Monday, February 11, 2019

2/11 Through the 1970’s: Grimes, Crandall Deals; Brett Arb; RIP Kiki; HBD Leon, Hoot & Trey

  • 1912 - C Leon Ruffin was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. Leon spent three seasons (1931-33) of his 14-year Negro/Mexican League career with the Pittsburgh Crawfords, with the first campaign serving as a backup, the next as a starter, and the final year as trade bait, being shipped to Newark in May. That was a recurrent theme in his ball playing days; he served four different tours of duty with the Eagles, including his one All-Star year. He was a defensive specialist with a rifle arm and made up for his quiet bat by mastering small ball, becoming an expert bunter and hit & run guy. 
Hoot Rice 1954 Topps
  • 1924 - OF Hal “Hoot” (his middle name was Housten) Rice was born in Morganette, West Virginia. After several season with the Cards serving as Stan Musial’s backup, he joined the Bucs for the 1953-54 seasons and started in left field for Pittsburgh after the Ralph Kiner trade. He hit .311 in that year’s audition, but was batting under .200 in June of 1954 and was shipped to the Cubs in what was his last MLB campaign. Rice gave up three years of baseball during WW2, winning a Purple Heart as a tank commander. 
  • 1928 - Pittsburgh sent RHP Vic Aldridge, who was fishing for a raise from owner Barney Dreyfuss, to the NY Giants for RHP Burleigh Grimes. Old Stubblebeard won 42 games in 1928-29 for Pittsburgh before being sent to the Braves after reaching a contract impasse. He returned in 1934 for his third Pittsburgh stint to finish his MLB career as a Pirate, the team he started with in 1916. The Hall of Famer won 48 of his 270 career victories as a Buc. As for Aldridge, he held out until late May, had a terrible year (4-7/4.83) and was sent to the Dodgers in August. He refused to report to Brooklyn, opting to retire from baseball instead. 
  • 1950 - RF Hazen “Kiki” Cuyler passed away from a heart attack at the young age of 51 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Kiki spent the first seven seasons of an 18-year Hall of Fame career as a Pirate, but left on salty terms. He and manager Donie Bush banged heads; his contract was also weighing on the Bucco purse strings, and the two created a perfect storm that got him benched and traded. After his playing days, Kiki managed in the minors and coached for the Cubs & BoSox. He also ran a still-existent restaurant, Ki Cuyler’s Bar & Grill in his hometown of Harrisville, Michigan. 
Del Crandall (photo 1965 Pittsburgh Press)
  • 1965 - The Pirates traded youngsters 1B/OF Bob Burda & RHP Bob Priddy to the San Francisco Giants for veteran backstop Del Crandall. Burda played for six MLB seasons, primarily off the bench, hitting .227 in 381 games while Priddy tossed for seven more seasons for five clubs as a long man/spot starter with a slash of 22-36/4.01. Crandall was about at the end of the road at age 35, and hit .214 in 60 games. He was released at the end of the season and played through 1966 with the Indians to end a 16-year career. 
  • 1974 - OF Trey Beamon was born in Dallas. The Bucs took him out of high school in the second round of the 1992 draft, and after the 1995 season, he was named the organization’s top prospect. But Trey never made much of a dent in MLB, spending 24 games with the Bucs in 1996 (.216 BA) before being traded to the Padres as part of the Mark Smith package. He got into a few dozen games with SD and was shipped to the Tigers, and that 1998 season would be his last in the bigs. He played in 98 games and hit .253 without a long ball. He played in the minors and indy leagues until 2006. 
  • 1974 - 48 players filed to settle their contracts through the newly instituted arbitration system. The only Pirate player to argue his case at a hearing was pitcher Ken Brett; he asked for $40,000 and the Bucs countered with $35,000. Brett lost but bore no grudge; he went on to have his only All-Star season in ‘74 and re-upped with the Pirates in 1975.

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