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5/23 From 1940 Through the 1960’s: Sid, The Hound Dealt; Whalin' Willie Debut; Game Stories; HBD Nelson

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  • 1943 – The Pirates only had one hit during the match but it was enough. Vince DiMaggio’s fourth-inning double scored Elbie Fletcher, who had walked, for a 1-0 win at Forbes Field against the Chicago Cubs. Bob Klinger went the distance for Pittsburgh, tossing a four-hitter to hand Dick Barrett a tough defeat. The Pirates wouldn’t win another game with just one hit again until 2017 when they defeated the Dodgers 1-0 at PNC Park. Josh Harrison’s walk-off homer in the 10th broke up the no-no and shut-out bids of LA pitcher Rich Hill in one sweet swing. 
Bill McDonald 1951 Bowman
  • 1950 – After traveling a twisted trail (he was signed out of high school by the Tigers, granted free agency by the league with a handful of other Detroit farmhands due to some contractual hanky-panky, then signed with the Pirates for $20,000 to become their first “bonus baby” to reach Forbes Field) Bill MacDonald made his first major league start. It was a good one as he shut out the Phillies‚ 6-0, twirling a complete game three-hitter against the future NL champs. “Whalin’ Willie” (his bread-and-butter was the fastball) went 8-10/4.29 for the last-place Bucs, making 32 outings (twenty starts) with two shutouts and six complete games to his credit. His major drawback was a wild streak; he averaged over five walks per nine. MacDonald then missed the 1951–52 seasons when he was in the service during the Korean War years, and when he returned in 1953, he had lost it. Bill pitched poorly in four more games (12.27 ERA), was sent to the PCL and retired after the 1954 campaign. 
  • 1952 – It took 13 frames, but Johnny Merson’s double scored Gus Bell with the game winner to end an eight-game losing streak as the Bucs topped the Cubs 6-5 at Forbes Field. The Pirates scored four times in the opening inning, but Bob Friend couldn’t hold on. Ted Wilks spun the last 5-⅔ frames without yielding a run to end the drought. 
  • 1955 – 3B Sid Gordon was sold to the New York Giants for “considerably over the $10,000 waiver price,” thought to be in the $25K range. Despite hitting .306 in 1954, the 36-year-old Gordon was a seldom-used backup third baseman (he lost his job to Gene Freese) and pinch hitter, providing not a lot of value as their highest-paid player at $27,500. The Pittsburgh Press said he was “…understandably happy and excited when called into Branch Rickey’s office to get the glad news…” The NY nine didn’t do much to extend his career; he got into 66 games and hit .243, ending his career. 
  • 1958 – IF Nelson Norman was born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. In six MLB years, Nelson got into 198 games; three were for Pittsburgh in 1982 when he went 0-for-3. But he had some Bucco history. The Pirates originally signed him in 1975 as a 16-year-old. He went to Texas a couple of years later as part of the Bert Blyleven deal. The Rangers acquired Mario Mendoza in 1981, bumping Nelson out of a job, and after the season, the Rangers traded Norman back to the Pirates for Víctor Cruz. He played mostly for Portland (AAA), Lynn (AA) and Hawaii (AAA) through 1984, finishing out his career in the minors for Baltimore and Montreal in ‘87. He’s coached for several organizations since retiring and is now a scout/head of Dominican Operations for the O’s. 
Bob Skinner 1963 Topps
  • 1963 – The Bucs sent OF Bob Skinner to the Reds for Jerry Lynch, who started his career in Pittsburgh. Lynch spent his last four years as a Pirate and set the MLB pinch hit home run record of 18 (since surpassed by Matt Stairs) in a Bucco uniform. Skinner spent nine seasons with Pittsburgh, compiling a .280 BA, and lasted five more years in the show. 
  • 1965 – The Pirates came to Milwaukee in the throes of an eight game losing streak and left with a three-game sweep of the Braves at County Stadium, taking a 10-1 victory in the series finale with the match iced by an Andre Rogers grand slam. Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski each had three hits to back Bob Veale’s complete game, four-hit performance. The combination of the Pirates and some unseasonably cool weather didn’t do much to line the owners’ pockets – the set drew just 7,394 fans for the three contests, with the biggest crowd being 2,679 for the Friday night series opener. Of course, the fact that the Braves announced their move to Atlanta just a week or two prior probably didn’t help spin the gates, either. After the relo, Milwaukee went without MLB ball until 1970 when the Brewers (nee Seattle Pilots) arrived.


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