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12/10 Through the 1985: Goose, Mikkelson, Riddle Deals; Bip, Antelope, Bo Go; Trade Winds; Wet One Banned; Expansion; HBD Grant, Bob, Frank & Dolly

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  • 1866 - SS Frank Shugart was born in Luthersburg, in Clearfield County. He hit .268 for the Bucs between 1891-93, but booted 143 balls at short in 209 games in his first two seasons (which surprisingly was pretty close to league average), triggering a move to the OF and a mid-season trade in 1893 to the St. Louis Browns for SS Jack Glasscock. His MLB career ended when Shugart was blacklisted from baseball in 1901 after he punched an umpire. 
  • 1888 - 1B Stan “Dolly” Gray was born in Ladonia, Texas. As a 23-year-old, he got into six MLB games for the 1912 Pirates, going 5-for-20, and that was the sum of his big league days. Per John Dreker of Pittsburgh Baseball History, Gray also pitched in the minors, and in fact came to 1913 camp as a hurler before a sore arm got him sent to the minors, where he finished his career in 1915. His moniker was a copycat; he was handed the nickname of Dolly Gray, a pitcher until 1911, to keep the torch moving along.


Burleigh was the last of the spitballers – 1928 Getty Images
  • 1919 – The National League, urged on by Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss, banned the spitball, which he believed was an unfair advantage against hitters. Old wet tossers were registered and spared through a grandfather clause. The AL initially resisted, then passed their own ban the following season. Off-and-on Pirate hurler Burleigh Grimes was the last of the legal spitballers, retiring following the 1934 season after a Hall-of-Fame career. 
  • 1939 – RHP Bob Priddy was born in McKees Rocks and signed with the Bucs out of high school before the 1959 season. He spent his first two campaigns with the Pirates (1962, 1964; 2-2-1, 3.86 ERA, 37-⅓ IP), and went on to a nine-year journeyman career with the Giants, Washington Senators, White Sox, Angels and Braves with a 24-38-18/4.00 career line. Fun fact: Bob was signed as an infielder, but after a season in the minors (he hit .222 with a 33% strikeout rate), he was converted to the mound. 
  • 1947 – The Buccos bought 32-year old Elmer Riddle from the Reds. Riddle put up an All-Star season in 1948, going 12-10/3.49, but faded badly the following campaign, winning just once during his final MLB year. They also got his brother John in the same transaction but for a different reason; the Bucs wanted him not as a player but as their bullpen catcher. 
  • 1947 - The Pirates came out in support of expansion to a pair of 10-team leagues. MLB was looking to plant some West Coast franchises, but more clubs wouldn’t become a reality until 1961. To temporarily vent some of the pressure, there were several relocations (Brooklyn Dodgers to LA, NY Giants to San Fran, Boston Braves to Milwaukee, Philadelphia Athletics to KC and the St Louis Browns becoming the Baltimore Orioles) in the fifties. 
Pete Mikkelson – 1966 East Hills SC promo
  • 1965 – The Pirates traded RHP Bob Friend, a four-time All-Star, to the New York Yankees for reliever Pete Mikkelsen and cash. Friend spent 15 years as a Pirate and won 191 games. He retired after the 1966 season, going just 1-4 for the Bronx Bombers. Mikkelson had a good year for the Bucs in 1966 out of the pen (9-8-14/3.07) but faltered the next year and was released. 
  • 1967 - Scout Grant Brittain was born in Hickory, North Carolina. After an All-America career at Western Carolina and a considerably less successful stay in the minors, he turned to scouting. He worked for the Tigers, Red Sox, Pirates (1994-2001, with his big signing being high school ace Zach Duke) and the Brewers. 
  • 1975 - The press gang reported that the Pirates and Royals were that close to a four-player deal, with Pittsburgh sending Al Oliver & Art Howe to KC for Amos Otis & Cookie Rojas. Both the main lures, Oliver and Otis, were entering their age 29 campaign; Scoops was a better hitter and Amos the better gloveman, filling a need for each club. But as a 5-and-10 year man, Rojas vetoed the swap, and the trade fell through, triggering a pair of quick Pittsburgh deals for Doc Medich and Tommy Helms. Oliver was sent to Texas two years later, and Otis signed with the Bucs in 1984, his last MLB season, as a 37-year-old. 
  • 1976 – The Pirates traded OF Richie Zisk and RHP Silvio Martinez to the Chicago White Sox for pitchers Goose Gossage and Terry Forster. Except for minor-leaguer Martinez, the players were a year away from free agency, and all three took advantage to find new teams in 1978. But the big name rentals had a payoff: Zisk hit .290 with 30 homers and 101 RBI, and Gossage collected 11 wins, 26 saves and posted a 1.62 ERA with 10.2 K per nine innings. Both were named All-Stars. 
Goose Gossage – 1978 Kelloggs
  • 1982 – CF Omar Moreno bolted the Bucs for a five-year/$3.25M deal with the Astros, leaving a frustrated GM, Pete Peterson. He told the Post-Gazette’s Charley Feeney “I told Tom Reich (Moreno’s agent) that I didn’t think he did a good job of handling negotiations and I’m disappointed in some people in the Houston organization…” who apparently were aware of the Bucco bid, which Peterson said was just $25K less per season over the same length, and then topped it. Reich begged to differ, saying the contract was actually for $3.5M guaranteed w/$375K in bonuses, and that Pittsburgh wasn’t in the same ballpark after their final offer. Sticks and stones… At any rate, the Pirates replaced Omar with Marvell Wynn in center for three years, then with Barry Bonds for a year until Andy Van Slyke claimed the job in 1987. 
  • 1985 - Bobby Bonilla, who the Bucs signed out of high school in 1981, was taken by the Chicago White Sox in the Rule 5 draft. The Pirates got Bobby Bo back in July of the following year, but it cost them RHP Jose DeLeon. Syd Thrift had signed him as a scout and reeled him back in as GM. It was worth it – from 1986 to 1991, Bonilla had a .284 BA with 114 home runs and 500 RBI’s. He also made the All-Star team four years in a row before leaving town. It was a rough draft day for the Bucs, who also lost 2B/OF Leon “Bip” Roberts to the Padres. He put together a 12-year career, mainly with San Diego, and had a career .294 BA w/264 stolen sacks. To add injury to insult, a deal with the Tribe to move up and select a minor-league 3B (top-rated Ed Williams, left unprotected by Cincy) fell through. The scotched swap (a player for better position) left the Bucs with a full roster and no chance to draft without a 40-man vacancy.


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