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2/18: Jason, John, AVS, Sid Sign; Bob Walks Away; The King & Clemente; HBD Bruce, Bob, Dal, Manny, Cal, Luis & Sherry

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  • 1891 – LHP Sherrod “Sherry” Smith was born in Monticello, Georgia. He got his career off to an inglorious start in Pittsburgh, giving up seven runs in 4-⅔ IP in his three 1911-12 outings. But after a couple years of minor league seasoning and a change of scenery, he blossomed to win 114 games in the next 12 years for the Brooklyn Robins and Cleveland Indians. In 1980 Smith was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and a decade later he was honored with a state historical marker (“Mansfield’s Famous Southpaw”) near his home. 
  • 1927 – LHP Luis Arroyo was born in Penuelas, Puerto Rico. “Tite” (a Latino nickname for Enrique, his middle name) was a screwballer who got a lot of ground outs. He tossed for the Bucs between 1956-57, with 12 starts in 72 appearances and a 6-14-2/4.69 ERA. After a year in AAA, he was converted full time to relief and spent his last four seasons in Yankee pinstripes, winning a World Series game and earning an All-Star nod in 1961. 
Luis Arroyo – 1957 Topps
  • 1929 – C Cal Neeman was born in Valmeyer, Illinois. Neeman came off the bench for most of his seven-year career (he made the The Sporting News’ All Rookie squad in 1957 as a Cub but never was the top man after that year), and appeared in 24 games for the 1962 Buccos, hitting .180 after earning a spot on the club as an NRI in camp. He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for utility player Bob Burda after the season. After he retired in 1963, he returned to college and worked a variety of jobs, including HS baseball coach. 
  • 1938 – OF Manny Mota was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The pinch hitter supreme spent six seasons (1963-68) with Pittsburgh as a fourth outfielder early in his career, hitting .297 during that span. It wasn’t until 1974 that the Dodgers used him solely as a bench bat and he came through in spades, smacking 150 career pinch hits. 
  • 1939 – IF Dal Maxvill was born in Granite City, Illinois. Dal joined the Bucs toward the tail end of his MLB days for parts of 1973-74, hitting .188 before being released. “Maxie” finished his 14-year career with Oakland after the Pirates let him go, playing his last game in 1975. Dal coached and was the Card’s GM afterward, retiring from baseball for good when he was fired from that job during a messy transition following Gus Busch’s death. 
  • 1939 – RHP Bob Miller was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Miller spent 18 years in the show, tossing for the Bucs in 1971-72 (6-4-6/2.19) and pitching in two NLCS sets and a World Series. He later managed in the Padres organization and was pitching coach for the Blue Jays and Giants. Miller pitched in an era that featured three Bob Millers, all tossing in the majors starting in the late 1950s, and in fact was teammates with one of them in 1962 with the Mets. 
Buster – 1976 Topps
  • 1950 – RHP Bruce Kison was born in Pasco, Washington. The righty pitched nine years (1971-79) for the Bucs and his career bookended Pittsburgh World series titles; he was 4-1 in the postseason, including a memorable 6-1/3 shutout innings stint against the Orioles in game #4 of the 1971 Fall Classic. He was part of the rotation for three years, but was used mostly as a spot starter and long guy, putting up a Pirate pitching line of 81-63/3.49. 
  • 1967 – Eddie Feigner, headliner fastpitch softball hurler of the King and his Court, appeared in a charity softball game at Dodger Stadium and struck out six MLB players in a row, including Roberto Clemente, reportedly tossing a 104 MPH underhand heater. 
  • 1988 – The day before it was scheduled, 1B Sid Bream avoided an arb hearing and agreed with the Bucs on a one-year/$360K deal w/All-Star, Golden Glove and MVP bonuses. Bream had asked for $485K and the Pirates had countered with $300K after a .275/13 HR campaign in 1987; Sid reluctantly accepted the deal (he thought he deserved to be close to $400K) rather than go through a hearing. RHP Randy Kramer also signed; he would make his MLB debut in September. 
  • 1989 – All-Star outfielder Andy Van Slyke dropped his demand to be paid if there was an owners’ lockout when the CBA expired in 1990 (there was, but it was settled in mid-March) and signed a three-year/$5.5M contract with the Pirates, avoiding a looming arbitration hearing. Van Slyke’s contract included a $600K signing bonus and salaries of $1.95M in 1989 and 1991 and $1M in 1990 with $270,000 per season available in incentive bonuses. Before this deal ran out, he would sign a three-year extension in 1991 worth $12.65M, making him the Pirates’ highest paid player. 
  • 1992 – The Pirates and pitcher John Smiley, who had gone 20-8 and earned an All-Star berth during the 1991 campaign, agreed on a $3.44M + incentives deal hours before they were due to face off at an arbitration hearing. The two sides met in the middle; Smiley had asked for $4.1M and Pittsburgh had countered with $2.7M. It was a $2M raise (the lefty earned $1.4M in ‘91) and a ticket out of town: a month later, Smiley was traded to the Twins for Denny Neagle and Midre Cummings. 
John Smiley – 1992 Donruss
  • 1994 – The Pirates opened camp without a familiar face as Bob Walk retired after 14 MLB seasons (10 with the Bucs). He had turned down an earlier bullpen deal with the Buccos, looking for a more lucrative starting job offer that never came. But the Whirly Bird landed on his feet, making a quick transition to the broadcast team four days later. 
  • 1998 – RHP Jason Schmidt signed a three-year contract that would carry him to his final arb year after posting a 10-9/4.60 line in 1997. The first year was worth $750K, including his signing bonus, the second for $1.4M and the final season guaranteed $2.4M with some performance sweeteners. Schmidt went 26-30/4.30 over the life of the deal, signed a one-year deal in 2001 and was shipped to San Francisco at the deadline.


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