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5/15: Foiles Deal; Cutch Start; Ian No-No; Rallies & Game Tales; HBD Luis, Justin, Alvin, Jimmy, Greenfield Jimmy, Henry & Steve

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  • 1855 – P Henry “Harry” Salisbury was born in Providence, Rhode Island. He tossed in 1882 for the Alleghenys in their first big-league (American Association) season. He started 38 games, slashed 20-18/2.63 and worked 335 IP, completing every start he made for a team that finished 39-39. During the campaign, he finished in the top ten in 18 pitching categories, including wins, strikeouts (135), and ERA. Harry was the first 20-game winner for the franchise that would become the Pittsburgh Pirates. Then at age 28 he disappeared, to later found an industrial glove-making company in Chicago. 
  • 1888 – IF Steve Yerkes was born in Hatboro, Pennsylvania. Toward the end of his fifth season with the Boston Red Sox, Steve, who played in the 1912 World Series and ended up as one of its heroes, jumped leagues to join with the Pittsburgh Rebels in 1914. Lured by a magnificent $5,000 salary, he stuck with them for the following season, hitting .300 in 160 Federal League games. He finished out his playing days with the Cubs and then went on to a long career as a minor-league player, manager, and scout.
  • 1895 – IF James Smith was born in the rough-and-tumble neighborhood of Greenfield, forever answering to the nickname of “Greenfield Jimmy.” He played for Duquesne University, but in an eight year MLB career, he only spent one season with the Pirates in 1916, batting .188. As a ballplayer, he was known for his suspect bat, strong glove, and feisty behavior, barbering and brawling with opponents and umps. His greatest claim to fame was a melee with his son-in-law, boxing champ Billy Conn, that left the fighter with a broken hand, delaying his title fight with Joe Louis. Smith later ran a speakeasy, and when he died in 1974, he was buried in Hazelwood’s Calvary Cemetery with “Greenfield Jimmy” etched on his tombstone. 
Jimmy Smith – photo Chicago News/Chicago Historical Museum
  • 1915 – OF Jimmy Wasdell was born in Cleveland. In an 11-year career, he stopped in Pittsburgh in 1942 after being part of the Arky Vaughan deal. It was a brief visit as he was sold early in the 1943 campaign to the Phillies. He hit .260 as a Bucco and was best known as a hard-hitting loose cannon. Among his feats was slugging Vince DiMaggio for singing (and according to Wasdell, ruining his concentration) during a card game and once fielding a ball in front of first base and then hiking it between his legs like a football center, launching the horsehide into right field. 
  • 1935 – The Buccos scored four runs in the first inning and the Phils answered with a five-spot at Shibe Park; it would be the highlight of Philadelphia’s day. Pittsburgh came back with their own five-run frame in the second and as beatman Edward Balinger of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette wrote, “Cutting loose with a hail storm of hits…the Buccaneers flogged the Phillies, 20-5, and made a clean sweep…” Arky Vaughan, Woody Jensen and Gus Suhr homered, while Jensen, player/manager Pie Traynor, Lloyd Waner and pitcher Bill Swift (who got the win in relief of Guy Bush) had three knocks each. Arky had six RBI while Woody and Gus chased home three runners; Little Poison scored five runs while Jensen, Vaughan & Paul Waner crossed home three times. The Pirates banged out 19 hits and the Phils added seven errors to the batting boom. 
  • 1938 – Alvin McBean was born at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands. He was one of scout Howie Haak’s better signings, agreeing to a $100 bonus, then pitching nine years (1961-68, 1970) for the Bucs, going 65-43-59/3.08. The righty won 28 games for Pittsburgh in 1962-63 with 11 saves, the first year as a starter and then from the pen as the heir apparent to ElRoy Face. In 1964, he was named The Sporting News Reliever of the Year, going 8-3-22 with a 1.91 ERA as the full-time closer; Face was traded to Detroit the following season. McBean was eventually lost in the expansion draft. He was a popular Pittsburgh figure, always dressed modishly with a gregarious, playful personality whom the sportswriters and announcers often called by his full name, Alvin O’Neal McBean. 
  • 1940 – During the Pirates 5-2 loss to the Giants at the Polo Grounds, only three Bucs batted in the second inning even though all reached base. Maurice Van Robays singled and was picked off; Vince DiMaggio walked and was forced at 2B by Frankie Gustine, who was then caught stealing. It was a bad day all around physically and mentally as the Bucs committed four errors, leading to three unearned runs. 
Hank Foiles – 1957 Topps
  • 1956 – C Hank Foiles was traded to the Pirates by the Cleveland Indians for Preston Ward. Foiles, who mostly served as a backup, started two years in Pittsburgh, and earned an All-Star spot in 1957, when he hit .270. He spent four seasons as a Buc, hitting .230 in 345 games before being traded during the 1959 off season to Kansas City. Utility man Ward would play until after the 1959 season, when he retired. 
  • 1967 – Roberto Clemente cracked three long balls plus a double off the scoreboard in left center to drive in all seven Pittsburgh runs while climbing the wall in the ninth to bring back a homer, but the one-man show couldn’t carry the day as the Reds won in 10 innings at Crosley Field‚ 8-7. Cincy scored twice in the ninth off Juan Pizarro on a Lee May homer to tie and then beat him in the extra frame. 
  • 1973 – The Pirates overcame 3-0 and 8-4 deficits by pounding out 20 hits and eventually wearing out the Montreal Expos in 11 innings at TRS by a 9-8 count. Dave Cash had the walk off hit, his fourth of the game, when he lined a single over third against John Strohmeyer and a five-man infield to plate Bob Robertson. Manny Sanguillen and Al Oliver had three hits each while three other Bucs had a pair of knocks, including starting pitcher Steve Blass. The game was sloppily played by both sides. One example was Dock Ellis, who was called on to pinch run. He was wearing a jacket that the ump made him take off (only the actual hurlers are permitted to wear one on the bases). Dock being Dock, he didn’t have a jersey on under the coat but just a tee. Being out of uniform, he had to be replaced by someone (Bob Moose) suitably dressed for the occasion. 
  • 1981 – 1B Justin Morneau was born in New Westminster, British Columbia. He joined Pittsburgh during the 2013 deadline to fill a hole at 1B in a trade with the Twins for OF Alex Presley and RHP Duke Welker. In 25 games for Pittsburgh, he hit .260 with no homers and only 3 RBI. Morneau had a solid playoff run with a hit and a walk in the win over the Cincinnati Reds in the Wild Card Game, then went 6-for-20 with four runs scored against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. His lack of power dimmed the Bucs interest in him and he signed a FA deal with the Rockies, going on to win the NL batting title with a .319 average in 2014 to finish ahead of Josh Harrison (.315) and Andrew McCutchen (.314). 
Justin Morneau – photo Justin Aller/Getty
  • 1982 – Talk about helping yourself! P Rick Rhoden doubled and homered in a nine-run third inning with Johnny Ray helping the cause by driving in five runs in the same frame. The Pirates held off a late Reds push – Cincy scored eight times in the last two innings – to take a 12-9 victory at TRS. 
  • 1996 – Denny Neagle blanked the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on four hits through seven to win his fifth game in a row, 3-0, backed by Jeff King’s two-run homer off Steve Avery. The lefty lost his next outing, then rang up three more wins to sit at 8-2 in early June. Also, the Pirates traded CF Jacob Brumfield to Toronto for 1B DJ Boston. Brumfield finished his career after the 1999 campaign as a reserve outfielder, as he was in Pittsburgh, while DJ played AAA, Mexican and indie ball. 
  • 1999 – RHP Luis Oviedo was born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He came to the Bucs in a roundabout way, being plucked by the Mets from the Indians in the 2020 Rule 5 draft and then flipped to Pittsburgh for cash. He was a long shot to make the team, having never pitched above Class A, but the Pirates liked his ceiling as a big league starter and carried him on the Opening Day roster, albeit in the pen. He won his first MLB game in relief against the Giants in mid-May. 
  • 2005 – The Pirates were still debating whether minor league star RHP Ian Snell’s future lay in the bullpen or rotation (at 5-11, 180 lbs, the brass were unsure he’d have the stamina to start regularly), but Snell made a strong pitch to remain a starter when he threw a no-hitter against Norfolk. The 23-year-old Indy righty used 101 pitches to tame the Tide, tossing his third offering, a change up, with great success. It was the first Indy no-no since 1974, when they were with Cincinnati. Snell ultimately proved to be a AAAA player: he spent six years as a Bucco with 116 starts and 12 bullpen outings, but only had one campaign when he posted an ERA under 4.74.

Ian Snell – 2006 Upper Deck

  • 2006 – The Pirates and Reds got in just three innings before rain cancelled their Hall of Fame exhibition, but it did mark the first MLB outing for 2005 top pick and future MVP/All-Star Andrew McCutchen. He was added to the roster for the game and he popped out in his only at-bat before returning to the Low Class A Hickory Crawdads. Cutch said it wasn’t time wasted. He explained that “To get some experiences from the outfielders, Jason Bay and (Jeremy) Burnitz, I learned a lot.” He made his regular season debut in 2009. 
  • 2015 – The Pirates showed lots of bounce back at Wrigley Field, rallying from 7-1 and 10-5 deficits, but dropped an 11-10 decision in 12 innings to the Cubs. Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen homered while Fran Cervelli drove in four runs with a bases-loaded double and two-out, ninth-inning single to force the game into overtime. Chicago scored the winner when Gregory Polanco tripped while getting under a short pop fly, allowing Starlin Castro to score. But the day’s defeat was thanks to some shoddy mound work – eight Pirate pitchers gave up 15 hits, 10 walks, three hit batters and two wild pitches while tossing an ungodly 263 pitches. The Pittsburgh bench was reduced to three starting pitchers by the game’s end. It was the Pirates sixth walk-off loss of the young season; the club had no walk-off wins.


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