- 1880 - OF Davy Jones was born in Manikota, Minnesota. After a 13-year career in the show, the 34-year-old Jones spent his last two campaigns (1914-15) with the Pittsburgh Rebels, where he hit .279 before an ankle injury led to his release. Jones had spent most of his MLB time fighting for a third outfield spot in Detroit between Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford, and saw considerable time as the leadoff hitter, scoring at a good pace with those two Hall-of-Fame bats behind him. He even homered in the 1909 Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That he ended up with the Rebels was no surprise. Per SABR, “During his first years in the pros he jumped so many contracts that the press nicknamed him ‘The Kangaroo.’"
|Davy Jones - Sporting Life (filter ColouriseSG)|
- 1892 - The Philadelphia Phillies were the home team at Expo Park for a twin bill, and they weren’t even playing the Pirates, but the Washington Senators! They were making up a pair of rain dates against the Sens while the Pirates were away playing the Cleveland Spiders (Pittsburgh won 6-5), as Washington just finished a set at Baltimore and the Phils were coming off a home series with a mutual off day. 1,200 fans showed up at Exposition Park to watch the double dipper split, with each side taking a 3-2 win.
- 1893 - The Pirates scored seven runs in the ninth inning at Expo Park and still lost to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms by a 22-16 count. It was the epitome of ugly baseball - 38 runs, 37 hits, 24 walks and 11 errors made for an amateur hour match. The Pittsburgh Press wrote of the walks (although noting that the ump seemed “a little off”) that “This beats anything in that line seen in a league game...Three pitchers were used by the Pittsburgs in one inning, and this, too, had never been heard of in the league.” The first six Pirates in the order combined for 16 hits, with George Van Haltren banging out four knocks in a losing cause.
- 1895 - RHP Johnny Miljus was born in Lawrenceville and went to Pitt, where he was a football and baseball star. Known as “Jovo” (short for Jovan, or John in Serbian) and “The Big Serb” (a nickname bestowed on him by Babe Ruth, per baseball lore), he got his start with an inning for the Pittsburgh Rebels of the Federal League in 1915, and later worked for the Bucs from 1927-28 (he fought in WW1 and was wounded in action, delaying his career), going 13-10-1 with a 3.53 ERA. He was a multi-role hurler, and did everything from start to close. He’s best remembered for his wild pitch that allowed the Yankees to sweep the 1927 Series. Jovo struck out Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel in the ninth of that game and got two strikes on Tony Lazzeri. But he muscled up on the next pitch (some say it was a spitter, tho Johnny never 'fessed up) and it got past C Johnny Gooch, allowing Earle Combs to score the winning run. Johnny was thought to be the first Serbian to play MLB.
- 1902 - RHP Hal Smith was born in Creston, Iowa. Smith broke into the big leagues as a 30 year old, and spent his four-year career (1932-35) as a Buc, although most of his twirling in the first and last year was done for the AA Kansas City Blues. He went 12-11-1 with a 3.77 ERA as a Pirate with his time split between starting and the bullpen. Hal played for the Blues again in 1936, then hung ‘em up.
- 1909 - The fans were pumped; they began lining up 6-1/2 hours before the game for tickets as an SRO crowd of 30,338 filled every nook, to date the largest gathering to ever watch a baseball game, to see the Pirates fall to the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, in the debut of Forbes Field. Ed Reulbach tossed a three-hitter to top Pittsburgh’s Vic Willis, who spun a four-hitter. Honus Wagner collected two hits and scored a run in a game that was played in one hour and 50 minutes. Mayor William Magee threw out the first ball. He was in the second tier and lobbed the ball to John M. Morin, Director of Public Safety, on the field below. Morin then went to the mound and threw the first pitch to open the festivities. The ball yard was one of the nation's first made completely of concrete and steel, featuring public phones, separate ladies room, ramps rather than stairs and even included a visitor’s clubhouse. FF’s firsts: the first radio broadcast in 1921, the first fan elevator installed in 1938, the first field tarps, the first pads to cushion the outfield wall in the forties and the first All-Star (1944) game played at night. It had a print shop (Banker’s Lithographing) in its interior and in the twenties, the space under the LF bleachers was used for car sales and repairs! It wasn’t exactly embraced at the beginning; it was often called "Dreyfuss' Folly" in its conceptual years. Some folly; the yard was the Pirates’ home for 61 seasons.
- 1909 - LHP Harry “Tincan” Kincannon was born in parts unknown. He pitched for the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1930-36, being one of just three players to transition from the original independent club to the Negro National League. The curve-ball specialist made one All-Star appearance for the Crawfords before he was traded to the NY Black Yankees. He finished his career after the 1939 campaign.
- 1917 - Pirates skipper Jimmy "Nixey" Callahan was fired after the club staggered to a 20-40 start, and Honus Wagner took over as player-manager. The Wagner-led Bucs won 5-4 win over the Reds‚ with the Dutchman banging a two-run double. Wilbur Cooper went the distance for the win at Forbes Field. Wagner resigned after a five-game stint at the helm; he much preferred playing to filling out lineup cards, and business manager Hugo Bezdek took the reins.
- 1927 - Sometimes ya just can’t win: Per BR Bullpen, SS Glenn Wright, on the way home from St. Louis after being beaned while batting against the Cards, was slightly injured when the train he was riding wrecked in Ohio. “Buckshot” lost two weeks to the twin traumas, not returning to the lineup until July 14th. Lee Meadows, who accompanied Wright on the trip home, escaped shaken but unscathed.
- 1931 - LHP Don Gross was born in Weidman, Michigan. Gross pitched from the pen for the Bucs from 1958-60, going 6-8 with a 3.82 ERA. The Pirates made one of their “whatever was I thinking” deals when they got him from the Reds; they sent RHP Bob Purkey to Cincinnati, who won in double figures for eight seasons and made three All-Star teams.
|Don Gross - 1960 Topps|
- 1933 - 1B/OF Dave Roberts was born in Panama City, Panama. After a couple of years playing off the Colt .45’s (Astros) bench, Roberts spent a year on the farm and joined the Bucs in 1966 via the Rule 5 draft, going 2-for-16 in his last MLB shot while spending most of the campaign at AAA Columbus. Afterwards, he put in eight seasons in Japan (1967-74). J
- 1934 - A small stone monument dedicated to Barney Dreyfuss was unveiled outside Forbes Field’s RF gates, leading to Schenley Park, on the 25th anniversary of the ballyard. The monument was later displayed in TRS and it’s now located at PNC Park, on the concourse behind home plate. The ceremony didn’t help the Bucs, who were 4-2 losers to the Cubs.