Saturday, February 2, 2019

2/2 From 1970: Dale Signs; Vested; Joel Lost; Freddie HoF; RIP Lenny & Ed; HBD Ronny & Lunchbox

  • 1976 - The Special Veterans Committee selected OF Freddie Lindstrom to the Hall of Fame. He played two of his 13 big league campaigns for Pittsburgh, hitting .302 and driving in 147 runs. Freddie hit .311 over his big league days and was considered the top third baseman of his era until he broke his leg and had to move to the OF. He was inducted on August 9th.
Freddie Lindstrom 1933 DeLong
  • 1982 - The Pirates lost Joel Skinner when the Chicago White Sox picked the catcher as compensation for relief pitcher Ed Farmer signing with the Phillies. It was an early and hare-brained system developed in the early days of free agency that was scrapped in 1985 after a five-year run. Teams could protect 26 players and the rest ended up in a compensation pool to replace lost players, so the Pirates didn’t participate but still lost a prospect. Fortunately, it didn’t hurt anything but Bucco depth as Joel, OF Bob Skinner’s son, ended up bouncing between the majors and minors with the Yankees and Indians until his retirement in 1994, making more of a name for himself as a minor league manager than big league player. 
  • 1983 - SS Ronny Cedeno was born in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. He manned the spot for Pittsburgh from 2009-11, hitting a streaky .254 and never showing any consistency in the field, flashing the good, the bad & the ugly with both his stick and leather. He last played for the Phils in 2013 and is now in the Mexican League. 
  • 1988 - OF Travis Snider was born in Kirkland, Washington. He came to the Bucs from Toronto in the 2012 Brad Lincoln deal. After sputtering for a couple of years, he had a solid 2014 season with 13 HR and a .264 BA, which earned him an offseason ticket to Baltimore for a pair of minor league prospects. Snider returned to the Bucs in August, 2015, was released after the year and signed with KC. He’s now with the Texas organization. He was known as “Lunchbox Hero” due to his team cookouts and hearty lunch grab-bags, always featuring his favorite, red meat. Earlier in his career, fans in Toronto also called Snider “Moonraker” because of the towering home runs he launched. 
Lenny Levy 1950 (photo Squirrel Hill News)
  • 1993 - Len Levy, who did a little bit of everything for the Pirates outside of playing, passed away at age 79 in Palm Desert, California. A Pittsburgh kid who went to Taylor Allderdice HS, Len started with the Bucs as a ticket taker, bat boy, and briefly as a minor league catcher - he had been signed to a contract by Pie Traynor in 1936 - before joining the Marines. Five years of service as a leatherneck ended his big league dreams and he began farm club/bullpen coaching in 1947. He became a Pittsburgh-area scout from 1951-56, bird dogging Maz, Dick Groat and Frank Thomas, then became a Pirates coach from 1957-63. He ran an auto dealership on Forbes Avenue in Oakland for 30+ years and was inducted into the Western PA Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. 
  • 1996 - The Pirates re-signed free agent IF Dale Sveum after he he had been rostered at AAA Calgary for the 1995 campaign. Dale again spent most of ‘96 at AAA Calgary, getting into just 12 games, but was back in the show for ‘97, appearing in 126 contests and batting .261 with a dozen dingers. He left after that, to return in 1999 for his last hurrah before beginning his coaching odyssey by managing at AA Altoona for a couple of seasons. 
  • 2001 - The Pirates proved that everything old is new again when they modeled their new, PNC Park sleeveless tops, introducing them to the fans at Pirates Fest at the Carnegie Science Center. It was part of their “New Era of Baseball” promo and a nod to the old days of flannels; the Bucco singlet look began in 1957 and lasted until the final game at Forbes Field in 1970, before the TRS era ushered in a switchover to the new Bucco double knits. The vests lasted until 2009, with an additional season of sleeveless Sundays; now they make an appearance during an occasional throwback game. 
Sweeeeet! (image Heritage Sports Art)
  •  2008 - Ump Ed Vargo died of heart failure at age 79 in his hometown of Butler. Ed was a minor league catcher who took to umpiring while in the service. After eight years of arbitrating in the bushes, he became an NL ump from 1960-1983, then umpire supervisor from 1984-1997. Vargo worked the first night World Series game in 1971, Sandy Koufax's perfecto, eight no-no’s, the last series at Forbes Field and the Polo Grounds, the game when Henry Aaron tied the Bambino’s HR mark, four All-Star Games, four NLCS’s, and four World Series. Ed was inducted into the Butler County Sports Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.

No comments: