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2/3 Through the 1970’s: Stu & Rip Sign; Billy & Martin HoF; RIP Tom; HBD Joe & Freddie

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  • 1901 – Pirate utility man Tom O’Brien, who was born in Verona, died from pneumonia contracted while weak from typhoid, at the age of 27 (buyer beware – we’ve also seen the 4th and 9th cited as his final day, so…). It’s said that the fatal combo was brought on by drinking seawater as a seasickness remedy while on a Cuban barnstorming trip. He was ready to claim a starting spot after consecutive strong seasons, and his untimely death left a void in the Buc lineup which was eventually filled by rookie Kitty Bransfield. 
Joe Coleman – 1980 Topps
  • 1947 – RHP Joe Coleman was born in Boston, Massachusetts. It took Joe 15 years of big league pitching before he landed with the Bucs in 1979. Though just 32, the mileage on his arm showed as he went 0-2/6.10, after being called up from the minors in mid-July. Coleman appeared in his final major league game on September 24th as he didn’t make the cut for the postseason roster, then twirled for three more seasons in the PCL. Joe’s been a scout, coach and manager at the minor and major league levels for a variety of clubs since he hung up his mitt. He’s the middle man of an MLB baseball family – his dad Joe pitched in the forties & fifties while his son Casey tossed from 2010-14. 
  • 1949 – RHP Rip Sewell agreed to his 12th Bucco contract, signing for an undisclosed sum. The 41-year-old was coming off a 13-3/3.48 campaign, but 1949 would be his last hurrah, though it was successful – he went 6-1/3.91, with his ERA still around league average. He and the ol’ eephus pitch retired with 143-97/3.43 line, 243 games started (he pitched 390 Bucco outings overall), 137 complete games and 2,119-1/3 IP for the Pirates. 
  • 1959 – After rejecting the first two offers, 1B Dick Stuart and GM Joe Brown had a two-hour sit down and finally came up with a one-year/$11,000 agreement. Big Stu hammered 16 homers in 67 games as a rookie in 1958 and would go on to post a line of .297/.362/.549 with 27 HR in ‘59, getting into 101 contests while sharing the first base job w/Rocky Nelson and Ted Kluszewski. 
  • 1961 – RHP Freddie Tolliver was born in Natchez, Mississippi. Tolliver worked 78 games in seven MLB years with his last big league stint as a Pirate in 1993 when he went 1-0/3.74 in 12 outings. Freddie truly lived out of a suitcase: he played for 10 different teams bouncing between the minors and the show from 1989-93; no wonder he called it a day after that season. 
Billy Herman – photo via Sportsworld
  • 1975 – The Special Veterans Committee selected 2B Billy Herman (Cubs, Dodgers, Braves and Pirates) for the Hall of Fame. He spent his final season in 1947 as a Bucco player/manager, getting into 15 games and hitting .213. Billy played 15 years, hit .304 and was considered the best defensive second sacker of his time. He was inducted into the Hall on August 18th. 
  • 1977 – The Hall of Fame’s Special Committee on the Negro Leagues selected Cuban star Martin Dihigo into the Hall, where he was inducted on August 8th. Dihigo, who at one time or another played every position on the field, was with the Homestead Grays from 1927-28 and is the only man who’s been selected to the Cuban, Mexican, and United States Baseball Halls of Fame.


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