Sunday, February 3, 2019

2/3: Plan B; Rip & Mike Sign; Angel No Angel; Billy, Martin, Roberto HoF; Willie DD; RIP Tom; HBD Joe & Freddie

  • 1901 - Pirate utility man Tom O’Brien, who was born in Verona, died from pneumonia contracted while weak from typhoid, at the age of 27 (buyer beware - we’ve also seen the 4th and 9th cited as his final day). It’s said that the fatal combo was brought on by drinking seawater as a seasickness remedy while on a Cuban barnstorming trip. He was ready to claim a starting spot after consecutive strong seasons, and his untimely death left a void in the Buc lineup which was eventually filled by rookie Kitty Bransfield. 
  • 1947 - RHP Joe Coleman was born in Boston, Massachusetts. It took Joe 15 years of big league pitching before he landed with the Bucs in 1979. Though just 32, the mileage on his arm showed as he went 0-2/6.10, after being called up from the minors in mid-July. Coleman appeared in his final major league game on September 24th as he didn’t make the cut for the postseason roster, then twirled for three more seasons in the PCL. Joe’s been a scout, coach and manager at the minor and major league levels for a variety of clubs since he hung up his mitt. He’s the middle man of an MLB baseball family - his dad Joe pitched in the forties & fifties while his son Casey tossed from 2010-14. 
Joe Coleman 1980 Topps
  • 1949 - RHP Rip Sewell agreed to his 12th Bucco contract, signing for an undisclosed sum. The 41-year-old was coming off a 13-3/3.48 campaign, but 1949 would be his last hurrah, though it was successful - he went 6-1/3.91, with his ERA still around league average. He and the ol’ eephus pitch retired with 143-97/3.48 line, 137 complete games and 2,119-1/3 IP for the Pirates.
  • 1961 - RHP Freddie Tolliver was born in Natchez, Mississippi. Tolliver worked 78 games in seven MLB years with his last big league stint as a Pirate in 1993 when he went 1-0/3.74 in 12 outings. Freddie truly lived out of a suitcase: he played for 10 different teams bouncing between the minors and the show from 1989-93; no wonder he called it a day after that season. 
  • 1975 - The Special Veterans Committee selected 2B Billy Herman (Cubs, Dodgers, Braves and Pirates) for the Hall of Fame. He spent his final season in 1947 as a Bucco player/manager, getting into 15 games and hitting .213. Billy played 15 years, hit .304 and was considered the best defensive second sacker of his time. He was inducted into the Hall on August 18th. 
  • 1977 - The Hall of Fame's Special Committee on the Negro Leagues selected Cuban star Martin Dihigo into the Hall, where he was inducted on August 8th. Dihigo, who at one time or another played every position on the field, was with the Homestead Grays from 1927-28 and is the only man who’s been selected to the Cuban, Mexican, and United States Baseball Halls of Fame.
  • 1980 - Willie Stargell was given the Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year honor for 1979. Cap’n Willie was the World Series MVP and NL’s co-MVP (with the Cards’ Keith Hernandez) in ‘79. It was his second DD award - he shared the 1971 honor with Danny Murtaugh and Roberto Clemente.
  • 1982 - Minor league C Angel Rodriguez‚ 20, who played for the Pirates' Alexandria club (Carolina League), was suspended from organized baseball for one year for telling opposing Latino batters what pitches were coming, tipping them off in Spanish. Rodriguez had been suspended by the Pirates during an August 19th game against Lynchburg, and baseball added its punishment after investigators had obtained written statements from eight umpires and several managers. He returned in 1984, but never got past the AAA level. 
  • 1999 - “Plan B” passed the Pennsylvania legislature, assuring state money to complete new stadiums in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, a process that began for Steel City leaders back in 1991. It locked in some team payback (one state aide said the deal was neither a grant nor a loan, but a “groan”) after suffering setbacks in both Harrisburg back rooms and Pittsburgh voting booths. As a result, the cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all TRS was replaced with PNC Park & Heinz Field, both of which opened in 2001. 
  • 2001 - RHP Mike Lincoln joined the Pirates from the Twins after being released by Minnesota in the off season. The Bucs converted the starter to a bullpen role, and in three years with Pittsburgh (2001-03), he went 7-9-5 with a 3.50 ERA, closing briefly in 2003. He had a bruised shoulder in his last season, working just 36-⅓ IP, and was non-tendered after the campaign. Lincoln went to the Cards, but had TJ surgery during the 2004 season. It took four years for him to bounce back, but he did rally for three final campaigns with the Reds from 2008-10 before retiring. 
Mike Lincoln 2002 Upper Deck
  • 2015 - The Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame inducted six new members, including Roberto Clemente. He joined other former Buccos Manny Mota, Tony Armas Sr., George Brunet, Juan Pizarro, Vicente Romo, and Luis Arroyo as members. The following year, ex-Bucco catcher Tony Pena was also inducted into the Hall.

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