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6/29 Through the 1940’s: Expo Finale; Klobbering Kiner; Game Stories; HBD Heinie, Whitey & Patsy

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  • 1867 – IF Henry “Heinie” Reitz was born in Chicago. Heinie had established himself as a dependable .290 hitter over his first five years and the Pirates sent three players to Washington to get him. Father Time won this deal. The 32-year-old Reitz played just 35 games for the Bucs, hitting a career low of .262 and was traded to Milwaukee of the American Association for Harry Smith, who spent six years with the Bucs as a backup catcher. Heinie never played major league ball again after the deal and became a sad but historic footnote in baseball history when he died in 1914 at age 47, the first major league player to meet his Maker as the result of a car accident. 
Patsy Flaherty 1904 – photo Chicago History Museum/Getty
  • 1876 – LHP Patsy Flaherty was born in Mansfield (now Carnegie). The Flaherty and Wagner families were neighbors and Patsy & Hans were lifelong friends. Flaherty was a “quick-pitch” stylist and master of the pickoff (between pitching as soon as he got the ball back from the catcher and his deceptive pickoff move, it’s been said that he struck out at least two batters who swung at throws to first!) who was recommended to the Pirates twice by his homie Hans. He pitched for the Bucs in 1900 and then again from 1904-05. He went 29-19-1/2.85 in that span. When he retired after nine years of major league ball with a dead arm, he coached, managed and scouted for various clubs until 1940. 
  • 1907 – The Pirates edged the Cubs 2-1 at West Side Park when CF Tommy Leach threw out Chicago’s Harry Steinfeldt at the plate in the ninth inning. Per the Pittsburgh Press: “…the wee outfielder (Leach)…was as active as a cat all afternoon. Tommie grabbed the bounding sphere and hurled it to catcher (George) Gibson at the plate. It was a perfect throw and had ‘Steiny’ beaten by 20 feet.” Deacon Phillippe was the winner over Ed Reulbach‚ who had a 17-game winning streak snapped. 
  • 1909 – The Pirates won the final game they played at Exposition Park by an 8–1 count from the Chicago Cubs in front of 5,543 people, moving on to Oakland and Forbes Field the next day. George Gibson banged the final big league hit in the ballpark and Lefty Leifield earned the win over Three Finger Mordecai Brown. Lefty ended the game dramatically, striking out Jim Archer. Tommy Leach and Dots Miller, with four RBI, each collected three hits, and three other Bucs had a pair of knocks. The Park was ushered out in appropriate style – “Commodore” Charles Zieg played Taps as the flag was lowered after the contest. It was a fitting finale: the Cubs helped open the Expo in 1891 and would perform the same honors for Forbes Field, both opening and closing the yard. 
  • 1910 – Burgess “Whitey” Whitehead was born in Tarboro, North Carolina. A good glove, erratic hitting infielder, Whitey put in eight years with the Cards and Giants, winning a World Series, three NL pennants and an All-Star selection. After missing three seasons while in the military, he returned in 1946 for a last hurrah with the Pirates, hitting .220 at age 36 and then retiring after two more years in the minors. Whitehead was elected into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1981 and was the last surviving member of the Gas House Gang when he died in 1993 at the age of 83. 
Max Carey 1915 – Cracker Jack
  • 1915 – The Bucs and Cards split a doubleheader at Robison Field in less than ideal conditions. Today’s groundskeepers would be aghast, but the St. Louis crew used 300 gallons of gas to “bake” the infield after rain had turned it to mush. Doc Johnson of the Redbirds and the Buccos Hans Wagner both suffered minor leg injuries (they returned the next day) on the torched surface. Left fielder Max Carey, who had three assists in the two games, collected one with a helping hand from the hitter: the Cards LF Cozy Dolan’s drive hit his own glove in the grass behind third base (it was common practice to leave your glove on the field between innings) and Carey took advantage of the deflection to throw Dolan out at second. Pittsburgh won the opener, 8-6, by scoring four ninth-inning runs. They were led by Hans Wagner and Carey with two hits and RBIs each; Babe Adams pitched the last two frames for the win. The Cards took the nitecap, 6-4, holding off the Pirates after jumping out to an early 6-0 lead. 
  • 1949 – Ralph Kiner had a feature article running in the current Saturday Evening Post and celebrated by driving in five runs with a grand slam (the fourth of his four-year career) and a double to lead the Bucs to a 7-3 win over the Reds at Forbes Field. Johnny Hopp led the hit parade with three knocks while Kiner, Pete Castiglione and Dino Restelli had a pair of raps. Vic Lombardi was given a six-run lead after two innings and coasted to the win, with a three-run dinger surrendered to Virg Stallcup his only major miscue. Kiner’s homer was his 19th of the year, tying him with Ted Williams for the MLB lead, and Ralph would eventually run away from the Splendid Splinter to take the title with 54 long flies, the still-standing Bucco record.


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