Saturday, February 2, 2019

2/2 Through the 1960’s: Contract Blues; NL Forms; Burleigh, Heinie, Schoolboy HoF; Blass DD MoY; HBD Big Bill, Fred, John, Manny & Pat

  • 1876 - The National League was formed in New York City, replacing the old National Association. The Pirates were not among the original group and the franchise didn’t join the NL until 1886 when the Alleghenys bolted from the American Association, but they’ve settled in nicely since then. They’re presently sixth in all-time NL wins with 18 NL/Divisional pennants, seven World Series appearances and five Fall Classic titles. 
Big Bill 1909-11 Piedmont Cigarettes
  • 1882 - 1B “Big Bill” Abstein was born in St. Louis. He was a Pirates backup in 1906 and returned as a starter in 1909, batting .258 for the Bucs and playing all seven games during Pittsburgh’s World Series win over Detroit. He closed out his brief career the following season with his hometown St Louis Browns. Bill was a two sport star; he also played soccer for a couple of St Louis clubs when he wasn’t swatting baseballs. 
  • 1927 - LHP Fred Waters was born in Benton, Mississippi. He came to Pittsburgh in the Danny O’Connell blockbuster and tossed from 1955-56, going 2-2, 2.89 mainly from the pen. Fred was injured in winter ball and never made it back to the bigs, although he did spend 13 years toiling in the minors. He became a long-time coach and manager, primarily in the Twins organization. 
  • 1951 - Eight Pirates rejected contracts offered by Bucco GM Branch Rickey - pitchers Cliff Chambers, Murry Dickson and Vic Lombardi; catchers Clyde McCullough and Ed FitzGerald, 1B Jack Phillips, IF Pete Castiglione and OF Wally Westbrook. They all settled before the season except for Lombardi, who had his salary offer cut by the 25% maximum allowed by the league, and instead signed with Hollywood of Pacific Coast League. He never earned another MLB job after finding a home in the PCL. Except for a stint with Toronto of the International League, he tossed on the coast through the 1959 season, retiring at age 36 after 17 pro campaigns.
  • 1954 - LHP John Tudor was born in Schenectady, New York. He went 12-11/3.27 in his only Bucco season, 1984, with the team scoring two or fewer runs in nine of his losses. That December, the Bucs traded him & Brian Harper to the Cardinals for George Hendrick & minor-leaguer Steve Barnard. Tudor said of the deal “I’ll miss the parrot” and then went on to win 21 games for the Redbirds to lead them to the NL title and World Series in 1985.
John Tudor 1985 Fleer
  • 1956 - RHP Manny Sarmiento was born in Cagua, Venezuela. The Bucs purchased the five-year vet from the Red Sox and Manny tossed a pair of strong campaigns in 1982-83, going 12-9-5 with a 3.25 ERA as a starter (he got 17 of his 22 MLB starts in 1982) and reliever (he was sent back full-time to the pen in 1983). He blew out his elbow during camp in 1984 and though only 28-years-old, he never pitched in the majors again. 
  • 1962 - LHP Pat Clements was born in McCloud, California. He was in Pittsburgh early in his career from 1985-86, going 0-6-4/3.12. He then became a piece of the 1986 deal with the Yankees that landed Doug Drabek for the Pirates. He worked through the 1992 season for NY, San Diego and Baltimore as a bridge reliever. 
  • 1964 - P Burleigh Grimes was selected for the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Special Veterans Committee and was inducted on July 27th. The 270 game winner began, ended, and played some during the middle of his career with the Pirates. Also chosen was OF Heinie Manush, who spent his last two seasons (1938-39) in Pittsburgh, getting 25 at-bats. Heinie finished a 17-year MLB run with a lifetime average of .330, then managed in the minors, scouted, and coached. 
  • 1969 - Steve Blass shared the Dapper Dan Award with Steelers running back Dick Hoak after they were tied with 25-1/2 votes each. Blass put together a line of 18-6/2.13 in his breakout campaign, becoming the ninth Pirate since 1943 to claim a piece of the DD. The annual awards dinner was held at the Hilton Hotel. 
Steve Blass 1968 Topps
  • 1969 - RHP Waite "Schoolboy" Hoyt was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Special Veterans Committee. He spent 4-1/2 seasons in Pittsburgh between 1933-37, going 35-31, topped by a 15-5 record in 1934. Schoolboy had a 21-year career, played on three World Series championship clubs and then retired to the broadcasting booth. He was inducted on July 28th.

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