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3/24: '91 State Of the Bucs; Kiner #4; Greenberg Slugger Stamp; Jeter Returns; RIP Mace; HBD Chris, Corey, Gus, Gentleman George, Pat, Al & Mike

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  • 1869 – RHP Al Lawson was born in London, England. His MLB career consisted of three 1890 starts, two with the Alleghenys. He wasn’t exactly a poster boy for Brit baseball; he went 0-2, giving up 20 runs (10 earned) in 10 IP on 15 hits and 10 walks. Al played pro ball from 1888-95 and then managed in the minors from 1905 to 1907. In 1908 he started a new baseball league known as the Union Professional League, which quickly floundered (His brother George founded the United States League in 1910, which also died a rapid death). But he had a second career as an aviation advocate, publishing air industry magazines, founding Lawson Aircraft, and was credited by some as the guy who came up with the idea of commercial airliners. Moving on, he later wrote books, developed an out-there philosophy known as “Lawsonomy” and founded his own religion, all of which were fairly popular for a spell in the Upper Midwest.

Mike Mowrey – 1914 pennant blanket
  • 1884 – 3B Harry “Mike” Mowrey was born in Brown’s Mill, Pennsylvania. Mike had a 13 year MLB career, spending a pair of seasons in Pittsburgh. He hit .254 as a Pirate in 1914 and .280 for the Federation League’s Pittsburgh Rebels the following year. Mowrey’s forte was as a defender; he was considered the most accomplished hot corner fielder in baseball and especially sharp against the bunt, a major offensive tool during the dead ball era. Mike’s real first name was Harry; he became Mike thanks to his brother. Mowrey’s dad was sheriff and ran the jail; vagrants were often housed in the cells overnight. Young Harry was friendly with one of his dad’s guests named Mike and so his brother called Harry “Mike the Hobo” after his incarcerated bud from that time forward. 
  • 1893 – “Gentleman George” Sisler was born in Manchester, Ohio. After a Hall-of-Fame career at 1B mainly w/the St. Louis Browns, he joined the Dodgers in 1942 as a coach & evaluator. When Branch Rickey moved to the Pirates in 1951, Sisler tagged along. He helped several hitters, notably Roberto Clemente, whom he counseled to keep his head quiet and to use a heavier bat. Sisler stayed on with the Pirates after Rickey left as a roving hitting instructor. His sons, Dick & Dave Sisler, were MLB’ers. Dick spent eight years in the show and later managed the Cincinnati Reds while Dave had a seven-year career as a pitcher. George got his nicknames of “Gentleman” and “Gorgeous” because of his demeanor and looks; he was also known to a lesser degree as “Sizzler” and “The Picture Player.” 
  • 1906 – C Art “Pat” (Patrick was his middle name) Veltman was born in Mobile, Alabama. Veltman had a six-year MLB career that consisted of coffee klatches; he played just 23 games over that span, his final dozen as a Pirate in 1934, going 3-for-28 (.107). He was released in midseason to return to the Pacific Coast League Oakland Oaks (the team the Pirates drafted him from after the 1933 campaign), where he finished out the season as manager. He played three more years in the PCL and Western Association afterward and then retired from baseball. 
  • 1907 – 1B/OF Augustine “Gus” Dugas was born in St. Jean de Matha, Quebec. The reserve hit .250 in 1930 & 1932 (he broke his jaw in 1931) as a Bucco before he was sent to Philly as part of the Freddie Lindstrom trade. “Lefty” (his threw and hit from the left side), along with fellow Quebec-born major leaguers Tim Harkness, Raymond Daviault, Georges Maranda, Ron Piché, Claude Raymond, and Jean-Pierre Roy, threw the ceremonial first pitch before the inaugural Montreal Expos game at Olympic Stadium on April 15th, 1977. 
Johnny Jeter – 1970 Topps
  • 1965 – OF Johnny Jeter was selected off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles; he had originally been signed by the Pirates in 1964 out of Grambling and had been lost to the Birds in November. Johnny was unfortunately a guy who was easily exposed. Playing two years for the Bucs and six overall in the show, during the three seasons that he batted fewer than 100 times, he hit over .300, but in the three campaigns with 100+ at bats, he never hit higher than .240. 
  • 1982 – 1B/OF Corey Hart was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Pirates signed Hart to a one-year/$2.5M contract for the 2015 campaign, taking a risk that he would recover from microsurgery on his knee and fill a hole at first base. The club rolled snake eyes; Corey got into just 35 games battling shoulder & knee injuries, batted .222, and retired prior to the 2016 season. The two-time All-Star is now a minor league hitting coach for Toronto. 
  • 1991 – The Pirates president, Carl Barger, GM Larry Doughty and skipper Jim Leyland held a three-hour, closed door meeting discussing the Bucs “State of the Union” per the report of Bob Hertzel of the Pittsburgh Press. A major topic was the future of Bobby Bonilla, who was in his walk year and could be signed, traded, or lost to free agency. Hertzel said the rumor mill was percolating, with the Yankees 1B Kevin Maas & OF Roberto Kelly, the Mariners 1B Tino Martinez & old Bucco property OF Jay Buhner, the Braves P John Smoltz & OF Dave Justice and a couple of days later, the Cubs Mark Grace & Jerome Walton, on the Pirates’ wish list of possible matches. But no match was made, and Bobby Bo left the Bucs empty-handed after putting up an All Star line of .302/18/100 in ‘91 to sign with the Mets. 
  • 1993 – Utilityman Chris Bostick was born in Rochester, New York. A well-traveled minor league depth guy, Pittsburgh became his fourth organization in 2017 and after some good stick work at Indy, he got his first call to the show for a May cup of coffee, then a longer September look, batting .296 overall in 20 games for the Pirates. He got a couple of more tastes in ‘18 before going to Miami; he’s now with the Orioles. 
Chris Bostick – 2018 photo Pirates
  • 2002 – RHP Mace Brown passed away in North Carolina at the age of 92. Brown was one of the earliest dedicated relievers for the Pirates, appearing 207 times from the bullpen from 1935-41. He also started 55 games over that span and ended up credited retroactively with 29 saves as a Pirate (a closer wouldn’t be a thing for several more decades; a save wasn’t even kept as a stat until 1969) to go with 18 complete games and two shutouts. 
  • 2006 – At Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant & Sports Bar in New York City, the U.S. Postal Service unveiled the “Baseball Sluggers” postage stamps which were issued on July 15th at Yankee Stadium prior to the game against the White Sox. The four Hall of Famers featured in the set had roots in New York with Mickey Mantle (Yankees), Mel Ott (Giants) and Roy Campanella (Dodgers) playing their entire careers in the Big Apple, and the fourth, Hank Greenberg, had set schoolboy records at James Monroe High School in the Bronx. Greenberg spent his final season (1947) in Pittsburgh where he mentored slugger Ralph Kiner. 
  • 2014 – The Pirates announced that the team would wear #4 patches all season to commemorate slugger Ralph Kiner, who died on February 6th. Kiner led the NL in home runs for seven straight years (1946-52) and MLB for six consecutive seasons (1947-52), both records. He was selected for the All-Star Game in six straight seasons, from 1948-53, and entered the Hall of Fame in 1975.


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