Wednesday, February 6, 2019

2/6: Sanchez Signed; Cutch, Clint DD's; RIP Ralph & Rosey; HBD Buckshot, Dale, Smoky, Richie, T-Bone & Petey

  • 1901 - SS Glenn “Buckshot” Wright was born in Archie, Missouri. He played five years (1924-28) for Pittsburgh, hitting .294, and was considered one of the league’s elite shortstops until a shoulder injury suffered in 1929. Wright was a member of the 1925 and 1927 World Series clubs, and was named a Sporting News All-Star in ‘25 while finishing fourth in the NL-MVP vote. He got his nickname due to the strength of his arm and his sometimes scattered tosses. 
Buckshot 1925 (photo: National Photo Company)
  • 1926 - 1B Dale Long was born in Springfield, Missouri. Long played four seasons for the Pirates (1951, 1955-57), hitting 27 homers in 1956 and earning a spot on the All-Star team. He put his name in the record books that year by hitting eight home runs in eight consecutive games between May 19th-28th, still the MLB standard, tied but never topped (Ken Griffey Jr & Don Mattingly co-share). In 1958, Long became the last lefty thrower who caught (though not much, just two games for 1-2/3 innings, and with a first baseman’s mitt) in the majors until Benny DiStefano backstopped in 1989. The big guy had a choice of careers; he turned down an audition with the Green Bay Packers as a semi-pro gridder to focus on baseball. 
  • 1927 - C Smoky Burgess was born in Caroleen, NC. He spent six years (1959-64) as Pirate platoon catcher, hitting .296 as a Buc and was a key part of the 1960 World Series club. People sometimes forget what a strong player Smoky was. Burgess was a six-time All-Star who led NL catchers in fielding percentage three times, while his MLB record of 145 career pinch hits (a late career specialty) wasn’t broken until 1979 by Manny Mota. Smoky also called every pitch during Harvey Haddix’s legendary 12-inning perfecto against the Milwaukee Braves in 1959. 
  • 1932 - RHP Bill “T-Bone” Koski was born in Modesto, California. The Bucs signed him as a 19-year-old fastballer out of high school and he debuted that year, going 0-1/6.67, with a remarkably consistent line: 27 IP, 23 R (20 ER), 26 hits and 28 walks, lagging only in Ks with six. The Pirates still thought highly of him, but Uncle Sam grabbed him during the Korean War and after his 1954 return, he never got above Class B ball. Jeff Jardine of the Modesto Bee explained his nickname: while on a train trip with the Pirates, the teenaged Koski ate a T-bone steak for dinner. Later that night, he got hungry and ate another. A sports writer on the trip dared him to eat a third steak. He did, and that night his teammates dubbed the growing youngster “T-Bone.” 
Richie Zisk 1975 Kellogg's 3-D
  • 1949 - LF Richie Zisk was born in Brooklyn. A third round pick in the 1966 draft, he spent six years in Pittsburgh (1971-76), hitting .299 as a Buc before being traded to the Chicago White Sox as part of the Goose Gossage deal. He made post-season appearances with the 1974-75 Pirates, batting .400 in the playoffs, and hit for the cycle against the Giants in 1974. Zisk has managed, coached and scouted for the Cubs organization. 
  • 1955 - While in the midst of preparing to go to Florida with the team, announcer Rosey Rowswell was struck with uremic poisoning and passed away in Pittsburgh at the age of 71. He was the Pirates announcer from 1936 until his death, beginning back when the road games were recreated from telegraphed wire reports. Rosey was a mentor to his booth partner, Bob Prince, and came up with plenty of unique phraseology - “Open the window, aunt Minnie” for homers, the “doozie marooney” for an extra base hit, the “old dipsy doodle” for a curveball, and even coined the phrase “Buccos” among his thesaurus of colorful but fractured English. Rowswell was also a noted author who wrote four books of humor and poetry. 
  • 1987 - 3B Pedro Alvarez was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. El Toro, who played at Vandy, was drafted in the first round (second overall) of the 2008 MLB draft. A last minute signing, complicated by some posturing by the FO and Scott Boras along with a suit filed by the MLBPA, was resolved and he joined the club, ultimately receiving a $6.4M bonus. Pedro took his bow in 2010 and tied for the NL lead in homers in 2013 with 36, also netting an All-Star berth, but spent 2014 with a bad case of the yips at the hot corner that triggered a switch to first base in 2015. That didn’t work out, and he was non-tendered in the off season. El Toro played with the O’s for three years, and is in the Miami organization now. 
Cutch & Petey 2011 Topps
  • 2013 - Two-time All Star Andrew McCutchen was honored with the Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year Award. He hit .327/.400/.533 with 31 home runs in a breakout 2012 season. A total of 18 Pirates have received the Dapper Dan SOY honor, but McCutchen was only the second in the past 20 years, and the first since Jason Kendall in 2000. 
  • 2013 - The Pirates signed free agent LHP Jonathan Sanchez to a minor league deal. He broke camp as the fifth starter, but was released on May 8th after posting an 0-3/11.85 line in five outings (four starts), giving up seven homers in 13-2/3 IP. Known as “The Comeback Kid,” he was one cat who ran out of lives. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since, although he has inked minor league contracts w/the Cubs, Reds & Royals. 
  • 2014 - Manager of the Year Clint Hurdle was honored as the Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year. Hurdle joined Andrew McCutchen, Ralph Kiner, Danny Murtaugh, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Dave Parker as winners of the award. Cutch was the 2013 winner, and it was the first time Pirates had won back-to-back Dapper Dans since The Cobra in 1978 and Cap’n Willie in 1979. 
Clint 2017 (photo via Pirates)
  • 2014 - Pirate Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner passed away at the age of 91. He was the game’s greatest home run hitter following World War II, elected to six All-Star Games, led or tied for the NL lead in home runs in his first seven seasons in baseball and helped keep interest in Pirates baseball alive during a dismal stretch. Kiner hit .280 w/301 homers and 801 RBI in 7-½ Bucco campaigns (1946-53) and in his career finished with a .279 BA, 369 HRs, 1,015 RBIs, 1,451 hits while walking 100 or more times in six of his 10 MLB seasons. After his playing days, Ralph closed out his career with a 52-year gig calling NY Mets’ games.

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