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10/20: Frankie Stays; Hugh Signs; World Tour; Theismann Tires Kicked; HBD Jose,Jerry & Jocko

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  • 1864 – UT John “Jocko” Fields was born in Cork, Ireland. Jocko played everything on the field (mainly OF & C), hitting .265 as a member of the Alleghenys (1887-89), the Burghers of the Players’ League (1890) and the Pirates in 1891. 
  • 1888 – In what may have been the first and surely the grandest international barnstorming tour ever undertaken, Albert Spaulding, with a team of Chicago players (including Mark “Fido” Baldwin & John Tener, both whom would later pitch in Pittsburgh) and and “All-America” team (The Allegheny’s Fred Miller was on that nine along with future OF/manager Ned Hanlon), left Chicago and played exhibitions in the US West, then took a liner to play in Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon, Egypt, Italy, France, England, Scotland and Ireland before getting back home for more exhibitions, finally wrapping it up 53 games later on April 20th, 1889. 
1888 Tour Poster – via Baseball Hall of Fame
  • 1948 – RHP Hugh Casey announced that he would sign with the Pirates for the upcoming season; he had been been released by the Brooklyn Dodgers at the end of the 1948 campaign. “Fireman,” who was 35, had been troubled by a bad back and lasted until August with the Bucs, going 4-1-5/4.66 before being released and claimed by the Yankees in what would be his last big league campaign. 
  • 1948 – In his “Village Smithy” column in the Pittsburgh Press, sports editor Chester Smith shot down the Frankie Gustine-to-the-Cubs rumors that had been floating around. He wrote that the Cubs had had a long time interest in Gustine and a hole at third base, so they offered Pirates GM Roy Hamey C Clyde McCullough and an unspecified pitcher or two for Gustine during talks dating back to the World Series. Hamey replied that McCullough would have to be joined by pitchers Hank Borowy and Cliff Chambers for him to consider a deal, and that price ended the convo. But Smith should have left the fortune-telling to Nostradamus; the Bucs sent Gustine (and Cal McLish) to the Cubs for McCullough and Chambers six weeks later. Though coming off an All-Star season and just 29-years-old, Frankie only hit .226 as a Cub in ‘49 and would last one more MLB season. Borowy, btw, joined the Bucs in 1950 and tossed poorly for two months (1-3/6.39) before he was sold to the Tigers. 
  • 1961 – Ump Jerry Meals was born in Butler. He began umpiring in the eighties, came up on a fill-in basis in 1992 and became a regular member of the blue crew in 1998; he’s been a crew chief since 2015. Jerry has worked the WBC, two AS games, nine division/league championship series and a WS. Meals has had his share of controversial calls, including the missed play at the plate against the Braves in 2012 that began the Pirates spin around the drain and birthed the “Jerry Meals says he’s safe” meme. He lives in southeast Ohio just across the PA state line and graduated from Salem HS (OH). 
  • 1970 – Dan Marino and John Elway weren’t the only pro football quarterbacks that had baseball scouts sniffing around them. UPI reported that the Pirates, along with the Yankees, Mets and Reds, had contacted Notre Dame QB Joe Theismann to gauge his interest in MLB. The 3B was coy, saying that he’d be interested if his football career didn’t pan out. He did end up drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 39th round of the 1971 draft, but that gridiron thing did pan out for Joe, even with time in the CFL and that brutal leg-snapping NFL finale. 
Jose Veras – photo Justin Aller/Getty
  • 1980 – RHP Jose Veras was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jose tossed for nine years and eight teams, stopping in Pittsburgh during the 2011 campaign, posting a 2-4-1/3.80 line in 79 appearances. The reliever was last sighted pitching in the indie leagues in 2016.


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