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11/11 Through the 1920s: Brodie Deal; HBD Pie, Rabbit, Art, George, Joe, Lee & Charlie

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  • 1853 – IF Joe Battin was born in West Bradford, in Chester County, although some cite Philadelphia as his birthplace. Contrary to his name, Joe was a good fielding, bad battin’ guy who spent 10 years in a variety of major leagues – the National Association, National League, American Association, and the Union Association. He was with the Allegheny from 1882-84, batting .215 and serving briefly as a player/manager for a smidgen of the 1883 and ‘84 campaigns, going 8-18. His career highlight was taking part of the 1874 tour of the UK and France by the Philadelphia Athletics & Boston Red Stockings. The Americans not only introduced the Euros to baseball, but also were booked for several cricket matches. 
  • 1870 – RHP Charlie Hastings was born in Ironton, Ohio. Working mostly as a fourth starter in the days when two or three were the norm, he put up a 11-14-1 record with a 4.51 ERA between 1896-98, appearing in 67 games (45 starts) for Pittsburgh. Charlie played through the 1904 season before spending a few seasons as an umpire. He then retired to Parkersburg, WV, where he collected bridge tolls for a living before passing away in 1934. 
Charlie Hastings – 1896 Team Photo Snip via Wikipedia
  • 1891 – IF Walter “Rabbit” Maranville was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Hall of Famer spent four (1921-24) of his 23 big league seasons in Pittsburgh, hitting .283 during his stay. In 1922, he led the league with 746 PA and 672 AB, scoring 115 times. There are a couple of tales regarding the origin of his nickname. One is that he earned it because of his big ears. He begged to differ, claiming that the young sister of a friend came up with it after watching him bounce around like a bunny on the field.
  • 1896 – CF Jake Stenzel was traded along with bench players RHP Elmer Horton, OF Tom O’Brien and IF Harry Truby to the Baltimore Orioles for CF Steve Brodie and 3B Jim Donnelly. Stenzel, who had a .360 BA over five years with the Bucs, hit .353 with 116 RBI for the O’s in 1897. Brodie was released after 1-1/2 years in Pittsburgh (.283 BA) and Donnelly only lasted one season (.193 BA). Brodie was re-signed by Baltimore after the Bucs let him go and hit .308 for them through 1899, and in a bit of circle dancing replaced Stenzel, who was traded to the St. Louis Browns after his big 1897 season. 
  • 1898 – Harold “Pie” Traynor was born in Framingham, Massachusetts. The Hall of Fame 3B played 17 seasons (1920-35, 1937) for the Pirates with a career .320 BA. He hit over .300 ten times, had over 100 RBI in a season seven times, and was considered the top third baseman of his era. The ensuing local generations may remember him for his “Studio Wrestling” promos, when he touted American Heating with his “Who Can? Ameri-Can!” line. Traynor became a scout for the Pirates when his career ended (he held that post for the rest of his life) and hosted a radio program six days a week for 20 years on KQV called “The Pie Traynor Club” where he talked baseball with local kids. Pie passed away in 1972 and is buried in Homewood Cemetery. There are several stories involving his nickname. A couple revolve around his love of pie when he was a kid, with another explaining that his round puss made him look “pie-faced.” Dave Finoli, in his “Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia” (second edition), adds another contender, writing that Traynor as a youth came home covered in dirt after a day at play, and was told by his dad that he was “…as dark as a pied pipe.” 
  • 1906 – Announcer Art McKennan was born in Oakland. Starting out as a Forbes Field errand boy, he did odd jobs around the park, working his way up to bat boy and scoreboard runner. Art got a job in the real world and continued on as an usher. He couldn’t keep that gig, though – in 1930, he was diagnosed with polio. But it didn’t stop him. Art was the voice of the Pirates at Forbes Field from 1948 until it closed, and then at TRS until 1987 (he did Sunday games after that until 1993). He also had stints with the Penguins, Pitt football and Duquesne hoops along with a 30-year career in Pittsburgh’s Parks Department. He died in 1996 at the age of 89. 

Art McKennan via SABR
  • 1906 – Scout George Detore was born in Utica, New York. The infielder played in 33 games over two years for the Indians before getting into coaching and scouting. He served on Danny Murtaugh’s MLB coaching staff during the 1959 season, taking the place of Jimmy Dykes when he left the Pirates to become the manager of the Detroit Tigers. Detore first joined Pittsburgh in 1950 as a minor league coach, then later as a New York based scout/scouting supervisor, serving in that role from 1955–58, 1960-63 and once again between 1969–86. 
  • 1923 – LHP Lee Howard was born on Staten Island. Lee had a brief MLB career consisting of five Bucs games (16 IP) tossed in 1946-47 with an 0-1/2.25 slash. Howard was signed by the Bucs in 1942, but a three-year stint in the Navy (he served in the Pacific Theater) delayed his big league arrival. He spent 1948-49 in the minors, but after giving up 10+ hits and nearly six walks per nine while compiling an ERA of 5.93, he hung up the spikes.


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