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6/3 Through the 1980s: Karger & Burwell Trades; Waner Starts A Streak; Josh Jack; Roof Shot; Gems & Game Tales; BB Drafted; HBD Nelson

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  • 1906 - In a deal that didn’t pan out very well, the Pirates sent rookie LHP Ed “Loose’ Karger to the St Louis Cardinals for veteran RH hurler Chappie McFarland. Karger pitched well for some bad St. Louis teams and lasted in the show through 1911, going 48-67 with a 2.79 ERA while working for four teams. (Some say Loose’s nickname represented his carefree character; others say it described his delivery) Chappie was waived in August by the Pirates and pitched once more in the majors as a Brooklyn Dodger in 1906. 
  • 1927 - Paul “Big Poison” Waner, along with Glenn Wright and George Grantham, homered off the Phils’ Claude Willoughby in a 11-1 romp at Forbes Field. Waner’s long ball ignited the start of his NL record 14-game streak with an extra base hit (12 doubles, five triples, three homers). 
  • 1928 – The Pirates sent RHP Erv Brame and OF Adam Comorosky to Indianapolis of the American Association for RHP Bill Burwell. Burwell ended up an afterthought, getting into just four games, but proved his value to Pittsburgh as an organization/big league coach & skipper for six years (he developed Vern Law and managed in 1947). Comorosky returned to Pittsburgh in 1929 and hit .295 over a five-year period before closing out his career with two more campaigns at Cincy while Brame was done as a MLB hurler. 
Bill Burwell – 1966 James Elder Postcard
  • 1932 – Behind 5-2, the Pirates scored three in the bottom of the eighth and then got an inside-the-park homer from Tony Piet in the 11th to defeat the Cubs 6-5 at Forbes Field. Piet had four knocks and four RBI to prime the attack, with Pie Traynor adding three hits. The Bucs had three triples during the game, two of which got away from Chicago player-manager Rogers Hornsby, who then benched himself. Steve Swetonic went the distance for the win despite giving up 14 hits. It was the first “Knothole Gang” game ever held at Forbes Field, as the team stuffed the right field stands with local youngsters. 
  • 1937 – Homestead Gray C Josh Gibson hit perhaps his most storied homer, reported by the Sporting News to have traveled 580’, catching the back rim at Yankee Stadium in a game against the NY Black Yankees. If accurate, which is a point of considerable debate (no StatCast back then), it would be the longest home run ever hit. Mickey Mantle’s 565’ blast in 1953 off Washington’s Chuck Stobbs at Griffith Stadium is considered the biggest blast. It was measured literally by a tape measure, leading to “tape measure homer” being added to baseball’s lexicon. 
  • 1961 – Roberto Clemente had a busy day during a 5-1 win over the Phils at Forbes Field. He opened the scoring with a first-inning homer, threw out a runner in the fourth and then was ejected in the eighth for beefing about a close call at first, firing his helmet over the dugout as he left the field. Don Hoak also went long and Smoky Burgess had three hits to back Bobby Shantz and ElRoy Face, who combined on a five-hitter. 
  • 1962 – During the nitecap of a double header, Bob Skinner hit a RF roof shot at Forbes Field, the second of his career, off Houston’s Ken Johnson during a 10-3 loss. The Bucs also lost the opener 10-6, giving the Colt .45s their first DH sweep in franchise history. The opening contest featured an oddity. Roberto Clemente tagged from third on a short fly to right; the throw home flew past Houston catcher Hal Smith but went straight to pitcher Bob Tiefenauer, who was backing up. The ball stuck in Tiefenauer’s glove, so the quick-thinking hurler flipped the ball and glove to Smith in time for him to tag out The Great One. 
Nelson Liriano – 1996 Ultra Gold Medallion
  • 1964 - IF Nelson Liriano was born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. The veteran infielder saw a lot of part time action for the Bucs in 1995-96, getting in 219 games and hitting .277 after being claimed off waivers from Colorado. His greatest career footnote may be from the 1989 season when as a Toronto Blue Jay, he broke up two no-hitters in the ninth inning within a six-day span, spoiling bids by first Nolan Ryan and then Kirk McCaskill. Nelson became a minor league manager and coach when he left the game, mainly with the Royals organization. 
  • 1969 - The Pirates were dropped 7-3 by the Cincinnati Reds at Forbes Field, but it was a red-letter day for Roberto Clemente. The Great One drilled a game-tying three-run homer in the sixth (the Bucs quickly lost the lead in the following inning) for Roberto’s 2,417th career hit, moving him into third place on the all-time Pirate hit list ahead of Max Carey and Pie Traynor. Clemente would later pass Paul “Big Poison” Waner (2,868) and then Honus Wagner (2,970) to claim the franchise top spot with 3,000 hits. 
  • 1979 - The Bucs hit five home runs, two by Bill Robinson with four RBI, (Omar Moreno, Dave Parker and Lee Lacy hit the others) as the Pirates whipped the Padres 7-0 at TRS. But the big story was Bruce Kison, an emergency starter who got the nod shortly before the game when Don Robinson couldn’t go. In fact, the start time was delayed 10 minutes so he could warm up. He got loose pretty quickly; he carried a no-hitter into the eighth, when with two outs, Barry Evans, a .197 hitter, bounced a ball inside the third base line. Phil Garner, who was playing off the bag, took a couple of steps over, went for the backhand grab and had it tick off his mitt into left for a soft two-bagger. It was ruled a hit. Kison didn’t agree; he walked off the mound after the inning and shook his fist at the scorer, Dan Donovan, who was in the press box. The controversial (to Buster, anyway) grounder was the only hit he surrendered. 
  • 1985 - Barry Bonds was drafted by the Pirates in the first round (6th pick overall) of the 1985 draft and signed two days later for a $125,000 bonus. He was the Bucco prize in the Cracker Jack box; the only others to reach the MLB from that year were OF Tommy Gregg and pitchers Brett Gideon & Bill Sampen. And if you’re wondering, BJ Surhoff, Will “The Thrill” Clark, Bobby Witt, Barry Larkin and Kurt Brown were taken ahead of him. Pirate coach Joey Cora was taken #23 overall in that same draft by the Padres. 
Jim Morrison – 1987 Leaf
  • 1987 - Bucco second baseman Jim Morrison had a career-high three doubles, drove in two runs and tied his personal best of four hits (4-for-4) in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win over the Braves in front of just 5,368 fans at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Bob Kipper started and got the win. 
  • 1988 – The Pirates put up runs in the eighth and ninth frames to edge the Montreal Expos 2-1 at TRS. John Smiley tossed a one-hit complete game with eight K, but the lone knock was a two-out triple that RJ Reynolds couldn’t corral, followed by a balk. The Bucs tied it in the eighth on a Jose Lind solo shot. Mike Lavalliere doubled with an out in the ninth; John Cangelosi ran for him and scored after Mike Diaz’s pinch-hit, walk-off knock.


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