Thursday, April 30, 2020

4/30 Through the 1950’s: NL Alleghenys; Pud Zippo; Bootin' Bill; Hans Statue; Hoppin' Rabbit; HBD Scrap Iron, Tony & Ray

  • 1877 - Jim “Pud” Galvin of the Pittsburgh Alleghenys tossed the International Association’s first shutout‚ defeating Columbus 2-0 at Union (Recreation) Park. The IA disbanded after the season. He tossed for 15 years, was MLB's first 300-game winner (he won 365 games) and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965.
Pud Galvin - 2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions
  • 1887 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenys played their first NL game, defeating the defending champion Chicago White Stockings 6-2 behind Pud Galvin in front of nearly 10,000 fans at Recreation Park. In pre-game ceremonies, Fred Carroll’s beloved pet monkey (the chimp was also the team mascot), which had passed on to simian heaven, was buried beneath home plate. The team wouldn't become the Pirates until 1891, after they "pirated" the services of second baseman Lou Bierbauer from the Philadelphia Athletics. 
  • 1891 - C Tony Brottem was born in Halstad, Minnesota. He made a couple of short visits to MLB baseball, getting into 62 games in three seasons, mostly as a Bucco in 1921, hitting .242 in 30 games. He had a long minor league career covering a dozen campaigns. His career had a sad ending; he tried a comeback in 1929 and was cut after 60 Class B games. Depressed, the 37-year-old committed suicide. 
  • 1924 - At Cubs Park, Rabbit Maranville lined a triple in the 14th inning and then stole home to beat Chicago‚ 2-1. Johnny Morrison was the winner over Elmer Jacobs as both pitchers went the distance. The Pirates had 12 hits, led by Max Carey’s three, but shot themselves in the foot by banging into four DPs during the day. 
  • 1938 - 3B Bill Brubaker set a modern MLB record by committing four errors (he also was picked off second) in a 2-0 loss to Ray “Peaches” Davis and the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field. Bill’s boots didn’t contribute to the loss; both Red runs (one off Russ Bauer and the other off Mace Brown) were earned. The outing was played in front of 10,000 fans, of which 6,300 were knotholers who got into the yard gratis. It was an overdue victory for the Redlegs; it snapped a 20-game win streak against them by the Buccos. 
  • 1945 - Ray Miller was born in Takoma Park, Maryland. He spent ten years as the Pirates pitching coach (1987–96) under Jim Leyland, replacing Ron Schueler, and worked with Cy Young winner Doug Drabek. Miller also managed for Minnesota & Baltimore and tutored Mike Flanagan & Steve Stone while with the Os. 
Scrap Iron - 1977 O-Pee-Chee
  • 1949 - Phil “Scrap Iron” Garner was born in Jefferson City, Tennessee. He spent five years (1977-81) with the Pirates, playing second base for the 1979 World Series club. Scrap Iron hit .267 and stole 112 bases while a Bucco. After his playing career, Garner managed the Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros. 
  • 1955 - A statue of Honus Wagner, created by Frank Vittor and paid for from donations, was unveiled outside the left field gates at Forbes Field. It’s been moved twice since: first to TRS, then to PNC Park where his likeness greets fans at the main gate.

4/30 From 1960: Meares Deal; Blyleven Steamed; King Two-fer; Mad Dog on SI; Streaks & Game Stories; HBD Jeff

  • 1960 - Pittsburgh scored 10 times in the second inning against the Reds at Crosley Field on the way to a 12-7 win, their eighth victory in a row. Roberto Clemente, Billy Maz (who was 4-for-5) and Dick Stuart each drove home three RBI. They knocked off Cincy one more time 13-2 the following day (Clemente & Maz stayed hot; each homered and drove in four runs) before the good times ended with a 4-3, ninth-inning loss to the Cards at Busch Stadium. 
  • 1964 - Utility man Jeff Reboulet was born in Dayton, Ohio. Jeff had a 12-year MLB career as a jack-of-all-trades, playing every position on the diamond except pitcher. He closed out his big league run with Pittsburgh in 2003 as a backup infielder, batting .241, just about his lifetime average (.240). After living on a bench-warmers pay during his baseball days, Jeff turned that experience into his second career - when he retired, Reboulet co-founded Horizon Wealth Management and became a financial advisor. 
Jeff Reboulet - 2003 Pirates Promo
  • 1967 - Juan Pizarro struck out eight batters and tossed a four-hit shutout in Pittsburgh’s 2-0 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Jerry May knocked in both of Pittsburgh’s runs with a run-scoring single in the second inning and a solo shot in the fifth frame. 
  • 1980 - Phil Garner had his first two-homer game, good for three RBI, and Bill Robinson added another tater as the division leading Pirates took a 5-0 victory over the Expos at TRS. Jim Bibby tossed a six-hitter for the win. The Garner long balls were a birthday gift to himself; Scrap Iron was celebrating his 31st year. 
  • 1980 - Pitcher Bert Blyleven left the team and announced that he would retire if he wasn’t traded, citing “the non-support and lack of confidence from his manager,” unhappy that Chuck Tanner wouldn’t let him pitch deeper into games. He did finish out the year, going 8-13/3.88 with 216 IP and was granted his wish when he was sent to the Indians during the off season. 
  • 1984 - Bill Madlock was featured on the cover of The Sporting News for the story “Have Bats - Will Hit.” Not quite...Mad Dog tried playing through a sore elbow and eventually had surgery in August to remove bones spurs. He batted just .253 for the campaign. 
  • 1996 - For the second time in his career, Jeff King hit a pair of bombs in the same inning - one a grand slam - to lead the Bucs to a 10-7 win over the Reds. The first baseman joined Andre Dawson and Willie McCovey as the only MLB’ers to have accomplished the feat twice. The Bucs tallied nine times in the fourth frame to spark the victory at Cinergy Field, sending Cincinnati to its eighth straight loss. 
  • 1999 - Pat Meares, 30, was signed to a one year, $1.5M contract by Cam Bonifay. He broke his wrist in spring training (the Pirates misdiagnosed it as a sprain), and a week after he came off the DL was given a four-year, $15M extension. He played 240 games for the Pirates and 2001 was his last season, reaching a settlement that paid him for 2002-03 without him playing. 
Xavier Nady - 2008 Topps Heritage
  • 2008 - Pirate RF’er Xavier Nady went 3-for-3 with a pair of walks while driving in three runs during a 13-1 rout of the Mets in New York. Nady’s three RBI increased his total to 26 for the month of April. That was tops in the NL at the time, and the most for a Pirate in the season’s first month since Willie Stargell’s 27 in 1971. 
  • 2019 - The Pirates carried an eight-game losing streak into Texas and were an out away from making it nine when Josh Bell’s ninth-inning two-bagger plated a pair to tie the game at 3-3. The 10th went quietly before the Buc bats erupted, with Bryan Reynolds hitting his first big league homer and Starling Marte adding a two-run shot in the 11th to snap the streak with a 6-4 victory. Kyle Crick claimed the win, with Felipe Vazquez picking up the save. Despite that icy stretch, the Pirates finished the month at 13-14 to stay at least within shouting distance in the division.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

4/29 Through the 1960’s: First Sunday Game; Greenlee Opens; Game Stories; HBD John, Phil, Frank & Lefty

  • 1860 - RHP Frank (Hengstebeck) Beck was born in Poughkeepsie, New York. Franks had five MLB outings in 1884, three with the Alleghenys. All three starts were complete-game losses as he put up a 6.12 ERA, although he did have better luck as a part-time outfielder, going 4-for-12. He finished up with two more losses with the Union Association’s Baltimore Monumentals to end his big league stay. He returned to baseball’s independent leagues, where he started from, and his trail died off after his 1887 campaign with Ionia of the Northern Michigan League. 
Lefty w/Willis Moody - 1988 Negro League Stars (photo via Mrs. Mellix collection)
  • 1896 - LHP Ralph “Lefty” Mellix was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Mellix’s family moved to Pittsburgh when he was a child and the Peabody HS grad became a semi-pro legend (he kept a day job at Westinghouse and later with the City), tossing briefly for the Homestead Grays in 1935 and part of a Gus Greenlee touring team in the 40’s. Lefty played for local and regional clubs too numerous to mention, often as a rental headliner, but his regular home was in Pittsburgh’s Hilltop, as he pitched and managed for the Beltzhoover Black Sox (later the 18th Warders), based out of McKinley Park. His playing days covered 1917-57, earning him the title of “The Granddaddy of the Sandlots.” Though records are scarce, it’s said that he was on the bump for 1500+ games and claimed nine no-hitters. After Mellix retired, the Pirates recognized him by giving him a lifetime pass and he became a historian of sorts as a dispenser of local black baseball lore. 
  • 1930 - Rollie Hemsley, George Grantham, and Charlie Engle combined for 11 hits and 12 RBI to lead the Pirates to a 13-9 win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Bucs rallied from a 7-1 deficit with a seven run sixth inning and never looked back. Ralph Erickson got the win (his only MLB victory) in relief of Ray Kremer with a save going to Steve Swetonic. Pittsburgh and Chicago were just holding up their end in a day of MLB fireworks - in the seven games played on this date, an average of 17+ runs a game were scored. 
  • 1932 - Greenlee Field in the Hill, home of the Pittsburgh Crawfords, opened in front of 4,000 fans. Hall of Famers Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson were the battery as the Pittsburgh Crawfords lost the opener to the New York Black Yankees 1-0 in a pitching duel with Jesse "Mountain" Hubbard. Paige struck out 10 and allowed six hits, but Hubbard was better, surrendering just three knocks. The Allegheny County commissioners, Pittsburgh's mayor, and the city councilmen caught the opener from the field boxes. It was the first ballfield built specifically for a black team, erected by team owner Gus Greenlee. When finished, the grounds would seat 7,500, with lights added in 1933. It was demolished in 1939 to create space for the Bedford Dwellings. 
  • 1934 - Red Lucas won Pittsburgh’s first Sunday home game as the Pirates beat Cincinnati 9-5 at Forbes Field, backed by Gus Suhr’s three hits and four RBI. Both Suhr and Paul Waner, who also had three knocks, homered. Because of Pennsylvania’s Blue Laws, Pittsburgh was the last major league city to play a home game on a Sunday after local referendums in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia approved Sunday ballgames in the 1933 November elections. 
  • 1938 - Pittsburgh sports writer Phil Musick was born; he was raised in the Garfield section of Pittsburgh. He began locally at the Greensburg Tribune-Review as sports editor. He joined the Pittsburgh Press in 1969 and later moved across the street to the Post Gazette, covering the Pirates and Steelers in his columns (“Stop the Musick,” usually filled with musings under “Things I think I think...”). He later was the first sports columnist at USA Today before returning to the Press. He left the paper in 1987 and hosted a talk show on WTAE-Radio while teaching journalism at LaRoche College. He also had a handful of books and national freelance articles on his resume before passing away in 2010. 
Maz to the rescue - 1959 Topps
  • 1959 - The Giants jumped ahead of the Pirates and Ronnie Kline 2-0 at Forbes Field early on and the lead held up until the Bucs counter punched in the seventh. Roberto Clemente opened with a triple, Smokey Burgess followed with a double, and Dick Stuart’s single tied the score. A double play dampened the festivities a bit, but Bill Mazeroski put the cherry on top by homering off Johnny Antonelli to give Pittsburgh the lead. Kline, who fanned nine Golden Gaters, cruised to the finish line, retiring the last eight G-Men as Pittsburgh went on to take a 3-2 win. 
  • 1964 - Tony Cloninger of the Braves had the Pirates eating out of his hand, tossing a one-hitter to outduel Bob Veale at County Stadium by a 1-0 score. Veale gave up six hits and walked five, but wasn’t threatened much during the contest. He surrendered the only run after a leadoff third-inning double by Dennis Menke. He was sacrificed to third when Cloninger bunted the ball hard back to Veale, who slipped while fielding it and had to settle for the out at first. It cost him when Felipe Alou dropped a single into center to plate the game’s only run. The Bucs didn’t get a hit until two were away in the seventh, when Willie Stargell smoked a single to right; he had the only other well-stroked ball off Cloninger in the fourth when Hank Aaron made a running grab of his sinking liner. 
  • 1966 - OF/1B John Vander Wal was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He played for the Bucs in 200-01 and in 232 games hit .290 w/35 HR and 144 RBI. The Pirates traded him at the 2001 deadline with Jason Schmidt to the Giants for Ryan Vogelsong and Armando Rios in one of GM Dave Littlefield’s early deals after replacing Cam Bonifay in mid-July. In his career, Vander Wal banged 129 pinch hits off the pine and holds the single-season record for pinch hits with 28 with the Rox in 1995.

4/29 From 1970: Nova Maddux; The King's Debut, Rude Ejections & Game Stories; Justin No-No; HBD Steven, Tony & Rookie

  • 1978 - RHP Tony Armas Jr. was born in Puerto Piritu, Venezuela. Tony worked 10 big league campaigns as a journeyman starter and spent 2007 as a Pirate (4-5, 6.03) after inking a $3.5M deal. It proved to be his final full MLB season as the Bucs didn't pick up his 2008 option and the Mets released him the following year after one outing. Junior was the son of All-Star OF Tony Armas who had been a hot Bucco prospect but was traded to the A’s after a cup of coffee in Pittsburgh as part of the Phil Garner deal. 
Tony Armas Jr - photo 2007 Nick Laham/Getty
  • 1987 - The Pirates were clocked by the Dodgers 10-2 at Three Rivers Stadium, but with a couple of interesting sidebars. Ump Fred Brocklander blew a pair of calls on the same play, and while sorting them out, the Pirate Parrot launched a feather-brained dance of indignation, ending with a nerf ball aimed at Fred. When the other umps came to Brocklander’s rescue, the Parrot jumped in his cart and exited stage right. He quickly learned that umpires are not part of the show, at least not for mascots, and was suspended for a day (he did apologize - he was a rookie Parrot and just learning the ropes the hard way). And later, coach Rick Donnelly got into a bullpen fight with a couple of fans who had sneaked into the area through an unwatched employee entrance. He tried to get them to leave peacefully, but to no avail, leading to a brief battle that ended poorly for the interlopers. They were taken away by police and charged with public intoxication. The Pirates didn’t file any additional charges, apparently feeling being thumped by Rick was punishment enough. 
  • 1990 - The Bucs swept San Diego 10-1 behind a four homer barrage at Jack Murphy Stadium. Barry Bonds and Jay Bell hit three-run bombs, Bobby Bonilla banged a two-run blast, and Don Slaught added a solo shot to grease an easy outing for Doug Drabek. It was the Pirates sixth consecutive win. 
  • 1992 - LHP Steven Brault was born in La Mesa, California. Drafted by the Orioles in 2013, he was sent to the Pirates as part of the Travis Snider deal. The lefty moved through the system quickly and in July of 2016 made his MLB debut. He slashed 0-3/4.86 but was in the running for a back-end rotation spot in 2017 camp, where he pitched well but lost out to Tyler Glasnow and was returned to Indy. He returned later in the year (1-0/4.67) and broke camp with the Bucs in 2018 as a long man and spot starter, then becoming a regular back-end starter in 2019. 
  • 1993 - RHP William “Rookie” Davis was born in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina. Drafted by the Yankees and given a seven-game taste by the Reds in 2017 after being part of the Aroldis Chapman deal, Rookie was signed as a FA by the Bucs in 2019. He got the call from Indy on May 25th and made his first Bucco start on June 7th against the Brewers. His dad gave him his handle; his given name is William Theron Davis III and to differentiate, his pops said “Let’s just call him ‘Rookie’.” 
  • 2000 - For the purists and the believers in productive outs, this was a game for you - the Pirates and Reds tied the MLB record in Cincinnati's 6-5 victory at TRS by hitting five sacrifice flies (the Redlegs also dropped a pair of successful bunts). Neither club was very clutch other than cranking out flies - the two teams combined to go 1-for-19 w/RISP during the game. Pat Meares and Warren Morris both homered in the losing effort, triggered when Cincy overcame an early Bucco lead by scoring five times in the seventh and eighth innings (with two of the runs plating on sac flies). 
Justin Wilson - 2013 Topps
  • 2012 - Pitching for the AAA Indianapolis Indians against the Durham Bulls, Justin Wilson tossed the first 7-1/3 innings of a combined no-hitter (two walks, nine K, 107 pitches), completed by Jose “Jumbo” Diaz and Doug Slaten. He worked his first Bucco game on August 20th and also tossed for the Yankees, Tigers and now the Cubs after being converted to the pen. 
  • 2017 - Ivan Nova tossed a 95-pitch, complete-game shutout against Miami at Marlins Park, winning 4-0. His "Maddux" (a complete game shutout using fewer than 100 pitches) was the first for a Bucco since Jeff Karstens tossed one on July 15th, 2011 against the Astros. Other factoids on the strike-throwing righty: In his 16 starts to date with the Pirates, Nova had more complete games (five) than walks (four), and he had yet to hit the 100-pitch mark as a Pirate. John Jaso homered, but the big frame was the sixth when Fish hurlers walked four straight batters (two of them battling back from 0-2 counts) to force in a pair of runs. 
  • 2018 - Nick Kingham had a debut to remember - he retired the first 20 batters he faced in a 5-0 win over the Cardinals at PNC Park. He gave up a two-out single to Paul DeJong in the seventh, finishing with a one-hit, nine-K outing in his first MLB game. The contest was a scoreless duel between Nick and Luke Weaver before the Bucs broke it open with four runs in the sixth, keyed by a two-run single by Elias Diaz, who had three hits on the day. It was the Pirates fifth straight victory and gave them their earliest 17th win in franchise history. Nick didn’t live up to his early promise; he was sold to Toronto in 2019 and now tosses in Korea.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

4/28 Through the 1970’s: Streak Snapper, Chipping Away & Buckshot's First; HBD Red, Tom, Pedro, Walt & Mark

  • 1875 - RHP Walt Woods was born in Rye, New Hampshire. After playing for Chicago and Louisville (he tossed their final MLB game), he came to Pittsburgh in 1900, got into one game and was hammered. He was strictly pitch-to-contact (1.07/K per nine innings!), depending on guile, and was a back-end rotation guy who saw his MLB days end when the league contracted in 1901, putting a lot of hurlers out of work. While he was primarily a pitcher, he also appeared at second base, shortstop, third base and all three outfield positions, although with a lifetime .206 BA, he never threatened anyone’s job in the field. He did enjoy a long career in minor league baseball, playing from 1895-1914. He retired to become a grocer and later a mailman. 
Red Lucas - 1938 photo by George Burke
  • 1902 - RHP Red Lucas, The Nashville Narcissus (his nickname was penned by Colonel Bob Newhall, a reporter for the old Cincinnati Tribune, when Red was a fast flowering player with the Redlegs, per SABR’s Allen Quimby) was born in Tennessee. The righty spent the last five years of his career (1934-38) with Pittsburgh after coming over in a deal with the Reds. He put up a 47-32/3.73 line for the Bucs. Lucas was also a good stickman; he pinch hit in more games as a Pirate than he pitched, though his .238 BA was well below the .300 average he carried with Cincy. Oh, and he remembered well the team that traded him - he was 14-0 against the Reds during his Pirate stint. 
  • 1924 - Bucco rookie SS Glenn Wright hit his first homer off Vic Keen in a 7-4 victory over the Cubs. Wright was better known for his mitt than his thunder; he set a MLB record during the season with 601 assists, a mark that lasted until 1980, when Ozzie Smith had 621 Astroturf assists. “Buckshot” was the Pirate SS until 1928 when he was traded to Brooklyn Robins. He hit .298 during his Pirates tenure.
  • 1930 - RHP Tom Sturdivant was born in Gordon, Kansas. Nicknamed “Snake” because of his nasty curve, he was an outstanding pitcher for the Yankees until he suffered a rotator cuff injury in 1958 that threw up a speed bump on his promising career: after posting 16 wins in 1957, he never again reached double-figures in season victories. He persevered as a seven-team journeyman, not leaving baseball until after the 1964 season. Snake hurled for the Bucs from 1961-63 with a 14-7-3/3.49 slash. 
  • 1935 - RHP Pedro Ramos was born in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba. A 15-year vet, the Pirates signed him at the tail end of his career in 1969 as a 34-year-old. He made five appearances, put up a 6.00 ERA and was let go. He finished the year with the Reds, then after a couple of 1970 outings with the Senators was released in late April, ending his MLB days. Pete was an All-Star once and had a great run as closer for the Yankees in 1964; he also led the AL in losses four times. 
  • 1960 - OF Mark Ryal was born in Henryetta, Oklahoma. He spent six years in the show with five clubs, getting 100 at bats just once, and closed out his career as a Pirate in 1990, going 1-for-12 in nine games as a late season call-up from AAA Buffalo. Ryal went on to spend two more seasons in Japan before hanging up the spikes. 
Clemente confounds Cubs - 1966 Topps
  • 1966 - The Pirates scored one run in each of the final five innings of regulation and added four more in 10th to outlast the Cubs at Wrigley Field 9-6. The tying run scored with two out in the ninth. Roberto Clemente fell behind Ted Abernathy 0-2, worked the count full and drew a walk after fouling off eight straight pitches. He then came around on Willie Stargell’s double. The Bucco 10th was highlighted by a delayed double steal, with Clemente swiping second and Manny Mota home. 
  • 1970 - The Bucs 6-1 victory at Forbes Field ended Chicago’s 11-game winning streak. Luke Walker, Bruce Dal Canton and Dave Giusti combined for a three-hitter while Manny Sanguillen hit a pair of homers and had three RBI. Gene Alley, known more for his leather than wood, went 3-for-4.

4/28 From 1980: Romps & OT Game Stories; HBD Freeser, Danny, Yoslan & Romulo

  • 1981 - RHP Yoslan Herrera was born in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba. Yoslan defected from Cuba in 2005 and the Bucs signed him in 2006. After a solid minor league resume, he was called up to Pittsburgh in 2008, where he went 1-1/5.81 in five starts as a 27-year-old. He had a good year in the minors in 2009, but was released and picked up by the Twins, who also cut him. He was out of pro ball for a couple of years, came back pitching for an indie team and had a last hurrah with the Angels, going 1-1/2.70 in 20 games. He asked for a release to pitch in Japan, tossed there for a year, and that marked the end of his pro career.
David Freese - 2017 Pirates image
  • 1983 - 3B David Freese was born in Corpus Christi. He began his career in St Louis and had a dream postseason in 2011, winning the NLCS and World Series MVP honors along with the Babe Ruth Award. Freese was traded to the Angels in 2014 and signed a one-year FA contract with the Pirates worth $3M in March of 2016 to fill the dance card while Jung Ho Kang recuperated from leg injuries suffered the season before. Freeser held up his end, hitting .270 w/13 HR and the Pirates inked him to a two-year agreement during the season with a guaranteed $11M/team option year that put him under team control through 2019. That deal proved a godsend after Kang was picked up for DUI during the winter. He held a starter’s job in 2017 (.263/10 HR), was bumped to the bench in 2018 by Colin Moran, and went to the Dodgers. Freese retired after the 2019 campaign. 
  • 1984 - RHP Romulo Sanchez was born in Carora, Venezuela. He spent two years with the Pirates in 2007-08, going 1-0-1/4.60 in 26 outings. He finished with the Yankees in 2010, then tossed in Japan and China. He worked a year in Mexico and has been pitching in the Venezuelan League since 2013. 
  • 1986 - LHP Danny Moskos was born in Greenville, South Carolina. He was the fourth overall pick of the 2007 draft by the Pirates out of Clemson. GM Dave Littlefield announced that they projected Moskos as a closer, raising a storm of criticism from the fans and media who were anticipating Josh Vitters (who was taken one pick ahead of Moskos and fizzled) Matt Wieters (who signed for $6M and thus fit into the “too-cheap Pirates” narrative, taken next after Moskos), or perhaps Jason Heyward (who was the 14th pick) to be the selection. Moskos was signed by scout Greg Schilz to a $2.475M deal, but ended up a bust. He tossed for part of the 2011 season for the Bucs in his only MLB campaign, going 1-1/2.96 but with serious control issues. He last pitched in the Mexican League in 2018 and then retired; he’s an instructor at a baseball school now. 
  • 2010 - The Pirates defeated the Brewers for the second consecutive game to take the series at Miller Field with a 6-5, 14-inning victory. The Bucs tied the game in the ninth on a Ryan Doumit homer off Trevor Hoffman (the second straight game that Hoffman, the all-time saves leader, had blown a save against the Bucs) and went ahead in the 10th on a Cutch long ball. The Brew Crew came back to tie it off Octavio Dotel, who left the bases full of Brewers before escaping the frame. Garrett Jones doubled home Akinori Iwamura with two down in the 14th while DJ Carrasco worked three innings of scoreless, one-hit relief for the win. 
  • 2013 - The Bucs beat St. Louis 9-0 behind rookie Jeff Locke’s seven-inning, three-hit performance at Busch Stadium to take the division lead. C Russell Martin had three hits - a pair of homers and a double - while RF Garrett Jones also had three knocks including a HR and two-bagger. The victory was also Clint Hurdle’s 700th win as a big league manager. The Bucs turned the corner during this campaign, finishing with their first winning season since 1992 (and what a monkey-on-the-back that losing streak was!), coming in second place in the NL Central with 94 wins and advancing to the NLDS where they lost in five games to the Cards. 
Jeff Locke - 2013 Topps Heritage
  • 2017 - Pittsburgh reeled in the Fish 12-2 at Marlins Park, sparked by an eight-run second inning that saw eight straight Bucs reach base after two outs. Winning pitcher Jameson Taillon struck out with the bases loaded twice to bracket that run, saving Miami further embarrassment. The attack was led by a pair of rookies who had started the campaign at Indy, OF Jose Osuna and 2B Gift Ngoepe. Jose went 4-for-5 with a free pass; Gift collected three knocks and walked twice as the pair reached base safely 10 times in 11 appearances. Ngoepe became the first Pirate since Eddie Moore in 1923 to reach base five times in his first MLB start. The contest was also the first time since August of 2013 that the Pirates hit three triples (Fran Cervelli, Ngoepe and Alen Hanson) in a game; Jordy Mercer added a long ball.

Monday, April 27, 2020

4/27 Through the 1930’s: End of Openers & Big Sticks; Game Stories; HBD Phil & John

  • 1893 - The Pirates opened the season against the Cleveland Spiders and were spanked by Cy Young, losing 7-2 in front of 7,600 fans at Exposition Park. The team had a strong season despite that sluggish start, finishing second in the National League with a 81-48 mark. Louie Bierbauer had two hits, as did Jake Beckley and Denny Lyons. Frank “Lefty” Killen took the loss (The Pittsburgh Press, somewhat unkindly, noted that “Killen was an easy mark for the visitors”) after surrendering four first inning runs. But it was a noteworthy game - it was the last time a season-opening game was played in Pittsburgh until 1954, a 61-year streak of road kickoff trips.
Deacon Phillippe - photo 1909 Conlon Collection/Detroit Public Library
  • 1902 - Pittsburgh whipped Chicago 2-0 at Exposition Park‚ as Deacon Phillippe bested rookie Jim St. Vrain. St. Vrain only gave up a single to Ginger Beaumont, but it came after the Pirates had loaded the bases on an error sandwiched between a pair of plunked batters in the eighth inning. Phillippe fanned seven and all the other outs were recorded by the infield, with 1B Kitty Bransfield recording 16 putouts. St. Vrain wasn’t quite as sure of himself in the box as he was on the mound. He grounded a ball to Honus Wagner in the seventh and lost his bearings; the confused 19-year old ran toward third base as the astonished Hans threw him out rather easily, per Gene Alston’s Journal column. 
  • 1912 - The Pirates walloped Cincinnati 23-4 at Forbes Field‚ and without a home run (although they had five doubles and three triples among their 27 hits). Bobby Byrnes and Dots Miller had five knocks apiece. Reds reliever Hanson "Hans" Horsey surrendered 14 hits and 12 runs in four innings in what would be his only MLB appearance. Vice President James “Sunny Jim” Sherman, a big baseball fan, attended the game along with PA Congressman Jim Burke, Lieutenant Governor JM Reynolds and an assortment of politicos and generals. 
  • 1918 - Usher Phil Coyne was born in Oakland. He started out by dusting seats at Forbes Field in 1936 at the age of 18 and continued to serve the fans through the TRS era and at PNC Park until 2017. He retired after 81 years as a Pirates employee and good will ambassador at age 99 for health reasons, but came back to the old ballyard as the Buccos’ guest to be honored pre-game during his 100th birthday. 
  • 1918 - Umpire John Rice was born in Homestead. After serving in the Marines during WW2 (Rice fought in Guadalcanal and Peleliu), he began his umpiring apprenticeship in 1948. Rice graduated to the AL in 1955 working through 1973, and arbitrated four World Series, including the 1971 Pirates-Orioles clash, and three All-Star Games. He made his home in Chicago after the war and was inducted into the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. 
Adam Comorosky -  photo 1929 Conlon Collection/Getty Images
  • 1930 - The Pirates won their seventh straight game 9-5 over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. OF Adam Comorosky went 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI. Gus Suhr drove home three more and Ira Flagstead homered. Larry French got the win with Steve Swetonic notching the save. The Bucs were off to an 8-1 start on the campaign before Chi-town derailed them the next day.

4/27 From the 1950’s Through the 1980’s: Willie's April Showers; B-2-B; Diaz Deal; Game Stories; HBD Paul

  • 1954 - Toby Atwell and Jerry Lynch hit homers in back-to-back at-bats in the sixth and eighth innings, the first Pirates to accomplish the feat in the 20th century (Neil Walker & Gaby Sanchez matched the deed in 2014). It wasn’t enough as Pittsburgh lost to the Reds 8-7 at Crosley Field as Ted Kluszewski hammered a pair of long balls for Cincy. 
Paul Miller - 1992 Bowman
  • 1965 - RHP Paul Miller was born in Burlington, Wisconsin. Miller’s MLB career lasted 10 games (two starts), tossed between 1991-93 for the Bucs with a line of 1-0/4.10. Paul Miller spent his entire pro career in the Pirates organization, selected in the 53rd round of the 1987 draft and remaining a Bucco until retiring in 1994 after a final campaign with AAA Buffalo. 
  • 1970 - Steve Blass lost a pitching duel to Joe Decker and the Chicago Cubs 1-0 at Forbes Field. Blass surrendered just four hits over eight innings. One was a two-out triple by Glenn Beckert; he tried to stretch it into an inside the park HR and was dead at home, but Manny Sanguillen whiffed on the relay throw to allow the unearned, and only, run of the game to score. Roberto Clemente was thrown out at the plate twice during the game, once trying to score on a Willie Stargell double and again in the ninth when he tripled but was caught in a rundown a batter later, trapped following a comebacker. The Cubbies ran their winning streak to 11 games with the victory, a string the Pirates would snap the next day. 
  • 1971 - Willie Stargell set a then-MLB record with his 11th HR in the month of April, a shot over the TRS center field wall against LA’s Pete Mikkelsen, in a 7-5 loss. The record stood for 36 years until it was broken by Albert Pujols, who hit 14 opening-month bombs in 2006. Pops lost quite a few baseballs that season as he hit a career-high 48 homers. 
  • 1985 - Pittsburgh traded minor league C Steve Herz to the Phillies for utility PH Mike Diaz. Diaz fit in nicely as a bench player for a couple of seasons, putting up a line of .250/28/89 in 606 PA while Herz never made it out of AAA. 
Mike Diaz - 1987 Donruss
  • 1986 - The Pirates used offense from unexpected sources to pound the Phils 13-5 at TRS. Bill Almon went 3-for-5 with two runs, four RBI, two doubles and a homer while pitcher Bob Walk went 2-for-2 with a pair of two-baggers. Tony Pena added three hits while Mike Brown chipped in two more; the Buccos collected eight doubles during the contest. The Pirates jumped out to a 7-1 second inning lead, saw the Phils cut it to 7-5, and then iced it with a five-spot in the eighth. Mike Bielecki got the win and Walk added a save to his hitting heroics, tossing 3-1/3 frames of scoreless, one-hit ball.

4/27 From 1990: Wally's Six Pack; Jose's #300; Streak Ends; Rubber Arm Tim; Matty Mo Goes; Roberto Road; Game Stories

  • 1990 - Wally Backman became the first NL’er to get six hits in one game in 15 years when the 3B’man went 6-for-6 against the Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium in a 9-4 Pirate win. The Bucs banged out 19 hits, with Barry Bonds collecting four, including two homers and a double. Neal Heaton claimed the win.
Wally Backman - 1990 Topps Wide
  • 1991 - The Bucs had their way with the Mets at Shea Stadium, winning 10-1. Randy Tomlin and Bob Patterson combined on a four hitter while a trio of Pirates had three hits - Bobby Bonilla, who had four RBI and a run scored, Spanky LaValliere, with two runs driven in and one scored, and Curtis Wilkerson, who plated three times. Pittsburgh took over sole possession of first place, and never lost it as they won the division by 14 games. 
  • 1993 - Tim Wakefield threw 172 pitches in defeating Atlanta‚ 6-2‚ in 11 innings at Fulton County Stadium, and he didn’t even go the distance. He was relieved by Paul Wagner in the 11th after issuing a leadoff walk. It was the most pitches tossed by one pitcher in a single game during the nineties and the most ever by a Pirate. Fernando Valenzuela was the last to throw that many pitches in a game back in 1987. The Pirates took command of the game when Mike Stanton threw away a bunt attempt by Wakefield in the 11th, setting up a pair of two-out knocks and four unearned runs. 
  • 2005 - Jose Mesa sat Houston down 1-2-3 in the ninth to save Kip Wells’ 2-0 victory. Wells went seven four-hit frames before Rick White and Mesa closed it out. It was Jose’s 300th career save, making Mesa the 19th pitcher in MLB history to reach that mark. Jason Bay and Jack Wilson chased home the runs at PNC Park, and Bay made the play of the game when he kissed the wall hauling in Morgan Enberg’s two-out drive to record the final out of Mesa’s historic save. 
  • 2008 - RHP Matt Morris, GM Dave Littlefield’s final swing-and-miss, was released by the Pirates after going 1-2/3 innings against the Phillies and giving up six runs on six hits. The 33-year-old compiled an 0-4 record with a 9.67 ERA in his five outings with Pittsburgh in 2008. He retired soon after, but the Bucs ate $11,037,283 in salary, including a $1M buyout for 2009. Pittsburgh replaced him by calling up RHP John Van Benschoten. 
  • 2010 - A five-run ninth inning sparked by Ryan Doumit's grand slam and Ronny Cedeno's solo shot off Trevor Hoffman ended the Pirates 22-game losing streak in Milwaukee as the Bucs took a 7-3 victory at Miller Park. The Brew Crew's hometown hex over the Bucs was the longest held by one team over another since the Browns/Orioles lost 27 consecutive contests to the Indians in Cleveland from 1952-54. 
Dewey - 2010 Topps Heritage
  • 2018 - The Pirates spotted the Cardinals a five run lead at PNC Park, then began chipping away. In the sixth, a Gregory Polanco homer and Corey Dickerson sac fly made it 5-2, but the Pirates were stymied in the seventh and eighth. In the ninth, the first four Pirates reached and the game was knotted at five after Jordy Mercer’s two-bagger. He reached third with no one out, but a pop and two whiffs later, there he remained. The 10th went quietly and the Cards put up a zero in the 11th. But with two outs and David Freese at second via a walk and wild pitch, Starling Marte flicked a two-strike slider into center to walk off a 6-5 win. The Bucco bullpen - Kyle Crick, Tyler Glasnow, Richard Rodriguez, Felipe Vazquez and George Kontos (who got the win) tossed 6-2/3 scoreless frames after Steven Brault had been banged around early. Fran Cervelli had three hits; Marte, Polanco and Corey Dickerson each had a pair. 
  • 2018 - Roberto Clemente is more than a local hero; the state of New Jersey named the part of Route #21 running through Newark as the Roberto Clemente Memorial Highway. "As one would drive up and down the highway - you can see the number 21. It was almost screaming for it to be changed, (to) Roberto Clemente,” Luis Angel Maisonave of Newark's Roberto Clemente Little League said.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

4/26 Through the 1940’s: Buc Debut At New Expo; Game Stories; HBD Amos, Fire Trucks & Ron

  • 1900 - The Bucs drew 11,000 to the newly expanded Exposition Park, the biggest Pittsburgh baseball turnout to date, with a couple of thousand more fans trying to get in. The Pirates were fortified by the recent influx of Louisville players like Honus Wagner, but dropped a 12-11 slugfest to Cincinnati as the Reds lit up Rube Waddell and Jack Chesbro. The Bucs made a game of it by rallying for seven ninth inning runs. 
Expo Park/North Shore circa 1900 - Wikipedia
  • 1905 - The Cubs beat Pittsburgh at Exposition Park, 2-1 as Chicago’s Jack McCarthy became the only major league OF’er to throw out three runners trying to score in one game, with all three assists were on tag-up tries following triples. The game story in the Pittsburgh Press stated simply in the headline that “McCarthy Made the Throws.” 
  • 1917 - Coach Virgil “Fire” Trucks was born in Birmingham, Alabama. After a long pro career, he became the bullpen coach/batting practice pitcher for Pittsburgh in 1960 and stayed with the Pirates until 1963. Trucks later operated baseball camps for the Bucs. Jack House, sportswriter for the Birmingham News, gave him the apt moniker “Fire,” not because he chased red engines but because of his blazing heater; Trucks tossed two no-hitters for Detroit in 1952. 
  • 1920 - Coach Ron Northey was born in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, near Hazelton. A big guy, Northey played 12 MLB seasons, missing some time for WW2, and after his playing days, he spent three years as a coach on Danny Murtaugh’s staff from 1961-1963 before becoming a White Sox scout. 
  • 1940 - After putting up four runs in the eighth the day before and falling just short, the Bucs crossed home seven times in the eighth this day to roll over the St. Louis Cardinals 10-4 at Forbes Field. Debs Garms and Joe Bowman both had homers with three RBI to spark the rally and earn Mace Brown his second relief win in four days. 
Mace Brown - 1940 Play Ball
  • 1947 - OF Amos Otis was born in Mobile, Alabama. He played the final year of his 17-season career with the Pirates in 1984, coming over after 14 campaigns with the KC Royals. (He actually had been dealt to the Bucs during the 1976 off season, but as a 5 & 10 year player vetoed the trade of him and Cookie Rojas for Al Oliver.) His TRS season wasn’t much of a swan song for the 37-year-old: in 97 at-bats, he hit .165 and he was released in August. Amos worked briefly for the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies as a hitting instructor after he left the playing field and then retired to Las Vegas.

4/26 From the 1950’s Through the 1990’s: Let's Make A Deal; Opening Day Embarrassment; Game Stories; HBD Sean, Francisco & Curtis

  • 1958 - With Pittsburgh and Cincinnati knotted 4-4 at Crosley Field heading into the eighth, Bill Mazeroski took over. First, he drilled an eighth-inning solo shot to put the Pirates on top, then his three-run bomb in the top of the ninth sealed the deal, 8-4. It was the first of eight multi-homer games in his career, with his next coming less than a month later on May 10th. 1958 was also the year Maz earned his first of seven All-Star spots. Billy’s heroics gave Don Gross the win after he spun four innings of one-hit relief, with Roberto Clemente, Bob Skinner and Ted Kluszewski adding three hits apiece to aid the cause. 
Billy Maz - 1958 Topps
  • 1961 - IF Curtis Wilkerson was born in Petersburg, Virginia. Wilkerson spent 11 years in the show as mainly a bench guy, getting into 85 games for the Pirates in 1991 and hitting .188. After he retired, he managed for three years in the Rangers system and then three more years (1999-2001) for the Buccaneers squads in Williamsport and Lynchburg. He closed out his skipper career in 2012 with an indie club. 
  • 1972 - RHP Francisco Cordova was born in Cerro Azul, Mexico. He spent his five year MLB career (1996-2000) as a Pirate, first as a reliever who notched 12 saves in his rookie year before becoming a starter. His slash was 42-47-12/3.96. He was part of one of the great Pirate moments on July 12th, 1997 at a sold out Three Rivers Stadium when he pitched nine innings of a combined 10-inning no-hitter, with Ricardo Rincón closing it out. The Pirates won the game on a three-run, pinch hit home run in the bottom of the 10th by Mark Smith. 
  • 1978 - Ed Ott hit an 11th-inning home run at Shea Stadium to give the Bucs and Bert Blyleven, who pitched a complete game six-hitter, a 1-0 win. It took 35 years for another Pirate, Neil Walker, to homer for the only run in a Bucco extra inning victory. 
  • 1980 - The Pirates scored five times in the first inning and cruised to a 9-2 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh pounded out 17 hits, led by three apiece from Mike Easler and Dave Parker. John Candelaria went the distance, allowing two runs on eight hits as the Pirates split a brief two game series with Chicago. 
  • 1985 - Utilityman Sean Rodriguez was born in Miami. In his career, S-Rod has played every position but pitcher and catcher. The Bucs traded for him during the 2014 off season and he played around the field for Pittsburgh. He was signed up again for 2016 after hitting .246 and playing six different spots in 2015. The super-sub had a super year, batting .270 w/18 HR and turned that into a nice FA deal with Atlanta. He missed much of the 2017 campaign due to a shoulder injury suffered in an off-season car accident and returned to the Bucs via the trade route in August. He’s now with Miami. 
S-Rod - 2018 photo/Pittsburgh Pirates
  • 1995 - 34,841 fans at TRS disrupted a delayed Opening Day by throwqqing whatever was handy (mainly giveaway day Bucco pennants) on the field to show their displeasure with the freshly resolved player’s strike and some shoddy play by the Bucs. The game was delayed for 17 minutes until the announcer told the unruly crowd that the contest was about to be forfeited. It might as well have been; Montreal won the game 6-2, chasing Jon Leiber in the fifth. The team was lucky they weren’t wrapped in Jolly Rogers and tossed overboard after one of the worse innings in their history. Going into that fateful frame, it was a 1-1 game between Pittsburgh and Montreal before the floodgates opened. There were two outs, Expos on the corners (the runner on first reached when his right side, shoulda-been inning-ending nubber was fielded but nobody covered the sack) and one run in when Roberto Kelly bled another soft roller, this one up the left side. 3B Jeff King flipped the ball into the outfield; RF Orlando Merced missed the mark on the throw home, and all three Montreal runners scored. Montreal added another run on a hit batter, single and wild pitch. Jason Christiansen added a throwing error to the pot before the Bucs got back into the dugout (and the ground crew picked up a field littered with pennants tossed by frustrated fans). So instead of being out of the inning, it ended up game, set and, match for Montreal, 6-2 winners. C Mark Parent told the Post Gazette’s Paul Meyer “That whole fifth inning was a fiasco. It was like Murphy’s Law.” 
  • 1995 - As the Pirates were bungling away at the North Shore, Mayor Tom Murphy and Vince Sarni, chairman of the Pittsburgh Associates, left the Duquesne Club and announced that they had reached a framework to sell the Pirates and keep the team in Pittsburgh with Chambers Development Company chairman John Rangos, saying that an agreement could be reached within a week. They were wrong; the deal was never finalized and the PA held on to the team until selling it to the McClatchy group in 1996.

4/26 From 2000: Cutch 3-Dinger; Home Sweet Home; Gift Unwrapped; X-Man Inked; Brew-doo; Hack Day

  • 2008 - Alhambra, California, dedicated a bronze statue to honor of its native son Ralph Kiner for his "accomplishments and contributions to the game of professional baseball and sports broadcasting.” The former Pirates slugger, a member of the Hall of Fame, grew up in Alhambra and graduated from its high school in 1940 before moving on to Southern Cal and the Buccos. 
Ralph Kiner - Alhambra Statue; photo Offbeat Group Sporting Statue Project
  • 2010 - The Brewers romped over the Bucs 17-3 for their 22nd straight win over Pittsburgh at Miller Park after they had already taken the opening series by 8-1, 8-0 and 20-0 tallies. The curse, dating back to 2007, was snapped the next day 7-3 by the Pirates, who also took the third game of the series for good measure. 
  • 2011 - The Pirates selected OF Xavier Paul off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Xavier proved useful off the bench, getting into 121 games, but the corner outfielder hit just .254 with little power (2 HR) or patience (.293 OBP) at the plate. He was released after the campaign and played as a sub for three more MLB seasons with the Reds and D-Backs, followed by some bouncing around in the minors with stops in Mexico and the indie leagues. 
  • 2016 - Pittsburgh pounded five home runs in the thin air of Coors Field to claim a 9-4 win over the Colorado Rockies. Andrew McCutchen hit three long balls and chased home five runs. With his second career three-dinger match, Cutch joined Ralph Kiner (four), Willie Stargell (four) and Roberto Clemente (two) on the list of players who have multiple three-homer games as Pirates. Starling Marte and David Freese (his first as a Pirate) added to the fence busting party, propelling Gerrit Cole to victory. 
  • 2017 - IF Gift Ngoepe made his first MLB appearance, going 1-for-2 (he singled in his first big league at-bat) with a walk and turning the game-ending DP as the Pirates hung on to beat the Cubs 6-5 at PNC Park. Ngoepe was the first African native (he’s from South Africa) to ever play in the majors, and it took the 27-year-old eight-plus minor league seasons to get the call. Pittsburgh jumped off to a 5-1 lead, started off by Josh Harrison’s lead-off homer in the first. Josh Bell later went long (both Joshes collected a pair of hits), but the Cubs kept chipping away. After an error on a potential inning-ending DP ball in the ninth left two Cubbies aboard, Tony Watson served up another grounder that did the trick to save Wade LeBlanc’s win. 
Gift's first hit - photo Pittsburgh Pirates
  • 2017 - Ellwood City’s Hack Wilson, who banged 56 home runs and drove in a major league record 191 runs in 1930, was recognized before the Cubs game at PNC Park. It was the 117th anniversary of Wilson’s birth, who put up those big 1930 numbers as a Cubbie (he spent half his 12-year career in Chicago from 1926-31), the night’s opponents. It was a nice touch by the Ellwood City Area Historical Society to recognize a local boy that made good, even if the Cubs didn’t opt to participate in the celebration. Proving once again that karma is a beach, Chicago lost 6-5.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

4/25 Through the 1950’s: Big Days For Arriba, Wally & Howie; Honus Beats Bucs; HBD Bob, Ed, Jimmy, Fred, Tom & Dutch

  • 1864 - C Tom Quinn was born in Annapolis, Maryland. He played three years in the show, getting a cup of coffee with the Alleghenys in 1886 (0-for-11) and finishing with the outlaw Pittsburgh Burghers (.213) in 1890. Tom got a job with the state after he was done with baseball and lived in Swissvale the remainder of his days. 
  • 1868 - 3B Fred “Dutch” Hartman was born in Allegheny City (Northside). He began his career as a Pirate in 1894 and hit a strong .319. After a couple of years of seasoning, he returned to the big leagues in 1897 after a trade to the Browns, where he was considered a highly touted addition to the club. But his career never blasted off and Dutch ended up pretty much a league-average player, hitting .278 during a six-year career. After baseball he remained in the area, living in McKeesport. 
Fred Haney - 1954 Topps
  • 1896 - Fred Haney was born in Albuquerque. He managed the Bucs as a favor to Branch Rickey from 1953-1955. His record reflects the fact that he was brought in during the early stages of a youth movement, losing 104, 101 and 94 games for a 163-299 (.353) slate, although he was used to the drill after managing the sad-sack St. Louis Browns from 1939-41. But he delivered when finally given some players. He moved on to Milwaukee and won back-to-back NL titles and the 1956 World Series. Later, he was the LA Angels first GM. 
  • 1899 - In a sign of things to come, Pittsburgh lost to Louisville 2-1 at Eclipse Park as future Bucco SS Honus Wagner went 4-for-4 with 2 HRs‚ the second being a ninth-inning game winner. The Colonels were managed by future Pirate skipper (and player) Fred Clarke. The following season, most of Louisville’s top players followed owner Barney Dreyfuss to Pittsburgh. 
  • 1909 - Howie Camnitz tossed a one-hitter as the Pirates nosed the Reds at League Park by a 2-1 tally. The Pirates workload was carried by Bill Abstein, who had four hits, and Honus Wagner who added three more raps; the Bucs only had eight hits in total. The run plated against Camnitz was tainted; the Reds got a triple on a “fan interference” call and scored on a Wagner error. 
  • 1910 - IF Jimmy Brown was born in Jamesville, North Carolina. A seven-year major league vet with an All-Star game under his belt, he was signed by the Bucs in 1946 after a two-year hiatus in the Army Air Force. He played three infield spots and hit .241 off the bench in his last hurrah. In 1947 he became a manager in the Pirates farm system at Indianapolis and New Orleans before returning to the NL as a coach for the Boston Braves in 1949. After leaving Beantown in 1952, he managed minor league teams for the Cardinals, Braves and Reds. 
  • 1930 - Umpire Ed Vargo was born in Butler. He was a NL ump from 1960-1983 and the umpire supervisor from 1984-1997. Vargo worked the first night World Series game in 1971, two of Sandy Koufax's no-hitters, the last games at Forbes Field/the Polo Grounds, four All-Star Games, four NLCS, four World Series, the first game at Candlestick Park and the game in which Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth's career home run record. Ed was inducted into the Butler County Sports Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame 1994. 
Ed Vargo Gets His Call - Pgh Press April 1960
  • 1943 - RHP Bob Johnson was born in Aurora, Illinois. He pitched for the Bucs from 1971-73, beginning as a starter and ending in the bullpen. He went 17-16-7/3.34 as a Pirate and appeared in a pair of NLCS games - he beat Juan Marichal in 1971 - and in the World Series. Out of MLB since 1977, Johnson operates a construction company and works with kids as an American Legion coach and umpire. 
  • 1948 - Wally Westlake homered, doubled, and drove in six runs while Ed Stevens added five more RBI to lead the Bucs to a 13-10 win over the Reds in the second game of a twinbill at Crosley Field. Pittsburgh lost the opener 7-6 in the ninth. 
  • 1958 - Roberto Clemente was in fine form as he led the Bucs to a 4-3 win against Cincinnati at Crosley Field. He scored in the sixth after a leadoff double and then smacked his first long ball of the year, a two-out, three-run shot in the seventh that stood as the game-winner. Vern Law claimed the win after an ElRoy Face save while future Bucco Harvey Haddix took the loss.

4/25 From 1970: Roof Shot; Robby's #1; Kip Bomb; Petey Doubles His Fun; 26 Men; Bucs Drop Big 3; HBD Willy, Wei-Chung & Brad

  • 1970 - Willie Stargell homered over the RF roof at Forbes Field off Hoyt Wilhelm‚ the second time he'd done it in a week‚ as the Pirates edged the Braves‚ 8-7. Eighteen balls carried over the Oakland yard’s roof, with seven launched by Stargell. No one else hit more than a pair. Roberto Clemente had three hits (two were doubles) and four RBI as he shared some of the offensive thunder with Cap’n Willie. Dave Giusti got the win in relief of Dock Ellis and Joe Gibbon, with Al McBean closing it out. For McBean, it was his last Pirates clincher; he finished his Bucco career with 59 saves.
  •  1971 - RHP John “Brad” (Bradley was his middle name) Clontz was born in Stuart, Virginia. Brad worked six MLB seasons, with the last two (1999-2000) in Pittsburgh, where the submarine-style sidearm reliever appeared in 61 games, going 1-3-2/3.04. It would be his last stop in the show, although he hung in through the 2006 season at the AAA level until retiring. His claim to fame: Clontz led the NL in games pitched in 1996 with 81 while with the Braves.

Don Robinson - 1979 Topps
  • 1978 - Buc righty Don Robinson picked up his first MLB victory by tossing a complete game five-hitter with seven whiffs against the Mets to book a 2-1 win. He survived a couple of Bucco misplays and worked out of a third inning jam as the Pirates did just enough damage with four hits off Mike Bruhert and a pair of relievers to hang on.
  • 1992 - In the Pirates 1-0 win over the host Cubs‚ the Bucs were helped by a wayward hat. With Kirk Gibson on first, Jay Bell hit a potential DP grounder that struck Gibson's helmet which had flown off as he headed to second, and the Cubs had to settle for a force. Andy Van Slyke noted‚ “the play goes 7-1/2 to 4 to 5 to 6" on your scorecard. Bell then scored when Van Slyke followed with a double for the game’s only run. Randy Tomlin was the winner over Greg Maddux.
  • 1992 - RHP Trevor Williams was born in San Diego. His brief initial cruise in 2016 wasn’t all that smooth; after mowing down hitters in AAA, he went 1-1/7.83 for the Pirates in a handful of outings. In 2017, he broke camp with the team after a strong spring and slashed 7-9/4.07 in 25 outings as a solid back-end starter. Willy broke out the next year, going 14-10/3.11 with a career high in innings (170-1/3) and starts (31). He was a second round draft pick of the Marlins in 2013 and came to Pittsburgh for a career minor-league player, Richard Mitchell. Many thought the seemingly one-sided deal was de facto compensation for the Fish signing the Pirates pitching assistant Jim Benedict earlier.
  • 1992 - LHP Wei-Chung Wang was born in Taitung, Taiwan. The Pirates signed him in 2011, found out he needed TJ surgery, then voided the original contract and signed him to a new one to reflect the injury. That cost them; Milwaukee claimed him as a Rule 5 pick in 2013 as he was considered to be on his second contract. He tossed for the Brew Crew and then went to Korea in 2018 for a year. In 2019, the A’s signed him. The reliever was 1-0/3.33 in 20 games for them, but Oakland cut him loose at the end of August (four walks/five K per nine, .231 BABIP and 5.29 FIP painted a different picture than his ERA alone did) and the Pirates, whose mid-to-long bullpen was in shambles, claimed him.
  • 2003 - Kip Wells became the second player and first pitcher to homer into the batter’s eye at PNC Park with a third inning, 457’ blast off the Dodgers Odalis Perez. LA had the last laugh when they rallied for five ninth inning-runs off Wells and Mike Williams to take a 5-2 victory.
  • 2012 - Pedro Alvarez homered in both games of Pittsburgh’s doubleheader split against Colorado, becoming the second Pittsburgh player to hit home runs for the Pirates in each end of a twinbill at PNC Park. El Toro joined Rob Mackowiak, who also went long twice in a DH on 5/28/04 against the Cubs on the memorable day his wife gave birth to their first child. Pittsburgh set a MLB record by playing its 18th straight game starting the season in which neither team scored more than five runs, passing the mark set by the 1943 Detroit Tigers with a 2-1 opening loss, with Chris Resop taking the L in relief of James McDonald. They finally showed some spunk by claiming the nightcap, 5-1, with Petey’s homer sparking a five-run fifth frame to back Charlie Morton on the hill.
Pedro Alvarez - 2013 Topps Wide
  • 2012 - The Pirates and the Rockies became the first teams in MLB history to add an extra player to the roster for their twin bill at PNC Park. The new CBA permitted teams to carry 26 on the active roster for doubleheaders to save the paper shuffling that calling up an extra pitcher entailed. The Bucs brought up Jared Hughes as an extra arm and he got in, tossing a scoreless frame.
  • 2013 - The Bucs beat the Phillies by a 6-4 score for their third straight win at Citizens Bank Park. It was the first time in the eighteen outings that Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee threw back-to-back-to-back games that the Phils lost all three matches. The Pirates lost the first contest of the four game set, beaten 3-2 by an unheralded Jonathan Pettibone, who was making his first MLB start; his career was later derailed by shoulder surgery

Friday, April 24, 2020

4/24: Paul's #1; Jaku Dinged; 1st Homer; Hitfest; Dovy Debut; Hans Gives & Takes; Walk Off Freddie; Fed League Frank; HBD Dixie, Pete, Ryan & Bob

  • 1891 - Fred Carroll hit the first home run by a Pirate in Exposition Park (they played the year prior in nearby Recreation Park as the Alleghenys) as the Bucs defeated the Chicago Colts 11-8 for their first victory ever in Pittsburgh. They had become the Pirates in the off season, when they “pirated” Lou Bierbauer from the Philadelphia A’s.
Fred Carroll - Ars Longa Art Card
  • 1891 - Pete Falsey was born in New Haven, Connecticut. Pete’s only MLB stint was three games in 1914 with the Pirates; he went 0-for-1 with a whiff as a pinch hitter and got into two more games as a pinch runner during his two-week stay. The little lefty (5’6”, 132 lbs) joined the Bucs as a 23-year-old after playing for Yale, and following his Bucco visit, his baseball trail disappears; he doesn’t even show a position played in any of his MLB bios.
  • 1903 - Honus Wagner was having a bad day in the field, booting three balls that helped the Cardinals head into the ninth with a 7-6 lead at Exposition Park, but his bat helped erase the deficit. He tripled in the ninth and scored the tying run on a Kitty Bransfield single. Then with two away in the eleventh, the Flying Dutchman walked, stole second and came around with the game winner on another Bransfield knock. Wagner collected four hits including two triples along with two runs scored, four RBI‚ and three stolen bases.
  • 1915 - Pittsburgh Rebel southpaw Frank Allen tossed a 2-0 no-hitter against the St. Louis Terriers at Handlan Park in the last year of the Federal League, the short-lived (1913-15) major league “outlaw” option to the National and American Leagues. Allen went on to pitch a couple more seasons for the NL Boston Braves. The Federal League was absorbed by the NL & AL, and a suit the FL filed eventually led to the still existent ruling that exempted baseball from antitrust laws.
  • 1920 - C Homer “Dixie” Howell was born in Louisville, Kentucky. The journeyman backstop began his MLB career as a Pirate in 1947 after being part of the Kirby Higbe deal and hit .276, but was lost to the Cincinnati Reds as a Rule 5 pick after the campaign. He spent 1949-56 as a back-up catcher for the Reds and later the Dodgers. Dixie doodles: He was one of three Dixie Howells to play MLB ball, and he & pitcher Millard "Dixie" Howell, also from Kentucky, were teammates on the 1949 Cincinnati Reds.
Fred Lindstrom - 1933 Goudey Big League
  • 1934 - The Bucs rallied to defeat the Gashouse Gang from St. Louis 5-4 at Forbes Field in their home opener. Behind 4-2 going into the ninth, Freddie Lindstrom homered over the LF wall with two aboard to lift the Pirates to victory over the future NL champs. Leon Chagnon got the win in relief of Heinie Meine. Tommy Thevenow added two hits and chased home a pair of runs for the Pirates.
  • 1948 - 1B Bob Beall was born in Portland, Oregon. After being named high school "Baseball Player of the Year" for Oregon in 1966 and earning All-PAC honors at Oregon State, Bob spent three years with the Braves and bowed out of the majors in 1980 with a three-game stand in Pittsburgh, going 0-for-3 as a pinch hitter. He was sent down to the hometown AAA Portland Beavers as a player-coach, then retired in 1981 and began working for Nike.
  • 1985 - RHP Ryan Reid was born in Portland, Maine. The Pirates signed Reid to a minor league contract for the 2013 season as an NRI. He got the call up on June 3rd (along with Jared Hughes) and made his major league debut that day. He lasted in the bullpen until July when AJ Burnett came off the DL; he was sent back to Indy even tho he did pretty well (1.64 ERA in seven outings w/1.091 WHIP) and was DFA’ed after the season. He finished a 10-year pro career in 2016 with a final indie league campaign.
  • 2007 - Paul Maholm tossed his first major league complete game after allowing three hits and throwing 99 pitches in the 3-0 shutout victory over the Astros at PNC Park. The game took just 1 hour and 57 minutes to complete. Jason Bay had three hits and drove in a pair while Ronny Paulino added a solo shot.
Paul Maholm - 2007 Upper Deck
  • 2010 - In the first inning of his first appearance of the year, Chris Jakubauskas was struck in the head by a liner off the bat of Houston's Lance Berkman. The 31-year old right-hander left the field on a stretcher, but was later diagnosed with just a concussion and not a fracture as first feared. Jaku wouldn’t pitch for the Bucs any more that year, but tossed for Baltimore the following season. The Pirates lost the game 5-2.
  • 2016 - The Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks took advantage of hitter-friendly Chase Field and after the smoke cleared, the Bucs hung on for dear life to take a 12-10, 13-inning victory. Pittsburgh got ahead early, leading 8-4 after four frames (every Pirate starter had scored or chased home a run by that time) but blew two run leads in both the ninth and 12th frames to a unrelenting D-Back attack. Both benches were shot by the end; pitchers Zack Grienke and Patrick Corbin of the Snakes along with Jon Niese for the Buccos had to pinch hit (Greinke and Niese singled; Niese had an RBI) while Arizona hurler Shelby Miller manned left field and batted. Neftali Feliz was credited with the blown save/win combo after Arquimedes Caminero ended the game, striking out a pair of pitchers. Starling Marte had four hits; David Freese and Gregory Polanco had three each while eight different Pirates scored; 10 had RBI.
  • 2017 - RHP Dovydas Neverauskas made his MLB debut to become the first player born and raised in Lithuania to appear in a big league game. He saw mop-up duty in a 14-3 loss at PNC Park, working two frames against the Chicago Cubs and giving up a run on two hits. He picked up his first MLB whiff when he punched out the opposing pitcher, Justin Grimm, and has been up-and-down since then, showing potential but not much production.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

4/23 Through the 1920's: Cotton Picks Cubs; Triple Killing; Stay Home Game; Big Bucks; HBD Iron Man, Genie, Connie & Bob

  • 1875 - OF Bob Ganley was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. Bob started his five-year MLB run with the Pirates in 1910-11, hitting .270 off the bench as a rookie and then as a starting outfielder in his second year. Bob’s last MLB campaign was in 1909 with the Philadelphia Athletics and he was out of baseball after spending the 1912 season with Atlanta of the Southern Association. Per BR Bullpen, he moved around so much as a player that he was called "the globetrotter of organized baseball." He played for Pittsburgh, Washington and Philadelphia as a big leaguer and for New Haven, Albany, Brockton, Columbus, Toledo, Marion, Schenectady, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Oakland, Johnstown, Des Moines, Newark and Atlanta as a farm hand. Bob also managed the Fredericton Pets in 1913 and the Perth Amboy Pacers in 1914. 
  • 1882 - RHP Cornelius “Connie” Walsh was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Walsh got his big league call in 1907 for the Pirates and apparently one was his magic number: he got into one game, pitched one inning, and gave up one run on one hit with one walk. Connie went to Cedar Rapids in the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League the following year and found a home there, pitching for six different IIIL clubs over the next seven seasons before retiring after the 1914 campaign. 
The Sad Sack 1890 Alleghenys - Dab's Cabinet Card
  • 1890 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenys beat the Cleveland Spiders 20-12 at Recreation Park in front of a crowd of 17 (with six paid) in a yard that held 17,000. The Alleghenys set another franchise record that day; five batters were beaned by the Spiders. Don’t fault the fans for the low turnout - the team finished last in the NL with a record of 23–113, 66-1/2 games behind the first place Brooklyn Bridegrooms. According to Wikipedia, Recreation Park was also known as Union Park and later, the Allegheny Athletic Association Grounds. It was tucked between Allegheny Ave, Pennsylvania Ave, Galveston Ave and Behan St in Allegheny West. No pictures of it as a baseball field are known to exist, though there are a couple of newspaper shots of Pitt playing football there. The baseball team left for Exposition Park in 1891 and Pitt followed suit in 1904. 
  • 1902 - St. Louis Cardinals owner Frank Robison put up a $10‚000 challenge that the Pirates wouldn’t repeat as NL champions. Pittsburgh players pooled their money to meet the bet and then collected easily as they won the pennant by 27-1/2 games. St Louis finished sixth, 44-1/2 games off the Pirates’ pace. 
  • 1906 - RHP Ray “Iron Man” Starr was born in Nowatka, Oklahoma. Ray tossed for the Bucs during the second half of his career between 1944-45 in his age 38-39 seasons with a line of 6-7-3, 5.33. He was a product of wartime baseball; after tossing for three years in the show, he spent from 1934-40 in the minors (in all, he spent 15 years on various farm clubs) before he was called back up by the Reds in 1941. Ray picked up his nickname because he was said to have tossed both ends of more than 40 double-headers while in the minor leagues. 
  • 1913 - The Pirates were held to three hits by St Louis hurler Bill Steel and lost 3-1 despite Claude Hendrix’s two-hitter (six walks hurt) at Robison Field. The runs were hard earned; the Cardinals scored on a bases loaded walk, steal of home and sac fly while the Bucco run came on an error. The bright spot of the Pirates’ day was a nifty triple play. With the bases loaded, Hendrix speared a comebacker and went home to catcher Billy Kelly for a force; his relay to Dots Miller at first beat the batter and Miller’s return throw home nailed the Card runner who started from second, trying to steal a score during the exchange. 
  • 1917 - RHP Gene “Genie” Smith was born in Ashley, Louisiana. He pitched for the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays between 1946–1947. During his career, he threw three no-hitters, played in the East-West All Star game and in the Negro World Series, although not with Homestead. He joined them after spending two years in the service and never had another big season afterward, retiring after the 1951 campaign with a bad arm. 
Cotton Tierney - 1921 Charles Conlon/TSN
  • 1922 - Second baseman Cotton Tierney collected a career-high five hits, doubled three times, and knocked in a game-high four runs in Pittsburgh’s 14-3 rout of the Cubs in Chicago. The Bucs broke the game open with an eight run second inning and then added two more runs an inning later to make it 10-0. It was Pittsburgh’s sixth straight win after beginning the season with losses in each of the first three games. Hal Carlson took the win at Wrigley.

4/23 From 1930: Hot Starts; Babe Sold; Bucco Squeakers; HBD Blackie & Happy Jack

  • 1935 - RHP Ron “Blackie” Blackburn was born in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. His MLB career lasted two years, from 1958-59, both spent with the Bucs where Blackie slashed 3-2-4/3.50. Blackburn spent 11 campaigns in the minors, the last for Asheville from which he retired after the 1964 season to become a teacher and baseball coach at Western Carolina University before becoming the rec director at the Western Correction Center in North Carolina.
  • 1946 - RHP “Happy Jack” (he was an upbeat guy) Chesbro was elected to the Hall of Fame. A spitballer who won 41 games in 1904 for the NY Highlanders, he tossed for the Pirates at the beginning of his career from 1899-1902 with a line of 70-38/2.89. Also selected was Rube Waddell, a colorful hurler who began his career with Pittsburgh in 1900-01. They were inducted on June 12th. 
Happy Jack Chesbro - Upper Deck Goodwin Champions
  • 1946 - The Bucs sold 1B Ellsworth “Babe” Dahlgren to the St. Louis Browns. Dahlgren hit .271 with 176 RBI in his two-year stint with the Bucs, but faded badly with the Browns as a 34-year-old and ‘46 was his last season in the show. He’s noted as the man who replaced Lou Gehrig in 1939 while with the Yankees.
  • 1947 - The Pirates were out of the gate in a hurry, winning their sixth of the first seven games of the season by an 8-5 count over the Cards at Sportsman’s Park. Billy Cox and Eddie Basinski each homered and combined for seven RBI. Ed Bahr tossed 6-1/3 shutout innings, giving up just three hits, to win in relief.
  • 1962 - The Bucs record-setting ten-game, season-opening winning streak was derailed by the Mets and Jay Hook at Forbes Field. It was the first regular season victory ever for NY as they won 9-1 behind Hook’s five-hitter and it started the Pirates on a spiral of losing 13-of-17 games. 
  • 1966 - The Pirates scored three times in the ninth inning to pull out a 5-4 win against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Pittsburgh trailed 4-2 heading into the ninth before Bob Bailey, Jim Pagliaroni, and Jose Pagan each hit solo homers off Dennis Aust and Hal Woodeshick to power the Bucs past the Cards. 
  • 1982 - C Tony Peña went 2-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI in the Pirates 12-10 victory over Chicago at Wrigley Field. The Pirates kept the Cubbies in it with three errors that led to four unearned runs. The Buc bats atoned for the weakness of the leather by banging out 17 hits as every starter tallied at least one rap, including starting pitcher Eddie Solomon, who came away with the victory. Kent Tekulve pitched the final 1-1/3 innings to earn his first save of the season. Bill Madlock and Mike Easler each had three hits while Jason Thompson homered. Pena (3), Easler (3) and Omar Moreno (4) combined to chase home 10 of the 12 runs.
Mike Lavalliere - 1988 Panini Sticker
  • 1988 - The Pirates-Cubs match at TRS was the NBC Game of the Week, the Buccos first GOTW slot since 1985. The network brass knew what they were doing as the game ended up a 5-4 squeaker in favor of the Buccos. Pittsburgh overcame a 2-0 deficit when Bobby Bonilla and RJ Reynolds homered in the sixth to put the Buccaneers up by a run. The Cubs struck back quickly in the next frame, putting up a pair off Jeff Robinson to retake the lead. The Bucs loaded the bases with an out in the eighth, and Spanky LaValliere came through, dropping a two-run single into short center to make it a 5-4 game. Jim Gott made it hold up to claim the win, the Pirates 12th in 16 games.