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4/23: Babe Sold; Streak Snapped; Happy Jack HoF; To The Wire; Five For Cotton; 3-For-1; No Show Crowd; Easy Money; HBD Blackie, Genie, Iron Man, Bob & Connie

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  • 1875 – OF Bob Ganley was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. Bob started his five-year MLB run with the Pirates in 1910-11, hitting .270 off the bench as a rookie and then as a starting outfielder in his second year. Bob’s last MLB campaign was in 1909 with the Philadelphia Athletics and he was out of baseball after spending the 1912 season with Atlanta of the Southern Association. Per BR Bullpen, he moved around so much as a player that he was called “the globetrotter of organized baseball.” He played for Pittsburgh, Washington and Philadelphia as a big leaguer and for New Haven, Albany, Brockton, Columbus, Toledo, Marion, Schenectady, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Oakland, Johnstown, Des Moines, Newark and Atlanta as a farm hand. Bob also managed the Fredericton Pets in 1913 and the Perth Amboy Pacers in 1914. 
  • 1882 – RHP Cornelius “Connie” Walsh was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Walsh got his big league call in 1907 for the Pirates and apparently one was his magic number: he got into one game, pitched one inning, and gave up one run on one hit with one walk. Connie went to Cedar Rapids in the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League the following year and found a home there, pitching for six different IIIL clubs over the next seven seasons before retiring after the 1914 campaign. 
Recreation Park (left center) from Observatory Hill – undated Heinz History Center
  • 1890 – The Pittsburgh Alleghenys beat the Cleveland Spiders 20-12 at Recreation Park in front of an alleged crowd of 17 (with six paid) in a yard that held 17,000. The Alleghenys set another franchise record that day; five batters were beaned by the Spiders. Don’t fault the fans for the low turnout – the team finished last in the NL with a record of 23–113, 66-1/2 games behind the first place Brooklyn Bridegrooms. According to Wikipedia, Recreation Park was also known as Union Park and later, the Allegheny Athletic Association Grounds. It was tucked between Allegheny Ave, Pennsylvania Ave, Galveston Ave and Behan St in Allegheny West. Few pictures of it as a baseball field are known to exist, though there are a couple of newspaper shots of various Park activities. The baseball team left for Exposition Park in 1891 and Pitt followed suit in 1904. 
  • 1902 – St. Louis Cardinals owner Frank Robison put up a $10‚000 challenge that the Pirates wouldn’t repeat as NL champions. Pittsburgh players pooled their money to meet the bet and then collected easily as they won the pennant by 27-1/2 games. St Louis finished sixth, 44-1/2 games off the Pirates’ pace. 
  • 1906 – RHP Ray “Iron Man” Starr was born in Nowatka, Oklahoma. Ray tossed for the Bucs during the second half of his career between 1944-45 in his age 38-39 seasons with a line of 6-7-3, 5.33. He was a product of wartime baseball; after tossing for three years in the show, he spent from 1934-40 in the minors (in all, he spent 15 years on various farm clubs) before he was called back up by the Reds in 1941. Ray picked up his nickname because he was said to have tossed both ends of more than 40 double-headers while in the minor leagues. 
  • 1913 – The Pirates were held to three hits by St Louis hurler Bill Steel and lost 3-1 despite Claude Hendrix’s two-hitter (six walks hurt) at Robison Field. The runs were hard earned; the Cardinals scored on a bases loaded walk, steal of home and sac fly while the Bucco run came on an error. The bright spot of the Pirates’ day was a nifty triple play. With the bases loaded, Hendrix speared a comebacker and went home to catcher Billy Kelly for a force; his relay to Dots Miller at first beat the batter and Miller’s return throw home nailed the Card runner who started from second, trying to steal a score during the exchange.


Genie Smith – photo from Kansas State University

  • 1917 – RHP Gene “Genie” Smith was born in Ashley, Louisiana. He pitched for the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays between 1946–1947. During his career, he threw three no-hitters, played in the East-West All Star game and in the Negro World Series, although not with Homestead. He joined them after spending two years in the service and never had another big season afterward, retiring after the 1951 campaign with a bad arm. 
  • 1922 – Second baseman Cotton Tierney collected a career-high five hits, doubled three times, and knocked in a game-high four runs in Pittsburgh’s 14-3 rout of the Cubs in Chicago. The Bucs broke the game open with an eight run second inning and then added two more runs an inning later to make it 10-0. It was Pittsburgh’s sixth straight win after beginning the season with losses in each of the first three games. Hal Carlson took the win at Wrigley. 
  • 1935 – RHP Ron “Blackie” Blackburn was born in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. His MLB career lasted two years, from 1958-59, both spent with the Bucs where Blackie slashed 3-2-4/3.50. Blackburn spent 11 campaigns in the minors, the last for Asheville from which he retired after the 1964 season to become a teacher and baseball coach at Western Carolina University before becoming the rec director at the Western Correction Center in North Carolina. 
  • 1946 – RHP “Happy Jack” (he was an upbeat guy) Chesbro was elected to the Hall of Fame. A spitballer who won 41 games in 1904 for the NY Highlanders, he tossed for the Pirates at the beginning of his career from 1899-1902 with a line of 70-38/2.89. Also selected was Rube Waddell, a colorful hurler who started his career with Pittsburgh in 1900-01. They were inducted on June 12th. 
  • 1946 – The Bucs sold 1B Ellsworth “Babe” Dahlgren to the St. Louis Browns. Dahlgren hit .271 with 176 RBI in his two-year stint with the Bucs, but faded badly with the Browns as a 34-year-old and ‘46 was his last season in the show. He’s noted as the man who replaced Lou Gehrig in 1939 while with the Yankees. 
  • 1947 – The Pirates broke out of the gate in a hurry, winning their sixth of the first seven games of the season by an 8-5 count over the Cards at Sportsman’s Park. Billy Cox and Eddie Basinski each homered and combined for seven RBI. Ed Bahr tossed 6-1/3 shutout innings, giving up just three hits, to win in relief. 
Ed Bahr – 1946 Play Ball
  • 1962 – The Bucs record-setting 10-game, season-opening winning streak was derailed by the Mets and Jay Hook at Forbes Field. It was the first regular season victory ever for NY as they won 9-1 behind Hook’s five-hitter and it started the Pirates on a spiral of losing 13-of-17 games. 
  • 1966 – The Pirates scored three times in the ninth inning to pull out a 5-4 win against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Pittsburgh trailed 4-2 heading into the ninth before Bob Bailey, Jim Pagliaroni, and Jose Pagan each hit solo homers off Dennis Aust and Hal Woodeshick to power the Bucs past the Cards. 
  • 1982 – C Tony Peña went 2-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI in the Pirates 12-10 victory over Chicago at Wrigley Field. The Pirates kept the Cubbies in it with three errors that led to four unearned runs. The Buc bats atoned for the threadbare leather by banging out 17 hits as every starter tallied at least one rap, including starting pitcher Eddie Solomon, who came away with the victory. Kent Tekulve pitched the final 1-1/3 innings to earn his first save of the season. Bill Madlock and Mike Easler each had three hits while Jason Thompson homered. Pena (3), Easler (3) and Omar Moreno (4) combined to chase home 10 of the 12 runs. 
  • 1988 – The Pirates-Cubs match at TRS was the NBC Game of the Week, the Buccos first GOTW slot since 1985. The network brass knew what they were doing as the game ended up a 5-4 squeaker in favor of the Buccos. Pittsburgh overcame a 2-0 deficit when Bobby Bonilla and RJ Reynolds homered in the sixth to put the Buccaneers up by a run. The Cubs struck back quickly in the next frame, putting up a pair off Jeff Robinson to retake the lead. The Bucs loaded the bases with an out in the eighth, and Spanky LaValliere came through, dropping a two-run single into short center to make it a 5-4 game. Jim Gott made it hold up to claim the win, the Pirates 12th in 16 games.


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