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11/30: Russ, Reiser Signed; Lynch Drafted; Mooney Back; Wick Pick; HBD Kyle, Craig, Matt, Joe, Clyde, Lefty & Tacks

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  • 1870 - LHP Frank “Lefty” Killen was born in the North Side, then still Allegheny City. He spent six seasons with the Bucs (1893-98) and twice led the NL in wins, with 36 (a team record) in ‘93 and 30 in ‘96. Lefty’s line with Pittsburgh was 112-82/3.97. The team released him during the 1898 campaign, and he closed out his 10th MLB season in 1900. Killen trivia: he ended Wee Willie Keeler’s 44-game hitting streak on June 19th, 1897 when Lefty and the Bucs stopped the Orioles, 7-1. Frankie factoid: He went 30-18 in 1896 and with that was the last 30-game winner in team history. 
  • 1877 – C Clifford “Tacks” Latimer was born in Loveland, Ohio. Tacks played 13 years of pro ball with five whistle stops in the show, including a four-game visit with Pittsburgh in 1900, when he was part of the trade that moved most of Louisville’s roster to Pittsburgh. Latimer wasn’t much of a batter, but his Pirates audition was short-circuited by a bout of malaria caught during spring camp rather than a bad stick as he went 4-for-12. He got his nickname in the minors: though he was a quiet man, one of his teammates dubbed him Tacks, a name usually reserved for guys who play to (and sometimes over) the line using the same reverse logic that dubs a 6’6” player Shorty. He did get tacky after he retired, though. He got a job as a railroad cop, and his boss got into a brawl with Tacks, ending badly when Latimer shot his knife-wielding foe four times, killing him. Unfortunately, the slugs were in the back and he got life in prison. But Tacks was a model con, siding with the warden & guards during a violent gang escape, then later helping during a prison fire to eventually earn a parole. He kept clean after that, passing away in Loveland in 1936. Tacks’ trivia: Ex-Pittsburgh catcher Doggy Miller managed him at minor-league Minnesota and converted Tacks from the OF to C. 
Clyde Sukeforth – 1952 Topps
  • 1901 - Pirate coach and scout Clyde Sukeforth was born in Washington, Maine. A longtime member of the Brooklyn Dodger organization (he was the scout on Jackie Robinson), he came to Pittsburgh as a coach/scout in 1952 and was one of the main players in the selection of Roberto Clemente in the 1954 Rule 5 draft. He turned down the chance to succeed Pirate skipper Bobby Bragan in 1957 and retired as a coach after the season, but remained with the Pirates as a scout and minor league manager through 1962. 
  • 1931 - George “Mooney” Gibson (he earned the nickname either through his moon-shaped face or because one of his early teams was called the Mooneys; take your pick) returned for his second spin as Bucco manager, replacing Jewel Ens. He lasted until early in 1934, posting a 200-159 record and two second place finishes. Overall, the Canadian Gibson (he was from Ontario) had a 401-330/.549 record with Pittsburgh. He got his start as a long-time Bucco catcher, playing from 1905-1916 in Pittsburgh, hitting .238 but leading the NL in fielding three times with a toss-out rate of 46% against would-be base stealers. Mooney was the Pirates everyday catcher in 1909 when they won the World Series against the Tigers. 
  • 1950 - Pittsburgh signed the Boston Braves’ OF Harold “Pete/Pistol Pete” Reiser, who had been a three-time all-star for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the early-to-mid 40s, as a FA. Reiser hit .271 in 74 games as a Bucco bench player and was released following the season. Per Mark Stewart of SABR “As a boy, his friends and family called him Pete, after the cowboy movie hero Two-Gun Pete. He loved westerns, and as a child often walked around the neighborhood with a pair of toy six-shooters holstered to his belt. Eventually his nickname became Pistol Pete.” 
  • 1953 - The Pirates selected OF Jerry Lynch from the New York Yankees in the Rule 5 draft. Lynch spent the first and final three campaigns of his 13-year career as a Pirate (he spent the middle seven seasons with the Reds), batting .263. He was one of baseball’s great pinch hitters, with 116 pinch hits during his career, joining ex-Bucs Manny Mota, Matt Stairs and Smoky Burgess on the all-time roster. Lynch is also high on the career pinch hit home run list (he was first when he retired) with 18. He kept his local roots watered when he teamed up with Dick Groat to own and operate the Champion Lakes Golf Course in Ligonier. 
Joe Kerrigan – Rob Rogers/Getty
  • 1954 – Coach Joe Kerrigan was born in Philadelphia. A first round draft pick of the Expos in 1974, Joe tossed for five seasons before coaching. He was John Russell’s pitching coach in Pittsburgh from 2008-10 after serving as PC for Montreal, Boston (briefly as manager in 2001) and Philly with a bullpen coaching gig for the Yankees. Kerrigan was a volatile guy and also known for his “Pitchers Pal,” a mannequin he had his pitchers throw against instead of a live batter. The Pirates bullpen nicknamed the dummy “Oyez,” one of Joe’s favorite terms. 
  • 1959 - The KC Athletics drafted Dave Wickersham from the Pirates in the minor league Rule 5 draft. The righty went on to have a 10-year MLB career (including 1-0-1/3.48 with Pittsburgh in 1968 though most of the year was spent in AAA Columbus) highlighted by a 19-win season in 1964 with the Detroit Tigers. 
  • 1971 - OF Matt Lawton was born in Gulfport, Mississippi. Matt spent a few months of his 12-year career in Pittsburgh in 2005, coming to the Bucs from the Indians for Arthur Rhodes and then getting sent to the Cubs at the 2005 deadline for Jody Gerut. Lawton swung a decent stick while here, batting .273 w/10 HR. But after the 2005 season, he received a 10-game suspension after testing positive for PEDs. He played in 11 games for Seattle in 2006 and that was the end of his MLB road. 
  • 1976 - OF/1B Craig Wilson was born in Fountain Valley, California. He played as a semi-regular for the Bucs from 2001-06 with a line of .268/.360/.486, 94 HR and 284 RBI, along with a 28% career K rate. Wilson tied the MLB single-season record for pinch-hit home runs with seven in 2001. Hand injuries in 2005 and shoulder surgery in 2007 wound down his career. 
Kyle Crick – 2020 Pirates image
  • 1992 – RHP Kyle Crick was born in Fort Worth, Texas. A first round pick (49th overall) out of high school in 2011 by the Giants, he got into 30 games with SF in 2017 (0-0/3.06) before joining the Bucs as part of the Andrew McCutchen trade. He didn’t make the team out of camp, but was called up mid-April to join the big club and worked his way into the set-up role for Felipe Vazquez with a 3-2-2/2.39 slash and 65 K in 60-1/3 IP. His ERA doubled in 2019 thanks to a barrage of homers, and his season ended on September 10th when he broke his finger in a clubhouse brawl with Felipe Vazquez. 2020 was little better; injuries put him on the shelf for all but seven outings. He was erratic in ‘21 and the Pirates released him in July; the White Sox picked him up, stashed him in the minors and then they let him go at the end of the year. He’s still a FA. 
  • 2012 - The Pirates signed free agent catcher Russell Martin, a three-time All-Star, to a two-year/$17M deal, the largest free agency contract they had ever negotiated (since surpassed by Frankie Liriano’s 3 year/$39M deal in 2014). The catcher got a $2M signing bonus, $6.5M for 2013 and $8.5M for 2014. The deal was a bit of role reversal as the Pirates outbid the NY Yankees, Martin’s last team, which reportedly offered two years/$12-$14M. Russ was among the league’s top defensive catchers and had a .290/.402/.430 slash in his final Pirate season. He left after the 2014 campaign, signing a five year/$82M deal with Toronto. This contract remains the largest FA deal by the Bucs for a player who came from outside the organization.


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