Friday, February 1, 2019

2/1 Through the 1940’s: War Tax; HBD Rosey, Candy Jim, Jim & Jim, Dixie, Chuck & Bob

  • 1884 - Pirate announcer Rosey Rowswell was born in Alton, Illinois and raised in Tarentum. In 1936, he joined WWSW as a Pirate broadcaster and remained there until his death in 1955. His last on-air partner was Bob Prince from 1948-54, who called Rowswell his mentor. Rosey was an unabashed homer, and known for his home run call of “Open the window, Aunt Minnie, here she comes” followed by the sound of shattering glass. He also coined the term “Buccos” and “FOB” (when the bases were loaded, they were Full Of Buccos). Roswell died in Pittsburgh in 1955 at the age of 71 and was buried in Allegheny Cemetery. 
Candy Jim "Salute to Columbus" series
  • 1884 - 3B/manager “Candy Jim” Taylor was born in Anderson, South Carolina. Taylor spent three decades playing in the Negro Leagues and another three decades managing. He took the reins of the Homestead Grays from 1943-44 when their manager, Vic Harris, was working in the war industry. The Grays claimed the title and the Negro League World Series both seasons under Taylor. During his career, he played/coached for 25 different teams and became the winningest manager in Negro League history with 1,049 victories while batting .285 lifetime. Per “Forgotten Heroes” by Dr. Layton Revel & Luis Munoz, Taylor got his nickname of “Candy Jim” because he played third base as sweet as candy. 
  • 1884 - RF Jim Kelly was born in Bloomfield, New Jersey. He didn’t have much a pro career, spending two of his three MLB seasons in Pittsburgh, batting .227 as a part-time Pirate in 1914 and .294 as a starting outfielder for the Pittsburgh Rebels of the Federation League the following year. He was a sly one - born Robert John Taggert, he used the name James Robert Kelly and trimmed six years off his age (he changed his B-Date to 1890) to muddy the fact that he was beginning his minor league career as a 27-year-old. 
  • 1892 - RHP Oland “Dixie” McArthur was born in Vernon, Alabama (hence the nickname Dixie). His major league career consisted of one inning tossed for the Bucs in 1914. The 22-year-old did well, giving up just a hit with a whiff and no runs. He was a football star at Texas A&M before the Pirates signed him, and Dixie stayed with the organization for five years, pitching well in the minors but never making it back to the show. He moved on to the real world, where he was a success as an auto dealer and later in real estate before passing away at age 94. 
  • 1918 - Baseball joined the war effort when a 10% tax was levied on its ticket sales, which was expected to raise $200,000 during the 1918 season. The tax was even imposed on homeowners who sold rooftop or treetop seats, and scalpers (if caught) had to pay 50% on any charge beyond face value. 
Chuck Churn 1957 (photo via Baseball Birthdays)
  • 1930 - RHP Chuck Churn was born in Bridgetown, Virginia. The Pirates signed him in 1949 out of HS, and he was moving up in the system when the service called him during the Korean War. He came back, continued to impress and got a five-game audition with Pittsburgh, going 0-0, 4.32, as a 27-year-old rookie. From there, he played for four different organizations over the next two years after Boston claimed him in the Rule 5 draft, getting cups of coffee in the show with the Indians and Dodgers. He tossed in the minors for all or parts of 18 campaigns and retired after the 1967 season. His highlight big league moment came in 1959 with the Dodgers, when he defeated ElRoy Face and the Pirates 5-4 in relief for his last MLB win. It was the only loss of the year (18-1) for the Baron of the Bullpen, and ended his 22-game winning streak. 
  • 1931 - LHP Bob Smith was born in Woodsville, New Hampshire. The journeyman worked out of the Pirate bullpen from 1957-59, where he went 8-19-1 with a 3.74 ERA in 75 appearances. Smith’s everyday name played havoc with him. While with the Boston system, a similarly built lefty of the same name was often confused with him, and the Sox had to revert to using initials to differentiate the pair. In Pittsburgh, he suffered a more embarrassing fate - Smith’s 1958 Topps card, he claims, has the picture of Cardinal outfielder Bobby Gene Smith rather than his, and he has never autographed that particular card because of the mix-up. 
  • 1947 - RHP Jim McKee was born in Columbus, Ohio. Jim tossed briefly for the Pirates in 1972-73, going 1-1/4.17 in 17 outings. He was a life-long Bucco, selected by Pittsburgh in the fourth round of the 1969 draft out of Otterbein College (he was the first Cardinal baseball player ever drafted) and closed out his career in 1974 at AAA Charleston. He died at age 55, the victim of an auto wreck

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