Wednesday, January 29, 2020

1/29 From 1960: Davalillo/Briles Deal; Mesa & Clark Sign; Little Poison, Branch, Max HoF; Roberto DD MoY & Tris Speaker; Snell's Bells; Howie Goes; RIP Lee; HBD Jason

  • 1961 - OF Max Carey was voted into the Hall of Fame by the veterans committee and inducted on July 24th. In 17 seasons with Pittsburgh, he collected 2,400+ hits, batted .287 and stole 688 bases. Carey joined the Bucs with the intention of becoming Pittsburgh’s everyday shortstop, but thanks to Honus Wagner, Max spent the entirety of his long Pirate career as an outfielder. 
Lee Meadows - Pgh Press 10/7/1925
  • 1963 - RHP Lee Meadows passed away in Daytona Beach, Florida, of heart disease at the age of 68. “Specs” (he was said to be the first ballplayer to wear glasses in MLB) spent the last seven campaigns of his 15-year career as a Pirate, slashing 88-52-1/3.50 after 157 starts (183 outings) with 58 wins from 1925-27 (19-20-19) and tossing for two Bucco WS clubs. A bad arm and other injuries bit him beginning in 1928, and he retired in 1932 after serving time in the minors, did a little coaching and then settled into the life of an IRS clerk. 
  • 1967 - GM Branch Rickey and OF Lloyd Waner were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by a unanimous vote of the Special Veterans Committee and were inducted on July 24th. Rickey was GM from 1950-55; his teams were terrible but he began the process of building a farm system that paid dividends in 1960. “Little Poison” spent 17 years with the Pirates, mainly in CF, and batted .319 during that time. 
  • 1967 - Roberto Clemente was the Dapper Dan Man of the Year and was presented his award in front of a sellout crowd at the Hilton Hotel. He hit .319 with 29 HR, 119 RBI and 105 runs scored in 1966. Gene Alley was also recognized by the Dapper Dan for his strong play. 
  • 1971 - The Pirates traded OF Matty Alou and LHP George Brunet to the Cardinals for OF Vic Davalillo and RHP Nellie Briles. Davalillo spent 2-½ years in Pittsburgh as a role player, hitting .290 while Briles spent three full seasons as a Bucco, winning 36 games with a 2.98 ERA. At 33, Alou had three campaigns left in him and hit .294 over that time while Brunet, 36, would make seven appearances for the Cards to close out his MLB era. But he had a second act ready - he pitched in Mexico until he was 54 (he was called "El Viejo" or "The Old Man"), where he tossed a no-hitter, set a league record with 55 shutouts and was selected into the Mexican Hall of Fame to cap a 36-year career in pro ball.
Nellie Briles - 1971 Pirates Picture Pak
  • 1971 - Roberto Clemente was in Houston to accept the Tris Speaker Award from the local BBWAA chapter. He told the writers and 800 fans gathered at Astroworld that "If you have an opportunity to accomplish something that will make things better for someone coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth," which became perhaps his most widely cited, though often misphrased, quote. 
  • 1973 - RHP Jason Schmidt was born in Lewiston, Idaho. He was drafted by Atlanta and came to the Pirates in 1996 as part of the Denny Neagle deal. In 5-1/2 seasons with Pittsburgh, he went 44-47/4.39 before being traded to San Francisco, where he had three All-Star campaigns. After six years on the Bay, he signed a three-year/$47M deal with the Dodgers in 2007, but it was his last contract - a bad shoulder limited him to just 10 starts in those three seasons and ended his career.
  • 1988 - Superscout Howie Haak, 76, left the Pirates, agreeing to a buyout of his final contract year. The “King of the Caribbean” (who in truth scouted widely for Pittsburgh, not just among Latino prospects), had worked for the Bucs since 1950 and among his signees were Tony Pena, Manny Sanguillen, Rennie Stennett, Dick Stuart, Bob Veale, John Candelaria, Omar Moreno, Al McBean, Ramon Hernandez and Orlando Merced among many, many others. The reason for his departure wasn’t his age, but like many Pirates in the front office, he had a hard time coexisting with then-GM Syd Thrift and moved on to Houston before retiring in 1993. 
  • 1992 - OF Dave Clark joined the Bucs as a free agent after being released by Kansas City in the off season, agreeing to a minor league contract. Clark was called up from AAA Buffalo in June and stayed on the big team’s roster until the 1996 deadline when he was traded to the Dodgers. He hit .278 with a 111 OPS+ over that five-year span as a corner OF’er and bench stick. 
  • 2004 - The Bucs inked 15-year vet RHP Jose Mesa, 37, to a one-year contract with an option (he would earn $2.8M in two seasons, per Baseball Reference) after a dismal season in Philly. The vet rediscovered his mojo and went 5-2 with 43 saves and a 3.25 ERA in 70 appearances during the 2004 campaign, falling three saves shy of Mike Williams' club record. He faded badly in 2005 (2-8-23/4.76) and was released after the season, catching on with Colorado. He had expressed a desire to close (he wanted to reach 300 career saves and his Pittsburgh stint put him over the top; he finished his career with 321 saves), and the ninth inning slot was wide open for him after Mike Williams had been traded at the 2003 deadline and heir-apparent Julian Tavarez signed with the Cardinals earlier in the month after failing to reach a contract agreement with the Buccos. Mesa hung on until he was 41, toeing the rubber for the last time in 2007 with the Phils. 
Ian Whats-His-Name - 2004 Upper Deck Sweet Beginnings
  • 2004 - Pirates prospect and later starting pitcher Ian Snell, who went by the name Ian Oquendo (his wife’s surname) since 2000, returned to his original name per press wire reports. He would reshuffle that again in 2009 when he decided to go by Ian Davilo-Snell (Davilo was his stepfather) during the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Ian brought an entirely new meaning to the phrase “player to be named later.”

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