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6/5: Unstoppable Willie; Shutout Standard; Roberto PoM; Lake Lawton; Stu Bomb; Dozen For Jason; Robby Trio; Lefty's Debut; Game Tales; HBD Happy Jack, Ray & George

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  • 1874 – RHP Jack Chesbro (nee John D. Cheesbro) was born in Houghtonville, Massachusetts. The righty spent the first four years (1899-1902) of his career as a Pirate, going 70-38/2.83 with a pair of 20+ win seasons. He jumped from the NL Pirates to the AL New York Highlanders in 1903, and won 41 games in 55 appearances (41-12/1.82 with 14 consecutive wins) in 1904, a record that will never be overtaken. The Old Timers’ Committee voted him into the Hall of Fame in 1946 on the strength of that superb season. Chesbro picked up the nickname “Happy Jack” while working at the Middleton NY state mental hospital (he was playing amateur ball for the house team, The “Asylums”) after a patient noted his cheery disposition and friendly grin, per SABR
  • 1874 – Utilityman George Yeager was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. George was primarily a catcher, but during his MLB days, he played every position but pitcher. He spent six seasons in the majors, mostly with the Boston Beaneaters, and made a stop in Pittsburgh in 1901, joining the team in August after being released by the Cleveland Blues. He hit .264 as a reserve catcher and also played first & third base. 1902 was his last season in the bigs; he played in the minors through 1909 before ending his 16-year pro career. 
  • 1895 – OF Ray Rohwer was born in Dixon, California. Ray’s MLB career lasted from 1921-22 with the Bucs as a back-up outfielder, hitting .284 over that span. Ray was a west coast kinda guy, playing college ball at the U of California at Berkeley before serving in the Army during WW1. After the Pirates, Rohwer spent nine seasons in the PCL, playing for Seattle, Portland and Sacramento where he compiled a career .299 BA. When he retired, he stayed in California working for the Federal Land Bank. 
Ed Doheny – image via the Vermont Historical Society
  • 1903 – The Pirates banged out 17 hits against Boston at Exposition Park to take a 9-0 victory and Pittsburgh’s fourth straight shutout behind Ed Doheny, setting a new MLB record. Fred Clarke went 5-for-5 and Ginger Beaumont 4-for-5 to lead the attack. The Buc pitchers would run their shutout streak to six games before finally yielding a run. 
  • 1951 - Buc rookie knuckler Paul “Lefty” LaPalme hurled a 8-0 shutout against Boston at Braves Field in his first major league start. It was his only win of the year, but he lasted seven MLB seasons, four with the Pirates, with a 24-45/4.42 line. 
  • 1959 - Dick Stuart hit a massive homer over the 457’ mark of Forbes Field center field wall, the longest home run in the history of the ballpark, traveling between 475-500’ by various estimates. Dr. Strangeglove’s blast came in the first inning off Glen Hobbie during the Pirates’ 10-5 loss to Chicago. The local papers claimed it was the first ball hit over the center field wall. That may have been true of MLB players (although Rogers Hornsby hit the CF flagpole, keeping his moonshot from clearing the wall) but Josh Gibson was said to have launched balls over the fence in center at least twice during his Negro League career. 
  • 1964 - The Colt .45’s had a 3-1 lead at Forbes Field with two away in the ninth and the bases empty. But there’s a reason you get 27 outs, and Pittsburgh ripped off five straight hits to stun Houston 4-3. Jim Pagliaroni started the rally with a double, then Donn Clendenon singled off Hal Woodeshick’s glove into center to plate Pags. Ducky Schofield kept it alive, and Manny Mota’s pinch-hit single knotted the score. The Texans beckoned Gordon Jones to the mound to face Roberto Clemente, described by the Pittsburgh Press as “a man on a mission” after he had failed at a sac bunt effort in the eighth. He didn’t fail this time, lining a knock into right center to make a winner of Bob Priddy. The Bucs’ other tally came on a Willie Stargell solo shot. 
Cap’n Willie – photo 1965 Sports Service
  • 1966 – In a 10-5 Bucs win over Houston at Forbes Field, Willie Stargell went 5-for-5 with two HR, a double and four RBI, ringing up nine straight hits in two days against the ‘Stros. Roberto Clemente added an estimated 500’ shot off Turk Farrell, hit the opposite way over the 436’ mark that landed in Plaza Field, a little league diamond behind the ballyard. Bob Veale struck out 11 batters in his six frames of work, but Pete Mikkelsen picked up the win in relief, pitching the final three innings. 
  • 1967 – Roberto Clemente was announced as the NL’s Player of the Month by a vote of the sportswriters and broadcasters. Roberto batted .403 with 29 RBI during the month and went on to win the batting title with a .357 BA to earn an eighth straight All-Star berth. 
  • 1968 – The Bucs lost a tough one when Zoilo Versalles slid home, was called out and then a second later ruled safe as plate ump Bill Jackowski reversed himself to give the LA Dodgers a 2-1 win. The umpire said he saw the ball loose on Zoilo’s leg after the tag; catcher Jerry May claimed it was in his glove all the time. Versalles didn’t hang around for the argument but sprinted straight into the Dodger dugout after the reversal, later explaining “…the umpire not sure, he says out and I yell ‘No, no, safe.’ The ump says ‘Oh, he drop ball, you safe.’” Afterward, Larry Shepard darkly told the media that “This ballpark seems to do something to an umpire,” referring to the number of calls that seemed to go in favor of the hometown nine at Dodger Stadium. LA’s Bill Singer was probably more to blame for the loss than Jackowski as he tossed a six-hit gem against the Bucs with 12 K. Roberto Clemente was the sole Pirate who could solve him with three hits and the only run scored while Alvin McBean, who also tossed a six-hitter, took the disputed, hard-luck loss. 
  • 1976 - McKeesport’s Bill Robinson hit three homers and drove home four runs, but the Pirates lost in 15 innings to the San Diego Padres at TRS 11-9 after scoring three times in the ninth, the rally built around Dave Parker’s triple, to send the game into overtime. The Bucs had 18 hits – Robby had four, Rennie Stennett three, and Parker, Al Oliver, Willie Stargell & Frank Taveras each added a pair. Ramon Hernandez took the loss. 
Bill Robinson – 1976 SSPC
  • 2001 – The Pirates snapped a lot of streaks in their 5-2 win over the Marlins at Pro Player Stadium. First, it snapped a five-game losing skid and was a win on the road, where they had the worst record in the majors (7-22 going into the game). Next, it broke a streak of 17 games without a loss by the game’s starter, Florida’s Brad Penny. The key was Kevin Young ending his six-week home run drought with a sixth-inning grand slam that gave Jason Schmidt, Jose Manzanillo and Mike Williams enough room to work. One streak that stayed alive was Jason Kendall’s hitting spree, which reached 12 straight games. 
  • 2005 – OF Matt Lawton had reached base six straight times without scoring. As Dejan Kovacevich of the Post Gazette wrote “He took it upon himself to get the job done in the most emphatic way he could: Send it for a swim.” Matt cleared the roof in right, the ball landed on the grassy slope and bounded into the Allegheny in a 5-2 win over the Braves at PNC Park. The big blow was Rob Mackowiak’s two-run homer to put the Pirates up by a pair and the strong pitching of Ollie Perez, who gave up four hits and fanned seven in seven frames. Lawton and Mack led the attack; each man had three hits.


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