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4/8 Through 1984: Roberto/TSN; Rod Rehab; Long Days; RIP Lee; HBD Brian; Tom, Kirby, Reddy, Smilin' Pete & John

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  • 1850 – Middle infielder John Peters was born in New Orleans. He played the final three years of his 11 season MLB career (1882–84) with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, batting .273. Peters was a pretty good all-around player; once he hit .351 (.278 lifetime BA) and led the NL in putouts twice. 
  • 1864 – LHP “Smilin’ Pete” Daniels was born in County Cavan, Ireland. After starting as a semi-pro ballplayer, Daniels played pro ball between 1887-1902 and managed to get two years/14 MLB games on his resume. He got four starts as a rookie in 1890 for the Alleghenys, slashing 1-2/7.07 after following his Louisville manager, Guy Hecker, to Pittsburgh. Chris Rainey of SABR wrote of his nickname “All it took was an affable personality and a beautiful set of teeth.” 
  • 1875 – OF Romer “Reddy” (he was a redhead) Grey was born in Zanesville, Ohio. The long-time minor leaguer was “borrowed” on May 28th, 1903 from his Worchester club by the Pirates due to the absence of several Bucco regulars. He played left field, went 1-for-3 with a walk and then returned to Worcester, ending his MLB career. Reddy’s brother was author Zane Grey, who also played minor league baseball, a couple of times on the same club as Reddy. Romer was also an author. An avid fisherman, he wrote “Adventures of a Deep Sea Angler” in 1930. Zane also drew on his brother in his works – in his kid’s book “The Redheaded Outfielder,” he used lefty OF’er “Reddie Ray,” the fictionalized version of his bro, as one of the characters. 
Kirby Higbee – 1949 Bowman
  • 1915 – RHP Kirby Higbe was born in Columbia, South Carolina. He pitched for Pittsburgh at the tail end of his career as part of the rotation in 1947 and a swingman in 1948 but began losing it by 1949. The Bucs traded the 34-year-old to the Giants that season, and after 1950, he hung ‘em up. The hard partying righty had a solid career – in a dozen seasons, he claimed 118 wins and won a World Series with Brooklyn. 
  • 1938 – RHP Tom Butters was born in Delaware, Ohio. He spent his brief four-year MLB career (1962-65) with Pittsburgh, compiling a modest 2-3 record with a 3.10 ERA. The fireballer was signed at age 17 and spent six years in the minors trying to master the strike zone. He looked like he was going to get his shot after the 1964 season (2-2, 2.38 ERA) under Danny Murtaugh, but he was hurt in a car accident going to camp the following year and retired two months into the season because of the injury. Butters did go on to have a very successful 30-year career as a Duke athletic administrator after baseball before he passed away in 2016. 
  • 1969 – The Pirates took a since-eclipsed NL opening-day record 14 innings to defeat St. Louis 6-2, tying their own 1958 benchmark. They scored four times in the 14th on five consecutive two-out singles, with Manny Sanguillen and Matty Alou each driving in a pair of runs to earn Bruce Dal Canton the win with a Chuck Hartenstein save at Busch Stadium. Alou, along with Willie Stargell, collected three hits for the Buccos. Steve Blass and Bob Gibson were the Opening Day starters; Blass went seven innings while Gibson went nine frames with 10 K. 
  • 1970 – IF Lee Handley died in Pittsburgh of a heart attack at age 56. Lee played 10 years in the show, with the middle eight seasons (1937-41, 1944-46, with a break for the service) spent as a Bucco. He hit .269 as a Pirate and was a starter for five of his eight campaigns here. Lee tied for the NL lead in stolen bases in 1939, although his 17 swipes weren’t exactly Maury Wills-type numbers. The little guy (he was 5’7”) was plenty tough – he suffered a serious beaning in 1939 and was hurt in a car crash after the 1941 season and bounced back from both. 
  • 1972 – Roberto Clemente was featured on the cover of The Sporting News for the story “Mr. Big.” He went on to bat .312 and collected his 3,000th hit, winning All-Star and Golden Glove recognition in his final campaign. 
  • 1973 – The Bucs took a pair from the Cards thanks to the longball, sweeping a TRS twinbill 4-3 and 5-3 in front of 23,391 chilly (it was in the forties) fans. In the opener, the Bucs blew an early 2-0 lead before tying the game in the ninth when Gene Clines singled, went to third on Rennie Stennett’s knock by deking CF Jose Cruz with a stop-and-go turn at second, then plating on Manny Sanguillen’s fly. Pittsburgh won it in the 10th on Bob Robertson’s homer. Nellie Briles went the first nine innings for the win with Dave Giusti earning the save. In the nightcap, the Pirates used blasts by Willie Stargell, Milt May and Gene Alley to claim a victory for Dock Ellis. He finished one out shy of a complete game, as Ramon Hernandez was called on to get the final out against St. Louis. 
  • 1981 – LHP Brian Burres was born in Oregon City, Oregon. Burres got six years and 106 games in MLB, with the last pair in Pittsburgh from 2010-11, slashing 5-5/4.82. He tossed pro ball from 2001-2016, closing out his career as an indie league pitcher. 
  • 1984 – Rod Scurry checked into a 30-day drug rehabilitation program to battle his cocaine demons, returning to action on May 13th. He finished the year 5-6-4 with a 2.53 ERA, and the Pirates sold him a year later to the Yankees for New York’s September run.


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