1914 – OF Maurice Van Robays was born in Detroit. Van Robays replaced RF Lloyd Waner late in 1939. He finished third in the NL with 116 RBI and received a smattering of MVP votes the next season. “Bomber” (his nickname after he hit 11 HR in 1940) had a strong 1941. MVR developed vision problems the following season and had to wear glasses, and it took him until 1943 to rediscover his batting stroke. Then he missed the war years of 1944-45 while serving with the 1st Infantry Division, and played one last season in Pittsburgh in 1946. Van Robays is credited with naming Rip Sewell's famous “eephus” pitch. After seeing it delivered, Van Robays said “that's an eephus,” using the Hebrew term for “nothing.”
Gus Bell 1952 Topps
1928 – OF Gus Bell was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He came up with the Pirates, and between 1950-52 hit .270 with 40 HR. He was traded to the Reds, where he went on to win four All-Star berths. Gus is Buddy’s father and the grandpa of David and Michael. Family factoid from Wiki: David Bell hit for the cycle in 2004, joining his grandfather Gus to become the only grampa-grandkid duo in MLB history to accomplish that feat.
1950 – Branch Rickey was featured in a cartoon on the front page of The Sporting News for the story “Treasure Island,” shown plotting future Pirate moves on an X-marks-the-spot map. Unfortunately, the Bucs ran aground rebuilding during the Mahatma’s 1950-55 reign, although he is often credited with the spadework that led to the strong sixties clubs.
1978 – RF Dave “The Cobra” Parker won the NL MVP, topping runner-up Steve Garvey of the LA Dodgers. Parker had 30 HR with 117 RBI and led the league with a .334 batting average, a .585 slugging percentage, and 340 total bases. That was despite the fact that he missed two weeks after breaking his jaw in a home plate collision with the Mets' John Stearns and returned wearing a football-style facemask, thought to be the first time such a contraption was worn in an MLB game.
Craig Hansen 2008 Topps
1983 – RHP Craig Hansen was born in Glen Cove, New York. A first round draft pick of Boston,the closer was traded to Pittsburgh as part of the Jason Bay deal. He only appeared in five games for the Pirates and was diagnosed with Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, a condition that disrupts nerve signals between muscles. His lost his fastball and was released by Pittsburgh in 2011.
2010 – Clint Hurdle, former Colorado manager, became the Pirates sixth field boss since 1992, replacing John Russell. Clint was the first skipper to guide the team to a playoff spot since Jim Leyland in 1992 when his club earned a wild card berth in 2013 while also snapping a record-setting 20-season losing streak and was in the playoffs for three straight years until the string was snapped in 2016.