1873 – P Harry Jordan was born in Titusville (or maybe Pittsburgh; there’s some disagreement among biographers). Manager Connie Mack pulled him out of the New England League to help his shorthanded staff finish the 1894 season and then from the Iron and Oil League the following year, again to plug a pitching gap as the campaign neared the tape. Harry went 1-2, 4.15 in his three career MLB starts, not a bad slash for a semi-pro hurler.
1880 – C Claude “Admiral” Berry was born in Losantville, Indiana. He had a fairly undistinguished MLB career from 1904-07, playing three years and getting into 21 games. But when the Federal League started in 1914, the 35-year-old was apparently well rested – he signed on with the Pittsburgh Rebels and caught 221 games in the league’s two seasons, batting just .219 but throwing out 214-of-445 would-be base stealers, a 48% CS rate. In 1904, while playing for the Chicago White Sox, Claude became the first major league catcher to wear a protective cup. He also caught Frank Allen’s no-hitter against St. Louis in 1915. The Admiral closed out his career with a couple of years of AA ball. His family said that Berry got his nickname because he was a flashy dresser.
Admiral Berry 1914 (Rebels Team Photo)
1884 – Utilityman Jack Lewis was born in Pittsburgh’s South Side. He had an 18 game audition with the Red Sox in 1911, then got back in the groove with the Filipinos/Rebels of the Federal League, playing five positions and batting .245 from 1913-15, earning a spot on the Fed All-Star team in 1913 when it was still an indy league. Jack did play a lot of ball in his day; his career in the bushes began in 1901 and he didn’t quit playing until after the 1921 season, and that was only after a car accident.
1887 – Per Wikipedia, the National Colored Base Ball League, the first attempt at a professional Negro League, was organized at a meeting in Baltimore. Eight clubs were represented, including the original Pittsburgh Keystones. The league quickly folded (the Keystones finished 3-4), but set a foundation that would eventually allow the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays to enter the baseball scene. The Keystones went dormant, then were revived briefly from 19-22 to play in the Negro National League. Their home field was Central Park (also known as Keystone Park or Chauncey Street Park), located in the Hill at the corner of Chauncey Street and Humber Way. The park was built by black architect Louis Bellinger, who would later design Greenlee Field for the Pittsburgh Crawfords.
1897 – C Earl Smith was born in Sheridan, Arizona. Smith spent five of his 12 big league years in Pittsburgh from 1924-28, hitting .315 over that span. He was a member of the 1925 World Series-winning club (he hit .350 v Washington) and the 1927 Series team that lost to the Yankees. Smith was suspended for a spell in 1925 for brawling with a fan in Boston; not only did he lose time to the league, but he was laid up briefly after the fact when a second fan clunked him with a chair!
Earl Smith (photo 1925 Pittsburgh Press)
1975 – LHP Damaso Marte was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He pitched for the Bucs in 2001 and again from 2006-08. He went 7-8-5 with a 3.52 ERA and struck out 200 batters in 186-⅔ IP. In 2008, during his second stint as a Bucco, Marte and Xavier Nady were traded to the Yankees for four prospects: José Tábata, Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, and Daniel McCutchen.
1996 – Kevin McClatchy and partners purchased the Pirates from the Pittsburgh Associates for $90M with the understanding that a baseball-only stadium be built within five years. The sale saved the franchise from being moved out of Pittsburgh by other potential buyers and greased the wheels for a new ballyard, but proved a mixed competitive blessing under the perpetually cash-strapped McClatchy.