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3/10: Sanders Signs; Heaton-Gibson Swap; Lange & Blass Duo; HBD John, Tike, Jack, Art, Judge, Gene, Pops & Chief

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  • 1862 – Utilityman Ed “Pops/Dad” Lytle was born in Racine, Wisconsin. Pops (he was 28 when he reached the majors) had a 16-game big league career, all in 1890, and appeared in 15 of them with the Alleghenys, playing second and the outfield while hitting .145. He played 12 years of organized ball starting in 1889 and concluding in 1900; given his age, he likely seasoned himself in the indie and semi-pro leagues during his younger days. 
John Kelty – 1884 Sporting Life illustration
  • 1871 – OF John “Chief” Kelty was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. 19-year-old Kelty played for the 1890 Alleghenys in his only big league stop, hitting .237 in 59 games as part of a posse of 12 players who roamed the pasture for Pittsburgh at one time or another during that 113-loss season. He dropped out of the record books after playing in the minors in 1891, presumably returning to his hometown, where he passed on in 1929. 
  • 1873 – IF Eugene Napoleon DeMontreville (AKA Gene Demont) was born in St. Paul. Gene only played for the Pirates in his 1894 rookie season, hitting .250 in eight at-bats, but went on to have an 11-year MLB career and put together a 36-game hitting streak between 1896-97 with Washington, the 10th longest run in baseball history. Gene left the show with a .303 lifetime average and six .300+ campaigns. (PS – don’t take this birth date to the bank; many sources agree on this date but his SABR bio claims it was March 26, 1874, so caveat emptor). 
  • 1880 – RHP Walter “Judge/Lucky” Nagel was born in Santa Rosa, California. He began his major league career with the Pirates in 1911, signed by Barney Dreyfuss after a strong run in the PCL, with three consecutive 20-win campaigns. He slashed 4-2/3.62 in eight games. Judge was sold to the Boston Red Sox in June. That stop was the end of his career; he developed a sore arm and retired. Nagle wrote a book afterward titled “Five Straight Errors On Ladies Day” about his life and his friendship with Ty Cobb. He got his “Judge” nickname because he grew up beside the Santa Rosa Courthouse, where his father worked. We weren’t so lucky trying to find the origin of “Lucky.” 
  • 1889 – P Jack Mercer was born in Zanesville, Ohio. His major league career lasted one inning, tossed in 1910 for the Pirates, allowing no runs on two walks and one strikeout. He had control issues he couldn’t overcome, and after two years in the minors, he was done with organized ball following the 1911 season. 
  • 1906 – RHP Art Herring was born in Altus, Oklahoma. Art closed out his 11-year career in 1947 with the Pirates after the Bucs bought his contract from the Brooklyn Dodgers during the ‘46 offseason. Herring made 11 appearances out of the pen for the Pirates in 1947 with a 1-3-2/8.44 slash and was released in late June, retiring after the season. 
John Cangelosi – 1988 Panini sticker
  • 1963 – OF John Cangelosi was born in Brooklyn. The hustler hit .243 between 1987-90 for Pittsburgh, and in ‘87 became the first Pirate in 21 years to steal home. Cangelosi played 13 years for seven clubs; Pittsburgh was his longest stay with one team. He now operates Cangelosi Baseball, located inside the Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports Dome, a Chicago-based sports training facility. 
  • 1977 – OF Julian “Tike” Redman was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He played five of his six MLB seasons (2000-01, 03-05) in Pittsburgh as a reserve outfielder, with a .281 BA. He had a decent stick, but he lost out when Nate McLouth and Chris Duffy were called to the show. He finished out his career in 2011 in the Mexican League. 
  • 1987 – Mike Lange and Steve Blass were named announcers for the Bucco broadcasts on cable channel TCI, returning after their 1986 debut. It was controversial, as Ray Goss, Duquesne basketball announcer, and WPXI sportscaster Don Brinson were strong contenders to replace them and were in fact rumored to have the inside track. But a last minute compromise on contract terms saved the day for Lange and Blass, who broadcast 54 games for TCI in ‘87. 
  • 1992 – The Pittsburgh Pirates traded LHP Neal Heaton to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for OF Kirk Gibson. Heaton, a 1990 All-Star, was released the following season while Gibson hit just .196 for the Bucs and was given his walking papers in early May. Kirk did have three decent seasons for Detroit and old skipper Sparky Anderson afterward, hitting .273 with 45 HR during that span before hanging them up in 1996.

Kirk Gibson – 1992 Pinnacle

  • 2003 – OF Reggie Sanders signed a one-year/$1M contract that had been announced pending physical on February 19th, but because of a 40-man logjam, wasn’t made official until this date. Reggie earned every penny of the belated deal by hitting .285 with 31 HR/87 RBI, and the big campaign paid off for him as he left the following year and turned his slash into a two-year/$6M deal with St. Louis. Reggie remained productive over the final four years of his career before retiring after an injury-shortened 2007 season.


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