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12/27: Nova Signs 3-Year Deal; Tiger Tamed; Joe Brown '58 Exec of the Year; HBD Jeff, Craig, Jim, Bill, Ducky & Jim

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  • 1862 – OF William “Ducky” Hemp was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Hemp played a game for Louisville in 1887 and had one more MLB run in 1890, getting into 29 contests with Pittsburgh and Syracuse. He hit .235 for the NL Alleghenys before finishing out the campaign with the American Association Stars. He got his nickname as a 19-year-old playing for the Wichita Braves for reasons since lost in the mists of time. 
  • 1864 - SS Jim Dee was born in Safe Harbor, a small Lancaster County community in Conestoga Township out east. Not much is known about Jim other than he got a brief 12-game audition with the Alleghenys as a 19-year old in 1884, hitting .125 with more errors (6) than hits (5), and that ended his MLB stint. 
Bill Bishop – 1872 Goodwin/Old Judge
  • 1864 (or maybe 1869) – RHP Bill Bishop was born in Adamsburg, located in neighboring Westmoreland County near Jeannette. He pitched two seasons (1886-87) for the Alleghenys, going 0-4 in five starts with a 9.21 ERA. There are two different years given for his birthday. We went with 1864 as his DOB; he would have been a peach fuzzy 16-year-old rookie if he was actually born in 1869, although that age would provide some cover for his pedestrian pitching results. 
  • 1912 - RHP Jim Tobin was born in Oakland, California. Tobin spent his first three seasons (1937-39) as a Pirate with a line of 29-24/3.71 before being traded to Boston, where he would spend the majority of his nine-year career. He was OK with a stick, too; Tobin pinch-hit over 100 times in his major league career with a batting line of .230/.303/.345 in the majors. He totaled 35 doubles, 17 homers and 102 RBI in 796 at-bats in the show. Tobin is the only pitcher in the modern era to hit three home runs in the same game, batting against the Cubs when he pitched for the Braves in 1942. 
  • 1952 - SS Craig Reynolds was born in Houston. The Bucs selected him in the first round (22nd overall) of the 1971 draft, signing the Houston HS Player-of-the-Year to a $2M bonus. He played sparingly for the Pirates, hitting .225 in 38 games over 1975-76 and was traded to Seattle for Grant Jackson after Craig was unable to oust Frankie Taveras from the SS job. He went on to have a pretty solid career, playing 15 seasons (11 with his hometown Astros) with a .256 BA and earning a pair of All-Star berths while a league-average gloveman at short. 
  • 1958 - In his third year on the job, Buc GM Joe L Brown was named The Sporting News’ “Executive of the Year.” Under his hand, the Pirates finished second in the NL after a long run of second division play (the teams’ 84 wins were the most since the 90 victories of 1944) and drew 1,311,000 fans to Forbes Field in 1958, the first time the team cracked the million-fan mark since 1950. 
Hoak Hitched – 12/7/1961 Pittsburgh Press/AP
  • 1961 - 3B Don Hoak married Avonmore’s Norma Jean Speranza, better known as pop singer and TV starlet Jill Corey, in a civil ceremony in Common Plea judge Frederick Weir’s chambers, with Mayor Joe Barr as a guest. The Tiger met the singer at a promotional event at Forbes Field and the pair exchanged vows 16 months later. 
  • 1975 - RHP Jeff D’Amico was born in St. Petersburg, Florida. D’Amico was a 1993 first rounder of the Brewers, but after 40 MLB starts missed 1998-99 following shoulder surgery. The Pirates plugged him into the rotation in 2003; he went 9-16/4.77, and his 16 defeats were the most in the majors. His career ended the next season when the Indians released him in June. 
  • 2016 - Ivan Nova, 29, re-upped with the Pirates. The deal was for three years/$26M (including a $2M signing bonus) with another $2M in performance bonus money available annually. Nova slashed 5-2/3.06 ERA in 11 starts as a Bucco after coming over at the deadline in exchange for minor league OF Tito Polo LHP Stephen Tarpley were sent to the New York Yankees and held down a back end rotation spot since. Like many multi-year Pirates signees, he didn’t outlast his contract in Pittsburgh, being traded to the White Sox for the 2019 campaign.


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