Tuesday, February 19, 2019

2/19: Dodgers Sign Clemente; AJ, Simon & Jones Deals; HBD Stewie, Poet, Dana, Chris & Home Run Joe

  • 1876 - Utilityman “Home Run Joe” Marshall was born in Audubon, Minnesota. A prodigious slugger in the lower levels - he once bashed 26 long balls, a huge number in the dead ball era - his power never translated into the show. He got a brief look in Pittsburgh in 1903, getting into 10 games and hitting .261 with a double and two triples, but no dingers, then another lengthier chance with the Cards in 1906, but again w/no homers. Joe did play 17 pro seasons before retiring in 1913 and worked a variety of jobs afterward - ump, clerk, & miner were all on his resume - until he passed away at age 55. 
Home Run Joe 1903 (photo Pittsburgh Dispatch via Wiki)
  • 1944 - RHP Chris Zachary was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. Chris closed out his nine-year, five-team MLB stay in 1973 with the Pirates, arriving in a trade with the Tigers for C Charlie Sands. He went 0-1-1, 3.00, in six outings from the pen after spending most of the year at AAA Charleston as a starter. Following the season, he was swapped to the Phils for 1B Pete Koegel, played a year of AAA ball and retired. Chris went on to run a horse farm and was recognized as a member of the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame. 
  • 1954 - 19-year-old Roberto Clemente signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers for one year at $5,000 with a $10,000 signing bonus. The Dodgers got his John Doe in competition with the NY Yankees, NY Giants and Milwaukee Braves, which made a larger offer but dangled it after Clemente had already signed on with Brooklyn. It was a pyrrhic victory as the Bucs claimed Roberto in November’s 1954 Rule 5 Draft. He was unprotected because he was a bonus baby (any player signed to a bonus over $6,000) who wasn’t carried on the Brooklyn MLB roster during the year as the rules of the time required, and so had to be offered in the draft. Clemente was the first player taken and cost the Pirates $4,000. 
  • 1967 - Pirates scout Dana Brown was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The Pirates hired the former minor league OF away from the Phils in 1993; he moved on to Montreal in 2002 as scouting director and left to become a special assistant to the GM with Toronto in 2009. As a Bucco bird dog, he was responsible for signing Ian Snell and Chris Young. 
  • 1971 - RHP Miguel “The Poet” Batista was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The outfielder-turned-pitcher began his 18-year, 12-team career by tossing a pair of innings for the Bucs in 1992. After his modest Pittsburgh beginnings, he chilled his heels in the minors until 1996 before becoming a MLB fixture from 1998 through his last game with Atlanta in 2012. His nickname came about because of his love of literature. He even published a book of poetry - a lifelong interest of his - titled "Feelings in Black and White (“Sentimientos en Blanco y Negro”) in 2002. 
Stewie 2016 Topps
  • 1982 - C Chris Stewart was born in Fontana, California. He joined the Pirates via trade in 2014 and hit .294 as Russ Martin’s caddy (he batted .250 in four seasons w/Pittsburgh) while providing solid defense. Stew signed a two-year contract with a club option in 2016 as the backup to Francisco Cervelli. He was familiar with the drill; he played behind Cervelli and Martin as a Yankee, too. After several visits to the DL, he became a free agent and signed with the Braves in 2018; he's in the Padres camp now. 
  • 1983 - The Pirates opened camp for pitchers and catchers. The big story early on was whether old San Diego ace Randy Jones, late of the Mets, still had some gas in the tank (he didn’t) and in a slow developing saga, Enrique Romo was absent, with his story being that one of his kids had chicken pox. The truth was Ricky was still seething over a fine and suspension handed out by Chuck Tanner the season before, and though there was some give-and-take, Romo passed on the two years and $700-800K left on his contract and retired at the end of March at age 34, never to appear in another MLB contest. 
  • 2004 - The Pirates signed 1B Randall Simon to an $800,000 FA contract months after trading him to the Cubs following his sausage-swatting incident in Milwaukee. He spent 26 days on the DL with a bad hammy, hit .194 upon his return and was released in August. Simon got brief looks with Tampa and the Phils, ending his MLB days in 2006. He’s played in Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands WBC team (he was born in Curacao) and the indie leagues in the meantime. 
AJ 2013 Topps Archives
  • 2012 - The Pirates officially had RHP AJ Burnett drop in their laps (the deal had been announced a couple of days before). The Yankees sent him to Pittsburgh for farm hands Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones and agreed to pay $20M of the $33M remaining on the last two years of his contract. AJ went 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA in Pittsburgh before joining the Phils for an injury-plagued 2014 season. He returned to the Bucco fold in 2015 (9-7/3.18 ERA) for his farewell campaign, agreeing to a team-friendly $8.5M deal after refusing to exercise a $14.75M Philly option.

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