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12/26: Hanny-for-Shark; O'Connell 6-for-1; Kluttz Signed; Trader Jack; Catfish Doesn't Take the Bait; Ultimate Salary Dump; HBD Jeff, Mario, Bonnie & Lee

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  • 1892 – OF Lee King was born in Hundred, West Virginia, just across the PA state line. After being picked up from the Central League’s Wheeling Stogies, he played for Pittsburgh from 1916-18, compiling a .241 BA. King’s Bucco career ended when he enlisted during the war; when he returned in 1919, his contract was purchased by the New York Giants. He played through 1922, mostly in NY, spent a few seasons in the minors and retired to his native West Virginia, where he would relive the old days with an occasional trip to watch the Pirates at Forbes Field. On the Big Stage: King drove in the final NY Giants’ run of the 1922 World Series for his championship club with a single in his only at-bat in a World Series game. 
Bonnie Hollingsworth – 1922 photo via Pinterest
  • 1895 – RHP John “Bonnie” Hollingsworth was born in Jacksboro, Tennessee. Hollingsworth worked four MLB seasons, his first as a 27-year-old for the Pirates in 1922. In nine games, he had no decisions and an ERA of 7.90. He was shipped to Minneapolis of the American Association for Reb Russell, who was in his thirties but still hit .323 over two seasons for Pittsburgh. Bonnie closed out his decade in organized ball in 1930 with Chattanooga of the Southern Association. 
  • 1919 – Yes, the Pirates have made a lot of head-scratching, lop-sided deals over the decades (see A-Ram, Kiki Cuyler, ad nauseum). But they’re not the only club that history treated unkindly for dumping a contract. OTD, the New York Yankees purchased a promising 25-year-old P/OF from the Boston Red Sox for $100,000 in a salary dump that will live in infamy. That player was Babe Ruth. 
  • 1946 - The Pirates purchased C Clyde Kluttz from the St. Louis Cardinals, and he caught 160 games over the next two seasons. In 1947, he hit .302 with career-high six home runs and 42 RBIs in 73 games, but faded to .229 the following season and was sent to the minors. He finished his career in 1952 with Washington, spent a couple of years in the bushes and then became a long-time MLB scout. 
  • 1950 - IF Mario Mendoza was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. In five seasons (1974-78) with the Pirates, the infielder put up a .204 BA. About the Mendoza line: “My (Seattle Mariner) teammates Tom Paciorek and Bruce Bochte used it to make fun of me,” Mendoza told Dave Seminara of the St. Louis Post Dispatch in 2010 “Then they were giving George Brett a hard time because he had a slow start that year, so they told him, ‘Hey, man, you’re going to sink down below the Mendoza Line (.200 BA) if you’re not careful.’ And then Brett mentioned it to Chris Berman from ESPN, and eventually it spread and became a part of the game.” Mario ironically ended up with a .215 lifetime BA, safely above his namesake line. 
Mario Mendoza – 1979 Topps
  • 1953 - The Pirates sent 2B Danny O’Connell to the Milwaukee Braves for 3B Sid Gordon, P Max Surkont, OF Sam Jethroe, and minor league hurlers Curt Raydon, Fred Waters, and Larry LaSalle. The Braves threw in $100,000 to sweeten the deal. It was the only 6-for-1 deal in MLB history, outgunned only by Vida Blue’s 7-for-1 swap in 1978. Danny was sold at his high point; after hitting .294 for Pittsburgh, he never had a BA over .266 in the remaining eight years of his career. It evened out; none of the return for Pittsburgh had much impact, either. 
  • 1964 – 3B Jeff King was born in Marion, Indiana. The first pick overall in the 1986 draft, King reached Pittsburgh in 1989 and stayed until 1996, hitting .258 with 493 RBI during that span and was part of two division title teams in 1990 and 1992. King is one of three players, along with Willie McCovey and Andre Dawson, to hit two home runs in the same inning twice during his career. On August 8th, 1995, he hit two home runs in the second inning of the Pirates’ 9-5 victory over the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park. On April 30th, 1996, he repeated the feat in the fourth inning of the Pirates’ 10-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Cinergy Field. At last look, his new day job was as a cattle rancher in Montana. 
  • 1974 – The Pirates GM Joe Brown & President Dan Galbreath met with free agent pitcher Catfish Hunter in North Carolina. The Bucs sat down twice with Hunter, who was leaving the Athletics and Charlie O Finley after a 25-win campaign, and their offer, if one was made, was not disclosed. Catfish ended up signing a five-year/$3.2M deal with the Yankees, which we can assume dwarfed any bid contemplated by Pittsburgh. 
  • 1990 - Jack Zduriencik was named the Pirates chief scout. The New Castle native played at California U of PA, coached at Clairton HS and was a Mets scout before joining the Bucco staff. He held the position through 1993. Zduriencik followed with a successful decade-long front office run with the Brewers, becoming the first non-GM to win Baseball America’s “Executive of the Year” award. He became Seattle’s GM in 2008, a job “Trader Jack” held until 2015. Now he’s an occasional media commentator, having served on Root Sports and other outlets. 
Stolmy was part of the big ’12 deal with Boston – photo Pirates/
  • 2012 - RH closer Joel Hanrahan and IF Brock Holt were officially traded to the Boston Red Sox for RHP Stolmy Pimentel, IF Ivan De Jesus, RHP Mark Melancon and 1B/OF Jerry Sands to finalize a deal agreed to a week or so earlier. Hanny, 31, was the key player for Boston, with 76 saves in 2011-12 for Pittsburgh, but ended up with TJ surgery and is now a Pirates minor league pitching coach, while Holt blossomed as a utility guy. The Bucs got some prospects that never emerged as more than fringe roster players, but did land a sterling back-end reliever in Melancon who thrived as both a set-up man & closer while earning a pair of NL All-Star berths as a Pirate. He went to the Nats at the 2016 deadline and then inked a juicy four-year deal with the Giants as a free agent. The Shark was moved to the Bravos in 2019 and made two more stops since then.


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