008 Topps
  • 1961 - LHP Roger Samuels was born in San Jose, California. He had a 20-game MLB career, tossing five of those contests in 1989 as a Bucco with no decisions and a 9.82 ERA. The 28-year-old started 1990 at AAA Buffalo, then the Pirates sent him to the Mets, where he pitched for AAA Tidewater and then retired. 
  • 1962 - LHP Danny Jackson was born in San Diego. The Pirates got him in mid-July for the stretch run of the 1992 division race, and the lefty went 4-4/3.36 ERA as the club won the NL East but lost the NL playoff to Atlanta in seven games. After the season, he was lost in the expansion draft. Jackson had a 15-year career with seven teams, appearing in three World Series and two All-Star games. 
  • 1974 - LHP Mark Redman was born in San Diego. He was part of the return from the Jason Kendall trade with Oakland, but in his one year (2005) with the Pirates, he went 5-15/4.90, the worst counting numbers season of his career. That prompted an off season deal with the Royals. He rallied there, earning a spot on the 2006 All-Star team, but that his his last hurrah. He made 17 more starts over two campaigns post-AS and retired after the 2008 season, after playing for 10 years and eight teams in MLB. 
  • 1984 - Richie Hebner signed a two-year deal with the Cubs which was made official on the 17th, marking the second time he left Pittsburgh via free agency. “I wanted to end my career in Pittsburgh,” claimed the 15-year vet. He said GM Pete Peterson was working on clearing a bench spot for him, but with camp approaching “They never got back to me and the Chicago deal came up.” The Grave Digger hit .264 over his last two years. He lost his job in 1986 when he signed up for one more year with Chicago but was released before the season and never caught on elsewhere. 
Richie Hebner 1984 Fleer
  • 1990 - OF Danny Ortiz was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico. A fourth-round draftee of the Twins in 2008, he signed a minor league deal with the Pirates during the 2015 off season. Danny got into nine games in 2017, going 1-for-12. He left after the campaign and is now with the Phils’ AAA club. 
  • 1994 - The Pirates signed LHP Ravello Manzanillo and OF Gary Varsho to minor league contracts. Manzanillo, who had been on a two-year hiatus from baseball, got into 51 games over the next two seasons, with a line of 4-2-1/4.19, and that was his last MLB slash. For Varsho, it was a return to the Pirates, where he played in 1991-92, and he said “There’s no place else I wanted to go.” He hit .256, used mostly as an extra outfielder and pinch hitter, before moving on to Philly for his final campaign in 1995. Gary did have a Steel City jones; he came back as John Russell’s bench coach from 2008-10, was axed along with JR’s staff, and then was resurrected as a Bucco scout in 2016. 
  • 2009 - Sportswriter Phil Musick passed away at age 71. The Duquesne grad started locally as the sports editor of the Greensburg Tribune-Review. In 1969, he joined The Pittsburgh Press and later wrote for the Post-Gazette during the time the Steelers won four titles in six years and the Pirates prevailed in two World Series. Musick was named Pennsylvania sports writer of the year in 1975 by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. He wrote books on Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron and Tony Dorsett, articles for Sports Illustrated, People, Time and Newsweek magazines and was the first sports columnist for USA Today. Musick later taught journalism at LaRoche College, per Robert Dvorchak of the Post-Gazette. 
  • 2011 - After a 14 year wait, curveball king RHP Bert Blyleven was elected to the Hall of Fame. He won 34 games for Pittsburgh between 1978-80, his stay cut short because the Dutchman publicly disagreed with Chuck Tanner, who went to his bullpen earlier and more often than the righty preferred. Blyleven, who was inducted into the Hall on July 24th, posted 287 victories and 3,701 strikeouts during a 22 year MLB career.

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