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5/14 Through the 1960s: Johnny & Jake Six Packs; Rain, Rain; Henry Tag-Teamed; Contracts; HBD Joey, Bob, Horace, Willie & Lefty

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  • 1853 – Horace Phillips, manager of the Pittsburgh Alleghenys from 1884-89, was born in Salem, Ohio. He coached the club to a 294-316 record with a couple of winning campaigns in his six seasons, but in the end lost his battle with mental illness (he spent seven years in an institution) and died young at the age of 42 in 1896. 
Horace Phillips – 1884 NY Clipper
  • 1889 – Wonder why players want contracts that are guaranteed? Because in the founding days, pennies counted and contracts often weren’t worth the paper they were printed on as GM’s looked to save every nickel they could. The Pittsburgh Alleghenys suspended Ed Morris and Pete Conway on this date to dodge paying the salaries of the sore-armed pitchers after Conway had won 30 games and Morris 29 in 1888. The salary dump suspensions were FO hardball, but did serve its purpose: Morris returned in three weeks although he was never again effective while Conway never pitched again. 
  • 1896 – Jake Stenzel collected six singles and added a stolen base in a 20-4 pounding of the Boston Beaneaters at Expo Park. The Bucs collected 27 hits during the day. Jake hit three doubles a day later and the Pittsburgh Press noted that “Good pitchers do not frighten Jakey Stenzel. The pitchers will soon take to giving Stenzel a chance to walk.” 
  • 1901 – LHP Drew “Lefty” Rader was born in Elmira, New York. His MLB career consisted of two innings of two-hit, no-run ball for the Pirates in 1921. Rader went to Reading the following year and his trail went cold after that. 
  • 1912 – Umpire Johnny aka Willie (his middle name was William) Stevens was born in Duquesne. After learning the ropes in the Eastern League, Stevens umpired in the AL from 1948 to 1971, working in four World Series, five All-Star Games, and behind the plate for a pair of no-hitters. In all, he was part of the blue crew for 3,345 games and became an evaluator at umpire school after he retired. Stevens also officiated college basketball, calling both NIT and NCAA tourney games. 
Bob Thurman w/Roberto Clemente at Santurce – undated via Desde El Bullpen
  • 1917 – P/OF Bob Thurman was born in Kellyville, Oklahoma. He was a semi pro star who was signed by the Homestead Grays after he was discharged from the Army and played for Homestead/Washington for 1946-48. The lefty wasn’t much of a hurler, going 5-9/5.32 as a Gray, but he had a strong stick, batting .320, mainly as a RF. The bat was good enough to get him into 334 MLB games with Cincinnati from 1955-59, where he hit .246 w/35 HR. He joined the Minnesota Twins as a scout after his playing days and later scouted for the Reds and the Royals. He died in Wichita, Kansas in 1998 at the age of 81. 
  • 1932 – It was monsoon season, or so it seemed, in Pittsburgh. The Pirates were rained out of their fifth straight game at Forbes Field. John McGraw, Giants manager who was victim of three of the washouts (they were rescheduled as twin bills) said “Our pitchers have about 10 days rest each…these confounded postponements have us at sea. And that’s no pun.” 
  • 1950 – All Star 1B Johnny Hopp hit two home runs and four singles in six at-bats, leading the Pirates to a 16-9 victory and doubleheader sweep over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Bucs banged out 21 hits off six Cubby hurlers, with Wally Westlake and Clyde McCullough (who was a homer short of the cycle) each adding four knocks and Nanny Fernandez three more. Woody Main got the win in relief. The Pirates took the opener 6-5 as Danny Murtaugh had two hits, including a big fly, and two RBI. But the big blow was struck by pinch hitter George Strickland in the final frame, when his two-out, bases-loaded single plated the tying and go-ahead runs. Bob Chesnes claimed the win in relief and Bill Werle closed it out in the ninth 
  • 1965 – Coach Jose “Joey” Cora was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico. A 1985 first-round draft pick, he had an 11-year big league career as an infielder. When his ball-playing days ended, Joey coached in the Mets system, then became a member of the White Sox and Marlins major league staff, where he served as third base/bench coach and had some brief stints as an interim skipper. In 2016, he joined the Pirates organization as Altoona’s manager and the following year got the call to Pittsburgh as the third base coach, replacing Rick Sofield. Joey is still on board as part of Derek Shelton’s braintrust. 
Joey Cora – photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates
  • 1967 – Henry Aaron hit his 450th homer, but the work of a pair of Bucco Hall-of-Famers, Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski, carried the day in a 5-2 Pirates win over the Atlanta Braves at Forbes Field before 26,071 fans. Clemente had three hits, falling a homer shy of a cycle, and was driven home twice by Maz. Roberto later plated the insurance RBI to back the work of Dennis Ribant, Pete Mikkelson and ElRoy Face.


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