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12/6 From 1970: Tudor Deal; Smith, Heaton, Tanner Signed; Meek Drafted; King Willie; Gonzo Dance; SS Scramble; McClatchy Moan; HBD Adam & Jose

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  • 1971 – OF Adam Hyzdu was born in San Jose. A first round draft pick of the Giants in 1990, he was a reserve outfielder for the Bucs from 2000-03 with a .231 BA in Pittsburgh. He had his shining moment, though. Adam was the NL Player of the Week in July of 2002 when he hit .588 (10-for-17) with three homers, six runs and 11 RBI, with all 11 driven in during a two-game span when he homered three times against the Cards, including his first grand slam. 
  • 1971 - RHP Jose Conteras was born in Las Martinas, Cuba. He knew the Buc offices pretty well; the 41-year-old was signed and released by the team three times in 2013, managing to pick up seven outings lasting five innings in between visits to the unemployment line; his 9.00 ERA in what would be his final MLB season was the cause of the five-team, 11-year vet’s yo-yo existence. A true international player, he began his career as a member of the Cuban National Team in 1991 before defecting in 2002, and ended it with tours of the Mexican and Chinese leagues in 2016. 
  • 1979 – Chuck Tanner was rewarded for his World Series title with a four-year contract extension running through 1984. Although the details weren’t released, the media guesstimated that the deal was worth $75K per year. GM Pete Peterson claimed that Tanner was “the best manager in the game today,” triggering the contract (the old one still had a year remaining). In other news, Willie Stargell was declared the “HR King of the Decade,” belting out 296 long flies to edge Reggie Jackson, who banged 292 during the 1970’s. Al Oliver was third in the decade’s hit parade, behind Pete Rose and Rod Carew. 
John Tudor – 1984 Topps Traded
  • 1983 – The Bucs traded OF Mike Easler to the Boston Red Sox for P John Tudor. Easler had a big year with the Red Sox before fading. Tudor went 12-11 in 32 starts for the Pirates in 1984, then was traded to St. Louis for OF George Hendrick. Tudor was brilliant in 1985 for the Cards, with 21 wins and 10 complete game shutouts. He led St. Louis to the World Series, and after pitching masterfully against KC in games 1 & 4, he fell apart in Game 7, losing 11-0. The lefty cut his pitching hand punching some locker room equipment while in a snit after the defeat and he never won more than 13 games afterward. 
  • 1988 - The Pirates wanted a SS and thought they had their man in Atlanta’s Andres Thomas when they offered the Braves three players (speculated to be RJ Reynolds, Mike Dunne and another pitcher) but the deal fell through when the Bravos overplayed their hand and demanded Barry Bonds be included in the package. Better to be lucky than good; Thomas had just two more years left in the show and batted .215 over that time; Barry hit 19 homers in 1989 and was named the league’s MVP in 1990, collecting seven MVPs and 14 All-Star caps in all before hangin’ ‘em up in 2007. And the FO came up smelling like roses when they got their SS for the next eight years, Jay Bell, from the Indians just before the 1989 season started. 
  • 1989 – Pittsburgh signed LHP Neal Heaton to a three-year/$2.85M contract with incentives and a limited (eight team) no-trade clause after he went 6-7/3.05 for the Pirates the previous campaign. He started out on fire after signing; the lefty began the 1990 season 9-1 with a 2.87 ERA and made his only All-Star roster in a career that spanned 12 years and seven teams. But Neal had a bumpy second year and was traded in the 1992 preseason to KC for Kirk Gibson. His Bucco line was 21-19/3.46 with 43 starts in his 114 outings. He finished out his career pitching for three AL teams from 1992-93. 
Neal Heaton – 1990 Upper Deck
  • 1990 - The Pirates inked LHP Zane Smith as a free agent for four years/$10.6M after getting him from the Montreal Expos for Moises Alou in the middle of the 1990 season. Zane had good timing: he made $660K in 1990 and the Pirates had originally offered him $6M for three years. The market changed when the Giants signed Bud Black for four years/$10M, and Smith, with several suitors, used that deal as his model. The lefty pitched six of his final seven campaigns in Pittsburgh with a line of 47-41/3.35 and was part of the rotation for the 1990-92 playoff teams, winning 16 games in 1991. Though he was released in 1996 by the Bucs, he went out in style: his 100th and final win was in June of that year, a six-hit, complete game shutout of the San Diego Padres. 
  • 2001 – Kevin McClatchy told the media that despite opening a new, publicly-financed ballpark, the team lost $1.2M in operating expenses and an additional $4.7M in interest payments. “If you took away the new stadium,” he said, “I may have been sitting in front of Congress explaining why the Pittsburgh franchise shouldn’t be contracted (the subject of a current Congressional hearing)…I’ve been saying for six years our game needs reform.” Still waitin’… 
  • 2006 - The Pirates came close to landing 1B Adam LaRoche, but a swap with the Braves for LHP Mike Gonzalez fell through. Both were good fits – Gonzo was 24-for-24 in save opportunities while LaRoche was coming off a 32-HR season – but the Pirates said that Atlanta was lollygagging because of health concerns while the Bravos claimed Dave Littlefield dragged his feet too long without pulling the trigger. Either way, the Bravos went in another direction and landed Rafael Soriano to make the matter moot. But the finger pointing resolved itself quickly; the two sides kissed and made up, and a few weeks later Gonzalez and SS Brent Lillibridge were sent to Atlanta for LaRoche and 1B/OF Jamie Romak. 
Evan Meek – 2008 Upper Deck X Signature
  • 2007 – The Pirates, with the second pick in the Rule 5 draft, selected RHP Evan Meek from Tampa Bay. He stuck around for parts of five years with the Bucs (2008-12), going 7-7-4 with a 3.34 ERA. After a breakout All-Star year in 2010 when he went 5-6-4/2.14, arm injuries took their toll on the flamethrower’s (he could touch 98) career. Meek’s last MLB tour of duty was with Baltimore in 2014.


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